The driving force of a Mensch: Harold Cammy

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Harold Cammy (right) with McDonald’s entrepreneur and philanthropist Pierre Brunet at surprise retirement party, Dec. 2018

Much has been said about Harold Cammy who takes his retirement after serving the city of Cote Saint-Luc for a remarkable 45 years. I’ve known Harold for most of my life and he has known my family for just as long. My reminiscence here is upon Harold, the character, as there’s not much I can add to the long list of accomplishments and achievements which can be read at some of the links below.

I begin my comment with Harold’s concluding ones, in his farewell address posted online:

We have the ability to be “kind” to people, to be “responsive” to people, to “support and assist” people because that is what a City and its staff should be doing. Making someone’s day just a little bit better…a little more enjoyable.

It doesn’t take a great effort to be kind and helpful…it just takes a little empathy, compassion and understanding of human behaviour.

“People will not always remember all the good things you do for them, but they will always remember how you made them feel about themselves”.

Harold and Beverly Cammy

We can learn a lot from Harold’s wise words. They are prophetic and introspective, philosophical and visionary. He lead his career, and obviously leads his life by these words. Many of us would be better off if we walked in Harold’s direction.

Indeed, whenever I would come across Harold during my many years as a City Councillor there was always a positive, cheery exchange. Always smiling, he would have the uncanny knack of making you feel important in his world, and invariably you’d walk away being a bit happier yourself.

A people-person by nature, Harold wouldn’t forget to ask how the family was doing, usually by name. ‘How’s George?’, he’d ask about my father. ‘Send him my regards,’ he’d say. ‘Say hello to Judy,’ my wife.

I was most always on the receiving end of peppy one-liners, a quick joke, a greeting or a comment from Harold. I’m sure he had plenty of reason to be gloomy or dreary over the years, but he chose the path of positive reinforcement: A firm handshake, eye-to-eye contact and a warm smile. He chose kindness and compassion. He chose to be charitable and he brought us all along. He was and is a real Mensch.

I salute Harold not only for his praiseworthy efforts for the residents of Cote Saint-Luc over these past 45 years, but for his kinder, gentler and humbler ways. This unpretentious career professional touched more lives than we can imagine. We’re all lucky to have benefited from his generosity of spirit and his acts of kindness.

Judy and I wish you a wonderful retirement, Harold, and many years of good health and continued happiness for you, Beverly and Lacey. I will always remember how you made me feel.

 

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Read more:

Mike Cohen’s blog and Harold’s retirement memories

Canadian Jewish News, Jan. 10, 2019

 

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

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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

Anthony Housefather’s record on Israel

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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

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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

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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

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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
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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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.

ElectoralQuebec

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.

CrowdCDN

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.

CSL digs out from biggest snowfall in years

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In Côte Saint-Luc we are very proud about how we handled snow clearing

by: Cllr. Mike Cohen

Posted: 18 Mar 2017 02:59 PM PDT

As we continue to dig out from the biggest snow storm the Montreal area has seen in years, I would like to applaud the work done by the City of Côte Saint-Luc`s Public Works Department.

CityTVsnowmarch2017

I have received a great deal of kind comments from residents in regards to how well  we  handled the snow clearing.  In fact, most of the Montreal media praised the work we did on the main roads. Please understand that this is a very difficult task and I was among the motorists on the Thursday morning stuck trying to get past the underpass on Cavendish. It was unavoidable and inconvenient, but later in the day all cleared up

“It was an emotional day for many residents,”  Public Works Director Beatrice Newman reported to city council. “Please help us help your residents understand why things appear to be a certain way while in the background, the city is working fervently to provide safe passage-ways in the city.”

The light on Guelph Road broke Thursday morning and stayed green. This meant that Westminster stayed on a red light. Traffic began to build up, employees rushed to help traffic. Public Security  directed traffic and electricians worked on determining and fixing the light. “Things like this happens when there are drastic changes in weather,” Ms. Newman said.

Cavendish Boulevard was congested, southbound. Our snow removal operations provided clear roads for our residents, but unfortunately once they hit CSL Road and Cavendish, they were faced with congestion. NDG kept their side of Cavendish at one lane. Therefore, our three lanes had to squeeze into their one lane. “Et voilà, major traffic accumulation on Cavendish and  CSL,”  Ms. Newman explained.

