Barry Nashen launches class action lawsuit against Mont-Tremblant

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Barry Nashen

A class action lawsuit has been launched by my brother, Barry, against the Laurentian ski centre, Mont-Tremblant, for refunds owing to ski pass holders. The COVID-19 pandemic forced ski hills across Quebec to terminate the ski season early. In the case of Mont-Tremblant, the season ended March 15 instead of April 19. For “Tonik” pass holders who were promised 119 days of skiing, the shortfall amounts to 23% of the season.

“When you prepay for services and these services aren’t delivered, you are entitled to a refund,” said Nashen, the lead plaintiff in the class action lawsuit filed in Montreal Superior Court yesterday by Joey Zukran, of the law firm LPC Avocats.

Under Quebec’s consumer protection act, even in the case of ‘force majeure’, a refund is due to the consumer for services paid in advance when those services are not rendered. In this case, many thousands of skiers and snowboarders purchased the Tonik ski pass at Mont-Tremblant.

“One of the benefits of 41 years in business (and two years of life strategy coaching) is that I know when it’s time to stand up for my rights and hold the other party accountable,” Barry Nashen said. “As you do anything is as you do everything!”

Anyone who bought a Tonic pass for the 2019-2020 ski season is automatically included the class auction lawsuit.

Barry Nashen’s story is featured in today’s La Presse.

Read more:

The Suburban blog

Montreal wins Meadowbrook Golf Course battle in Supreme Court

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Meadowbrook is nothing short of an oasis that must remain green in perpetuity (GJN 2015)

This is absolutely tremendous news for Cote Saint-Luc and its neighbours and for all Montrealers. For those of us who have called for Meadowbrook to be preserved as greenspace and recreational use over the last 30 years our efforts will be of benefit for generations to come.

Glenn J. Nashen

René Bruemmer  •  Montreal Gazette • May 21, 2020

The long saga of Meadowbrook Golf Course that pitted developers vs. the city of Montreal in a $44-million lawsuit has made it all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada and the city has won.

The Supreme Court announced Thursday it has rejected Meadowbrook Groupe Pacific Inc.’s request to appeal a judgement of the Court of Appeal of Quebec that found in favour of the city.

As with all Supreme Court rejections for a leave to appeal, no reason was given.

Last November, Quebec’s Court of Appeal upheld a 2017 judgment by a Superior Court judge that had rejected a $44-million lawsuit against the city by Meadowbrook Groupe Pacific.

In the lawsuit, the developer argued it was owed $15 million in lost profits and $28.5 million in land value in what the developer considered a disguised expropriation by the city.

Groupe Pacific bought the land in 2006 for $3 million and was in talks with the city to build what it called an environmentally friendly, 1,600-unit residential complex dubbed Petite Rivière.

But the city argued its share of infrastructure costs for things like water and sewage pipes and a railway overpass would cost between $60 million and $150 million, and told the developer in 2010 it would not support development there.

Groupe Pacific charged that the city used high infrastructure costs as an excuse to block construction of its project in order to preserve the golf course as a green space following citizen protests.

Quebec Superior Court Judge Pepita G. Capriolo disagreed.

“The large number of difficulties that the developer faced before being able to start the project (negotiations with municipalities next to the site, with the city of Montreal, with Canadian Pacific and the suburban train authority AMT, the Ministry of the Environment, etc.) does not support the conclusion that only the actions of the city kept the developer from realizing the profits it had calculated,” she wrote.

In her judgment, Capriolo ruled Groupe Pacific had failed to prove the city had acted in bad faith, and noted that the city had not appropriated the land, which an evaluator has valued at $6.5 million. Under the city’s new land development management plan, Groupe Pacific is still free to operate it as a golf course or for other recreational purposes, she wrote.

Conservationists worked for more than 25 years to persuade the city to conserve the golf course lands.

rbruemmer@postmedia.com

For more articles and opinion on Meadowbrook search this blog

OQLF suspends French language requirements amid pandemic

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Quebec’s Tongue Troopers are making headlines again

In an ironic twist of fate, the much maligned language cops have determined that doctors and nurses don’t have to pass French test to work in Quebec during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What a relief during a period where we’ll grab on to anything that offers relief.

Did we need a crisis for such a sensible solution? When this is all over will we have so many extra medical personnel that language restrictions will make sense again?

We’re desperate for help so we’ll take what we can get. When we return to normal why not use the opportunity to modernize restrictive, coercive policies? How about positive and encouraging language guidelines and free French-language instruction for all?

Our global economy favours multilingualism over nationalism. Quebec is very well positioned economically, culturally, geographically and linguistically to rebound with gusto. It’s time for outdated language policies to be re-imagined in a post-Covid-19 Quebec.

Read more in MTL Blog.

