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Royal Canadian Navy culture a barrier to recruitment efforts: retired commander

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The Royal Canadian Navy is reporting a shortage of sailors.

The regular navy force is made up of about 8,000 sailors, according to Commodore Steve Waddell, but they’re currently 10 per cent short of that.

In some trades, the shortage can be even higher, with sailors taking time away from their duties from things like training, parental leave or sick leave.

“When you add that up on some of the more distressed occupations, that 10 per cent can become 15, 20, 35 per cent more,” Waddell said.

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READ MORE: Shortage of sailors a cause for concern for Royal Canadian Navy

Those numbers are alarming, says retired Commander Ken Hansen, but they’re not surprising. He points to a number of reasons the navy may be having issues recruiting.

“They have problems with leadership who abuse their authority,” he said.

Hansen spent over three decades with the navy and did a brief stint in Ottawa working in personnel.

“We used to calculate our loss rate at about three per cent a year,” Hansen said. “When it got to five per cent, that was a serious situation. Seven per cent was an emergency.”

The navy currently operates in a command drive culture, Hansen says, describing it as one in which all considerations come second to the mission and the commander’s reputation. But he says that culture isn’t attractive to the younger generation the navy is trying to recruit.

“People today tell me, and I’ve had this conversation many times, they want to be as loyal to an employer as they are to them, and that’s not happening,” said Hansen.

“Expecting all the effort from the people and the compensation goes upward, but it doesn’t come downward to them.”

WATCH: Naval ship gives Montrealers a glimpse of life at sea






Another barrier, Hansen says, is the lifestyle at sea — particularly the issue of alcohol. Current rules prohibit alcohol on board while sailors are conducting operations at sea, unless they get special permission.

That’s something Hansen says rarely happens.

“So you expect us to do these dangerous things in far away difficult places, [go to] uncomfortable places to live in and we can’t even have a beer in our own… living or dining room?” he said, “It is such an enormous dissatisfier.”

Waddell says most Canadians considering the navy do not consider the rules around alcohol to be a big issue, but he does acknowledge the lifestyle on board can be difficult. The navy is doing what it can to make things more comfortable for sailors, he says.

“We’re always looking to make sure we adapt our framework and culture over time,” Waddell said.

“We’re doing things like tracking, per sailor, their time away from home port so we truly understand how much time they spend away from families,” he noted, “or for doing investments in their physical fitness and well-being by making sure there are gyms in all of our ships. We’re doing things like Wi-Fi at sea to make sure they stay connected to their families.”

Waddell says the changes are already having an impact, pointing to a decrease in attrition levels in recent years. But Hansen says these changes are not enough to attract new recruits.

READ MORE: Ottawa awards long-awaited $60B warship design contract to Lockheed Martin

He recommends looking to other countries that have successful models, like Denmark, where the navy is the country’s top federal employer.

“They have compensatory time off,” said Hansen.

“When you go away for a five to six-month posting at sea, you’re off for an equal amount of time and you can do whatever you want.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Anglais

‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year

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In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal

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MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.

STUDIO SHORTAGE

The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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Anglais

Birdhouse Wingerie & Bar is the Latest to Hatch in West Island’s Bubbling Restaurant Scene

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Wings are the thing at the latest restaurant to make its mark on Montreal’s West Island: Birdhouse Wingerie & Bar.

At the buzzy new Dollard-Des Ormeaux eatery, the bird limbs come aplenty, with a menu listing eleven “wet & messy” wings, including smoked apple habanero, sriracha lime, and cherry cola BBQ; and four — cacio e pepe, ketchups chip, Nashville hot, and the garlicky, lemon pepper “vampire slayer” — dry rub flavours. They come 10 for $18 or 20 for $34, plus the option of ranch, parmesan, or blue cheese dipping sauce.

Tacos, nachos, poutines (one made with bone marrow, another with tater tots), smashed burgers, salads, and a classic buttermilk fried chicken dinner are just sampling of the other dishes that round out the offering. On the drinks side, there are cocktails, sangrias, and spiked milkshakes in popular chocolate bar flavours: After Eight, Skor, Bounty, or Reeses.

Opened on July 5, Birdhouse is among a recent influx of restaurants to grace the island’s western end, including birria taco slinger Tacos Don Rigo and barbecue joint Smoke Box — a double whammy in the same Pierrefonds area strip mall. That comes in addition to plans for Fairview Pointe Claire’s incoming “District Gourmand” (slated to usher in Tommy Café), and, of course, a number of the area’s longer-standing stalwarts — from southern belle Bistro Nolah to old-school casse-croûte Smoked Meat Pete — that have helped bolster the West Island’s culinary credentials.

The brand-new Brunswick Boulevard restaurant is the brainchild of Montreal entrepreneur Lorne Schwartz, restaurateur George Massouras (of Madisons and Arahova Souvlaki), and among the other partners involved, Brahm Mauer, son of the founder of beloved buffalo hot wings expert Wings ‘n’ Things. Mauer has tried his hand at reviving the original Wings ‘n’ Things recipe — the restaurant originally opened in 1986 — over the years, including with a Royalmount Avenue location in 2012, then as a roaming summertime food truck and NDG pop-up. That same truck has now been made over with a Birdhouse-branded livery to be deployed for private events.

A likely draw to many, Birdhouse is reprising the “famous flavours, untouched” of the once-upon-a-time NDG staple, represented on its menu as “The Legendary WNT Buffalo” chicken wing.

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