Birnbaum announces a new Liberal government will support relocation, expansion of Montreal Holocaust Museum

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

D’Arcy-McGee Liberal MNA and candidate David Birnbaum confirmed that a re-elected Liberal government will be a financial partner in the planned relocation and expansion of the Montreal Holocaust Museum. The Museum leadership has already secured a major lead donation and completed a feasibility study for the ambitious project, evaluated at about $45 million. The Museum, Canada’s only one uniquely focused on Holocaust remembrance and human rights education, is recognized the world over for the quality of its exhibits and its outreach programs. It has also long been recognized that the museum needs more space than available at its current location in the Jewish Community Campus on Côte Ste-Catherine Rd.

“I am so proud that the Premier has made this commitment, which is profoundly important to our Jewish community but also significant for all Quebecers,” Birnbaum noted. He first briefed the Premier on the project in late Spring. “The Museum, with the help of courageous survivors, reaches out to schools, in French and English, to ensure that the terrible lessons of the Holocaust are neither forgotten nor repeated.’’ Montreal is home to the third-largest population of Holocaust survivors and children of survivors in the world.

Mr. Couillard, whose own family was deeply implicated in the French resistance, had a brief discussion about the project with Museum Director Alice Herscovitch when he accompanied Mr. Birnbaum for the second time during this mandate to the annual commemorative service on Yom Hashoah at Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem Synagogue.

“We are very encouraged by this news,’’ said Alice Herscovitch, Executive Director. “It is deeply important that all Quebecers have access to a modern and accessible museum that embodies messages of courage in the face of inhumanity and helps Quebecers and people the world over understand the importance and responsibility we all have to prevent racism and genocide. Our museum will be so much more able to deliver those messages to schools and adults alike through an expansion.”

Quebec Liberal leader Dr. Philippe Couillard introduces D’Arcy McGee candidate David Birnbaum (2014)

The Museum is seeking a site in downtown Montreal, and the support of all levels of government. Treasury Board President and Mont-Royal-Outremont candidate Pierre Arcand currently serves the territory where the museum is situated. It will find itself in D’Arcy-McGee after the election.

“In my ministerial role, I see and evaluate each day the many difficult and important choices a government must make in allocating public funds. Of course, schools, health care and other services are essential but so are the Quebec institutions that identify and transmit our vision of humanity, of our responsibility to each other and to the wider world. This commitment is a meaningful example of that vision.”

Birnbaum noted that an initial analysis of the Museum project is already underway by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, with the details and modalities of the provincial government partnership still to be determined.

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Cavendish Boulevard extension may be a pipe dream

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Global News reports that the Cavendish extension dream may fade completely in 2 years from now. After endless discussion, pronouncements and media opportunities over the last 50 years we may be down to the wire on whether this project will come to fruition.

Montreal city council passed a motion last Tuesday to extend the negotiation deadline with CN and CP Rail by two years, according to Global News.

This means city officials have 24 months to reach a deal with the rail companies to allow for the extension of the boulevard over their tracks — but no more extensions will be granted after that period.

So what’s the problem?

Cote Saint-Luc has wanted to see this plan come about since the late 1990s. It was a major promise in the merger debacle of the early 2000s. The former City of Saint-Laurent and current Borough of the same name (and same mayor) is also in favour. Local Members of the National Assembly have been on board for years as has the Member of Parliament, notably Anthony Housefather is his capacities of Borough Councillor, CSL Mayor and MP for Mount-Royal.

But Montreal and the province have been mired in construction gridlock across the Island. Resources have been prioritized elsewhere and municipal, provincial and federal funding has been allocated for years to come. Turcot will be a mess for several more years. The REM project will keep us tied up for the next 5 years too. And those are just some of the biggies.

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante is no friend to motorists! And the upcoming Quebec election dust will have to settle for us to know what new priorities lie ahead.

This will not be an easy time for Mayors Brownstein and de Sousa who must get the necessary major players around the table to make things happen. The project cannot advance without the next Quebec premier and the Mayor of Montreal giving the nod of approval.

Time may be running out on this critical infrastructure plan and 50 years of dreaming may go up in smoke without concrete action, and fast.

 

Global News:  Cavendish Boulevard extension faces deadline

For more information on the history of the Cavendish extension , search this blog.

Suburban exclusive: Quebec in process of changing French-only highway signs to pictograms: Fortin

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Very proud of my friends and colleagues Ruth Kovac, Harold Staviss and David Birnbaum on this important step forward. My readers will recall my many posts and communications with various ministries and agencies of the Quebec government, as well as the city of Montreal (notably the Fire Department) demanding that messages pertaining to public safety be in both French and English, as permitted by the oppressive and dreaded Charter of the French language. Many of these communiques received a polite we’ll look into it with little action or follow up.

