How will we recognize police without clown pants?

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Montreal police dressed in militia gear blocking city hall doors (Source: Sun Media)

Montreal police dressed in militia gear blocking city hall doors (Source: Sun Media)

Police who continue to sport camouflage pants on duty could face fines of $500 to $3,000 for each day they wear them under new legislation proposed by the Liberal government, reports the Montreal Gazette.

After three useless, sad years of vandalism of police cars (and fire trucks and ambulances with union stickers) and wearing camouflage and clown pants, the government has finally awoken to put an end to this lawless fashion flap.

I said early on that it was not fair to claw back on pensions that were already agreed to and that any changes ought to affect new officers or else be renegotiated within their collective agreements.

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Montreal Police in camouflage pants (Photo: McGill Daily)

 

Forget that there are so many police officers earning in excess of $100,000 per year and the time-and-a-half pay for standing at intersections pushing traffic buttons, three times the going rate for trained civilians. These folks put their lives on the line, after-all, to protect us and deserve to be reasonably well paid for doing so. And they normally deserve our respect and appreciation.

But, their protest have gone much too far. Three years were three years too long.

They also should have no right to deface their patrol cars. Same for the firefighters and Urgences Santé ambulance technicians. This is public property and no one has the right to cause such damage without penalty. If you did it you’d be held accountable. Why not them?
These public safety professionals have caused immeasurable harm to their own brand. They have lost respect from the public they serve. People laughed at first the they ignored the outlandish uniforms altogether. How sad.
What kind of a message was that for our children? Shameful, I say.
And the proposed legislation doesn’t go far enough. What about the cars and trucks and ambulances?  What about our firefighters and ambulance techs? And what about our local public security forces? Hopefully these folks will finally understand it’s time to pull up their pants – their uniform pants – and start off their next shift while putting their best foot forward. It’s time to earn back the respect they lost.
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Montreal Police officers in “clown” pants. (Photo: Canoe.com)

 

Read my previous posts:

Police and firefighters should wear their own pants

Painting fire trucks black endangers the public

Air Transat brings the Israel experience a lot closer

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Celebrating Air Transat service to Tel Aviv with Robert Presser, Glenn J. Nashen and Consul General Ziv Nevo Kulman

A whole lot of Quebecers are about to get an incredible experience travelling directly to Israel aboard Air Transat. The Montreal-based airline kicked off its Trudeau to Ben Gurion non-stop service as a sort of birthday bash, marking its 30 years in business and highlighting Montreal’s 375th anniversary. 150 years of Canadian federation, as well as 100 years of Federation CJA.

The event took place in the ultra-modern Montreal Science Centre at the Old Port. There was an interesting mix of politicos, business leaders, young entrepreneurs and community who’s who. English, French and Hebrew-speaking, Kosher or not, young and less young, the audience reflected the multicultural, hip crowd of would-be travelers that Air Transat is targeting.

Airline prez Jean-Marc Eustache, lead off the formalities by saying that they weren’t looking to become mere transporters. The airline’s strategy is to build travel experiences with local partners in Israel to offer excursions, lodging and tours to meet the needs of Quebec couples, families and singles alike. And, publicity will soon begin to promote Montreal and Quebec as a hot tourist destination for Israelis.

Consul General Ziv Nevo Kulman was beaming with excitement at the prospect of tens of thousands of Quebecers seeking a taste of Israel. Whether it’s for the food, the wine or the music, for exploring or for religious travel, Israel has it all, said the coolest diplomat Israel has sent to Montreal in modern times. The Israeli Consul for Tourism, Uri Steinberg, said that the relationship between Israel and Air Transat would flourish, like a romance, as they become closer and closer, falling in love with one another. Quebecers will love Israel, he said.

Glenn J. Nashen, Sandy Sparkman and Robert Presser at the Air Transat kickoff of bi-weekly direct service between Montreal to Tel Aviv

Montreal City Councillor and Executive Committee member Lionel Perez said that Montrealers will benefit from being five or six hours closer thanks to the direct flights and that Israelis will come in large numbers to enjoy Montreal’s flair, sites and culture. And we have great religious sites to share with them such as the St. Joseph’s Oratory, the Notre Dame Cathedral and eventually a downtown Expos stadium!

