V-Day for our Guardian Angel

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Dr. Judy Hagshi receiving her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination on December 16, 2020

She certainly did not expect a call on Day 3 of vaccinations across North America. With barely 1600 vaccinations administered throughout Quebec on Monday and Tuesday, our very own Guardian Angel, wife, mom and physician, Judy Hagshi, got the call to be at Montreal’s only COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic in one hour!

It’s awesome to see scientific discoveries unfolding before our eyes and impacting our lives in such a profound way – Dr. Judy Hagshi

Judy is a family doctor with the Herzl Family Practice Centre at the Jewish General Hospital. She is part of the Family Medicine Obstetrics unit and follows pregnant women, delivers their babies and does post-partum follow up. She does not choose who she sees and as such that places her, and all those involved in pre-natal and birthing, at a higher level of risk. She also sees patients in the pre-surgical screening unit and she teaches residents at Herzl.

In order to keep her family and her patients safe, Judy made the very tough decision to isolate herself from me and our children at the very outset of the pandemic. Like so many other doctors and nurses, she physically secluded herself for seven long weeks as information about the propagation of the virus was not yet clear and readily available.

We are so proud of Judy for her dedication to her patients, and to us, and we are immensely relieved that she was among the first Canadians to be vaccinated this morning.

Dr. Judy Hagshi at the Maimonides Hospital Geriatric Centre in Cote Saint-Luc, December 16, 2020

Upon leaving the vaccination clinic located at Cote Saint-Luc’s Maimonides Hospital Geriatric Centre, where the first doses in the country were administered barely 48 hours earlier, Judy told me, “It’s awesome to see scientific discoveries unfolding before our eyes and impacting our lives in such a profound way.”

Judy between deliveries, on call for Family Med Obstetrics at the Jewish General Hospital

We all have our Guardian Angels watching over us. This is but one story with a happy ending.

We are anxiously looking forward to many more upbeat stories. We will be relieved when my father, George Nashen, 97, and mother, Phyllis, 92, will receive their vaccines and begin to return to whatever our new normal looks like. Same for my mother-in-law, Pnina, who unfortunately caught the virus two weeks ago and is recovering at home.

We are hopeful that all of you will have better days ahead and feel the excitement and joy that we feel today.

Rabbi Bright: Withholding CPR was “Foolish, cold-hearted” government policy

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Shaare Zedek Congregation Rabbi Alan W. Bright slammed the Quebec department of health for its decision to withhold CPR during the pandemic, a policy he called “foolish and cold-hearted.”

“How would you feel if your loved one died because of a misguided government policy,” the rabbi said during his December 5 Shabbat sermon. “Not only would I be horrified, I’d be angry,” the rabbi said.

Rabbi Bright said an unknown number of Montreal and Laval families are wondering if their deceased loved ones might be alive today if it weren’t for a horrible policy from the Quebec health ministry from April 4 to September 21 of this year. The order was only cancelled, he said, in response to a request by the ambulance service’s union.

Rabbi Bright emphasized that none of his comments are meant as criticism of doctors, front line workers or paramedics.

In delivering his sermon Rabbi Bright said that the policy violated several principles of the Quebec College of Physicians. He also said that, “the Torah and Rabbinical literature are full of examples of the value placed on human life and how cautious we are to be.”

The rabbi applauded the Urgences Sante paramedic’s union for speaking up. “Clearly the medics weren’t comfortable in not taking action.”

“There is no justification for the government’s callous policy. It is disgraceful,” Rabbi Bright lamented. He went on in telling his congregants, most of whom were watching online from home, that Suburban Newspaper editor, Beryl Wajsman, called the policy, ‘state sanctioned manslaughter.

“We must not let fear of a virus reduce the value of human life,” the rabbi implored. “Everyone is entitled to the best treatment that medicine can provide.”