CSL council votes 5-2 to call for one-year moratorium on police station mergers

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2009 launch of PDQ 9 on Cavendish at Kildare: CSL Public Security Chief Michel Martel, Montreal Police Assistant Commander West Division Pierre Brochet, Councillor Glenn J. Nashen, Neighbourhood Police Station 9 Commander Sylvain Bissonnette

The Suburban Newspaper this week reported that Cote Saint-Luc City Council could not come to a unanimous decision to call for a one year moratorium on local police station mergers.

As I blogged here on March 23, “the ill-advised and poorly communicated merger of police stations should be shelved for this year. Our populations and its leaders are poised in another direction and this is not the time for structural reorganization.”

Having fought against previous proposals for police station mergers and relocation while I was the CSL City Councillor responsible for Public Safety, alongside my fellow councillors Mitchell Brownstein and the late Ruth Kovac, we are all too aware of what is at stake and the potential loss of service to our community.

Although one dissenting councillor suggested CSL does not currently have 24 hour coverage, to be clear, Neighbourhood Station 9 offices (PDQ 9 as it is known in French), are closed overnight but officers from our station continue to patrol at all hours in our city.

Here is the full story by Suburban reporter Joel Goldenberg:

Côte St. Luc council voted 5-2 at their March 16 videoconferenced council meeting to call for a one-year moratorium, public sessions and a “proper study” on the planned merger of police stations 9 (CSL, Hampstead, Montreal West) and 11 (NDG).

Those voting against the resolution, presented by Councillor Dida Berku, were councillors David Tordjman and Oren Sebag. Those voting in favour were councillors Berku, Mike Cohen, Mitch Kujavsky, Steven Erdelyi and Sidney Benizri.

As first reported in The Suburban in late January, plans call for the new merged station to be located at the current Station 9 site in CSL. Station 11 on Somerled in NDG, unless minds change, will close its doors this fall.

Tordjman said that while the SPVM erred in the way the information about the merger was disseminated, “I think, as many others do, that this is a positive move for CSL and the adjoining communities. It will improve efficiencies and we’ll end up having more officers available for all of our communities.

“We need to have further discussion, but I don’t think a one-year moratorium is the way to go. We should be working with the SPVM, rather than fighting them.”

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein was disappointed, saying he was hoping for a unanimous vote.

“As a person who was very involved with the demerger of cities and understands that smaller is better, it seems quite clear to me we know what we have right now is unique and beautiful,” the Mayor added. “As soon as we merge with Station 11 in NDG, where most of the crime is happening, no matter how many extra officers we’re going to have, they will all go to where the action is — there’s a stabbing, a murder, a rape. It’s happening outside of CSL.”

Sebag said Station 9 does not currently operate 24 hours a day.

“I think there’s an advantage of having a larger station that works around the clock in CSL, and I agree we should make sure the station stays in CSL,” he added. “I personally think our city is denser, it has a lot more activity that could be viewed as an evolution in crime, and we need proper coverage… 24 hours a day.”

Councillor Mike Cohen said that with the current COVID-19 pandemic in progress, “now is not the time to push through such a merger.”

As many as six COVID-19 cases in Côte-St-Luc, but mayor's quarantine request is denied

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Montreal’s chief public health officer, Dr. Mylène Drouin, said authorities must weigh the possible “collateral damage” of such a quarantine, which was deemed premature at this time.

AARON DERFEL, MONTREAL GAZETTE Updated: March 21, 2020

Coping in a Côte-St-Luc seniors’ residence in the age of coronavirus

Quebec authorities have dismissed imposing a quarantine on Côte-St-Luc — for now — after the west-end municipality reported as many as six cases of COVID-19 among residents at synagogues and an assisted-living facility.

Dr. Horacio Arruda, the province’s chief public health officer, said it was premature to do so despite a request from Côte-St-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein.

“I think it (would) be dangerous for mayors to take that decision without being in touch with us,” Arruda told reporters in Quebec City.

“This is an exceptional situation. We have never had this in the world. This is not a decision that should be taken in a corner because I’m afraid or I don’t have all the information.”

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante supported Arruda’s position, arguing there are many factors to consider before using the last resort of a quarantine.

“For those who are not familiar, Côte-St-Luc is right in the middle of Montreal, so it’s surrounded by different boroughs,” Plante said at a news conference.

“I understand the mayor’s concern and I think he definitely wants to do the right thing, but for me it’s very important to follow the directive (of the public health department).”

Montreal’s chief public health officer, Dr. Mylène Drouin, explained experts must first analyze the extent of the outbreak in Côte-St-Luc before declaring a quarantine.

“I think at this time we cannot take those decisions without having a public health analysis,” Drouin said, adding authorities must weigh the possible “collateral damage” of such a quarantine.

In an interview late Friday afternoon, Brownstein reacted tepidly to the government’s decision not to proceed with a quarantine.

