How does Cote Saint-Luc handle emergency situations?

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In my opinion:

Montrealers were rightly miffed knowing that hundreds of fellow urbanites were stranded overnight on a snowbound Autoroute 13 a few months ago. How could this happen in 2017, we asked? I ask, could such a fiasco, on a very local scale happen in Cote Saint-Luc?

On Autoroute 13 all signs point to a major breakdown in frontline coordination, in communications between agencies, in preparation (see Gazette article link below).

I have dedicated my civic life to public safety, in Cote Saint-Luc (and across Quebec), with a  goal of making our municipality the safest place around. I began early, back in high school and CEGEP, at training in matters of safety, joining St. John Ambulance, the Canadian Ski Patrol, CSL Emergency Measures Organization and the local ambulance system. Eventually I worked my way up to overseeing public safety and emergency preparedness at the local political level.

Since that time, Cote Saint-Luc has taken matters of safety very seriously, investing in training, leadership, volunteers and citizens, in equipment and services. This deliberate and systematic nurturing of a communal culture of safety has proven effective time and again.

I was active and on duty during the major flood in the late 80s, fire evacuation in the early 90s, Ice Storm of the Century in the late 90s, Y2K, more floods, heat waves, snow emergencies, barricaded shooter, downed trees and wires, gas leaks, car crashes, missing persons, bottled water distribution… And time and again Cote Saint-Luc has proven to be a model municipality, able to effectively and quickly organize, coordinate, alleviate, sustain, recuperate…

This is no accident. We have built a corps of dedicated, life-saving volunteers in EMS over the last 50 years. We have trained over 90 volunteers as our volunteer Citizens on Patrol over the last decade. We have built a professional Public Security Department to watch over our city 24/7. We have an emergency dispatch centre and a first-class Emergency Preparedness Plan. We keep it up to date and we test it.  We’ve saved our local police station more than once to ensure close proximity to, and coordination with the authorities in crime prevention and emergency response. We built a leading firefighting and prevention department (that was taken over by Montreal in 2002). We coordinate with all levels of government. We meet regularly. We practice. We keep our citizenry informed, trained, engaged.

As a ringleader in public safety I take great pride in what we’ve accomplished and look forward to continuing to make our city the safest it can be. I’ve worked alongside many fine people along the way and they all share in this great achievement. Thank you to my council-partner-in-safety Ruth Kovac and to Bryan Payne and the late Norm Adler of EMO, to Frank Albert and the late Doug Lion of the CSL Fire Department, to Hal Newman, Rick Liebman, Stephan Kallos and Jordy Reichson of EMS, to the immeasurable dedication of our EMS volunteers including Patti-Beth Lietman, Neil Michaels, Erwin Luden, Brian Goldberg, Michael Glazer, the Sager boys (and so many more wonderful people I wish I could name all here) and vCOP volunteers including Mitchell Herf, Lewis Cohen, Susie Schwartz, Elaine Meunier, Bert Rabinovitch, Phil Mayman, Morris Stelcner, David Goldsmith, Murray Genis (and again the list of marvelous dedicated volunteers, past and present goes on and on and I thank you all immensely). And finally, thanks to our City Council for its support for my vision and all we have accomplished together. (I know I inadvertently missed some important names who’ve contributed to making CSL a safer place. Please add them in comments).

We are well prepared, trained and ready. And we are always striving to learn more, to be better. We’re all in this together.

Next week is EMS Week across Canada. I take this opportunity to salute all of our dedicated volunteers in Cote Saint-Luc along with all the paramedic professionals who serve our community.

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Probe of Highway 13 fiasco blames frontline authorities

SQ officers and safety crews try to clear up Highway 13 near Côte-de-Liesse Rd. March 15, 2017, following massive snow storm that left many motorists stranded overnight.
SQ officers and safety crews try to clear up Highway 13 near Côte-de-Liesse Rd. March 15, 2017, following massive snow storm that left many motorists stranded overnight. PIERRE OBENDRAUF / MONTREAL GAZETTE

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CSL council votes 5-2 to allow rezoning process for synagogue

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CSL council votes 5-2 to allow rezoning process for synagogue

Côte St. Luc council voted 5-2 last week at a standing-room only meeting to pass a second reading of a rezoning bylaw that would enable the creation of a new synagogue on Mackle Road near Quartier Cavendish.

