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

2 Comments

 

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

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

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

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

So what went right?

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

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

The individual makes the difference, locally.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advertisements

Anthony Housefather’s record on Israel

Leave a comment

Anthony is an extraordinary advocate for his constituency and is outspoken in his staunch support for Israel. In this excellent letter he sets the record straight for those who believe that he and the liberal government have wavered in showing Canada’s steadfast support for Israel. Of course, one can easily point to a single incident, event or vote and criticize. But life, and politics, is far from that simple.

I wholeheartedly continue to support Anthony Housefather as an extraordinary, young leader who is sure to rise among the ranks. He is the right man to push our government when necessary, whether on Israel or on a number of other major issues.

His intelligence shines through in his speeches and writings. If you have not met him I strongly encourage you to do so at one of the many events he addresses or in connecting by email or social media.

 

Anthony Housefather, MP, in the Hall of Honour, in the Parliament of Canada

My record on Israel

Anthony Housefather

I need to respond to the letter from Nathan Rosensheim published in the Suburban on July 4th, claiming the Canadian Government did not support Israel and that I was not a forceful advocate for Israel within the Government.

To say these claims are false would be a huge understatement. I have always been and will continue to be a huge supporter of Israel and since I was first elected I have been one of the foremost advocates on behalf of support for Israel and action on causes important to my constituents and Canada’s Jewish community. Let’s look at the overall record since October 2015.

Since the Liberal Government was elected in October 2015, Canada has one of the best voting records at the UN on defending Israel. We have voted no on 54 of the 62 resolutions at the General Assembly which singled out Israel over this time. No country other than the US and some small islands have a record similar to ours. Our record on voting against resolutions on Israel is far better than Australia and the UK and other European countries. It is also better in percentage terms of no votes than any previous Canadian Government, including the ten years of the Harper administration.

Our Government also supported the first anti-BDS motion to be adopted by the House of Commons. We adopted a Bill recognizing May as Jewish Heritage Month. We just signed an enhanced Canada/US free trade agreement at the Gelber Centre in the Mount Royal riding. We doubled security infrastructure funding to help secure Jewish and other institutions that are subject to potential hate crimes. As well, the Prime Minister committed to apologizing in the House of Commons for our record on Jewish refugees prior to and during the Second World War and in particular for Canada’s shameful refusal of the SS St. Louis in 1939. No other Canadian Government has ever done this and it is something I have been calling for since I have been elected.

Finally, in June the Government supported a motion in the House of Commons condemning the current regime in Iran, including for the statements made by its Supreme Leader calling for the eradication of Israel. In case anyone questions my support for Israel and my readiness to speak out in support of Israel in the House of Commons, I suggest you watch my speech on the Iran motion at https://www.facebook.com/anthonyhousefather/videos/1982973521743727/

I spend a significant percentage of my time advocating for issues of interest to the Jewish community. There have been a small number of times I have been disappointed, such as with the recent statement on Gaza and in that case my colleague Michael Levitt and I released our own statement. But I have worked very hard within the Government to ensure our position on Jewish and Israeli issues is as strong as possible and most of the time I have succeeded. I truly believe if you look at the facts above the number of actions we have taken in support of Israel and issues related to Canada’s Jewish community over the last 2.5 years is equal to or better than any other Canadian Government in history and I am happy to defend my actions to my constituents anytime.

Anthony Housefather

MP for Mount Royal

French-only warning signs dangerous: Letter to the editor

Leave a comment

Published in the Montreal Gazette, March 16, 2018
These French-only warning signs are actually dangerous for highway motorists not proficient in the French language. When approaching these massive electronic billboards and not immediately recognizing ominous words like “cahouteuse” or “aquaplanage” Without mastery of French you wouldn’t know whether to pull off the road or to call 911 for an urgent translation! I’ve made numerous demands for bilingual warnings and their inaction speaks volumes, in any language. They don’t care if you don’t understand.
Glenn J. Nashen
Cote Saint-Luc

N

In reference to:

Opinion: Meaning of Quebec highway signs should be clear to all

A year after National Assembly petition, provincial government still has not responded to safety concerns.

