The Hustings

The Hustings: Gratuity with no gratitude

Columnists in the National Post have been offering their two cents on tipping. Within the last month, both Robyn Urback and Jonathan Kay have argued in favour of it, while Andrew Coyne rightly argued that the practice needs to end.

As Coyne argues, tipping “has nothing to do with the quality of the service.” It has become an automatic formality, where adding an extra fifteen per cent to the bill seems as natural as signing your own name at the bottom of the receipt. In a recent trip to the pub, my friends and I were shocked by the carelessness of our server – wrong orders, spilt drinks, tardy service – yet we all still added a pourboire (albeit smaller) when the night came to a close. The practice is so engrained that it never crossed our minds to abstain completely. If our tip truly depended on the quality of service, this would never have been an issue.

I learned about this the hard way on one of my first forays into Montreal’s nightlife. After waiting at the bar for ten minutes for watered-down, overpriced drinks from a rude waiter, my friend and I decided she didn’t deserve our “voluntary” boost. We took our drinks and left, with the bartender’s furious voice leaving a trail of ‘you cheap shits’ – or something to that effect – on the way to our seats.

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Prince Arthur Herald | Huffington Post

PAH: An interview with trilingual PQ candidate Marcos Archambault

Anglophones tend to have a very one-dimensional view of the people who support the Parti Québécois. The stereotype is someone who’s not very intellectual, irrationally separatist, and xenophobic. To be fair, that’s unfair to the majority of the party’s supporters, and some of their candidates as well. To get a better understanding of the Péquiste mind, I spoke with Marcos Archambault, the twenty-one year old PQ candidate for Vaudreuil, a riding just off the island of Montreal. Archambault attended a public English elementary school and a private high school in Westmount; he is trilingual and currently studying translation at the Université de Montréal. Here is my conversation with him.

 

You’ve been with the PQ for a long time and you ran with them in the 2012 election. Why do you support the party?

Because it’s a social-democratic party. It looks out for the better needs of the citizens and supporting them with social programs that meet their needs. It’s a party of ideas and it’s a party that comes from the members: the program and the platform comes from the members. Members of the party can come up to the microphone and say whatever they want. It’s purely based on what the members want. That’s one of the reasons why I support the PQ: the structure of the party is logical and it comes from the grassroots.

Secondly, it’s a party that has a future and a vision for Quebec. I’m not a great fan of the status quo because we’re very caught up with issues like the debt and the Liberals propose no change to the status quo. We have a vision for the future, for the economy of Quebec. We want to enrich Quebec with jobs and the government has been doing well so far in that matter. Forty-seven thousand jobs have been created, and 27,000 of those jobs are full time paying jobs. If you look at the Liberal governments from 2003 to 2012, they have a horrible track record when it comes to jobs. We’re creating conditions to help entrepreneurship. And I think that’s what’s important to Quebecers in this election.

 

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Prince Arthur Herald | Huffington Post

PAH: In Quebec, our political choices are uninspiring

On April 7, Quebecers will have to choose: they can go backwards, or they can go backwards faster. At least that was the impression gathered from Thursday night’s leaders’ debate.

As with every other debate ever, each party claimed that they best represented the needs of Quebecers, they claimed that they could create the most jobs, and each promised to serve the citizens with integrity. But when it comes to the real issues that divide them, voters are left with downright uninspiring choices.

Philippe Couillard, whose posture was stiff and his body language disengaged, presented his ideas without much enthusiasm during the four-way battle royale. His plans were all ones voters had heard before from previous Liberal leaders, there was not much new to be learned. On the economic side, his policies were the most fiscally responsible without being too conservative for the taste of Quebecers. And yet, successive governments have shown that this balance is always harder to accomplish in practice. He was very reserved during the debate, which is normal for the front runner since he had the most to lose. With recent polls showing the Liberals three points ahead of the PQ, his goal was just to stay on message and not cause himself necessary damage. Still, there was nothing in his performance to inspire undecided voters, let alone his own supporters. When it comes to Couillard, one has to wonder if he has the will to face the problems that would confront him as premier.

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Prince Arthur Herald | Huffington Post

PAH: The top 5 reasons you need to fear the PQ

5. They want to control what you wear

Yes, I’m talking about the Quebec Charter of Values. It will allow the state to tell you what you can and cannot wear as well as what you can and cannot say. As one Prince Arthur Herald editorialalso described, it won’t only affect people who are religious; it will impact everyone, including by amending the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. This divisive and xenophobic law – which will doubtlessly be brought up often during the campaign, given that promoting fear in voters has been shown to help win elections – would run directly counter to both the Quebec and the Canadian charters of rights and freedoms. If the PQ gets re-elected on April 7, the Charter will make its way into law. This is the same government that tried to ban turbaned children from playing soccer, so you can count on many more weird and ridiculous attacks on individual liberty from the PQ, both during the election and afterwards.

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Postmedia

Canada.com: Russians and their vodka: a brief history

With the Sochi winter Olympics underway, many will decide to celebrate their nations’ victories as the Russians do – with plenty of vodka. Excessive drinking has become the West’s favourite stereotype of the former Soviet republic, and its historical context provides good reason for this. So while you enjoy that fifth vodka soda and cheer on Team Canada, consider the long and complex history booze has played in Russian history.

Russians have considered drinking part of their culture for over a millennium. In 986, Grand Prince Vladimir chose Christianity as the official religion of Kievan Rus because, unlike Islam, it accepted the consumption of alcohol – a decisive move that foreshadowed a nation of drinkers. Over time the distilling process improved, and the first refined vodka was introduced in the 1400s. Vodka became a staple of Russian culture, and with it carried many norms and customs.