Councillors Glenn Nashen, Allan Levine, Mike Cohen, Sidney Benizri and Sam Goldbloom voted in favour, Ruth Kovac and Steven Erdelyi voted against, and Dida Berku abstained due to her involvement as a lawyer in a legal case unrelated to the rezoning but linked to a court case involving Fondation Sepharade Kollel Avrechim’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Yehouda Benoliel.

At a recent meeting, residents raised concerns about the potential for increased foot and car traffic, noise, late night activity, lowered property values, illegal parking and lost taxes for the city from a religious institution resulting in increased taxes for homeowners, and also brought up the phenomenon of “makeshift” synagogues on residential streets.

Those council members who voted in favour said residents will have their say by choosing whether to call for a register, which could then prompt a referendum. At last week’s meeting, one Mackle Road resident presented a petition, and told council that more than enough people signed to, as part of the bylaw process, potentilly force a referendum.

Councillor Allan Levine gave an impassioned speech in favour of the rezoning. The councillor said while he is grateful that, in Côte St. Luc, no one would vote against him because he is Jewish, others who are Jewish don’t have the same level of comfort — such as students wearing kippahs at Concordia University, and Jews living in France.

Kovac stressed that she was not opposed to the synagogue, but to the proposed location.

“I will not speak about religion or being Jewish — as a child of Holocaust survivors, I couldn’t be more sensitive,” she said.

Kovac explained that several years ago, the council went through an extensive and rigorous exercise of redefining the Cavendish Mall land, much of which is now residential.

“After public consultations, no one opposed the rezoning [to mostly residential from commercial] or the plans submitted,” she explained. “There were no surprises. Today, we are asked to spot zone one lot to accommodate a request for a religious institution.

“The Cavendish Mall… today has voiced their very strong opposition, knowing events taking place at the synagogue would spill onto their property and that parking would become an issue for their customers.

“My vote opposed to the motion is not opposed to the Kollel. I am pro the status quo, not anti-anything else. We should work together to find the appropriate alternate location, and we will work to help you find one, or to find a way to improve your current location.

“What some of the residents have already raised is that this organization has more than one tax-exempt property, they don’t have one, they don’t have two, they don’t have three, they have four or five. Is that really fair to the taxpayer, who this year had significant increases, and for the rest of the community to bear?” We contacted Rabbi Benoliel on this issue, and are waiting for a response.

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In my opinion:

As I said at this public council meeting, this matter has nothing to do with religion or support for a synagogue. We are a city of many religions, languages and residents of all backgrounds, even if the majority are of the Jewish faith. Some are very religious, others somewhat and yet others traditional or secular. We all live in peace and harmony in respect of one another which makes Cote Saint-Luc an incredible place to live and to raise a family. Let’s be sure to keep it this way.

This issue is strictly about the zoning that would be appropriate in this location. The requester, Rabbi Benoliel and the Kollel Avrechim have purchased this property and they have the legal right to request rezoning.

At the same time the residents in the immediate and adjoining area have the legal right, and the final say, on whether or not to permit the rezoning.

The mayor and majority of councillors have agreed to follow provincial law which calls for a three step process whereby residents have their say. This is the only way of having an definitive, official and legal count of those residents who are in favour or against the proposed project. 

The first step is underway and those who live in the affected and adjoining zone who oppose have until May 25 at 4:30PM to advise the city. Details available in this week’s Suburban Newspaper or at www.cotesaintluc.org/publicnotices.

Not ruling out law on riding change criteria: Couillard

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Not ruling out law on riding change criteria: Couillard

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard spoke Friday to a full audience of the Côte St. Luc Men’s Club at that city’s Aquatic and Community Centre.

