Prestigious D’Arcy McGee citizenship medals presented

Leave a comment

 

It was my honour to attend this weeks ceremony by D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum at the CSL Aquatic and Community Center.

The ceremony was set up three years ago by the engaging and charismatic Birnbaum to honour exceptional citizens for their outstanding contribution to society, in particular affecting those of us residing in the D’Arcy McGee riding, which includes Cote saint-Luc, Hampstead and Snowdon west.

This year’s winners were Baruch Cohen, Susan Wener and (posthumously) Jean Lapierre. Jean’s daughter graciously accepted the award. In addition, the Victor C. Goldbloom ‘Vivre Ensemble’ essay contest winner was Reisa Gilfix (Grade 10, Herzliah High School).

The ceremony also included a video presentation by Quebec Pemier Philippe Couillard.

An excellent jazz combo ensemble entertained the crowd from the Saint-Luc secondary school.

Baruch Cohen, left, is feted on his 90th birthday by well-wisher Frederick Krantz, founder and director of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research. (Photo CJN)

Baruch Cohen
Baruch Cohen recently celebrated his 97th birthday. During the second world war, Baruch survived pogroms, anti-Semitism, state-sponsored tyranny and forced labour camps in Romania. He escaped to Israel and later made a life here in Montreal with Sonia, his wife of 73 years. Upon retirement from his position as a financial officer, Baruch completed a Master’s Degree in Jewish Studies. He subsequently devoted 30 years of volunteer service as Research Chair of the the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research. He spearheaded the first holocaust commemoration in memory of Jews killed in Romania and Transnistria 23 years ago, an event that continues to be held annually.

Susan Wener (Photo: The Georgia Straight)

Susan Wener

For 30 years, Susan Wener has dedicated her life to helping others. She is a therapist for people struggling with life-threatening illness. She speaks across Canada at literary festivals, medical conferences, universities and libraries, touching on subjects such as the doctor-patient relationship, integrative cancer care, overcoming obstacles and other topics related to health and well-being. Following a near death experience at 18, Susan knew that her mission would be to work with the gravely ill. She hasn’t looked back since. Her moving memoir, “Resilience” and recent Tedx Talk have reached thousands, far beyond our community’s borders.

 

Jean Lapierre

Jean Lapierre was a former member of Parliament, minister and political analyst on English and French radio and television. He died tragically along with four members of his family in a plane crash into 2016. Lapierre made perhaps his greatest mark in a final career as political analyst. He did regular spots that topped the ratings on Radio 98.5, CJAD, CTV, TVA and other media outlets. His commentaries garnered huge audiences in English and in French, and inevitably elicited reactions from politicians, other journalists as well as regular watchers across the province, who reacted to his daily scoops and analyses and discussions around the water cooler and supper table. What happens in Quebec City and Ottawa can sometimes seem remote and isolated from our lives in CSL, Hampstead and western Montreal. Jean Lapierre made it less so. He deserves our recognition for enriching our lives and widening our horizons.

Congratulations to the winners and the family of Jean C. Lapierre for this well-deserved honour.

N

Read more:
Advertisements

New life breathed into decades-old dream of a Cavendish extension

2 Comments

After many stalled attempts over the last 80 years, the city of Montreal once again appears to be taking steps to make the extension of Cavendish Blvd. a reality.

The extension of the roadway to link Côte-St-Luc to St-Laurent has been talked about since the 1940s, but a new housing development could provide an impetus to complete it.

On Monday, the city sent out a public notice that Finance Minister Carlos Leitão would hold a news conference that afternoon at City Hall with Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough mayor Russell Copeman about the land formerly occupied by the Blue Bonnets horse racing track (later called the Hippodrome). However, as is so often the case with the Cavendish extension, the news conference itself was postponed to another date, as Coderre was testifying before the Chamberland Commission looking into police spying into journalists and his testimony took longer than expected.

Snowdon councillor Marvin Rotrand said the city has been waiting since 2012 for the province to cede the land so it could build a project with at least 5,000 housing units on the 43.5-hectare property.

“The development of the Hippodrome site is part of the city’s plan to develop near heavy transit, and keep people from leaving the island for the suburbs,” Rotrand said.

Rotrand said because the area around Jean-Talon St. at Décarie Blvd is already heavily congested, the extension of Cavendish Blvd. is needed in order not to add more strain to the existing road network.

