Air Transat brings the Israel experience a lot closer

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Celebrating Air Transat service to Tel Aviv with Robert Presser, Glenn J. Nashen and Consul General Ziv Nevo Kulman

A whole lot of Quebecers are about to get an incredible experience travelling directly to Israel aboard Air Transat. The Montreal-based airline kicked off its Trudeau to Ben Gurion non-stop service as a sort of birthday bash, marking its 30 years in business and highlighting Montreal’s 375th anniversary. 150 years of Canadian federation, as well as 100 years of Federation CJA.

The event took place in the ultra-modern Montreal Science Centre at the Old Port. There was an interesting mix of politicos, business leaders, young entrepreneurs and community who’s who. English, French and Hebrew-speaking, Kosher or not, young and less young, the audience reflected the multicultural, hip crowd of would-be travelers that Air Transat is targeting.

Airline prez Jean-Marc Eustache, lead off the formalities by saying that they weren’t looking to become mere transporters. The airline’s strategy is to build travel experiences with local partners in Israel to offer excursions, lodging and tours to meet the needs of Quebec couples, families and singles alike. And, publicity will soon begin to promote Montreal and Quebec as a hot tourist destination for Israelis.

Consul General Ziv Nevo Kulman was beaming with excitement at the prospect of tens of thousands of Quebecers seeking a taste of Israel. Whether it’s for the food, the wine or the music, for exploring or for religious travel, Israel has it all, said the coolest diplomat Israel has sent to Montreal in modern times. The Israeli Consul for Tourism, Uri Steinberg, said that the relationship between Israel and Air Transat would flourish, like a romance, as they become closer and closer, falling in love with one another. Quebecers will love Israel, he said.

Glenn J. Nashen, Sandy Sparkman and Robert Presser at the Air Transat kickoff of bi-weekly direct service between Montreal to Tel Aviv

Montreal City Councillor and Executive Committee member Lionel Perez said that Montrealers will benefit from being five or six hours closer thanks to the direct flights and that Israelis will come in large numbers to enjoy Montreal’s flair, sites and culture. And we have great religious sites to share with them such as the St. Joseph’s Oratory, the Notre Dame Cathedral and eventually a downtown Expos stadium!

The Transat folks created a true Israeli atmosphere, raffling off two free flights for two to Israel, serving spicy, tasty hors d’ouevres and five kinds of humus provided by Alan Serour of Beso Catering. A 5-piece orchestra belted out Klezmer tunes and Israeli wine flowed freely.

Glenn J. Nashen and CSUQ President Henri Elbaz discussing their next trip to Israel aboard Air Transat

It was great to see my old JGH boss Henri Elbaz and his physician wife Dr. Sandy, CIJA chief Eta Yudin, Senator Marc Gold, Hamsptead Mayor Bill Steinberg and his wife Doris, Outremont City Councillor Mindy Pollak, Israel Day Rally impresario Amos Sochaczevski, Israeli commuter-in-chief Dado Ben Brit, community activists Sandy Sparkman and Robert Presser and former news anchor Pascale Dery. CSL Insurance and Travel Professional Ruth Cohen will be plugging Air Transat service from her Cavendish Mall headquarters,

Good luck to Air Transat in finally bringing back direct service to Ben Gurion airport after a decades long gap. Here’s to falling in love with Israel!

Canada’s oldest Jewish community welcomes new addition – a history museum

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‘The third most spoken language in the city for 50 years was Yiddish’

Focusing on the Jewish impact on the city’s culture, the Montreal institution covers Leonard Cohen, art, landmarks — and even cuisine

April 16, 2017, 3:59 am 1
Zev Moses, director of the Museum of Jewish Montreal. (Julie Masis/Times of Israel)

MONTREAL — Canada’s oldest Jewish community is commemorating its heritage with a newly-opened museum just outside Montreal’s historic Jewish Mile End neighborhood.

Housed in a former Jewish garment factory, the small Museum of Jewish Montreal distinguishes itself from other Jewish museums in Canada by not focusing on the Holocaust but on local Jewish history.

“One of my inspirations was looking out of the window,” says Zev Moses, the museum’s director. “I saw a building that looked like a synagogue that was converted into apartments. I googled it and there was no information about it. Eventually, I found out it was a synagogue but no one had put Montreal Jewish landmarks on a map.”