“We’re relying on the (health) ministry, Santé Québec,” Brownstein said. “We’re just putting them on notice that they should be watching Côte-St-Luc. I have other cases that are already coming forward, more and more every day, so I can see what’s going to happen in our city.”

Initially, Côte-St-Luc reported two points of exposure to the virulent coronavirus: the Beth Chabad synagogue on Kildare Rd., where a small wedding was held on March 12, and an assisted-living residence on Trent Ave., Le King David.

This is where the chronology gets complicated. A resident of Le King David tested positive for the coronavirus after attending a large wedding on March 12 at the Shaar Hashomayim synagogue in Westmount.

On Tuesday, the King David resident fell ill. In response, the operators of the private facility quarantined more than 100 residents. In addition, “several hundred people who attended the wedding (in Westmount have been) asked to go into isolation,” Drouin said.

On March 15, Shaar Hashomayim held another wedding, but this time it respected Premier François Legault’s March 12 order prohibiting gatherings of more than 250 people anywhere in the province to stem the spread of the virus.

On Thursday, the Beth Chabad synagogue posted an open letter on its Facebook page stating there were “a few cases in the Beth Chabad CSL who have tested positive (for) the coronavirus.” Côte-St-Luc was informed three Beth Chabad congregants were infected.

By Friday afternoon, Mitchell told the Montreal Gazette that “we have two more cases from different religious institutions. If they’re coming from places where people gather, it’s not a good thing.”

Those two other institutions are Côte-St-Luc synagogues.

“We’re asking Premier Legault to take steps to consider quarantining the entire city,” Brownstein said in the first of three interviews with the Gazette on Friday.

“Right now, we know that there are hundreds and hundreds of people who have been in contact with those who have been diagnosed, and we don’t want those people out in the public.

“They need to be contacted by Santé publique,” Brownstein added. “So we’re facilitating access to guest lists from a wedding, individuals who are members of Congregation Beth Chabad, and ensuring that (the authorities) have everything to reach all those individuals who should be in quarantine, although we’re advising everybody to stay home.”

On Friday night, Brownstein phoned the Gazette to clarify that the word “quarantine” was perhaps a little too strong. The mayor said he received calls from non-residents who feared they might be blocked from delivering food to parents or grandparents during a quarantine.

Instead, he called upon Quebec to “enforce staying at home, subject to certain conditions.”

Sarah Raskin, the wife of Rabbi Mendel Raskin of Congregation Beth Chabad, said the March 12 wedding at her synagogue was arranged through a caterer.

“It was quite a small wedding, actually,” Raskin said, although she couldn’t provide an exact number. “It was for out-of-town people.”

Raskin added she is aware of only one case of a congregant testing positive for COVID-19, contrary to the synagogue’s Facebook letter stating that there are “a few cases.”

On Tuesday, Côte-St-Luc declared a state of emergency, exercising its powers under the Civil Protection Act. The act allows a municipality to take “immediate action (that) is required to protect human life, health or physical integrity.”

Mitchell said Côte-St-Luc intends to order the closing of all stores, except pharmacies and those that sell groceries.

Lillian Horowitz, a 94-year-old resident of Le King David, is among more than 100 residents who have been in self-isolation.

“Our meals are brought up,” Horowitz said. “I’m not seeing anybody and I’m feeling fine. I’m taking it one moment at a time. I don’t want to panic.”

Horowitz praised the staff at Le King David, saying “everything was just done in an efficient, speedy manner. I was very impressed with how they treated it. The dining room was closed right away so nobody should be mingling with anybody, which was a good idea.”

On Friday morning, the Cavendish Mall posted a notice on its doors advising people the shopping centre “has been shut down.”

Still, people “can access the IGA, Pharmaprix and Bank of Nova Scotia from their front entrances. You can access the CLSC from the doors of the rear parking.”

Glenn J. Nashen, a spokesperson for the centre-west health authority in charge of the Jewish General, declined to comment on the status of the King David resident, saying by email that “I have no information on any specific patient.”

aderfel@postmedia.com

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Coronavirus: Montreal public health races to curb Côte-St-Luc outbreak

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“We have two more cases from different religious institutions,” Côte-St-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein said.

AARON DERFEL, MONTREAL GAZETTE Updated: March 20, 2020

Montreal public health officials are scrambling to contain an outbreak of COVID-19 in Côte-St-Luc while also monitoring hundreds of people across the city who may have been exposed to the highly contagious coronavirus.

“We expected an increase in the number of cases in the last few days, and that’s what we’re seeing,” Dr. Mylène Drouin told reporters at a news conference Friday as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases rose to 31 from 28 the day before.

Drouin cautioned that the number was likely to increase later on Friday as more test results rolled in. Côte-St-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein told the Montreal Gazette that he has been informed his municipality now has four to six cases of COVID-19.

