The up-scale London-based Monocle magazine has just issued their latest list of the world’s 25 most livable cities.

Vancouver placed eighth – higher than any other North American city – while Montreal finished 16th on the list. Toronto didn’t make the cut.

Monocle lauded Vancouver for its role in fighting climate change, increasing building density and cracking down on drug use in preparation for 2010 Olympics. Vancouver lost marks for its high crime rate, but jumped seven spots after placing 15th in 2007.

The magazine called Montreal « Canada’s cultural capital » (to which I say Amen) . The city was also credited for its strong arts community, booming gaming and aerospace industries and its extensive network of free wireless Internet. It lost marks for its strained health care system, poor recycling facilities and growing income disparity.

Having lived in Montreal since 1972, I would add the snap, crackle and pop produced by one of the largest French cities in the world, the network of bicyle paths and the glorious Mount Royal caparisoned in greenery and towering over the city. And let’s not forget the summer with wall to wall festivals headed by the jazz festival which attracts so many American tourists.

Monocle named Copenhagen the most livable city, on the strength of its green space and « sense of humour. » Munich, Tokyo, Zurich and Helsinki rounded out the top five.

Only three U.S. cities, Honolulu, Minneapolis and Portland made the list. I have been in the first two but not Portland (unless they are talking about Portland, Maine, which I very much doubt.?

Rome, London and New York were not mentioned by the magazine, which looked at smaller, user-friendly cities with vibrant arts scenes, plenty of parks and a friendly face.

Which has been your favourite place to live?

Where would you move to if you could?

I was a big fan of « Meet the Press » and Tim Russert, a man of faith, of family and of politics. RIP.

Am off Kingston this morning by train for a family birthday. Back on Monday. Have a great weekend.



  1. 1
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    My favourite place to live and the only one in which I have ever felt completely at home is Montreal, the city of my birth, where I grew up, and have lived the majority of my life.

    Whether walking through NDG, Snowden, or downtown, I love the smells and sounds of the streets and the chill of the air which, save for December through March, I prefer over the heat of the dessert (which has its own wonderful comforts).

    I had never been to Vancouver until 2002 when I spent 5 days there as a result of which I now understand why everyone wants to move there. It may not be « home » but it is the most beautiful city I’ve ever visited.

    But back to Montreal. I take great issue with Monacle calling Montreal « Canada’s cultural capital ». « Culture » can only flourish, thrive, define, and nourish a person or a people when it is free and unencumbered. As long as Bill 101 is the law of the land, there is no real culture in Quebec but, instead, has in its place a Potemkin Village as culture, one that is false and reflects only a repressive mindset that is a blemish to the whole of Quebec society.

    Bill 101 is more than just a sign law, which most people associate it with. It sticks its meddling little fingers into every crook and nanny of Quebec society: language of education, the National Assembly, the courts, commercial signage, common language, unions, and business communication and interaction. Culture lies at the very core of all these different facets of society and they have been forever contaminated by Bill 101 which imposes the tyranny of the majority in areas that must and should be free.

    Of particular concern when it comes to culture is « common language » which can only be defined in free and democratic societies by freedom of speech and freedom of association. « Common language » is how we all choose to communicate and express ourselves and lies at the very core of our societal and interpersonal interactions, whether at home or at work. Bill 101’s stated goal is to make a specific language the normal and everyday language of communication, commerce and business and to repress the use of other languages.

    The very existance of this race law/hate law infects the very idea that Montreal can have a culture, let alone one that alleges to be the culture capital of a country.

  2. 2
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Tony, please look around you. Montreal will soon have it’s little Greek Village like it has Little Italy, China Town, Portuguese enclave and so on. In the Newstands, at least downtown, you have newspapers from the world over in all languages and alphabet. TV and radio in several languages reflecting its ethnic diversity. Prestigious Anglophone institutions such as McGill, the Shriner’s Hospital, the Montreal Children’s Hospital, etc…
    Bill 101, yes, is an annoyance for all groups concerned, including Francophones. But I’d rather have that than FLQ bombs or Québec français arson. You and I, it seems have been Montrealers for most of our lives, has it hampered your development or your career prospects?
    Come on man get off it and on with our lives.

  3. 3
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Paul: Bill 101 is « an annoyance »?

    A law that violates basic tenets of human decency, human rights charters, and international covenants is a mere « annoyance »?

