Adding English would make us all safer

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Free Press, Letters, Feb. 14, 2017

As we all know, all traffic signs on Quebec highways are solely in French. When driving, do you know what «Respectez les feux de voies», «Risque d’aquaplanage», «Dégel», «Ralentir», «Allumez vos phares», «Voie cahoteuse» and «Incident voie droite bloquée» mean?

Are you aware that according to the Charter of the French Language, the French inscription on traffic signs may be complemented or replaced by symbols or pictographs, and another language may be used where no symbol or pictograph exists? Seeing that the aforementioned phrases have to deal with one’s safety, why are they not in English as well, as the charter clearly provides?

It absolutely makes no sense whatsoever that the protection of the French language is more important than one’s safety. Shouldn’t the safety of everyone, whether French speaking or English speaking, be of prime importance? That is precisely why Ruth Kovac and I presented a petition to the provincial legislature through our legislator David Birnbaum.

Time is running out. The deadline of March 2 to sign the petition is fast approaching.

If you have already signed the petition, we thank you. If you have not signed, please do so. However, in all instances, please make sure that you share this with your family, friends, acquaintances, neighbours and your neighbours’ friends. Share on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The petition can be found at: www.assnat.qc.ca/en/exprimez-votre-opinion/petition/Petition-6407/index.html.

Numbers do speak volumes and volumes can bring about change. The petition has nothing to do with language; it has everything to do with safety.

Ruth Kovac, Côte St. Luc

Harold Staviss, Hampstead

Opinion: Safety should trump language for Quebec highway signs | Montreal Gazette

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The following is an excellent opinion piece by my friends Ruth and Harold. The petition to allow for bilingual sfaety signs on Quebec highways is on the National Assembly website, which has over 5,000 signatures. The petition can be seen and signed at www.assnat.qc.ca/en/exprimez-votre-opinion/petition/Petition-6407/index.html

Opinion: Safety should trump language for Quebec highway signs | Montreal Gazette

CSL population grows, a bit

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census

The 2016 census figures are in and Cote Saint-Luc registered a mini population growth spurt of just 127 residents more than in 2011.

CSL now has 32,448 residents, a growth of just 0.4%.

It’s interesting to note that the census metropolitan area of Vancouver has the highest population density in Canada, with 5,492.6 people per square kilometre, followed by the Montreal suburbs of Westmount and… you guessed it, Cote Saint-Luc with 4,662.5 people per square kilometre.  Toronto ranks 8th on the list at 4,334.4 people per square kilometre.

While our population remains relatively unchanged in CSL, Quebec’s overall growth has slowed significantly to 3.3% since 2011. This places us in 8th position out of the 13 provinces and territories. Wonder why?

Previous census figures show our average age is decreasing in CSL. When more data is released later this year we’ll see if this trend is continuing.

These numbers also help our city in planning for services to meet the needs of our demographics. Also worth noting, is that several new buildings are either in construction (such as on The Avenue and on Parkhaven) or pre-construction (on Marc-Chagall) that will bring in several hundred new residents in the next year or two. This will add to our density as well as our demand on infrastructure (roads, sewers, utility) and services (recreation, library, EMS, etc…).

See more information on the Census Canada web page for CSL as well as at CTV News.

For more info on how CSL fared in the 2011 census use the search window on the top right of this page (search: Census 2011).

What do you think about these numbers? Are we better or worse off by our growing population?

 

 

Ban guns, not people

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An unspeakable tragedy has fallen upon our province, our country. Shocking and horrific.

We like to believe that we live in a place of tolerance and respect. Where neighbours live in harmony with neighbours. These are our core values as Canadians.

These acts of senseless violence are, thankfully, so incredibly rare in our country. And they would be even fewer if we were to ban weapons in Canada, as the vast majority of peace-loving, law-abiding citizens do not have any need to possess firearms.

A horrific and senseless act of cowardliness that has no place in Canada and should not be acceptable anywhere in the world.