“We have two more cases from different religious institutions,” Brownstein said. “If they’re coming from places where people gather, it’s not a good thing.”

Drouin urged Montrealers to refrain from visiting houses of worship, warning they are “important vectors of transmission.”

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante also called upon people of all faiths to refrain from gathering.

“In the last few days, the city of Montreal has been in communication with different communities,” Plante said.

“The priests of Quebec have decided to close the churches. We have communicated with the council of imams of Quebec. The Hasidic Jewish community has decided to close their synagogues. Therefore, there is good co-operation, but there are still some exceptions, some recalcitrant people, who still want to gather. Whatever your faith, it is really important (to follow these rules).”

Drouin announced authorities will dramatically increase the number of COVID-19 screening tests. On Friday, the number of tests nearly doubled to 920 in Montreal, from 570 the day before.

“Of course, we’re seeing cases that are not linked to travellers,” Drouin explained, noting that the new cases are secondary transmissions — that is, people who contracted the novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus from family members or others.

“At this time, we cannot say that we have a sustained community transmission, but we’re expecting it,” Drouin added. On Thursday, Drouin acknowledged for the first time Montreal was reporting small COVID-19 outbreaks in families.

On Friday, she reiterated that “we have family groups that are affected by the situation, schools, student housing, one CHSLD (long-term care centre) and we had cases in a big event that was a wedding.”

It was not clear whether Drouin was alluding to a government-run long-term care centre or the private Le King David assisted-living facility in Côte-St-Luc. Drouin, however, was clear in referring to a wedding held last week at a synagogue.

“I know that there were two cases associated with the event, and we know that there were several hundred people who attended the wedding whom we asked to go into isolation.”

Drouin hinted at new measures, although she declined to elaborate.

“We’re going to take some measures in a couple of days to look at the epidemiological situation for the entire island of Montreal, and to see if there are some sectors, some measures, to take. But those cannot be taken at a local level. We have to make sure that we are aligned with the government.”

Workers put up a temporary wall as the Cavendish Mall is shut down for all businesses that do not have a private entrance on Friday, March 20, 2020. ALLEN MCINNIS / MONTREAL GAZETTE

Quebec’s chief public health officer, Dr. Horacio Arruda, said on Friday it was premature to declare a quarantine for the entire municipality of Côte-St-Luc at the request of the west-end mayor.

As much as possible, Drouin recommended, people should stay home. She cited hairdressers and shopping centres as examples of places people should avoid. On Thursday, she appealed to Montrealers to shop for groceries only once a week.

The health department is foreseeing the possibility of expanding COVID-19 testing to health workers following reports that infected doctors have treated patients.

“Health-care workers will be a priority coming soon,” Drouin said. “I’ve always said that if we do not protect them, we will have problems in two or three weeks.”

Should the pandemic grow much worse in Montreal, authorities would consider using hotel rooms to house some people infected with the coronavirus.

“We’re looking at different possibilities of isolating some people who cannot be at home or we do not want them necessarily in hospital,” Drouin said. “In specific cases, we could use hotels. Of course we have to negotiate (with them) and see what the measures are to put in place to ensure the protection of people who work there or who use the services of hotels. This is something we see in other countries and we do not exclude it.”

aderfel@postmedia.com

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CSL outbreak concerns featured on CBC National News

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CBC National, March 20, 2020

Côte Saint-Luc mayor urges self-isolation as 4 people test positive for COVID-19 | CBC News

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3 cases linked to synagogue, 1 in assisted living facility

CBC News · Posted: Mar 20, 2020 9:03 AM ET

Three confirmed cases were traced back to the Beth Chabad community centre and synagogue. (Jay Turnbull/CBC)

Four people in Côte Saint-Luc have tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the mayor to urge residents to self-isolate to prevent the spread of the virus.

Three of the people recently attended the Congregation Beth Chabad community centre and synagogue. 

The fourth person lives in the King David assisted living facility and recently attended a wedding at the Shaar Hashomayim synagogue on March 12. That person was transported to the Jewish General Hospital Tuesday.

The Cavendish Mall closed on Friday in an effort to contain the spread of the virus.

Beth Chabad is asking all congregants who have been in the synagogue since March 14 to place themselves in self-isolation.

In a statement, Shaar Hashomayim’s rabbi Adam Scheier said the synagogue had been rented for the wedding.

“Our clergy were not present. At no time did any guest enter our kitchen or anywhere other than the public spaces of the building,” he said in the statement. 

“We have instructed our employees who were present at that wedding to quarantine and be alert for symptoms.”

One case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the King David assisted living facility in Côte Saint-Luc. (Jay Turnbull/CBC)

‘Our worst nightmare’

Côte Saint-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein told CBC News he is concerned his city could become the “epicentre” of the COVID-19 pandemic in Quebec.

