Birnbaum backs a winner: Anglade good choice for D’Arcy McGee

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Glenn J. Nashen, MNA David Birnbaum, Nicole Nashen and Quebec Liberal Party Leader Dominique Anglade

D’Arcy McGee Member of the National Assembly David Birnbaum has come out on the winning side having backed Dominique Anglade for the leadership of the Quebec Liberal Party. Birnbaum was one of the first to throw his support behind Anglade when she launched her campaign to become leader of the QLP. Well, seems like he made a good choice. This week Anglade was chosen as leader when contender Alexandre Cusson dropped out of the race.

Back in January, Birnbaum invited both candidates to meet with a select group of representatives from D’Arcy McGee. As one of his invitees Birnbaum graciously extended the invitation to my daughter, Nicole, a student in Community and Public Policy at Concordia University. Nicole and I had the opportunity to put questions to both Anglade and Cusson and to have a private and informative chat with them as well.

I put the following question to both: “We are so fortunate in D’Arcy McGee to have been represented by outstanding MNAs, dedicated to our constituents and faithfully representing the party. It’s not an easy task given the history of the English-speaking communities and the QLP, where many feel that our communities have been taken for granted. What will you do differently than your predecessors at the helm of the party to truly build bridges as well as to unify Quebec and Canada?”

Anglade responded that she believes in a modern, open and inclusive Quebec. She seemed more attuned to the history and reality facing Quebec’s English-speaking communities than Alexandre Cusson, former Mayor of Drummondville.

“Montrealers and those in the regions need to meet one another to rebuild the Quebec family,” Anglade said.

While Anglade and Cusson appeared early on to come from opposing corners, the metropolis and the regions, we were left with a favourable impression that Anglade had a better overall grasp of the landscape, in particular as it affects our communities.

Cusson, however, spoke candidly that he doesn’t like the “us” used by Quebec nationalists which leave out those who do not espouse their political doctrine. “I want us all to be ‘us’,” he said. “We’re all in this together. We have to respect all communities. We must be an example, here in Quebec, to ensure that Francophones in the Rest of Canada are also respected.”

Nicole and I were impressed with Cusson’s youthful energy and promotion of a federalist philosophy within the QLP. We think that he would make an excellent addition to Anglade’s team in the next provincial election, helping her in her mission to bridge the gap between Montreal and the regions.

Of course, we also believe that Anglade must include David Birnbaum as her point man for the English-speaking communities, not to mention his vast experience in other aspects of community. His eloquence, intelligence and charm make him an obvious choice for Anglade to keep close as she assembles her team. And that would be good news, of course, for all of D’Arcy McGee and Quebec.

What is a Parliamentary Secretary?

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Deputy Clerk Andre Gagnon oversees MP Anthony Housefather signing in to Canada’s 43rd Parliament, Nov. 22, 2019

Several people have asked me what a Parliamentary Secretary is following the nomination of Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather to serve in this role under the Minister of Labour in Canada’s 43rd Parliament. Housefather was appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to this role last Thursday, December 12.

At first I reported that Housefather was appointed to the position of Junior Minister. While this nomenclature was used under previous Canadian Prime Ministers it has morphed and has essentially fallen from common usage in favour of the more contemporary term, Parliamentary Secretary. I’m not sure that there are major differences but judging from the comments I received in the last few days nuance is everything in politics.

So with a little help from the Ottawa Citizen newspaper I was able to dig up the following information:

Parliamentary secretaries support cabinet ministers, which can mean standing in for a minister during Question Period, making public announcements in their stead or liaising with other parliamentarians on their behalf.

Carleton University political management professor Paul Wilson says the job is a consequential one. “Especially in a minority (government) context, where the relationships within the House of Commons are so much more important,” he said.

It’s a post that comes with some prestige … and opportunity.

“Not all parliamentary secretaries become ministers, but some do. In a sense, it can be a testing ground,” said Wilson, who served as director of policy in the prime minister’s office under Stephen Harper.

“Are you a team player? Can you do stuff without complaining? Because some of the duties are duties that the minister might not want.”

“And, if people excel at the role of PS, then maybe the prime minister would consider them for a ministerial job. “

I noted from the Canadian Encyclopedia that, “Following the British model, a number of “junior ministers,” also called Secretaries of State, are now appointed to assist more senior Cabinet ministers and to complete the Ministry.”

However, Wikipedia indicates that, “Parliamentary Secretaries replaced the positions of Secretaries of State which had been employed under PM Chrétien.”

