QUEBEC — Premier François Legault hardened the tone Tuesday, slapping a COVID-19 pre-alert status on four more regions and warning parts of Quebec are close to the next more critical level, which will mean closing bars and restaurants.
Warning there is a now “a real risk” of a second wave that would mean the return of various levels of lockdowns, Legault said he does not understand why some people are still ignoring warnings — even holding fall barbecues and corn boils with large groups or gathering in restaurants.
In the long run, the community virus spread that ensues will mean more hospitalizations, more overcrowding, more disruptions in people’s lives and ultimately more deaths.
“The situation is critical, it is worrisome,” Legault said at a pandemic news conference as the National Assembly resumed sitting.
“Today I am making an appeal for the solidarity. Please think of vulnerable people, think of those waiting for surgery, think of those working in the health system, think of our children.
QUEBEC — It was Simon Jolin-Barrette’s summer reading in 2019: a biography on the life of Camille Laurin, the man considered to be the father of the Charter of the French Language.
Written by former journalist Jean-Claude Picard — who recently died — the book describes Laurin as a man who saw the charter and protection of French as a tool toward the social liberation of Quebec’s francophones.
In other words, Laurin was a staunch nationalist (who as a member of the Parti Québécois also favoured independence).
Today, 43 years after the adoption of the charter by the PQ, Jolin-Barrette finds himself in the same job, the Quebec minister responsible for language. He, too, plans to unveil his own vision, a new “action plan” that he says will reinforce French in Quebec.
How far will he go and when? The pandemic and economic downturn may affect the timing and scope of the plan, particularly if it implies slapping more red tape on struggling small-business owners. The Legault government may want to hold off before launching a new controversy.
Matthew Pearce, president and chief executive officer of the Old Brewery Mission since 2008, will retire from his post and step down in September, the organization announced on Thursday.
In a statement, Eric Maldoff, chair of the Mission’s board, praised Pearce for having “led the Old Brewery Mission through a period of significant growth and phenomenal transformation that have inspired other organizations to adopt the Mission’s approaches to end chronic homelessness. … He will be missed.”
During Pearce’s time as executive director, the Mission underwent significant changes that included:
•Establishing new supportive housing models and programs adapted to the needs of specific homeless populations.
• The creation of a research department in partnership with McGill Universityto gain greater knowledge of the root causes of homelessness.
• Opening a triage and referral centre for first-time shelter arrivals to shorten their homelessness experience and ensure they are adequately housed and reintegrated into the community.
• Transforming the emergency shelter into a 24/7 resource centre that allowed residents to remain onsite and fully connected to counselling staff and services.
Pearce will be replaced by James Hughes, who was the Mission’s director-general from 2004 to 2008.
Walking down a street in the Plateau this week, I couldn’t help overhearing the conversation of the two young men behind me.
They were talking about their COVID-19 test results, which were negative, thankfully, given how quickly they approached and overtook me on the narrow sidewalk as my dog stopped abruptly to sniff a tree. They were also planning their next outing with friends. Whether to a bar or someone’s house, I didn’t quite catch, as they drifted out of earshot.
Since Quebec entered the latter stages of deconfinement, reopening bars and permitting indoor gatherings of up to 50 people in places like cinemas and theatres, people of all ages have been making up for the long months of isolation.
Not surprisingly, young people have been especially eager. Perhaps a little too eager, according to an analysis by my colleague. Health reporter Aaron Derfel recently showed those in the 20- to 29-year-old demographic are fuelling an increase in new COVID-19 cases in Quebec, mainly through community transmission. While the daily overall tally dipped into double digits during late June and early July, it has climbed back to about 100 or so in the last week, with 109 cases reported Tuesday.
In this bonus episode, our panelists — Montreal Gazette columnist Stu Cowan, CBC Daybreak Montreal’s Jessica Rusnak and former Canadien Rick Green — along with host Adam Susser discuss how Geoff Molson dropped the ball by not addressing the Black Lives Matter movement in a meaningful way.