The Transat folks created a true Israeli atmosphere, raffling off two free flights for two to Israel, serving spicy, tasty hors d’ouevres and five kinds of humus provided by Alan Serour of Beso Catering. A 5-piece orchestra belted out Klezmer tunes and Israeli wine flowed freely.

Glenn J. Nashen and CSUQ President Henri Elbaz discussing their next trip to Israel aboard Air Transat

It was great to see my old JGH boss Henri Elbaz and his physician wife Dr. Sandy, CIJA chief Eta Yudin, Senator Marc Gold, Hamsptead Mayor Bill Steinberg and his wife Doris, Outremont City Councillor Mindy Pollak, Israel Day Rally impresario Amos Sochaczevski, Israeli commuter-in-chief Dado Ben Brit, community activists Sandy Sparkman and Robert Presser and former news anchor Pascale Dery. CSL Insurance and Travel Professional Ruth Cohen will be plugging Air Transat service from her Cavendish Mall headquarters,

Good luck to Air Transat in finally bringing back direct service to Ben Gurion airport after a decades long gap. Here’s to falling in love with Israel!

Canada’s oldest Jewish community welcomes new addition – a history museum

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‘The third most spoken language in the city for 50 years was Yiddish’

Focusing on the Jewish impact on the city’s culture, the Montreal institution covers Leonard Cohen, art, landmarks — and even cuisine

April 16, 2017, 3:59 am 1
Zev Moses, director of the Museum of Jewish Montreal. (Julie Masis/Times of Israel)

MONTREAL — Canada’s oldest Jewish community is commemorating its heritage with a newly-opened museum just outside Montreal’s historic Jewish Mile End neighborhood.

Housed in a former Jewish garment factory, the small Museum of Jewish Montreal distinguishes itself from other Jewish museums in Canada by not focusing on the Holocaust but on local Jewish history.

“One of my inspirations was looking out of the window,” says Zev Moses, the museum’s director. “I saw a building that looked like a synagogue that was converted into apartments. I googled it and there was no information about it. Eventually, I found out it was a synagogue but no one had put Montreal Jewish landmarks on a map.”

So Moses, who was 26 years old at the time and had a degree in city planning, decided to do just that.

The Museum of Jewish Montreal started out as a digital project, dots on a map representing Montreal’s old Jewish landmarks. For instance, Moses says there were at least 90 synagogues that had been converted to other uses.

‘One of my inspirations was looking out of the window’

Later, the museum began to offer walking tours, and finally last summer — with support from the government of Canada, the city of Montreal, and the Jewish community — established itself in a permanent physical space.

Visitors can find temporary exhibits and a cafe that serves surprising Jewish foods, such as gefilte fish sandwiches on challah bread. There is also a bookstore, with novels by Jewish authors set in Montreal, and works of nonfiction about the city’s oldest Yiddish newspaper or the smoked meat sandwiches from the famous Schwartz’s deli located just down the block. It is the only non-religious Jewish bookstore in Montreal, Moses says.

A view of the street from inside the Museum of Jewish Montreal. (Julie Masis/Times of Israel)

A view of the street from inside the Museum of Jewish Montreal. (Julie Masis/Times of Israel)

One of the recent exhibits featured old photos of Montreal synagogues next to pictures of what these buildings became: apartment blocks, churches and cultural centers. One former synagogue houses the Ukrainian National Federation of Canada; others have been reincarnated as a Greek Orthodox church, a Vietnamese Buddhist temple and a private high school called “College Francais.” The school looks like a modern building, but on closer inspection Hebrew writing can still be seen in a semi-circle above the front entrance.

‘This is the stuff on the tour where people are really shocked’

“People walk by it all the time and don’t notice anything. But when we tell them to look up, they see the writing,” says Magdalene Klassen, a researcher at the museum. “This is the stuff on the tour where people are really shocked.”

The building where the museum is located is itself linked to the city’s Jewish heritage. Originally known as the Vineberg building (it was built by Abraham Vineberg in 1912), it was a garment factory that employed mostly Jewish workers. The owner thought he was a good boss because he let his Jewish workers take Saturdays off instead of Sundays, Klassen says, but the workers still hungered for higher wages.

Montreal’s Jewish history

Moses, who has lived in Montreal since he was a child, knows all about the city’s Jewish history.