The case of the highway road signs proclaiming completely unintelligible warning messages to any non-French-speaker were particularly unjust and illogical. Search my blog for these posts and pictures.

Well, thanks to perseverance and determination of Ruth and Harold they pushed and hounded, and engaged the assistance of our duty-bound MNA, David. The result is favourable in terms of agreeing to pictograms, unfortunately not bilingual signs, but the work is still to be done by the ministry. We’ll continue to follow this important dossier and hold the next government to account and press forward until this gets done in the name of public safety!

Suburban exclusive: Quebec in process of changing French-only highway signs to pictograms: Fortin

Suburban exclusive: Quebec in process of changing French-only highway signs to pictograms: Fortin
From left, D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum, Hampstead lawyer Harold Staviss, CSL councillor Ruth Kovac and Transport Minister André Fortin at a recent meeting.

Transports Quebec is in the process of changing French-only directive highway signs to pictograms, and will gradually also do so on electronic message boards, provincial Transport Minister André Fortin told The Suburban Saturday.

The changeover is coming about following a 7,000-name National Assembly petition, created by Hampstead lawyer Harold Staviss and Cote St. Luc councillor Ruth Kovac and sponsored by D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum, which sought bilingual traffic signage dealing with health and public safety. Last year, we reported that Transports Quebec committed to more and better pictograms.

Fortin praised the petition, and pointed out that he recently met with Staviss and Kovac along with Birnbaum.

“In terms of using more pictograms and to make sure highway signs are understood by everybody who uses the roads, there’s a couple of things we have developed,” Fortin said. “It’s important to know that we already use more pictograms on Quebec roads than anywhere else in Canada, but obviously we can go further.”

Some examples already addressed include signs indicating thaw following the winter season, and uneven pavement.

“And there are others that are in the course of being replaced,” Fortin said, including some addressed in the petition such as “incident voie droite bloquée” (right lane blocked because of incident) and “risque d’aquaplanage” (risk of hydroplaning). “So to make our roads safer and make sure everyone understands the warnings, we are moving to using more pictograms.”

Another aspect of the petition was electronic message boards warning of accidents and incidents, and providing directives.

“A lot of them are first-generation message boards and they don’t necessarily allow for the use of pictograms,” Fortin explained. “With the newer boards, the technology is better and it enables us to use less words and more pictograms. We’re changing a lot of these message boards right now to use more pictograms.”

The Minister also pointed out that, as the petition addressed, sometimes there are too many words on the message boards, “and we agree with that.

“We certainly don’t want our message boards to be an added distraction to drivers, so we’ve already given a directive to the various regional sections of the ministry  to leave the boards blank if there’s no particular information of value.

Staviss and Kovac were very happy.

“We are ecstatic with the news that the traffic signage and message boards on Quebec roads dealing with health and public safety are in the midst of being replaced by symbols or pictographs,” they said in an e-mail to The Suburban. “It is welcoming to know that such public safety signage as Dégel shall be replaced by pictographs, which most certainly will be more clearly understood by motorists using our Quebec roads.

“As we have said since the launching of our petition in early December 2016, the change has nothing to do with language, it has all to do with everyone’s health and safety,” they added. “Kudos and many thanks to David Birnbaum, the MNA for the riding of D’Arcy McGee who deposited our petition in the Quebec National Assembly on March 14, 2017, to André Fortin, our Minister of Transport and the MNA for the riding of Pontiac for considering and implementing our petition and someone who gets it, as well as to Elisabeth Prass (Bureau Chief and Political Attaché to Birnbaum) and Caroline Des Rosiers (Press Secretary/Attaché responsible for the file and Political Advisor) for their input. It goes without saying that we are excited and overjoyed that our petition really made a difference. It sometimes pays to stand up for what one truly believes will make a positive change.”

Birnbaum praised Staviss and Kovac, and those who signed the petition, “which I was pleased to present in the National Assembly. And, frankly, I commend The Suburban for having kept this issue in the news.

“I’m really encouraged that my colleague, Minister Fortin, has taken concrete and prompt action to respond. We’re talking safety and security, for all Quebecers and for all visitors to the province. André has spelled out specific measures to replace unilingual wording with easily understandable pictograms on key road and traffic signs and on electronic billboards. Furthermore, he’s given instructions to have those changes implemented promptly.”

