Barry Wilson Postscript

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If you miss Barry Wilson’s weekly rant on CTV News Montreal since he was unfortunately dropped by the network a few months ago you’ll be as pleased as I am to know that he has reappeared. Wilson has resurfaced, as good as ever, in a home-made, weekly commentary on things Montrealers, and English-speaking Quebecers want to hear.

The episodes are produced in-house, quite literally, and frankly, they’re just as good as before. I hope he finds a way to monetize his Youtube Channel and keep it going so he can continue to share his talents. Conversant in every angle of Montreal and Quebec politics it would be great to see Wilson expand his Youtube Channel and produce online content about Montreal’s suburbs and Quebec’s English-speaking communities’ issues.

Wilson has covered and written about Montreal and the Quebec political scene for more than three decades. He was bureau chief in Quebec City for Pulse News, then executive producer as he guided the editorial direction of Pulse and CTV News until November 2017. He began weekly “Postscript” editorials more than a decade ago.

Hey Barry, how about crisscrossing the West-End and West-Island with weekly interviews with suburban mayor and councillors, (errr former councillors included), for a glimpse at local issues? And, regular spots on matters affecting the vitality and sustainability of Quebec’s English-speaking community, especially leading up to the provincial elections.  I welcome your comment here Barry, as well as others who might like to share their opinion… In any case, I wish you much success.

Meanwhile, you can catch Barry Wilson on his website, Youtube and Twitter channels.

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Town Remembers Nashens

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Police station 9 moving

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West-end Montreal police Station 9 closes on Monday as it moves to Westminster Ave.: http://montrealgazette.com/news/west-end-police-station-9-closed-on-monday-as-it-moves-to-westminster-ave

Montreal elections: Traffic, parking and daycare are on voters’ minds in Côte-St-Luc: Montreal Gazette

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Côte-St-Luc voters will choose between incumbent Mitchell Brownstein and former mayor Robert Libman.

Longtime Côte-St-Luc resident Carole Blank says she’s “happy with everything” about life in the west-end municipality of more than 34,000 – a community with more than two dozen parks, an enviable aquatic and community centre complex, a stellar library and an almost even split between rented and owned dwellings. Although there are many older residents, the median age of 45.7 has dropped from 49 in 2016.

Côte-St-Luc residents, along with voters in other municipalities, go to the polls Nov. 5 to elect a mayor and council; in Côte-St-Luc, seven of the eight council seats are being contested. In the run-up to the election, the Montreal Gazette stopped by the Eleanor London Côte-St-Luc Public Library to get a sense of issues important to residents.

Keren Shemesh, who was browsing at the Cavendish Blvd. library with her son, 18-month-old Max Blauer, said she’d like to see more private daycares in Côte-St-Luc, particularly those with spaces for children under the age of two.

Pleased as he is with the facilities and “how everyone is friendly,” Miguel Laliberté said he wouldn’t mind a few small tweaks, like more late-night buses and parking signs he could interpret more easily.

For Julio Laufer, who with his wife, Dorothy, was waiting for a tablet class to start, traffic and the state of the roads are issues. Had the long-talked-about (and recently approved) Cavendish Blvd. extension from Côte-St-Luc to St-Laurent been in place connecting the two dead ends of Cavendish, the commute to his Côte-de-Liesse-area workplace would have been considerably shorter.

The condition of the roads and the long-promised Cavendish extension are issues for CSL residents Dorothy and Julio Laufer. (John Mahoney / MONTREAL GAZETTE)

Bernard Arbitman also wants to see the extension built – “There’s no quick exit now from Côte-St-Luc except for the Cavendish underpass,” he said – and would like overnight parking on city streets permitted. Currently it’s not.

Côte-St-Luc voters will be choosing between the current mayor and a former one. Incumbent Mitchell Brownstein, acclaimed as mayor in 2016 when longtime mayor Anthony Housefatherresigned after winning the federal seat in Mount Royal for the Liberals, had served as a city councillor since 1990. A lawyer by profession, he calls himself a full-time mayor – the kind of politician who gives out his personal cellphone number to constituents.