Rabbi Bright is a highly respected, intellectual and eloquent spiritual leader. He is serving in his twentieth year as clergy at Shaare Zedek Congregation in NDG. He previously served as a captain in the US Air Force.

CSL EMS continued CPR

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News broke earlier in the week that the Montreal and Laval ambulance service, Urgences Santé, withheld cardio-pulmonary (CPR) resuscitation from some cardiac arrest victims. This policy was reportedly in effect from April through September in order to protect ambulance crews and overcrowded hospitals.

Many questions remain unanswered: How many people were affected by this policy where no attempt was made to resuscitate them? Why was this not announced to the public? Did Montreal Fire Department First Responders also abide by this plan?

We are learning that Cote Saint-Luc Emergency Medical Services was not required to abide by this highly contentious rule. CSL EMS is staffed round the clock by highly trained volunteers. CSL is the only municipality on the Island of Montreal, and pretty much in the region, to have its own life saving volunteer service. They respond to about 3000 top priority 911 medical emergencies each year.

While CSL EMS was shut down for the first few months of the pandemic in order to retrain in response protocols and equip volunteers with PPE, once back up they continued to answer all urgent calls.

“There have been no changes in protocols affecting how we assess which patients can receive CPR,” CSL Director of Public Safety Philip Chateauvert told me. “EMS continued to perform CPR on patients including those in asystole or with pulseless electrical activity as per the provincial protocols.”

This comes as a relief to residents of CSL, who have placed their trust in our dedicated lifesavers, volunteers who rush to assist at any hour of day or night and evidently even at increased risk during this unprecedented pandemic.

I called Mayor Mitchell Brownstein to commend the city for maintaining EMS and to thank our heroic First Responders. As a medic with CSL EMS and with Urgences Sante, for some three decades, I fully understand the passion and devotion that these fine men and women possess in serving the public during the most difficult of circumstances.

Mayor Brownstein has stood out among civic leaders in Quebec. He was first to call upon the government to mandate mask-wearing and has been at the forefront in keeping his city residents safe. “Our EMS is an outstanding service for all of our residents and visitors,” Brownstein told me this week. “We are so fortunate to be able to rely upon these amazing volunteers, especially during this incredibly challenging year.”

I salute our CSL EMS First Responders along with their dedicated staff, Philip Chateauvert and Jean-Marc Dubois. As well, a tip of the mask, errr hat, to Mayor Brownstein and the city administration for doing their utmost to protect our city. I may not agree with every measure (bring back vCOP!) but credit where credit is due. CSL remains a well informed community with excellent communications from city hall.

More:

No CPR by Urgences Santé from April to September 2020

Is Quebec ready to end time change?

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As my readers will know I have been advocating to end the annual Time Change for a very long time. I have several posts on this subject for you to read on this blog. Now, steps have been taken to officially petition the Quebec National Assembly to join the growing chorus of voices calling for an end to Time Change. The petition is entitled: Maintaining Daylight Saving Time and is posted to the National Assembly website.

To sign this petition, you must complete 3 steps on the government website:

  1. Step 1: fill out the form that appears below the text of the petition and send it (you must accept the signing conditions before sending the form).
  2. Step 2: consult your electronic mailbox and open the message sent by the Assembly.
  3. Step 3: in this message, click on the link enabling you to register your signature.

You may sign a petition only once.

Petition text

WHEREAS rates of depression, anxiety and other related mental health issues increase by 11% during the 10 weeks following the return to Standard Time according to a 2017 study conducted by the Journal of Epidemiology;


WHEREAS, a study published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine found a 10% increase in fatal collisions as a result of the time change;


WHEREAS a study conducted by JPMorgan Chase revealed that consumer spending drops by about 3.5% when the nation makes the switch back to Standard Time – a result of fewer daylight hours in the evening;


WHEREAS various studies conducted in the USA found both a 24% increase in heart attacks, and an 8% increase in strokes following the time change;


WHEREAS, in 2020 alone, 32 states in the USA have introduced bills to abolish the time change in November including Massachusetts and New York;


WHEREAS Saskatchewan and the Yukon keep Daylight Savings Time, and British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario are putting forth bills to abolish the time change;


WHEREAS this year, due to the pandemic, Quebecers are already experiencing unprecedented challenges, we do not need the aforementioned suffering on top of it;


We, the undersigned, ask that the government of Quebec keep Daylight Saving Time (DST) permanent.

