All CSL council members running for re-election

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The Suburban can now confirm that all nine members of the current Côte St. Luc council plan to run for re-election in this November’s municipal vote.

Last week, in response to an e-mail sent by The Suburban to all council members, most replied, including councillors Mike Cohen, Dida Berku, Steven Erdelyi, Allan Levine, Glenn Nashen, Sidney Benizri and Ruth Kovac.

In the last few days, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and District 1 Councillor Sam Goldbloom responded as well.

“As a full time Mayor I have enjoyed my first 10 months and look forward to my next 10 months,” Brownstein said. “The response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive. I am humbled and honoured to represent a proud community where we all truly appreciate excellence and work together to achieve it.”

The Mayor also detailed some of the achievements of the past several months, since he was acclaimed last year as mayor, and future plans.

“With the continued full support of our very talented members of council and having settled the collective agreements with the professionals, whites and blues, and having built a wonderful relationship with our management team, we are moving forward with a new customer service and employee appreciation program,” he said. “Labour peace helps create a happy work environment which improves quality of service to residents. Insuring the best quality of life and service in our city is my number one objective.

“I also continue to purse major projects such as the Cavendish extension and the potential relocation of the rail yards, meeting with all levels of government and the railways on a regular basis. I have developed excellent working relationships which will help move these and other important projects forward.”

Goldbloom also confirmed he is running again.

“I love what I am doing and I have some projects in mind to complete and participate in,” he said.

CSL council members confirm re-election bid

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Most Côte St. Luc council members have confirmed they will be seeking re-election in this year’s municipal vote, taking place in November.

A few council members were not available at press time.

Those who confirmed they will run again include District 2’s Mike Cohen, District 3’s Dida Berku, District 4’s Steven Erdelyi, District 5’s Allan Levine, District 6’s Glenn Nashen, District 7’s Sidney Benizri and District 8’s Ruth Kovac.

“I am proud to have developed a close connection with my constituents via regular meetings, walkabouts, phone calls and via my blog,” Cohen said, “and with the initiatives I have been able to take with my different portfolios— library and culture and animal protection.”

Berku says she still has much to contribute, including to the Meadowbrook Golf Course legal case, in which Groupe Pacific is still suing the city for its rezoning of the site from residential to recreational in 2001; the quest for the long-awaited Cavendish extension; her work on committees of the island-wide agglomeration; and on the Centre West economic development board.

“I will not plan my retirement until Meadowbrook and Cavendish are resolved,” Berku added.

“It has been a pleasure serving the residents of my district and I hope to have the opportunity to continue to represent them for another four years,” Erdelyi said.

“Serving the Cote St. Luc population in conjunction with a fabulous team has always been my pleasure,” said Levine. “Splitting my time between Branch 97 of the Royal Canadian Legion [as president] and city council work is a great balance for me.”

Nashen says he wants to continue in his efforts to improve safety and the quality of life in Côte St. Luc. He plans to expand the services of the volunteer Citizens on Patrol, push for the electrification of the municipal vehicle fleet group and continue to lobby for bilingual road signs, messaging and publicity throughout Quebec, especially those involving safety. He is also developing the Côte St. Luc Historical Society.

Benizri won a by-election last year.

“I love my experience on council, and I have not done a whole mandate yet,” he pointed out. “I’m confident I will be able to well represent my constituents.”

Kovac said she still has “a lot of unfinished work to do and it’s still my passion — I love what I do. It’s an honour and a pleasure.”

•••

Update: All Hampstead council members, including Mayor William Steinberg, say they intend to run for re-election this year. More details next week.

The Suburban will provide further updates on the electoral intentions of council members in Côte St. Luc and other municipalities.

Côte Saint-Luc honours Councillor Allan J. Levine on 30th anniversary on City Council

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allan_levine_anniversary_2016-11-14

The City of Côte Saint-Luc honoured Councillor Allan J. Levine on Monday, November 14 as the long-time council member celebrates the 30th anniversary of his first election.

Councillor Levine was honoured at the start of the City Council meeting this evening.

