Remembering Michael Kutz

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Michael was my neighbour, friend, supporter and advisor. His assistance during election campaigns was always genuine and heartfelt. As his longtime City Councillor I could always count on his wise. What’s more, his opinion mattered to the entire council and helped to shape policies and programs.

Michael enriched the lives of countless others, young and old. He was a passionate advocate for human rights, tolerance and acceptance. He had an open mind, he listened to all and he challenged when necessary, politely and respectfully. In short, he was a true Mentsch.

Kutz was the recipient of countless community awards including CSL Ambassador of the Year in 2013. He was presented with the Supreme Chancellor’s medal by the Supreme Lodge of the Knights of Pythias and he was a member of the board of governors, board of directors and executive of the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre. Michael regularly spoke to students, was a longstanding member of the Brigadier Frederick Kisch Branch 97 and the Côte Saint-Luc Men’s Club. He published his autobiography, Life after darkness.

On learning of Michael’s passing, D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum said,”He was a gentle and courageous soul, whose generosity of spirit was all the more exceptional given the harrowing experience of the Holocaust that he endured.”

Former Cote Saint-Luc City Councillor Richard Schwartz said he would Richard fondly remembered Michael’s attendance at CSL council meetings and admirable contributions to the community. “We will miss his kind heart and sense of humour.”

Mike Cohen, City Councillor for District 2 and newspaper columnist told me this about Michael: “I have such fond memories of Michael Kutz. He and the late Gerry Weinstein were the dynamic duo of community activism. Michael was also a wonderful speaker about the Holocaust to young students.”

CSL Mayor Mitchell Browntein shared these thoughts with me: “Michael Kutz was an active volunteer in so many Cote Saint-Luc activities and a leader in Holocaust Remembrance.  He was kind, caring and passionate, always ready to lend a hand to support minority communities and believed strongly in justice and respect for all.  It was a pleasure working along side him on so many important issues for over 30 years. He was a dear friend and will be dearly missed.”

 

Michael Kutz memoirs

The Azrielli Foundation created the Holocaust Survivor Memoir Program where Michael Kutz was interviewed and shared his story: Nearly buried alive, ten-year-old Michael Kutz narrowly escaped the Nazi death squad that killed 4,000 Jews, including his own family, in his hometown of Nieśwież. Guided by his mother’s last words and determined to survive, he became the youngest member of a partisan resistance group in the dense Belorussian forest, and took part in daring operations against the Nazis and their collaborators.

He will be missed. He will be remembered.

Deepest condolences to Pat, Randy and Judy.

More:

Highly acclaimed CSL resident Michael Kutz passes away, Suburban Newspaper

MP Anthony Housefather says government learning and adapting

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Housefather interviewed by Mike Cohen in new podcast

Click above to hear Mike Cohen’s podcast

Mike Cohen has posted his second episode after last week’s launch of his new podcast series. Focusing in on local personalities and issues the series began with an interesting interview with D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum.

Cohen’s years of professional journalism have transitioned smoothly into broadcast as his flair for asking interesting questions and connecting with the average citizen shine through.

Anthony Housefather, MP, in the Hall of Honour, Parliament of Canada (Nov. 13, 2015. GJ Nashen photo)

This week’s episode with Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather looks at the efforts of the local federal representative to parliament amid the Covid-19 crisis and measures enacted by the federal government.

Housefather has done a spectacular job of communicating with thousands of constituents on a daily basis with essential information on the pandemic from a local and national perspective. He provides government and resource information and links. His staff have been engaged with constituents round the clock and seven days a week since the outset.

You can listen in on Mike Cohen’s podcast and will soon be able to subscribe on your favourite podcast platform.

Nova Scotia tragedy screams out for gun control

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The senseless, horrific massacre that has befallen Nova Scotia, perhaps Canada’s worst, is a national tragedy on many levels.

First, this cowardly act was amplified as it was carried out during the global pandemic. People everywhere are already on edge, overridden with anxiety at five plus weeks of isolation and distancing. The aftermath of the killings is depriving Nova Scotians and mourners across the country from the basic need of togetherness, of family and communal support and comforting.

Two, the killer, tarnished the iconic national treasure that is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It was tragic that he took the life of RCMP constable Heidi Stevenson and injured another officer, let alone the horrendous loss of 21 other victims. But in disguising himself in the revered uniform and duping the public in the fake police car he has robbed all Canadians of the blanket of comfort which is the essence, the brand of the RCMP.

Third, the Nova Scotia horror underscores the urgent and long overdue need for the federal government to legislate stricter gun control including the ban on assault weapons. And as I have advocated for decades and posted on this blog I call upon our legislators to outlaw handguns. There is no need for the average Canadian to posses such weapons.

When I express my opinion, I usually get a slew of hate mail from gun advocates, mostly Americans, that try to bully anyone who calls for firearm restrictions. So be it. They’re entitled to their ill-conceived opinions but they have no lessons to teach us here, in Canada. The U.S. model is so out of control, so utterly broken, with mass shootings so routine. Many of their leaders have become immune to their own pain and suffering, incapable of any effective change.

I will also hear from my old friend in Toronto, a police officer who routinely reminds me that we should not penalize lawful owners of guns. He has a point and I agree that there are very few cases that could be allowed with strict controls and regulations. He also says that what is needed is tougher penalties for gun crime in Canada and I couldn’t agree more.