So Moses, who was 26 years old at the time and had a degree in city planning, decided to do just that.

The Museum of Jewish Montreal started out as a digital project, dots on a map representing Montreal’s old Jewish landmarks. For instance, Moses says there were at least 90 synagogues that had been converted to other uses.

‘One of my inspirations was looking out of the window’

Later, the museum began to offer walking tours, and finally last summer — with support from the government of Canada, the city of Montreal, and the Jewish community — established itself in a permanent physical space.

Visitors can find temporary exhibits and a cafe that serves surprising Jewish foods, such as gefilte fish sandwiches on challah bread. There is also a bookstore, with novels by Jewish authors set in Montreal, and works of nonfiction about the city’s oldest Yiddish newspaper or the smoked meat sandwiches from the famous Schwartz’s deli located just down the block. It is the only non-religious Jewish bookstore in Montreal, Moses says.

A view of the street from inside the Museum of Jewish Montreal. (Julie Masis/Times of Israel)

A view of the street from inside the Museum of Jewish Montreal. (Julie Masis/Times of Israel)

One of the recent exhibits featured old photos of Montreal synagogues next to pictures of what these buildings became: apartment blocks, churches and cultural centers. One former synagogue houses the Ukrainian National Federation of Canada; others have been reincarnated as a Greek Orthodox church, a Vietnamese Buddhist temple and a private high school called “College Francais.” The school looks like a modern building, but on closer inspection Hebrew writing can still be seen in a semi-circle above the front entrance.

‘This is the stuff on the tour where people are really shocked’

“People walk by it all the time and don’t notice anything. But when we tell them to look up, they see the writing,” says Magdalene Klassen, a researcher at the museum. “This is the stuff on the tour where people are really shocked.”

The building where the museum is located is itself linked to the city’s Jewish heritage. Originally known as the Vineberg building (it was built by Abraham Vineberg in 1912), it was a garment factory that employed mostly Jewish workers. The owner thought he was a good boss because he let his Jewish workers take Saturdays off instead of Sundays, Klassen says, but the workers still hungered for higher wages.

Montreal’s Jewish history

Moses, who has lived in Montreal since he was a child, knows all about the city’s Jewish history.

Canadian Jewish history began when Montreal’s first Jews arrived in around 1760, after the British conquest. Until that time, French Catholics did not allow Jews to settle in New France, Moses says. These first Jewish settlers were English-speaking Sephardic merchants, who established Montreal’s first synagogue at the end of the 18th century.

Leonard Cohen during a concert in Ramat Gan, Israel, September 24, 2009. (Marko / Flash90)

Leonard Cohen during a concert in Ramat Gan, Israel, September 24, 2009. (Marko / Flash90)

Leonard Cohen during a concert in Ramat Gan, Israel, September 24, 2009. (Marko / Flash90)

But the largest wave of Jewish migration to Canada took place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when Jews began arriving from the Russian empire and Eastern Europe. Famous Montreal citizen Leonard Cohen‘s mother, for example, was a Lithuanian Jew of Russian descent, who immigrated to Canada in 1927.

Most of these new immigrants settled in the working-class Plateau neighborhood of Montreal, renting cold-water apartments along Saint-Lawrence Boulevard, also known as The Main (street), because it divides Montreal into east and west. English-speakers generally lived on the west side and French speakers on the east. Addresses in the city are counted from the Saint-Lawrence Boulevard.

“Because the city was divided between the French Catholics and the English Protestants, and the Jews lived in-between, they were able to maintain their culture and the Yiddish language much longer than other Jewish communities in North America,” Moses says. “The third most spoken language in the city for 50 years was Yiddish.”

Illustrative: a Jewish boy in Montreal. (photo credit: David Ouellette/JTA)

Illustrative: a Jewish boy in Montreal. (photo credit: David Ouellette/JTA)

In fact, Yiddish is still the mother tongue of about 15,000 Montreal Jews — the Hassidim, including the Belz, Satmar, Vizhnitz and Skver dynasties, as well as the Tosh (or Tash), a Hungarian dynasty entirely based in Canada with a village just north of Montreal.