Fleet was at one lane from our city right through Hampstead. The objective at first is to clear the road with one lane for access. Then approximately 24 hours later, the blowing began. “We cannot start our operations earlier in the morning or traffic issues would be inevitable,” said Ms. Newman. “Only one lane would still be available in this case. We must consider the safety concerns first. This was not a regular snow storm. This was a blizzard with white out conditions, dangerous road conditions and more. We must have patience. Close to 40 centimeters fell and the process to remove it all will not be quick, we must work efficientlyand safely.”

We had five  teams working all day Thursday, five sidewalk cleaners, five loader/blowers, five 10 wheelers, five walkers and two salt trucks remained to follow the contractors as they salted the roads once the contractor blew the snow. Once snow falls on the asphalt  we secure it with abrasives.

Snowdump2017

Our snow dump after the storm.

 

Two teams worked at the municipal buildings and one  worked on our special calls such as  snow blown accidentally on personal walkways, emptying public garbage, etc. One  employee was stationed at the snow dump on Marc Chagall in District 2, which now looks like an Olympic ski hill.

The balance of the areas around Yavne, Merton and Maimonides schools were done on Friday.

We are working hard to do our best in operations and customer service.

“In Public Security, our agents have seen their call volume go up by a factor of 2.5,” explained Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson. “Our agents have responded with professionalism and tact despite trying circumstances, horrible road conditions and lots and lots of snow. They have always kept the safety of our residents at the forefront and I have been impressed by their ingenuity and dedication.

“Our Dispatch Centre has been flooded with calls and complaints about everything from traffic to snow removal to cars blocking driveways. Despite being screamed and sworn at, they have maintained their composure and professionalism.”

Mr. Reichson noted that while  we did not activate our emergency plan, we kept it close at hand. We ensured that our evacuation routes remained as accessible as possible and were prepared to activate elements of the plan as required. “Despite what some residents have posted online, our response has been as strong and efficient as it can be,” he said. “ This was not just another storm, but rather an opportunity for our employees to shine and from what I have seen, all have risen to the occasion.

Are you ready for clock confusion?

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I’ve said it many times before on this blog. Leave the clocks alone! We’re back on Daylight Savings Time where it should be. All the time.

Meanwhile, thanks to Joel Goldenberg who came across this Washington Examiner article published earlier this week that says what I’ve been saying for years: Don’t touch that clock. Actually, this piece argues from the perspective of staying on standard time, all the time. But what it really means, to me, is just pick one, only one, and leave it be.

Studies “have found that the time change interrupts sleep cycles, causing fatigue, lack of productivity and sadness,” the article added. Even worse, medical studies showed that daylight saving time also can lead to death. “Other studies show that the number of heart attacks spikes in the days following the March time change, and after the November time change, the frequency of heart attacks decreases,” the article reads.

So come on Canada. Let’s stay on DST.

Do you agree with me? Please share your comments here.

Search Daylight Savings Time to see my blog posts on this subject.

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Read more:

Washington Examiner: Daylight saving time may be killing you

Fifty-eight per cent of Quebecers take up to a week to adjust to Daylight Savings Time

Opinion: Jewish and Muslim MPs’ ‘Christmas dinner’ renewed my faith in Canada

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An excellent opinion piece by Anthony Housefather, MP for Mount Royal, published in the Montreal Gazette. It is both inspiring and truly Canadian.

Jewish and Muslim Members of Parliament pose for a group photo after their "Christmas dinner" in Ottawa Dec. 7, 2016.
Jewish and Muslim Members of Parliament pose for a group photo after their “Christmas dinner” in Ottawa Dec. 7, 2016. COURTESY OF ANTHONY HOUSEFATHER
Gazette Opinion

In Canada, as the holidays approach this year, I have found the normal cheer somewhat subdued. The aftermath of Brexit and the U.S. elections has had an effect on many Canadians. There is a concern that the world is now a different place. We all knew that in recent years our world has become more dangerous with the rise of terrorist groups that do not play by any rules. But this year, the world seems to have become more divided by race, religion, gender, economic status, sexual orientation and ethnicity, and Canadians are wondering whether this will spread to our own country.

Are we different from the rest of the world? I myself felt somewhat glum as the holidays approached and wondered what I could do to regain my holiday spirit.

