WWII Vet George Nashen to be honoured by National Assembly

1 Comment

By CJN Staff – January 13, 2020 

Second World War veteran George Nashen, right, poses for a picture with D’Arcy-McGee MNA David Birnbaum.

Second World War veteran George Nashen, 96, will receive a special national assembly medal from David Birnbaum, the MNA for the riding of D’Arcy-McGee, at a ceremony in June.

Nashen will be honoured in the name of all of the men and women who served the cause of freedom in that conflict. Nashen, who lives in Côte-St-Luc, Que., is one of the few surviving Jewish-Canadian war veterans.

In announcing the move, Birnbaum explained that he wanted recognize the contribution of our Second World War veterans while it was still possible. “It struck me at our last Remembrance Day ceremonies in the riding how sadly close we are to a time when no first-hand witnesses to the Second World War will be with us to remember, or to be honoured for their sacrifice, courage and legacy in saving our fundamental freedoms here in Quebec, in all of Canada and around the world,” he said.

“Furthermore, this riding that I serve is home to one of the highest number of Holocaust survivors and their families in Canada. The obligation of remembrance is deeply felt here and this medal is one further way of expressing that obligation.”

George Nashen in 1944.

Nashen is a long-time community volunteer and former clothing manufacturer who held the rank of sergeant in the Royal Canadian Air Force. During the war, Nashen lost a number of dear friends and has always made it his duty to share his experience, particularly with young people.

“I was 19 when I enlisted,” said Nashen, a Baron Byng High School graduate, “and I wasn’t that worldly. I didn’t understand much about politics. By 1938, with the rise of Hitler, the terrible threat to the free world started to become clear. I thought, I have to go over.…

“It’s important for young people to learn about the atrocities and the sacrifices of the Second World War. Do they really know the seriousness of war, the feeling of daily life, when you get issued a helmet and a gas mask to make sure you survive the day?”

In 1943, Nashen was stationed in London. “I went over on the Queen Mary,” he recalled. “We were 26,000 enlisted men and women; the ship normally carried only 2,000.

“It was a humbling and scary few years. I remember the rumbling of incoming and outgoing bombers overhead, every night in London. The stakes were enormous, and the freedoms we take for granted today were in peril back then. That should never be forgotten.”

Nashen expressed his appreciation for the medal, but stressed that he would only accept the honour in the name of all the veterans.

Each spring, Birnbaum bestows three D’Arcy-McGee national assembly citizenship medals upon individuals chosen for their community contributions by a three-member jury. Nashen will formally receive his medal at that ceremony, which will be held on June 1. The names of all the medal winners become part of the permanent national assembly record and are noted in perpetuity on its official website.

Canadian Jewish News

Raffi Service Station closes after 50 years in CSL


Like Cher or Madonna you don’t need a second name to know who Raffi is. In Cote Saint-Luc, Raffi has celebrity status.

Raffi Abikian has been running the service station at Guelph and Westminster for 27 of the last 50 years, mostly as a Shell Station. His regular clients number in the thousands and generations of Cote Saint-Lucers have entrusted their prize possession to Raffi’s Service Station.

Unfortunately, the pumps and bays are quiet at Raffi’s now. The last full service garage in CSL has shuttered, as reported by Mike Cohen.

Raffi’s nine employees kept the pumps flowing and the mechanics bay busy, seven days a week. And Raffi’s service doesn’t end there. Several years ago he acquired a garage in lower NDG (near the Reno Depot) where his staff do body work to round out their service offering.

If that weren’t enough Raffi was dedicated to the community and regularly sponsored major Kiddushes (meals following a traditional synagogue service) at Beth Zion, and was often involved in one way or another in other community events.

You won’t find a more honest and hard working garage owner than Raffi who was part and parcel of the fabric of Cote Saint-Luc. 

Raffi has reluctantly merged all operations to his NDG service station/body shop after the property owner, Sobey’s, decided not to renew Raffi’s lease. Mike Cohen reports that Raffi may even implement a shuttle service down to his NDG centre. 

My family relied upon Raffi and his automotive mechanical and maintenance services just as we would our family physician, dentist or lawyer. Raffi and his team will be missed in CSL. 


Raffi Abikian (Photo Mike Cohen)(

6 priorities for the new Minister of Labour and Parliamentary Secretary

Leave a comment

Anthony Housefather, MP, in the Hall of Honour, in the Parliament of Canada

As Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather sets out to represent his constituents in his new capacity of Parliamentary Secretary you may be wondering what his priorities will be.

In addition to the usual goals of proudly serving those within the 338 ridings across Canada, Parliamentary Secretaries are appointed within each ministry to help further the priorities assigned to each department by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. These goals are set out in the letters of mandate sent to each and every new minister.