The Premier spoke and answered questions about various issues, including health care, court case delays and seniors issues. He was also asked about the planned provincial riding changes for the next election, including the elimination of the Mont Royal riding as part of a merger with the Outremont riding, and the expansion of the D’Arcy McGee riding eastward.

Local politicians and activists have argued these changes violate the Election Commission’s own guidelines that ridings’ “natural communities” should be respected. Local ethnic communities say they will be split between ridings.

A citizens committee, chaired by Suburban editor-in-chief Beryl Wajsman and former NDG-Lachine MP Marlene Jennings, has hired constitutional lawyer Julius Grey to handle the legal case. Wajsman has been spearheading the fundraising effort for the legal case having raised over $6,000 in crowd funding. He took the opportunity to inform the Premier that the legal challenge will be filed in court before the end of the month.

Couillard told the gathering that the riding issue is not restricted to Montreal, but also affects the Mauricie where two ridings are also set to merge.

“People are not very happy there — it’s not related to language, it’s related to representation [in that area] on a very large territory,” the Premier said.

Couillard explained that it was decided years ago to enable the independent, non-partisan Quebec Electoral Commission to decide on riding changes “to remove petty politics and partisanship from the issue.

“The only way for us to act on [riding changes considered to be unjust] is to change the criteria on which the commission bases itself to make decisions, and for this we need to change electoral law.

“I’m not ruling this out. We’re going to have significant discussions. I know legal recourse has been tabled by the community here on this, and people should exercise their rights. That’s something that should be done.”

Couillard said he is concerned about representation by number.

“On the island of Montreal, the issue is numbers, because you say ‘why is our vote less important, apparently at least than in other parts of Quebec with a smaller population?’”

The Premier said he is also worried about the quality of representation, in relation to the rural ridings, because of their massive size distance-wise.

“We have MNAs who have to literally drive for full days and they don’t even see the whole of their community.”

Numerous dignitaries attended Friday’s speech. Couillard was introduced by D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum and thanked by Côte St. Luc mayor Mitchell Brownstein, and other attendees included Israeli Consul-General Ziv Nevo Kulman, Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather and his chief of staff Bonnie Feigenbaum, Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg, and other MNAs — including Mont Royal’s Pierre Arcand — and Côte St. Luc council members, amongst many others.

Suburban exclusive: Quebec commits to more, better pictograms on highways

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Suburban exclusive: Quebec commits to more, better pictograms on highways

The Quebec Ministers of Transport and Culture and Communications have committed in writing to placing more and better safety-related pictograms on highways, Côte St. Luc councillor Ruth Kovac told The Suburban Monday.

The commitment by ministers Laurent Lessard and Luc Fortin respectively was the province’s response to a nearly 7,000-name National Assembly petition, created by Hampstead lawyer Harold Staviss and Kovac and sponsored by D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum, calling on Quebec to install bilingual traffic safety signs, as allowed by the province’s language law.

The news of the commitment came during a meeting Kovac had Friday with Birnbaum.

“It took 40 years to get the ministries to acknowledge that our road signs could be better,” Kovac said. “They said, ‘let’s do the best pictograms we can,’ which I have no issue with. First and foremost, it’s always about road safety.

“So if they’re going to make an effort to put up more and better pictograms, so be it. The [ministries] have acknowledged through David that if they don’t have existing pictograms, they will go to a senior engineer to work to make better pictograms, or create one.”

She added that pictograms could be attempted on electronic billboards that warn of safety issues happening at certain times.

Kovac said Quebec’s commitment fell short of allowing English on traffic safety signs if no suitable pictogram exists.

“We just didn’t cross the finish line,” she said. “But for 40 years we’ve been trying, and in the last six months and with David’s presentation, 7,000 people managed to get an affirmation that our road signs can be better. It’s a very positive step in a good direction. Does it fall a little short? Yes. But I know things work incrementally. I see, in a short period of time, reasonableness has prevailed, but they just didn’t put in writing they would go that next step [of adding English to the road signs]…. That’s still a question mark. I think we’re 99 percent there.”