Signing deadline : February 4, 2021

Please follow this link to the National Assembly website to sign the petition.

More:

Daylight Saving Time: Let there be light

Are you ready for clock confusion?

This time I’m voting to scrap time change

I’m tired of falling back!

Lt. Gen. Roméo Dallaire (ret’d) to speak at D’Arcy McGee medal ceremony

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Birnbaum to honour WWII veteran, special needs champion, CDN community storefront and emergency food-delivery hero with D’Arcy-McGee-National Assembly Citizenship medals
David Birnbaum, MNA for D’Arcy-McGee, recently announced the winners of the sixth annual D’Arcy-McGee-National Assembly Citizenship Medals competition. A public ceremony in their honour will be held, virtually, on Tuesday, June 16th at 7 p.m. Three individuals and one organization will be recognized for “outstanding achievement in community involvement”. They are George Nashen, 96, in the name of surviving veterans of World War II and those who passed before them, Sima Paris, co-founder and President of the Friendship Circle, MultiCaf, a store-front community outreach and referral service in Snowdon-Côte-des-Neiges and David Lisbona, Côte St-Luc entrepreneur and initiator of an emergency food-delivery network for seniors during the current pandemic.
“This has been an unprecedented and trying time for all us but it has also brought out the very best in so many individuals and organizations in this riding,” said D’Arcy-McGee MNA David Birnbaum. He initiated this citizen-medal program soon after his first election in April 2014. “While the crisis around us is far from over, I think it is always the right time to recognize those who inspire us to do more and do better by our fellow citizens. Even if we can only celebrate this event virtually this year, I do hope it will lift us up at this very tough time. ”
Lt. Gen. Roméo Dallaire (ret’d) has kindly agreed to deliver a brief address to the Zoom gathering. His own harrowing and heroic experience during the Rwandan genocide, and his outreach efforts since retirement have made him a sought-after public speaker. His Roméo Dallaire Foundation works to inspire young people from underprivileged backgrounds to develop their leadership potential. In appreciation of Mr. Dallaire’s participation, David Birnbaum’s office has made a donation of $1,000 to the Foundation.
The medals ceremony, on Tuesday, June 16th at 7 p.m. will be held by Zoom. Here is the necessary information to join:
Meeting ID: 959 6544 8337
Meeting Password: 466851
Please contact Birnbaum’s office (514-488-7028 or david.birnbaum.dmg@assnat.qc.ca) should you require further details.
Please join me in honouring my father by tuning in on June 16 at 7PM and leaving a message on this blog post. Thank you.
-Glenn

2019_Nashen_Birnbaum

MNA David Birnbaum and George Nashen (Photo: GJ Nashen 2019)

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Birnbaum backs a winner: Anglade good choice for D’Arcy McGee

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Glenn J. Nashen, MNA David Birnbaum, Nicole Nashen and Quebec Liberal Party Leader Dominique Anglade

D’Arcy McGee Member of the National Assembly David Birnbaum has come out on the winning side having backed Dominique Anglade for the leadership of the Quebec Liberal Party. Birnbaum was one of the first to throw his support behind Anglade when she launched her campaign to become leader of the QLP. Well, seems like he made a good choice. This week Anglade was chosen as leader when contender Alexandre Cusson dropped out of the race.

Back in January, Birnbaum invited both candidates to meet with a select group of representatives from D’Arcy McGee. As one of his invitees Birnbaum graciously extended the invitation to my daughter, Nicole, a student in Community and Public Policy at Concordia University. Nicole and I had the opportunity to put questions to both Anglade and Cusson and to have a private and informative chat with them as well.

