The Frenglish Digest: Elections Frenzy, Taxi Rivalry & Urban Graffiti

The Frenglish Digest. Photo Diamond Yao. The Frenglish Digest. Photo Diamond Yao.

If I don’t say it, it must not exist

Pull out your banners, elections frenzy has officially started. On August 2nd, Prime Minister Stephen Harper launched his campaign with a first stop in Mount-Royal. About 300 people attended the rally, making it one of the most low-key opening events ever in a Canadian federal election. Home to the second largest Jewish population in Canada, the Mount-Royal riding represents a potential rare Conservative seat in Montreal. In fact, there are very few other places in the country where Harper’s hard line pro-Israel stance and his combative approach to the war against the Islamic state could resonate more loudly.

However, gaining a foothold in the notoriously anti-Conservative province of Quebec was not the only thing at stake Sunday night. Old history found a rather sly way to rear up its head in the ongoing political sea of rivalries. In a silent passive-aggressive nod to his challenger, incumbent Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister never mentioned the Trudeau surname during the event. Instead, the Liberal leader was simply referenced as Justin (his analogue in the NDP did not get a similar treatment). One Conservative insider explained that the move had the effect of belittling Trudeau while also successfully dodging unnecessary positive reminders of Trudeau’s charismatic father, Pierre-Elliot Trudeau. The ex-Liberal Prime Minister held the Mount-Royal riding for his entire political career.

Plane in Plain Sight

Plane troubles continue this week at P.E. Trudeau. Air Transat flight TS564 was diverted to Montreal on Friday due to electronic issues. The Airbus A-310 was heading to Manchester, U.K. from Toronto but turned around over the Atlantic Ocean after passing Newfoundland. A spokesperson for the airport confirmed that the plane landed safely.

Cab without Cash

Taxis, on the other hand, got struck with positive news this week. In a press release on Wednesday, Denis Coderre announced that all cabs in the city will have to accept credit and debit card as fare payment starting in mid-October. He hopes the change will make the drivers safer, as they won’t be carrying as much cash on them, adding that electronic payments were an essential component of a service worthy of an urban 21st century metropolis. The announcement was very warmly received among the taxi community. “We’ve been waiting for this to happen for a while,” said Dani Atallah, Vice-President of the Regroupement de Propriétaires de Taxis de Montreal, adding that it was a much needed weapon in their ongoing fight against stiff competitor Uber. The increasingly popular carpooling service only accepts credit cards, a sharp contrast with the current cash-only approach of Montreal taxis.

Happy Birthday Under Pressure

This week ended on an artistic note. Under Pressure International Graffiti Convention, the largest urban-art event in North America, turned 20 last Saturday on Ste-Catherine. Each year, more than 50 artists from all over the world gathered together on a stretch of the city’s vibrant commercial street between Ste-Elisabeth and Berger to transform it into a masterpiece in just two days. Concerts, art exhibitions, murals and b-boy battles were all there to celebrate the spirit of graffiti and urban culture.