JGH News: Glenn J. Nashen awarded National Assembly Medal of Citizenship

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by: Henry Mietkiewicz

Receiving the D’Arcy McGee Medal of Citizenship of the Quebec National Assembly by (L-R) Former MNAs Robert Libman and Lawrence Bergman, current MNA David Birnbaum and Mayor Mitchell Brownstein

Glenn J. Nashen, Associate Director of Communications and Media Relations for CIUSSS West-Central Montreal, has been awarded the National Assembly’s D’Arcy McGee Medal of Citizenship in recognition of his many contributions to the lives of Montrealers in and beyond the provincial riding of D’Arcy McGee.

Mr. Nashen, a former long-standing City Councillor in Cote Saint-Luc, accepted the medal on June 19 from David Birnbaum, MNA for D’Arcy McGee, in a ceremony at City Hall.

The D’Arcy McGee Medal of Citizenship

The D’Arcy McGee Medal of Citizenship

In a video message, Premier Philippe Couillard praised Mr. Nashen for his “years of devoted service as a Cote Saint-Luc City Councillor, highlighted by your visionary leadership in creating a ground-breaking Emergency Medical Services team, as well as a unique volunteer citizens’ patrol, which are deeply appreciated by the community.

“Your continued volunteer and professional accomplishments only add to your fine record of community involvement.”

“Glenn exemplifies the kind of qualities of personal and professional dedication, leadership and energy that inspired me to create this medal ceremony in the D’Arcy McGee Riding,” Mr. Birnbaum noted. “I think it’s poignant to remember that he also joins [pioneer HIV/AIDs researcher] Dr. Mark Wainberg among the worthy past winners of the medal.”

Mr. Nashen has had a life-long interest in emergency services, which was among his key portfolios when he served as Councillor from 1990 to 2001 and from 2005 to 2017. He began volunteering in 1979 as a First Responder for Cote Saint-Luc’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and was a part-time Emergency Medical Technician with  Urgences Santé during the 1980s and ’90s.

Mr. Nashen says he is particularly proud of his key role in transforming the EMS into a modern, 24/7, all-volunteer, life-saving operation. He also saved it from closure in the early 2000s, a time of uncertainty when Cote Saint-Luc had to merge with the City of Montreal, only to de-merge later. Today the EMS responds to 3,000 life-threatening or potentially life-threatening calls per year.

Also created and launched by Mr. Nashen in 2006 was the unique and innovative  volunteer organization, Citizens on Patrol, which he built into an organization of nearly 100 participants who keep an eye on the city in marked patrol vehicles, scooters and bicycles. The volunteers assist and inform residents on matters of public safety, and they alert the authorities to any emergencies they come across. This public safety service, unique in Quebec, is greatly appreciated by area residents.

Since joining the JGH in 2001 as Director of Public Affairs and Communications, Mr. Nashen has been instrumental in enabling the hospital and, later, the CIUSSS to keep pace with rapid and constant changes in web and social media, branding, media relations and political affairs, while providing news and information about the JGH and the CIUSSS to the public and members of staff.

In addition, from 1995 to 2000, Mr. Nashen worked for Federation CJA where he headed the Young Leadership Division and founded the Jewish Chamber of Commerce. From 2000 to 2001, he was Executive Director of Alliance Quebec.

Mr. Nashen is married to Dr. Judy Hagshi, a family physician at the JGH.

Video: Acceptance speech at D’Arcy McGee Citizenship Medals 2018 Ceremony

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D’Arcy McGee Medal of Citizenship of the National Assembly goes to…, Nashen Notes

D’Arcy McGee medals awarded, The Suburban

The Late Gerry Weinstein among citizenship medal recipients, Canadian Jewish News

 

 

D’Arcy McGee medals awarded

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From left, Sarah Buzaglo, Lina Fortin, David Birnbaum, Glenn Nashen, and Lynn and Jeff Weinstein.
Joel Goldenberg Photo

The annual D’Arcy McGee Citizenship Medals, conceived by area MNA David Birnbaum, were awarded at a ceremony recently to École des amis-du-monde principal Lina Fortin, former Côte St. Luc councillor Glenn Nashen and, posthumously, community activist Gerry Weinstein.

As well, Maimonide secondary IV student Sarah Buzaglo won the third annual Victor C. Goldbloom Vivre ensemble essay contest.