“We know we have a dense city, [we] live close together, many religious institutions as well as senior residents and hospitals,” Brownstein said. “This was our worst nightmare.”

Brownstein said the city had tried to shut down events, such as weddings, to avoid such a situation.

The city enacted state of emergency measures Tuesday, which would allow the city to call public health and Montreal police to shut down events of over 10 people.

All the synagogues in the city agreed to shut down as of yesterday, he said. Shaar Hashomayim, where the wedding took place, is located in neighbouring Westmount.

“It’s a shame it took until now,” he said.

He said the city is dealing with a “mushrooming” situation, because snowbirds — elderly residents who go down south during the winter months — recently returned from places such as Florida.

“We’re trying to get this all to stop, but we don’t know where the virus has spread to.”

Brownstein said Quebec public health will investigate when and where the confirmed cases went and will have details for the public soon.

Several confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Côte Saint-Luc

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MONTREAL — A person from Le King David assisted-living building at 5555 Trent Ave. has tested positive for COVID-19, the City of Côte Saint-Luc confirmed after receiving information from public health authorities Thursday.

The person was transported to the Jewish General Hospital for testing on March 17.

“Public health has intervened quickly to help reduce the impact and the spread,” the city notes. “This involves an investigation into the places the individual travelled outside and their interactions inside the assisted living building.”

City officials add they are not involved in any investigation related to COVID-19.

“We cannot intervene, as it is in the hands of Quebec health authorities,” they explain.

SEVERAL CASES AT A SYNAGOGUE

Several members of the Congregation Beth Chabad have also tested positive for COVID-19, the synagogue confirmed Thursday in a message to members.

“We ask you to stay calm, yet vigilant,” states a message from Rabbi Mendel and Sarah Raskin, adding anyone who has been to the synagogue since Shabbat on March 14 should quarantine themselves for the next 14 days. “Those people that were tested positive have frequented the Beth Chabad CSL and have already been in quarantine since Monday evening.”

The synagogue will remain closed until further notice.

“We are a community of love, care and friendship. We will get through this together,” the message continues.

STAY INFORMED, STAY APART

Côte Saint-Luc officials are commending residents who have been practicing social distancing and doing their part to prevent the spread of the virus.

“Like all cities, we have been expecting this day,” they state, adding anyone who is not yet social distancing or self-isolating to “immediately put into place all the recommendations of the Quebec health authorities.”

The city is also asking anyone coming back from vacation to self-isolate for 14 days.

“Everyone else should avoid gatherings of any kind. If you are over 70, stay home,” officials urge. “Practice social distancing. Wash your hands. Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Please avoid any non-essential outings at this time.”

Nevertheless, the city says it is important to keep in contact with friends and family and “find activities that bring us joy in this stressful time.”

“The actions you take in the days and weeks to come will have a huge impact on how our community is affected,” they note. “Your behaviour could save a life.”

For more information about what Côte Saint-Luc is doing to stop the spread of COVID-19, go to their website

Anyone concerned about their health or who have symptoms associated with COVID-19 — coughing, fever and difficulty breathing — should call the Info-Coronavirus phone line at 1-877-644-4545.

Congregation Beth Chabad

An image of the Congregation Beth Chabad. (Credit: Congregation Beth Chabad)

CSL to be ‘at table’ for Montreal-CP Cavendish link talks

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Côte St. Luc council passed a resolution at last week’s public meeting ensuring it will have a “seat at the table” in current talks between the City of Montreal and Canadian Pacific regarding the long-awaited Cavendish link between CSL and St. Laurent.

Councillor Dida Berku, who read the resolution, explained that Montreal has been negotiating with CP as to how the planned link will be “routed through the yards,” such as through an underpass, overpass, trench or tunnel.

“These discussions are ongoing, and we have been apprised of many of them, but we wanted to be part of the non-disclosure agreements, that we would be part of the negotiations,” she added. “This resolution allows us to be part of that.”

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein said CSL has a very good relationship with CP Rail, which whom he has spoken about the link on many occasions, and with Montreal.

“CP Rail was more than happy to have the City of Côte St. Luc participate in the discussions and negotiations of the exact configuration, and the manner in which our traffic and other types of traffic, like public transit, would be using the Cavendish extension,” he explained. “This file has been going on for a very long time, but it is good to be sitting at the table with all the players, making what appears to be the final decisions with respect to how the road will be built.”

The Mayor emphasized that this new development “doesn’t mean [the link is] being built any time soon — I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up —but at least we’re at the table and moving forward on the file and being informed of what is going on.”

Asked about the reference in the resolution to a non-disclosure agreement, Brownstein told The Suburban it refers to allowing CSL to be at the table for the discussions “without making them public until we all come to an agreement as to the final configuration.

“There are also issues of public transit, will there be a rapid train, a bicycle path, one lane or two lanes for cars? All of these issues have to be agreed upon with respect to CP and Montreal in order to build the road.”

