Urging the government to put seatbelts on school buses

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You may know that I have joined with Gary Lillico and his advocacy group Seatbelt’s for Canadian School Buses Now to urge Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau to require seatbelts on all school buses. Thousands have signed a petition in support. Read details on this campaign and watch an incredible CBC report for background information.

Tonight, Mount Royal Member of Parliament, Anthony Housefather, rose in the House of Commons to ask about this important issue. Thank you Anthony for pressing forward. We hope to see solid action by the Minister early in the new year to increase safety for school children from coast to coast.

I’ll continue to call upon Minister Garneau to move the necessary regulations or legislation. I have already spoken with him on three occasions on this topic over the last 12 months and I believe that he is interested in making good on this important subject that falls within his ministerial mandate.

Anthony Housefather sworn in to 43rd Parliament

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Over 100 friends and volunteers packed two chartered buses for the ride to Ottawa today to witness the swearing in ceremony for Mount Royal Member of Parliament, Anthony Housefather.
Many cultural communities of the Montreal West End riding, once represented by Pierre-Elliot Trudeau, traveled to Parliament Hill for the exciting and memorable occasion. With numerous members of the Filipino, Gujarati, Tamil, Chinese, Bangladeshi, Jewish, French-speaking, English-speaking, Italian and Greek communities, Anthony was completely and warmly encircled by his entire riding.

Members of Mount Royal’s Filipino community with MP Anthony Housefather

With Centre Block undergoing a decade-long renovation the group entered the “new” House of Commons, located in a totally enclosed courtyard of the West Block, beautifully enveloped by the once exterior, exquisitely sculpted walls, green cladded rooftops and Victorian shaped windows.

Anthony Housefather addressing supporters in the new House of Commons in the West Block

The official ceremony was conducted by the friendly and informative Deputy Clerk of the House, M. Andre Gagnon, who has been at VIP receptions and similar ceremonies for the last 29 years. You can watch the official swearing in here.

Deputy Clerk Andre Gagnon oversees MP Anthony Housefather signing in

 

Future MP Jeremy Nashen with Deputy Clerk Andre Gagnon

Highlighting the guest list were the Ambassadors of the Philippines and the State of Israel. Recognizing the large guest list of Filipinos and Jews, Mrs. Garcia described the close ties between her country and the Jewish state. “My country took in 1200 Jews during the holocaust and was the first Asian nation to recognize the state of Israel in 1948,” she said to great applause.
Mr. Barkan, attending his last ceremony as Israeli Ambassador, as he completes his final posting and retires from the foreign service said, “Anthony is the brightest person I met in Canada.”

Glenn and Jeremy with Israeli Ambassador Nimrod Barkan and Mrs. Barkan

Also in attendance was Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and his wife Elaine, councillor Dida Berku and Jacob Kincler, TMR Councillors Joseph Daoura and Minh Diem Le-Thi. We really missed not having councillor Ruth Kovac with us, as noted by Mayor Brownstein in his remarks highlighting Anthony’s political career.

MP Anthony Housefather sworn in to Canada’s 43rd Parliament with Glenn and Jeremy Nashen, Myrna Housefather, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and Councilors Mien Diem Le-Thi

The entire Fabian-Band clan from Cote Saint-Luc attended – all three generations. To be sure, there was representation from all neighbourhoods of the sprawling riding.

Ricki, Leslie, Jamie and Sammi Fabian on the bus with Anthony Housefather and Mayor Mitchell Brownstein

I was particularly pleased to be accompanied by my 10 year old son, Jeremy, for his fifth visit to Parliament Hill. “I really enjoyed Anthony’s guided tour of the House of Commons because he gave such interesting descriptions and answered everyone’s questions,” Jeremy said. “I’m always proud to be Canadian because Canada is such a cool country,” he added, standing among massive paintings of Canada’s Prime Ministers in the stately chamber.

Prime Minister Pierre-Elliot Trudeau overlooking Glenn and Jeremy

“I am so honoured to be surrounded by all of you and to feel the love and friendship here today, “Anthony said. ” It’s remarkable to have you all here with me. We have a special riding and how amazing is it to be preceded by Pierre-Elliot Trudeau, Sheila Finestone and Irwin Cotler.” See Anthony’s full speech here.
Anthony’s supporters filled the green leather seats of the House and many took turns sitting in the regal Speakers Chair, snapping selfies by the hundreds.
Anthony introduced us to his colleague, Michael Levitt, MP for York Centre, in Toronto, who had just been sworn in and was touring the House with his family.
The two greeted all those assembled in the hallow halls of Parliament and remarked how well they worked together for their similar, culturally-rich ridings.