I put the following question to both: “We are so fortunate in D’Arcy McGee to have been represented by outstanding MNAs, dedicated to our constituents and faithfully representing the party. It’s not an easy task given the history of the English-speaking communities and the QLP, where many feel that our communities have been taken for granted. What will you do differently than your predecessors at the helm of the party to truly build bridges as well as to unify Quebec and Canada?”

Anglade responded that she believes in a modern, open and inclusive Quebec. She seemed more attuned to the history and reality facing Quebec’s English-speaking communities than Alexandre Cusson, former Mayor of Drummondville.

“Montrealers and those in the regions need to meet one another to rebuild the Quebec family,” Anglade said.

While Anglade and Cusson appeared early on to come from opposing corners, the metropolis and the regions, we were left with a favourable impression that Anglade had a better overall grasp of the landscape, in particular as it affects our communities.

Cusson, however, spoke candidly that he doesn’t like the “us” used by Quebec nationalists which leave out those who do not espouse their political doctrine. “I want us all to be ‘us’,” he said. “We’re all in this together. We have to respect all communities. We must be an example, here in Quebec, to ensure that Francophones in the Rest of Canada are also respected.”

Nicole and I were impressed with Cusson’s youthful energy and promotion of a federalist philosophy within the QLP. We think that he would make an excellent addition to Anglade’s team in the next provincial election, helping her in her mission to bridge the gap between Montreal and the regions.

Of course, we also believe that Anglade must include David Birnbaum as her point man for the English-speaking communities, not to mention his vast experience in other aspects of community. His eloquence, intelligence and charm make him an obvious choice for Anglade to keep close as she assembles her team. And that would be good news, of course, for all of D’Arcy McGee and Quebec.

MP Anthony Housefather says government learning and adapting

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Housefather interviewed by Mike Cohen in new podcast

Click above to hear Mike Cohen’s podcast

Mike Cohen has posted his second episode after last week’s launch of his new podcast series. Focusing in on local personalities and issues the series began with an interesting interview with D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum.

Cohen’s years of professional journalism have transitioned smoothly into broadcast as his flair for asking interesting questions and connecting with the average citizen shine through.

Anthony Housefather, MP, in the Hall of Honour, Parliament of Canada (Nov. 13, 2015. GJ Nashen photo)

This week’s episode with Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather looks at the efforts of the local federal representative to parliament amid the Covid-19 crisis and measures enacted by the federal government.

Housefather has done a spectacular job of communicating with thousands of constituents on a daily basis with essential information on the pandemic from a local and national perspective. He provides government and resource information and links. His staff have been engaged with constituents round the clock and seven days a week since the outset.

You can listen in on Mike Cohen’s podcast and will soon be able to subscribe on your favourite podcast platform.

OQLF suspends French language requirements amid pandemic

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Quebec’s Tongue Troopers are making headlines again

In an ironic twist of fate, the much maligned language cops have determined that doctors and nurses don’t have to pass French test to work in Quebec during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What a relief during a period where we’ll grab on to anything that offers relief.

Did we need a crisis for such a sensible solution? When this is all over will we have so many extra medical personnel that language restrictions will make sense again?

We’re desperate for help so we’ll take what we can get. When we return to normal why not use the opportunity to modernize restrictive, coercive policies? How about positive and encouraging language guidelines and free French-language instruction for all?

Our global economy favours multilingualism over nationalism. Quebec is very well positioned economically, culturally, geographically and linguistically to rebound with gusto. It’s time for outdated language policies to be re-imagined in a post-Covid-19 Quebec.

Read more in MTL Blog.

Mike Cohen launches informative, local podcast

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Congratulations to my friend Mike Cohen on launching his very first podcast. He had planned this out for many years and, “Now it is a reality,” he told me (available at https://soundcloud.com/themikecohenpodcast).

