Author: Matthew Barlow

Merci Beaucoup and Thank You

At the end of May, at the annual Congress for the Humanities and Social Sciences in Regina, SK, my book, Griffintown: Identity & Memory in an Irish Diaspora Neighbourhood, won a CLIO Award from the Canadian Historical Association.  I wrote the best book in Québec history last year.  I was stunned and surprised when I found out about this award in early April and I remain just as gobsmacked today. It is very humbling to be recognized by your peers for your work, I have to say.  It has also been humbling to see the response to the book as...

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Doug Ford: Ontario’s Populist

Canada is beside itself with the election of Doug Ford as the Premier of Ontario.  Ford, the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, is not really all that qualified to be premier, I must say.  The lynchpin of his campaign was a promise of $1 beer, and the rest was based on a basic message that the government of Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne was stupid.  Well, he didn’t exactly say that, but it was pretty much his message.  The centre and left in Ontario and around Canada has been wringing its hands as Donald Trump Lite has...

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Wither Nos Amours

Rusty Staub died yesterday.  ‘Le Grand Orange’ was the first franchise icon for the Montreal Expos.  The Expos, in hindsight, were a star-crossed franchise from the getgo.  Staub arrived in Montreal in the winter of 1969, just before the Expos inaugural season.  He was dealt away in 1972, to the New York Mets.  Social media today in the United States remembers Staub as a long-time Met.  In Canada, he is an Expo. Staub was before my time, he was traded away before I was born.  But I grew up knowing the story of Le Grand Orange, the greatest player in franchise history when I was a kid.  He did return to the ‘Spos, as we called them, in 1979, though he left again in 1980 for Texas.  His #10 was the first number retired by the Expos. His death got me to thinking about the sad history of my first baseball team.  The Expos lasted from 1969-2004, before moving to Washington.  They weren’t a great team, to be honest.  They had their ups, but had more downs, and they left town with an historic losing record.  They won the NL East once, during the 1981 strike season, but then they lost a playoff to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Rick Monday hit the homer that crushed my childhood dreams of a World Series for the ‘Spos.  That day is still...

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Stupid Season in Montreal

Last Thursday night, the Montreal Canadiens hosted the Pittsburgh Penguins.  They lost 5-3.  The Canadiens are having a miserable year, this loss, their 48th of the year (including regulation and overtime losses), officially eliminated them from playoff contention.  The mood in the city is dour and angry.  Fans are upset at management for mismanaging the Franchise, Carey Price.  He had some mystery ailment he said was Chronic Fatigue Syndrome bothering him earlier in the year.  It wasn’t team doctors who noticed it; it was his wife, Angela.  Big defenceman Shea Weber played through a nasty foot injury before being shut down for the season and having surgery. Then there’s the mistakes General Manager Marc Bergevin made in the off-season.  He traded away promising defenceman Mikhail Sergachev for moody, sulky, but very talented forward Jonathan Drouin.  And then the team put Drouin at centre, a position he hadn’t played for years.  Why?  Because the Habs haven’t had a #1 centre since the peak of Saku Koivu’s career in the late 90s/early 00s.  Drouin, not surprisingly, has been a bust.  Bergevin also let iconic defenceman Andrei Markov walk after he insulted Markov in contract negotiations.  Bergevin then had the gall to tell us that the defence was better this year than last.  I could go on and on. Something stinks in the City of Montreal and it is the hockey team....

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The History of the Gerrymander

We live in an era in the United States where, in many states, politicians are picking their voters, not the other way around.  This is because in most states, the boundaries of congressional districts are in the hands of politicians, and the majority of the party in the state house has more or less carte blanche to manipulated these boundaries as they see fit.  In most democracies, this is handled by an independent commission to avoid just this kind of silliness.  When left in the hands of politicians, I can see how the temptation to gerrymander is too great to...

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