MPs Anthomy Housefather and Michael Levitt

 

“How does one get appointed as Parliamentary Secretary (also known as Junior Minister),” I asked, “and how can we help?”  Anthony smiled along with the audience and responded, “The Prime Minister is just upstairs on the third floor,” he said to laughter. The group applauded showing their strong support for Anthony to be nominated to a Parliamentary Secretary position by Prime Minster Justin Trudeau.
It was time for a few group shots with everyone in the House before the two hour ride back to Montreal. What a wonderful opportunity for all of us to witness this ceremony, unchanged since the country was founded some 152 years earlier, and tour the seat of government.

Speaker of the House, Jeremy!

What an amazingly educational day for my son to take a day off of school, to learn about our government and its leaders at the political epicentre of the country and to show his support for Anthony, as the youngest participant.
And what a privilege to partake in this historic occasion, virtually unchanged since confederation. You could practically hear the Parliamentarians of the past century-and-a-half come to life as we walked in their footsteps and literally sat in their seats.  It makes one proud to be Canadian and even prouder to have Anthony Housefather as our remarkable and extraordinary Member of Parliament.

A Day to Remember

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Three generations marking Remembrance Day 2019: George, Glenn and Jeremy Nashen

Each year, on Remembrance Day, our family takes time out to pay tribute to the members of the Canadian Armed Forces who served in wars, conflicts, peacekeeping missions and here at home. We remember those who fell in action and who were injured. We think of those who continue to serve and we acknowledge the hardship for their families.

Closer to home, my family pays tribute to my father, George Nashen, for his service as a Sargent in the Royal Canadian Air Force during WWII.

This year we attended the Cote Saint-Luc ceremony held last Friday in City Hall. While the number of WWII veterans sadly diminishes each year we were fortunate to be with my dad, as one of only three veterans in the capacity crowd.

George Nashen surrounded by mayors, councillors, MNA, MP, clergy and emergency responders as school children look on

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein honoured the attending veterans, Alan Ruben, former City Councillor Isadore Goldberg and my father, George. The Mayor produced a video highlighting their contributions to Canada. Below you can watch the portion about my father.

 

There were three main pillars to this year’s events: the children, the wreath laying and the speeches.

Four elementary schools (JPPS, Hebrew Academy, Ecole de la Monde and Merton School) and two high schools (Bialik and John Grant) participated. The children recited poems, including In Flanders Field, and sang songs, such as The White Cliffs of Dover, in four languages. It was an impressive showing of the next generation and was reassuring that the fading memories of long ago sacrifices would still be remembered.

Wreaths were deposited by the politicians, emergency services, volunteer and community organizations, students and the staff of the city. One moving episode had three generations of the Reichson family including former CSL Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson, along with his father and daughter, laying a wreath in memory of his grandfather while holding his shining service medal from WWII and his photo.

The speeches were poignant and emotional. Mayor Brownstein spoke about educating the next generation and how the CSL Dramatic Society fulfilled an important mission in presenting the Broadway smash hit, Cabaret, earlier this year. The musical exposed the troubling times emerging in Germany as the country, and Europe descended into despair and chaos.

Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather gave a stirring speech about the veterans who returned to Canada and built our community. With his voice cracking with emotion, Housefather highlighted the veterans’ contributions and participation in civic life and noted that this spirit has endured and has made Cote Saint-Luc a volunteer-rich community with residents passionate about being involved.

Polioce Station 9 Commander Luis Olivera lays a wreath, accompanied by vCOP Susie Schwartz

D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum was solemn and retrospective and in his typical eloquence and charm marveled at the passing of the torch down through the generations.

The speeches were heartfelt and meaningful. I am grateful to our Mayor, MP and MNA for singling out my father as an example for the next generations.

MNA David Birnbaum, Cllr. Dida Berku, Fmr. Cllr Isadore Goldberg, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, Mayor William Steinberg, MP Anthony Housefather and George Nashen

A minute of silence in memory of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice serving in the Canadian Armed Forces

George’s Story

 

Sergeant George Nashen, Royal Canadian Air Force, 1944

George Nashen, 96, served in the Royal Canadian Air Force from December 1942 to April 1946 and was stationed at RCAF Overseas Headquarters in London, England for nearly three years. Luckily, he was not called up to the front lines. But his buddies were. Some never returned.

My father enlisted in December 1942 with several of his friends from Baron Byng High School, and was shipped off for two months of basic training in Toronto where the RCAF had taken over the CNE Fairgrounds. From there he was stationed at the Rockcliffe Airbase in Ottawa from February until August 1942 and then to Halifax where they boarded the Queen Mary cruise ship that had been commandeered to transport troops.