His first episode features a timely and interesting interview with the very engaged Liberal MNA for D’Arcy McGee, Mr. David Birnbaum. Mike thought it would be interesting to get Birnbaum’s take on the COVID-19 pandemic: “How does it impact local MNAs? Is the CAQ government doing a good job?” As well as other questions such as, “Where does the Liberal leadership race stand? Will Bill 40, the school board reforms, be enacted on time?”

The pandemic and self-isolation have created an opportunity for Mike to reach out to his interesting contacts and connect them with his readers of his many newspaper columns and blogs, this time listening in on his very own “station”.

Mike is a graduate from Concordia University’s Broadcast Journalism Program. He has had assignments through the years on CJAD with post game reports on the Montreal Expos, as Montreal correspondent for The FAN all-sports radio in Toronto, the Expos pre- and post game shows on the now defunct CIQC Radio. He served as national director of communications for Canadian Jewish Congress and went on to join the English Montreal School Board as communications and marketing specialist. From time to time he still does a sports radio bit on TSN 690.

Happier, pre-social distancing days with my friends Mitchell Brownstein, Mike Cohen and David Birnbaum (2018)

Mike has been a city councillor in Côte Saint-Luc since 2005.

Mike tells me that he intends to have more episodes follow on a regular basis, “drawing from the people I interact with via my three main jobs: the EMSB, city council and as a writer for a number of publications, notably The Suburban.”

Mike Cohen presiding at a 2010 city council meeting with Ruth Kovac and Mitchell Brownstein

Mike told me that, “During the pandemic,  interviews will be done by phone. I do hope to chat with different players in the field under the three hats I wear. I greatly look forward to the day when I can go on location.”

Newly elected Councillor Mike Cohen, 2005

Mike’s podcasts will soon be available on Apple Podcast. For now you can find him on his Soundcloud channel.

Who’s your guardian angel?

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Quebec Premier Francois Legault has thanked “Guardian Angels” repeatedly during his daily press conferences. Emergency responders have paraded by local hospitals, sirens wailing, as a signal to the personnel inside, technicians, orderlies, nurses, doctors and auxiliary staff, that they are appreciated and honoured for their professional and personal efforts during these difficult days. Social media posts thank those working in long-term care facilities and rehab centres for caring for the elderly and the infirmed, restaurant staff for take-out and delivery and truckers and grocery store workers for keeping essential supplies flowing.

We all have our guardian angels. Mothers, fathers, neighbours, caregivers, friends and volunteers.

To be sure, these have not been easy days and weeks for many who are dealing with loneliness in their isolation, job layoffs, financial hardship, and health problems. Others are busy just trying to care for their families and dealing with emotions of physical isolation or boredom or lack of routine. And yet others, sadly, tragically, are grieving the loss of loved ones.

For my family, like many of you, we are trying to stay healthy of mind and body, positive in thought and good humoured.

Family online Shabbat Shalom

Yet we are concerned for our parents, 96 and 91 years of age, living independently at home, thankfully with a wonderfully dedicated caregiver. Daily check-in calls and video chats and tumultuous gatherings for the Passover Seders and welcoming Shabbat on Zoom and care packages lovingly left at the door by sisters-in-law, brothers and my wife provide comfort and relief and closeness in a less than completely satisfying way. They are happy and mostly healthy and for that we are thankful and anxious to be together, really together, soon.

Jeremy in class

Our kids are busy with online classes, music lessons, homework and studying, and friends by phone and video, Netflix parties and Tik-Tok and just hanging out together. Thank God they get along!

How to get through another day at the office from home and keep the family safe and fed and clean and sane? A concern facing us and millions of others.

