Tag Archives: Montréal Crime

An Incomprehensible Display of Political Incompetence: Amir Khadir Must Resign

The slovenly and unkempt Paul Rose, attempting to demonstrate his solidarity with the world's oppressed.
The slovenly and unkempt Paul Rose, attempting to demonstrate his solidarity with the world’s oppressed.

Earlier today perennial last-place contestant Québec Solidaire issued a statement pertaining to the death of the convicted terrorist, felon and murderer Paul Rose.

Further still, MNA Amir Khadir insinuated that he will table a motion before the National Assembly that something be done to recognize Rose’s efforts – as an activist and militant separatist, Rose was also involved in several parties that would eventually become Québec Solidaire, a party I once honeslty thought I’d support. According to Khadir, it’s all about paying tribute to those who helped shape Québec’s identity and history.

Right – this sounds curiously similar to Southerners who parade around Klan memorabilia and Confederate flags as innocent tokens of ‘a spirit of independence’.

The FLQ, a terrorist organization that sought to secure Québec independence through armed insurrection, bombings, robberies, kidnappings and, eventually the murder of Pierre Laporte, has been given a similar treatment by modern day separatists, so fuelled by piss-poor revisionist history they refuse to put the issue plainly.

Too many times they have asserted that Laporte simply died, that his kidnapping and beatings at the hands of a gang of illiterate thugs had no impact on his demise, that he suffocated on his own crucifix, that he had tried to escape and got cut up so badly he bled out.

And now Québec Solidaire is going a step further in what can only be described as the worst kind of political opportunism, seeking to pick up a little more support at the expense of the vastly unpopular Parti Québécois.

As if it wasn’t bad enough that Québec Solidaire would call for tributes for a man convicted of murder, there’s the bigger issue in that QS is by extension advocating violence as a legitimate method of either forcing a political issue to the fore or of accomplishing a political goal of one kind or another.

Does it give anyone else the willies QS polled so high amongst student activists? The very same militant students, in fact, who refuse to negotiate and who are equally unwilling to even try and keep their ranks calm during their monthly protest marches.

What shall we do as a society when the next FLQ rears its ugly head? Will Amir Khadir be responsible for a kidnapped education minister?


I’m a combination of too tired and too mortified to make much sense here. I honestly cannot believe any self-respecting individual, a doctor and father no less, could possibly have anything positive to say about this horrible man. For the record, I believe in rehabilitation, and I’m more than willing to accept that people can change fort he better. But that requires remorse, something Paul Rose never showed.

We should remind ourselves that René Lévesque set the stage for peaceful political negotiations by coming out, during the height of the October Crisis, and joining his arch-rival Pierre Trudeau in savagely denouncing the FLQ for what it was – a group of uneducated schmucks, petty criminals, who killed and maimed janitors, maids, night watchmen and other working class types before finally killing Laporte. Lévesque made his point clear – he didn’t want to lead a new country if that country couldn’t come into existence without violence. He set a high moral standard most of Québec society agreed with.

After all, Laporte may not have been the most popular politician according to the fringe separatist/anarcho-syndicalist/Marxist-Leninist types who composed the FLQ back in 1970, but he didn’t deserve to die in such a way.

When they kidnapped him from outside his modest suburban home, he was playing football with his adopted son. Paul Rose organized the Chenier Cell’s kidnapping operation.

What a monster eh?

I wonder if Mr. Khadir has ever feared being kidnapped by political extremists while enjoying quality time with his children? I shouldn’t think so.

Politicians and activists get kidnapped and killed in his native Iran. He moved here the year after the October Crisis, so perhaps we should give him the benefit of the doubt – politicians aren’t typically terribly knowledgeable about e=historical events, even if they were alive while they happened. Fuzzy memories…


I’m calling on Mr. Khadir to renounce violence as a means to achieve political goals and resign, immediately. Obviously there’s little hope he’ll do the right thing, but what the hell – it needs to be said, he has no right to represent any Québécois.

It’s grossly hypocritical, inconsistent and so devoid of logic, rational thinking or even a basic understanding of Québec social and cultural norms you’d think these statements came from a recent Republican immigrant from the most inbred counties of West Virginia.