However, after World War II, as the Montreal Jewish community prospered, Jews began moving away from the Plateau neighborhood to other parts of Montreal. And then, with the Quebec independence movement gaining strength, many left the French-speaking province altogether. Some settled in Toronto, which is now home to the largest Jewish community in Canada.

Jewish Montreal today

Nowadays the Jewish community of Montreal is stable, with a population of about 90,000, Moses says. French-speaking Moroccan Jews who immigrated to Montreal in the 1960s number around 25,000, and the rest are Ashkenazi, mostly English-speakers.

In recent decades, Montreal also welcomed Jews from the former Soviet Union, France and Argentina, Moses adds.

Book for sale in the Museum of Jewish Montreal. (Julie Masis/Times of Israel)

Book for sale in the Museum of Jewish Montreal. (Julie Masis/Times of Israel)

Meanwhile, the Plateau neighborhood has become one of the hippest areas to live in Montreal, with cafes and restaurants offering varied international cuisine. And while the Jewish community has moved, the neighborhood is still famous for its Jewish food — the Montreal bagels, which are baked in ovens right in front of the customers and sold when they’re still warm; the poppy seed pastries; cheese-filled blintzes; and the smoked meat sandwiches served with a pickle on the side.

Not to be outdone, the Museum’s café, Fletchers, prides itself on using the city’s rich Jewish culinary heritage to create unique dishes. For instance, they sell a cookie based on a recipe from an Iraqi Jewish Montrealer — there are said to be a few thousand Iraqi Jews living in Montreal. The cookie is made with almond flour, cardamom and rosewater and is kosher for Passover, says Kat Romanow, who is in charge of the menu.

The cafe also offers the traditional bagel with a twist — Moroccan-spiced lox.

The menu at Fletcher's, the Jewish fusion cafe inside the Museum of Jewish Montreal. (Julie Masis/Times of Israel)

The menu at Fletcher’s, the Jewish fusion cafe inside the Museum of Jewish Montreal. (Julie Masis/Times of Israel)

“We’re taking a very Ashkenazi dish — bagels and lox — and putting a Moroccan spice mix on the fish, marrying the two largest Jewish communities in Montreal,” Moses says.

And then there is the gefilte fish sandwich.

The gefilte fish is pan-fried and served warm with a horseradish sauce, accompanied by a carrot and parsley salad on challah. Moses says that the sandwich does not contain any of the either loved or reviled fish jelly.

“I was like, ‘No way it’s going to sell,’ but it’s probably our most popular dish,” admits Moses.

Rail Safety Week is about safety around railway property

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CP Rail locomotives pass trough Cote Saint-Luc every day. Stay away. Stay safe.

From April 24 through April 30, Canadian Pacific CP will conduct rail safety blitzes in communities across their network – from Montreal to Vancouver – with participation from police agencies and schools to educate motorists, pedestrians and the general public about staying safe.

“When people use railway property or tracks as walking paths, they are risking their lives,” said Laird Pitz, CP’s Vice President and Chief Risk Officer. “Rail safety requires vigilance 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. We are asking everyone to consider their own safety around railroad property. The impact of an incident can have tragic consequences for all concerned, including family, friends and community.”

CP is proud to be the safest railway in North America, with the fewest reportable train accidents per million train miles among all Class 1 railroads for 11 years straight.

No space for kids or teens to squeeze through at Westminster evacuation gates

While we are pleased that crossing incidents declined in Canada last year, a sharp rise in trespassing incidents means we must continue to do more. Tragically, 46 pedestrians and 19 drivers lost their lives in these preventable incidents. This is in comparison to 31 pedestrian and 14 driver lives in 2015.

CP believes that one incident is too many. That is why they are working tirelessly, along with their community partners, to promote safety in and around railway property throughout Canada.

Cote Saint-Luc is surrounded by CP Rail yards and tracks. CSL Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, Councillor Glenn J. Nashen and the entire City Council remind our residents to stay safe, to keep out of the rail yards and off of their tracks. Report any damaged or missing fences along railway property. Most importantly, take the opportunity to remind children of the extreme danger in ignoring these vital safety tips.