How I enjoy our almost-daily walks (10,000 steps, my new record!) with my co-quarantined brother and kids along with a couple of neighbourhood friends – our family on one side of the road and theirs on the other – and playing outside with my son. How many menu items can we invent from our “Passover Pandemic Pantry” that we stocked to overflow weeks before anyone thought of hording toilet paper? And thankfully, there are wonderful friends that have delivered fresh produce as we have isolated ourselves for more than three weeks from the rest of the world.

Judy between deliveries, on call for Family Med OB-GYN at the Jewish

And most of all we miss our own Guardian Angel, my wife, Judy, who has lived apart from us for more than three weeks. As a physician at the Jewish General Hospital she has kept our family safe, like so many other doctors, by physically secluding herself from her children and husband. The risk of infection is too great, so Judy and so many of her colleagues in healthcare, have taken unprecedented steps to safeguard family while focusing their care on their patients. We all worry when they head in to the hospital and are relived to hear that they have returned home and feel just fine, other than exhausted.

We are so proud of her for her dedication to her patients and for the sacrifices and we pray that she remains safe, that all Guardian Angels remain in good health. We love and miss her and are anxious for this to pass and to be reunited as a family.

No, these are not easy days. But we are fortunate that this isn’t a man-made war. It’s not a natural disaster that will demolish homes. This isn’t civil strife or political upheaval. We are directed to stay home, to wash our hands and to stay apart from others. Who knew that something so simple could be so hard?

Thankfully, we all have our Guardian Angels watching over us and things will get better!

It's not too late to prepare

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Emergency preparedness has been in my DNA for decades. From the Ice Storm, power failures, home fires, apartment evacuation and underpass floods, I have been involved in every wide-scale emergency and disaster in Cote Saint-Luc since first joining the Emergency Measures Organization in 1979.

This gives me an interesting perspective on emergency preparedness given the COVID-19 pandemic facing us all.

Even though I am not involved in Cote Saint-Luc’s planning efforts this time, I have been neck deep (and at times over my head) during the past 10 days heading up communication efforts for the West-Central Montreal health authority, which includes the Jewish General Hospital as well as Cote Saint-Luc’s Mount Sinai Hospital Centre, Maimonides and CLSC Rene Cassin. More on that in another post.

We’re still early into the pandemic in Canada. The dire situation that we have watched unfolding in China, Italy and heading toward us over the past two months is an advanced warning. And it’s still not too late to prepare.

Premier Francois Legault is doing an excellent job communicating daily with Quebecers, together with Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda and Health Minister Danielle McCann

Fortunately for us in Quebec and throughout Canada, our political, healthcare and emergency preparedness leaders have taken this matter very seriously. So much so that many of us were lulled out of complacency and frightened into taking action (and needlessly panicking and emptying store shelves of toilet paper and other supplies).

Snowbirds started packing up early to get back to Canada. Travellers cancelled vacations. Crowds started diminishing as entertainment and sports venues began shutting down. Schools closed. Recreation centres, tourist centres and gathering points started shutting down. Entry to Canada to non-Canadians became sealed except for essential services.

We’ve learned new vocabulary in a matter of days. Social distancing. WFH (work from home). Flatten the curve. Sneeze into your sleeve or elbow.

Everything has changed overnight. And it’s not going back to what it was anytime soon. So what to do?

If you haven’t begun preparing, there’s no time like the present. No need to panic-shop since our supply chain is well intact. Having an adequate supply of non-perishable food, medicine and household goods is a basic necessity at the best of times. Now, it’s even more important as a result of quarantine or self-isolation (be it for reasons of illness, return from travel or as a precaution for your family).

It will be vital to the overall health of those around us and all across the country to heed the warnings and to prepare. It’s not too late.

COVID-19: Côte Saint-Luc activates state-of-emergency power to help stop mass gatherings

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The City Council of Côte Saint-Luc declared a state of emergency effective today at 3:30pm, which is a power granted to cities under the Civil Protection Act.