Excessive number of stop signs in Hampstead contribute to pollution: Letter to Suburban Newspaper

1 Comment

The following is a letter to the editor to the Suburban from District 6 resident Leslie Satenstein, my most notable commentor on this blog. Leslie makes the point that municipalities have a responsibility to safeguard the environment through strategic traffic planning (while ensuring pedestrian and motorist safety, no doubt).

I have written extensively about Fleet Road in this blog. Search “Fleet”.

 

  • Suburban Newspaper, Aug 16, 2017
  •  0

For what seems a century, or at least since 1985 when I moved to Cote Saint Luc, I have had the annoyance and been angered at the number of Hampstead stop signs along VanHorne/Fleet.

Bringing a car to a “stop sign” emits brake pad and tire dust, Average acceleration of a vehicle from a stop sign consumes a quarter of a teaspoon of gasoline per vehicle.

Given the stop signs are for each direction, you can be assure that daily, several tens of gallons of spent gasoline are emitted into the air. We know the importance of fresh air. In this short strip of the route to the borders of Cote Saint Luc, Hampstead’s contribution is one of being a major co-polluter. I call Hampstead’s lack of a remedy, shameful.

One could say, “Big deal, Hampstead’s pollution is the cost of living in CSL” and Cote Saint Luc should cover any remedy costs. That is a consideration for cost sharing.

I look at the luxury homes built on either side of the stop signs, and you will note “the owners can’t use the front of the house, and they cannot leave open, a window for fresh air”. For the residents of those homes, use of the front of the house is limited to receive mail and the Suburban, and to provide access to the car garage, nothing more.

In my high-school years, I lived at a similar intersection. The tire-dust that would settle on the front stoop, on the front window ledges was substantial. Daily, if you swiped your hands across a “early morning cleaned” surface, you would find you palm coated with black tire-dust. During periods of bumper-to-bumper traffic, the smell of spent fuel was horrific.

Mayor Steinberg prides himself on technology. When is Hampstead going to invest, as did Town of Mount-Royal, on installing synchronized traffic lights. A vehicle that travels at a fixed speed and does not brake and accelerate emits much much less combined pollution.

I would be very very interested to know the health claims made by the and former residents living in proximity to those intersections. Start from the year 1985.

Hampstead, it’s time to do something.

Leslie Satenstein

Montreal

Opinion: Canada desperately needs a cellphone alert system

Leave a comment

MONTREAL, QUE.: OCTOBER 14, 2011-- A man holds a newly purchased iPhone 4s on the launch day of the Apple phone outside the St. Catherine street Apple store in downtown Montreal on Friday, October 14, 2011. (Dario Ayala/THE GAZETTE) Dario Ayala, The Gazette

Emergencies come in all shapes and sizes. In Quebec, unpredictable weather is a fact of life that can have devastating effects on people and property. Then there are the man-made ones such as gas leaks, chemical spills, terror attacks and child abductions.

You’re either prepared for emergencies or you’re not. Simply put, we are not. At least, not as well as we could be.

Canadians currently receive emergency warnings through every major medium except cellphones. That might seem like a small piece of the puzzle, but cellphone alerts have become increasingly necessary to emergency preparedness in an age when so many people are cutting the cords of traditional media.

Today, 85 per cent of Canadian households have mobile phones while just under a third have cable subscriptions. Even without those figures, all you have to do is spend some time on a bus or in a coffee shop and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone not glued to their phone, tablet or laptop.

This points to the necessity of expanding public alerts to include cellphones, particularly with unpredictable weather patterns and natural disasters on the rise. Emergency management officials always point to early warning systems (EWS) as the best way to prevent loss of life. It’s not difficult to imagine how an alert on your cellphone in a time of emergency could save you, your family and friends or even total strangers.