The Suburban pointed out that it appears the discussions of an overpass, underpass or any other type of passage in the yards, has been going on for years.

“There’s also the purchase price — the two things that are not that easy to finalize are the price [of the part of the land Montreal will buy from CP for the passage of the link] and what type of road will go above or below the tracks. They’re really getting close, but they’re not seeing eye-to-eye on the final details,” the Mayor said.

“Now that I’m at the table with them, hopefully, it will be my job to mediate this and finalize the deal. I’ll do my best.”

Berku pointed out that the Cavendish link project also has to go to the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE).

“It will be sent there by the City of Montreal sometime in 2020.”

Brownstein said the project is moving forward.

“I just don’t like people to think it’s going to happen ‘tomorrow’ — it takes a long time, people are frustrated, but it is happening now more than ever because they need it more than we need it. [The planned Royalmount Mall] needs it, the Hippodrome project needs it, the Midtown project, Décarie Square. Everyone wants some other way to travel, which has to include not only cars — public transit, bicycles, pedestrian pathways, and cars.” joel@thesuburban.com

joel@thesuburban.com

WWII Vet George Nashen to be honoured by National Assembly

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By CJN Staff – January 13, 2020 

Second World War veteran George Nashen, right, poses for a picture with D’Arcy-McGee MNA David Birnbaum.

Second World War veteran George Nashen, 96, will receive a special national assembly medal from David Birnbaum, the MNA for the riding of D’Arcy-McGee, at a ceremony in June.

Nashen will be honoured in the name of all of the men and women who served the cause of freedom in that conflict. Nashen, who lives in Côte-St-Luc, Que., is one of the few surviving Jewish-Canadian war veterans.

In announcing the move, Birnbaum explained that he wanted recognize the contribution of our Second World War veterans while it was still possible. “It struck me at our last Remembrance Day ceremonies in the riding how sadly close we are to a time when no first-hand witnesses to the Second World War will be with us to remember, or to be honoured for their sacrifice, courage and legacy in saving our fundamental freedoms here in Quebec, in all of Canada and around the world,” he said.

“Furthermore, this riding that I serve is home to one of the highest number of Holocaust survivors and their families in Canada. The obligation of remembrance is deeply felt here and this medal is one further way of expressing that obligation.”

George Nashen in 1944.

Nashen is a long-time community volunteer and former clothing manufacturer who held the rank of sergeant in the Royal Canadian Air Force. During the war, Nashen lost a number of dear friends and has always made it his duty to share his experience, particularly with young people.

“I was 19 when I enlisted,” said Nashen, a Baron Byng High School graduate, “and I wasn’t that worldly. I didn’t understand much about politics. By 1938, with the rise of Hitler, the terrible threat to the free world started to become clear. I thought, I have to go over.…

“It’s important for young people to learn about the atrocities and the sacrifices of the Second World War. Do they really know the seriousness of war, the feeling of daily life, when you get issued a helmet and a gas mask to make sure you survive the day?”

In 1943, Nashen was stationed in London. “I went over on the Queen Mary,” he recalled. “We were 26,000 enlisted men and women; the ship normally carried only 2,000.

“It was a humbling and scary few years. I remember the rumbling of incoming and outgoing bombers overhead, every night in London. The stakes were enormous, and the freedoms we take for granted today were in peril back then. That should never be forgotten.”

Nashen expressed his appreciation for the medal, but stressed that he would only accept the honour in the name of all the veterans.

Each spring, Birnbaum bestows three D’Arcy-McGee national assembly citizenship medals upon individuals chosen for their community contributions by a three-member jury. Nashen will formally receive his medal at that ceremony, which will be held on June 1. The names of all the medal winners become part of the permanent national assembly record and are noted in perpetuity on its official website.

Canadian Jewish News

Anthony Housefather Steps In To Keep Christmas Poem Tradition Alive In House

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POLITICS 12/12/2019

With big shoes to fill, a Liberal MP’s spin on a popular Christmas tradition had the House of Commons roaring with laughter Thursday.

Montreal MP Anthony Housefather rose before question period to assume the mantle left vacant by Rodger Cuzner, the popular former Nova Scotia MP who did not run again this year after serving 15 years in Parliament.

Every year, Cuzner penned a parody of “Twas The Night Before Christmas” that took good-humoured jabs at political rivals just before everyone headed home for the holidays.

“Twas the last sitting week before Christmas and who knew? Cuzner’s Christmas poem tradition would be assumed by a Jew,” Housefather began, yielding a standing ovation off the top.

Liberal MP Anthony Housefather is applauded by colleagues during a speech in the House of Commons on...
Liberal MP Anthony Housefather is applauded by colleagues during a speech in the House of Commons on Dec. 12, 2019.

Housefather treated the Tories with kid gloves, an apparent rewrite after the earlier announcement from Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer that he will step down.

