Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Music as Identity - Part 2 - Industrial

Since writing the last post I have thought of a couple other points. First, it is the connection with others with the more rare musical tastes that really interest me. I get more excited when someone says they were fans of Front 242 than of The Cure. Actually, I can't recall ever actually meeting someone else who was a Front 242 fan, but I would be pretty excited if I did. For this reason, the list of music types will generally go from rare to more mainstream.

As I grow older, I seem to forget actual moments when things started or finished, but I believe I started listening to Industrial music around when I was 15 or 16. When I started high school at age 14, I became friends (who I have kept to this day) with fellow cross-country runners who introduced me to New Wave which included The Cure, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Depeche Mode, New Order, and Nitzerebb. That music will be covered in the next post.

As we got older, there was a juice bar dance club called Medusa's where they played our music. We went a few times, and later I went often by myself. The crowd was fairly diverse. Whites, blacks, hispanics, asians, goths, preppies, new wavers, city kids, suburbanites, straight, gay. It was one of the few if not the only dance club for those under-age. The club was split into three levels. The lowest level was the large dance floor with two to six foot tall boxes scattered on the floors and near the walls. The music always had a beat for dancing. It was where people showed off their moves or just stood by and took it all in. We preferred dancing on the boxes just for the playful back and forth. Easier to see and be seen. The middle level was basically a series of rooms set up like lounges. A place to get away, but oddly enough, not a make-out haven. The top level was the video room. A fairly large space with a screen at each end and some boxes in the middle. This is where I could actually connect visuals to the songs. It was usually more melodic songs with less of a heavy beat. Or at least songs they had videos for.

On the large dance floor is where I grew to love Front 242 and Ministry. Front 242's Headhunter was THE song. Everyday is Halloween by Ministry was the other. Though not industial, there were also any number of dance songs by the New Wave artists listed above being played along with some early house and hip-hop. In the video room, I came to learn of the less popular musicians along with some of the more popular alternative musicians. It is where I heard How Soon is Now by the Smiths and Kooler than Jesus by My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult. There was also Birthday by the Sugarcubes and older videos by The Cure (Pre-Standing on the Beach).

This exposure to Industrial Music lead to Wax Trax! Records when it was still on Lincoln Ave near where John Dilinger got shot. Wax Trax! was the distributors of Front 242, Ministry, Thrill Kill Cult, the Revolting Cocks, Die Warsau, and KMFDM. This interest in Industrial also lead to seeing Pigface in concert at the Metro. Pigface was composed of members of the other bands on Wax Trax. Another band I enjoyed from this style included Meat Beat Manifesto. OK, now I'm just name-dropping, so I'll stop.

I guess one of the reasons these memories of industrial music rushed back is because most of that music was on records and tapes. The records have since gone their own way and the tapes are stashed away in some box. So when I thought of the music recently, it had been a long time since it crossed my mind. After a bit of web surfing, a few pages suggest that Chicago was the center of Industrial music. I wonder if this is true and how popular it was elsewhere. So please let me know if you had heard of these bands outside of Chitown. I'm gonna hafta get my hands on those CD's so I can blast the pants off these south shore suburbanites next summer.

Next stop: New Wave.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Music as Identity - Part 1 - The Intro

It is interesting what makes up peoples identities. Sometimes it is interests, sometimes it is what you do, sometimes it is where you are from, and sometimes it is who you associate with. For some it is a mixture of these. For some it is one singular aspect. Over the span of my life each of these has or does define who I am. And it has varied over time. Some have come and gone, some have slowly drifted back to lesser importance, and some will probably never leave me. For instance, where I am from has drifted between being a large part of my identity to a small part multiple times. What people generally regard as identity is shown in the Blogger profile. Listed (if you wish) are age, location, employment, general interests, and more specifically favorite movies, favorite music, and favorite books.