    And our choice is FLQ bombs or Bill 101?

    Paul, what are you saying about the Quebec people…that they are such barbarians and disrespect democracy and freedom so much that they will resort to and condone bombs, arson, and murder unless human rights-violating legislation is left in place?

    Do you not realize that you have just made the most horrible condemnation of the Quebec people by your remark?

  4. 4
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Tony, extremists are extremists, of whatever stripes they may be. The PQ placated its extremist base. Quebecers by and large are pretty decent and democratic. Otherwise the FLQ would have had popular support which it did not.
    Today, most English speaking commentators, even the Gazette, ackowledge that the current linguistic peace and decline of the sovereignist movement can be partially attributed to Bill 101 which was, save for one or two articles, validated by the Supreme Court.
    However perceptions are perceptions and hard to overcome.

  5. 5
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Paul writes: « …Bill 101 which was, save for one or two articles, validated by the Supreme Court. »

    Well, I read something like that and I weep.

    If someone as apparently well educated and knowledgable about current events as you, Paul, is under the impression that Bill 101 was validated by the Supreme Court « save for one or two articles », I wonder what hope there is for the less educated sectors of Quebec society?

    Indeed, it makes me ponder from which sources you get your information. It also makes me ask what you’ve been smoking.

    It is the complete opposite of what you cliam, Paul. Except for the last challenge to the language of education provisions of Bill 101 of a few years ago, challenges to Bill 101 have consistently won in the Supreme Court: Blaikie I, Blaikie II, Canada Clause case, Ford, Devine, etc. Even the Allen Singer case in which Singer wanted the right to put up unilingual English commercial signs did not lose (as was pointed out to me by his attorney Magnum who corrected me when I made the mistake of saying Singer lost…he said that he won 50% of his challenge, which is exactly what happened).

    And the challenge that the Supreme Court turned down — the last language of education case brought by Brent Tyler that I alluded to — only lost because of section 23 of the Canadian Charter which was based upon and inspired by the very provisions of Bill 101 that Tyler was challenging! And which is, of course, a most horrible and vile race law that metes out rights to residents of Canada based upon who their parents are and what classification their parents are.

    We can only hope that Tyler gets enough money to challenge this race law before the United Nations.

    I want to address the rest of the misunderstandings of your post, Paul, but I have to first recover from the absurdity of this most gross understanding of yours.

    Any possibility that you can retract your statement and stand corrected?

  6. 6
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Tony, on this as on other subjects, you and I have a different reading of facts and events. I do not question your integrity or the produce you may or may not smoke. The current discussion is loaded with emotions, on both sides. I have, in several instances, fought for Anglo rights and I still will when and if the need arises. The people I have worked with in the Laurentians as with CHSSN will attest to that. I was a member of one of the two first Committees on Access to English Language Health and Social Services in this province…and we achieved real results despite your perceptions.
    As the Brits say « The proof of the pudding is in the eating ».
    Stormy weat6her is forcasted for Montreal-Laval and the South Shore, let’s keep it outside.
    And by the way 50% is half a defeat also.

  7. 7
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Paul: Whether the Supreme Court has or has not validated Bill 101 is not a consideration, as you suggest, of « you and I having a different reading of facts and events », it has to do with facts that are undisputable.

    You rewrite history — and facts — by saying what you say. But go ahead and delude yourself…so far as I can tell, you’re still free to do that in Canada if you choose.

  8. 8
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Thank you.

  9. 9
    Chimera Says:

    Vancouver is that far up the list? I want to know how they measure liveability. I’ll bet their definition is nowhere near the same as mine…

    I would love to vist Montreal. It has a place in my travel fantasies rivalled only by Quebec (city). I’ve been to La Belle Province only a few times, many years ago, and always only to to Shield country, which is stunningly beautiful.

    I’ve been to Toronto. Not surprised it didn’t make the list.

    And as for Montreal’s being called the Cultural Capital of Canada…better move over, Neil. Surrey, BC has claimed that title this year. Our festival season started a few weeks ago, and there’s always something happening with the various and sundry cultures whose people make their homes here. And this year, we’re starting a new tradition — the Fusion Festival — a three day blowout of music, food, dance, and cultural celebration, and all of it FREE!

  10. 10
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    In a country such as Canada, we have ample room for many Cultural Capital. That’s was diversity means. Although Montreal has some free events, Surrey seems to have outdone us on that point.