Traffic and parking are the issues for CSL resident Bernard Arbitman, who was reading a newspaper at the Eleanor London CSL Public Library, Tuesday October 17, 2017. (John Mahoney / MONTREAL GAZETTE)

Challenger Robert Libman, an architect and urban planner, was a provincial MNA from 1989 to 1994 and mayor of Côte-St-Luc from 1998 to 2005. He returned to private life and opened his own architectural consulting firm but returned to politics in 2014 and won the nomination in Mount-Royal for the Conservative Party of Canada; he was defeated by Housefather in the 2015 federal election.

There is substantial overlap in their platforms and both candidates consider reducing taxes, seeing through the Cavendish extension, improving roads and relocating and redeveloping the CP rail yards among their top priorities.

For resident Matthew Ross, whose home borders on the yards, their relocation is “my Number One issue.” Aside from advantages for the city linked to redevelopment of the area, which constitutes virtually a third of the municipality’s territory, Ross said he would welcome an end to the noise and odours generated by the yards.

CSL resident Carole Blank, checking out books from the Eleanor London CSL Public Library, says she is “happy with everything” in her municipality as residents prepare to vote for a mayor and councillors in the Nov. 5 municipal election. Tuesday October 17, 2017. (John Mahoney / MONTREAL GAZETTE)

Despite their agreement on issues, a seemingly personal rivalry between the candidates has become evident. Each has levelled insults against the other on Let’s Chat CSL, a closed Facebook group for residents. And during a recent television debate moderated by Jamie Orchard of Global News, the two interrupted each other, talked over one another and traded barbs.

One issue that has garnered media attention involves Libman’s role as in-house architect coordinating new projects with Olymbec, a real-estate company that owns parcels of land on the site of the future Cavendish extension. Brownstein has said this creates a potential conflict of interest. In fact, the land in question in the eventual corridor has already been reserved for expropriation – and was reserved before Libman entered the race.

As mayor, he said he would recuse himself in the event of a zoning issue or development project in Côte-St-Luc in which a potential conflict existed, “to be perfectly transparent … and to avoid perceived conflict.” But the Cavendish extension is not such an issue, he said, “because it is a done deal.”

“There is no conflict and will not be a conflict,” Libman wrote in his Let’s Chat CSL post. “It’s already reserved. I’ve been pushing this project for the past 15 years, well before I ever started working as an architect with Olymbec. Let’s stick to the issues in the campaign and let the democratic process unfold fairly and with respect for all candidates.”

Both mayoral candidates are seasoned politicians and each has his supporters. Turnout for municipal elections in Quebec tends to be low: Fewer than half of those eligible voted in the 2013 municipal elections, although that’s slightly more than voted in previous elections. But as one Côte-St-Luc councillor observed: “I think the good news about all this is that we will get a strong voter turnout. And that is good for democracy.”

sschwartz@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/susanschwartz

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Battle heats up in Côte Saint-Luc

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The race is heating up in Côte Saint-Luc with clashing personalities battling it out for mayor.

Incumbent Mitchell Brownstein is seeking a second term.

He’s being challenged by former mayor Robert Libman who is trying to get his old job back.

 

WATCH: The former mayor of Côte Saint-Luc has decided to run for re-election, but as Global’s Tim Sargeant reports, Robert Libman is a registered lobbyist. This has incumbent Mayor Mitchell Brownstein questioning his rival’s true interests.

Global News Report

Côte Saint-Luc mayoral candidate’s vow to extend Cavendish raises possible ethical concerns

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Robert Libman plays down lobbying work for Olymbec, company that stands to profit from proposed link

By Sarah Leavitt, CBC News Posted: Oct 05, 2017 7:30 PM ET

Robert Libman was mayor of Côte Saint-Luc between 1998 and 2005 and is now in the race to win back that post.