Interests and who you associate with are ones that you have the most choice in defining who you are. It is interests and more specifically music taste that I will focus on here. It is interesting how for some people there is one interest that defines them. Like a sports fan who is all about a particular team and known primarily as a fan of that team. Same applies to film or music.

Since my adolescence, I have felt that musical taste has been a strong part of what defined who I was. It was stronger then and has gradually been shared with other aspects of identity. My best explanation for the feeling is that musical taste helped define who I was in the adolescence years when I was trying to define my identity. It could have been that I was truly trying to find as many unique aspects to be sure I would be unique. Not just another face in the crowd in the big city at a school of over 2500 boys. Generally my tastes have not been mainstream, which may be another reason I feel it is a major part of my identity.

But there is another aspect. As suggested by Blogger with their friendster write-ins, it is a part of your identity which will help you determine compatability with others. To a degree, your taste in music, movies, or books will give you clues into whether you see eye to eye with others. Whether you share ideologies or at face value whether you just plain like the same things.

What has brought this on? As I get older I am getting more nostalgic. Possibly also because of reading others experiences via their blogs, such as the Nine Inch Nails and Bauhaus concerts recently in Montreal. Plus in looking back it has been cool to see the journey of how I got here and what has defined who I am. So... in order to express my nostalgia, I will share my different musical tastes over the years and my thoughts. Another reason is because I am curious if my musical journey and experience matches those of others raised elsewhere or even back home. These won't be in any particular order, but as the feeling (or nostalgia) hits me.

The first stop: Industrial.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Population of Montreal in 2005

I have mentioned this before, but I get a lot of people coming here when they do a search for 'population of Montreal in 2005'. Now I don't know why people are looking for 'population of Montreal in 2005' or more importantly why my blog keeps coming up in searches for 'population of Montreal in 2005'. I'm listed second currently on searches for 'population of Montreal in 2005'. Do you think I'll become #1 if I keep mentioning 'population of Montreal in 2005'. It seems my post on the language demographics on the island are the page that is referred to when looking for the 'population of Montreal in 2005'. But for those of you who are not interested in the language demographics and truthfully want to find out what is the 'population of Montreal in 2005'. Here is your answer. Drum roll please....

The Population of Montreal in 2005 (2001 actually) is.....

1 812 723 of the nicest people you could meet in the world.

So there you go. Now you know the 'population of Montreal in 2005'. I really hope you can all sleep well. Aw heck, since I love numbers here are some more. The population of the Montreal Metropolitan area in 2005 (actually 2001) is 3 650 000. The population of the city of Chicago in 2005 (2000) is 2 896 016 of the nicest people you also could meet in the world. And the population of the Chicago Metropolitan (Chicagoland) area in 2005 (2000) is 9 157 540.


Saturday, November 26, 2005

Pat Morita

Ouch that one hurts.

Pat Morita has passed away. As with others my age, I looked up to the fictional character of Mr. Miyagi as a mentor. A character who dealt with negative forces with a reasoned approach. OK, sometimes with force, but still with calm and reason.

Now I was not an avid fan of Mr. Morita, and did not follow his career, but the Mr. Miyagi character holds something special for me. Mr. Miyagi very much resembled my grandfather. His style, his accent, his manner of speak, and even his grunts. My grandfather passed away a couple years after Karate Kid came out, so I could not watch the movie without thinking of him. Mr. Morita was one of the few prominant Japanese American celebrities out there. The only other I can think of is David Suzuki.

It is odd how this stings. It happens everytime someone from my childhood passes away. Like when Jimmy Stewart passed. It doesn't help that I have been on a bit of a nostaglia streak lately. Reading other blogs has really stirred up a lot of memories. And before that child rearing harkens back to how things were when I was a child. Could this be middle age or am I still too young?

