Quebec is ripe for a surge of electric mobility

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I was fortunate to have been invited to partake in the recent Movin’ On by Michelin world summit in sustainable mobility. Thousands of people gathered from over 60 countries to participate in workshops, conferences and keynote addresses. There were tests of virtually everything electric on two, three, four wheels and more. A Who’s Who of business, political leaders, social movers and shakers and keen enthusiasts from around the globe gathered in Montreal for the second annual congress.

The case for electrification is compelling, and it goes far beyond EVs.

The transition to electric vehicles (EVs) is just beginning and with automakers and other countries making significant commitments to phase out conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, the future for EVs is bright. But electrification of transportation (e-mobility) goes well beyond passenger vehicles to include fleet vehicles (cars and trucks), mass transit buses, light rail, ships and even non-road vehicles like forklifts.

The rationale is simple: electric vehicles have lower cost of ownership than their conventionally powered peers, they emit less pollution, and they enable emerging mobility technologies and business models.

While EVs are currently in the “early adopter” phase of the product lifecycle, they hold tremendous potential.  As of 2017, EV sales in Canada have increased by 68% and there are approximately 50, 000 plug-in vehicles currently on Canadian roads.  New sales records are consistently being broken each year as the idea of green transportation gains national momentum.

100% electric motorboats on the Lachine Canal

The power grid represents the foundation for a ubiquitous “refueling” infrastructure for e-mobility, and it is capable of supporting many more vehicles than it currently does.  British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario are the three Canadian provinces with the highest number of Electric Vehicles.

Hydro- Québec calculated that it could incorporate a million EV’s into the system without having to make any big changes to the infrastructure.

Although Quebec has a goal of seeing 100,000 EVs on the road by 2020 I think they’ll fall short unless EV prices begin to drop, the price of gas shoots up or tye government increases its incentives as Ontario did last year.

100% electric police motorcycle

Meanwhile, the Quebec government could easily require all of its departments, agencies and institutions to install free charging stations as another important encouragement for employees to make the purchase.

Much discussion centred around green, smart cities and better quality of life because of sustainable mobility. The goal is to build attractive, livable, walkable, sustainable ‘villages’ with connected mobility hubs; Mixed-use communities where people love to live, work, learn, heal and play.

The Lion Electric Co. manufactures innovative zero emission vehicles like this city bus, right here in Quebec

What’s more, with massive investment by government in mass transit there should be a requirement to purchase electric buses. Additionally there are now electric options for municipal fleets from garbage trucks to pickup trucks, light duty vehicles to patrol cars. With the lowest electricity rates in North America, the time is ripe for Quebec to have a major push to electrify mobility.

What will it take for you to go electric?

Thanks to Executive Producer Nick Cogger for putting on an extraordinary show. Lookin’ forward to Movin’ On 2019.

My brand new 2017 Chevy Volt Electric Vehicle

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I Want You To Remember… A Childhood Lost

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That was the theme of this year’s Yom Hashoah commemoration held in Cote Saint Luc, organized by the Montreal Holocaust Museum.
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard spoke eloquently about his family’s memory of this dark period in the 20th century. His mother came from Grenoble and Couillard recounted how so many stories were told to him as a youngster from his many aunts and uncles in France.
He also recounted with great pride about the first-ever Quebec Economic Mission to Israel last year when he was accompanied by Member of the National Assembly, David Birnbaum. Additionally, Couillard indicated that Quebec was one of the first governments in the world to declare a National Day of Commemoration of the Holocaust, in 1999, when introduced by then MNA Lawrence Bergman.
Newly installed Consul General of Israel, David Levy, spoke about his Parisian mother and their family’s personal experiences of betrayal by the French Nazi sympathizers. He spoke passionately about the large number of family members who never returned home.
Six candles were lit by survivors and their children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren in memory of the Six Million Jews who perished.
Each survivor gave a video testimonial recounting in vivid detail their horrific memories of incarceration, deportation, hiding, hunger and terrible loss. Each one, between the ages of 85 and 90, spoke of the loss of their own childhood.
One such Survivor was Zissel Farkas. The 90 year old woman told her story, through her daughter. This brave, courageous and lucky woman is today the matriarch of three children, 26 grandchildren and an incredible 70 great grand-children.
The JPPS choir sung stirring tunes of remembrance from the 1930s and 40s. The solemn and impassioned song, Ani Ma’amin, I Remember,
was reportedly composed in a cattle car en route to the Treblinka concentration camp. The song was sung by many Jews as they marched to the gas chambers in the Nazi death camps.
With the song being hummed in the background the names of Jews murdered by the Nazis were slowly read aloud, along with their place of birth, where they were murdered and their age. Many childrens’ names were read out. Three years old. Six year’s old. One name was that of a baby just months old. In all, more than 1.5 million children were murdered in the Holocaust.
The ‘Partisan Hymn’ was sang out loud by the hundreds in attendance. It is a song written by poet and partisan Hirsch Glick in the Vilna Ghetto and became the anthem of the resistance movement. Today it is considered to be the main anthem of Holocaust Survivors and is sung at Memorial services around the world.
I have attended this commemoration for longer than I can remember. This year, I was joined by my daughter Nicole, who was on the March of the Living one year ago. She traveled to Poland and marched with thousands of students and adults to the death camps at Auschwitz and Birkenau, waving the Israeli flag, proclaiming Am Yisrael Chai. The People of Israel Live!  In this way, we are all doing our part in passing the responsibility of never forgetting from one generation to the next.