It’s worth noting that Canada is not alone on this. At a May 24 meeting in Mexico, the United Nations Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction focused on the need to shift from managing disasters to managing the risks of disaster. That included not only making EWS more effective and efficient but also coordinating government and telecom efforts to ensure alerts are universal.

In April, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission announced it was giving telecom companies “approximately 12 months” to implement cellphone emergency alerting systems. My initial thoughts were: “It’s about time and I’ll believe it when I see it.” You see, we’ve been down this road before with the CRTC.

In 2004, the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence issued what was to be the first of many recommendations to establish a national public alerting system. In 2007, the committee adduced evidence from the CRTC’s Scott Hutton that a system featuring interruptive television alerts would be in place by 2009. He repeatedly undertook that if an alert system was not in place on a voluntary basis by 2009, the CRTC would take the necessary steps to put one in place.

But that deadline passed and Canadians had to wait another six years before the CRTC compelled broadcasters to create a national alert system. Even then, some broadcasters dragged their feet on meeting the deadline, and Bell Canada and others were still not fully compliant for several months.

Hence my skepticism about the CRTC’s latest pronouncement. Littered with the seeds of delay and obfuscation, it began with a supposedly firm deadline of next April 6, but then goes on to say that a number of kinks would need to be worked out before emergency alerts can begin. Then it ends by stating that “the Commission expects that this new capability will be available in approximately 12 months.”

Talk about a soft deadline.

The thing is, this isn’t exactly new technology. Smartphones have been in widespread use for more than a decade. The U.S. has had a cellphone alert system in place since 2013 as part of a matrix of alerting technology (cellphones, sirens, TV, radio).

I commend the CRTC for finally calling on telecom providers to get on board with cellphone alerts, but I’d sleep a little better if Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly put the full weight of her office behind the initiative too. Canadians lives may well depend on it.

Colin Kenny is former chair of the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence.

Kennyco@sen.parl.gc.ca

What I won at the Maccabiah

Leave a comment

The Times of Israel
JULY 23, 2017

Walking into Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem as part of the Maccabiah Games opening ceremony is very special for any athlete. Following your national flag, hearing the roar of the crowd, feeling the excitement of your fellow athletes who are sharing the moment with you, all combine to create a sense of exhilaration. Having experienced this before, in 2017 this feeling was not new to me. What was new, was that when I walked into the stadium this time, our Prime Minister’s video was playing on the big screen in the stadium and when he saluted the Canadian team, he mentioned me by name and wished me luck as his friend and colleague. As the stadium announcer said as we walked by, “that’s some pressure on Anthony with the Prime Minister singling him out.” As far as anyone seemed to know, I was the first Member of Parliament to seriously compete at the Maccabiah Games and I knew that not only were my friends and family and teammates paying attention to how I performed, but so were many others.

While the pressure was on, my enhanced visibility also gave me an incredible opportunity. Maccabiah always allows you to make many friends and have incredible conversations with people from around the world who are competing. But this time, lots more people approached me. Ordinary Israelis who saw me on the street in Tel Aviv, expatriate Canadians living in Israel, athletes and their families from many countries who wanted to better understand Canadian politics and policies. Many of their questions involved Canada’s position with respect to Israel.

I was pleased to let them know that I am one of a record 7 Jewish Liberal Members of the Canadian Parliament. All of us were elected for the first time in October 2015, when our leader Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister.

Prior to 2015 many Israelis had become aware that Canada under our former Prime Minister Stephen Harper had become perhaps Israel’s closest international ally. While I had a number of disagreements with our former Prime Minister on domestic policy, I strongly favoured his support for the Jewish state. So did many other Liberals. And as we had promised in the 2015 election campaign, we have shown uncompromising support for the State of Israel since our election.