But no, Mr. Khadir is a self-styled progressive, doctor, and seems to be interested in running an independent country. This is what an apparently educated man thinks.

I’m at a total loss. People wonder why I have no interest in being a politician…

Québec Solidaire is dead to me as long as this clown retains his seat.

Sun News Network, where facts take a back-seat to convenience…

I guess I’m first to catch the glaring flaw here. Yay for history majors!

To begin, I watched the interview and I agree in principle that men can sometimes get the shit end of the legal stick when it comes to custody issues following a divorce. This is partially a reaction to having a justice system which at one point in the past uniquely served the interests of caucasian heterosexual adult males. Times have changed and we’re better off for it.

But theres a huge problem here.

Ms. Titus’ argument is in part based on the idea that the media doesn’t report the male victims of crimes or injustices of a psycho-sexual nature, that the victims, from a mainstream media perspective, seem to tend towards almost exclusively being women. As for the aggressors, they almost always seem to be men. Ms. Titus, in an effort to bring her point home refers to the four un-named male victims of the Montreal Massacre (aka Polytechnique Shooting) on Dec. 6th 1989. Her credibility then nose-dives because…

It never happened.

There were no men killed at the Polytechnique, save for the lone gunman. The four men she refers to were killed, wait for it:

a) three years later
b) at a different university
c) with a different weapon
d) for a fundamentally different reason
e) from a different person (also a man, now in jail, likely not to be paroled)

Ms. Titus used a tactic which has been well-used by Sun TV, Sun News, CNN, Fox News etc etc etc for years. It’s called ‘conflation’. Since most people can’t remember what happened last week, most people simply smush events together for their own convenience. Ask a history prof how maddening this is.

There’s absolutely no debate when it comes to the victims list from the Polytech Shooting – they were all women killed for being women by a man who claimed feminists had ruined his life. He stated as such in his suicide note. He only shot at women, he only killed women.

I cannot stress this enough. But because the Polytechnique Massacre and Concordia Massacre happened relatively close together, Ms. Titus has decided to apply four senseless male deaths at Concordia University to a crime committed three years earlier in hopes of bolstering her weak position and lack of credible evidence.

*** Author’s Note – October 10th 2011***

I’ve been corresponding with Ms. Titus and she alleges that she had received the incorrect information from students she interviewed. There was a linguistic barrier, as Ms. Titus cannot speak French, and she further alleges that the students led her to believe several men had been killed in the incident, though they could not pinpoint precisely where they had heard this. Ms. Titus insists that she corrected these statements, though I’ve yet to ascertain where such a retraction would have been posted.

That said, I don’t have much too say, I think she’s already done a number on her own credibility by admitting to using less than satisfactory research methods. While I can understand there is a pressure of sorts while appearing on unscripted live television, there is no excuse to use such flawed ‘information’ to form a core component of your argument. Frankly, if more people working in the 24-hr cable news industry made more of an effort to censor themselves and try, sincerely, to only speak the truth, or, to ensure that points are based on demonstrable facts, our society would be considerably less polarized. Instead, such infotainment organizations (like Sun News Network) are driven by spurious scandals and invented controversies. Facts take a back seat because pundits have no interest in finding the truth. This is a distinction between ‘media personality’ and ‘journalist/reporter’ our society must recognize, but unfortunately we are still functionally illiterate when it comes to most media and communications issues. Too many of us still only trust the town crier, and we need to evolve past this. Ms. Titus should have refrained from using this example to build her argument, but ultimately my objection lies not chiefly with her, but rather with Sun News for their selective omission, selective fact-checking, and custom-fit misinformation they traffic in.

But to ensure the record is clear, she does acknowledge the mistake and has apologized for making the assertion, incorrect as it is.


It’s not like Fox News North is going to do a god damn thing to help her get her facts straight and this in turn weakens us. We can’t have random, opportunistic people like this being supported by equally opportunistic assholes like Michael Coren, Sun News, Quebecor etc.

This is hardly great stuff, but I suppose I wouldn’t nearly be as disappointed if it weren’t for the fact that men’s rights forums and other commentators are falling-in step behind this, calling it good stuff, a decent argument etc. No one has noticed this crucial fabrication.