“It’s not a free-for-all at all at this point,” she said.
Hankins said it was too soon to say whether schools and non-essential stores should reopen in Montreal on May 25.
“It’s prudent to watch and see what happens,” she said.
“I know it’s unsettling not to have firm dates, but on the other hand we want wisdom to prevail here,” she added.
On Thursday, Premier François Legault again delayed the reopening of schools, daycares and non-essential retail outlets in the Montreal region.
Sixty-three per cent of Quebec’s 2,928 deaths from COVID-19 have occurred on the island of Montreal, as have 51 per cent of diagnosed cases of the disease, according to the latest statistics unveiled by the Quebec government on Sunday.
As an increasing number of Canadians enter their middle and golden years, there’s less talk of finding the fountain of youth and more discussion around positive aging. This shift in thinking is a welcome change from trying to turn back the clock, moving toward the more attainable goal of maintaining a high quality of life into retirement.
It’s not just boomers and Gen Xers who are hoping to redefine what it means to age. Governments and municipalities understand that a healthy community of older adults puts less strain on public resources, which means they have a vested interest in keeping their aging citizens active and healthy. And given that First World millennials and the generations that follow are expected to live to 100, it’s more important than ever to pursue a lifestyle devoted to healthy aging.
Philip Pizzo from the departments of pediatrics and microbiology/immunology at Stanford University penned an editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association titled A Prescription for Longevity in the 21st Century. His goal isn’t just to add years to one’s life, but to make the later decades of life “more meaningful and functional and less attenuated to the morbidities that lead to medical, social and financial dependency.” In other words, he’s touting the benefits of maintaining a healthy body, social life and bank account as the decades add up.
It seems obvious that Pizzo’s prescription for longevity is directed at those in their middle years and beyond, but investing in longevity early will increase the odds of reaping the rewards from living a vibrant and purposeful life. So don’t wait until retirement looms to pursue the following life goals — it’s never too early to embrace positive aging.
Individuals with a university education have a greater life expectancy than those without. Low levels of education often result in lower income; according to American data, this results in a greater tendency toward declining physical and mental health, as well as an increase in unemployment. Statistics suggest a 15-year difference in life expectancy between the richest and poorest Americans.
Urging the youngest generations to stay in school has been a common refrain, but catching up on missed education and the opportunities it offers never gets old. Lifelong learning isn’t just a stepping stone to good fiscal health — it’s an important investment in living longer.
Live life with purpose
Having a purpose beyond oneself — like caring for others, improving the world around you, sharing your expertise, getting involved in community groups and following a spiritual path — translates into a longer life, according to studies of the young and old. Starting each day with a sense of purpose and a commitment to contributing to society is like a daily dose of medicine.
With age comes more time to give of yourself, so the idea of creating opportunities for senior members of the community to share their experience and knowledge benefits society as a whole. While retirement is often viewed as the end of your value, it’s actually an opportunity to give more to society than you get back.
Keep your friends close
Social connection is associated with a 50 per cent boost in survival. Loneliness, on the other hand, can lead to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. To put it more simply, having friends is good for your health.
Prioritizing relationships and staying engaged with family, friends, neighbours and co-workers is key to maintaining a high level of connectedness. Yet there are plenty of times when isolation is common, including changing schools, jobs or cities; separation from a spouse, partner or other family members; and retirement. Maintaining varied social networks allows for support during periods of change and reduces the risk of isolation.
Adopt a healthy lifestyle
It’s well known that exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and eating nutritious food improves health, well-being and longevity. What’s less understood is that adopting a healthy lifestyle is one of the only proven ways to reduce genetic risk factors like heart disease, obesity and mental illness.
Building healthy habits early also means enjoying the resulting energy, strength and positive mood on either side of middle age. But the real payback comes during those years when age begins to whittle away at the physical and mental competencies we take for granted in youth. Putting a priority on exercising, eating well and getting enough sleep slows down the physical decline, and is good for both mind and body.