Rotrand expects a deal with the province to be announced shortly so it can come to a vote at the coming June city council meeting.

While the city and the province came to an agreement on ceding the land in 2012, the file has stalled, said Rotrand, who speculated it was because both levels of government had to iron out terms on the Cavendish extension.

“Part of the deal (with the province to cede the land) was that the city fund part of the Cavendish extension, but while it was put into the city’s capital budget, we never got matching funds from the province,” Rotrand said.

Also on Monday, the city of Côte-St-Luc planned a town hall meeting to answer the public’s questions about the project.

“The Cavendish extension is closer to reality now than ever before,” Côte-St-Luc city councillor Mike Cohen told the Montreal Gazette on Monday. “Once the city (of Montreal gets) that land, the extension will happen sooner than people think. It won’t be a pipe dream anymore.”

Cohen said progress has been made since Coderre announced his intention to go ahead with the project during the last election.

The city has been negotiating with the CN and CP railway companies to build overpasses over the tracks built along the proposed route. Cohen said those negotiations are going well, and he pointed out that the agglomeration council recently set aside $220,000 to conduct a feasibility of the extension.

Proposed for several decades by the Town of Mount Royal, the city of Montreal, and St-Laurent, the extension was held up because the city of Côte-St-Luc didn’t want to give access to thousands of cars to use it as an alternative to the Décarie Expressway.

However, more recent councils have seen the merit in extending the urban boulevard. In 2004, Robert Libman, who was then mayor of a merged Côte-St-Luc, got behind a project by the city to build an indirect link. It would have both ends of Cavendish extended to Royalmount Ave. on the border of Town of Mount Royal and Montreal. Cars would be diverted to the east-west Royalmount to continue their path north or south.

Cohen said Côte-St-Luc now sees an extended Cavendish as an essential link to the road network. It would allow residents to better access the central and western parts of the island, bring them closer to Namur métro station, and serve as a much-needed evacuation route for Côte-St-Luc, which is bordered by train tracks.

Montreal sees Cavendish as a gateway to economic development, as the new access road would be a boon for a $1.7-billion mega mall that developer Carbonleo hopes to build in T.M.R., near the Décarie Circle.

But there is still political opposition to the project. Jeremy Searle, the independent councillor for the Loyola district has said the project would add congestion, and essentially turn Cavendish into a highway.

Peter McQueen, the Project Montréal councillor for the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce sector, said he also fears congestion, but added the route could harm the local economy by diluting traffic from commercial arteries like Monkland Ave. and Queen Mary Rd.

He said the city should also try to add housing without adding cars.

“The need for Cavendish shows the fact the city wants to plan a fairly suburban-type development, similar to Bois-Franc in St-Laurent,” he said, adding that the project should be more oriented towards transit to the métro.

Rotrand countered that the Cavendish extension will reduce the number of cars using through traffic on the streets of Snowdon, because people from Côte-St-Luc, Hampstead and Notre-Dame-de-Grâce now drive through that neighbourhood to get to Décarie. He said the city can control for speed and congestion, by banning cars, or installing traffic lights, stop signs or other traffic-calming measures.

jmagder@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/JasonMagder

Facebook.com/JasonMagderJournalist

Not ruling out law on riding change criteria: Couillard

Leave a comment

 

Not ruling out law on riding change criteria: Couillard

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard spoke Friday to a full audience of the Côte St. Luc Men’s Club at that city’s Aquatic and Community Centre.

The Premier spoke and answered questions about various issues, including health care, court case delays and seniors issues. He was also asked about the planned provincial riding changes for the next election, including the elimination of the Mont Royal riding as part of a merger with the Outremont riding, and the expansion of the D’Arcy McGee riding eastward.

Local politicians and activists have argued these changes violate the Election Commission’s own guidelines that ridings’ “natural communities” should be respected. Local ethnic communities say they will be split between ridings.

A citizens committee, chaired by Suburban editor-in-chief Beryl Wajsman and former NDG-Lachine MP Marlene Jennings, has hired constitutional lawyer Julius Grey to handle the legal case. Wajsman has been spearheading the fundraising effort for the legal case having raised over $6,000 in crowd funding. He took the opportunity to inform the Premier that the legal challenge will be filed in court before the end of the month.

Couillard told the gathering that the riding issue is not restricted to Montreal, but also affects the Mauricie where two ridings are also set to merge.