For me, my holiday miracle happened in the second week of December. Jewish and Muslim Members of Parliament gathered for what we called our “Christmas Dinner.” We shared our personal stories and provided each other with greater understanding of the history and diversity of our communities.

As a white man born in the 1970s to a relatively affluent professional family that has lived in Canada for well more than a century, I cannot remember ever having experienced anti-Semitism or any other form of discrimination. But the same is not true for some of my colleagues. I was in tears as I heard the stories of an older Jewish MP who talked about having been beaten up at a hockey game and having bones broken because he was Jewish. My heart hurt as a female Muslim MP, who has become a close friend, talked about being bullied in high school because she was brown and Muslim.

But what moved me the most was the candid story of a Muslim MP born and educated abroad who acknowledged that he came to Canada having numerous misconceptions about Jews and the time that it took for him to recognize them to be wrong. This only happened because Canada allows us to get to know one another and dispel myths about one another.

We left the evening, after many hours of discussion, convinced that we as a group could make a difference. There is nobody who can confront Islamophobia more effectively than a Jew, and there is nobody who can confront anti-Semitism more effectively than a Muslim. We left inspired to work together with Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Bahais and people of all religions, or no religion, to fight against discrimination in our country. In the same way that Charlie Brown found the real meaning of Christmas in that famous animated special that we see on TV each year and in the same way the Miracle on 34th Street proved Santa was real, this dinner brought back my holiday spirit.

Even though any country could go down the path of xenophobia, we in Canada are very lucky. We have a prime minister, a government and opposition leaders who are speaking out in favour of tolerance, understanding and brotherhood. We have people of good faith across the spectrum who believe that we need to stand up for one another. Not only do we have a Charter of Rights that protects us in law, but we have a populace that is generally inspired to care.

I left that dinner renewed in my confidence that Canada is and will continue to be a beacon unto the world and that we all have our part to play in making that be so. I will be happy during this holiday season, and I hope and pray that my fellow Canadians will be happy and optimistic as well.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Holidays to all!

Anthony Housefather is the member of Parliament for Mount Royal and chairman of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

What to do about pit bulls and dangerous dogs in our community

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By Councillor Mike Cohen:

 

While the Quebec government studies the issues of dangerous dogs and consults with municipalities, many of which have already implemented bans on pit bulls in particular, the City of Côte Saint-Luc is reinforcing an existing bylaw.

Our most recent bylaw regarding dangerous dogs was adopted in 2009. In the wake of a series of high-profile dog attacks, Public Safety Department has sent letters to current owners of pit bulls in our community that we have on record, asking that they be muzzled.
According to our bylaw, a dangerous dog” means: a dog which has a propensity, tendency, or disposition to attack, bite, threaten, or injure, with or without provocation, any persons, property or other animals; with or without provocation or physical injury, attacks, bites, or threatens any person, property; a domestic animal that has been trained for dog fighting or to attack upon a command . In the event that the owner and/or custodian of a dangerous dog fails to comply with the obligation to muzzle the animal when on any public property throughout the city of Côte Saint-Luc, he shall be liable to a fine.

Pit Bull

Is this strong enough? As the city councillor responsible for Animal Protection, I know how it must feel for someone who has a pet they love, only to be threatened to have it taken away via legislation. Several municipalities do have laws on the books banning pit bulls. However, they are not the only breeds that pose a threat. We will wait to see what the Quebec government decides for that will impact on our future actions. In the meantime, I wish to urge the owners of dogs considered to be dangerous to please use a muzzle.

