poutine and participation

The line-up had to plaster itself against the wall of the narrow entryway every time someone wanted leave La Banquise.

The line-up had to plaster itself against the wall of the narrow entryway every time someone wanted leave La Banquise. This 42-year-old, always-open eatery just west of Lafontaine Park in Montreal’s lower Plateau district has achieved a certain cult status as Quebec’s poutine palace of record.

It has long been on the lower end of our must-visit list of culinary hot spots in this food-rich city but my wife and I finally made it to a table on their terrasse recently.

Surrounded by plastic trees and flowers we mused over our options. Eva chose Poutine Mexicaine. It came with the standard fresh cheese curds, rich brown gravy and fries, darker than they should have been obviously due to the well-used fry oil. The extra touch of hot peppers, tomatoes and black olives made it Mexican in their mind.

I went for the B.O.M. which added bacon, onions and merguez sausage to the steaming mound. I had been tempted by the Poutine Elvis which included ground beef, green peppers and mushrooms. Any of these calorie and cholesterol packed plates would certainly have done in the “King” if his favourite peanut butter and banana sandwiches, fried in bacon grease, hadn’t got to him first 33 years ago this past Monday.

Cheek by jowl with a young couple’s table next to us, conversation leapt over the centimetres-gap naturally. We found out that these Arizonans transplanted to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, had been working their way through a Montreal must-do list as well. They, however, had less than a week, not years like us, to do it in.

With surprising alacrity they had already in their first two days climbed Mount Royal, had a bagel at St. Viateur’s, stood in another line to get into Schwartz’s on the “Main” for smoked meat and now sat beside us waiting for our gustatory challenges to arrive.

Maybe their efficiency shouldn’t have been too surprising, they were in Montreal along with well over 8,000 other participants for the annual meeting of the Academy of Management. In our increasingly complex world, managers have a hold on the control levers not only of the economy but of the social and political spheres as well. The theme of the gathering in the Palais des Congres was Dare to Care: Passion and Compassion in Management Practice and Research.

In their explanation of theme on their website, organizers recognized that the managerial elite may just have had something to do with the widespread economic grief of the past couple of years. “(M)any corporations and their managers have paid inadequate attention to many stakeholders, including not only employees, customers, suppliers, the communities, and the environment, but also their shareholders.” They actually seemed to be asking basic questions like how their actions might affect the well-being of all society not just the value of their stock portfolios.

Civicus, an global alliance seeking to strengthen citizen action and civil society begins its 9th World Assembly at the Palais des Congres today. They seek alternatives to the systems of global governance, financial regulation and economic management, which have contributed mightily to the multiple crises now being faced. Too bad the two groups didn’t hold a joint meeting.

Michael Dougherty is co-chair of the social justice committee of Sacred Heart Cathedral of Whitehorse. Contact pazypan@yukon.net.