“People are not very happy there — it’s not related to language, it’s related to representation [in that area] on a very large territory,” the Premier said.

Couillard explained that it was decided years ago to enable the independent, non-partisan Quebec Electoral Commission to decide on riding changes “to remove petty politics and partisanship from the issue.

“The only way for us to act on [riding changes considered to be unjust] is to change the criteria on which the commission bases itself to make decisions, and for this we need to change electoral law.

“I’m not ruling this out. We’re going to have significant discussions. I know legal recourse has been tabled by the community here on this, and people should exercise their rights. That’s something that should be done.”

Couillard said he is concerned about representation by number.

“On the island of Montreal, the issue is numbers, because you say ‘why is our vote less important, apparently at least than in other parts of Quebec with a smaller population?’”

The Premier said he is also worried about the quality of representation, in relation to the rural ridings, because of their massive size distance-wise.

“We have MNAs who have to literally drive for full days and they don’t even see the whole of their community.”

Numerous dignitaries attended Friday’s speech. Couillard was introduced by D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum and thanked by Côte St. Luc mayor Mitchell Brownstein, and other attendees included Israeli Consul-General Ziv Nevo Kulman, Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather and his chief of staff Bonnie Feigenbaum, Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg, and other MNAs — including Mont Royal’s Pierre Arcand — and Côte St. Luc council members, amongst many others.

Suburban exclusive: Quebec commits to more, better pictograms on highways

Leave a comment

Suburban exclusive: Quebec commits to more, better pictograms on highways

The Quebec Ministers of Transport and Culture and Communications have committed in writing to placing more and better safety-related pictograms on highways, Côte St. Luc councillor Ruth Kovac told The Suburban Monday.

The commitment by ministers Laurent Lessard and Luc Fortin respectively was the province’s response to a nearly 7,000-name National Assembly petition, created by Hampstead lawyer Harold Staviss and Kovac and sponsored by D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum, calling on Quebec to install bilingual traffic safety signs, as allowed by the province’s language law.

The news of the commitment came during a meeting Kovac had Friday with Birnbaum.

“It took 40 years to get the ministries to acknowledge that our road signs could be better,” Kovac said. “They said, ‘let’s do the best pictograms we can,’ which I have no issue with. First and foremost, it’s always about road safety.

“So if they’re going to make an effort to put up more and better pictograms, so be it. The [ministries] have acknowledged through David that if they don’t have existing pictograms, they will go to a senior engineer to work to make better pictograms, or create one.”

She added that pictograms could be attempted on electronic billboards that warn of safety issues happening at certain times.

Kovac said Quebec’s commitment fell short of allowing English on traffic safety signs if no suitable pictogram exists.

“We just didn’t cross the finish line,” she said. “But for 40 years we’ve been trying, and in the last six months and with David’s presentation, 7,000 people managed to get an affirmation that our road signs can be better. It’s a very positive step in a good direction. Does it fall a little short? Yes. But I know things work incrementally. I see, in a short period of time, reasonableness has prevailed, but they just didn’t put in writing they would go that next step [of adding English to the road signs]…. That’s still a question mark. I think we’re 99 percent there.”

Kovac thinks Quebec did not go the extra step of committing to add English if no pictograms exist, to avoid reopening the language debate, even though the law allows English on those signs.

The councillor added that she and Staviss will be taking photographs of signs they have complained about over time, and will point out whether or not they have been changed.

“Now we’ll be sign inspectors for free!” she joked. “I also have visitors coming from the U.S. in a couple of weeks, and I will ask them to take pictures or note any signs that they really don’t understand.

‘Did we make progress? Am I pleased? Yes.”

Birnbaum commended Staviss and Kovac for their efforts, the community for its response on the petition as well as The Suburban for focusing on the issue.

“Their petition hasn’t been a dead letter,” the MNA said. “They got some meaningful progress. The directive obviously acknowledges that Harold and Ruth got it right — the law is clear on what’s possible. And the directive that has been given notes that there are some situations where pictograms can be used and are not being used right now, and the directive suggests that be changed.”

Birnbaum also confirmed that the directive also says that when a pictogram doesn’t exist at the moment, regional authorities are asked to communicate with the operations department of the Transport ministry “to try and develop one.

“It’s a start,” the MNA said.