Andrew Caddell pointed out on my Facebook page, “You have to be a member of the Privy Council to be a minister of any kind. There were parliamentary secretaries who were made privy councillors during Paul Martin’s time (2003 – 2005), but that practice ended. In the past, there were Ministers without portfolio who had various assigned responsibilities. But they were privy councilors.

“As a ministerial assistant and public servant going back to the 1980s, I often briefed our PS, who was not a minister (and there have been parliamentary secretaries for a long time – it is nothing new). Here is a source: https://en.wikipedia.org/…/List_of_current_members_of…

Thank you Andrew and Howard Liebman for helping me to clarify this appointment information.

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.

What went right in D’Arcy McGee? A Thanksgiving opinion.

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Thomas D’Arcy McGee, a Father of Confederation, may be turning over in his grave knowing that his namesake riding went from having almost the highest voter turnout in the 2014 general elections (at 72%) to almost the lowest in the province in last week’s election (at about 46.5%).

D’Arcy McGee riding also changed dramatically with the boundary shifting from its traditional Decarie eastern extremity all the way to Cote des Neiges. And despite the huge growth of 40,000 voters to 55,000 this time around, voter turnout dropped dismally from 29,000 to 25,000.

Much went wrong, to be sure. Political pundits and armchair analysts will be drilling through the numbers and issues and faux pas for a very long time. There will be no shortage of theories to understand why English-speaking voters simply stayed home in huge numbers this time around. Poll clerks have reported that ballot boxes stayed quiet throughout the day in the West End and West Island. Tumbleweeds were rolling at my voting station at the Cote Saint-Luc Aquatic and Community Centre. Not a single person was lined up at any of the tables neatly arranged for the masses who never showed up. Apparently the scene was similar throughout the day and throughout the area.

The Liberal brand was evidently on trial in this normally red riding neighbourhood. The smartly Photoshopped posters of Philippe Couillard sporting the lackluster pitch-line, “To make life easier for Quebecers,” didn’t hit the mark, at all.

So what went right?

We have re-elected our incumbent Liberal Member of the National Assembly, David Birnbaum, who deservedly garnered an impressive 74% of the vote compared to the Quebec Solidaire candidate, Jean-Claude Kumuyange at just over 7% and the CAQ’s Melodie Cohen at 6%.

D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum speaks to a group of supporters at the Gelber Conference Centre

The individual makes the difference, locally.

The affable and eloquent Birnbaum is very close to his constituents and obviously appreciated at a rate that far outstrips the voters’ feelings about his party. David is very present in his constituency and cares deeply about his constituents. He is engaged in the key files of importance to the riding and very willingly representing his electors concerns in Quebec City.

While he moves from the government side where he served in high positions with great distinction to the opposition benches I am confident that David will adapt quickly to his new role and continue to represent us with determination and exuberance.

It’s always easier to be negative and to look to blame and shame. We’ve read many articles and opinions pointing fingers in the last week. You won’t hear a negative word from the mouth of David Birnbaum as he is a class act, an intellect and peace-maker, highly skilled at choosing the right words to make a convincing argument. As a new era in Quebec politics begin, I’m thankful that we have David to represent us.

I wish much success to David Birnbaum, and to the interim Liberal leader Pierre Arcand (a very fine gentleman and tremendous MNA and Minister).

Let’s hope that the old referendum turmoil stays way behind us and that our new premier is true to his election-night words of uniting all Quebecers. I extend my wishes for good governance, wise judgment, fair representation and abundant tolerance to our new Premier, Francois Legault, and to the new government.

Quebec is indeed a magnificent place and we must remain united, generous and tolerant to our fellow citizens and new arrivals and hopeful that our lives will indeed be made easier. Happy thanksgiving to all.

D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum was a real sport golfing in his Expos T-Shirt, seen here at the ACC for lunch, with my dad, George and me

How about a Minister of Animal Welfare?

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Mike Cohen is a masterful communicator and a novel idea generator. Here Mike gets impressive publicity on his passion for animal welfare and a major plug for his outstanding annual Cats Concert.

Would you like to see a Minister of Animal Welfare?

 

Quebec election: A councillor calls for new ministry of animal welfare

 

‘There are so many municipalities with different laws on pets, but the provincial government needs to take leadership,’ says Mike Cohen.