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Traditional Mimouna celebrated in CSL

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Mimouna is a three century old North African Jewish celebration held the day after Passover, marking the return to eating chametz (leavened foods), which are forbidden throughout the week of Passover.

The celebration begins after nightfall on the last day of Passover. In many communities, non-Jewish neighbours sell chametz back to Jewish families as a beginning of the celebration. Moroccan and Algerian Jews throw open their homes to visitors, after setting out a lavish spread of traditional holiday cakes and sweetmeats. One of the holiday favorites is Mofletta. The table is also laid with various symbols of luck and fertility, with an emphasis on the number “5,” such as five pieces of gold jewelry or five beans arranged on a leaf of pastry. The repetition of the number five references the five-fingered hamsa amulet common in both Jewish and Muslim North African and Middle Eastern communities from pre-modern times. Typically all those in attendance at a Mimouna celebration are sprinkled with a mint sprig or other green dipped in milk, symbolizing good fortune and new beginnings.

The tradition continued in homes across Cote Saint-Luc on Saturday night and for the first time at JPPS-Bialik, on Sunday afternoon.

Anat and Michel Toledano welcome the Nashens and Anzaruts for Mimouna

Our night out began after 10:00PM at the home of Anat Marciano and Michel Toledano. They welcomed my family into their home with open arms, along with our friends, Alissa and Phil Anzarut.

It is customary to spend a little time visiting the host family’s home before moving on to other homes. After a beautiful spread at the Toledano’s, including Moroccan pastries, Mofletta, coucous, cheeses, fruit, smoked salmon, wine and Arak derived from figs (oy vey, it was potent) it was time to move on for the next late night visit. Thank you very much Anat and Michel.

Our family traveled down the block to the warm and inviting home of Chantal Bekhor and Emmanuel Castiel. There was an endless stream of well-wishers who kept arriving. Strangers and friends alike mingled, easily offering greetings of ‘Tarbakh’, May you have good luck.

Emmanuel Castiel and Chantal Bekhor

Chantal Bekhor is one famous Cote Saint-Lucer after competing for Top Prize in the cookie category on Food Network Canada‘s Recipe to Riches.

Bekhor, is a food sensation, who first introduced Canada to her family’s traditional recipe for the Mahbooz Date Biscuit, a typical Iraqi Jewish dessert.  She was featured by the Montreal Gazette as well.

Chantal Bekhor, the most famous baker in Cote Saint-Luc

The former JPPS English and math teacher is a dynamic and affable hostess along with her business partner and husband Emanuel Castiel. They opened their home to hundreds of friends during the Mimouna to some incredible pastries, cakes, chocolate bark, truffles, Iraqi delights, and more, all home made of course. While the  judges on Recipe to Riches said they loved the Mahbooz treat, calling it, “Exotic, versatile, ” I can attest to the fact that her baking is even so much more.