  11. 11

    There are legal facts and there are facts on the ground. As I see it, in Montreal the facts on the ground are as follows: we have social piece; the one organization (Alliance Quebec) trying to agitate for language chance, has collapsed; the city is booming, the people are happy and we take a second seat to nobody on civil rights.

    Chimera, I would love to come and drink a toast to Surrey if the booted and spurred opressors in Quebec will let me out of the province.

  12. 12
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Neil: Social peace after 600,000 anglos left?

    That’s quite a social peace.

  13. 13
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Yet, Tony, the Anglo community is growing in numbers and the enrolment in English Montreal School Board is stable even growing in some schools according to official statistics. 600 000 over 30 years is not so bad. More francophones than that have left for other provinces or countries. Some have come in, or back, on the whole, the situation is far from being so bleak.
    Of course Neil, our local Gestapo has allowed you to travel to Kingston over the week-end. Another trip to Surrey, on short notice, could become suspicious of over anglicization, don’t you think?

  14. 14
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Paul writes: « 600 000 over 30 years is not so bad. More francophones than that have left for other provinces or countries. »

    For the mathematically challenged, that’s 600,000 of a community that originally numbered about 1.2 million.

    Even if more francophones than that left for other provinces or countries (and we’re guessing here because Paul doesn’t provide an actual figure) the number of Quebec francophones from which this alleged exodus came from was over 5 million.

    You indicate by what you write, Paul, that to you these two situations are morally comparable.

    Paul, you must have learned your math skills at the same place you learned how to read Supreme Court decisions.

  15. 15
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    As I once wrote following some of your comments on a similar topic, we will never agree. So let’s agree to disagree and get on to other things.

  16. 16

    I agree with Tony about Bill 101 strictly based on its violations of civil liberties. The context to which it was designed means little to me. Anti-democratic is anti-democratic. Until it’s off the books this place is a cultural mirage.

    I also agree with Chimera. Liveable cities (and whatever criteria used) is all relative. For example, I wouldn’t want to live in Helsinki.

    Montreal is cool and all and it has a creative scene (mostly without the English) but it’s soooo frustrating for entrepreneurs.

  17. 17
    Joe Agnost Says:

    It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when people consider bill 101 as the ONLY alternative to seperation. Bill 101 is a horrible law and actively discriminates against anglos – why do you think (despite Paul’s misinformation) that so many anglos are leaving quebec?

    I read an article in the Ottawa Citizen the other week which discussed the education levels of anglos fleeing quebec. It showed the figures which stated that the higher level of education a person has the MORE likely they were to leave… it’s seems that many high school drop outs are staying but even a little university means they’ll likely leave the province.

    The way (paul for instance) defends bill 101 is truly sad. He doesn’t seem to think it’s a particularly good law but seems to think it’s needed to keep quebec happy and IN canada. When you need a discriminating and BAD law to do that I think you’ve lost all hope.

    Best place to live? I hated Vancouver (sorry – I don’t like rain), and big cities don’t do it for me either – perhaps somewhere in Nova Scotia would be my pick. I love the ocean but haven’t been to eastern canada yet – I bet it’s gorgeous! I can’t wait to visit N.S.!

  18. 18

    Dude, I would leave this joint in a heartbeat – not that the grass is greener on the other side. I just feel we waste spiritual energy here and it’s not friendly to people with my type of aspirations. So far anyway. Maybe I’m the problem. I don’t know.

    I don’t like shrugging my shoulders to insanity and pretend things are so cool here. It still blows me away that the Liberals INCREASED the budget to add OLF creeps to roam the streets. That’s MONEY form MY POCKETS to something I would NEVER EVER do to a dog; let alone a productive individual. Stunning really.

    There’s no WAY TO RATIONALIZE this type of pathetic nationalism/populism which does have negative consequences. Let « thinkers » like Josee Legault take stabs at that.

    Quebec is treading a fine line between democracy and anti-democracy. It’s that simple.

  19. 19
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Since 1608 Quebecers have always tread a fine line between order and anarchy. It is, I believe, genetic. And it catches since second and third generation descendants of immigrants are contaminated.
    And I must commend Joe for his fairness. He seems to despise all Quebecers, regardless of race, religion or language.

  20. 20

    I enjoyed my time in Iowa. Very fresh air there, at least where I lived.