Côte-St-Luc councillor Mike Cohen and Nancy Reich with twins LuLu and MiMi, whom she adopted from a litter born to a feral cat. DAVE SIDAWAY / DAVE SIDAWAY / MONTREAL GAZETTE

Mike Cohen has a big beef with the major provincial parties: “They are not really addressing the needs of thousands and thousands of constituents.”

Namely, cats and dogs.

Cohen, the Côte-St-Luc city councillor responsible for animal protection, has a soft spot for pets, particularly cats. But he laments that while the provincial parties have made billions of dollars of promises to two-legged constituents in this election campaign, they have talked precious little about animal welfare.

For the last eight years, Cohen has been at the forefront of Côte-St-Luc’s Trap, Neuter, Release and Adopt Program, which has successfully dealt with the plight of nearly 500 feral cats in the community. To raise funds for the program, the Côte-St-Luc Cats Committee, which Cohen founded, will be holding its annual benefit concert, featuring the Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra, Oct. 9 at the Syd Wise Auditorium.

Cohen estimates that Côte-St-Luc alone is home to many thousands of homeless cats. “And that doesn’t take into consideration all those that die daily.”

“So, do the math and draw conclusions about the number of feral cats as well as homeless dogs throughout the province,” says Cohen, who started the Côte-St-Luc Dog-Owners Committee this year.

“I think it’s insulting that provincial governments over the last many decades have basically thrown these animals under the umbrella of the minister of agriculture. That ministry has sort of been responsible for animal welfare, but has achieved only limited success.”

Cohen’s concern is shared by the Montreal SPCA. In July, the Montreal SPCA mandated Léger Marketing to undertake a poll assessing the importance of animal welfare to Quebec voters. The survey determined that 72 per cent of Quebecers felt it was “very important” or “somewhat important” for candidates to address issues affecting animals during this election campaign.

So in August, the Montreal SPCA sent out a questionnaire to the main political parties to learn more about their positions on several animal welfare issues.

“All the parties to which the Montreal SPCA sent its questionnaire — apart from the Quebec Liberal Party, which refused to participate — seem to recognize the importance of animal welfare issues in the eyes of voters, as all of them state that this is an issue of great importance,” Sophie Gaillard, director of animal advocacy at the Montreal SPCA, notes in her analysis.

“Yet only two parties suggest concrete measures to improve animal protection in Quebec. The Coalition Avenir Québec and the Parti Québécois both responded to only a small number of the questions submitted. Only Québec solidaire and the Green Party of Quebec took the time to answer the questionnaire in its entirety and seem to have given these issues serious thought.”

Québec solidaire wants the Montreal model — requiring pet stores to source animals for sale from shelters — to be expanded throughout the province. As well, it’s against the permanent chaining of dogs and no-pet clauses in residential leases.

Green Party concurs on the latter two issues but would also like to ban the sale of all cats and dogs in pet stores and on the internet, and to impose mandatory sterilization on pets with the exception of small, family-scale breeders.

Cohen isn’t surprised by this seeming lack of interest on the part of three of the major provincial parties and suggests that the situation will only change when pet owners and other concerned citizens speak up and force politicians to address animal welfare issues.

“Animal advocates have been shunted to the side, but the time will come when the situation with homeless cats and dangerous dogs will reach epidemic proportions here and something will have to be done,” Cohen says. “There are so many municipalities with different laws on pets, but the provincial government needs to take leadership and have laws that bring all the municipalities together.”

He concedes his passion for pets hasn’t been a lifelong affair.

“I honestly didn’t like cats 23 years ago, but they came as part of my marriage,” he says. “I’ve since had four cats and they’ve been like humans to me.

“How many other voters out there feel the same way? Yet we have no idea how the provincial party leaders feel about pets — if they even have them. We haven’t heard them bring this up during the campaign. So I’m calling for the next Quebec premier to appoint a minister of animal welfare. Time has come for an animal program with some teeth.”

Maybe claws, too.

AT A GLANCE

The annual Côte-St-Luc Cats Concert, featuring the Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra, takes place Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the Syd Wise Auditorium, 5785 Parkhaven Ave. Tickets: $15. Reservations: http://bit.ly/catsconcert.

bbrownstein@postmedia.com

D’Arcy-McGee: Plus rouge que rouge

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Archives MétroDavid Birnbaum est le député qui a été élu avec la plus forte majorité en 2014.

À l’approche des élections générales du 1er octobre prochain, les candidats s’activent dans leur circonscription. Tout au long de la campagne, Métro vous propose un aperçu des enjeux de chacune des circonscriptions de l’île. Aujourd’hui: D’Arcy-McGee.