Kovac thinks Quebec did not go the extra step of committing to add English if no pictograms exist, to avoid reopening the language debate, even though the law allows English on those signs.

The councillor added that she and Staviss will be taking photographs of signs they have complained about over time, and will point out whether or not they have been changed.

“Now we’ll be sign inspectors for free!” she joked. “I also have visitors coming from the U.S. in a couple of weeks, and I will ask them to take pictures or note any signs that they really don’t understand.

‘Did we make progress? Am I pleased? Yes.”

Birnbaum commended Staviss and Kovac for their efforts, the community for its response on the petition as well as The Suburban for focusing on the issue.

“Their petition hasn’t been a dead letter,” the MNA said. “They got some meaningful progress. The directive obviously acknowledges that Harold and Ruth got it right — the law is clear on what’s possible. And the directive that has been given notes that there are some situations where pictograms can be used and are not being used right now, and the directive suggests that be changed.”

Birnbaum also confirmed that the directive also says that when a pictogram doesn’t exist at the moment, regional authorities are asked to communicate with the operations department of the Transport ministry “to try and develop one.

“It’s a start,” the MNA said.

Exploring CSL history, from farmland to a modern suburb

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Jane’s Walk is a series of free neighbourhood walking tours that helps put people in touch with their environment and with each other, by bridging social and geographic gaps and creating a space for cities to discover themselves. Since its inception in 2007, Jane’s Walk has happened in cities across North America, and is growing internationally.
Jane’s Walk honours the legacy and ideas of urban activist and writer Jane Jacobs who championed the interests of local residents and pedestrians over a car-centred approach to planning. Jane’s Walk helps knit people together into a strong and resourceful community, instilling belonging and encouraging civic leadership.

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein with residents Ricky and Marla Zipper display photo of the former Cote Saint-Luc City Hall on Westminster Ave

 

This year’s Cote Saint-Luc Jane’s Walk was organized in conjunction with the CSL Historical Society and lead by environmental activist and City Councillor Dida Berku and Director of Library Services, Janine West. It took place on the first Sunday in May.
Despite unseasonably cold temperatures and intermittent rain the pair ran an informative and fascinating history lesson as the group walked the several historic blocks down Old Cote Saint-Luc Road from Westminster to the west.

Councillor Dida Berku, Library Director Janine West and resident Michael Dennis in Prudhomme Park (May 2017)

Prudhomme Park was a very appropriate the starting point where Berku and West began recounting the story of Cote Saint-Luc, much of it touching upon the Prudhomme family, going back to the founding of the Ville Marie and the original colonization of Montreal and areas to the west, now known as the City of Cote Saint-Luc. The land was all forested and good for hunting.
Along came Paul de Chomedey, sieur de Maisonneuve, in 1642 with Jacques Cartier, bringing with them many settlers. The colony required food and de Maisonneuve granted land in the western areas of the settlement to farm and support the settlers.
Around this time, Jean Décarie was rewarded for services to the colony and the earliest grant of land was given to him in this area. The first settlers came to the Cote Saint-Luc area and set up seignueries. These were very successful farms with extremely fertile land.

Farm in Cote Saint-Luc

Prudhomme, Décarie and Lemieux, the landowners under the seigneurial system also became the early political activists as representatives of local government.
Cote Saint-Luc was much larger then, including all the land north of Cote Saint-Luc Road, encompassing all of Hampstead all the way up to Ville Saint-Laurent and continuing past the current area of Décarie and extending toward what is now Westmount.
There were three major farms in CSL back in 1750, all belonging to the Lemieux, Prudhomme and Décarie families. The land was well irrigated by the Little Saint Pierre River that now flows beneath the City of Cote Saint-Luc. The farmers used this river to transport grain to market in the heart of Old Montreal, at the Bonsecour Market. The river actually runs all the way to, and under, Pointe a Calliere museum. Beginning this year, 100 metres of the river will be exposed and viewable flowing in the basement of the museum in Old Montreal.

