Sunday, March 25, 2012


I know there are terrible tenants, but I don't know any personally. What I can tell you about is some of the cruel landlords I have known.
Two months after being welcomed as Canadian citizens, a young student couple from China living in the Cote des Neiges district in Montreal learned a painful lesson about Canada's injustice system. When they complained about the abominable conditions in their apartment and the aggressive behaviour of their landlord, the Montreal Police charged them as criminals. I was an eye witness.
Xiuwei and Xiaolin and their son left Canada for brighter prospects and I am happy to report that they are doing very well in the United States.
Xiuwei wrote -
"When I became a Canadian citizen, I was really proud that I would enjoy freedom as any Canadian and I could have never imagined that someone could try to destroy my future just for fun - or for a $12. Rent increase. We left our hometown and tried to find a better place where we could enjoy freedom and personal right. In China if you have money or a powerful job you are always right. Poor people can never get fairness and don't have the right to speak out." 
Detailed reports at -

I also remember Mr. and Mrs. Kwasniak of Centrale Street In LaSalle, Montreal. The Kwasniaks lived downstairs and Cliff and I lived upstairs. In the early 1970's, Cliff was still very active, performing at various supper clubs and gaining recognition.
The Kwasniaks had a son going to college - a clean cut young man from whom one might expect great things.
But when young Kwasniak's parents left their house on summer weekends, they had not gone down the block before cars drove up spilling out girls and crates of beer. And then our lives became hell.  My china rattled on the shelves and I was driven to tears by the blasting "music".
Cliff was always a calm person. He didn't complain and he never wanted to make a fuss.
But one day, the police I called responded quickly. They passed the house and came flying back. They said they could hear the din down the block.
But the Kwasniaks refused to believe their darling son was anything but a demi god. Rather than deal with him, they determined to evict us.
So we went to the Quebec Rental Board. We won our case and a nice parcel of money when I tricked young Mr. Kwasniak's girlfriend into admitting she was the one who was doing all the screeching at those weekend parties.
But Cliff and I had suffered months and months of torture because of the Kwasniaks. I do not forget. I especially don't forget anything or anyone who caused my darling husband grief. He suffered in silence. I never could. I write.
And then there was Paul Drepaul of Dufresne Street, LaSalle. According to our lease, we were supposed to have access to the garage, but Drepaul did not remove the snow from the driveway and I was forced to shovel out my car and pay $30.00 parking tickets through the winters.
Drepaul also had sole control of the heat throughout the duplex. The thermostat in our flat had no effect. The controls for the heat were in the locked furnace room in the garage and Paul Drepaul had the only keys to the furnace room.
In the morning, Paul Drepaul would leave for work - after turning down the heat - so that we were forced to wear our coats in the house all day until he returned home and turned on the heat again.
One winter evening when Cliff was in hospital, I was alone at home. I begged Drepaul to turn up the heat because I was shaking from the cold. Drepaul threatened to come upstairs and show me how he could turn up the heat.
There I was alone in my home, with my darling in hospital, and I had to call the police. They advised me strongly to go to a women's shelter and they gave me a secret address. I had little choice. I was so worried about upsetting Cliff. I was so worried about him. I was shaken. Depleted. I spent that night in a women's shelter on Esplanade Avenue.
We lost our case against Paul Drepaul - because - somehow - the notice for the Rental Board hearing never reached us. Somehow.
Paul Drepaul made our lives hell. Paul Drepaul had two little daughters. I can't help wondering what he would do if either of them ever met a landlord like him. I do not forget.
When Sabrina tried to start a tenants association in a tenement on Pierrefonds Blvd. in the West Island in Montreal, she nearly lost her life. It turned out the janitors were members of a motorcycle gang known to police. But the police she desperately summoned to the scene failed to make a report of the janitors' attempt to burn her alive in her car in the building's garage - and the Montreal Police detectives protecting Sabrina and her husband were almost as disappointed as the victims when the criminals walked out of Quebec Criminal Court smiling.
The case was reported in The Montreal Gazette on April 5, 1990.
Detailed report at  -

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