The Act states that: “A local municipality may declare a state of emergency in all or part of its territory where, in an actual or imminent major disaster situation, immediate action is required to protect human life, health or physical integrity which, in its opinion, it is unable to take within the scope of its normal operating rules or of any applicable emergency preparedness plan.”

This state of emergency is coming into effect based on Cote Saint Luc’s special demographics including having the highest percentage of seniors in the province, many snowbirds returning from abroad, more places of worship than any city of our size and numerous hospitals and senior residences that need our protection.

The City is taking this step to limit the number of social and religious public gatherings to a maximum of 10 persons and as such, the City is asking Public Health Authorities and the Montreal police department (SPVM) to enforce this rule on its local territory. 

The top priority of a city is the health of its population. 

The state of emergency will allow Côte Saint-Luc to ask Public Health Authorities to use their powers to stop all events and gatherings of more than 10 people with the assistance of the SPVM. The state of emergency will last for a 5-day period and can be renewed should the Quebec Ministry of Public Security so authorize. 

We understand that in the coming three weeks, there are many weddings and celebrations planned before the onset of Passover followed by the seven weeks of the Omer, where weddings and celebrations cannot take place according to the Jewish tradition. While we understand that people have made plans and invited guests, we cannot take the risk of allowing large gatherings in our community at this time. We are confident that the residents will understand and support this effort.

Resolution to declare a local state of emergency due to COVID-19 in the territory of Côte Saint-Luc (PDF)

CSL to be ‘at table’ for Montreal-CP Cavendish link talks

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Côte St. Luc council passed a resolution at last week’s public meeting ensuring it will have a “seat at the table” in current talks between the City of Montreal and Canadian Pacific regarding the long-awaited Cavendish link between CSL and St. Laurent.

Councillor Dida Berku, who read the resolution, explained that Montreal has been negotiating with CP as to how the planned link will be “routed through the yards,” such as through an underpass, overpass, trench or tunnel.

“These discussions are ongoing, and we have been apprised of many of them, but we wanted to be part of the non-disclosure agreements, that we would be part of the negotiations,” she added. “This resolution allows us to be part of that.”

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein said CSL has a very good relationship with CP Rail, which whom he has spoken about the link on many occasions, and with Montreal.

“CP Rail was more than happy to have the City of Côte St. Luc participate in the discussions and negotiations of the exact configuration, and the manner in which our traffic and other types of traffic, like public transit, would be using the Cavendish extension,” he explained. “This file has been going on for a very long time, but it is good to be sitting at the table with all the players, making what appears to be the final decisions with respect to how the road will be built.”

The Mayor emphasized that this new development “doesn’t mean [the link is] being built any time soon — I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up —but at least we’re at the table and moving forward on the file and being informed of what is going on.”

Asked about the reference in the resolution to a non-disclosure agreement, Brownstein told The Suburban it refers to allowing CSL to be at the table for the discussions “without making them public until we all come to an agreement as to the final configuration.

“There are also issues of public transit, will there be a rapid train, a bicycle path, one lane or two lanes for cars? All of these issues have to be agreed upon with respect to CP and Montreal in order to build the road.”

The Suburban pointed out that it appears the discussions of an overpass, underpass or any other type of passage in the yards, has been going on for years.

“There’s also the purchase price — the two things that are not that easy to finalize are the price [of the part of the land Montreal will buy from CP for the passage of the link] and what type of road will go above or below the tracks. They’re really getting close, but they’re not seeing eye-to-eye on the final details,” the Mayor said.

“Now that I’m at the table with them, hopefully, it will be my job to mediate this and finalize the deal. I’ll do my best.”

Berku pointed out that the Cavendish link project also has to go to the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE).

“It will be sent there by the City of Montreal sometime in 2020.”

Brownstein said the project is moving forward.