CP Rail Police patrol in the St. Luc Yards and will issue a hefty fine to trespassers

 

·         Did you know this week marks Canada’s Rail Safety Week? Remember to Look and Listen to Live!

·         This week we’re joining @CanadianPacific and all Canadian railways in reminding people to make smart decisions around tracks and trains

·         Scary stats: In 2016, 46 pedestrians and 19 drivers tragically lost their lives in preventable rail incidents

·         Always practice situational awareness around tracks and trains to keep yourself safe

·         This Rail Safety Week, choose the safe route to school or work and stick to it. Don’t let a shortcut cut your life short

·         If you use railway property or tracks as walking paths, you risk your life. Always use designated paths and crossings

·         This Rail Safety Week, speak to your children about dangers at level crossings and railway property

 

 

For more social media content, visit Operation Lifesaver’s website at www.oplifesaver.ca

Elimination of Mont-Royal perversely penalizes natural communities

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By: Anthony Housefather, M.P. for Mount-Royal

Published in The Suburban, Mar 22, 2017
I want to express my gratitude to the Cote Des Neiges/NDG Borough Council, the Cote Saint-Luc City Council, The Town of Mount Royal town council and the Hampstead town council for their leadership on this important issue opposing the proposed electoral map changes. I join with them and our MNAs Pierre Arcand and David Birnbaum on a matter that negatively impacts the population I represent at the federal level as well as other minority communities in Quebec.

The Director General of Elections has produced a map that unfairly penalizes everyone living on the island of Montreal by eliminating a riding on the island while preserving rural ridings with much smaller populations. This means that a vote on the island is worth less than a vote in other parts of the province. The situation is exacerbated by the choice of ridings they are eliminating. The decision to eliminate the provincial riding of Mont-Royal effectively makes the most diverse riding in the province disappear. Its merger with Outremont creates a riding of almost 57,000 voters, approximately twice the population of the smallest rural riding. More importantly it disproportionately and negatively impacts English speaking cultural communities including but not limited to the Filipino and Bangladeshi communities who wielded important influence in Mont-Royal and now are split between D’Arcy McGee and the newly created Mont-Royal/Outremont riding. Perversely the size of the territory added to D’Arcy McGee now also makes that riding one of the most heavily populated ridings in the province and negatively impacts the Jewish community and the entire English speaking community whose voices are diluted by the added territory. This is not even to address the unfair split of the Hassidic community between the new Mont-Royal-Outremont and Mercier ridings and the unfair split of the Greek community in Laval.
Why natural communities, especially minority language and cultural communities were so disregarded in the new map proposed by the Quebec Director General of Elections is puzzling and somewhat shocking and I want to join my voice to those of my own constituents and others who are denouncing this in the strongest terms. As there appears to be no means other than a court challenge to undo the perverse and negative effects of the electoral map I want to congratulate Beryl Wajsman the editor of the Suburban newspaper who has been raising funds for such a challenge. I pledge to make a personal financial contribution to any such challenge and ask those who can afford to do so to join me in doing so. Our voices are not lost if we join together to fight.

Anthony Housefather,MP

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Thank you to our ever-present Member of Parliament for taking a strong position and effectively communicating (as he always does) right across the region.

Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather touches all of the bases at Town Hall meeting

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Thank you to my colleague and friend Councillor Mike Cohen for the excellent summary of the recent Town Hall meeting hosted by our incredible MP, Anthony Housefather

 

Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather touches all of the bases at Town Hall meeting

By Councillor Mike Cohen | 19 Mar 2017

In the 17 months since Anthony Housefather was elected as the Liberal Member of Parliament for the Mount Royal riding, I believe he has exceeded expectations in terms of his performance both within his constituency and in Ottawa.
As an MP he could not be closer to the people who elected him, always present at community events and going the extra mile by having Town Hall meetings throughout the year in different parts of his constituency. Such was the case on March 16 at the Irving Adessky Community Centre in Hampstead.

AHMarch2017

Anthony Housefather addresses his Town Hall meeting.

I served as a city councillor under Anthony for 10 years when he was mayor of Côte Saint-Luc before he moved on to federal politics. He is a born leader and a walking encyclopedia on nearly every dossier he must deal with. Speaking notes are never needed and when asked a question, he is able to respond accurately and immediately.

Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg introduced Anthony, noting that the two first met in 1994. “He came to my door and was campaigning to become the youngest councillor in the Town of Hampstead’s history,” he recalled. “He stayed for about a half hour; he was young, enthusiastic and energetic. He has not changed a bit.”
Steinberg went on to explain how their paths crossed again in 2000 when his wife Doris dragged him into politics to fight against the forced municipal mergers and how they worked together to both battle the forced mergers and then fight for demerger. In 2005 Steinberg was elected mayor of Hampstead and Anthony was elected as mayor of Côte Saint-Luc so they continued to work together. “Anthony is a valuable Member of Parliament because as a former councillor and mayor he stays close to his constituents,” he said.
Steinberg hailed Anthony not only for these Town Halls, but his summits with elected officials in the territories he serves (Côte Saint-Luc, Hampstead, Snowdon, Côte des Neiges and Town of Mount Royal). “Sometimes I vote Liberal, sometimes Conservative,” volunteered Steinberg. “I do not vote NDP. One thing I give the Liberals credit for is that they allow free votes for their MPs. I give Anthony credit for he is not afraid to vote against his party.”

That provided the perfect opening for Anthony to explain his leading role in having a bill passed aimed at preventing genetic discrimination. He did so by working with Toronto MP Rob Oliphant to lobby enough members of his own governing party to ensure that more than 100 Liberal backbenchers joined Conservatives and New Democrats to give final approval to the bill, this despite warnings from Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that it is unconstitutional. Housefather noted that in his opinion the bill was constitutional and that the majority of experts who testified before Parliament agreed that it was indeed constitutional.

The bill is aimed at ensuring that Canadians can get genetic tests to help identify health risks and take preventive measures, without fear that they’ll be penalized when it comes to getting a job or life and health insurance. It would make it illegal to require a person to undergo genetic testing, or disclose the results of previous tests, as a condition of signing or continuing an insurance policy or any other contract or agreement. In addition, it would also prohibit anyone from sharing genetic test results without written consent, although there are exceptions for physicians and researchers. This bill has enormous significance for the Jewish community which has a considerable number of genetic mutations such as the BRAC 1 and BRAC2 genes for breast cancer in much higher density than the general population. Having the law adopted was a big priority for Jewish community organizations.

Anthony went on to explain that he has no issues with the federal government referring the question of constitutionality to the Supreme Court.

“Either way, we already knew with statements having been made by the insurance industry that somebody was going to challenge the constitutionality of the law,” said Anthony, the Liberal chair of the Justice and Human Rights Committee that refused to amend the bill to suit the government.

“Having the federal government refer the matter directly to the top court “means that we will have an answer from the Supreme Court far faster than if a challenge is started in a lower court by industry or by someone,” he said.

Anthony credits his years in municipal politics for providing the experience necessary to work with colleagues to have obtained the necessary votes from his fellow Liberal backbenchers and members of the opposition. “It goes to show that even if you are not in cabinet, you can have power,” he remarked.

Anthony was also proud to talk about how his Justice Committee issued a report recommending the Liberal government revive and expand the Court Challenges Program. The Government recently announced it was doing so and accepted most recommendations of the report, expanding the program to allow funding based on challenges to the Official Languages Act as well as additional charter rights.. The new program to fund court challenges will include cases based on freedom of religion, freedom of democratic rights, and right to liberty and security as well as equality and language rights.

Justice Minister Wilson-Raybould said the renewed program will ensure that the government “promotes access to justice for Canadians who need it the most,” adding that Canada’s justice system will need to continue to evolve. The promise to restore the program, which was scrapped by the Stephen Harper Conservatives in 2006, was included in the 2015 Liberal campaign platform and the mandate letters for Heritage Minister Melanie Joly and Wilson-Raybould.

Anthony’s staff both in Montreal and Ottawa receive a lot of e-mail correspondence. He expressed fear about the rising escalation of bigotry. “I have never seen in my adult life more of a prevalence since the United States elections,” he said. “It has now become socially normal and tolerated.”

Anthony alluded to the Quebec mosque terrorist attack, Montreal and Toronto imams who preached anti-Semitic theories, the “Punch a Zionist” comment by a McGill student leader and the ongoing BDS movement on university campuses – the new form of anti-Semitism.