Robert Libman was mayor of Côte Saint-Luc between 1998 and 2005 and is now in the race to win back that post. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

 

 

As a mayoral candidate for Côte Saint-Luc, Robert Libman is promising to “champion the Cavendish extension,” but as a registered lobbyist, he is also representing a real estate company with land in the area of the proposed link.

That may place him in a conflict of interest if he wins the election, according to one expert, who suggests Libman could be forced to recuse himself from decisions involving the long-planned extension of Cavendish Boulevard.

Libman is an architect and an urban planner.

According to Quebec’s Order of Architects, any architect who solicits governments, for instance, seeking building permits or zoning changes, must register as a lobbyist.

Libman denies his relationship with the real estate company, Olymbec, places him in a potential conflict of interest.

Incumbent mayor Mitchell Brownstein has sought to draw the media’s attention to those ties.

Olymbec owns two plots of land on the corner of Dalton Road and Cavendish Boulevard  north of the railyard that cuts the boulevard in two.

Filings with the Quebec Registry of Lobbyists indicate Libman stands to be paid less than $10,000 to lobby municipal officials for building permits allowing Olymbec to build on the land.

Olymbec plots on reserve

In June 2016, the City of Montreal put the two vacant lots, which cover nearly 17,000 square metres, on reserve, to prevent Olymbec from developing or expanding the properties while plans to extend Cavendish Boulevard are worked out.

In October 2016, the city’s executive committee approved a resolution to negotiate with Olymbec to buy one of the lots.

“It’s not even a conflict,” Libman told CBC News. “The City of Montreal reserved land in the corridor where the Cavendish extension is going to go.”

“The fact that Olymbec happens to own the land next to it, it doesn’t make a difference. I’ve pushed for the Cavendish extension since 2002. Nothing has changed there.”

Olymbec land

The land owned by Olymbec is within the area highlighted in red, an area which will be impacted by the Cavendish extension. (Google Maps)

Michel Nadeau, the executive director of HEC and Concordia University’s Institute for Governance and Public Policy, points to the Elections and Referendums Act for regulations concerning conflicts of interest.

Section 361 reads:

Every member of the council of a municipality who is present at a sitting when a matter in which he has a direct or indirect pecuniary interest is taken up for consideration shall disclose the general nature of his interest before discussions on the matter are begun and abstain from participating in the discussions and from voting or attempting to influence the vote on that matter.

Nadeau says those rules apply within the municipality to which the official belongs, but they also apply to interests involving other municipalities.

Public governance expert Michel Nadeau says for a candidate to be fully transparent, voters must be made aware of lobbying that candidate has done for any organization.

“As a mayor, you should work full-time for the voters or the citizens of your city. To vote, to take the interest of the citizens, this interest could be in conflict with the neighbouring cities,” Nadeau said.

“You should not have any financial, legal or contractual commitments with the neighbouring cities because of business activities.”

Libman says he is aware of the rules and has been in touch with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to go over issues of conflict of interest.

“If there’s ever an issue that might be perceived as a conflict, there are rules that govern conflict of interest, and I would recuse myself in any such case.”

Lobbying ‘miniscule part of my work,’ Libman says

However, Libman downplayed his lobbying work.

“I don’t lobby at all,” he said, before adding: “That’s a minuscule part of my work.”

“I’m an architect. Because I meet with cities, because I make a request for zoning changes or building permits, I have to be on the lobbyist register, like other architects are.”

But lobbying records show that Libman has six active lobbying mandates from Olymbec, including for the properties on Cavendish.

In five of those mandates, Libman was paid less than $10,000 in each instance.

Among those is a mandate in which he was to be paid less than $10,000 to lobby Côte Saint-Luc to place rental signs in a vacant property on Westminster Street.

In the sixth mandate, Libman is to be paid between $10,000 and $50,000 for lobbying on behalf of Olymbec’s interests in a massive redevelopment project in Montreal North.

Olymbec is owned by Derek and Richard Stern. Derek Stern helped organize Libman’s 2014-2015 campaign for the Conservative nomination in the federal riding of Mount Royal.