  21. 21
    Joe Agnost Says:

    « And I must commend Joe for his fairness. He seems to despise all Quebecers, regardless of race, religion or language. »

    For someone who is normally level headed I can see you’ve let your emotions get the better of you… this insane comment clearly shows that!

    « despise all Quebecers »

    So Paul – why don’t you go ahead and show everyone where I’ve EVER said anything about hating « quebecers »! Go on – it’ll be a fun experiment to show how your mind works!

  22. 22
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Joe, hate and despise are two different things. When you imply that the remaining Anglos are under educated and can’t do otherwise, is’nt that a bit on the despise side? When you imply that Quebecers are pathetic nationalist/populist is’nt that in the same vein. Or maybe I should reload on my Webster?
    I may have misinterpreted your words, after all I’m just an under educated and misinformed Quebecer.

  23. 23
    Joe Agnost Says:

    « Joe, hate and despise are two different things. »

    Really? how so?

    « When you imply that the remaining Anglos are under educated and can’t do otherwise, is’nt that a bit on the despise side? »

    First of all, what does « can’t do otherwise » mean?

    I didn’t « imply » that the remaining anglos are under educated. I discussed a newspaper article I read which pointed to a study which stated that the higher an anglo’s education the more likely he is to seek employment (and residence) in a location outside of quebec.

    How is that « on the despise side »??

    « When you imply that Quebecers are pathetic nationalist/populist is’nt that in the same vein. »

    Where did I do that? You have some serious reading problems or are possibly too insecure about quebec to read anything written about quebec rationally.

    « Or maybe I should reload on my Webster? »

    You have a dictionary?!? Wow…

    « I may have misinterpreted your words, after all I’m just an under educated and misinformed Quebecer »

    No – you’re an insecure quebecer, unwilling to discuss your home province without taking it personally and going on the defensive over statements that weren’t even made!

  24. 24
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    OK, I’ve mixed up some of the Commentator’s comments with yours. My error. As for my insecurity I contest that affirmation. There comes a time when one has to take a stand. I am proud to be Canadian, to have Greek roots and to be a Quebecer.I Don’t feel I have to lie down and accept everything that you or others claim to be Gospel truth about my province. The Gazette article you spoke about, stated a spokesperson for the Townshippers Association who deplored that, as their Franco counterpart, young Anglos left the REGIONS for large centers not for outside Quebec. The Ottawa Citizen claimed that the better educated were leaving the province.
    However even the Winnipeg remote controled Montreal Gazette has ackowleged an increase in Quebec’s Anglo population. Said increase however is not to be credited to the Brits birth rate but to immigration.

  25. 25

    « OK, I’ve mixed up some of the Commentator’s comments with yours. »

    How did I get suckered into this?

    « Since 1608 Quebecers have always tread a fine line between order and anarchy. »

    Sounds like Italy.

    Paul, I’m glad you stand by Quebec. In fact, I applaud it. There are elements that are ok but many of it that are loathsome. I don’t know why pointing this out is offensive. I myself stand by her because of friends and family and by virtue of my upbringing here. But when you’re still being called a « wop » and being told « parle moi en anglais tabernak » clearly this is proof that this remains at its core an insular and populist society. If Quebec did not have populist/nationalist laws then it would be easy to dismiss such people. Alas, this is not the case.

    We’re a democracy with strong elements of « Volk » romantic nationalism. I just don’t go for that. Know why? BECAUSE I’M A TRUE OPEN, TOLERANT DEMOCRATIC INDIVIDUALIST. I don’t look at blood, race, Greek whatever. I don’t look at things through multicultural lenses. I’m of Italian heritage (una faccia, una razza) and honour this but I feel having enshrined this fact through policy is pure insanity. Think it to its logical end. Multiculturalism leads to populism not pluralism. It subverts the individual to the collective.

    I refute most of the nonsense spewed to justify pathetic laws that amount to attacks on liberties.

    It’s simple really. And Quebec is not alone in this. Populism and neo-nationalism are scourges that are wreaking havoc upon democracies everywhere.

    I realize this sort of language goes against the zeitgeist of our times but it’s how I feel. I want Quebec to carry a torch. Not drop it to burn down its potential.

    Karl Popper was sooooo right.

  26. 26

    « Parle moi en francais » I meant. Sorry.

    Thanks for the debate.