A gathering of friends (and politicians) at the Bekhor-Castiel Mimouna

My wife is a big fan of Chantal’s food. Indeed my girls and Judy cheered Chantal on a few years back on her television debut, not just because of my wife’s common Sephardi roots, but because the Mahbooz date-filled cookie looked absolutely delicious and a treat that would be appreciated by a large number of Cote Saint-Lucers to be sure, as well as Canadians in general.

A peak at Chantal’s scrumptious Mimouna table

Thank you Chantal and Emmanuel for such generous hospitality and for an absolutely delicious assortment of treats. My sugar level and calorie intake reached an all time, one night high.

By Sunday afternoon when sugar levels stabilized it was time to continue the celebration over at JPPS-Bialik, the first time this Sephardic celebration took place at the school. The gym was decorated in Moroccan fashion, drummers and musicians greeted the guests as they entered and long tables of sweets, pastries and mofletta lined the room.

The hostesses, under the direction of Judaic studies coordinator, Anat Toledano (clearly she’s a Mimouna-specialist!) all decked out in bright and shiny traditional kaftans should be very proud of bringing the festive Sephardic tunes and tastes to what has traditionally been a typical Ashkenazi school. With a large number of the families blended in both traditions, and even fully Sephardi, it was time to share this wonderful event all together.

Sephardic community (CSUQ) president Henri Elbaz was invited to participate as well. Thanks to Henri’s support the event exceeded expectations and attendance. Students, parents and grandparents were entertained, fed and danced for two hours. It was an absolutely lovely event that should grow larger next year. Thank you Anat, Joanne, Judy, Carole, Beth and all the moms involved in this event.

I wish you all Tarbakh, success and good luck.  And now, my treadmill awaits!

Nachshen Family descendants celebrate Passover tradition

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Nachshen Family Seder 2018, Markham, Ontario (Rob Currie Photography)

The Nachshen Family recently gathered for the second Seder as they’ve been doing for three decades. The family, all descendants of Rabbi Moishe Nachshen (1872-1968) and Sarah Romanek (1875-1956), who emigrated to Canada from Russia in 1927, had assembled annually in Montreal for the second Passover Seder for the past 33 years until the festive gathering switched to Toronto this year. In the 1960s and 70s, the five branches of the family came together for Chanukah and Purim celebrations at Pomerantz House (then known as the Workmen’s Circle), on Van Horne Avenue near Cote des-Neiges Road, in Montreal.
The elders of the family now include siblings Kate Nachshen (Brecher), 96, George Nashen, 94, both of Cote Saint-Luc, Quebec and Elizabeth (Bess) Nachshen (Goldman), 89. of Boynton Beach, South Florida. The youngest member of the Nachshen Family was born one week prior to the Seder, Ellis Gray Adawalla of Toronto.
The 2018 Seder, held at a banquet hall in north end Toronto, brought together first, second and third cousins.
The event was organized by Mintzi (Clement) and Rafi Skrzydlo of Markham, Ontario and Mandy Senanes (Fitleberg) of Richmond Hill, Ontario. While most of the family is now situated in the greater Toronto area others traveled from Cote Saint-Luc, British Columbia, New York, Maryland, Florida and other points across North America, and as far away as China. With mobile devices in hand other family members from around the world joined in (virtually).
This family’s history reflects that of so many other Jewish Canadians. Having emigrated to Montreal from Eastern Europe in the early 1900s, some of the family began drifting to Israel in the 60s and many to Toronto in the late 70s and 80s. By the 1990s the family had spread across Canada, the United States and Israel.

Cover of the Nachshen Family Seder Haggadah with image of family patriarch, Moishe Nachshen, Matriarch, Sarah Romenek, and their seven children

As the descendants of a rabbi, part of the Chasidic movement in Skvira, Russia, the family modernized and assimilated over the last three generations. So much so, that they created their own customized Passover Haggadah, emphasizing the centrality and equality of women and inclusion of all members of the family specifically citing lesbians, gays or converts to Judaism. An orange had been added as an important symbol on the Nachshen Seder plate to highlight these differences from the olden days.
While this family has grown and evolved quite differently from the strict religious practices of its patriarchs and matriarchs it continues to remain a cohesive and connected entity thanks to the fundamentals instilled by those family elders several generations earlier. The centrality of Judaism, community, cultural traditions, Zionism and family throughout the generations has remained strong and resolute. The Advent of social media has certainly helped to keep distant cousins connected through video, photos and stories on a daily basis.
The Haggadah, emblazoned with the photos of ‘Zaida Moishe an Bubbe Sarah’ was read aloud with all family members taking turns. The tunes sung aloud were those heard around the Nachshen table over a century ago in the shtetles of Skvira and Pogrebische (south of present day Kiev, Ukraine).