“Councillor Levine has advocated financial prudence and has continually promoted healthy lifestyles through sports and recreation,” Mayor Mitchell Brownstein said. “He has served his constituents well and is a force for remembrance of our veterans, community gardening, and much more.”

Councillor Levine won his first election in November 1986. He was a well-known person in the community, in part from his years teaching at Wagar High School and teaching people to drive.

Councillor Levine advocated for an anti-smoking law in commercial areas, which he helped achieve. He also joined with his council colleagues to support mandatory bicycle helmets and no smoking in parks. He served as chairperson and member of the city planning committee for more than 20 years.

“Councillor Levine has always listened to his constituents and is accessible,” Mayor Brownstein said. “He always considers what is best for children and promotes an active lifestyle for seniors.”

Councillor Levine is the longest-serving member of the current Côte Saint-Luc city council. He has been a member of city council from 1986 to 2001, and from 2005 to present—the only interruption being during the forced municipal mergers of 2001 to 2005.

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and City Council present a certificate to honour Councillor Allan J. Levine on 30 years of service (Photo: Darryl Levine, CSL).

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and City Council present a certificate to honour Councillor Allan J. Levine on 30 years of service (Photo: Darryl Levine, CSL).

Prime Minister Trudeau delivers Kol Nidrei sermon in Westmount, Housefather meets congregation in Hampstead

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for Kol Nidei 5777, with David Cape, Rabbi Adam Sheier, Michael Stern and Claire Berger. Shaare Hashomayim Congregation, Westmount, Quebec. (Photo JJ Schneiderman).

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Kol Nidei services 5777, with David Cape, Rabbi Adam Sheier, Michael Stern and Claire Berger. Shaare Hashomayim Congregation, Westmount, Quebec. (Photo JJ Schneiderman).

Never before in Canadian history has a Prime Minister attended Yom Kippur services and delivered the Kol Nidrei sermon. Until now. Kol Hakavod to Canada’s highest elected official for doing exactly this past Tuesday evening at Westmount’s venerable Shaare Hashomayim congregation.

“On this occasion, families and loved ones gather to fast and pray, reflect on the past year, and seek peace and reconciliation for the year to come,” the Prime Minister said in a statement. “Yom Kippur is an opportunity for us all to reflect on the tremendous contributions that the Jewish Canadian community has made – and continues to make – to the shaping and building of our great country. We know that Canada is a stronger and more resilient country because of its diversity.

“On behalf of our entire family, Sophie and I wish an easy fast to all those observing Yom Kippur. G’mar Chatimah Tova.”

Anthony Housefather

Anthony Housefather

 

The Prime Minster was accompanied by Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather, NDG-Westmount MP Marc Garneau and Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Sœurs MP Marc Miller.

Housefather spoke on Yom Kippur to Congregation Dorshei Emet in Hampstead and recounted how the Prime Minister spoke passionately and emotionally about his recent visit to Aushwitz accompanied by survivors and Canadian Jewish leaders. This was a very moving experience for Justin Trudeau, Housefather said, and he was particularly gratified to bear witness in the company and through the eyes of one of the remaining survivors.

What’s more, Justin Trudeau lead a Canadian delegation to last week’s state funeral for former Israeli President Shimon Peres. Trudeau recounted his personal experiences with the Israeli leader. Trudeau also met with his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu during the rapid visit to the Jewish State.

Housefather’s address seamlessly drifted between the spiritual principles of Yom Kippur, the lofty expectations of Canada’s Jewish community and his responsibilities and accomplishments as one of Canada’s seven Jewish MPs. “I represent the second largest federal constituency in Canada (after Thornhill) and the largest non-French-speaking constituency in Quebec,” Housefather said, indicating this places him in a unique position to speak out in support of minority rights, language rights, tolerance and inclusion.

High among Housefather’s achievements since his election last November is his appointment as chair of the committee overseeing the Justice department and human rights issues, especially their legislative work dealing with Doctor Assisted Dying as well as his forceful stance against the anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, Boycott Divestment Sanction (BDS) movement.