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Prince Arthur Herald | Huffington Post

PAH: An Interview with brew master Charles Bierbrier

‘Tis the season to drink.

Last year, a BMO report estimated that the average Canadian spent $85 on alcohol in December; that’s one bottle of spirits, three bottles of wine, and 27 bottles of beers per person. Sales of alcohol spike 40% around the holidays — 65% in Quebec — making it the most popular month for drunken stupors. This increase is not only to the advantage of the jolly consumer looking for a little social lubrication, but also for the 1 in 100 Canadians whose job depends on beer. One of those people is Charles Bierbrier, owner of the Montreal micro-brewery Bierbrier Brewing. Since opening in 2005, his business has expanded significantly. The former one-man show now employs ten people — “lean and mean” as he says — and brews several thousand hectolitres of premium beer a year. With Christmas fast approaching, I spoke to Charles about the status of beer in Canada and his own position as a beer brewer. Here’s the conversation.

First off, are you tired of interviewers always asking you about the significance of your last name?

Never! Bierbrier comes from the German word meaning ‘brewer of beer’ which is what my family did generations ago in Europe. I guess it was destiny.

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Prince Arthur Herald | Huffington Post

PAH: Watch out Facebook: McGill students launch a new encrypted social network

There are few social media websites that would make whistleblowers like Edward Snowden proud.

But that’s exactly what the creators of Syme are trying to do with their new  private, encrypted social network. The beta version of Syme — named after a character in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four who was “vaporized” by the Party because he remained a freethinking intellectual — was launched last week by three McGill students. Only a few days in, they already have the attention of tech magazines like PCWorld and racked up over 3,000 users. The issue of privacy is one that has turned many people away from conventional social media like Facebook and Twitter, and those are exactly the people Syme wants to reach out to. To get a better idea of their plan, I spoke toJonathan Hershon, a third-year psychology and political science student and the co-founder of Syme.

First of all, what is Syme?

Syme is a private social network that’s designed so that we, as the service provider, never have access to what you share. We want to bring more privacy to social networking through a technology called end-to-end encryption, which ensures that a message can only be seen by its intended recipients, and not by ad agencies or prying eyes.

Example_feed

 

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Prince Arthur Herald | Huffington Post

PAH: Congrats on your monarchy, Toronto!

The Prince Arthur Herald would like to congratulate the city of Toronto for installing a monarchical system of government.

Last week, Toronto City Hall passed a motion 37-5 to strip Mayor – the new King of York – Rob Ford of much of his executive powers, leaving Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly with the control of the city. With the chain of office around his neck and a nearly empty court, His Royal Highness can do little more than tour the city and hold claim to a title that cannot be removed, like so many other figurehead monarchies around the world.

The former Duke of Etobicoke has been trained for this role his whole life and has learned well from an alumni of regalia past.

Learning from the pre-Magna Carta English monarchs, King Ford believed he himself to be above the law and could do as he pleased. For Ford, this means smoking crack, weed – like Queen Victoria – and cocaine, driving drunk, and threatening to murder people. Before 1215 it was mostly about taxation and warfare.

Inspired by George III, the King of York alienated and angered liberals in the faraway land of downtown Toronto with, among other things, fewer taxes. While no tea was spilt, misused letterheads became grounds for a royal commission.

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Prince Arthur Herald | Huffington Post

PAH: 5 reasons to oppose the Charter

Though Pauline Marois is on a crusade to unveil Muslim women, she has no problem covering up our rights and freedoms.

Bill 60, the loftily titled Charter Affirming the Values of State Secularism and Religious Neutrality and of Equality between Women and Men, and providing a Framework for Accommodation Requests, was tabled last week in the Quebec legislature. The Charter seeks to instill state secularism by outlawing religious apparel for civil servants and other government employees.

The constitutional issues with the bill have been well documented since the plan was announced this summer, with most accounts criticising the Charter on the basis of religious-freedom protections in both the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. Yet the effect of the tabled legislation goes far beyond ostentatiously religious civil servants. The bill is riddled with clauses that will affect everyone in society and increase the size of government at an alarming rate. We’ve counted down the five most worrisome aspects of Bill 60.

 

1. The State will be able to tell you what you can and can’t wear, but also what you can and can’t say.

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TomKott.com

Remembering

It seems cliché to reiterate every year how lucky we are that people throughout this nation’s history were willing to risk their lives for the greater good. It has become an automatic reflex to repeat “lest we forget” and “I remember” each November 11 without any second thought to what that really means. Us non-combatants are indeed lucky to only have to think of not forgetting and remembering from afar, knowing only what to remember from what others have told us. To live inside the mind of a veteran is something unfathomable to me, no amount of imagination will ever come close to life on the battlefield.

Attending the Montreal Remembrance Day ceremony on the grounds of McGill University gave me a grain of understanding, yet nothing close to the truth. The air was cold and the field muddy. The slight breeze was enough for the trees to loosen their leaves over the somber ceremony, the scene later enhanced by the sun peaking through the clouds as the bagpipes played. At 11am, a howitzer fired with a thud no one around was ready for, signalling the beginning of a two minutes of silence. People often compare the explosion of fireworks to what it must be like in a war zone, but one shot of the gun and those perceptions die. The gunpowder exploding in the barrel is enough to send a person into shock, being at the receiving end of payload is outside of my realm of emotional comprehension. The 21 shots reverberated in my bones, each delivering a new feeling and a new thought.

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