Back cover of the Nachshen Family Haggadah, depicting Nachshon, the first to enter the Red Sea as it parted during the exodus from Egypt

Once all the Afikomen had been found by the many young children and mingling had wound down, the many good bye hugs and kisses concluded the evening with wishes for Next Year in Jerusalem. But the Second Seder will be booked for Toronto, just in case.

Great community theatre in the West End, Tuesday and Wednesday night

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One of Montreal’s best community-based theatrical producers will launch a two-day run of the Broadway sensation, Anything Goes.

Anisa Cameron was born to be in showbiz. Born in New York, but raised under the bright lights of the Las Vegas strip, her grandmother was a Rockette, her father was the lead singer of the Folies Bergere at the Tiffany Theatre inside the Tropicana and her mother, a dancer, was a chorus girl who worked her way up to company manager. Cameron and her brother, a dancer, were more or less raised backstage at the Tiffany Theatre. Although their parents begged and pleaded, both chose to pursue a life in the arts.

Anisa Cameron

Cameron has been at the helm of the Cote Saint-Luc Dramatic Society (CSLDS) since its inception some seven years ago while simultaneously heading up the burgeoning drama program at Cote Saint-Luc’s Bialik High School. This year, she launched the JPPS drama program with the hit musical, The Little Mermaid.

Originally penned in 1934 with music and lyrics by American composer and songwriter Cole Porter, Anything Goes is a musical comedy that has been updated several times throughout the last century.

Through her many sold-out performances at the CSLDS including Fiddler on the Roof, Hairspray, Catch Me if You Can, as well as exceptional Bialik Theatre musicals, some originals and others from Broadway, Cameron has proven her skills at entertaining audiences both young and old.

This week. Anything Goes should be no exception. You don’t have to know anyone in the cast to come and enjoy local theatre, with live music by Nick Burgess and his accomplished musicians. All this with free parking, cheap refreshments, great seats and tickets at just 15 bucks. Get your tickets now for this Tuesday or Wednesday night’s shows at ShowTix4U or by visiting the Bialik Theatre Facebook page.

CSL Volunteers of the Year 2017 Shine on the Silver Screen

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The Côte Saint-Luc volunteer awards were presented earlier this week at the Cavendish Mall Cineplex Odeon theatres.  Hundreds ofCSL volunteers and their guests packed the theatre for the award ceremony which was prerecorded and projected into the theatres. You can watch the full 22 minute awards ceremony presentation video right here.

 

Congratulations to all the award recipients and thank you to everyone who volunteers their time for our community.

Here are just a few photos and descriptions of the public safety awards and a few other very special presentations.

Bernie and Cookie Band with Councillor Nashen (CSL Comms. Oct. 2017)

Community Services Award
Recognizes a volunteer couple for their exceptional contribution to the community special events programs.

Florence and Bernie Band have been volunteering their services for vCOP and during the past two years have been judges for the Maisons Fleuries Garden Beautification Contest. Their dependability, integrity and willingness have been of major service to this special event.

E.M.S. Award – Excellence in operations
Michael Lessard is a regular fixture at EMS and covers at least two or three shifts per week, often coming in to help out when it is really needed. Michael just celebrated his 60th birthday and is more active at EMS than many members half of his age.

Christiane Poirier with Councillor Kovac (CSL Comms. Oct. 2017)

E.M.S. Award – Excellence in training
Christiane Poirier is intricately involved behind the scenes as the head of the clinical review team. She meticulously reviews every patient care report, listens to audio recordings from major calls and flags any issues to the EMS members, ultimately ensuring that we learn from our mistakes and adhere to the clinical intervention protocols and stay at the fine point of patient care.

Peter Garish with Mayor Brownstein (CSL Comms. Oct. 2017)

EMS Award – Rookie of the year
Peter Garish – We had many outstanding members join our ranks this past year, but Peter stands out for his infectious smile, his positive attitude and his dedication to public service.On top of being a police officer in Chateauguay, Peter dedicates countless hours of service to the citizens of Côte Saint-Luc.