  27. 27
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Commentator, I agree with your exposé and your « Tabernak », I say it must have been more like « Tabarnak », is only too widespread among a certain segment of our population. I don’t like Bill 101 anymore than all of you. Maybe, just maybe, it would have been better for the « Yes » to win in 1995. It could have jolted a good many people out of their complacency and produced, as an end result, a better Canada and a more secure Quebec society, less defensive and more open.
    Maybe I should have voted yes. Then the factions making up the PQ would have torn each other, the federalist parties would have come out on top and a new pact could have resulted.
    We’ll never know. Meanwhile, I’ll keep explaining how it is that I speak such good French for a foreinger and I was born here, that I am not a bloke despite having been brought up bilingual, etc…
    Ciao compadre

  28. 28
    Joe Agnost Says:

    « Maybe, just maybe, it would have been better for the “Yes” to win in 1995. It could have jolted a good many people out of their complacency and produced, as an end result, a better Canada and a more secure Quebec society, less defensive and more open. »

    Quebec would become a third world country right here in north america. How on earth would Quebec be able to support itself without the transfer money that keeps it alive now? Do you really think France would help??

    I can’t imagine what would become of Quebec if it seperated – but it would NOT be pretty and the people of quebec would come back to canada literally begging to get back in! Don’t you think?

  29. 29


    A poll out this morning shows that only a third of Quebecers think the province will ever become a country.

    However, I can well imagine what would happen to English Canada should Quebec ever separate. It will become a poor man’s America.

  30. 30
    littlepatti Says:

    I have visited almost every city across Canada. There is something unique in all of them, and I am always thankful to come home to Quebec. Montreal is so easily navigated, and accessible to those of us who live nearby. Maybe not so, for the tourists,-the signage is outrageous, and we all agree that one can understand the directives only with some practice! But, it’s one of the charms of the city-(?) »Getting there is half the fun ».
    It’s difficult to imagine now, that this Province was in a « stand-still » position for so many years 1975-1995, while the rest of Canada was booming. I was among those who couldn’t/wouldn’t leave because of obligations here, and couldn’t/wouldn’t contribute to the Province’s growth.
    There are still many obstacles, such as an English & French school board,(why is that?)
    the OLF, bill 101, and an aging, population hanging on to their child like dreams of wanting a country of their own…well, who doesn’t? I want a Mercedes.
    Once this generation has passed on, I think there will be a clear revival of common goals. I may live to see it.

  31. 31
    Joe Agnost Says:

    « However, I can well imagine what would happen to English Canada should Quebec ever separate. It will become a poor man’s America. »

    You’ve said this several times Neil, and I have to wonder – how is quebec stopping this from happening now? How will it change if quebec leaves?

    I just don’t see your « poor man’s america » argument… help me understand what you mean please!

  32. 32


    The element that makes Canada truly distinctive is its French Canadian population. Eliminate that and what do you have left? You have ROC (rest of Canada) that is pretty well indistinguishable from the rest of America. It would be only a question of time (perhaps quite some time) before ROC would be sucked into the American orbit. The one advantage would be that Canadians who are mostly Democrats would then be able to vote for Obama.

  33. 33
    Joe Agnost Says:

    That’s for clarifying Neil… but I have to say that your explanation is ridiculous at best.

    You actually think having a french canadian population is the only element that makes Canada different from America?? The only thing it currently does is embarrass Canada! Yup – I said it… the rest of the world can’t believe how quebec treats canada when they learn about things like bill 101 or how the ROC keeps paying to placate quebec with no end in sight (just more more more). Most of the world is ignorant to this, but when they do hear about it they are truly shocked!

    If that’s the best you can come up with then I feel much better – it’s a non-issue in my mind. Being canadian means a hell of a lot more than having a french canadian minority living here.

    « It would be only a question of time (perhaps quite some time) before ROC would be sucked into the American orbit. »

    Unbelievable fear mongering! This is speculative and without ANY base… it’s just plain silly.

    Thanks though – I really did think you had something to worry about until you explained it!

  34. 34
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    My vision for a Canada without Quebec is, as Neil indicates, absorbtion by the U.S.

    But I would hope that the U.S. doesn’t let the ROC in as states. Let the ROC provinces become territories like Puerto Rico: no federal voting rights, no federal income tax. Alberta, especially, should become a territory of the U.S. Such a move could, overnight, if played right, make the U.S. completely energy self-sufficient.

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