“We were 26,000 troops and 1,000 crew members crammed into the ship for the four day crossing to London, England,” my father told me. “There were 54 troops to a room and we took turns sleeping, 27 at a time slept on the hammocks lined up three high in nine columns,” he said. “It was so uncomfortable and there were so many disturbances that I chose to sleep in the hallways and stairwells. But the ship would list from one side to the other every seven minutes as it curved to avoid sailing in a straight line to escape any pursuing German U-boats. I remember the empty Coke bottles rolling bake and forth in the halls and hitting the walls preventing any rest there as well,” my dad said.

RCAF Aircraftsman 2nd Class, George Nashen (1943)

“In London, we slept in the Canadian Legion Hall until we could find an apartment,” my dad reminisced. There were no barracks in the city as they couldn’t chance losing so many soldiers in a targeted German bombing raid. “One night a bomb fell right outside the Legion Hall and blew in the doors and windows. As the glass flew and the ceiling collapsed I immediately rolled under my bed to take cover,” he said. “I yelled out to my buddy, Mel Nicol. ‘Are you alright Nic?’ Mel Nicol was real joker and responded, ‘I’m not sure, I’m looking for my leg’. Of course, he was just fine,” George said.

George and Mel eventually rented an apartment at Queens Gate Gardens about a 30 minute walk from Harrods, where the RCAF set up their administration and accounting division. We often joke that my father served in women’s lingerie during WW II, in reference to the department in Harrods where the Accounting Office was located. They were paid $2.50 per day subsistence allowance for their lodging and another $1 for food.

As an Aircraftsman 2nd Class they received $1.30 per day. Dad used to send $10 per month back to his Mom in  Montreal to save for him. Upon his return, three-and-a-half years later he had saved up about $300.

George Nashen in front of the Cote Saint-Luc cenotaph in Veterans Park 2012

One night they were awakened by a bomb blast and heard that the nearby hospital was hit. Mel and George raced over to offer their assistance only to find out that 30 babies had been tragically killed. “It was the saddest day of my life,” my father said.

Back at Harrods he was busy taking care of Airman Pay Accounts to ensure each of the troops received their salary. Daily Routine Orders were meticulously entered for the tens of thousands of airmens’ accounts, all manually, of course.

My dad lost his best friend in battle. “Jay Singer was like a brother to me,” my father recounts. “Jay and I were inseparable from kindergarten through Baron Byng High School. Jay was an air force pilot from the age of 19. His plane went missing while laying mines in the Baltic Sea on June 15, 1944. Jay was just 22 year’s old when he died in service. I’ll never forget him.”

Jay Singer

Jay Singer

My father endured the bombardments and hardship of everyday life in London but fortunately was safe relative to so many others. The thick, dark clouds that hung over the city many nights from fog made it impossible to see right in front of you. My father recounts as he would feel his way along the walls of the buildings on his way home, counting off the number of doors and turns in the road to find his way home.

One night a bomb fell at a pub just outside of Harrods and some Londoners were killed. The next day, a young Princess Elizabeth, came by to visit and offer her support. My father watched excitedly from the window as the future Queen made her way along the street.

My father returned home in April 1946.

Three generations of Cote Saint-Lucers: George, Glenn and Jeremy Nashen 2013

Each year, I ask dad to take out his medals and his beret and to teach my own kids what it meant to serve Canada as a soldier.  They listen in amazement at his stories of 70 years ago, as they reflect on their lives in the best country to live in, Canada.

WWII veteran George Nashen, 93, deposits the wreath on behalf of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 97 at the Cote Saint-Luc Cenotaph in Veterans Park. Accompanied by his grandson Cory, son Jeff and vCOP Phil Mayman. (Photo: Darryl Levine, CSL).

Each year on Remembrance Day, I salute my dad, and all those who served, who paid the ultimate price, who sustained injury and who were lucky to return just like George. His bravery and commitment, and theirs, to stand on guard, to liberating those who had their freedom taken from them so many years ago, to keeping Canada glorious and free, shines like a beacon to my kids and our entire family.

With my dad on Remembrance Day (Jewish General Hospital, 2014)

We’re proud of his accomplishments and grateful to still have him, and my mother, as our bridge between our past and our future.

 

George and Phyllis Nashen at their 95th and 90th birthday party (June 2018)

N

More:

Mount Royal Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather’s speech

Councillor Mike Cohen’s blog

 

7 reasons Anthony Housefather could be a Junior Minister

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As Mount Royal Member of Parliament gets ready to be sworn in for his second term in elected office many constituents will be wondering if he will be a cabinet minister, a parliamentary secretary (also known as junior minister) or head up an important committee on The Hill. 