“I just don’t like people to think it’s going to happen ‘tomorrow’ — it takes a long time, people are frustrated, but it is happening now more than ever because they need it more than we need it. [The planned Royalmount Mall] needs it, the Hippodrome project needs it, the Midtown project, Décarie Square. Everyone wants some other way to travel, which has to include not only cars — public transit, bicycles, pedestrian pathways, and cars.” joel@thesuburban.com

joel@thesuburban.com

WWII Vet George Nashen to be honoured by National Assembly

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By CJN Staff – January 13, 2020 

Second World War veteran George Nashen, right, poses for a picture with D’Arcy-McGee MNA David Birnbaum.

Second World War veteran George Nashen, 96, will receive a special national assembly medal from David Birnbaum, the MNA for the riding of D’Arcy-McGee, at a ceremony in June.

Nashen will be honoured in the name of all of the men and women who served the cause of freedom in that conflict. Nashen, who lives in Côte-St-Luc, Que., is one of the few surviving Jewish-Canadian war veterans.

In announcing the move, Birnbaum explained that he wanted recognize the contribution of our Second World War veterans while it was still possible. “It struck me at our last Remembrance Day ceremonies in the riding how sadly close we are to a time when no first-hand witnesses to the Second World War will be with us to remember, or to be honoured for their sacrifice, courage and legacy in saving our fundamental freedoms here in Quebec, in all of Canada and around the world,” he said.

“Furthermore, this riding that I serve is home to one of the highest number of Holocaust survivors and their families in Canada. The obligation of remembrance is deeply felt here and this medal is one further way of expressing that obligation.”

George Nashen in 1944.

Nashen is a long-time community volunteer and former clothing manufacturer who held the rank of sergeant in the Royal Canadian Air Force. During the war, Nashen lost a number of dear friends and has always made it his duty to share his experience, particularly with young people.

“I was 19 when I enlisted,” said Nashen, a Baron Byng High School graduate, “and I wasn’t that worldly. I didn’t understand much about politics. By 1938, with the rise of Hitler, the terrible threat to the free world started to become clear. I thought, I have to go over.…

“It’s important for young people to learn about the atrocities and the sacrifices of the Second World War. Do they really know the seriousness of war, the feeling of daily life, when you get issued a helmet and a gas mask to make sure you survive the day?”

In 1943, Nashen was stationed in London. “I went over on the Queen Mary,” he recalled. “We were 26,000 enlisted men and women; the ship normally carried only 2,000.

“It was a humbling and scary few years. I remember the rumbling of incoming and outgoing bombers overhead, every night in London. The stakes were enormous, and the freedoms we take for granted today were in peril back then. That should never be forgotten.”

Nashen expressed his appreciation for the medal, but stressed that he would only accept the honour in the name of all the veterans.

Each spring, Birnbaum bestows three D’Arcy-McGee national assembly citizenship medals upon individuals chosen for their community contributions by a three-member jury. Nashen will formally receive his medal at that ceremony, which will be held on June 1. The names of all the medal winners become part of the permanent national assembly record and are noted in perpetuity on its official website.

Canadian Jewish News

Free French for all Quebecers, a positive gesture

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Greg Kelley, the MNA for Jacques-Cartier, says he thinks he has found a way to unite Quebecers of all stripes around a common cause, which is improving the French of people from all backgrounds, the Gazette reports.

Kelley wants the Quebec government to open up the Charter of the French Language to make free instruction in French a right for anyone who resides in Quebec.

This is a positive and enabling idea which is long overdue. For far too long the emphasis has been on punitive measures by policy-makers and language cops rather than empowering methods of teaching those who could benefit from additional help and contribute to the social and economic fabric of society.

After 40 years of the stick it’s time for the carrot!

Teach everyone who’s willing to learn to speak French. Presumably this will entice English-speakers and those who have arrived from countries where neither English nor French is an official language.

Let’s give the necessary tools for Quebecers to speak to one another, to learn from each other and to respect each other.

We are a richer society by speaking multiple languages. This enriching experience may even convince French-speaking Quebecers to call upon the government to offer free English courses. Et pourquoi pas?

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