Anthony also discussed the US-Canada relationship, the Syrian refugee issue, Motion 103, the government’s plan to introduce legislation to legalize cannabis this spring and Trudeau in general. “I think he is doing a very good job,” he said. “A lot of people have the wrong perception of him. He is actually one of the smartest people I’ve ever met.”

Besides Mayor Steinberg, Hampstead Councillors Michael Goldwax, Warren Budning and Leon Elfassy were on hand. I was joined by fellow Côte Saint-Luc Councillor Allan J. Levine.

To reach Anthony`s office call 514-283-0171 or e-mail anthony.housefather@parl.gc.ca. His constituency office is located at 4770 Kent, Suite 316.

WWII story of love and loss has roots in CSL

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She gave him hope. He gave her a promise.

When I first read about the film by Naomi Jaye entitled, The Pin, all I knew was that it was a unique cinematic production given that it was recorded in Yiddish. I did not know that it was a Canadian funded film nor that there were any connections to Cote Saint-Luc. But I knew enough that I though a copy ought to be purchased for the Cote Saint-Luc Public Library. All it took was one quick call to Chief Librarian Janine West.

The copy arrived and I was fortunate to be the first to withdraw the DVD from the massive film collection. And last Sunday I popped some popcorn and cranked up the DVD player so that my parents, son and I could sit down to our first inter-generational Yiddish movie, thankfully with English subtitles. I must say, I was impressed how much Yiddish I actually understood, so a big shout out to JPPS and the late principals Yaacov Zipper, Leib Tencer and Nachum Wilchesky, not to forget so many famous teachers like leren (teacher, miss)) Rose, leren Chava, leren Laya, lerer (teacher, Mr.) Shwartzberg and of course the world-famous Yiddishist from 1970s Bialik High School, Aaron Lansky.

The Pin is a wonderful story about two young people who experience love and loss while in hiding in the same barn during the horrible days of WWII. After a life of regret, the young man, now old, is faced with an opportunity for redemption.

This touching romance in Yiddish is a universal story of love and devotion over the years.

The film starts are Grisha Pasternak and Milda Gecaite.

What caught my attention though was something quite obscure. In one of the final scenes, when the main protagonists were running to jump on a passing train I noticed that an old, faded logo of CP Rail was noticeable on the aging boxcar. At that point I realized there was a Canadian connection and the film must have been shot here. As the credits rolled I noticed that funding by the Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts supported this film.

Final credits also acknowledged a Montreal Yiddish initiative and thanks were offered to Cote Saint-Luc natives Jack Wolofsky and his daughter Sandy.

In the audio clip below, Naomi Jaye, director of The Pin, shares the story behind this 2013 film. The Pin is the first Yiddish-language film (with English subtitles) to be shot in Canada, and the second in North America in over 70 years.

 

 

The Pin was nominated for Best Foreign Romance Trailer in the Golden Trailer Awards in 2014.

The Pin (85 minutes) is available on loan, free of charge to members of the Cote Saint-Luc Public Library under filing code DVD FOR P645.

Are you ready for clock confusion?

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I’ve said it many times before on this blog. Leave the clocks alone! We’re back on Daylight Savings Time where it should be. All the time.

Meanwhile, thanks to Joel Goldenberg who came across this Washington Examiner article published earlier this week that says what I’ve been saying for years: Don’t touch that clock. Actually, this piece argues from the perspective of staying on standard time, all the time. But what it really means, to me, is just pick one, only one, and leave it be.

Studies “have found that the time change interrupts sleep cycles, causing fatigue, lack of productivity and sadness,” the article added. Even worse, medical studies showed that daylight saving time also can lead to death. “Other studies show that the number of heart attacks spikes in the days following the March time change, and after the November time change, the frequency of heart attacks decreases,” the article reads.

So come on Canada. Let’s stay on DST.

Do you agree with me? Please share your comments here.

Search Daylight Savings Time to see my blog posts on this subject.

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Read more:

Washington Examiner: Daylight saving time may be killing you

Fifty-eight per cent of Quebecers take up to a week to adjust to Daylight Savings Time

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