Category Archives for Politics That Matter

Can Local Businessman Get Elected to Improve Schools?

Last Thursday, I got a chance to interview Richard Langlais to ask him why he thinks Verdun residents should vote for him to represent them in the Quebec legislature.

He spoke about his plans to put $5,000 into a foundation to improve local schools, his dedication to improving Verdun over the years and his concerns that Verdun be represented by someone who cares for the borough and will work for its residents no matter what.

You can hear our discussion on MixCloud:

[mixcloud https://www.mixcloud.com/TraceyArial/can-local-businessman-get-elected-to-improve-schools/ width=100% height=60 hide_cover=1 mini=1 light=1]

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Strong Liberal Candidate Parachuted-in

Last Thursday, I got a chance to interview Isabelle Melançon in French about her candidacy to become Verdun’s provincial member of parliament during the 2016 by-election.

My interview is on Mixcloud at:

[mixcloud https://www.mixcloud.com/TraceyArial/strong-liberal-candidate-parachuted-in/ width=100% height=60 hide_cover=1 mini=1 light=1]

Melançon lives in Assomption, but she says she has lots to offer Verdun residents other than an postal address. She says she has lots of government experience and will be ready to get to work on the education, transportation and social housing files that concern Verdun on December 6 if she’s elected December 5th.

For more information about Melançon, check out the following stories:

http://www.plq.org/fr/article/isabelle-melancon-candidate-parti-liberal-quebec-election-partielle-verdun 

La libérale Isabelle Mélançon se présente dans Verdun

http://www.journaldemontreal.com/2016/10/03/election-complementaire-dans-verdun-le-plq-misera-sur-isabelle-melancon

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Poeti’s asks Daoust about Transport Ministry Problems

Poeti

Former Transport Minister Robert Poeti

Finally a credible explanation about Poeti’s demotion.

Everyone in LaSalle and Verdun have been wondering why Couillard replaced Robert Poeti with Jacques Daoust in the last cabinet shuffle.

Jacques Daoust

Jacques Daoust

“Making room for younger, more diverse people” as a reason defies all logic.

At first, we thought his was his hard stance on Uber, but the government has since taken essentially the same position.

The Journal de Montreal had a few other ideas about what went wrong, but they seemed like small issues for someone who works as hard as Poeti does. The man seemingly doesn’t sleep. Even as a cabinet minister, he frequently attended important local events. Residents of his constituency see him everywhere, and he frequently takes up their causes.

Now we discover from L’Actualité that Poeti was investigating the department of Transport and attempting to improve its governance.

The problems, according to journalist Louis Lacroix, included the impossible situation in which junior employees are supposed to fairly evaluate their bosses without being influenced to modify their reports.

Mais l’ancien secrétaire général du gouvernement, André Dicaire, qui siège au comité d’audit du ministère des Transports, avait eu l’idée de changer la structure en nommant un PCP par région relevant directement du directeur territorial.

«Donc, l’employé se trouve à évaluer son patron sur les conformités de projets ou de contrats qui ont été donnés. J’y voyais un problème», dit M. Poëti.

Lacroix’s story also outlines how former employees obtained their salaries via no-bid contracts.

Par exemple, un ex-employé à la retraite et résidant désormais à Saguenay a été réembauché en 2014 pour travailler au projet de réfection de l’échangeur Turcot… à Montréal. Le contrat consistait à offrir des «services de conseiller expert en gestion de projet pour un mode de réalisation non traditionnel».

Mais plutôt que de lui accorder un salaire de 50 000 dollars, le ministère lui a donné deux contrats de gré à gré de 24 500 dollars, tout juste sous le seuil des appels d’offres, au nom de son entreprise.

Lacroix’s information about UPAC refusing to investigate Transport Ministry employees is well worth reading.

La Presse‘s story included  Poeti’s letter to Jacques Daoust asking for explanations about cost overruns, employee behaviour and no-bid contracts awarded by the Transport Ministry that still haven’t been answered.

Despite stories by the Canadian Press as reported in the  CBCCJAD, Citynews and Le Journal, Poeti may not have been demoted for asking too many questions. That’s what Jonathan Trudeau thinks. There may indeed be another reason that the ex-police officer and popular local politician had to be removed from discussions taking place under cabinet secrecy.

Still, it won’t hurt to examine the operations of the Transport Ministry while we keep wondering what’s really going on.

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LaSalle to consult about rail line zone change

The borough of LaSalle plans to hold a consultation about changing the zones of 29 current properties, including the old railway line between Angrignon Park and Highway 138 in part to “authorize a multimodal link for public and active transport.”

The meeting takes place in Borough Hall on Monday, February 8 at 7 p.m.

Jan28Notice

Notice about the consultation appeared on page 19 of the LaSalle Messenger but did not appear on the borough website. According to that notice,

“The project…is subject to approval by referendum.”

During Monday’s council meeting, Sonja Susnjar asked what the project will include and whether it will simply cut off residents from south of the old rail line from participating in future consultations about development in Wanklyn and on the Fleischman property after the yeast company closes.

“It seems clear that this project could include buses, but it’s not clear what else it might include,” she said. “Also, I’m worried about whether this is just an attempt to prevent citizens from participating in future consultations. All the people south of this zone, particularly those on Stinson, have already signed petitions against the current Wanklyn project. I dearly hope that the Public Consultation Office will recommend against that project, but if they do, and another one comes forward, doesn’t this zone change split the borough in two?”

Acting mayor Nancy Blanchette assured Susnjar that no project is currently proposed, but that the borough simply wants to make future projects possible.

Susnjar then asked why councillors had to convene an extraordinary meeting at 8 a.m. on Thursday, January 21 to ensure that they could enact the zone change this month.

Blanchette simply repeated that “for the instant, the project is not on the table.”

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Legion buys a few months’ peace

WP_20150415_001Last week, Joanne Proulx, Fred Jennings and Joseph Pugliese took a cheque for $52,880.80 to the LaSalle borough office.

The payment covered Royal Canadian Legion Branch 212 property taxes for 2013 and 2014, half of the organization’s water taxes for 2015, and a $45 Federal express charge for delivering a demand letter.

We withdrew all the money from a GIC we had set aside for building repairs,” said Fred Jennings, who is president of the branch.

Jennings said that most of the money for the payment originally came from Bell Canada, which paid for a long-term servitude on the property. Members had planned to use the funds to repair the brickwork and otherwise update their building.

Instead, they’ll be scrambling to continue paying property taxes, which are now ten times what they were in 2012. The non-profit lost the right to reduce their property taxes under Subsection 204(10) of the Municipal Tax Act last year, after they were unsuccessful at proving that every inch of the building they occupy is used for purposes that the Quebec Government recognizes as charitable.

Several Legions have found this exercise difficult.  The Legion branch in Verdun downsized, in part due to difficulties in paying the taxes they owed. At least one branch in Laval disbanded. Other non-profits, including Pointe-Claire’s Curling Club, successfully retained their status despite arguments by City of Montreal lawyers.

Branch 212 in LaSalle hopes that they will be able to requalify for tax-exempt status by the time the 2016 tax bill arrives.

In the meantime, withdrawing enough money from the bank to write a cheque to the City of Montreal was the first official action by Proulx, who became treasurer of the branch on the first of April.

LaSalle’s borough clerk politely registered the payment, although she had to check with her manager about how to properly indicate that the bill was paid “under protest.”

Now we have to start collecting funds to pay our 2015 taxes,” said Proulx, after the cheque was accepted by the borough. “That’s going to be a challenge.”

To help the Legion raise funds, drop off a cheque at the bar at 7771 rue Bouvier or call (514) 365-0595.

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