As a proud man, I choose to honour my pride by ensuring I know the facts before I open my mouth, and certainly before I go on TV in front of the 20 or 30 people who may or may not be watching Sun News.

Well this is interesting…

The body of Matthew Besner, recovered on Tuesday Dec. 21st, 2010 - not the work of the author.

I’ve always been bothered by this.

Matthew Besner was a regular 27 year old guy who, last December, walked out of l’Orignal restaurant in the Old Port and wound up being found dead in the Lachine Canal three days later. You can read the CTV News article here.

In February of this year, the coroner’s office decided the death was accidental, the result of the inebriation of the victim. The coroner indicated that the victim had walked into the canal, fallen through the ice, regained his footing, fell through again and died of hypothermia while partially submerged, trying to free himself. You can read all about that here.

What disturbs me is that it seems so illogical, regardless of Besner’s blood alcohol level, which was reported at 0.26.

For one he was found a good distance from the bar. I estimate that it could have taken about twenty minutes to walk that distance, keeping in mind that the victim was apparently unfamiliar with his surroundings, as he was reported to have entered a depanneur near the Old Port restaurant he was frequenting to ask for directions to Verdun. While I suppose he was heading in the direction of Verdun, what would possess a Montrealer to cross the thin ice of the Canal? It wasn’t terribly cold back then, I’m not even certain it had really snowed much up to that point last winter. What would possess him to continue walking around in the cold without a hat or gloves that night, and why cross at that point of the Canal after potentially crossing paths with two bridges along Rue de la Commune? At the point where he was found, the Mill Street Bridge over the Canal would have been within eyesight.

It was this wikipedia article on the Smiley Face murder theory that raised the hairs on the back of my neck. Why was he trying to find a way to Verdun? Why walk all that way? Intoxication seems too convenient an answer, a catch-all and lesson on why we shouldn’t drink too much all at the same time. You might want to consider this blog, which has been keeping track of some 200 responsible, college-aged men who have gone missing or inexplicably turned up dead across parts of North America over the last few years – Footprints at the River’s Edge

I’d really like to know if the workers who found Besner halfway submerged in the ice didn’t also notice a smiley face graffitied onto the side of the billboard pole you can see in the above photograph.

Commemorating the Blue Bird Café Fire

James O'Brien, responsible for the fire that killed 37 people on Sept. 1st 1972 - not the work of the author

The Blue Bird Café and Wagon Wheel country bar were once located on Union Street, south of Ste-Cat’s on the west side, in what is now a parking lot. On Friday September 1st 1972 three young men, O’Brien among them, were denied entry to the Wagon Wheel for being excessively drunk. They left but came back with a plan only conceivable to several inebriated young men – to start a fire on the staircase leading to the upstairs club while it was packed with Labour Day weekend revelers. The fire quickly got out of hand, spreading throughout both establishments. A detailed report on Wikipedia can be accessed here.

Recently one of the many indirect victims of the disaster, a Kathleen Livingston of Brossard who lost her daughter in the fire, was found murdered in her home. I can’t imagine how awful that must be for the family, especially knowing that the Blue Bird Café Fire has almost entirely been forgotten.

Among other things, the culprits have all been paroled from their life sentences. The families of the victims were given a mere 1 to 3,000$ and the City, Fire Dept. and proprietor walked away from one of the worst disasters in the city’s history.

What breaks your heart isn’t the death toll or even the disturbing images – such as these recently posted to Coolopolis – its the fact that it could have been prevented.

Most of those who died died together, huddled in a bunch by a rear window, hoping to escape the smoke and flames. A rear exit had been locked shut, and people were trampled as the patrons upstairs rushed to the ground floor Blue Bird, itself filling with smoke and flames racing across the ceiling support beams. That the fire escape was locked would be grounds enough for the City, Fire Dept. and proprietor to be on the hook for a substantial amount, but the victims were nonetheless not properly compensated.