Canadian Jewish history began when Montreal’s first Jews arrived in around 1760, after the British conquest. Until that time, French Catholics did not allow Jews to settle in New France, Moses says. These first Jewish settlers were English-speaking Sephardic merchants, who established Montreal’s first synagogue at the end of the 18th century.

Leonard Cohen during a concert in Ramat Gan, Israel, September 24, 2009. (Marko / Flash90)

Leonard Cohen during a concert in Ramat Gan, Israel, September 24, 2009. (Marko / Flash90)

Leonard Cohen during a concert in Ramat Gan, Israel, September 24, 2009. (Marko / Flash90)

But the largest wave of Jewish migration to Canada took place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when Jews began arriving from the Russian empire and Eastern Europe. Famous Montreal citizen Leonard Cohen‘s mother, for example, was a Lithuanian Jew of Russian descent, who immigrated to Canada in 1927.

Most of these new immigrants settled in the working-class Plateau neighborhood of Montreal, renting cold-water apartments along Saint-Lawrence Boulevard, also known as The Main (street), because it divides Montreal into east and west. English-speakers generally lived on the west side and French speakers on the east. Addresses in the city are counted from the Saint-Lawrence Boulevard.

“Because the city was divided between the French Catholics and the English Protestants, and the Jews lived in-between, they were able to maintain their culture and the Yiddish language much longer than other Jewish communities in North America,” Moses says. “The third most spoken language in the city for 50 years was Yiddish.”

Illustrative: a Jewish boy in Montreal. (photo credit: David Ouellette/JTA)

Illustrative: a Jewish boy in Montreal. (photo credit: David Ouellette/JTA)

In fact, Yiddish is still the mother tongue of about 15,000 Montreal Jews — the Hassidim, including the Belz, Satmar, Vizhnitz and Skver dynasties, as well as the Tosh (or Tash), a Hungarian dynasty entirely based in Canada with a village just north of Montreal.

However, after World War II, as the Montreal Jewish community prospered, Jews began moving away from the Plateau neighborhood to other parts of Montreal. And then, with the Quebec independence movement gaining strength, many left the French-speaking province altogether. Some settled in Toronto, which is now home to the largest Jewish community in Canada.

Jewish Montreal today

Nowadays the Jewish community of Montreal is stable, with a population of about 90,000, Moses says. French-speaking Moroccan Jews who immigrated to Montreal in the 1960s number around 25,000, and the rest are Ashkenazi, mostly English-speakers.

In recent decades, Montreal also welcomed Jews from the former Soviet Union, France and Argentina, Moses adds.

Book for sale in the Museum of Jewish Montreal. (Julie Masis/Times of Israel)

Book for sale in the Museum of Jewish Montreal. (Julie Masis/Times of Israel)

Meanwhile, the Plateau neighborhood has become one of the hippest areas to live in Montreal, with cafes and restaurants offering varied international cuisine. And while the Jewish community has moved, the neighborhood is still famous for its Jewish food — the Montreal bagels, which are baked in ovens right in front of the customers and sold when they’re still warm; the poppy seed pastries; cheese-filled blintzes; and the smoked meat sandwiches served with a pickle on the side.

Not to be outdone, the Museum’s café, Fletchers, prides itself on using the city’s rich Jewish culinary heritage to create unique dishes. For instance, they sell a cookie based on a recipe from an Iraqi Jewish Montrealer — there are said to be a few thousand Iraqi Jews living in Montreal. The cookie is made with almond flour, cardamom and rosewater and is kosher for Passover, says Kat Romanow, who is in charge of the menu.

The cafe also offers the traditional bagel with a twist — Moroccan-spiced lox.

The menu at Fletcher's, the Jewish fusion cafe inside the Museum of Jewish Montreal. (Julie Masis/Times of Israel)

The menu at Fletcher’s, the Jewish fusion cafe inside the Museum of Jewish Montreal. (Julie Masis/Times of Israel)

“We’re taking a very Ashkenazi dish — bagels and lox — and putting a Moroccan spice mix on the fish, marrying the two largest Jewish communities in Montreal,” Moses says.

And then there is the gefilte fish sandwich.

The gefilte fish is pan-fried and served warm with a horseradish sauce, accompanied by a carrot and parsley salad on challah. Moses says that the sandwich does not contain any of the either loved or reviled fish jelly.