Élu en 2014 par une majorité écrasante de 92% des voix, le député libéral de D’Arcy-McGee, David Birnbaum, est un des candidats du Québec dont la réélection est le plus assurée. «Ma communauté est exigeante, assure-t-il, on ne parle pas de vote aveugle.»

Pourtant, à une exception près, cette circonscription a voté à toutes les élections Parti libéral du Québec (PLQ) depuis 1966.

Elle est composée d’électeurs principalement anglophones (48%) et regroupe une des plus fortes communautés juives du Québec. C’est aussi une circonscription plus diversifiée au point de vue ethnoculturel depuis le redécoupage électoral de 2017.

Finalement, si le revenu moyen des ménages y est beaucoup plus élevé que dans le reste de la province, le revenu médian y est beaucoup plus bas, signalant une grande disparité économique dans cette circonscription qui regroupe Hampstead, Côte-Saint-Luc, mais aussi une partie de Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, d’Outremont et de Westmount.

Pour M. Birnbaum, l’immigration – et son avantage économique dans un contexte de pénurie de main-d’œuvre – est un des sujets les plus importants de la campagne. «Il n’y a pas de grande différence entre la CAQ et le PLQ, sauf sur le plan de l’immigration. On est fondamentalement différents là-dessus, parce que pour nous, l’immigration est une richesse», lance-t-il.

Son opposante de la Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ), Mélodie Cohn, défend quant à elle la proposition de son chef de réduire le nombre annuel d’immigrants accueillis au Québec. «François Legault a beaucoup de formation à ce sujet-là. C’est pourquoi il a pris cette décision-là», explique cette gestionnaire en marketing. Elle qui s’est déjà présentée aux élections municipales dans Côte-Saint-Luc fait valoir que la CAQ ne cherche qu’à offrir «une meilleure qualité de vie» aux personnes immigrantes.

Mme Cohn se positionne fermement comme la candidate des familles. Elle cite la maternelle 4 ans et le retour du financement public de la fécondation in vitro, retiré par le ministre libéral de la Santé, Gaétan Barrette, en 2015. «Même quand j’étais candidate au municipal, les gens me disaient que ça coûtait cher d’attendre que l’enfant ait cinq ans pour l’envoyer à la maternelle. Pourquoi ne pas le faire dès l’âge de quatre ans?» demande-t-elle.

Le candidat de Québec solidaire (QS), Jean-Claude Kumuyange, d’origine rwandaise, affirme de son côté que la priorité pour sa circonscription réside dans deux enjeux. «Environnement et logement. C’est la base de tout», insiste cet agent de recherche à l’Université du Québec à Montréal. «Il faut construire de nouveaux logements sociaux et rénover des logements existants», ajoute-t-il.

S’ils ont chacun leur cheval de bataille, l’enjeu du bien-être des aînés les anime tous. «Nous avons beaucoup investi dans les soins à domicile, parce qu’on oublie trop souvent que 96% des aînés sont autonomes, explique David Birnbaum. On veut du répit pour les proches aidants et s’assurer que le nombre croissant de gens qui travaillent jusqu’à 75 ou 80 ans aient droit à des crédits d’impôt.»

«On veut améliorer l’aide aux proches aidants, on veut augmenter l’accès aux soins de santé avec les CLSC», affirme pour sa part M. Kumuyange. «Nous voulons plus de médecins de famille, réduire le temps d’attente dans les salles d’urgence et les Maisons des aînés, qui sont vraiment nécessaires», ajoute Mélodie Cohn.

Le Parti québécois et sa candidate dans D’Arcy-McGee, Eliane Pion, n’ont pas répondu aux demandes d’entrevue de Métro.

Candidats 2018

  • Jérémis Alarco (Parti vert)
  • David Birnbaum (PLQ)
  • Mélodie Cohn (CAQ)
  • Diane Johnston (PMLQ)
  • Jean-Claude Kumuyange (QS)
  • Yaniv Loran (PCQ)
  • Eliane Pion (PQ)
  • Leigh Smit (NPDQ)

Résultats 2014

  • David Birnbaum (PLQ) 92,15%
  • Elizabeth Smart (CAQ) 2,45%
  • Suzanne Dufresne (QS) 2,06%
  • Eliane Pion (PQ) 1,79%
  • Abraham Weizfield (Parti vert) 1,55%

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