Premier Couillard charms his audience at packed Côte Saint-Luc address

Leave a comment


Premier Couillard charms his audience at packed Côte Saint-Luc address

by: Councillor Mike Cohen

It is pretty rare that we see the Premier of Quebec come to speak in the City of Côte Saint-Luc. But this finally did occur on May 12 as Philippe Couillard addressed a standing room only crowd at our Aquatic and Community Centre on Parkhaven Avenue.
Credit is due to our incredible Men`s Club and of course the Member of the National Assembly, David Birnbaum, who made this happen. As event emcee and District 2 resident Sidney Margles pointed out that in his then capacity as new Quebec Liberal Party leader Couillard was slated to address this same group at the urging of Birnbaum`s predecessor, Lawrence Bergman. Something came up at the last minute and his appearance had to be cancelled. The Men’s Club has 560 members and counting.

Couillard CSL

The Premier shakes hands as he enters the room. (Photo: mikecohen.ca)

This time everything worked out just fine. The Men`s Club began distributing reserved tickets a few weeks ago. When I arrived, there was a strong police presence around the building. Couillard did get to the ACC a little late and like a born campaigner he enter the room by shaking as many hands as possible.
One thing must say about our Premier, who by profession was a former professor and neurosurgeon. He speaks both languages so beautifully. While many of us are upset with the significant budget cuts we incurred early in the Liberal mandate and their gutting of the health system, Couillard has this audience eating out of his hands from the get go. He began with some humour, alluding to the massive flooding in different parts of Quebec and the fact he decided to visit an aquatic center. He drew applause immediately when he announced “I will do this speech in English so we can all follow.” He also introduced Greg Kelley, son of Native Affairs Minister Geoff Kelley, as his new point person for Quebec’s English-speaking community. “Anglophone liaison officer,” is the exact title. I met Kelley after the talk. He’s 31 and presently bunking with his parents in Beaconsfield. He formerly worked in the office of government House Leader Jean-Marc Fournier.
Couillard drew cheers again when he previewed his upcoming trade mission to Israel. “This will be my third trip there…it is the first time a Quebec Premier has gone.” More than 100 Quebec business persons and leaders will accompany him. “Why are we doing this?” Couillard asked rhetorically. “Israel is a start-up nation and an example to follow.”

Couillard mentioned the fact that both Air Canada and Air Transat have direct flights from Montreal to Tel Aviv. He also laughed that when he is in Israel, so will controversial US President Donald Trump.
“Since elected our government is doing exactly like we said we’d do; putting our financial house in order.”

The Premier gave a ringing endorsement for federalism. “Some people are telling me that I cannot be a Quebecer and Canadian. We will stand tall for a strong Quebec within Canada.”
Couillard expressed pride about his government’s job creation program. He also pointed to the investments made at the Jewish General Hospital. “This is a hospital that serves all communities,” he said. “My (late) father was treated there in oncology. So was Mr. Parizeau”
Couillard asked, “How do we build our economy in such an unstable world?” He referred to the three pillars: advance manufacturing, exports and entrepreneurship. “You need a strong educational system to build a proper economy,” he said.

Couillard spoke very excitingly about the planned 67-kilometre, $6 billion electric-train system which will connect downtown Montreal with the South Shore, Deux-Montagnes, the West Island and Trudeau airport. “This will be the equivalent of Expo ’67 in 2017,” he said.

Rather than a straight question and answer period, Margles said that members were asked to submit queries. From the 40 or so obtained, he chose to share a few with the Premier related to assisted living for seniors, the availability of family doctors, special needs children, the sale of marijuana and the Quebec Electoral Commission’s decision to merge the Outremont and Mont Royal ridings and change the boundaries of D’Arcy McGee.

Couillard said that he turns 60 in June so he is sensitive to issues related to seniors. “We are devoting significant dollars to seniors,” he acknowledged. “We have many more doctors than we did before – hundreds of new physicians and they are staying in Quebec.”

As for access to family physicians, Couillard said that right now there are 600,000 people more who have this option compared to 2014.

Turning to the sale of marijuana, which will become legal in Canada in July 2018. “An easy thing for me to say that at first glance I think there is merit to the idea,” said Couillard. “It is now controlled by the black market. There is still a tremendous amount of work to be done. My biggest concern is public health. Smoking pot is probably not good for your lungs. Young people now are smoking a product that much worse than the hippy days.”

Couillard also wished to clear up a myth that the province is not going to make a lot of money on this. “If to price it too high you will send people back to the black market,” he remarked. “If you price it too low, you will increase consumption.”