Friday, November 25, 2005

Artistic Graffiti

Here's a view of some graffiti I pass everyday on my commute. This type of artwork is common in this neighborhood. Well done graffiti like this can liven up the city. Tags are just plain vandalism. I had created a tag when I was growing up in the city, but I could never bring myself to actually put it somewhere. I just had too much respect for the owners of the property and the image of the city. So it never made it out of my high school notebooks.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

American Thanksgiving

Today is American Thanksgiving. It is probably THE one holiday that is unique to the US. And it is arguably the one major holiday that has not become commercial. Don't get me started on the ridiculous shopping frenzy the day after.

It is the Thanksgivings of my childhood that always seemed so special. Especially those with my mother's side of the family. I enjoy my father's side, but let me explain. My mother was third oldest of eight siblings. So the youngest is only 8 years older than myself. It made for an energetic family reunion of young twenty-somethings that as a young kid I aspired to be. There wasn't the heightened emotions of getting presents. It was kicking back, having a great meal, watching some football, and enjoying everyone's company. Maybe even stepping outside and throwing the ball around.

Oddly enough, the office I work for here holds a cocktail party to entertain clients on the same day so I get to celebrate a bit. So far I have missed five Thanksgivings: two in France, one in Lexington, Kentucky (big mistake), two here and counting...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Religious Right

I was flipping through channels this evening before heading to bed and switched to see what was on CNN tonight since tomorrow is American Thanksgiving. I have been on a bit of a self-imposed ban from CNN in order to see more of how news is reported here in Canada. I have to say that it has been a very nice break. There is a lot less news telling me something or someone is going to kill me. There is less violent crime. It's still there, just not as often. I really enjoy CFCF news in the morning and 940 news on the radio. I know 940 is CNN affiliated, but it is primarily still local. The other extreme from oddly enough the same TV station is seeing Lloyd Robertson pop on during Survivor or the Amazing Race telling 'what I don't know might kill me'.

So back to tonight. Apparently Jerry Falwell is starting this 'Friend or Foe' Campaign against perceived religious descrimination. He is calling on all public schools to return to allowing Christmas to be celebrated. But there is not ban on religious expression, so it's hard to see his point. Although he does not come out and say it, he hints that Catholic teachings must be allowed to be taught in public schools. My point is that if he feels Catholic teachings must be taught in school, then it should be done in private Catholic schools. I spent twelve years in those schools and that is where it should be taught. He was also hinting that since Target stores have chosen to become more politically correct and have holiday decorations instead of Christmas decorations, his followers should boycott their stores. Come on! That's just getting silly. This is a diverse country. Yes, the number of practicing Catholics is rapidly declining, but reverting to imposing one groups beliefs and celebrations on the rest is not the answer.

It seems that the religious right is riding high due increased isolationism and conservatism in the US due to recent events (9.11 and Iraq). And I get the sneaking suspicion that they are capitalizing on it in order to further their agenda. There is a sense in the US that the world is against them and many are reverting to find shelter. Many are finding that shelter in their religion. There is absolutely no problem with this. The problem is the talking head TV evangelists are assuming the role of leaders. They say ridiculous things like New York, New Orleans, and Florida deserved their disasters because they were not following the written word. Or suggesting that leaders of countries should be killed. I just don't understand how people can be following these guys.

Maybe it's the big picture versus isolated incidents. I'm a fan of Bill Clinton and was willing to overlook his indiscretions. Some people may hold those indiscretions in high regard the same way I find what Falwell and Pat Robertson say to be morally irresponsible.

I think I'll go back to avoiding CNN.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Roque the Vote

The nominations for the Canadian Blog Awards are now closed and now it's up to you to vote for your favorites. Take a peek at the Montreal Metroblog where I give a run-down of the local blogs nominated along with a couple others. I went a little nuts and nominated five of those listed. Check them out, they are some of the best out there.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Native Americans in Quebec.

This is the second part of my series on American Indians. There seems to be much more of a presense of Native Americans here in Quebec. There are reservations all over the place including a couple across the river from the island of Montreal. They are close to the general population and not relegated to Oklahoma. Also travelling around the province, it seems every place has an Indian tourist shop or sell Indian produced items. Every time we visit Quebec City we stop at the Seven Nations Shop. I have flown Air Creebec and half the passengers were American Indian. I have seen their lean-to shacks in the wilderness north of Chibougamau. There they spent the winters hunting caribou. We passed the remains on the roadside. The Indian presense is more than what I had seen stateside.