Those that know him will tell you that Anthony Housefather is in tip top shape to be the Minister of Anything. Sharp, bright and quick on his toes there is no doubt that Canada would be well served by having Anthony in cabinet. However, with strict limitations set by the Prime Minister on delicately balancing members of cabinet based upon geography, language and gender Anthony’s chances are rather slim. 

Therefore, here are my top seven reasons why Anthony Housefather ought to be appointed as a Junior Minister:

  1. As chair of the Justice Committee in the last session he proved his qualifications as a parliamentarian skilled in leadership and negotiation, diplomacy and legal matters. He dealt with committee members with a calm, steady hand, and always with a polite, respectful demeanour, regardless of political affiliation. He was equally skilled at responding to national media during some dicey situations. 
  2. He takes large complex issues, synthesizes them and makes them easy to understand.  
  3. He feels strongly about human rights. With a background rooted in social justice, inclusiveness and tolerance Anthony has made his mark in advocating for fairness for all Canadians regardless of faith, language or sexual orientation. He believes in the equality of citizens under the law. His leadership in advocating a government apology for the SS St. Louis and his work on reproductive rights was exemplary.
  4. Passionately Canadian. Anthony is a fierce patriot. Whether as a proud City Councillor or Mayor representing his constituency across the country, or competing in international sports overseas or acting as a senior executive and general counsel negotiating contracts for a multinational corporation around the globe Anthony has always worn his Maple Leaf with pride and purpose.
  5. Bilingualism. A lover of languages and intercultural relations Anthony is equally fluent in English and French with spurts of language skills in other languages. He understands the delicate matter of respecting language rights for minority groups across this country and for providing services in ones preferred official language.
  6. Uncompromising dedication to constituents and Canadians. Anthony sets the highest standards as a hard-working, ethically-minded, honest and transparent elected official. His passion to do what it takes to benefit those he represents is practically limitless.
  7. Personable and approachable. With a wide ranging, inclusive view of society Anthony is uniquely qualified to bring together people of different backgrounds, language and culture to find common purpose. He’s a people person who loves to engage one on one and is equally comfortable in front of a large audience. He meets with anyone needing assistance and does his utmost to solve problems.

Anthony Housefather is an extraordinary political representative who is uber-dedicated to his riding and his country and very deserving of consideration for a cabinet posting and certainly as a parliamentary secretary. 

Push back on turning back the clock

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My blog readers know that I have been advocating an end to the semi-annual ritual of moving our clocks back in the fall and forward each spring. I am a strong believer in leaving the clocks alone and remaining on Daylight Savings Time all year-long.

Last week, the B.C. government introduced a bill aimed at eventually making daylight time permanent across the province, ending the twice-yearly changes to and from standard time.

The European Union also backs ending the needless time switching.

I’ve  had it with falling back and springing forward.  I find it depressing to see that sun setting in the mid-afternoon and driving home from work in pitch black.  I can easily sacrifice the pleasure of a bright and sunny early morning wake up.

I’m hoping that the B.C. government’s bill will work its way across the province. This movement is already being debated in several states and will find its way to the US Congress.

This needs your help too by writing emails to media and to your elected officials at all levels.

If you’d like to read my previous posts on this subject search “daylight” in the search box on the right. And please be sure to enter your email address and Subscribe to my new blog posts.

Here’s an interesting story from National Geographic: Daylight Saving Time 2011: Why and When Does It End?.

Do you agree?  Post your comments here.

Suburban Newspaper, Jan. 4, 2012

CTV News: https://www.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1820100&jwsource=cl

More:

B.C. to introduce bill for eventual move to permanent daylight time

Clock changes: EU backs ending daylight saving time – BBC News

Source: Clock changes: EU backs ending daylight saving time – BBC News

Housefather: From strength to strength in Mount Royal

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The Nashen Family congratulating Anthony Housefather on his big win: Nicole, Glenn, Nathalie and Judy, with support from Jeremy and Savta Pnina at home (past bedtime).

Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather cleaned up bigtime with nearly a 3-1 lead over his opponent David Tordjman. From one corner of the riding to the other, support for Housefather grew and spread.

With almost all polls reporting, Housefather’s lead over his opponent grew to an incredible 13,000 votes. He heads back to Ottawa proud as can be. And he should be considered for a ministerial posting!

Congratulations to Anthony on an extraordinary campaign that highlighted his boundless efforts and numerous accomplishments on behalf of his constituents and all Canadians. You are an exemplary Member of Parliament and we are so lucky to have you as our representative.

Congratulations to all those elected and to all who ran, and to all the campaign teams and volunteers. This was an incredible exercise in democracy in the greatest country in the world.