At the Montreal International Auto Show, it’s estimated two-thirds of the 200,000 visitors are “habitués” — aficionados who come out of a love for cars, but aren’t looking to buy. At Toronto’s car show, by contrast, two-thirds are there because they’re in the market.
Montreal’s show, featuring more than 500 cars from 38 carmakers and now in its 77th year, is in some ways geared more toward dreams than practicality, which is perhaps an apt way to describe the difference between the two cities.
Herewith, some of the multi-hued dreams on display.
Attendees were lined up to get in Saturday morning, and most rushed to the seventh floor to see the electric cars. One took out folded pieces of cardboard, assembled them, and placed them in the trunks.
“He has kids,” spokesperson Denis Talbot explained. “He wanted to see if their hockey bags would fit in the car.”
Four years ago, there were only about five electric models on display. This year, there were more than 20.
Maxime Gauthier eyed the Toyota Prius Prime, a plug-in hybrid going for $35,000, less several thousand dollars in government rebates, while his one-year-old sat in the driver’s seat. It might be his next car.
“With the cost of gas, and the environment, it’s starting to make sense,” he said. One booth featured electric bicycles, another growing trend.
Two dozen protesters from Extinction Rebellion gathered outside the show, chanting “they stink, they pollute, they kill.”
A study released this week by HEC Montréal on the state of energy usage found Quebecers bought a record-breaking number of light trucks and SUVs and are using more gas than ever before. Electric cars represented three per cent of new car sales in 2018. Light trucks and SUVs made up 64 per cent. “It’s time for car culture to come to an end,” protesters said.
The mighty Model T
Guy Dufresne’s car is 108 years old. Last year, he drove his 1912 Ford Model T, with its original engine, more than 1,000 kilometres on Quebec roads, at a top speed of 80 kilometres per hour. He found it in Pennsylvania, bought it for $4,000, and spent 10 years rebuilding it, restoring its brass kerosene lamps and doors made of oak. It sold originally for $690 — today, it’s worth about $50,000, but it’s not for sale. Dufresne’s father was an auto mechanic, and Dufresne was a machinist technician. Now he rides with the Model T club of Quebec. The only changes needed to make it roadworthy were to install disc brakes and turn signals.
Next car over, in the Classics section, Daniel Jean’s 1929 Ford Model A, built in Ontario and assembled in Montreal, sold for $495 in its day, cheaper than the 1912 Model T. During the Depression, Henry Ford dropped the price of his cars and increased salaries of his workers so they could buy them. Unlike many car makers of the time, Ford didn’t go bankrupt.
After a search of many years, Jean found the car, sitting in a barn for decades in St-Paul-de-Joliette. He paid $4,000, and spent close to $50,000, and 3,000 hours restoring it. In its earlier life, it logged 55,000 kilometres in Sherbrooke.
Is it for sale? “Never,” said Jean, showing pictures of his grandmother sitting on a Model T back in the 1940s “I restored this with my son, my daughter. They drive it. This was a work of love.”
Prancing horses in the field of dreams
Over at the Ferrari corral, the 488 Pista, hot red and 720 horses, retails for $458,000. The 812 Superfast, top speed of 340 km/h, is cheaper at $422,000, but its gas mileage is not as good. The price tags elicit sarcastic comments of “That’s in the budget,” and “Oh, not too bad.” Ferrari rep Roberto Soccio notes those are base prices, however, and extras will bring up the price.
“You don’t need a Ferrari,” he said. “You want one.” There’s a one to two year waiting list for the Portofino Ferrari at his Jean-Talon dealership, a relative steal at $246,000 — without the extras.
Car as self
Jose Mendes estimates he’s spent $50,000 upgrading his tricked up 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart on display at the “My Car” section of the show. The passion for cars was passed on by his father. He races it against other car nuts, who express themselves through their cars, he said. What does his say about him?
“It’s loud,” Gomes said. “But it’s also charming.”