There is a flip side to this presense and embracing of the culture. If I understand correctly, the Indians are largely supported by the government. From what I hear, there seems to be much resentment about this within the population. I hear second-hand how they live in deplorable conditions, they do nothing, and live off their government checks. They disregard hunting laws that others are required to abide by. Then there is the whole tobacco thing. These same people I hear this from speak in a negative tone when discussing how Jews and Westmount residents take their money. So I'm a bit skeptical of their views.

Again, I would really like to know your thoughts on this topic.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

My Beaujolais Nouveau Story

This morning French wine lovers are waking up with a hangover. Last night at one minute past midnight the newest batch of wine from Burgundy's Beaujolais region was released. Around the world people hold Beaujolais Nouveau parties to celebrate the occasion. And to start the festivities the celebrant yells out 'Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!' ('The New Beaujolais has arrived!')

This leads to my Beaujolais Nouveau story. Everytime I hear the word 'Beaujolais' this is what comes to mind. Ten years ago (it's been that long already?) I spent my second stint living in France. This time, as with the first, I got by without a visa. Instead I stayed in the country by doing back to back 3-month tourist visas by leaving the country every three months. Nobody really checked, but I didn't want to chance it. And it gave me a chance to travel a bit.

It was getting around the time that my previous 3-month visa was up and I needed to leave the country. The school, where my fiancée at the time was finishing up her studies, advertised a weekend bus trip to London. So I signed up. The night of the bus departure the guy (Guy) who rans the school cafet (café) decided to have a little Beaujolais Nouveau party. He served bad Beaujolais and the school horn band came and played. There was quite a bit of merriment with swing dancing, drinking, and French hors d'oeuvres.

It came time to leave and as those of us who were leaving went down to the bus I noticed that most of the others were first or second year students. Most were away from home the first time and they were very inebriated. As the bus took off everyone was singing, laughing, making loud comments... Suddenly from the back of the bus someone starts screaming 'UN SAC!! UN SAC!!!' Almost instantaneously there was that distinctive human roar and a loud splashing sound as the aisle filled up with semi-digested wine and party snacks. With that, a very astute student jumps up and screams 'Le Beaujolais Nouveau est Arrive!!!'

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Home on the Range

These next two posts will relate to American Indians (or Native Americans if you like) and our relation to them. This first post will discuss an ongoing debate at my alma mater, the University of Illinois. The National Collegiate Athletic Association has recently ruled that any university that uses Indian mascots, nicknames, or logos are not allowed to participate in or host post-season play (playoffs). For more info see this article. This is a very hot topic at my old school, with passionate people on both sides of the debate. It was actually like that when I was there a decade ago, but this ruling has brought it to the forefront. I have friends and family who are alumi who feel strongly the tradition should be kept. So here's my take on it.

I remember my freshman year during orientation when I was first introduced to Chief Illiniwek in Assembly Hall. They introduced a very well dressed clean cut young white man in a very nice suit. From my recollection it was stated that he was from a prestigious fraternity and the affluent north suburbs. There was talk of how it was a prestigious position and how it was an authentic Indian dance. I walked away with an impression that has never left me. Why was this position given as a reward for status? Coming into college I already had a negative impression of the Greek system due partly to an episode of 21 Jump Street involving a hazing death.

During my six years in Champaign, I grew to enjoy the tradition and the ceremony. I still get goosebumps when he comes out at halftime. It is very well done theatrically. It has more of a respectful aire than many other Indian mascots such as a tomahawk chop or caricature cartoon logo.