Housefather campaign blasts toward E-Day

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Mount Royal Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather and his campaign team continue to blast forward making its last efforts to garner great support across the riding.

From phone calls to door to door to roadside berma-shaves the energetic MP and his crew have been meeting as many constituents of the Montreal area riding as possible. The district includes Cote Saint-Luc, Hampstead, Snowdon and Town of Mount-Royal.

Glenn, Anthony and Nikki rallying

Roadside reaction from passing motorists has been extremely positive with honking horns, friendly waves and supportive thumbs up. Several commuters pulled to the side to say hello to their MP. Yesterday, one pulled up and thanked Housefather profusely for assisting in the citizenship process for her employee.

Glenn, Nathalie and Nicole Nashen with Anthony Housefather, door to door in TMR, Oct. 19, 2019
George Nashen & family at Anthony’s campaign launch, Sept. 13, 2019

Interestingly, many Montreal Transit Corp. bus drivers honked and gave a thumbs up, as did heavy truck operators and regular motorists. Every electric vehicle driver gave a wave or honk. The Liberal government recently gave an additional incentive to EV buyers in a $5,000 rebate for green car adoption.

Berma-shaving along Jean Talon, Oct. 18, 2019

Housefather is certainly one of the most outspoken MPs of all 338 and beyond reproach when it comes to ethical and high moral standards. His list of endorsements is substantial and impressive. His support of the Jewish community and for Israel is extraordinary and his governments record far exceeds the previous Harper government, as evidenced by the Parliament record of votes. His staff are always available to constituents and have assisted many hundreds in all sorts of files.

Anthony Housefather’s door to door Nashen Squad on Oct. 19, 2019. L-R: Glenn, Jeremy, Anthony, Nicole, Pnina, Judy, Nathalie.

It is crucial to get out and vote on election day, October 21. Each and every vote cast is important to our democratic values and principles which is what makes Canada the greatest nation. Be proud as a citizen of this free and democratic country as you cast your ballot. Happy Election Day. And best of luck to the incomparable and extraordinary Anthony Housefather.

School bus safety advocates sounding the alarm

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Advocacy across Canada calling for mandatory seat belts in school buses is picking up steam with support from some members of Parliament and the launching of a new petition to the House of Commons.

I wrote about this issue in this blog last December following a CBC Fifth Estate report exposing the serious risks to children because of the lax rules across the country.

A new petition, sponsored by Rachel Harder, MP of Lethbridge, Alberta, calls upon the Minister of Transport to make it mandatory by law to have 3-point lap and shoulder seatbelts installed in every Canadian school bus, and that it be legally required to wear these seatbelts while riding on a school bus of any size. At time of this writing, 654 signatures have been gathered. The petition will close on June 8, 2019.

I strongly encourage you to sign the signature and show your support. Discuss this important issue with other school parents, friends and neighbours. If you have any doubts watch the CBC report.

And hats off to Gary Lillico who started a petition several months ago on change.org that is nearly at 100,000 signatures. You can still add your name to this growing list.


The picture above cost a child’s life because Canadian school buses have no seatbelts.

“Thousands of Canadian children are being injured and in some cases killed because school buses aren’t equipped with seatbelts. If they were, these tragedies could be prevented,: Lillico said.

“I started this petition because I’m a school bus driver and I’m the only one to buckle up. Does that make sense? It’s a dollars over safety issue!”

A previously unreleased 2010 Transport Canada test crash study revealed that school buses failed safety tests and failed to prevent serious injuries in the event of side-impact or rollover crashes. The tests were done on the heals of an Alberta teenager who was killed after being ejected out of the bus and dying on impact with the ground. The results of the test and study were not released until CBC’s investigative report show The Fifth Estate made them public in October 2018, Lillico said. “The report concluded that more needs to be done to “reduce or eliminate the serious injuries” and Transport Canada’s chief of crashworthiness research said seatbelts are “a good first step”towards improving school bus safety.

Lillico adds, nine states in the USA are required by law to have three-point seatbelts for all riders. Why can’t we do the same in Canada? Liability laws for school boards, schools and drivers in the USA have been implemented and are working nicely! Canada has already borrowed seatbelt rules and regulations for seatbelt installation on school buses from the USA. With these already in place we only need to legislate usage to law! This hasn’t been done as our government doesn’t want to spend the money. They say here’s how you must do it, if you want too, However offering no funds, help or legislation. 

“It’s time for Canada to realize that seatbelts save lives and protect our children,” Lillico said. “You can potentially save a child’s life by just signing this petition! Please SIGN and SHARE today.” 

I cannot think of a greater priority than safeguarding our children, especially as they make their way to and from school.

