St. Laurent Mayor DeSousa optimistic about Cavendish extension

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By: Councillor Mike Cohen

Cote Saint-Luc City Council welcomed St. Laurent Borough Mayor Alan DeSousa to City Hall recently.

DeSousa

Mayor Brownstein and Council welcome Alan DeSousa.

De Sousa served as Councillor in St. Laurent from 1990 to 2001, following which he was elected borough mayor for four consecutive terms. He also sat as a member of the City of Montreal Executive for 11 years, and served as Vice-Chair. During these years, he was responsible for finance and administration, economic development, long-term planning, hydraulic infrastructures, environment and parks, as well as for sustainable development.

In the private sector, DeSousa  served as Vice-President, Corporate Finance, at BioChem Pharma, a publicly owned Canadian company. He also worked as a corporate tax specialist in international taxation at Ernst & Young. Throughout these years, his social involvement in numerous community and charitable organizations has never ceased.

Our council often invites political colleagues to meet with us. In the case of DeSousa, we spoke about issues such as transportation and of course the extension of Cavendish Boulevard.

“Cavendish is getting to the point of political acceptance,” DeSousa commented. “Right now it seems to be going on the right track. Cavendish is on the rails. We have to keep pushing it.”

DeSousa is confident that Phase One of the long-anticipated extension will occur in 2019-20 with a connection from Royalmount to St. Laurent.

Phase Two would entail the connection from Cote Saint-Luc up to Royalmount.

Later in the same week DeSousa announced his intention to seek the Liberal nomination in the federal riding of St. Laurent- Cartierville, recently vacated by Stéphane Dion.

 

Housefather asks for apology re SS St. Louis’ denial of entry in 1939

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By Isaac Olson

Free Press, Feb. 14, 2017

 

In a speech delivered during an emergency immigration debate on January 30, MP Anthony Housefather, representing the Mount Royal riding, called on the federal government to issue an apology for refusing the entry of over 900 Jewish refugees on the SS St. Louis in 1939.

Rising to his feet in the house of commons as he has done several times since taking office, Housefather was taking part in a discussion centred around the controversial travel and immigration restrictions in the United States.

During the speech, Housefather reminded Canadians that there have been times in this country’s history where the United States has been more welcoming.

“I’ve heard a lot of congratulatory comments tonight about how in Canada we’re different – how in Canada we have had this incredible tradition of bringing in immigrants and refugees and we’ve always done it,” said Housefather, who acknowledged that this has been true for the last few decades. However, he added, “that has not always been true.”

Housefather said he was inspired to make the leap from municipal to federal politics after Quebec’s “separatist government” proposed its “charter of values,” which would have required him to “fire people because they were going to wear a kippah, or a hijab, or a turban to work.” He cited the religious freedom rally that was held in Côte St. Luc in 2013 when that debate was taking place. As mayor, he led a charge against the charter and now, looking back on that time, he said it shows that Canadian politicians “are no different here than they are elsewhere” because people can always capitalize on xenophobia and spark fear in the population.

Citing President Donald Trump’s executive order as an American issue, he said there is still a lot to learn from this debate such as the importance of not putting forward policies without public consultation or ensuring that an order is legal under a country’s constitution. He encouraged Canada to continue such practices of vetting policies thoroughly before pushing them forward. He said orders should not be made retroactively so as to affect people with valid visas in transit and it is important not to enact laws that discriminate against people of certain countries or religions.

This, he said, is where it is important to remember Canada’s history, citing the many ethnic and religious groups that have been excluded from the country. The SS St. Louis, he said, was among those rejected. The Jewish refugees had Cuban visas but the Caribbean country changed its rules last minute and turned them away. The ship was then denied entry into the United States and Canada.

“I hope one day Canada will apologize for what happened with the St. Louis,” said Housefather. “We should always remember that this could happen here. We have to be vigilant.”

The full video is available on Housefather’s YouTube page.