“I was like, ‘No way it’s going to sell,’ but it’s probably our most popular dish,” admits Moses.

Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather touches all of the bases at Town Hall meeting

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Thank you to my colleague and friend Councillor Mike Cohen for the excellent summary of the recent Town Hall meeting hosted by our incredible MP, Anthony Housefather

 

Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather touches all of the bases at Town Hall meeting

By Councillor Mike Cohen | 19 Mar 2017

In the 17 months since Anthony Housefather was elected as the Liberal Member of Parliament for the Mount Royal riding, I believe he has exceeded expectations in terms of his performance both within his constituency and in Ottawa.
As an MP he could not be closer to the people who elected him, always present at community events and going the extra mile by having Town Hall meetings throughout the year in different parts of his constituency. Such was the case on March 16 at the Irving Adessky Community Centre in Hampstead.

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Anthony Housefather addresses his Town Hall meeting.

I served as a city councillor under Anthony for 10 years when he was mayor of Côte Saint-Luc before he moved on to federal politics. He is a born leader and a walking encyclopedia on nearly every dossier he must deal with. Speaking notes are never needed and when asked a question, he is able to respond accurately and immediately.

Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg introduced Anthony, noting that the two first met in 1994. “He came to my door and was campaigning to become the youngest councillor in the Town of Hampstead’s history,” he recalled. “He stayed for about a half hour; he was young, enthusiastic and energetic. He has not changed a bit.”
Steinberg went on to explain how their paths crossed again in 2000 when his wife Doris dragged him into politics to fight against the forced municipal mergers and how they worked together to both battle the forced mergers and then fight for demerger. In 2005 Steinberg was elected mayor of Hampstead and Anthony was elected as mayor of Côte Saint-Luc so they continued to work together. “Anthony is a valuable Member of Parliament because as a former councillor and mayor he stays close to his constituents,” he said.
Steinberg hailed Anthony not only for these Town Halls, but his summits with elected officials in the territories he serves (Côte Saint-Luc, Hampstead, Snowdon, Côte des Neiges and Town of Mount Royal). “Sometimes I vote Liberal, sometimes Conservative,” volunteered Steinberg. “I do not vote NDP. One thing I give the Liberals credit for is that they allow free votes for their MPs. I give Anthony credit for he is not afraid to vote against his party.”

That provided the perfect opening for Anthony to explain his leading role in having a bill passed aimed at preventing genetic discrimination. He did so by working with Toronto MP Rob Oliphant to lobby enough members of his own governing party to ensure that more than 100 Liberal backbenchers joined Conservatives and New Democrats to give final approval to the bill, this despite warnings from Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that it is unconstitutional. Housefather noted that in his opinion the bill was constitutional and that the majority of experts who testified before Parliament agreed that it was indeed constitutional.

The bill is aimed at ensuring that Canadians can get genetic tests to help identify health risks and take preventive measures, without fear that they’ll be penalized when it comes to getting a job or life and health insurance. It would make it illegal to require a person to undergo genetic testing, or disclose the results of previous tests, as a condition of signing or continuing an insurance policy or any other contract or agreement. In addition, it would also prohibit anyone from sharing genetic test results without written consent, although there are exceptions for physicians and researchers. This bill has enormous significance for the Jewish community which has a considerable number of genetic mutations such as the BRAC 1 and BRAC2 genes for breast cancer in much higher density than the general population. Having the law adopted was a big priority for Jewish community organizations.

Anthony went on to explain that he has no issues with the federal government referring the question of constitutionality to the Supreme Court.

“Either way, we already knew with statements having been made by the insurance industry that somebody was going to challenge the constitutionality of the law,” said Anthony, the Liberal chair of the Justice and Human Rights Committee that refused to amend the bill to suit the government.

“Having the federal government refer the matter directly to the top court “means that we will have an answer from the Supreme Court far faster than if a challenge is started in a lower court by industry or by someone,” he said.

Anthony credits his years in municipal politics for providing the experience necessary to work with colleagues to have obtained the necessary votes from his fellow Liberal backbenchers and members of the opposition. “It goes to show that even if you are not in cabinet, you can have power,” he remarked.