In an all-encompassing, hour long speech and Q&A without as much as a cue card to guide his eloquent and erudite remarks, the affable and witty Housefather covered all the bases in reassuring the audience of his government’s deep commitment to Canada’s Jewish community.

“A year ago many in the community were preaching that only one candidate, one party, could continue to represent the interests of our community,” Housefather said. “With Justin Trudeau’s undeniable commitment to the State of Israel, with our government voting almost unanimously in a free vote denouncing BDS, in our efforts to organize a Jewish contingent representative of our entire community during Chanukah on the Hill and so much more, I think we have proven to those that doubted our intentions and abilities that the Canadian Jewish community is very, very well represented on Parliament Hill and across our country,” the MP said to applause.

Housefather indicated that his committee has recommended reinstatement of the Court Challenges Program previously scrapped by the Harper government. That program allowed for funding of challenges from the English-speaking community in Quebec and from French-speaking communities outside of Quebec in support of minority language communities. With Housefather as a former president of Alliance Quebec, and my having served as his Executive Director at AQ, I can attest to the critical importance of this program to linguistic minorities through our country and I look forward to the reinstatement of this program.

I personally thanked Housefather on behalf of the residents of Cote Saint-Luc and indicated how proud I was of his many achievements in such a short period of time. Congregation President Jodi Lackman wrapped up the event by stating how upset she was when she learned that Housefather would be running for Parliament as she would be losing her “amazing mayor.”

“But now that you’re our MP and I’ve seen what great work you’re doing on our behalf, I’m even happier,” the president said.

Birnbaum calls for cancellation of proposed modifications to D’Arcy-McGee, surrounding ridings

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Changes to electoral map would compromise rights of English-speaking, Jewish communities

David Birnbaum, MNA for D'Arcy McGee

David Birnbaum, MNA for D’Arcy McGee

 

David Birnbaum, MNA for D’Arcy-McGee, argued before the Commission de l’Assemblée nationale today that proposed changes to Québec’s electoral map would compromise the democratic rights of three ‘natural communities’ within the riding – English-speaking, Jewish and senior citizens – by diluting their numbers within new riding borders.

“The changes being proposed would have a pronounced and negative impact on the riding of D’Arcy-McGee,” Birnbaum noted. “I am very proud to be the MNA for all D’Arcy-McGee residents, for those of all languages, all religions and all ages. But I am equally proud to be the sole MNA from Québec’s Jewish community and keenly aware of the additional and solemn responsibility imposed upon me by that reality. And, I am respectful and proud of my obligation to give voice to the majority English-speaking community as well as the particular and pressing concerns of the thousands of senior citizens who form a natural community in D’Arcy-McGee.”

The wide-ranging proposal from the Commission de la représentation électorale would extend D’Arcy-McGee’s borders to include all of Snowdon district as well as roughly one-third of Côte-des-Neiges district. It would add 14,000 voters to the riding. The proportion of Jewish residents in those additional areas is only one-third of that in D’Arcy-McGee as it stands; the proportion of English-speaking residents only one-half.

Birnbaum referred frequently to a legal opinion on the changes submitted to the Commission de l’Assemblée nationale by Université de Montréal Law professor Jean-François Gaudreault-DesBiens. That opinion suggests that many of the changes proposed could be unconstitutional in that they compromise the principle of effective representation and could have the effect of limiting the democratic representation of minority communities. Birnbaum also called for the reversal of the proposed merging of neighboring Mont-Royal and Outremont ridings, for similar reasons.

He concluded the presentation by listing the guiding principles for electoral change. “Adherence to these principles should be clear in each of the Commission’s proposed changes:

  • Voter confidence: is the voter’s understanding of the electoral map, identification to the riding and access to the right to vote reinforced or strengthened by these changes?
  • Is the equitable weight of each vote protected by the change?
  • Have the caution and judgment prescribed by the Canadian and Québec Charters of Rights and Freedoms and the extensive jurisprudence been duly respected by these changes?

“With all due respect,” Birnbaum told Commission President François Ouimet, “the answer to these three questions is ‘no’.”