But between these two situations, I rest firmly on the fence. I am not passionate for either side of the issue because I sympathize with each side. Not to mention the people who's opinion I respect on each side. It is a part of my university's tradition, but it is still a white rich kid dressed up as an Indian doing a faux Indian dance. If I heard correctly, the university has somehow worked it out that someone with Indian heritage is now in the role, but still, my cynical side thinks about what means were used to get him there. Maybe all team mascots should be animals, inanimate objects, or hilltops.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


Everyone in both cities always ask me what the differences are regarding temperature and weather. Here's the answer to the former. I have checked the average temperatures for both cities and there is a 5F (3C) degree difference from Chicago and Montreal. That may not seem like much and for most of the year it is not. It is summer and winter where the difference is most notable.

For instance, this summer when we were in Chicago the temperature was an oppressive 40C (104F) degrees. You can't do anything in that type of heat. We were even sweating in the pool. At the same time, in Montreal it was 36C (96F). Still hot, but good swimming weather and you can still do stuff outdoors.

Part of the difference is not as much the increase in actual temperature as the number of days above or below a certain temperature. Here in Montreal, the summer temp gets above 30C (86F) only 8 times on average. Whereas it is for weeks in Chicago.

The biggest difference is of course the cold. The temp stays below freezing for many more days and more consistantly here in Montreal. So the snow doesn't go away whereas in Chicago there is alot of winter thawing. The benefit is that it always stays white and you have more opportunities to enjoy winter sports. You are not guessing which weekend in February will be good to plan a ski trip away from Chicago. Here you are rest assured there will be snow, just not necessarily ideal conditions.

Lastly, an interesting note is the relativity. People in Chicago can't imagine temperatures of -30C (-22F), while some Montrealers found this summer of about 12 days above 30C (86F) to be difficult.

Personally, I really enjoy summer temps between 25C (77F) and 30C (86F) so I really like it here. For the winters, we stocked up on warm clothes (Kanuk coats and long underwear) and I was able to endure -50C (-60F) wind chills during a business trip 500 miles north of here last winter. I'll write something about that later in the season.

Friday, November 11, 2005

What’s in a Name?

One of my first impressions after moving here was everyone has the same last names. The frequency that I would meet a Beaudin, a Landry, or a Menard started to make me think there was a very small pool of family names. One example is that my wife went to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription. She told them her name and the person behind the counter said there are 18 people in the computer with that given name and family name. I was so convinced about the name frequency that I came up with the hypothesis that the top two dozen most common names make up at least half the population.

So the other night I tried to put it to the test. I poured over the South Shore phone book and found what were the top two dozen names. My thinking is that the South Shore phone book should be a reasonable representation of the Quebec population. It’s linguistic makeup is similar to the overall Quebec population and it is off island while still having the diverse ethnic influence of the big city. Just as Montreal does on the overall population of Quebec.

So I discovered that the top two dozen only make up 9.44% of the population. The top name garners 0.92% of the population or 1 out of every 109 people have that name. I am not sharing the names because I would like to give everyone a chance to guess at the names. If you can name the top three in order, I’ll buy you a drink at the next YULblog. I’ll do the same if you can name ten of the top two dozen. How’s that for incentive. I will post the answers next week. Those of you from here may not find it as a surprise.

As an aside, my wife’s family name was not common back in Chicago. I think there were only a dozen names listed. But here it is tied for the seventh most popular name. As for myself, there is not one listing with my family name in the South Shore phone book. There are only four listed on the island of Montreal. It is similar to what it was like when I was a kid in Chicago. There were only three of us listed back then. Now there are two dozen (minus one).