Please sign these petitions:

Update on Dec. 9, 2019

Impassioned MP Housefather vigorously defends minority language rights in House of Commons

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“Many in Quebec’s English-speaking community wonder whether anyone ever speaks up for them,” said Mount Royal Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather. “I have spoken out for minority language rights my whole life and do so in the House of Commons as well.”

This video of Housefather’s back and forth with the Bloc Québécois shows just how impassioned the MP is when debating a proposed bill that would give English-speaking Quebecers in the federal civil service fewer rights to work in their language than any other civil servant in Canada.

“In this video my vision of Canada comes out loudly and clearly in both official languages,” Housefather said.

Thank you, Anthony, for always standing up for your constituents and all Canadians, especially on matters of linguistic rights and basic human rights. You are a formidable representative, a masterful spokesperson.

 

Feds must act to require school bus seat belts

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Tens of thousands of school children are riding daily on buses that Transport Canada knows are not safe enough. Despite evidence showing that three point seat belts on school buses prevent or lessen injury and save lives, the government has not taken action to correct this serious situation.

In October 2018 the CBC Fifth Estate investigated the issue and concluded that seatbelts on school buses could have prevented thousands of injuries and numerous deaths.

The report continued with a follow up in December looking a the campaign to make buses safer across Canada by changing outdated legislation.

An online petition is nearing its goal of 50,000 signatures. I have signed and encourage you to do so as well.

More can be done to bring about change.

I call upon my mayor, Mitchell Brownstein, of Cote Saint-Luc, Quebec, to adopt a resolution in support of this urgent legislation at the next public meeting and ask the city to share their resolution with all municipalities across the Montreal region. You can do the same in your city or town anywhere in Canada.

As well, I am fortunate to have one of the most passionate and accessible members of parliament, Anthony Housefather, as my representative. I call upon him to speak with his colleague, Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, who has reportedly called for a report from his department in the past weeks. You too should contact your MP’s office.

Finally, there must also be pressure upon industry itself. To that end I will raise the issue with my kids’ school, where I serve on the Board of Directors. Bus companies that offer seat belts should be hired ahead of those that don’t. Bus companies should know that parents and schools are seeking providers that are proactive and take the necessary measures to keep children safe, even in advance of legislation.

Each of us plays an important role in making school buses safer across Canada.

100 Years of Remembrance and Saluting my dad for his service

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This Remembrance Day marks 100 years since the end of hostility in World War I, the War to End All Wars.

This week we also mark 80 years since Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, which notoriously was the beginning of what became known as the Holocaust, or Shoah.

Sergeant George Nashen, Royal Canadian Air Force, 1944

My father, George Nashen, 95, served in the Royal Canadian Air Force from December 1942 to April 1946 and was stationed at RCAF Overseas Headquarters in London, England for nearly three years. Luckily, he was not called up to the front lines. But his buddies were. Some never returned.

My father enlisted in December 1942 with several of his friends from Baron Byng High School, and was shipped off for two months of basic training in Toronto where the RCAF had taken over the CNE Fairgrounds. From there he was stationed at the Rockcliffe Airbase in Ottawa from February until August 1942 and then to Halifax where they boarded the Queen Mary cruise ship that had been commandeered to transport troops.

“We were 26,000 troops and 1,000 crew members crammed into the ship for the four day crossing to London, England,” my father told me. “There were 54 troops to a room and we took turns sleeping, 27 at a time slept on the hammocks lined up three high in nine columns,” he said. “It was so uncomfortable and there were so many disturbances that I chose to sleep in the hallways and stairwells. But the ship would list from one side to the other every seven minutes as it curved to avoid sailing in a straight line to escape any pursuing German U-boats. I remember the empty Coke bottles rolling bake and forth in the halls and hitting the walls preventing any rest there as well,” my dad said.

RCAF Aircraftsman 2nd Class, George Nashen (1943)

“In London, we slept in the Canadian Legion Hall until we could find an apartment,” my dad reminisced. There were no barracks in the city as they couldn’t chance losing so many soldiers in a targeted German bombing raid. “One night a bomb fell right outside the Legion Hall and blew in the doors and windows. As the glass flew and the ceiling collapsed I immediately rolled under my bed to take cover,” he said. “I yelled out to my buddy, Mel Nicol. ‘Are you alright Nic?’ Mel Nicol was real joker and responded, ‘I’m not sure, I’m looking for my leg’. Of course, he was just fine,” George said.

George and Mel eventually rented an apartment at Queens Gate Gardens about a 30 minute walk from Harrods, where the RCAF set up their administration and accounting division. We often joke that my father served in women’s lingerie during WW II, in reference to the department in Harrods where the Accounting Office was located. They were paid $2.50 per day subsistence allowance for their lodging and another $1 for food.

