Apologies + video

January 27, 2007

Apologies to everyone that expected the regular posts on here this past week. For different reasons I haven’t been able to post; a few other commitments, and then I was in Boston for a couple of days. I should be posting regularly now, however.

And just for fun, here’s what the “other commitments” sometimes involve. I’m the one playing bass:

Update: For those interested, I’ll be posting more of these kinds of video posts over at a new blog, Bitter Music.

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Montreal, Quebec — FACE School’s former principal Nick Primiano will be addressing FACE students and parents this Monday, followed by a Q&A session. The event will take place at the corner of Ste-Catherine and University streets at Christ Church Cathedral at 6PM.

Despite students’ and teachers’ requests, the Commission Scolaire de Montréal (CSDM), which administers the school, has refused to allow the popular principal to address his former students at the school.

This fall, Primiano was suspended by the CSDM under dubious and secretive circumstances, and later resigned.

A group of FACE parents and alumni, dubbed SOS F.A.C.E., is organizing the event. Created after Primiano’s suspension, SOS F.A.C.E. has been active in monitoring CSDM practices vis-à-vis FACE, as members believe that the suspension — and Primiano’s subsequent resignation — may be part of the CSDM’s larger agenda for reforms at the bilingual arts-driven school.

In its thirty year history, FACE has had only two principals, founder Philip Baugniet and Nick Primiano. After Primiano’s resignation, former vice-principal Christine Besson was appointed as the school’s principal.

For more, see F.A.C.E. School: Principal Suspended or visit SOS F.A.C.E..

Quebec, Canada — Much was made of newly-elected Liberal Party leader Stephane Dion’s reputation in Quebec. Having authored the Clarity Act which makes it harder for Quebec to separate from Canada, the former Environment Minister has enjoyed popularity in English Canada and criticism in Quebec.

However, an Angus Reid poll shows that Canada’s Liberal party is barely behind separatist Bloc Quebecois in the province. The Bloc leads Quebec with 37% of the vote, with the Liberals at a close second with 35%. It is notable to mention that in January’s federal election, the Bloc had received 42.1% of the vote.

The poll goes to show that Quebec’s separatist ambitions may be changing, as Dion’s election as head of the Liberal Party do not seem to have put a dent in the party’s popularity in Quebec. In fact, the poll can be seen as a success for the Liberals, as the scandal-laden party was far behind the Bloc in January.

The Angus Reid polling also follows a much-publicized Conservative motion passed in the House of Commons which recognized Quebec as a nation within a united Canada. At an announcement in Montreal on November 24, Conservative leader Stephen Harper said the Bloc’s raison d’être was defeated with the motion, because the Bloc had for years demanded the recognition of Quebec’s unique status within Canada.

Montreal, QC — Quebec Premier Jean Charest was in Montreal today to announce the government’s initiative to spend an additional 888 M$ on research an innovation. Development Minister Raymond Bachand explained that the government’s new strategy is meant to ensure that research can be brought to a commercial market which can then compete with the growing economies, like that of China and Alberta.

“Quebec is doing good, better than the average. But this is today,” said Charest alluding to the strategy’s goal of creating future growth in Quebec’s economy.

The strategy is based on the idea that the strength of Quebec’s economy is in its high-tech exports. With a population of 7.6 million, Quebec is certainly not a big domestic market nor does it have the population numbers to be a manufacturing leader. Thus, the funding announced is aimed at getting researchers into the marketplace. The aeronautic sector was given as an example of Quebec leadership.

The spending announced includes grants for researchers, funding of research infrastructures (including equipment and buildings) as well as tax credits for companies doing research. It also includes money for Quebec’s student population with 32 M$ in bursaries for Masters, Doctorate and Post-Doctorate candidates.

“The policy comes too late in Charest’s government’s mandate. The strategy contains interesting measures for students, but it lacks a part for humanities and social sciences,” said Philippe-Olivier Giroux, President of CNCS-FEUQ. The president of the Graduate Students’ wing of the Quebec Federation of University Students (FEUQ) also said that the money announced was too little because Charest’s government had cut bursary spending for several years in a row.

Montreal, QC — Last night, Jeff Martin played a show accompanied by Ritesh Das of the Toronto Tabla Ensemble. The performance at Café Campus, was the final stop on Martin’s Canadian tour in support of Exile and the Kingdom (KOCH/Nevada), his debut solo album.

The ex-Tea Party frontman spoke to me prior to the show. The interview aired on CKUT’s Friday Morning After today. You can listen to it below.

[odeo=http://odeo.com/audio/3493753/view]

Visit www.jeff-martin.net to order Jeff Martin’s newly-released live album.

Jaggi Singh Out on Bail

November 27, 2006

Montreal QC — A hearing was held at Montreal’s municipal court today in the case of Jaggi Singh’s arrest on Friday, November 24. Singh was arrested by an RCMP officer at Montreal General Hospital, where an announcement and press conference by Canadian PM Stephen Harper was to be held.

The arrest was the result of no act of provocation by the well-known Montreal activist. At the press conference, the RCMP advised security of Jaggi Singh’s presence, and security, in turn, asked that Singh leave the premises. The activist refused, stating that he had a right to be at the meeting. The RCMP intervened and arrested Singh.

At today’s bail hearing, Crown Prosecutor Francis Paradis argued for the preventative detention of Singh until his trial date, meaning that Singh could have been held in confinement for another six months. The argument was that Singh would be a threat to public safety, a claim which was unequivocally denied by the defense’s witnesses. The Crown had no witnesses and only referring to the RCMP report filed upon the arrest.

The judge disagreed with the Crown and released Singh on a $2000 bail, money which was collected by his supporters who numbered close to one hundred at the hearing. In fact, there were so many supporters present, that the hearing had to be moved to a new room to accommodate the audience.

In addition to bail, a condition was also attached to the release; Singh is not allowed to partake in any demonstration which is illegal or non-peaceful.

“I think it was abusive that a condition was imposed upon Jaggi,” said Louise-Caroline Bergeron of Montreal group Block the Empire. “While you’re in a demonstration and you don’t have birds-eye view, you can’t know what’s going on five hundred people behind you.”

Tonight, Jaggi Singh will be freed from the Rivière-des-Prairies detention centre, where he has been held since Friday’s arrest. Due to the overcrowding of the facility, he has had to spend the weekend sleeping on benches. Access to a shower was first provided only on Sunday.

Below is the full statement by Louise-Caroline Bergeron of Block the Empire. Jared Will, Mr Singh’s legal adviser, had no comments. Crown Prosecutor Francis Paradis was not available after the hearing.

[odeo=http://odeo.com/audio/3274573/view]

To learn more about the event where Jaggi Singh was arrested, please refer to “Harper Announces Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, Speaks of Quebec “Nation”.

Montreal, QC– Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in Montreal today to announce the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer.

His visit to Montreal comes after the Prime Minister’s recent statement about Quebec being a nation within Canada; the Prime Minister reaffirmed his symbolic gesture of recognition and reconciliation.

The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer will receive $260 million CDN to create a network of practitioners and researchers to ensure that information is readily available across the country.

The following is a report I prepared for CKUT radio. Press play below to listen:

[odeo=http://odeo.com/audio/3157793/view]