Reviewing the Prime Minister’s letter to the new Minister of Labour, Filomena Tassi, spells out the priorities for this department and will also help to guide our MP, Anthony Housefather.

The Prime Minister wrote, “As Minister of Labour, you will help implement the Government’s ambitious plan to create a stronger framework for economic growth and help working Canadians get ahead by making this country an even better place to work. This includes new protections and enhancements through the Canada Labour Code, as well as working directly with industry and organized labour to grow the middle class. You are also responsible for advancing the positive economic outcomes that come from fair and collaborative collective bargaining processes.”

The six main priorities set out for the Labour minister are as follows:

  • Introduce legislation to create a new federal Family Day holiday.
  • Improve labour protections in the Canada Labour Code. As part of this work, you will:
    • Increase the federal minimum wage to at least $15 per hour;
    • Include mental health as a specific element of occupational health and safety;
    • Require federally regulated employers to take preventative steps to address workplace stress and injury;
    • Develop greater labour protections for people who work through digital platforms, whose status is not clearly covered by provincial or federal laws; and
    • Co-develop new provisions with employers and labour groups that give federally regulated workers the “right to disconnect.”
  • Work with the provinces and territories on the ratification of the International Labour Organization Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019.
  • Work with the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion to support the Minister of Natural Resources and partners to advance legislation to support the future and livelihood of workers and their communities in the transition to a low-carbon global economy.
  • Lead the implementation of the recently passed Pay Equity Act.
  • Support the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion to make progress on eliminating interprovincial trade barriers by harmonizing rules and regulatory requirements to better facilitate the mobility of labour across Canada.
Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather in the House of Commons, Dec. 12, 2019 (Source: Huffington Post)

These priorities will be a handful for the new minister and her Parliamentary Secretary. The very first priority is quite interesting as many Canadians, such as us in Quebec, do not have an official Family Day holiday. And while its eventual implementation may only affect federal workers and may not be adopted in our province for the entire workforce it gets the wheels rolling in a valuable discussion. Do you support a federal Family Day holiday for all Canadians?

What are the essential steps in preconception planning?

Leave a comment

The decision to have a baby is certainly an important one. But even before conceiving a child, there are things to do and others to avoid for an easy pregnancy.

To learn more about what is known as preconception planning, Barry Morgan welcomed Dr. Judy Hagshi, a family doctor specializing in low-risks obstetrics at the Jewish General Hospital.

Most of my readers will know that Dr. Judy Hagshi is my wonderful wife so I am particularly proud to share this episode of the YOUR HEALTH podcast on my blog. Please share it with whomever can benefit from this vital information.

And if this topic doesn’t meet your own needs why not tune in to any of the other subjects, expertly hosted by the talented media specialists, Carl Theriault and Barry Morgan?

YOUR HEALTH is produced by my superb team in Communications and Media Relations at the CIUSSS West-Central Montreal and can be found on Google Play or Apple Podcasts as well as on Soundcloud and also on this page in English and this one for French episodes.

What is a Parliamentary Secretary?

1 Comment

Deputy Clerk Andre Gagnon oversees MP Anthony Housefather signing in to Canada’s 43rd Parliament, Nov. 22, 2019

Several people have asked me what a Parliamentary Secretary is following the nomination of Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather to serve in this role under the Minister of Labour in Canada’s 43rd Parliament. Housefather was appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to this role last Thursday, December 12.

At first I reported that Housefather was appointed to the position of Junior Minister. While this nomenclature was used under previous Canadian Prime Ministers it has morphed and has essentially fallen from common usage in favour of the more contemporary term, Parliamentary Secretary. I’m not sure that there are major differences but judging from the comments I received in the last few days nuance is everything in politics.

So with a little help from the Ottawa Citizen newspaper I was able to dig up the following information:

Parliamentary secretaries support cabinet ministers, which can mean standing in for a minister during Question Period, making public announcements in their stead or liaising with other parliamentarians on their behalf.

Carleton University political management professor Paul Wilson says the job is a consequential one. “Especially in a minority (government) context, where the relationships within the House of Commons are so much more important,” he said.

It’s a post that comes with some prestige … and opportunity.

“Not all parliamentary secretaries become ministers, but some do. In a sense, it can be a testing ground,” said Wilson, who served as director of policy in the prime minister’s office under Stephen Harper.

“Are you a team player? Can you do stuff without complaining? Because some of the duties are duties that the minister might not want.”

“And, if people excel at the role of PS, then maybe the prime minister would consider them for a ministerial job. “

I noted from the Canadian Encyclopedia that, “Following the British model, a number of “junior ministers,” also called Secretaries of State, are now appointed to assist more senior Cabinet ministers and to complete the Ministry.”