Following a five-day debate in the National Assembly, a final version of the electoral map will be issued in February 2017 and implemented immediately. Birnbaum expressed cautious optimism that the modifications to D’Arcy-McGee and surrounding ridings would be reversed. He was one of 37 Liberal MNAs to appear before the Commission.

Sidney Benizri takes oath of office

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Councillor Sydney Benizri delivers open address in the City Council chamber

Councillor Sidney Benizri delivers open address in the City Council chamber

With a signature and a solemn oath Cote Saint-Luc’s new Councillor for District 7, Sidney Benizri, was sworn into office this evening and began his official duties.

“I promise to fulfill by duties in the best interest of all citizens,” said Benizri reading the official oath of office. “I am looking forward to working with the mayor and council.”

 

The Nashens welcome longtime friend Sydney Benizri to City Council

The Nashens welcome longtime friend Sidney Benizri to City Council

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein welcomed Benizri as well as his wife and children to their new council family. “We all work together like a family, and spend lots and lots of time together. Welcome. Bienvenue.”

The new council meets in public on April 19, 2016

The new council meets in public on April 19, 2016

With ceremonial duties complete Benizri wasted no time in bidding farewell to his wife, Sandra, and children Kelly, David and Yoel, as he was ushered into his first closed door meeting, in preparation for his first public meeting taking place this evening.

 

 

Cote Saint-Luc City Council. April 19, 2016

Cote Saint-Luc City Council. April 19, 2016

Le nouveau conseiller municipal Sidney Benizri – In conversation with Cote Saint-Luc’s new city councillor

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Mayor Mitchell Brownstein in conversation with newly elected Cote Saint-Luc City Councillor Sidney Benizri:

Councillor Benizri will be sworn into office on Tuesday, April 19 and will appear at his first Public Council meeting that evening. Come and join the council in welcoming Councillor Benizri at the 8pm public meeting.

Le Conseiller Benizri sera assermenté le mardi 19 Avril et apparaîtra lors de sa première réunion public du Conseil ce soir-là. Venez rejoindre le conseil pour accueillir le conseiller Benizri au réunion publique à 20h00.

 

Sidney Benizri wins CSL council by-election

Sidney Benizri won Sunday’s Côte St. Luc council by-election Sunday, and will be sworn in this week as the new councillor for District 7.

Benizri, the first member of the Sephardic Jewish community elected to Côte St. Luc council, is the national executive director of Canadian Magen David Adom for Israel, which fundraises to send ambulances to Israel. He replaces former longtime councillor Mitchell Brownstein, who was recently acclaimed mayor of Côte St. Luc.

According to the final election results, Benizri received 325 votes, to David Tordjman’s 221, Mitch Kujavsky’s 205 and Lloyd Pedvis’s 20.

“I’m speechless,” a happy Benizri said at Mount Sinal Hospital Sunday night, where the results were tabulated. “I’m very happy to be part of the council of Côte St. Luc. We have a great team, and I’m sure we’ll do very good things for the residents of Côte St. Luc. I’m going to be very devoted to the residents of District 7.”

Benizri added that he will study the concerns conveyed to him during his meetings with residents door-to-door during the campaign.

“I’m going to address those concerns. I promised them, if elected, that this will be part of my agenda.”

Benizri says that while he is the first member of the Sephardic Jewish community elected in Côte St. Luc, “I am there for all the residents of District 7 and all Côte St. Luc residents.”

Brownstein was on hand to hear the results, as were councillors Ruth Kovac, Allan Levine, Mike Cohen and Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather, former mayor of Côte St. Luc.

“I thought all the candidates were wonderful — each one had their own strengths,” Brownstein told The Suburban. “I’m very pleased Sidney Benizri is going to be a new member of our council family. Everybody I spoke to in the riding who met him has always said the same thing — he’s a gentleman who listens to the people and I’m really pleased to have him as part of our team.”

Brownstein said he is also pleased to have a member of the Sephardic community on council.

“But I know he is someone who will serve everybody in the community very well,” the mayor added.

joel@thesuburban.com

 

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