The ceremony was held outside the Bernard Lang Civic Centre in Côte St. Luc. The jury was made up of former D’Arcy McGee MNAs Herbert Marx, Robert Libman and Lawrence Bergman. The latter two attended the ceremony, but Marx could not due to illness. Also on hand were CSL Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and members of his council, and Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg and Councillor Michael Goldwax.

Of Fortin, Birnbaum said: “During her tenure, Lina has made it her mission to create a positive and inclusive school for her students — a school open to the world and ready to accompany every student on a positive journey as they strive to master French, and every other subject.”

Of Nashen, Birnbaum said he has “matched an exemplary professional career with an equally impressive record of volunteer community service. Glenn conceived, organized and initiated ‘Volunteer Citizens on Patrol’ (vCOPs) 11 years ago. They help individuals with safety and security matters and assist in crowd control at local events and in emergencies. Glenn was also actively involved in Emergency Medical Services for over 30 years. One of the highlights as CSL City Councillor was his initiation and introduction of Canada’s first municipal legislation requiring bike helmets in 1992.”

Birnbaum praised Weinstein as a “true and selfless community activist who would leave no stone unturned in order to do good for those more vulnerable. Gerry was instrumental in the development of B’nai Brith House, a 95-unit residence of affordable housing in Côte St. Luc. The residence that now bears his name along with that of Ted Greenfield is a model for fulfilling seniors’ housing needs in a dignified and fulfilling manner.”

Weinstein’s son Jeff, on hand with his mother Lynn, accepted the medal.

In her winning essay, Buzaglo wrote: “In order to ‘live together’, the world must unite and live as a whole. In other words, we must work together to better ourselves and evolve. We must take into account all the external conflicts that set barriers in order to achieve this.”

Premier Philippe Couillard also offered congratulations to the winners in a video shot with Birnbaum, praising each of the medal winners for their accomplishments.

The late Gerry Weinstein among citizenship medal recipients

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D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum, third from left, presents National Assembly Citizenship Medals to, from right, Jeff Weinstein, accepting on behalf of his late father Gerry Weinstein, with his wife, Marjorie, Glenn Nashen and Lina Fortin. At left is Sarah Buzaglo, winner of the essay contest, in Côte-St-Luc, Que., on June 19. (Photo CJN)

 

Gerry Weinstein, a man who devoted his life to helping those in need, was posthumously honoured by the national assembly with a Citizenship Medal bestowed by the D’Arcy McGee riding.

Weinstein, who died two years ago, was “a true and selfless community activist who would leave no stone unturned, in order to do good for those more vulnerable,” said MNA David Birnbaum, while presenting the award in a ceremony held on June 19.

A stalwart of B’nai Brith Canada, Weinstein was instrumental in realizing its affordable seniors’ housing projects in Montreal, both of which are located in the Côte-St-Luc, Que., riding. B’nai Brith House opened 12 years ago and Chateau B’nai Brith will be inaugurated soon.

Despite having chronic health issues for much of his adult life, Weinstein persevered until the second project was finally given the go-ahead, with Quebec government support. Sadly, he passed away before the groundbreaking ceremony.

He had also served as a leader of the Knights of Pythias, president of the Foundation for Children’s Diseases and chair of Telethon of Stars.

This was the fourth consecutive year that the Citizenship Medal has been awarded to residents of D’Arcy McGee who have made outstanding contributions to the community, or non-residents who have contributed to the riding.

The other 2018 recipients are Lina Fortin, principal of Ecole des Amis-du-Monde, and former Côte-St-Luc councillor Glenn Nashen.

Fortin was described as an inspiration and mentor to the diverse students, parents and teachers at the public French elementary school in Côte-St-Luc, where she has been the principal since 2012.

“During her tenure, Lina has made it her mission to create a positive and inclusive school for her students, a school open to the world and ready to accompany every student on a positive journey, as they strive to master French and every other subject,” said Birnbaum.

Nashen was cited for both his exemplary professional career and record of volunteer service. He initiated Côte-St-Luc’s Volunteer Citizens on Patrol program 11 years ago, has been involved with its emergency medical services for over 30 years and introduced Canada’s first municipal legislation requiring bicycle helmets in 1992.

Nominations for the medals were accepted from any resident of the riding. The winners were selected by a jury composed of past D’Arcy McGee MNAs Herbert Marx, Robert Libman and Lawrence Bergman.

Also honoured at the ceremony was Ecole Maïmonide Grade 10 student Sarah Buzaglo, who won the Victor C. Goldbloom Vivre student essay contest. Named in honour of the late D’Arcy McGee MNA, the contest encourages young people to build bridges between different groups of people, as he did throughout his life.

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