Anthony was also proud to talk about how his Justice Committee issued a report recommending the Liberal government revive and expand the Court Challenges Program. The Government recently announced it was doing so and accepted most recommendations of the report, expanding the program to allow funding based on challenges to the Official Languages Act as well as additional charter rights.. The new program to fund court challenges will include cases based on freedom of religion, freedom of democratic rights, and right to liberty and security as well as equality and language rights.

Justice Minister Wilson-Raybould said the renewed program will ensure that the government “promotes access to justice for Canadians who need it the most,” adding that Canada’s justice system will need to continue to evolve. The promise to restore the program, which was scrapped by the Stephen Harper Conservatives in 2006, was included in the 2015 Liberal campaign platform and the mandate letters for Heritage Minister Melanie Joly and Wilson-Raybould.

Anthony’s staff both in Montreal and Ottawa receive a lot of e-mail correspondence. He expressed fear about the rising escalation of bigotry. “I have never seen in my adult life more of a prevalence since the United States elections,” he said. “It has now become socially normal and tolerated.”

Anthony alluded to the Quebec mosque terrorist attack, Montreal and Toronto imams who preached anti-Semitic theories, the “Punch a Zionist” comment by a McGill student leader and the ongoing BDS movement on university campuses – the new form of anti-Semitism.

Anthony also discussed the US-Canada relationship, the Syrian refugee issue, Motion 103, the government’s plan to introduce legislation to legalize cannabis this spring and Trudeau in general. “I think he is doing a very good job,” he said. “A lot of people have the wrong perception of him. He is actually one of the smartest people I’ve ever met.”

Besides Mayor Steinberg, Hampstead Councillors Michael Goldwax, Warren Budning and Leon Elfassy were on hand. I was joined by fellow Côte Saint-Luc Councillor Allan J. Levine.

To reach Anthony`s office call 514-283-0171 or e-mail anthony.housefather@parl.gc.ca. His constituency office is located at 4770 Kent, Suite 316.

vCOP spreads cheer, and shamrocks

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Hats off to Cote Saint-Luc volunteer Citizens on Patrol for their green spirit as they recently participated in the annual Montreal Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, the longest running St-Paddy’s parade in North America.

Thanks go out to Bea, Shimmy, Mark, Felice, Paul, Robert and Jeff for walking the extra mile in this iconic event that brings smiles to the faces of tens of thousands of Quebecers.

Our all-volunteer Emergency Medical Services first-responders also take part each and every year.

 

For more information or to join vCOP visit CoteSaintLuc.org/vCOP.

Municipal leaders band together to fight Quebec Electoral Representation Commission’s senseless decision

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Municipal leaders band together to fight Quebec Electoral Representation Commission’s senseless decision

By Councillor Mike Cohen | 23 Mar 2017

As a city councillor in Côte Saint-Luc, I always appreciate opportunities to work together with other elected officials in neighbouring municipalities. Such was the case on March 21 when the borough of Côte des Neiges-NDG spearheaded an energizing public meeting at their Community Centre to protest the senseless decision arrived by the Quebec Electoral Representation Commission. This unelected body, which answers to absolutely nobody, inexplicably reversed its February 7, 2017 second report on the electoral map that proposed to maintain the Mont Royal, Outremont and D’Arcy McGee ridings without any change. When the next provincial election takes place in October 2018, Mont Royal and Outremont will be merged and D’Arcy McGee unnecessarily larger in size.

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Dida Berku and Ruth Kovac join other political leaders at the event.

Snowdon Councillor Marvin Rotrand and Suburban Newspaper editor Beryl Wajsman led the charge, first with a press conference and then with this impressive public meeting. Rotrand was joined at the head table by Borough Mayor Russell Copeman, Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg, TMR Councillor Erin Kennedy (representing Mayor Philippe Roy), CSL Councillor Ruth Kovac (representing Mayor Mitchell Brownstein) and Outremont Councillor Mindy Pollak (representing Mayor Marie Cinq Mars) English Montreal School Board Chairman Angela Mancini spoke, with Vice Chair Sylvia Lo Bianco, Commissioner Julien Feldman and Parent Commissioner Joanne Charron in attendance. Allan J. Levine, Dida Berku and I were the other CSL councillors on hand. I saw several of my constituents.

