Last night I participated in a live debate with my two opponents, Sonia Cohen Peillon and Charles Chalom Lugassy on the Howie Silberger Show on Radio Shalom (AM 1650).

What stood out as the most disturbing aspect of this debate was the position Mr. Lugassy offered of choosing to represent one segment of the constituency of Cote Saint-Luc’s District 6.  Mr. Lugassy suggested that French-speaking, Sephardi, Orthodox Jews were not being represented at City Hall. “We need someone from within the French-speaking Sephardic community to represent us,” Lugassy said, saying he has unanimous backing by all Sephardi Jews and their Rabbis.  (Not true.  See this link).

I strongly objected to Mr. Lugassy’s division of a segment of the community and I responded, in French, that the role of the Councillor is to represent everyone in his or her district or City, inclusively.  And that is true of the Jewish and non-Jewish residents who are equal members of the CSL community. 

I also protested against the divisions Mr. Lugassy is attempting to create between Ashkenazi and Sephardi members of the Jewish community.  Instead, I offer the vision of one unified community regardless of country of origin or preferred language.

I used my own family as an example, seeing as my wife is of Moroccan and Yemenite descent.  Our children are half Ashkenazi and half Sephardi, a wonderful blend of two rich cultures, and they are learning at least four languages in school.

Mr. Lugassy also proposed lowering taxes while at the same time building subsidized housing (on the site of a polluted snow dump!) for young families who cannot afford to otherwise live in CSL and subsidized high rises for others.  He also wants to hire an ombudsman to advocate for seniors (even though that’s the job of the city councillor). Who is to pay for these projects?  Well, obviously the taxpayers.  How are we to lower taxes and pay for new services and infrastructure and upkeep and salaries?  Ask Mr. Lugassy.

Unbelievably, Mr. Lugassy also accused the Mayor and Councillors of CSL of either raising their salary or receiving a lump sum payment in addition to their salaries immediately before the election. This is an outright lie. Neither the Mayor nor the Councillors received a lump sum payment in addition to their salaries and the CSL bylaw related to salaries of the Council was adopted right after the demergers in early 2006 and has never been amended by Council since then. Salaries of elected officials increase according to the bylaw at the rate of inflation, and no more. Any increase to salary of the Mayor or Councillors or any payment would have to be adopted at a public meeting and no such thing ever occurred.

Mr. Lugassy should withdraw this false and defamatory statement immediately.

In fact, our Mayor has already been commended by many residents and the press for having the lowest amount of expenses that he claims of any mayor on the island and our Councillors are equally scrupulous for not taking public funds.

Mrs. Peillon’s top reason for running for election is because I do not live in District 6.  She may not know that Quebec law requires a candidate to live in the City, not in the district.  I spent the first 28 years of my life on Cork Ave, in District 6, about a minute away from her house. I have lived in CSL my entire life.  And, by the way, 5 of the 8 councillors live outside the districts they represent.  They all do an outstanding job for their constituents, even though they may live a two minute drive away! By the way, Mr. Lugassy doesn’t live in District 6 either. Some reason for running.

Mrs. Peillon also complained about a $700,000 upgrade in the park.  She is misinformed, once again, as I explained that the investment in parks, and the sign that she saw posted several years ago was under the City of Montreal during the merged years (2002-2005) and was for seven parks in Cote Saint-Luc, Hampstead and Montreal West, not for one small park (where the investment was $168,000 by Montreal). Mrs. Peillon evidently doesn’t realize that the taxes levied, and expenses incurred by Montreal during the merged years have absolutely nothing to do with the City of Cote Saint-Luc nor our current Council (neither of which existed at that time).

I’m sticking to my agenda:

  • Create a Community Emergency Response Team as part of my comprehensive Emergency Preparedness plans I’ve developed over the last 20 years
  • Invest in playgrounds for our kids safe fun close to home (I suceeded in getting council to more than double its investment in the last four years)
  • Build an Intergenerational Centre and Indoor Pool for all ages for year-round recreational entertainment, fitness and the well-being of our community (the process is underway and I support it completely)
  • Develop a bike network within our city and to connect beyond CSL for safe and enjoyable cycling (I’ve pitched plans to our council and engineer and plans are in the works starting next summer)
  • Ensure green re-development of the Cavendish Mall with emphasis on attracting young adults (this is a private venture, and unlike my oppoenent I’m not promoting subsidized housing!) 
  • Slow down traffic by lowering speed to 40 km/h and adding traffic calming measures on residential streets (I’ve championed safer crosswalks and now have plans as witnessed on Einstein Ave, and much more)
  • Maintain a reasonable local tax rate (since we took back CSL it has been BELOW the rate of inflation)

Listen to the show on streaming audio or download it by clicking here.