CSL population grows, a bit

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census

The 2016 census figures are in and Cote Saint-Luc registered a mini population growth spurt of just 127 residents more than in 2011.

CSL now has 32,448 residents, a growth of just 0.4%.

It’s interesting to note that the census metropolitan area of Vancouver has the highest population density in Canada, with 5,492.6 people per square kilometre, followed by the Montreal suburbs of Westmount and… you guessed it, Cote Saint-Luc with 4,662.5 people per square kilometre.  Toronto ranks 8th on the list at 4,334.4 people per square kilometre.

While our population remains relatively unchanged in CSL, Quebec’s overall growth has slowed significantly to 3.3% since 2011. This places us in 8th position out of the 13 provinces and territories. Wonder why?

Previous census figures show our average age is decreasing in CSL. When more data is released later this year we’ll see if this trend is continuing.

These numbers also help our city in planning for services to meet the needs of our demographics. Also worth noting, is that several new buildings are either in construction (such as on The Avenue and on Parkhaven) or pre-construction (on Marc-Chagall) that will bring in several hundred new residents in the next year or two. This will add to our density as well as our demand on infrastructure (roads, sewers, utility) and services (recreation, library, EMS, etc…).

See more information on the Census Canada web page for CSL as well as at CTV News.

For more info on how CSL fared in the 2011 census use the search window on the top right of this page (search: Census 2011).

What do you think about these numbers? Are we better or worse off by our growing population?

 

 

MP Housefather blasts US executive order banning refugees

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I’m very proud of my good friend and Member of Parliament, Anthony Housefather, for this impassioned speech in the House of Commons last night. Anthony continues to do us proud.

Canada is a welcoming country of tolerance, peace and respect. With MPs like Anthony we will continue in these great Canadian values for a very long time.

Ban guns, not people

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An unspeakable tragedy has fallen upon our province, our country. Shocking and horrific.

We like to believe that we live in a place of tolerance and respect. Where neighbours live in harmony with neighbours. These are our core values as Canadians.

These acts of senseless violence are, thankfully, so incredibly rare in our country. And they would be even fewer if we were to ban weapons in Canada, as the vast majority of peace-loving, law-abiding citizens do not have any need to possess firearms.

A horrific and senseless act of cowardliness that has no place in Canada and should not be acceptable anywhere in the world.

May peace be upon our Muslim neighbours and all Quebecers and Canadians, regardless of religion, language or background. Assalamu ‘Alaikum. Shalom Aleichem.

Wonderful Chanukah Greetings

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As the holiday of lights and freedom approaches I take great pride and satisfaction in hearing encouraging words, during these troubling times, from leaders near and far.

Our illustrious MP, Anthony Housefather, has worked tirelessly to bring an open, pluralistic approach to ‘Hanukkah on the Hill’. In every speech, at every opportunity, the dynamic legislator innately rallies Canadians to think generously of those around them with his ever so optimistic perspective that we are all Canadians no matter how background. I salute him for spreading a message of hope and inclusion in a true Canadian spirit.

I am also grateful that our Prime Minister has shown, within a very short time in office, a genuine interest in forging a close relationship with the Jewish community. To be sure, there are a number of key players in the Canadian Jewish community that within the PM’s sphere of influence, including Housefather. But I do believe that Trudeau has the right convictions within him.

 

President Barak Obama delivered a meaningful speech at the White House in celebration of Chanukah, invoking the memory of Elie Wiesel by inviting the wife, children and grandchildren of the late beacon of memory of the Six Million. What’s more, the President kindled the handmade menorah of Wiesel’s granddaughter.

 

What struck me significantly this month was a leading article in the Ste-Agathe newspaper questioning whether a Chanukah Menorah ought to be permitted in a public place. So many responses were negative, seeking to extinguish the lights of the candelabra, all the while approving the public display of the Christmas Tree, the Cross and the Nativity Scene.