If the Electoral Map had been adopted by Members of the National Assembly, I am certain that the passion and clear facts set out at this meeting would have resulted in an about face. Regrettably, there is nothing elected officials seem to be able to do. In fact, Mont Royal and Outremont are represented by cabinet ministers Pierre Arcand and Helene David. One of them will have to find a new place to run or retire.
I spoke to lawyer Peter Villani after the meeting and we both agreed that the Electoral Representation Commission still has an opportunity to correct this terrible wrong, admit it made a mistake and allow the status quo to prevail.

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It was standing room only at the event.

The room was packed, something which elated fireball Rotrand. “The large attendance we witnessed speaks to the public interest in opposing the loss of representation that our communities will suffer if the map decreed by the Electoral Representation Commission stands,” he said. “The meeting essentially came together in a very short time so I believe the turnout reflects a broad consensus in our part of the island.”
Now unless the Commission shows some class, this decision will have to be fought in court and initiated by citizens. Ideally, an injunction can be sought. Wajsman has taken the lead by collecting funds for an eventual contestation and former NDG-Lachine Liberal Member of Parliament Marlene Jennings stepped forward to set up a blue ribbon panel. Jennings was chosen by the Quebec English School Boards Association to do the same when the provincial government tried to push through Bill 86 – aimed at abolishing elected school commissioners. The government backed off and they did so because they answer to the public; the Electoral Representation Commission simply marches to the beat of its own drum.

Each of the boroughs and municipal councils in the area has or will soon adopt a motion in opposition to the electoral map. All feel that the Commission’s map will mean a serious loss of representation for their citizens, lacks respect for natural communities and does not provide the effective representation that the electoral law indicates must be the basis of any final decision.
The mayors have shared a legal decision written last September by Jean-François Gaudreault-DesBiens, Dean of the University of Montreal Law School, which indicated that the Commission’s proposal of 2015 to merge Mont Royal and Outremont and change D’Arcy McGee was highly questionable. As the Commission’s final decision has reverted to the 2015 plan, the mayors feel the Commission’s proposal will not stand up to a legal challenge.
“We are strongly concerned about the diminished political weight of the island of Montreal,” said Copeman, a former Liberal MNA for NDG. “Our political weight has been reduced in every riding redistribution since 1992 which merged Westmount and Saint-Louis. We have lost four ridings over the decades.
“The merger of Mont-Royal and Outremont creates a very large riding which is expected to see robust demographic growth over the next five years which we anticipate will take it over the legal maximum number of voters allowed by the electoral law.”
The Commission proposes to maintain 125 electoral ridings in the National Assembly with the average number of voters being 48,952 per riding. The electoral law allows ridings to be as much as 25 percent more or less than the average, a maximum of 61,190 or a minimum of 36,714 voters. This legal disparity of up to 24,476 voters or up to a 69 percent legal difference of voters per riding gives some voters in Quebec far more power than others.
While the mayors believe such a disparity in number of voters per riding should only be allowed in the rarest cases, there are many examples in the map of small ridings in the 37,000 to 40,000 range while many others approach the upper limits. Ridings like Duplessis, Dubuc, Rousseau, Megantic and Nicolet-Betancour all have far fewer voters than Montreal ridings such as Nelligan, Saint Laurent, Robert Baldwin or the new D’Arcy McGee or merged Mont Royal – Outremont which have between 55,000 and 59,000 voters each.
“Worse of all is that the Commission proposes six ridings that are exceptions to the law beyond the Iles de la Madeleine, the only exception the law actually permits,” says Mayor Brownstein. “These ridings including Abitibi-Est, Abitibi Ouest, Bonaventure, Gaspe, René Levesque and Ungava have between 26.8 and 44 percent fewer voters than the electoral map average and are below the legal minimum of voters. How do we explain to voters that D’Arcy McGee will now have boundaries that will no longer resemble its historic territory and have 56,245 voters while Gaspe, a riding that will have fewer voters in 2018 than at the 2014 elections, will have a Member of the National Assembly with only 30,048 electors?”
The mayors note that the new map cuts the large Filipino community that had real clout in Mont Royal in half with a large part of the community residing west of Côte des Neiges Road shifted to D’Arcy McGee. The large Orthodox Jewish community in the former Outremont riding is also diluted with those living east of Hutchinson moved into Mercier.