He won the nomination but lost the 2015 election to Liberal Anthony Housefather.

Robert Libman promises

In his list of campaign promises, Libman says he’ll work to ‘ensure the completion of the Cavendish extension,’ despite what could be a conflict of interest. (Robert Libman)

Transparency concerns

Libman, who was mayor of Côte Saint-Luc between 1998 and 2005, says he signed on to the lobbyist register in 2010 with the goal of full transparency.

Much of his work as a lobbyist involves approaching different cities and boroughs in attempts to change zoning designations, to seek permission for development or demolition or to request bylaw changes.

There are no laws directed specifically at lobbyists running as candidates for elected office, but Nadeau said it’s important they be fully transparent about their work.

“The electors should know this candidate is a lobbyist for any organization,” said Nadeau.

Libman does not mention his work as a lobbyist on his campaign website.

With files from Jonathan Montpetit

News video at 5:45

Suburban exclusive: Remerger threat still exists: CSL mayor

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Suburban exclusive: Remerger threat still exists: CSL mayor
CSL council candidates watch the proceedings at Or Hahayim Synagogue.

An underlying threat still exists that could see demerged municipalities again merged into the Montreal megacity, as took place between 2002 and 2005, says Côte St. Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein.

Residents in municipalities like Côte St. Luc, Hampstead, Montreal West and Westmount voted to demerge in 2004.

“There is still, and always, a threat of remerger, there is always that threat,” Brownstein told an election event at the Or Hahayim Synagogue. “It’s still spoken about at the higher levels, and there are those who believe we would be better off as part of the City of Montreal. So if you want a mayor who, I guarantee you, will fight to keep us independent no matter what, vote for me.”

Brownstein made the statement during a mostly French-language election event Sept. 26. Also on hand were mayoral candidate Robert Libman and nearly all of the candidates for council seats. Demerger was a central topic of the evening. Brownstein was a demerger leader and Libman opposed demerging because of the conditions involved in Quebec’s Bill 9, which he said would not give municipalities sufficient powers and independence

Later, The Suburban asked Brownstein for more details on his contention.

“The threat is not imminent,” the Mayor said. “But there have been Mayors who have told me that they’ve heard discussions of the possibility. I wouldn’t want to say more because I don’t want it to happen. I haven’t heard it from the provincial level. I heard it at the municipal level. Certain people at the municipal level would like that to happen, and I guess they would have to go to the province to push it forward.”

Brownstein declined to reveal further details.

Asked about the issue, Libman said all he heard was from going door-to-door, that Brownstein “told them I want to re-merge Côte St. Luc with Montreal, which is completely false.”

“I never said that,” Brownstein countered.

We also asked Councillor Dida Berku what she has heard.

“There’s kind of a movement at the City of Montreal with regard to centralization of power,” she said. “Mayor Coderre centralized a lot of power with regard to snowclearing. I don’t feel it in terms of remerger. But the mayors are nervous about it, yes — maybe they have information… Who knows? If the PQ came back to power, we don’t know what would happen.”

The election event as a whole was feisty, especially when audience members asked questions — it was akin to an in-person version of the frequently fractious debates on the Let’s Chat CSL Facebook page. Accusations ranged from cyberbullying to overlong vacations to opportunism.

Moderator Charles Barchechath moderated the event with strictness and humour, keeping council candidate statements to two minutes and audience involvement to questions on local issues.

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In my opinion:

The possibility of remerging with Montreal is a very scary thought. Cote Saint-Lucers don’t want it. 90% voted to leave Montreal Mega-City. Why would we risk returning to this position that would weaken our glorious city?

Want to ensure that we stay the great suburban city that we are today? Want to have complete confidence that your elected representatives stay the course and speak out loudly and keep their promises on this thorny issue? Vote Mitchell Brownstein for Mayor and Glenn J. Nashen for City Councillor of District 6.

Trusted Leadership and Proven Experience.

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