“For our Conservative colleagues, I know today has been a shock. In the spirit of the holidays, I’ll go straight to the Bloc,” he said.

Housefather even navigated the tricky terrain of Quebec’s Bill 21, which prohibits some civil servants in the province from donning religious symbols on the job. Bloc Leader Yves-François Blanchet is an outspoken supporter of the controversial law.

“The Bloc leader, flush with success… for Mr. Claus, he had but one request,” he said. “When flying over Quebec, please remove that red suit. It’s a religious symbol, and ugly to boot.”

The MP even had a joke lined up for his boss.

“When it comes to our PM, we know what he wants, all being equal. No more hot mics and a new Star Wars sequel,” he said, a dig at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s headline-grabbing comments about Donald Trump on the heels of the NATO summit in London this month.

“So I wish all members some holiday cheer. Enjoy your family and friends, and maybe some beer,” Housefather said. 

“And when we come back in January, let’s see the light. Let’s work together for Canadians and let’s get it right.”

Not bad.

Not bad at all.

Carbon monoxide from car in garage killed Côte-St-Luc couple: coroner

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This is a heartbreaking, tragic reminder to be vigilant and prudent when parking your car in the garage and of the critical need to have CO detectors in your home.

GJN
House where couple was found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019 in Côte-St-Luc. PIERRE OBENDRAUF / MONTREAL GAZETTE

Woman probably forgot to turn her car’s ignition off after parking it in the garage

FRÉDÉRIC TOMESCO  Montreal Gazette: December 9, 2019

A Côte-St-Luc couple died of carbon monoxide poisoning last winter when the wife probably forgot to turn her car’s ignition off after parking it in the garage, a coroner has concluded.

Roger Banon and Simone Elkeslassy were found dead by one of their sons Feb. 6 after uncharacteristically failing to answer phone calls during the day. Firefighters called to the scene noted the presence of carbon monoxide inside the garage and the house.

The couple lived in a single-family residence, with their bedroom located directly above the garage. A carbon monoxide detector was installed in the basement and was in service, the report said.

Banon, 88, had Parkinson’s disease. He had the constant help and support of his 84-year-old wife and other family members, according to the coroner’s report, which was released Monday. Husband and wife — both wearing pyjamas — were found lying on the floor of the guest room.

“It appears that Mr. Banon’s spouse probably had a moment of distraction when returning from the grocery store on Feb. 5 and forgot to shut down the engine of her car,” coroner Julie-Kim Godin concluded in her report dated Sept. 25, ruling out suicide.

Having just returned from a trip, Elkeslassy “had to resume her activities and her routine,” Godin wrote. “She had several tasks to perform and needed to take care of her partner. She probably had a lot of concerns on her mind, which contributed to this moment of distraction.”

Montreal police investigators found Elkeslassy’s car parked in the garage. While the garage door leading onto the driveway was closed, investigators were unable to establish whether the inside door leading to the house was open or closed.

The car key was in the ignition and it was switched on, the coroner’s report said. The fuel gauge indicated that the tank was empty and the hood was lukewarm.

“This allows us to conclude that the engine continued to run, probably for several hours, producing significant carbon monoxide emissions in the house,” Godin wrote.

Elkeslassy was an “active, autonomous woman who was very involved in the community,” Godin also wrote. She was seeing a doctor regularly, and a recent appointment had not resulted in any problems being identified. Elkeslassy “loved life and was very resilient,” the report cited her doctor as saying. She had never expressed suicidal ideas, the report said.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a recurring problem in Quebec.

On Friday, a Laval woman was found dead in a house after being poisoned by the toxic gas, police said. Two other people were taken to a hospital for the same reason. Results of the investigation may be announced Tuesday, a Laval police spokesperson said Monday.

Carbon monoxide is a clear, odourless and tasteless gas that can make humans sick and can lead to death. The gas is created when fuels such as oil, coal, wood, gasoline, propane and natural gas are burned.

Carbon monoxide doesn’t irritate the eyes or respiratory tract. But when a person inhales it, the gas enters their blood and interferes with oxygen intake, damaging tissue, according to Quebec’s health department. The effects can vary depending on the quantity of the gas in the air and the length of exposure. Severe carbon monoxide poisoning can lead to a coma and death within minutes.

ftomesco@postmedia.com

Free French for all Quebecers, a positive gesture

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Greg Kelley, the MNA for Jacques-Cartier, says he thinks he has found a way to unite Quebecers of all stripes around a common cause, which is improving the French of people from all backgrounds, the Gazette reports.

Kelley wants the Quebec government to open up the Charter of the French Language to make free instruction in French a right for anyone who resides in Quebec.

This is a positive and enabling idea which is long overdue. For far too long the emphasis has been on punitive measures by policy-makers and language cops rather than empowering methods of teaching those who could benefit from additional help and contribute to the social and economic fabric of society.