Robert Lefcort with Mayor Brownstein (CSL Comms. Oct. 2017)

vCOP Award
For five years, Robert Lefcort has been an invaluable member of vCOP.  He is a member of three of our specialized teams: Smoke Detector Patrol, Vacation Spot Check and New Member Orientation. He is also an active participant in our Emergency Call Out system. Robert always helps out when needed and goes beyond the call of duty.

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and Councillor Glenn J. Nashen with Oliver Jones. (Oct. 2017)

Gerry Weinstein Ambassador of the Year
Honours the Cote Saint-Luc citizen best portraying charitable qualities and serving the community at large

Oliver Jones – Born to Barbadian parents, Oliver Jones began his career as a pianist at the age of five, studying with Mme Bonner in Little Burgundy’s Union United Church, made famous by Trevor W. Payne’s Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir. He continued to develop his talent through his studies with Oscar Peterson’s sister Daisy Peterson Sweeney starting at eight years old.  In late 1980 he teamed up with Montreal’s Charlie Biddle, working in and around local clubs and hotel lounges in Montreal. Jones was resident pianist at Charlie Biddle’s jazz club Biddles from 1981 to 1986. His first album, Live at Biddles recorded in 1983, was the first record on the Justin Time record label. He taught music at Laurentian University in 1987, and in 1988 he taught music at McGill University in Montreal In October 1993, Jones was named as an Officer of the Order of Canada. In 1994 Jones was bestowed the National Order of Québec, with the rank of Chevalier (Knight). Jones received the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award in 2005, Canada’s highest honour in the performing arts. In 1986 Jones won a Juno Award for his album titled Lights of Burgundy, and again in 2009 for Second Time around. He has been nominated 9 other times, the most recent being in 2012, with his album Live in Baden. Jones has been a multiple recipient of the Félix Award, receiving his first one for his 1989 album Just Friends, and then wins in 1994, 2007 and 2008. Jones was voted keyboardist of the year, from the National Jazz Awards in 2006. In 1990 Oliver became the second recipient of the Oscar Peterson Award after Oscar himself. It is presented by the Montreal International Jazz Festival, recognizing a performer’s musicianship and for exceptional contribution to the development of Canadian jazz. In 1999, Jones was awarded the Special Achievement Award at the SOCAN Awards in Toronto. In 2014, he served as honouree at the annual Côte Saint-Luc Golf Classic.

Alberto Cambone, wins the 2017 CSL Lifetime Achievement Award

Lifetime Achievement
Alberto Cambone has been a member of the Community Gardens for 30 years. In that time, he has mentored other gardeners, donated food for the annual barbecue, and given away a lot of his annual yield. His compassion and willingness to help others makes him a model gardener and a wonderful citizen of Côte Saint-Luc.

Judy and I had a wonderful time celebrating CSL’s finest volunteers. Thank you to each and every one of them for making this an amazing community.

Giving thanks in CSL

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Sure there’s always something to complain about. Life is so unpredictable and things go wrong all the time. Small irritants fester, emotions get the best of us, anger fills the void, we point and lay blame. It happens.
Today, I prefer to focus on the positive, to offer a word of thanks. And appreciation.
Our community is made up of diverse people, who don’t always agree and may not even be on best terms with one another. But one thing everyone can find consensus on is in expressing thanks to our amazing volunteers throughout Cote saint-Luc. They are the backbone of our civic organization and the driving force of our city.
Thank you so much to our star power volunteers at EMS. For your dedication, your heroic efforts and your sense of duty and caring for all of us.
Thank you to our committed and generous volunteers at vCOP for your time and perseverance in patrolling our city again and again, keeping us safe.
Thank you to our local Public Security agents, police officers at station 9 and firefighters at station 78. You are all the front-line resources keeping us safe and sound.
Thank you to all CSL residents for whatever efforts you make for our community, and the special place it has been and will continue to be.
Let’s agree to be helpful and hopeful but not unrealistic, to be polite and neighbourly rather than heaping scorn and above all, thankful for whatever we have, as a community.
Happy Thanksgiving.

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