NEWS

Daybreak's proposed Charter of Montreal Values

09/25/2013 09:41 EDT | Updated 11/25/2013 05:12 EST
What should we eat in Montreal – or wear, or not wear? What activities should we cherish, which should we ban?

We Daybreakers wonder, what if Montreal had its own charter?

What would it sound like? What would it say?

So we’re going to try to draft one.

Of course, we’ll need your help. But to get the values flowing, we’ve talked to some Montrealers and asked for their suggestions.

Here are some, starting with one that is reminiscent of that other charter:

“Ostentatious religious symbols,” says lawyer Anne-France Goldwater, “would be permitted for any public-service employee actually working to repair a road. Any road. Please…”

Others also referred to the proposed Quebec charter. Eman Al-Husseini is a comedian – a Montrealer of Palestinian origin. She, by the way, says the proposed Quebec charter has been great for her career, because everyone is asking her what she thinks of it.

But she says it’s bad for some people – which leads us to her suggestion for the Montreal Charter. It has to do with her favourite snack, poutine from a dépanneur on Crescent Street in downtown Montreal.

“And it happens to be halal. So now I’m concerned that this dep guy will leave the province. So I hope the Montreal charter will exempt people who contribute in positive ways, and keeps him here.”

​ A note here: We checked with Jahirul Islam, originally from Bangladesh and now the owner of the dépanneur in question, Dépanneur Forum.

He told us his poutine is not halal – nor does he claim it is.

His pizza is halal, and as for the poutine, he stands by his claim that it is the "best in the city."

Many Montrealers seemed to see the value in values about poutine, at least the Montrealers we spoke to. Tamara Brown, an actor, singer and director, told us: “After over two decades of living in Montreal – this is what I’ve found to be true – there is no hurt that cannot be healed with poutine.”

And another from lawyer Anne-France Goldwater, who says she would make poutine “an essential part of every Montrealer’s diet.”

But she would include some exclusions, items that would not be allowed to top off any poutine:

“We may love our Italian mozzarella, we love our Greek feta, but they have no place on our Montreal poutine. Nor does beluga caviar, lobster bisque, or foie gras.”

Others touched on drink, or at least on how Montrealers get home after they drink. Jonathan Goldstein, the host of CBC Radio’s Wiretap and a Montrealer, suggested that the metro stay open later.

“There should be some correspondence,” Goldstein says, “ to how late the metro stays open and how late the bars stay open: Bars stay open until three o’clock… But the metros close before one. I think if you’re going to keep the bars open late, keep the metro open late.”

And while some of our Montrealers suggested changes, others seemed to love things exactly as they are now.

"For me, Montreal has all the charms of a multicultural, multiethnic urban space,” says TK Raghunathan, a former VP of engineering at Bombardier and now the head of the Kabir Cultural Centre.

"It’s a pleasure to walk through the town as it’s all very chic, without being glitzy. Each season has a certain flamboyance when it arrives, almost signing aloud: 'Here I am, erasing your memories of the season that just went by.' Yes, I love Montreal just the way it is.”

In keeping with the positivity, here is another one. It’s from Marie-Claude Lortie, a columnist with la Presse. She wants informality enshrined in our charter. Lortie loves “how we like to get together without invitations, without decorum, easily."

“Pull up a chair, come and sit at my table, bring your friends, come on over. Yes, you can bring your cousin, of course you can, if there’s enough food for two, there’s enough food for seven. Montrealers like to be together easily, in French we say 'à la bonne franquette,' it means without any kind of decorum… I think a Montreal charter of values has to include this love for informality and this love for being together.”

But that’s enough good vibrations.

Here’s another suggestion of possible articles of clothing to be banned.

“Any 'Keep calm and carry on' t-shirts, or any derivatives thereof,” says Andy Nulman, founder of Just for Laughs. “Obviously no Nordiques' wear of any kind – be they hats, sweaters, t-shirts…”

That might, we think, be the most popular value of all. What do the polls show?

Nulman also had a serious thought:

“I think all Montrealers should strive to become the most educated people on the planet, because the more we know, the less ignorant we’ll be, the more tolerant we’ll be and the greater this place will be. And the stronger we will be to fight stupidity in all its forms.”

And finally, we end with some values that sound downright poetic, which makes sense, because they come from a poet.

“Any citizen with a gift for song should always be accompanied with harmony,” suggests Gillian Sze. She adds the following:

“Every citizen has the right to an evening of smoked meat and black-cherry cola, the blinding bouquet of jazzed youth lined up at the doors, the sight of his or her shadow waxing and waning, as the cars pass, and faultless weather on foot.”

"Everyone has the right to solitude, to not always loving Montreal, to forgive it for its shortcomings, to fall in love again."

So there is a small sample.

Now it’s your turn.

We value you, so tell us, what do you want in a Charter of Montreal Values.

Email us at: daybreak.montreal@cbc.ca or simply give us your comments, below.

MORE:cbcNews