It’s disconcerting, but the fact that we haven’t had a fire with a major death toll since may be an indication that the city and Fire Dept. take the issue of a major fire at a crowded restaurant or club a little more seriously. There have of course been some spectacular fires since, such as the paper recycling plant that went up without any victims back on June 8th or the fire at the old Franciscan Monastery at Hope & René-Lévesque which went up in flames in February of 2010. Still, I’d hate to think that it’s the kind of thing which is bound to happen from time to time. I remember an ex girlfriend of mine telling me that Steve’s Music Store on St-Antoine was a tinderbox waiting to burn. She indicated that the interior was too cluttered, the exits not clearly labelled and that the owner had bribed the Fire Dept. to look the other way on bad wiring, lack of extinguishers, smoke detectors etc. I don’t know if its true or not, but I definitely tell people I know to always go there knowing exactly what they want, and to make the trip a short one.

I think it’s for the fact that I believe the citizenry needs to always keep one step ahead of the great threats to our communities that we commemorate the Blue Bird Café fire. A plaque is hardly sufficient, and the location of the building – in a what is now a parking lot on an unimportant side street downtown – won’t grab people’s attention. By contrast, I remember seeing a memorial in downtown Toronto dedicated to construction workers killed in industrial accidents (I think it’s near the Metro Toronto Centre) that literally stopped me in my tracks. It was bold and in-your-face, detailing the way these poor people died. Something akin to that in Montréal, to commemorate the Blue Bird Café fire, would be a good use of public funds. Effective use of installation art can drive the emotions of ordinary people, and make them care about issues that may not have necessarily occurred to them without prompting. Something like that for the Blue Bird – something like that to remind us of man’s follies and our greatest dangers and the responsibilities we share as citizens to ensure each others’ safety. Another feather in the cap of big government, I would never want to have corporate interests considered before the needs and rights of the people. If only so much influence could finally come from this tragedy. I think we all share in a responsibility to make something happen here.

Gang & Mafia Violence in Montr̩al РA Query

Paolo Violi, dead in a pool of his own blood: aka - The Way Out - not the work of the author, probably the work of a crime scene photog

Montréal has a bizarre problem with crime. It’s hard to describe it without getting bogged down in seemingly contradictory nuance and jargon relating to crime statistics throughout the city. For most of the last century, Montréal, owing to its combination as port city, Canadian metropolis and Sin City appeal have resulted in a long and colourful history when it comes to crime. For instance, we have a retardedly low homicide rate but are also a focal point for the illicit gun and narcotics trade, which is in itself largely thanks to our massive, strategic port, in addition to the presence of several Aboriginal reserves (especially Akwasasne, which is in essence a backdoor for smugglers into the States). We have had a gang problem since as far back as anyone can remember, and when you break down the gangs by demographics, there are street level hoods for practically every nation represented in our colourful mosaic of a city. Irish mob, Russian mob, multiple biker gangs, Haitian gangs etc etc (all of which are apparently operating in a weird kind of balance. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Calabrian and Sicilian factions of the Montreal Mafia weren’t themselves organizing a strict division of labour between the various other groups operating here). Perhaps that’s why even the gang-violence rates have been going down (until last year if you count the arson cases which have gripped Little Italy). Rape and other sexual assaults are also on the decline, and so is random petty thefts and assaults in the Métro. Ask anyone who lives here, and they’ll tell you its a safe city.

Now – that being said, here’s some unfortunate truth:

For one, we may be in the midst of a full-scale changing of the guard with regards to which faction is running the Mafia here in Montréal. I read a fascinating article to that effect by Alessandro Amerigo on Viceland, which can be accessed here.

Kristian Gravenor, over at Coolopolis, (always a bevy of the lurid and amazing re: crime in the city), has put this video together of interviews with a former street gang leader and local criminologist, with a focus on the Haitian Street Gangs.

The key here is that we’re essentially dealing with what initially started out as loose organizations of people who were trying to level a very unequal playing field. Nowadays it’s different, it’s all about the coin, but there’s a ounce of truth to the idea that these gangs and criminal organizations got their start as a means to protect immigrant communities from abuse. As Montréal is a cosmopolitan, international city, we’ll always have a gang problem.