So this is our opportunity, once again, in the aftermath of a horrific mass shooting to call upon every Member of Parliament to support very strict limits on who may posses a firearm of any sort in this country, to crack down on illegal smuggling of these weapons into our country and to substantially increase the penalty for illegal possession of guns and other lethal weapons and the sentencing for such offences.

Let’s honour the memory of the victims by taking these necessary steps to prevent such horrors from ever happening again in Canada.

It's not too late to prepare

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Emergency preparedness has been in my DNA for decades. From the Ice Storm, power failures, home fires, apartment evacuation and underpass floods, I have been involved in every wide-scale emergency and disaster in Cote Saint-Luc since first joining the Emergency Measures Organization in 1979.

This gives me an interesting perspective on emergency preparedness given the COVID-19 pandemic facing us all.

Even though I am not involved in Cote Saint-Luc’s planning efforts this time, I have been neck deep (and at times over my head) during the past 10 days heading up communication efforts for the West-Central Montreal health authority, which includes the Jewish General Hospital as well as Cote Saint-Luc’s Mount Sinai Hospital Centre, Maimonides and CLSC Rene Cassin. More on that in another post.

We’re still early into the pandemic in Canada. The dire situation that we have watched unfolding in China, Italy and heading toward us over the past two months is an advanced warning. And it’s still not too late to prepare.

Premier Francois Legault is doing an excellent job communicating daily with Quebecers, together with Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda and Health Minister Danielle McCann

Fortunately for us in Quebec and throughout Canada, our political, healthcare and emergency preparedness leaders have taken this matter very seriously. So much so that many of us were lulled out of complacency and frightened into taking action (and needlessly panicking and emptying store shelves of toilet paper and other supplies).

Snowbirds started packing up early to get back to Canada. Travellers cancelled vacations. Crowds started diminishing as entertainment and sports venues began shutting down. Schools closed. Recreation centres, tourist centres and gathering points started shutting down. Entry to Canada to non-Canadians became sealed except for essential services.

We’ve learned new vocabulary in a matter of days. Social distancing. WFH (work from home). Flatten the curve. Sneeze into your sleeve or elbow.

Everything has changed overnight. And it’s not going back to what it was anytime soon. So what to do?

If you haven’t begun preparing, there’s no time like the present. No need to panic-shop since our supply chain is well intact. Having an adequate supply of non-perishable food, medicine and household goods is a basic necessity at the best of times. Now, it’s even more important as a result of quarantine or self-isolation (be it for reasons of illness, return from travel or as a precaution for your family).

It will be vital to the overall health of those around us and all across the country to heed the warnings and to prepare. It’s not too late.

CSL outbreak concerns featured on CBC National News

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CBC National, March 20, 2020

COVID-19: Côte Saint-Luc activates state-of-emergency power to help stop mass gatherings

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The City Council of Côte Saint-Luc declared a state of emergency effective today at 3:30pm, which is a power granted to cities under the Civil Protection Act.

The Act states that: “A local municipality may declare a state of emergency in all or part of its territory where, in an actual or imminent major disaster situation, immediate action is required to protect human life, health or physical integrity which, in its opinion, it is unable to take within the scope of its normal operating rules or of any applicable emergency preparedness plan.”

This state of emergency is coming into effect based on Cote Saint Luc’s special demographics including having the highest percentage of seniors in the province, many snowbirds returning from abroad, more places of worship than any city of our size and numerous hospitals and senior residences that need our protection.

The City is taking this step to limit the number of social and religious public gatherings to a maximum of 10 persons and as such, the City is asking Public Health Authorities and the Montreal police department (SPVM) to enforce this rule on its local territory. 

The top priority of a city is the health of its population. 

The state of emergency will allow Côte Saint-Luc to ask Public Health Authorities to use their powers to stop all events and gatherings of more than 10 people with the assistance of the SPVM. The state of emergency will last for a 5-day period and can be renewed should the Quebec Ministry of Public Security so authorize. 

We understand that in the coming three weeks, there are many weddings and celebrations planned before the onset of Passover followed by the seven weeks of the Omer, where weddings and celebrations cannot take place according to the Jewish tradition. While we understand that people have made plans and invited guests, we cannot take the risk of allowing large gatherings in our community at this time. We are confident that the residents will understand and support this effort.

Resolution to declare a local state of emergency due to COVID-19 in the territory of Côte Saint-Luc (PDF)

There’s no better time

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It’s one of my favourite days of the year. Time for my semi-annual rant about changing our clocks, once again.

I’m a huge fan of Daylight Saving Time. That’s what we just sprung forward to this morning. We get a whole extra hour of daylight, mostly benefiting those of us who hate driving home from work in the dark in the mid to late afternoon during the winter and love to have the whole summer evening to stroll or do activities outside in natural light.

The whole concept of switching back and forth is terribly outdated and there’s been much talk at various levels of government in Canada, the U.S. as well as in the U.K. and Europe at doing away with one form or the other (that’s DST or Standard Time).

Let’s hope that this movement gains momentum. It would be great if this change in time sees the light of day!

Do you agree? Please share your comment. And see my other posts on Daylight Savings Time on this blog.

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