Chapelle Cote Saint-Luc (1899) once stood on the site of the current Saint-Patrick Square on King Edward Avenue at Cote Saint-Luc Road.

 

The Sulpicians began moving west and established a church, The Cote Saint-Luc Chapel, at the corner of present day King Edward Avenue and Cote Saint-Luc Road. This is the site of present Day Saint Patrick’s Square seniors residence.

Cette chapelle fut érigée dans la première moitié du XIXe siècle en plein cœur d’un secteur rural, le long du chemin de la Côte-St-Luc. Son emplacement exact correspond aujourd’hui au terrain situé à l’angle nord-est du chemin de la Côte-Saint-Luc et de l’avenue King Edward. Ce secteur, aujourd’hui densément peuplé, fut ouvert à la colonisation dès le début du XVIIIe siècle et conserva une vocation agricole jusqu’au début des années 1940.

 

 

CSL resident, Mike Dennis, grew up in the Prudomme Park area and he shared stories told to him by his father who was neighbours with one of the Prudhomme descendants, the grandson of of Mayor Luc Prudhomme.
Mike’s father was a photographer for the city in the 60s, 70s and 80s and he owned the land where the Old Cote Saint-Luc City Hall was eventually built on the corner of Cote Saint-Luc Rd. and Westminster Avenue, following its location at 8100 Cote Saint-Luc Rd. This building was first a school where Michael attended in his early elementary years. Eventually, he transferred to a modern public school built on Parkhaven, now owned by Ecole Maimonides.

CSL resident Michael Dennis displays old photos of the former City Hall

The Westminster Avenue structure eventually became unstable. Large support beams held the corners of the building steady in its final years. The city began to construct the present day City Hall on Cavendish Blvd. in the early 80s.
Berku explained that there were three major influences on the creation of Cote Saint-Luc: The Little Saint Pierre River, the Sulpicians and the Canadian Pacific Rail.
So, how did Cote Saint-Luc became a town in 1903? In the 1800s there were 209 people in the village, more than in NDG. By 1845 the people of Cote Saint-Luc asked for their own chapel and built a parish. In 1903 the church was organizing all civic matters. The people petitioned the government as an early demerger movement to succeed from NDG.
Pierre Lemieux, François Xavier and Jeremie Prudhomme asked for a special law from the National Assembly to create a new municipality which was granted by the government in 1903.

Cote Saint-Luc’s first mayor, Luc Prudhomme

Luc Prudhomme was nominated by Pierre Lemieux and Jeremie Prudhomme to serve as the first mayor of the village of Cote Saint-Luc.

8100 Cote Saint-Luc Road through the years: Home of CSL’s first mayor, Luc Prud’homme, Police Station, Fire Station, Recreation Department, Senior Men’s Club, Emergency Measures Organization, Emergency Medical Services, Public Security Department, Public Safety headquarters

 

The next stop on the tour was 8100 CSL Road. Built in 1927, 8100 was the home of second mayor and first city hall. Before this, city meetings were held in the church.
This building became the Health Department and Recreation Department. I recall as a youngster attending arts and crafts classes on the upper floor where the doorway was decorated with colourful beads, popular in 60s, peace-loving, hippy days.

Present day 8100 CSL Rd. houses the CSL Public Safety Department (AJM Photography)

Luc Prudhomme was the descendant of early brewers and a militia commander. The family owned over half of the land from Westmount to the western end of Montreal. Another Prudhomme relative became mayor of NDG in mid 1800s. The family was very successful and these three families intermarried and retained power for a very long time. Many of their family served on council Cote Saint-Luc for the first half of 20th century.

Jane’s Walk participants on the steps of 8100 Cote Saint-Luc Road (May 2017)

“Despite the rain, we were very pleased to see the turnout of over 25 people from near and far,” said Councillor Berku. “This first walking tour is chapter one in the history of CSL that has yet to be written,” she said.
Some highlights from the Berku-West tour:
  • Research uncovered that Cote Saint-Luc is as old  as Ville Marie. The familiar names of the original farming families like Prudhomme, Decarie and Lemieux trace back their ancestry as far back as 1642.
  • Cote Saint-Luc, and other west-end towns, like Montreal West and Westmount seceded from Montreal around 100 yrs ago in what was then the first demerger movement.
  • The three major factors in the initial establishment of the village of Cote Saint-Luc community was the Sulpician  church, the Little Saint Pierre River and the Canadian Pacific Railyards.