But why does it seem as though the SPVM isn’t terribly good at catching and prosecuting gang leaders and mob bosses? Why do we have such a hard time keeping a lid on gang violence? One would think that we’d have had enough experience by now to have figured out excellent ways of combating these problems.

Ultimately, it seems to me that the SPVM is quite talented at killing people in exceptionally suspicious circumstances, and then covering up any malfeasance with an enforced code of silence, brought to you by the Police Brotherhood – which itself, much like the Mob, tries to innocently present itself as a benevolent organization that takes care of police widows etc. I can’t remember the last time a Montréal cop was killed in the line of duty.

You’d think that with the mechanisms we have in place vis-a-vis law enforcement (ie – a police union that never turns on its own backed up by a total lack of an internal affairs dept. along with a thoroughly complicit Sureté de Québec and close ties with quasi-Separatist labour unions) would allow the SPVM to prosecute street gangs and criminal organizations with near impunity while exercising extreme prejudice. But alas they don’t. Instead, innocent immigrants, minorities and people biking to work get popped and the word on the street is nil – it’s not your business and you have no comment, lest you want to feel the wrath of the Police Brotherhood.

Almost makes you think the big-league crimes that happen here do so because they’re occasionally allowed to happen. The ultimate in collusion and corruption may be the same apparatus that keeps the general crime rate low. I don’t want to believe this is the case, but sometimes I wonder why a city like ours continues to have to deal with various inter-gang flare-ups of violence. If the Vice article is in any way legitimate, we may have to deal a major spike in violence, akin to the late-1970s when the Sicilians ‘bought-out’ the Calabrians to take control of the local Mafia and its business. Those were dark days, and the people must do whatever they can to prevent such a war from starting again. The question is are we willing to give the SPVM a carte-blanche to wipe out the problem?

How far are we willing to let them go to protect us all?

Crise de confiance/ Crise de conscience

Notice the 'low-visibility' cruiser; is the SPVM out to protect us or wage war against Al-Qaeda?

This article was originally posted to Forget the Box, an independent Montreal-based media collective, which gave me an amazing opportunity to write for them. Check it out.

Last Monday two people were shot and killed by Montreal police. One was intermittently homeless and severely psychologically disturbed. The other was going to work, killed by the ricochet of one of 3-4 bullets fired by an SPVM constable. News updates pertinent to this story have been spotty and unfortunately eclipsed by F-1 weekend, and the key spokesperson for the SQ has been tight-lipped about how the investigation is proceeding. This week it came out that the constables involved were interviewed, albeit several days after the fact. The SQ had returned to the scene, indicating it was both unusual and not unusual simultaneously (I couldn’t help but think this was a ploy to use on the Anglo media, but I digress). Those involved, much like the deceased, were brought to CHUM St-Luc, where they were sequestered from the public. CCTV footage from UQAM is said to exonerate the constables as the mentally unstable Mario Hamel is said to have charged the constables with a knife, though this footage hasn’t been made public. And at the end of the day, the SPVM is once again embroiled in a scandal, the people of Montreal have a little less faith in law enforcement, and whatever seems obvious and factual in this case is muddled by collusion and potential conflicts of interest. Once again, the SPVM is investigated by the SQ, previously well known for the aborted siege of Kanehsatake and their propensity to send ‘agents-provocateurs’ into the fray at various anti-Capitalist demonstrations. Such is life in Montreal, and the regularity of this scenario has doubtless numbed the populace to the continuing problem of police brutality and excessive force. I’d like to think this was our quaint provincial problem, another element of badassery for a city high on street-cred; “don’t fuck with Montrealers, cuz they’ve been schooled by the Montreal fuzz” – that sort of thing – but there’s something about this particular case which stands out and has started affecting the way I think.

The word ‘tragedy’ has been artlessly applied by the few people available to speak openly about the case, such as the seemingly mal-informed Sureté public-relations hack. I suppose it is somewhat tragic, though in PR parlance ‘tragedy’ implies ‘accident’, and there’s nothing accidental about pulling the trigger of a ‘quick-action’ service pistol whilst aiming it at a man’s torso. Moreover, it can hardly be accidental when three or four shots are fired.