After 40 years of the stick it’s time for the carrot!

Teach everyone who’s willing to learn to speak French. Presumably this will entice English-speakers and those who have arrived from countries where neither English nor French is an official language.

Let’s give the necessary tools for Quebecers to speak to one another, to learn from each other and to respect each other.

We are a richer society by speaking multiple languages. This enriching experience may even convince French-speaking Quebecers to call upon the government to offer free English courses. Et pourquoi pas?

Swift and angry backlash against D’Arcy McGee MNA’s vote for Bonjour-Hi resolution

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By Joel Goldenberg, The Suburban Jun 12, 2019

D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum voted along with fellow Quebec Liberals, the Parti Québécois and the governing CAQ in encouraging Montreal merchants to drop the “Hi” in the now-traditional Bonjour-Hi greeting.

Be sure to read below: In my opinion

The vote, proposed by the PQ, came in advance of Grand Prix weekend, when numerous tourists, including many who do not speak French, visit Montreal.

Liberal MNAs Kathleen Weil and Gregory Kelley were not present for the symbolic vote. Weil told the media she stayed away after receiving numerous complaints from constituents after voting for the same motion in 2017.

Birnbaum provided an extensive explanation for his vote on Facebook. The MNA said the wording of the resolution was acceptable to him, and it passed unanimously in terms of all MNAs present in the Assembly.

“Here is why I chose to rise for the vote….verrrry slowly,” he wrote. “English-speaking Quebecers, whether they live in Snowdon, Sillery or Sherbrooke, have a stake in supporting the protection and promotion of the French language. We are allies, not enemies in that cause— it’s time that this be recognized by all parties, as it is by ours.”

Birnbaum also contended that the CAQ government “has failed to take the slightest concrete measure to truly strengthen the place of French in Quebec — by increasing spending, as our government did, on francisation programs for new immigrants, by supporting English school boards in their constant efforts to improve French-second language programs (the CAQ plans to abolish the board), and in calling for the inclusion of all Quebecers in the legitimate and necessary effort of French-language promotion.”

There was much reaction to Birnbaum’s vote.

Harold Staviss, who with CSL councillor Ruth Kovac has been lobbying businesses to put up bilingual signs and send out bilingual communications to consumers, was very displeased.

“Do our MNAs have nothing better to do?” he wrote on Facebook. “What a joke! Three cheers and kudos to Kathleen Weil and Gregory Kelley for standing up for those that elected them. At least two Liberals stood up for their constituents. But with all due respect to David Birnbaum and Jennifer Maccarone, you let us down big time. I urge you all to show both David and Jennifer your total disgust for what they did. E-mail them, call them, use social media.”

Kovac herself sent a note to Birnbaum, which she shared with The Suburban, announcing that she is withdrawing her Quebec Liberal Party membership as well as her seat on the D’Arcy McGee riding association.

“We have discussed this issue on more than one occasion,” she added. “As an MNA, in my opinion, you are elected by the people and responsible first to them, irrespective of parliamentary duties. The 2017 backlash should have guided your vote this time. This vote was a resolution, not legislation! It is the English and multi- ethnic population that elected you, not a small Francophone town in a rural area.”

Kovac also wrote that Bill 101 and the OQLF “have never been about promoting French, but pushing for a slow and painful death of anything English.

“Having worked in different businesses before becoming a councillor, we know that it is the language of the customer that is paramount. This was an opportunity where you could have easily risen slowly or quickly with true vigour and represented D’Arcy McGee.

“I suspect that I speak for many.”

Former Côte St. Luc councillor Glenn Nashen responded to Birnbaum on Facebook

“To be inclusive, forward looking and positive… sure,” he wrote. “To respect, promote and master the French language? Absolutely. To interfere with private conversations between private business and private citizens? Not the role of our parliamentarians. As you rightly point out, French is as healthy as ever in Montreal. No need to suppress the English language.”

CSL council regular Toby Shulman wrote: “I am calling my MNA. He has lost my vote.”

joel@thesuburban.com

More:

In my opinion:

While I an upset about the motion in the National Assembly, I don’t believe that David Birnbaum’s ‘reluctant’ vote in favour makes him unworthy as a representative of the English-speaking community, as expressed by some others. Now I’m no apologist for anyone, however politics isn’t a zero sum game. I believe in measuring a leader by the overall good he or she does for the community. I’m really not pleased with David’s decision to vote in favour of this resolution. I would have preferred that he cast a vote against, as difficult as that would have been for him. It would have sent a much stronger message than rising slowly, in my opinion. But, one cannot erase the many good choices David has made as our MNA. So I do think anyone who’s upset should let him know. It is only through these many contacts that any MNA can better represent us on the next resolution. Too often people are quick to criticize on single issues, disregarding a history of achievement.

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