Councillor Dida Berku and Janine West address the crowd and show archival maps of the city in front of historic 8100 Cote saint-Luc Road (May 2017)

 

 Thanks go out to Councillor Dida Berku and Director Janine West, and to the volunteers in the fledgling Cote Saint-Luc Historical Society that I launched a few months ago. We plan to make much more information accessible to all about the place we call home.

Lag BaOmer celebrated in Cote Saint-Luc

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Rabbi David Cohen, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, Councillor Glenn J. Nashen with son Jeremy officially welcome the large crowd to City Hall and begin the parade

Lag BaOmer (Hebrew: ל״ג בעומר‎), is a Jewish holiday celebrated on the 33rd day of the Counting of the Omer, which occurs on the 18th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar.

This day marks the hillula (celebration, interpreted by some as anniversary of death) of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, a Mishnaic sage and leading disciple of Rabbi Akiva in the 2nd century, and the day on which he revealed the deepest secrets of kabbalah in the form of the Zohar (Book of Splendor), a landmark text of Jewish mysticism. This association has spawned several well-known customs and practices on Lag BaOmer, including the lighting of bonfires, pilgrimages to the tomb of Bar Yochai in the northern Israeli town of Meron, and various customs at the tomb itself.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, encouraged Lag BaOmer parades to be held in Jewish communities around the world as a demonstration of Jewish unity and pride.[1] Chabad sponsors parades as well as rallies, bonfires and barbecues for thousands of participants around the world each year.[2]

Such is the case each year in Montreal. Sunday morning, amid light rain, Rabbi David Cohen of the Chabad Lubavitch Youth Organization brought the festive parade to Cote Saint-Luc. I was proud to help welcome the large crowd along with Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and Anthony Housefather, Member of Parliament for Mount Royal. The weather may have been damp but spirits were not dampened.

“We thank our friends Housefather, Brownstein and Nashen for always welcoming and attending our events and supporting the religious community,” said Rabbi Cohen.

M.P. Housefather remarked, “Enjoy the Lag BaOmer celebrations, the change of seasons and renewal, and thank you to all the mothers for giving us life and nurturing us all.”

Said Mayor Brownstein, “Cote Saint-Luc is a wonderful blend of many religions, a large Jewish community – religious, traditional and secular. Everyone is welcome.”

Rabbi Cohen passed the microphone to me and I was proud to exclaim to my fellow Yiddish-speakers, “Zait bagrist tzu Cote Saint-Luc. Ir zolt hoben a gut yontif un a guten tog!” (Welcome to CSL. I wish you a happy holiday and a great day).

Premier Couillard charms his audience at packed Côte Saint-Luc address

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Premier Couillard charms his audience at packed Côte Saint-Luc address

by: Councillor Mike Cohen

It is pretty rare that we see the Premier of Quebec come to speak in the City of Côte Saint-Luc. But this finally did occur on May 12 as Philippe Couillard addressed a standing room only crowd at our Aquatic and Community Centre on Parkhaven Avenue.
Credit is due to our incredible Men`s Club and of course the Member of the National Assembly, David Birnbaum, who made this happen. As event emcee and District 2 resident Sidney Margles pointed out that in his then capacity as new Quebec Liberal Party leader Couillard was slated to address this same group at the urging of Birnbaum`s predecessor, Lawrence Bergman. Something came up at the last minute and his appearance had to be cancelled. The Men’s Club has 560 members and counting.

