Tag Archives: Quebec

Two Kinds of Leadership

Last night, the Montreal Canadiens beat the Philadelphia Flyers in an empty arena. Two hours before puck drop, the provincial government of Quebec asked the team to close the Bell Centre to spectators. It was one of a series of measures instituted, in the words of the CBC, “as COVID-19 cases soar.”

Other measures: Reduced capacity in bars, restaurants, theaters, places of worship, funerals, weddings, any indoor public gatherings. Private indoor gatherings are capped at 10. It’s pretty damn serious.

Province-wide, 2,736 cases were reported Thursday, the highest single-day total since January 3. The government expected Friday’s total to be around 3,700.

Wow, that’s a lot of cases.

Wait. How many people in Quebec?

8.4 million.

How many in Vermont?

643,000.

Hmm. Cases per capita in Quebec on Thursday? 3.25.

Cases per capita in Vermont on Thursday? 10.

Ohhhhhhh. So a case rate enough to trigger decisive action in Quebec is less than one-third Vermont’s total for the same day. I’d say we have two contrasting kinds of leadership here.

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Oh, so THAT’S where all our gunk is going

The recent blue-green algae bloom that caused a shutdown of the public water system in Toledo, Ohio has brought overdue public attention to our own algae troubles in Lake Champlain. (With an undertone of sneering about the industrial Midwest’s environmental stewardship.) Various media outlets have asked the musical question, “Could it happen here?” And they’ve dutifully reported the bland reassurances of local officials and the warning cries from advocacy groups.

But one media outlet took a unique step, and discovered that hell yes, it’s already happening here.

Or near here, anyway. In last week’s edition of Seven Days, Kathryn Flagg surveyed the landscape for traces of blue-green… and her search took her to the upper end of the lake – over the border in Quebec.

Though drinking water from Lake Champlain on this side of the border has never tested positive for the toxins associated with blue-green algae, some Québec residents routinely receive notices that their water is not safe to drink.

… “I’ve lived in Bedford since 2004, and it happens every summer,” said Aleksandra Drizo, a research fellow at the University of Vermont…

Wow, I thought to myself. That’s really bad. A lot worse than Toledo, right?

And then I thought, Wait a minute. Doesn’t Lake Champlain flow north?

Flagg’s article didn’t say, but another story in Seven Days confirmed my thought.

So… our gunk is poisoning their water.

Which ought to make us clean, natural and green Vermonters ashamed and embarrassed. We’re exporting our environmental damage. And because our gunk is (at least partly) flowing northward, we don’t suffer the consequences.

That’s appalling. And it’s one more sign that Vermont’s pure-green reputation isn’t nearly as deserved as we like to think.