May peace be upon our Muslim neighbours and all Quebecers and Canadians, regardless of religion, language or background. Assalamu ‘Alaikum. Shalom Aleichem.

CSL, Hampstead call for bilingual traffic safety signs

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The petition on the National Assembly website, which had 4,317 signatures as of Jan. 5, was initiated by Hampstead lawyer Harold Staviss and Côte St. Luc councillor Ruth Kovac, and sponsored by D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum. The petition can be seen at www.assnat.qc.ca/en/exprimez-votre-opinion/petition/Petition-6407/index.html. The deadline to sign is March 2.

Kovac, who moved Côte St. Luc’s resolution, has been working with Staviss to, within the language law, lobby companies and government agencies to increase bilingualism on signage and in communications with consumers.

Councillor Glenn Nashen, who himself has been lobbying for increased bilingualism on government websites, seconded Côte St. Luc’s resolution.

The two municipal resolutions point out the facts of the petition, that “the second paragraph of section 22 of the Charter states that the French language may be accompanied by another language when indicated by reason of health or public safety and where no symbol or pictograph exists,” and that the province has not, for the most part, installed such signs.

The two resolutions ask the Quebec Transport and Culture and Communications ministries to “take the necessary steps in order that all traffic signs and electronic alerts/messages dealing with public safety or health be in both French and English, when no symbol or pictograph exists.”

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Read more:

Quebec not budging on English for public safety signs

Pushing for bilingual highway safety signs

Letter to the Editor, The Gazette, English safety signage allowed on Quebec highways

Language control sends a dangerous message

Wonderful Chanukah Greetings

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As the holiday of lights and freedom approaches I take great pride and satisfaction in hearing encouraging words, during these troubling times, from leaders near and far.

Our illustrious MP, Anthony Housefather, has worked tirelessly to bring an open, pluralistic approach to ‘Hanukkah on the Hill’. In every speech, at every opportunity, the dynamic legislator innately rallies Canadians to think generously of those around them with his ever so optimistic perspective that we are all Canadians no matter how background. I salute him for spreading a message of hope and inclusion in a true Canadian spirit.

I am also grateful that our Prime Minister has shown, within a very short time in office, a genuine interest in forging a close relationship with the Jewish community. To be sure, there are a number of key players in the Canadian Jewish community that within the PM’s sphere of influence, including Housefather. But I do believe that Trudeau has the right convictions within him.

 

President Barak Obama delivered a meaningful speech at the White House in celebration of Chanukah, invoking the memory of Elie Wiesel by inviting the wife, children and grandchildren of the late beacon of memory of the Six Million. What’s more, the President kindled the handmade menorah of Wiesel’s granddaughter.

 

What struck me significantly this month was a leading article in the Ste-Agathe newspaper questioning whether a Chanukah Menorah ought to be permitted in a public place. So many responses were negative, seeking to extinguish the lights of the candelabra, all the while approving the public display of the Christmas Tree, the Cross and the Nativity Scene.

I found this to be a sad statement given the overt anti-semitism in this Laurentian paradise just a generation ago. Rather than barking angrily at my fellow Quebecers I decided this should be a moment to teach, to learn and to reach out in the spirit of the holidays in hopes that more people would be influenced and perhaps become more tolerant. You can see my comments and the full discussion here. Maybe you’d also like to reach out as I’ve tried to do.

 

 

And so, I hope that we all can learn to become a little more tolerant during these troubling times, a little kinder to one another, a little more respectful. This is the universal message that I draw from the bright light of the Chanukah Menorah. And in this spirit, and in borrowing Anthony’s words, I hope that no matter your background, your language or your religion, that you too draw inspiration from this little light of mine and that it shines bright upon you and those you hold close, and upon all people.

Happy Chanukah.

Prime Minister Trudeau delivers Kol Nidrei sermon in Westmount, Housefather meets congregation in Hampstead

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for Kol Nidei 5777, with David Cape, Rabbi Adam Sheier, Michael Stern and Claire Berger. Shaare Hashomayim Congregation, Westmount, Quebec. (Photo JJ Schneiderman).