Mayor Brownstein concluded proceedings by thanking the Premier for coming to Côte Saint-Luc and particularly the ACC, which the provincial government contributed one-third of the cost.

Also on hand for Couillard’s speech were provincial cabinet ministers Kathlee Weil, Pierre Arcand and Francine Charbonneau, Mount Royal Liberal Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather, Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg, CSL councillors Sam Goldbloom, Ruth Kovac, Allan J. Levine, Dida Berku and myself and English Montreal School Board Commissioner Bernard Praw.

CSL City Council supports legal contestation of D’Arcy McGee boundary changes

Leave a comment

Cote Saint-Luc City Council adopted a resolution to support the legal challenge of the electoral divisions of Québec seeking that the electoral map maintain the current divisions of Mount-Royal, Outremont and D’Arcy McGee ridings.

On March 2, 2017, the Quebec Electoral Commission published the final version of the electoral map which substantially altered the boundaries of the electoral riding of D’Arcy-McGee and seriously undermines public confidence in the objectivity and independence of the Commission. The electoral riding of D’Arcy-McGee will have around 56,000 voters, making it one of the most populous constituencies in Quebec and will, therefore, seriously dilute the political weight of the residents of the City of Côte Saint-Luc.

The Commission also decided to merge the electoral divisions of Mount Royal and Outremont. All of these changes will result in the loss of an electoral riding on the Island of Montréal and dilute the political weight of all the residents living on the Island.

Other affected municipalities such as the Town of Mount Royal and the Town of Hampstead have already agreed to financially contribute to a legal contestation being filed by Me Julius Grey.

It is in the interest of the residents of the City of Côte Saint-Luc to oppose the decision and to financially contribute to its legal contestation. Therefore the City agreed to support the legal challenge and authorized an expenditure of $7,000 to this challenge. Additionally, the City will match up to $3,000 from contributions of its residents.

Residents interested in supporting the challenge can make their cheques payable to Julius Grey, In Trust, and drop off or mail to the City of Cote Saint-Luc, 5801 Cavendish Blvd., CSL, QC  H4W 2C2.

Elimination of Mount Royal perversely penalizes communities, A letter by Anthony Housefather, M.P.

 

How will we recognize police without clown pants?

1 Comment

Montreal police dressed in militia gear blocking city hall doors (Source: Sun Media)

Montreal police dressed in militia gear blocking city hall doors (Source: Sun Media)

Police who continue to sport camouflage pants on duty could face fines of $500 to $3,000 for each day they wear them under new legislation proposed by the Liberal government, reports the Montreal Gazette.

After three useless, sad years of vandalism of police cars (and fire trucks and ambulances with union stickers) and wearing camouflage and clown pants, the government has finally awoken to put an end to this lawless fashion flap.

I said early on that it was not fair to claw back on pensions that were already agreed to and that any changes ought to affect new officers or else be renegotiated within their collective agreements.

police_clown_pants_camouflage

Montreal Police in camouflage pants (Photo: McGill Daily)

 

Forget that there are so many police officers earning in excess of $100,000 per year and the time-and-a-half pay for standing at intersections pushing traffic buttons, three times the going rate for trained civilians. These folks put their lives on the line, after-all, to protect us and deserve to be reasonably well paid for doing so. And they normally deserve our respect and appreciation.

But, their protest have gone much too far. Three years were three years too long.

They also should have no right to deface their patrol cars. Same for the firefighters and Urgences Santé ambulance technicians. This is public property and no one has the right to cause such damage without penalty. If you did it you’d be held accountable. Why not them?
These public safety professionals have caused immeasurable harm to their own brand. They have lost respect from the public they serve. People laughed at first the they ignored the outlandish uniforms altogether. How sad.
What kind of a message was that for our children? Shameful, I say.
And the proposed legislation doesn’t go far enough. What about the cars and trucks and ambulances?  What about our firefighters and ambulance techs? And what about our local public security forces? Hopefully these folks will finally understand it’s time to pull up their pants – their uniform pants – and start off their next shift while putting their best foot forward. It’s time to earn back the respect they lost.
police_clown_pants

Montreal Police officers in “clown” pants. (Photo: Canoe.com)

 

Read my previous posts:

Police and firefighters should wear their own pants

Painting fire trucks black endangers the public

Older Entries