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Belvedere

This is not very original view, but every visitor from out of town must visit the Belvedere. It has such a great view of downtown and beyond. On a clear day you can see New York State, Vermont, and New Hampshire along with the mountains of the eastern townships. These are some good friends who came up to visit a year and a half ago.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Blogging - Some Observations

Firstly, I wonder about my place in this whole thing. For my first months blogging I was casually posting about twice a week with only a few loyal friends who would check it out. Since I discovered the Montreal Metroblog and YULblog, I have become a contributor along with becoming closed to obsessed with this new world. Before I would spend my computer time checking out the weather, the Cubs, sports, Mt St Helens, Hawaiian volcanoes, earth quakes, tropical storms, Chicago News, the Onion, and occasionally Wikipedia. Now it is almost exclusively about blogs, checking on this one, checking others in Montreal, and trying to come up with posts for this blog and the Metroblog. So I'm wondering, will this last? Will I keep up this interest? Will it naturally slow down into a normal hobby? Or will it be a flash in the pan and I lose interest completely? Most likely my interest and involvement will wane down to a natural hobby. It has filled a void that has been missing since I left Chicago. I have finally started meeting others outside of family and co-workers. And I really enjoy the conversation at YULblog. Something we used to do regularly back home.

In doing some research looking through the nominations for the Canadian Blog Awards I have had some interesting observations. First the caveat that the blogs that I know of outside of Quebec are those nominated for the awards. The ones inside Quebec are primarily anglophone members of YULblog. Also I have tended to read primarily blogs in English only for the reason of expediency. I have so much that I want to read that I tend to read that which I can read fast. I know I will have to overcome that if I want to advance my French.

So my observations are these. There are an awful lot of political blogs out there and there are none that I have seen coming out of Quebec. Writers here mention politics, but there are not blogs devoted to it. Also there are a lot of stay-at-home moms writing blogs. Sometimes they are some of the more interesting personal blogs and they usually don't concentrate on their kids. Maybe it is their outlet. The Montreal blog crowd has a high concentration of those into computers and those into video games. Again, that may have something to do with YULblog. My personal preference is personal blogs that are varied whose author obviously has similar interests or outlook on life. But they also must have some commentary on culture and politics. I will soon list the nominated blogs I think are the better ones and they will likely have those qualities. I also like really well done photoblogs.

Lastly there are generally three types of commentors who I will relate to birds. First there are the birds that take it all in and don't say a peep. Second, there are the songbirds who take it in and respond with a sonnet. Lastly, there are seagulls that eat everything in sight, make a lot of noise, crap everywhere, and leave never to be seen again. I have been fortunate not to have many seagulls. Myself, I am a bit of a comment whore. Something inside me makes me want to comment very often on other blogs. I really don't know what it is, but I do try to limit the comments to only the better ones. Also since I like to comment, something in the back of my mind makes me wonder whether my posts are decent due to lack of comments. Anyhow enough rambling.

In the meantime, I hope you find this interesting and feel free to leave comments.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Canadian Blog Award

In case you had not heard of them, nominations are being accepted for the Canadian Blog Awards. I am asking those of you who may read this on a regular basis to take a look at some of the other blogs nominated and consider nominating this blog. There are a multitude of categories including Best Blog, Best Political Left Blog, Best Sports Blog, Best New Blog, and Best Personal Blog. Of course the reason I mention it is because I'm wondering if you find what is written here interesting and if it stands up to some of the others listed. Is this blog worthy of a nomination? For a nomination I consider that it would only have to be as good as just below average. Of course we all hope that what we do or produce affects others in a positive way, so my curiosity is getting the better of me and I am making this suggestion. I don't want you to nominate me just because you know me. I would really prefer you check out the others first. Personnally, I am in the process of checking out the blogs in the categories that I could be nominated (Best New Blog or Best Personal Blog). I'll list ones I find interesting soon. The deadline for nominations is two weeks from today, 20 November. If I get nominated, I will try to spruce the page up a bit with stuff like links to other blogs and maybe a non-standard webpage. Actually I hope to do that anyhow when I find the time, but a nomination will make that a priority.

A couple interesting things that I have noticed going through the blogs so far. First is that there are a ton of political blogs out there. A much higher percentage that I had thought. The other thing is that a large percentage of the blogs are from western Canada, mainly Calgary for some reason. I don't recall seeing any from the Maritimes and only a few from Quebec.