As an Aircraftsman 2nd Class they received $1.30 per day. Dad used to send $10 per month back to his Mom in  Montreal to save for him. Upon his return, three-and-a-half years later he had saved up about $300.

George Nashen in front of the Cote Saint-Luc cenotaph in Veterans Park 2012

One night they were awakened by a bomb blast and heard that the nearby hospital was hit. Mel and George raced over to offer their assistance only to find out that 30 babies had been tragically killed. “It was the saddest day of my life,” my father said.

Back at Harrods he was busy taking care of Airman Pay Accounts to ensure each of the troops received their salary. Daily Routine Orders were meticulously entered for the tens of thousands of airmens’ accounts, all manually, of course.

My dad lost his best friend in battle. “Jay Singer was like a brother to me,” my father recounts. “Jay and I were inseparable from kindergarten through Baron Byng High School. Jay was an air force pilot from the age of 19. His plane went missing while laying mines in the Baltic Sea on June 15, 1944. Jay was just 22 year’s old when he died in service. I’ll never forget him.”

Jay Singer

Jay Singer

 

My father endured the bombardments and hardship of everyday life in London but fortunately was safe relative to so many others. The thick, dark clouds that hung over the city many nights from fog made it impossible to see right in front of you. My father recounts as he would feel his way along the walls of the buildings on his way home, counting off the number of doors and turns in the road to find his way home.

One night a bomb fell at a pub just outside of Harrods and some Londoners were killed. The next day, a young Princess Elizabeth, came by to visit and offer her support. My father watched excitedly from the window as the future Queen made her way along the street.

My father returned home in April 1946.

Three generations of Cote Saint-Lucers: George, Glenn and Jeremy Nashen 2013

Each year, I ask dad to take out his medals and his beret and to teach my own kids what it meant to serve Canada as a soldier.  They listen in amazement at his stories of 70 years ago, as they reflect on their lives in the best country to live in, Canada.

WWII veteran George Nashen, 93, deposits the wreath on behalf of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 97 at the Cote Saint-Luc Cenotaph in Veterans Park. Accompanied by his grandson Cory, son Jeff and vCOP Phil Mayman. (Photo: Darryl Levine, CSL).

Each year on Remembrance Day, I salute my dad, and all those who served, who paid the ultimate price, who sustained injury and who were lucky to return just like George. His bravery and commitment, and theirs, to stand on guard, to liberating those who had their freedom taken from them so many years ago, to keeping Canada glorious and free, shines like a beacon to my kids and our entire family.

With my dad on Remembrance Day (Jewish General Hospital, 2014)

We’re proud of his accomplishments and grateful to still have him, and my mother, as our bridge between our past and our future.

 

George and Phyllis Nashen at their 95th and 90th birthday party (June 2018)

 

 

More:

A day of remembrance, honour and appreciation in CSL

In tribute to my father, the soldier

Councillor Mike Cohen’s blog

The JGH Remembers

Canada apologizes to Jewish community for “None is Too Many”, turning back refugees to Hitler’s Nazi Germany

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This was a historic, monumental day not only for Canadian Jews, but for Canada. Today’s apology by the Government of Canada for turning away the 907 Jews fleeing the Holocaust aboard the ill-fated MS. Saint Louis was long overdue. In issuing today’s apology Canada has solidified its place as a tolerant, peace-loving and safe land. The Prime Minister has committed to doing more to safeguard places of worship and to fight antisemitism.

Thank you to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his eloquent and emotional words of accountability and apology. Your words, Mr. Prime Minister, are powerful and meaningful and will be felt for generations. Thank you to the Government of Canada and to all Members of Parliament for standing in solidarity, united across party lines, to acknowledge the failures of the past and to take corrective actions to secure our future. The occasion was made even more powerful by the solemn remarks by the leaders of the Conservative Party, NDP and Green Party.

Thank you as well to our honourable and outstanding Member of Parliament for Mount Royal, Anthony Housefather, for his leadership role in today’s declaration. Anthony has worked tirelessly on behalf of not only his constituents but all Canadians in ensuring the Government of Canada support its Jewish Communities, fight against BDS, denounce antisemitic acts of hate and support the Jewish State of Israel.

Canada has taken a major step in ensuring ‘Never Again’ resonates from coast to coast to coast.


Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer taking part in the Canadian government’s official apology for the 1939 decision to turn away the MS St. Louis and its 907 German Jewish passengers fleeing the Nazi Regime. 10:43


The NDP’s Guy Caron taking part in the Canadian government’s official apology for the 1939 decision to turn away the MS St. Louis and its 907 German Jewish passengers fleeing the Nazi Regime. 9:36


Green Party Leader Elizabeth May taking part in the Canadian government’s official apology for the 1939 decision to turn away the MS St. Louis and its 907 German Jewish passengers fleeing the Nazi Regime. 7:19

Montreal adopts motion calling for ban on private ownership of handguns, assault weapons | CBC News

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Bold move, long overdue. Canadians do not need handguns.

Let’s see Montreal suburbs pass the same resolution and add to the outcry. Contact your City Councillor as well as your MP.

 

Source: Montreal adopts motion calling for ban on private ownership of handguns, assault weapons | CBC News

Anthony Housefather’s record on Israel

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Anthony is an extraordinary advocate for his constituency and is outspoken in his staunch support for Israel. In this excellent letter he sets the record straight for those who believe that he and the liberal government have wavered in showing Canada’s steadfast support for Israel. Of course, one can easily point to a single incident, event or vote and criticize. But life, and politics, is far from that simple.

I wholeheartedly continue to support Anthony Housefather as an extraordinary, young leader who is sure to rise among the ranks. He is the right man to push our government when necessary, whether on Israel or on a number of other major issues.

His intelligence shines through in his speeches and writings. If you have not met him I strongly encourage you to do so at one of the many events he addresses or in connecting by email or social media.

 

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

My record on Israel

Anthony Housefather

I need to respond to the letter from Nathan Rosensheim published in the Suburban on July 4th, claiming the Canadian Government did not support Israel and that I was not a forceful advocate for Israel within the Government.

To say these claims are false would be a huge understatement. I have always been and will continue to be a huge supporter of Israel and since I was first elected I have been one of the foremost advocates on behalf of support for Israel and action on causes important to my constituents and Canada’s Jewish community. Let’s look at the overall record since October 2015.

Since the Liberal Government was elected in October 2015, Canada has one of the best voting records at the UN on defending Israel. We have voted no on 54 of the 62 resolutions at the General Assembly which singled out Israel over this time. No country other than the US and some small islands have a record similar to ours. Our record on voting against resolutions on Israel is far better than Australia and the UK and other European countries. It is also better in percentage terms of no votes than any previous Canadian Government, including the ten years of the Harper administration.

Our Government also supported the first anti-BDS motion to be adopted by the House of Commons. We adopted a Bill recognizing May as Jewish Heritage Month. We just signed an enhanced Canada/US free trade agreement at the Gelber Centre in the Mount Royal riding. We doubled security infrastructure funding to help secure Jewish and other institutions that are subject to potential hate crimes. As well, the Prime Minister committed to apologizing in the House of Commons for our record on Jewish refugees prior to and during the Second World War and in particular for Canada’s shameful refusal of the SS St. Louis in 1939. No other Canadian Government has ever done this and it is something I have been calling for since I have been elected.

Finally, in June the Government supported a motion in the House of Commons condemning the current regime in Iran, including for the statements made by its Supreme Leader calling for the eradication of Israel. In case anyone questions my support for Israel and my readiness to speak out in support of Israel in the House of Commons, I suggest you watch my speech on the Iran motion at https://www.facebook.com/anthonyhousefather/videos/1982973521743727/

I spend a significant percentage of my time advocating for issues of interest to the Jewish community. There have been a small number of times I have been disappointed, such as with the recent statement on Gaza and in that case my colleague Michael Levitt and I released our own statement. But I have worked very hard within the Government to ensure our position on Jewish and Israeli issues is as strong as possible and most of the time I have succeeded. I truly believe if you look at the facts above the number of actions we have taken in support of Israel and issues related to Canada’s Jewish community over the last 2.5 years is equal to or better than any other Canadian Government in history and I am happy to defend my actions to my constituents anytime.

Anthony Housefather

MP for Mount Royal

Florida moves to stop time shift, should Canada follow?

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Florida has moved a step closer to making Daylight Saving Time permanent and end the dreaded and dreary semi-annual ritual of moving clocks back and forth. I have called upon our Members of Parliament to do the same for the last several years right here on my blog. Put an end to this archaic time-waster and let us have more sunlight all winter long.

I hope thew Florida Governor signs the Bill and that the US Congress follows suit. The chain reaction will surely push our parliamentarians to finally end moving our clocks back and forth.

Barry Wislon picked up on this movement in his recent Postscript vlog.

So let’s keep the momentum going. Blog it, shout it and call out your MP. The sunshine is back and we should keep it that way, all year long.

N

More:

Daylight Saving Time: Let there be light

Are you ready for clock confusion?

This time I’m voting to scrap time change

I’m tired of falling back!

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