Over at the Porsche section, the tagline for the 718 Porsche Spyder two-seater convertible, $110,000 and 414 horsepower, is: “Perfectly irrational.”
Which sums things up nicely.
The Montreal International Auto Show runs until Jan. 26 at the Palais des congress. General admission tickets are $17 for adults.
Quebec Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault, left, introduces Johanne Beausoleil, the new interim head of
Sûreté du Québec, to the media in Quebec City on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019. Twitter / Montreal Gazette
QUEBEC — For the first time in Quebec’s history, a woman will lead the Sûreté du Québec, which is getting its third chief in less than a year.
On Wednesday, the Quebec cabinet named a rare civilian, Johanne Beausoleil, to the post of associate director-general of the force starting Dec. 2 for a three-year period. That also allows the government to name her director-general on an interim basis.
Currently working for the Montreal police force but a former internal auditor of the SQ, Beausoleil starts her new job Dec. 16.
The announcement was made by Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault.
“We have a choice candidate,” Guilbault said at a news conference, where she was joined by Beausoleil. “Mme Beausoleil has all the qualifications to occupy this post. She is well aware of the challenges that the provincial police is facing.”
Added Beausoleil: “The biggest challenge is to mobilize resources and continue to work in this direction. It is also to encourage more female officers to apply, to be more present (in the force); it will be my pleasure to encourage this.”
Beausoleil becomes the second interim director named by the government this year in the wake of the sudden departure of Martin Prud’homme under a cloud of mystery nine months ago.
He was relieved of duty by Guilbault, who said she had a duty to act following allegations of a criminal nature against Prud’homme.
Prud’homme has not been arrested or charged with anything and is home earning a full salary pending the results of the investigation, which has been turned over to the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI).
There have been reports the suspension is connected to the leak of information at the province’s anti-corruption unit (UPAC).
Following Prud’homme’s departure, the government put Mario Bouchard in charge of the force, but Bouchard has announced plans to move up his planned retirement to mid-December, so Quebec had to act.
Bouchard recommended Beausoleil for the job.
It is not known how long Beausoleil will be in the position — she has an open mandate as interim director-general — or whether she may be asked or will apply to be the permanent leader of the force should Prud’homme not be cleared or not return.
“This is not what is being asked of me,” Beausoleil said when asked by reporters if she’s interested in the job. “And this is a hypothetical question. We are not at this stage yet.”
Her arrival was welcomed starting at the top by Premier François Legault, who was asked if appointing a civilian to the strategic post is an advantage.
“There are pros, there are cons,” Legault told reporters earlier. “What’s important is that the person shows leadership, that she be accepted by the employees of the SQ, that she be someone who has a proven track record in managing personnel.”
Beausoleil said she does not see an obstacle by the fact she is not a police officer and is taking over a force that has traditionally been run like a military operation.
“I don’t see this (no police status) as a challenge,” Beausoleil said. “It think it’s a question of competency, much more than a question of sex or civil status.”
The opposition parties had no objections to the nomination, but interim Liberal Leader Pierre Arcand returned to the Prud’homme departure question.
“It’s not normal that after all this time, after a person is removed from their functions, that this person not know exactly where he stands,” Arcand said.
Born in Montreal, Beausoleil, 56, has degrees from the Université du Québec à Montréal and a masters in public administration from the École nationale d’administration publique (ENAP).
Although she will be seen as an outside bureaucrat in the SQ, Beausoleil worked there for four years as an internal auditor where she was responsible for ethics and evaluation of programs for the top brass.
She also has 27 years experience working for Quebec’s correctional services, including five years as a deputy public security minister for correctional services.
There have been two civilian bureaucratic heads of the SQ in the past: Guy Coulombe, a top “go-to” mandarin on tough issues in 1996, and Florent Gagné, another bureaucrat, in 2003.
Under a new law, the full-time head of the force has to be voted on by two-thirds of MNAs in the legislature.