However, Wikipedia indicates that, “Parliamentary Secretaries replaced the positions of Secretaries of State which had been employed under PM Chrétien.”

Andrew Caddell pointed out on my Facebook page, “You have to be a member of the Privy Council to be a minister of any kind. There were parliamentary secretaries who were made privy councillors during Paul Martin’s time (2003 – 2005), but that practice ended. In the past, there were Ministers without portfolio who had various assigned responsibilities. But they were privy councilors.

“As a ministerial assistant and public servant going back to the 1980s, I often briefed our PS, who was not a minister (and there have been parliamentary secretaries for a long time – it is nothing new). Here is a source: https://en.wikipedia.org/…/List_of_current_members_of…

Thank you Andrew and Howard Liebman for helping me to clarify this appointment information.

Anthony Housefather Steps In To Keep Christmas Poem Tradition Alive In House

1 Comment

POLITICS 12/12/2019

With big shoes to fill, a Liberal MP’s spin on a popular Christmas tradition had the House of Commons roaring with laughter Thursday.

Montreal MP Anthony Housefather rose before question period to assume the mantle left vacant by Rodger Cuzner, the popular former Nova Scotia MP who did not run again this year after serving 15 years in Parliament.

Every year, Cuzner penned a parody of “Twas The Night Before Christmas” that took good-humoured jabs at political rivals just before everyone headed home for the holidays.

“Twas the last sitting week before Christmas and who knew? Cuzner’s Christmas poem tradition would be assumed by a Jew,” Housefather began, yielding a standing ovation off the top.

Liberal MP Anthony Housefather is applauded by colleagues during a speech in the House of Commons on...
Liberal MP Anthony Housefather is applauded by colleagues during a speech in the House of Commons on Dec. 12, 2019.

Housefather treated the Tories with kid gloves, an apparent rewrite after the earlier announcement from Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer that he will step down.

“For our Conservative colleagues, I know today has been a shock. In the spirit of the holidays, I’ll go straight to the Bloc,” he said.

Housefather even navigated the tricky terrain of Quebec’s Bill 21, which prohibits some civil servants in the province from donning religious symbols on the job. Bloc Leader Yves-François Blanchet is an outspoken supporter of the controversial law.

“The Bloc leader, flush with success… for Mr. Claus, he had but one request,” he said. “When flying over Quebec, please remove that red suit. It’s a religious symbol, and ugly to boot.”

The MP even had a joke lined up for his boss.

“When it comes to our PM, we know what he wants, all being equal. No more hot mics and a new Star Wars sequel,” he said, a dig at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s headline-grabbing comments about Donald Trump on the heels of the NATO summit in London this month.

“So I wish all members some holiday cheer. Enjoy your family and friends, and maybe some beer,” Housefather said. 

“And when we come back in January, let’s see the light. Let’s work together for Canadians and let’s get it right.”

Not bad.

Not bad at all.

Anthony Housefather appointed parliamentary secretary to the minister of Labour

1 Comment

Mount Royal riding residents are learning of the appointment of Anthony Housefather as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour.

The appointment was made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

I could not be more proud of Anthony for his incredible accomplishments nor happier for him in this tremendous nomination. We are so very lucky to have Anthony as our MP.

“I am pleased to inform you that I have been appointed by the Prime Minister to be the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour,” Housefather wrote to his supporters.

“In addition to my role as Member of Parliament,  I will now also assist Labour Minister Filomena Tassi with her Parliamentary duties, including serving as an integral link between the Minister and Members of Parliament and Parliamentary Committees.”

“I am looking forward to working with the Minister, a diverse set of stakeholders, and all Members of Parliament to move forward on policies that help both employees and employers,” the Mount Royal MP added.

Here is more about Housefather’s role and responsibility as a parliamentary secretary.

Congratulatory messages and comments from across the riding have been appearing on social media.

Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein said, “Well deserved. Canada is lucky to have Anthony’s experience in labour relations both in the private and public sectors. His advice and guidance shall benefit all Canadians.”

“Well deserved. Nobody negotiated better collective agreements than former Mayor Housefather,” said CSL Councillor Mike Cohen.

“You continue to inspire all of your faithful constituents,” said Orna Hilberger, D’Arcy McGee provincial riding Liberal president.

Former TMR City Councillor and CSL senior leader Sidney Margles added, ” Our pride in our M.P. runneth over. Many Mount Royal constituents know of his dedication to public service and this latest appointment underscores the Prime Minster’s recognition of what we all know.”

Also, during Thursday’s Question Period in the House of Commons, MP Anthony Housefather continued a yearly tradition, delivering a political version of “T’was the night before Christmas.” Anthony is a brilliant legislator, a straight arrow politician and a witty orator. I know he’ll continue to make us proud.


Older Entries