The City of Laval wants Ottawa to make changes to the Criminal Code of Canada to create uniform rules across the country to deal with the problem of dangerous dogs.Right now, it’s possible to charge owners of dogs who attack people with criminal negligence, but it rarely happens. Laval Mayor Marc Demers said that the article in the Criminal Code dealing with criminal negligence should be amended to make specific reference to the responsibilities of dog owners.”We would like the federal government to do its homework, so it would be all across Canada the same thing, it won’t change from city to city,” Demers told CBC News.”That way, across the country, if you bring up your dog to be vicious so he may attack somebody, you are responsible for that.”
In recent weeks we have had some disturbing incidents in our own community. At one park, three people with large dogs (a pit bull, a rottweiler and another breed ) were approached by a Public Security agent and asked to leave the premises with the dogs. The owner responded that her dogs were trained to attack on command and loosened her grip on the leash. Fearing for his safety, the agent called immediately for police back-up who arrived, handcuffed the woman in the back of the police car and pointed a Taser at one of the men. Police declarations were filled out and we believe charges were filed against one or all of the individuals involved.
Meanwhile, we had a pit bull attack when the dog escaped from a ground floor apartment and attacked a pug. The dog in question already had a muzzle order in place. Public Security and police were on scene. We issued tickets and the police pressed criminal negligence charges against the owner.
As of January 1, 2017, any dog on a list of banned breeds will be prohibited. Anyone caught with a banned dog will be subject to a fine of up to $1,000 for a first offence. The City of Montreal is working to come up with a uniform set of rules regarding “dangerous dogs” across its 19 boroughs, but won’t say if it’s leaning toward an all-out ban on any particular breed. Here is a recent TV report.
In Ontario a pit bull ban was proposed in 2004 after a number of cases in which people were badly injured in pit bull attacks. It was passed in 2005. “The legislation bans pit bulls in Ontario, places restrictions on existing pit bulls, and toughens the penalties for the owners of any dog that poses a danger to the public,” Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General says on its website.
The legislation, called the Dog Owners’ Liability Act, defines a pit bull as a pit bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier or any dog “that has an appearance and physical characteristics that are substantially similar.

How can cities turn complaints into conversations?

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The following article is an excellent interview with Cote Saint-Luc resident Andee Shuster that recently appeared on a blog (Medium.com). Kudos to Andee for emphasizing positive, forward thinking and by turning a complaint into a dialogue for change. This was the thinking behind our city’s purpose in implementing the SeeClickFix app. Please read and comment:

How can cities turn complaints into conversations

By: Caroline Smith

If we’re binge watching Parks and Recreation or Gilmore Girls, it seems like the common cultural understanding of the “concerned citizen” is someone who is complaining.

Or, as Leslie Knope says:

“What I hear when I’m being yelled at is people caring loudly at me.”

Andee Shuster, citizen of Cote Saint-Luc and active user of SeeClickFix, looks at things a little differently:

“Look, people don’t enjoy complaining. And, the people that have to be on the receiving end also don’t enjoy it either.”

Shuster is a long-time community activist within Cote Saint-Luc, Quebec who uses SeeClickFix to report non-emergency issues to City Hall with her phone or computer. “There’s literally nothing fun about complaining,” said Shuster, “But [SeeClickFix] really turns that around, making reporting an issue not feel like a complaint because of the communication and interaction with my government.”

She first used SeeClickFix this past summer when she went with her friend to take their kids to the local splash pad. When they got to the splash pad, the ground was slippery and moss was growing right where their kids were running.

Shuster thought: “The city should really fix this because it’s way too slippery for our kids to be playing on — we could improve this!” Her friend asked if she had heard about SeeClickFix. He showed her how he could take a quick picture of the issue and tag it, and how the app knew exactly where they were in the city before they pressed “Send!” together.

“The next time we went to the splash pad, it was much, much better!”

The Splash Pad issue Shuster’s friend reported on SeeClickFix.

For Shuster, reporting the splash pad issue on SeeClickFix felt really good — and not just because it got fixed:

“It really didn’t feel like complaining to the city councilor or to the maintenance department. It was sort of a ‘Hey we’re here, this is what is going on, and I thought you should know’.”

Shuster felt like this kind of experience could have broader implications in her city:

“I think it’s about empowering your citizens. It’s not about an us vs. them or a management vs citizens. Instead it really brings people together around focusing on helping rather than complaining.”

But how does this happen? Shuster explains a bit more:

“It’s inclusive. It’s easy. It’s interactive. It’s fast and with very little effort you’re able to make a difference…I made an impact by saying that we could be doing something better.”

Plus, it’s kid-friendly:

“It’s something that easily be shown to other people, including teaching your kids — you can show them how to make a difference, that there are apps out there that help you to do good deeds.”

Lucky for us, Shuster’s experience is not an isolated one. Civic technology tools like SeeClickFix are being used across the country to create better, more productive and friendly conversations between citizens and their governments.

In particular, SeeClickFix was built to be a platform that is both high-tech andhigh-touch. In other words, it not only provides a space to have some of these conversations online, but enhances the offline conversations that will always (hopefully!) exist.

A message to the CSL Senior Men’s Club

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Senior Mens Club Bulletin Oct 2015

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