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Kol Nidei services 5777, with David Cape, Rabbi Adam Sheier, Michael Stern and Claire Berger. Shaare Hashomayim Congregation, Westmount, Quebec. (Photo JJ Schneiderman).

Never before in Canadian history has a Prime Minister attended Yom Kippur services and delivered the Kol Nidrei sermon. Until now. Kol Hakavod to Canada’s highest elected official for doing exactly this past Tuesday evening at Westmount’s venerable Shaare Hashomayim congregation.

“On this occasion, families and loved ones gather to fast and pray, reflect on the past year, and seek peace and reconciliation for the year to come,” the Prime Minister said in a statement. “Yom Kippur is an opportunity for us all to reflect on the tremendous contributions that the Jewish Canadian community has made – and continues to make – to the shaping and building of our great country. We know that Canada is a stronger and more resilient country because of its diversity.

“On behalf of our entire family, Sophie and I wish an easy fast to all those observing Yom Kippur. G’mar Chatimah Tova.”

Anthony Housefather

Anthony Housefather

 

The Prime Minster was accompanied by Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather, NDG-Westmount MP Marc Garneau and Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Sœurs MP Marc Miller.

Housefather spoke on Yom Kippur to Congregation Dorshei Emet in Hampstead and recounted how the Prime Minister spoke passionately and emotionally about his recent visit to Aushwitz accompanied by survivors and Canadian Jewish leaders. This was a very moving experience for Justin Trudeau, Housefather said, and he was particularly gratified to bear witness in the company and through the eyes of one of the remaining survivors.

What’s more, Justin Trudeau lead a Canadian delegation to last week’s state funeral for former Israeli President Shimon Peres. Trudeau recounted his personal experiences with the Israeli leader. Trudeau also met with his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu during the rapid visit to the Jewish State.

Housefather’s address seamlessly drifted between the spiritual principles of Yom Kippur, the lofty expectations of Canada’s Jewish community and his responsibilities and accomplishments as one of Canada’s seven Jewish MPs. “I represent the second largest federal constituency in Canada (after Thornhill) and the largest non-French-speaking constituency in Quebec,” Housefather said, indicating this places him in a unique position to speak out in support of minority rights, language rights, tolerance and inclusion.

High among Housefather’s achievements since his election last November is his appointment as chair of the committee overseeing the Justice department and human rights issues, especially their legislative work dealing with Doctor Assisted Dying as well as his forceful stance against the anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, Boycott Divestment Sanction (BDS) movement.

In an all-encompassing, hour long speech and Q&A without as much as a cue card to guide his eloquent and erudite remarks, the affable and witty Housefather covered all the bases in reassuring the audience of his government’s deep commitment to Canada’s Jewish community.

“A year ago many in the community were preaching that only one candidate, one party, could continue to represent the interests of our community,” Housefather said. “With Justin Trudeau’s undeniable commitment to the State of Israel, with our government voting almost unanimously in a free vote denouncing BDS, in our efforts to organize a Jewish contingent representative of our entire community during Chanukah on the Hill and so much more, I think we have proven to those that doubted our intentions and abilities that the Canadian Jewish community is very, very well represented on Parliament Hill and across our country,” the MP said to applause.

Housefather indicated that his committee has recommended reinstatement of the Court Challenges Program previously scrapped by the Harper government. That program allowed for funding of challenges from the English-speaking community in Quebec and from French-speaking communities outside of Quebec in support of minority language communities. With Housefather as a former president of Alliance Quebec, and my having served as his Executive Director at AQ, I can attest to the critical importance of this program to linguistic minorities through our country and I look forward to the reinstatement of this program.

I personally thanked Housefather on behalf of the residents of Cote Saint-Luc and indicated how proud I was of his many achievements in such a short period of time. Congregation President Jodi Lackman wrapped up the event by stating how upset she was when she learned that Housefather would be running for Parliament as she would be losing her “amazing mayor.”

“But now that you’re our MP and I’ve seen what great work you’re doing on our behalf, I’m even happier,” the president said.

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