Bixi’s back with a vengeance this season.

Last fall, the city of Montreal took over management of the financially-burdened company and announced that it had adopted a plan to fund and keep the beloved bikeshare service going for at least 5 years. This season’s launch was accompanied by celebrity bike designs, launch parties, and even rides by the mayor.

All this fanfare — and security — has renewed interest in Bixi, spurring the sale of a record number of memberships:

As with last year, 5,200 Bixi bikes will be available at 460 sites in the city, as well as in Westmount and Longueuil. The service is off to a good start, with a record 37,386 members already signed up. That’s 4,000 more than it had at the end of last year, when skittish patrons weren’t sure if the bike-sharing system that filed for bankruptcy protection would survive.

Good news for those of us who like the service, right?

The problem is, Bixi still only has the same number of bikes and docks as in previous seasons. And there are increasing signs that the added demand is causing some problems.

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Yesterday’s shocking “Orange Crush” sweep for the NDP in Alberta wasn’t supposed to happen.

Rachel Notley Alberta NDP

After 44 years of Conservative rule, the province much-maligned for being “Canada’s Redneck Zone” or “Texas North” surprised pundits — but not pollsters — when it turfed Jim Prentice to elect Rachel Notley as premier. The Tories only managed a third place finish, behind the right-wing Wildrose party.

So what happened? Did the land of cowboy boots and oil wells suddenly decide that the NDP’s brand of social democracy was preferable to the Tory blue brand of pro-wealthy, pro-corporate policies? Was this a protest vote or an indication of real change?

And, most importantly, does this spell bad news for Stephen Harper and the Federal Conservatives in the upcoming October election?

Eh, maybe. But probably not as much as you might think. Here’s why:

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Excuse Watch: Luc Ferrandez on Plateau Snow Removal

01.28.2015

Luc Ferrandez, the borough mayor of Plateau Mont-Royal, is short on action and long on excuses when it comes to snow removal this winter. Here’s a summary of some of the best ones he’s come up with so far: January 12: We’re not trying to save money; it’s just that too many blue-collar workers called [...]

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Quebec budget update: More balanced than I expected

12.02.2014

Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitao announced Quebec’s budget update today, setting off what is sure to be a continuing series of protests against the cuts, austerity measures and fee increases. The Liberal government claims that this sort of painful pruning is necessary in order to rein in Quebec’s out-of-control finances and balance the budget. The [...]

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Shootings in downtown Ottawa

10.22.2014

Shots were fired on Parliament Hill this morning. A soldier guarding the National War Memorial was shot. The gunman then seized a car and drove to Parliament, after which there were shots reportedly fired inside the Parliament Buildings. The Globe and Mail has some dramatic video footage: There were also shots reportedly fired by another [...]

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Quebec schoolboard elections: Why you should care

09.22.2014

Folks, this is important: Quebec is having school board elections in November, and for the first time, the position of Chair is directly electable by the population. My wonderful aunt, Suanne Stein Day, is running for re-election as LBPSB Chair. It’s because she’s wonderful, and not just because she’s family, that I’d urge you to [...]

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Scotland Is Not Quebec

09.18.2014

Today, as I write this, 4.3 million people in Scotland are voting in a referendum on whether they should separate from the United Kingdom. I’ve been following the debate in Scotland more closely than I thought I would. For one thing, I have quite a few friends in the UK and this impacts them directly. [...]

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“I’m Done Apologizing for Israel”

07.22.2014

Whenever tensions rise in Israel, my stress level goes way up as a proxy war gets fought in social media channels. People I respect, colleagues and acquaintances and people I think of as friends, sometimes post things that make my blood boil. So I’ve been not saying very much. Because I know that I wouldn’t [...]

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The war in Europe is over. Now, to turn our attention to the Pacific.

04.08.2014

“We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing; but let us not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead.” — Winston Churchill. For the past 18 months, it’s felt a bit to me like we’ve been fighting a war on two fronts: On the one hand, against Pauline Marois and [...]

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Sainte-Marie-Saint-Jacques goes Quebec Solidaire

04.08.2014

There will almost certainly be a recount in my home riding of Sainte-Marie-Saint-Jacques, won by QS’s Manon Massé by a margin of only 91 votes over Liberal Anna Klisko. Obviously, I would have preferred a Liberal victory over a Quebec Solidaire one here. The QS is staunchly pro-sovereignty, militantly anti-English, and has pie-in-sky ideas about [...]

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