I found this to be a sad statement given the overt anti-semitism in this Laurentian paradise just a generation ago. Rather than barking angrily at my fellow Quebecers I decided this should be a moment to teach, to learn and to reach out in the spirit of the holidays in hopes that more people would be influenced and perhaps become more tolerant. You can see my comments and the full discussion here. Maybe you’d also like to reach out as I’ve tried to do.

 

 

And so, I hope that we all can learn to become a little more tolerant during these troubling times, a little kinder to one another, a little more respectful. This is the universal message that I draw from the bright light of the Chanukah Menorah. And in this spirit, and in borrowing Anthony’s words, I hope that no matter your background, your language or your religion, that you too draw inspiration from this little light of mine and that it shines bright upon you and those you hold close, and upon all people.

Happy Chanukah.

Opinion: Jewish and Muslim MPs’ ‘Christmas dinner’ renewed my faith in Canada

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An excellent opinion piece by Anthony Housefather, MP for Mount Royal, published in the Montreal Gazette. It is both inspiring and truly Canadian.

Jewish and Muslim Members of Parliament pose for a group photo after their "Christmas dinner" in Ottawa Dec. 7, 2016.

Jewish and Muslim Members of Parliament pose for a group photo after their “Christmas dinner” in Ottawa Dec. 7, 2016. COURTESY OF ANTHONY HOUSEFATHER
Gazette Opinion

In Canada, as the holidays approach this year, I have found the normal cheer somewhat subdued. The aftermath of Brexit and the U.S. elections has had an effect on many Canadians. There is a concern that the world is now a different place. We all knew that in recent years our world has become more dangerous with the rise of terrorist groups that do not play by any rules. But this year, the world seems to have become more divided by race, religion, gender, economic status, sexual orientation and ethnicity, and Canadians are wondering whether this will spread to our own country.

Are we different from the rest of the world? I myself felt somewhat glum as the holidays approached and wondered what I could do to regain my holiday spirit.

For me, my holiday miracle happened in the second week of December. Jewish and Muslim Members of Parliament gathered for what we called our “Christmas Dinner.” We shared our personal stories and provided each other with greater understanding of the history and diversity of our communities.

As a white man born in the 1970s to a relatively affluent professional family that has lived in Canada for well more than a century, I cannot remember ever having experienced anti-Semitism or any other form of discrimination. But the same is not true for some of my colleagues. I was in tears as I heard the stories of an older Jewish MP who talked about having been beaten up at a hockey game and having bones broken because he was Jewish. My heart hurt as a female Muslim MP, who has become a close friend, talked about being bullied in high school because she was brown and Muslim.

But what moved me the most was the candid story of a Muslim MP born and educated abroad who acknowledged that he came to Canada having numerous misconceptions about Jews and the time that it took for him to recognize them to be wrong. This only happened because Canada allows us to get to know one another and dispel myths about one another.

We left the evening, after many hours of discussion, convinced that we as a group could make a difference. There is nobody who can confront Islamophobia more effectively than a Jew, and there is nobody who can confront anti-Semitism more effectively than a Muslim. We left inspired to work together with Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Bahais and people of all religions, or no religion, to fight against discrimination in our country. In the same way that Charlie Brown found the real meaning of Christmas in that famous animated special that we see on TV each year and in the same way the Miracle on 34th Street proved Santa was real, this dinner brought back my holiday spirit.

Even though any country could go down the path of xenophobia, we in Canada are very lucky. We have a prime minister, a government and opposition leaders who are speaking out in favour of tolerance, understanding and brotherhood. We have people of good faith across the spectrum who believe that we need to stand up for one another. Not only do we have a Charter of Rights that protects us in law, but we have a populace that is generally inspired to care.

I left that dinner renewed in my confidence that Canada is and will continue to be a beacon unto the world and that we all have our part to play in making that be so. I will be happy during this holiday season, and I hope and pray that my fellow Canadians will be happy and optimistic as well.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Holidays to all!

Anthony Housefather is the member of Parliament for Mount Royal and chairman of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

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