Cas-i-NON This Saturday, I joined about 700 of my neighbours to protest the proposed building of a casino/hotel/entertainment complex in the Peel Basin. Funded by Loto Quebec and supported by the Cirque du Soleil, I can't think of anything more crass than building a luxury venue next to one of Montreal's poorest neighbourhoods (Point St-Charles)--a neighbourhood that has but one bank (a Caisse Populaire), no outdoor swimming facilities and two depressed commercial arteries. With almost a billion dollars to invest in this project, Loto Quebec, the Montreal Board of Trade, and the Cirque du Soleil are all touting the economic benefits of this project for the area. As the protest coalition noted in their literature, *any* investment of a billion dollars will have economic impact. What kind of impact, however, is the subject of debate. The protest coalition notes that placing a casino closer to an impoverished neighbourhood would simply make gambling-related problems more evident. I'm not concerned about increases in crime and don't really support arguments that are quasi-moralistic regarding poor folk and gambling--a chacun son dentifrice, as they say. At one point during the protest march, a woman watching from the sidewalk shouted "Combien billets Loto achetez-vous?" While it's true that the majority of Loto Quebec users are from neighbourhoods like Point St-Charles, there's no point in rubbing their faces in it. Complicity shouldn't equal condemnation. My stance against this stupid, monlithic project comes from a different place--a place where mature economic decisions are made. As an individual, I'm allowed to make questionable choices with my income. I can choose, for example, to spend all my grocery money on a new pair of shoes. When a government agency, however, exhibits the same fiscal decision-making process as me, we're in trouble. Loto Quebec should be buying groceries, not adding to its wardrobe.

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