In other news, I mentioned recently I have been getting some interesting traffic. Someone almost on a daily basis reaches this site via a search for 'population of Montreal in 2005'. I can't tell if it's the same person or what, but it's weird that I keep getting that.

Friday, November 04, 2005

A New View

Time to start putting up some Chicago pictures. This is one of Chicago's newest attractions. 'Cloud Gate' is a sculpture by Anish Kapoor which is situated in the new 25 acre Millenium Park. The park was built over an old railway yard as part of Grant Park. I was very lucky to watch as this project came to fruition. I worked only a few blocks away for a while and spent occasional lunches checking out the job site. The project includes a theatre for music & dance, a bandshell by Frank Gehry, a large urban garden, a bridge, a plaza for festivities, underground parking, a bike storage facility, a restaurant, ice rink, an interactive fountain, a memorial, and the 'Cloud Gate' sculpture. It is directly across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago and a link to it will be built in the future.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Sovereignty - Part 3 - The Current State

To start this part, in addition to the reasons mentioned in the previous two posts on sovereignty, there are two major reasons for this series. First, along with language, this issue is a major part of living in Quebec. The results have a major bearing on what will become of the province and it's culture. Second, the recent events that follow have brought this topic to the forefront. Again, this is not news to anyone who has been here for at least a few years. Parts 1 & 3 are primarily for those outside Quebec (maybe more Canada), Part 2 was for everyone.

I left off at the 1995 Referendum in Part 1. It has now been 10 years. The push for sovereignty in the years after the referendum was not strong enough to propose another. In 1999, the federal government passed the 'Clarity Act' which proported to make sure any referendum questions would be clear. Some felt the referendum question was ambiguous.

The Parti Quebecois lost power to the Liberal Party in the 2003 elections. If I understand correctly, this was due to their heavy handed move of conglomerating the suburbs around the major cities. All of the municipalities on the island of Montreal were combined with the city of Montreal. The south suburbs were all combined into the city of Longueuil and the north suburbs became Laval. Many suburbs like the one I now live in have since voted to separate. But in 2004, the Liberal government came under fire in a sponsorship scandal. The Liberal government sponsored activities in order to promote being Canadian inside Quebec. The intent was to disuade Quebecers from secession and persuade them to be proud to be Canadian. Apparently, some of the money that was spent on this program was either for work not actually done, or it made it's way back into the Liberal Party. The irony is that the program was done to prevent another referendum, but now the scandal has made sovereigntist interested in having another referendum. This scandal has hurt the image of the Liberal Party in control here. It will likely put the Parti Quebecois in power at the next election likely in 2006. Many candidates for the leadership of the Parti Quebecois have campaigned that a referendum will be called a year or two after they come into power.

My hope is that when this new referendum comes to vote, everyone will consider the implications and really what is at stake when they vote. Have negotiations with Canada really have been exhausted or is everyone considering the past failed attempts enough? Does everyone understand what could become of Quebec if it were to secede? Yes, we pay double taxes (federal & provincial), but how much will that change? There has been animosity in the past, but could that be placated in order to clearly see what the solutions are? Could the solution be an even weaker federal government and stronger provincial governments?

My fear is similar to what happened in the last US Presidential election. What some people feel is important will make them overlook other important issues. Or people will not have knowledge of all the important issues. I feel that in the US election, people voted for Bush because of the likely upcoming Supreme Court vacancies. They wanted a president that would nominate conservative members. While I felt the election was a judgement on the act of going to war and the character of the person in charge, not only his beliefs. It seems all too often that people vote in reaction to events instead of the overal picture. The anti-megacity vote was one. The vote against the liberal scandal will be another. I still don't understand how Bush got reelected though. I also hope it is not a matter of who has the more charasmatic advocate or what irrelevant minor scandal comes about close to the vote. This is an issue more important than anyone you could elect to office. This will be around a long time and touch every aspect of the world around us. It should not be taken lightly.