Couillard CSL

The Premier shakes hands as he enters the room. (Photo: mikecohen.ca)

This time everything worked out just fine. The Men`s Club began distributing reserved tickets a few weeks ago. When I arrived, there was a strong police presence around the building. Couillard did get to the ACC a little late and like a born campaigner he enter the room by shaking as many hands as possible.
One thing must say about our Premier, who by profession was a former professor and neurosurgeon. He speaks both languages so beautifully. While many of us are upset with the significant budget cuts we incurred early in the Liberal mandate and their gutting of the health system, Couillard has this audience eating out of his hands from the get go. He began with some humour, alluding to the massive flooding in different parts of Quebec and the fact he decided to visit an aquatic center. He drew applause immediately when he announced “I will do this speech in English so we can all follow.” He also introduced Greg Kelley, son of Native Affairs Minister Geoff Kelley, as his new point person for Quebec’s English-speaking community. “Anglophone liaison officer,” is the exact title. I met Kelley after the talk. He’s 31 and presently bunking with his parents in Beaconsfield. He formerly worked in the office of government House Leader Jean-Marc Fournier.
Couillard drew cheers again when he previewed his upcoming trade mission to Israel. “This will be my third trip there…it is the first time a Quebec Premier has gone.” More than 100 Quebec business persons and leaders will accompany him. “Why are we doing this?” Couillard asked rhetorically. “Israel is a start-up nation and an example to follow.”

Couillard mentioned the fact that both Air Canada and Air Transat have direct flights from Montreal to Tel Aviv. He also laughed that when he is in Israel, so will controversial US President Donald Trump.
“Since elected our government is doing exactly like we said we’d do; putting our financial house in order.”

The Premier gave a ringing endorsement for federalism. “Some people are telling me that I cannot be a Quebecer and Canadian. We will stand tall for a strong Quebec within Canada.”
Couillard expressed pride about his government’s job creation program. He also pointed to the investments made at the Jewish General Hospital. “This is a hospital that serves all communities,” he said. “My (late) father was treated there in oncology. So was Mr. Parizeau”
Couillard asked, “How do we build our economy in such an unstable world?” He referred to the three pillars: advance manufacturing, exports and entrepreneurship. “You need a strong educational system to build a proper economy,” he said.

Couillard spoke very excitingly about the planned 67-kilometre, $6 billion electric-train system which will connect downtown Montreal with the South Shore, Deux-Montagnes, the West Island and Trudeau airport. “This will be the equivalent of Expo ’67 in 2017,” he said.

Rather than a straight question and answer period, Margles said that members were asked to submit queries. From the 40 or so obtained, he chose to share a few with the Premier related to assisted living for seniors, the availability of family doctors, special needs children, the sale of marijuana and the Quebec Electoral Commission’s decision to merge the Outremont and Mont Royal ridings and change the boundaries of D’Arcy McGee.

Couillard said that he turns 60 in June so he is sensitive to issues related to seniors. “We are devoting significant dollars to seniors,” he acknowledged. “We have many more doctors than we did before – hundreds of new physicians and they are staying in Quebec.”

As for access to family physicians, Couillard said that right now there are 600,000 people more who have this option compared to 2014.

Turning to the sale of marijuana, which will become legal in Canada in July 2018. “An easy thing for me to say that at first glance I think there is merit to the idea,” said Couillard. “It is now controlled by the black market. There is still a tremendous amount of work to be done. My biggest concern is public health. Smoking pot is probably not good for your lungs. Young people now are smoking a product that much worse than the hippy days.”

Couillard also wished to clear up a myth that the province is not going to make a lot of money on this. “If to price it too high you will send people back to the black market,” he remarked. “If you price it too low, you will increase consumption.”

Mayor Brownstein concluded proceedings by thanking the Premier for coming to Côte Saint-Luc and particularly the ACC, which the provincial government contributed one-third of the cost.

Also on hand for Couillard’s speech were provincial cabinet ministers Kathlee Weil, Pierre Arcand and Francine Charbonneau, Mount Royal Liberal Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather, Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg, CSL councillors Sam Goldbloom, Ruth Kovac, Allan J. Levine, Dida Berku and myself and English Montreal School Board Commissioner Bernard Praw.

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