Our government has maintained Canada’s votes at the United Nations. We join Israel, the United States, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands as the only countries to consistently oppose the unfair and systematic anti-Israel resolutions brought before the General Assembly each year. We have led the opposition to the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian State at international forums. We have adopted a Parliamentary resolution condemning the BDS movement and those groups in Canada supporting BDS. We have worked to enhance the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement. Prime Minister Trudeau has visited Auschwitz and I was privileged to be part of the audience at the Montreal island’s largest synagogue last Yom Kippur as he spoke to over 2000 people about that experience and his visit to Israel for Shimon Peres’s funeral, on Kol Nidre night. In Canada, like the United States, support for Israel has become a bipartisan consensus supported by both Liberals and Conservatives. I strongly believe Israel should not be an election issue in our country. Jewish Canadians should be able to vote on other issues, with the firm knowledge that whichever of our country’s major parties wins the election, Canada will be firmly in Israel’s corner. Having had the privilege of meeting a number of members of Israel’s foreign service during this trip and others, I know that the Israeli Government is very pleased with its relationship with Canada. I will work hard, as will many of my colleagues, to continue to enhance this vital link.

When talking to fellow athletes and family members from other countries, I know their experience is very different. Whether it comes to security for the local Jewish community or the relationship between their nations and Israel, they have a very different life experience from me and my country’s Jewish community. I look forward to working as part of the World Jewish Congress’s International Conference of Jewish Parliamentarians to help Jewish communities in other countries advance these causes. Relationships I developed at these Games will be very helpful in this regard.

(Courtesy Anthony Housefather)

(Courtesy Anthony Housefather)

In the end, these Games were very successful. I trained really hard and I won five medals in swimming. Going home with these medals gave me a great sense of accomplishment and national pride. But the relationships I made during these Games were equally, if not more important. I know many of them will last a lifetime.

Anthony Housefather is a Canadian Member of Parliament, representing the Mount Royal riding on the island of Montreal. He is also Chairman of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights

Elimination of Mont-Royal perversely penalizes natural communities

Leave a comment

By: Anthony Housefather, M.P. for Mount-Royal

Published in The Suburban, Mar 22, 2017
I want to express my gratitude to the Cote Des Neiges/NDG Borough Council, the Cote Saint-Luc City Council, The Town of Mount Royal town council and the Hampstead town council for their leadership on this important issue opposing the proposed electoral map changes. I join with them and our MNAs Pierre Arcand and David Birnbaum on a matter that negatively impacts the population I represent at the federal level as well as other minority communities in Quebec.

The Director General of Elections has produced a map that unfairly penalizes everyone living on the island of Montreal by eliminating a riding on the island while preserving rural ridings with much smaller populations. This means that a vote on the island is worth less than a vote in other parts of the province. The situation is exacerbated by the choice of ridings they are eliminating. The decision to eliminate the provincial riding of Mont-Royal effectively makes the most diverse riding in the province disappear. Its merger with Outremont creates a riding of almost 57,000 voters, approximately twice the population of the smallest rural riding. More importantly it disproportionately and negatively impacts English speaking cultural communities including but not limited to the Filipino and Bangladeshi communities who wielded important influence in Mont-Royal and now are split between D’Arcy McGee and the newly created Mont-Royal/Outremont riding. Perversely the size of the territory added to D’Arcy McGee now also makes that riding one of the most heavily populated ridings in the province and negatively impacts the Jewish community and the entire English speaking community whose voices are diluted by the added territory. This is not even to address the unfair split of the Hassidic community between the new Mont-Royal-Outremont and Mercier ridings and the unfair split of the Greek community in Laval.
Why natural communities, especially minority language and cultural communities were so disregarded in the new map proposed by the Quebec Director General of Elections is puzzling and somewhat shocking and I want to join my voice to those of my own constituents and others who are denouncing this in the strongest terms. As there appears to be no means other than a court challenge to undo the perverse and negative effects of the electoral map I want to congratulate Beryl Wajsman the editor of the Suburban newspaper who has been raising funds for such a challenge. I pledge to make a personal financial contribution to any such challenge and ask those who can afford to do so to join me in doing so. Our voices are not lost if we join together to fight.

Anthony Housefather,MP

N

Thank you to our ever-present Member of Parliament for taking a strong position and effectively communicating (as he always does) right across the region.

Older Entries