I can’t believe that there’s anything accidental about this shooting, when there are so many potential alternatives to using deadly force. I don’t mean to play armchair police-officer, and I still believe that the majority of law-enforcement in this country are regular people who work hard at their jobs and take themselves and their work with utmost seriousness. That being said, it increasingly looks to me as though we may have a law-enforcement problem in this country, one which is beginning to mimic the established law-enforcement problems south of forty-nine in terms of excessive force, though fortunately not yet in terms of frequency. For one, a security guard at the St-Luc hospital, which has its fair share of mentally and psychologically impaired visitors, told a local reporter they handle violent psychopaths and delusional schizophrenics with muscle, numbers, latex gloves and ‘talk-down techniques’. Hamel was well known in his circles, and had made some progress dealing with his mental health issues. That being said, when police approached him that fateful day, he was ripping open garbage bags and tossing their contents into the street. I can’t imagine how one could be a good cop and not know the curbside insane intimately, but apparently the constables involved in this fatal shooting saw him as a lethal threat and used, as they would describe it, appropriate force. Beyond the lethal threat, a maintenance man, Patrick Limoges, on his way to start an early morning shift. As he fell, nearby construction workers rushed to his aid, only to be dissuaded by gun-toting constables who warned them away from assisting the stricken man. It’s either for reasons of crime-scene control or because those involved weren’t sure which one was the threat. And either way I’m unimpressed.

We don’t need to dig up the growing list of innocent citizens killed by the SPVM for one reason or another over the years – it’s long and there’s a fairly accurate list online here at Flics Assassins. Nor do we need to contextualize this incident within the scope of post-9/11 public security planning, or even our country’s own sordid history of police brutality and misconduct – you can do your own research, and I know it will be worth your time. That said, what we ought to be focused on are some of the more basic elements of law-enforcement in this city, this province and country. For starters, are guns necessary in the first place? Could Mario Hamel have been stopped with a taser, a baton or pepper spray? If so, why were these weapons not employed instead? A few days after Hamel and Limoges were killed, SPVM constables responded to a distressed woman in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve similarly armed with a large knife; they tased her and that was that. Second, would regular neighbourhood foot patrols have helped police identify Hamel as fundamentally innocent, given his psychological problems? Would Hamel have felt as threatened if he recognized the intervening constables? Third, and this can go on for a while yet, is this an example of a good reaction time or of exceptionally bad judgement? Depends on who’s asking, and who cares to know. I hate to think someone breathed a sigh of relief when they discovered the victims of this ‘tragedy’ were homeless and a janitor, respectively.

I don’t want to fault the people who did the shooting as much as the system which put a gun in their hand in the first place. I want to blame the system that has flooded our city streets with poor unfortunates who require counseling and medication, but instead will die as anonymous corpses frozen to sidewalks. I want to know what changed our perspective; at what point did a cop go from being a civil-service employee, like a teacher, social-worker or mail-carrier, to someone who exists above and beyond the realm of normalcy – an individual who enforces laws, ostensibly for the public’s benefit, and yet doesn’t have to play by the same rules as the rest of us. Where’s my Police Brotherhood when I fuck up at work? Why can’t I take people’s cameras without reason? Why can’t I push people off the street with impunity? Why am I paying the salary, however indirectly, of the people who may one day kill or abuse me, perhaps tragically?

But the most disturbing question, after all that has been written about recent incidents of police brutality and misconduct, here in the 514 or elsewhere in Canada, is that the public is as paralyzed collectively as they are individually. We’ve become numb. We’ve become tolerant of yet another excess, but unlike apathy or deep-fried food, the excesses of law-enforcement, culminating in abuse and brutality as we’ve witnessed over the course of the last decade, will undoubtedly compromise our individual sovereignty. The people must act now before it’s too late, and though this nightmare scenario has ‘been done’ insofar as we’ve seen it manifest itself across the silver screen, it doesn’t mean we aren’t already in the process of losing our collective assurance to individual freedom. And freedom from needless death is pretty crucial – it’s one of the ‘pillars of difference’ that distinguishes our society from the dictatorships we precision-bomb.

And yet, here we are; on my short walk back from work the other day I passed five banks and a synagogue. Each had a security guard out front.