Councillor Kovac presented a strong statement from Mayor Brownstein at the public meeting. Natural communities should be kept together in order to give minority groups a stronger voice,” she said. And yet helping natural communities is not what has happened in the commission’s report. We have the worst of both worlds – they are removing representation from the island of Montreal, making ridings bigger, and breaking apart natural communities. Maybe we don’t need the exact same strict equality rules as they have in the United States. But can we at least apply the same fairness as they have Macedonia, or Yemen, or Belarus?
“When you increase the size of a riding like D’Arcy McGee, you weaken the voice of its natural communities. Allophones, Anglophones, Italian, Filipino, Jewish communities and others will no longer have as strong representation as they did when the riding of D’Arcy McGee was of a reasonable size. Further Mount Royal brought one more vote to the National Assembly for these communities and other minority communities. As the largest city in Quebec continues to grow its voice should not be weakened. It’s up to Quebecers to raise our voices, open their wallets, and help challenge in court decisions that hurt our community. I sincerely hope the Commission reverses its decision without the need for a legal challenge.”

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I agree completely with my esteemed colleague and friend Cllr. Mike Cohen in this excellent resume of this past week’s meeting over local electoral reform. We must not remain silent in the face of this injustice to our linguistic and cultural communities. Thank you to our local elected officials for speaking up on our behalf, spearheaded by Cllr. Marvin Rotrand and supported by editor Beryl Wajsman.

Meadowbrook developer suing city for $46 million

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Montreal Gazette, Mar. 24, 2017

In its $46-million lawsuit against the city of Montreal, real-estate developer Groupe Pacific charged Thursday that the city used high infrastructure costs as an excuse to block construction of its 1,600-unit project and save the Meadowbrook golf course as green space.The city engaged in “disguised expropriation” to preserve the Lachine portion of the golf course, lawyer Martin Bernard said. Groupe Pacific is requesting damages to cover the profits it would have earned had the project been approved.

Taking the stand in Quebec Superior Court near the end of the two-week trial, Bernard began his closing arguments in the two-week trial in Quebec Superior Court by outlining his client’s interactions with city and Lachine borough officials in 2007-2010.

Meadowbrook Groupe Pacific, a subsidiary of Groupe Pacific, purchased the land in 2006 for $3 million.

In 2010, as protests by concerned citizens and environmental group Les Amis du Parc Meadowbrook escalated, executive committee member Alan DeSousa announced the city would not support the project because the cost of installing infrastructure, like additional access roads, sewage and water systems, were excessive.

In 2013, the company discovered that the city’s estimates for putting in services like water, sewage pipes and a railway overpass to ensure access for emergency services ranged from $60 million to $150 million.

“The city of Montreal behaved in a manner that exhibited bad faith and acted contrary to the principles of balanced procedures,” Bernard argued. “It failed to work with care and diligence, to follow its own regulations, or to work transparently.”

The city’s demand that access lanes be created to the south of the project, necessitating an overpass over train lines costing as much as $125 million, were exorbitant, Groupe Pacific argued. As well, the city has since indicated its support for converting the space into a public green space, Bernard said.

In its defence, the city’s lawyers argued that Groupe Pacific purchased a piece of land bordered on three sides by train lines, with only one narrow access route cutting through the de-merged municipality of Côte-St-Luc. Installing 1,600 residences would involve extensive sewage and water-main installations, and because the city cannot force a neighbouring municipality to install additional roads, the only option was to install a costly overpass on land to the south belonging to the city. Les Amis du Parc Meadowbrook has argued that all residences within the development would be within 300 metres of the Canadian Pacific switching station located alongside, in contravention of federal guidelines.

It would take the city 50 years to recoup its infrastructure investments, far longer than the maximum 10 years its financial services department considers acceptable, city lawyer Eric Couture said.

“The city of Montreal refuses for now to invest the necessary sums in this project that is not profitable for public finances,” the city wrote in its defence statement. “Meadowbrook Groupe Pacific can continue to manage the golf course which is permitted under the current zoning. … Meadowbrook Groupe Pacific is thus not the victim of a disguised expropriation.”

It added that if Groupe Pacific deemed the city was negotiating in bad faith, it could have contested that point in Superior Court, as opposed to requesting damages.

Groupe Pacific’s demand of $46 million is “clearly exaggerated,” the city said in its defence statement. City lawyers will conclude their closing arguments Friday.

rbruemmer@postmedia.com

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