Et tu, Montreal?

You’d think this would be the least likely of Canadian cities for cops to come down like a ton of bricks on pot shops.

Montreal is known for being home to bon vivants with far more laissez-faire attitudes than places like Toronto, Calgary or Vancouver.

You can buy beer and wine at every corner store, possibly even loose cigarettes if you ask. French fries are served slathered in gravy and cheese curds, strip clubs offer full-contact lap dances, and most bars don’t close until the wee hours of the morning.

The city not only caters to all manner of vices but it’s literally the birthplace of Vice.

So a lot of people are probably scratching their heads over Mayor Denis Coderre’s “zero tolerance” on new storefront dispensaries given that recreational cannabis is supposedly going to be legalized any day now by Prime Minister and local MP Justin “I Inhaled” Trudeau.

But it’s worth keeping in mind that Montreal is also infamous for its cozy relationship between politicians and organized crime.

This is a city that’s been run by the Rizzuto Family and West End Gang for generations, and where outlaw biker gangs are a huge deal despite it being way too cold to ride for most of the year. Where men with violent jobs are treated like royalty. Where Bobby Bacala popped his hitman cherry on The Sopranos and the setting for a movie starring not one but two Don Corleones.

The Score's producers made De Niro and Brando an offer they couldn't refuse             

     Someone made them an offer they couldn’t refuse

 

The mafia are simply part of the fabric of Montreal in a way they aren’t in other cities, and they typically don’t like it when people invade their turf.

I have an old high school friend who used to run a small, bicycle-based bud delivery biz in the hip Plateau neighbourhood. He was approached in a bar one night by a couple of wiseguy types who politely informed him they knew who he was, where he lived, and that his business would only continue to be tolerated so long as he stuck with just selling pot. Capiche?

I seem to recall they also had some helpful recommendations for a potential new supplier.

I’m certainly not suggesting that Mayor Buzzkill might have ties to the criminal underworld. Or that police would simply do his bidding even if he did, despite them owing him a favour for tossing out an investigation after they were recently caught spying on a journalist.

But there’s no denying the track record of recent Montreal mayors. Coderre’s predecessor resigned over a corruption scandal. So did the one before him. The last mayor of neighbouring Laval is currently cooling his heels in jail for fraud. These guys could give Diamond Joe Quimby a run for his money.

He doesn't speak French nearly as well though

     Mayor Quimby’s French isn’t nearly as good though

 

It’s only been a couple of days since gendarmes raided a handful of brand-spanking new Cannabis Culture outlets and made several arrests. Owners Marc and Jodie Emery have already announced their intentions to continue to fight the good fight, as they typically do.

But it’s possible they may be facing tougher opposition than they have elsewhere.

Like they say in Montreal: Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.