Nova Scotia tragedy screams out for gun control

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The senseless, horrific massacre that has befallen Nova Scotia, perhaps Canada’s worst, is a national tragedy on many levels.

First, this cowardly act was amplified as it was carried out during the global pandemic. People everywhere are already on edge, overridden with anxiety at five plus weeks of isolation and distancing. The aftermath of the killings is depriving Nova Scotians and mourners across the country from the basic need of togetherness, of family and communal support and comforting.

Two, the killer, tarnished the iconic national treasure that is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It was tragic that he took the life of RCMP constable Heidi Stevenson and injured another officer, let alone the horrendous loss of 21 other victims. But in disguising himself in the revered uniform and duping the public in the fake police car he has robbed all Canadians of the blanket of comfort which is the essence, the brand of the RCMP.

Third, the Nova Scotia horror underscores the urgent and long overdue need for the federal government to legislate stricter gun control including the ban on assault weapons. And as I have advocated for decades and posted on this blog I call upon our legislators to outlaw handguns. There is no need for the average Canadian to posses such weapons.

When I express my opinion, I usually get a slew of hate mail from gun advocates, mostly Americans, that try to bully anyone who calls for firearm restrictions. So be it. They’re entitled to their ill-conceived opinions but they have no lessons to teach us here, in Canada. The U.S. model is so out of control, so utterly broken, with mass shootings so routine. Many of their leaders have become immune to their own pain and suffering, incapable of any effective change.

I will also hear from my old friend in Toronto, a police officer who routinely reminds me that we should not penalize lawful owners of guns. He has a point and I agree that there are very few cases that could be allowed with strict controls and regulations. He also says that what is needed is tougher penalties for gun crime in Canada and I couldn’t agree more.

So this is our opportunity, once again, in the aftermath of a horrific mass shooting to call upon every Member of Parliament to support very strict limits on who may posses a firearm of any sort in this country, to crack down on illegal smuggling of these weapons into our country and to substantially increase the penalty for illegal possession of guns and other lethal weapons and the sentencing for such offences.

Let’s honour the memory of the victims by taking these necessary steps to prevent such horrors from ever happening again in Canada.

CSL council votes 5-2 to call for one-year moratorium on police station mergers

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2009 launch of PDQ 9 on Cavendish at Kildare: CSL Public Security Chief Michel Martel, Montreal Police Assistant Commander West Division Pierre Brochet, Councillor Glenn J. Nashen, Neighbourhood Police Station 9 Commander Sylvain Bissonnette

The Suburban Newspaper this week reported that Cote Saint-Luc City Council could not come to a unanimous decision to call for a one year moratorium on local police station mergers.

As I blogged here on March 23, “the ill-advised and poorly communicated merger of police stations should be shelved for this year. Our populations and its leaders are poised in another direction and this is not the time for structural reorganization.”

Having fought against previous proposals for police station mergers and relocation while I was the CSL City Councillor responsible for Public Safety, alongside my fellow councillors Mitchell Brownstein and the late Ruth Kovac, we are all too aware of what is at stake and the potential loss of service to our community.

Although one dissenting councillor suggested CSL does not currently have 24 hour coverage, to be clear, Neighbourhood Station 9 offices (PDQ 9 as it is known in French), are closed overnight but officers from our station continue to patrol at all hours in our city.

Here is the full story by Suburban reporter Joel Goldenberg:

Côte St. Luc council voted 5-2 at their March 16 videoconferenced council meeting to call for a one-year moratorium, public sessions and a “proper study” on the planned merger of police stations 9 (CSL, Hampstead, Montreal West) and 11 (NDG).

Those voting against the resolution, presented by Councillor Dida Berku, were councillors David Tordjman and Oren Sebag. Those voting in favour were councillors Berku, Mike Cohen, Mitch Kujavsky, Steven Erdelyi and Sidney Benizri.

As first reported in The Suburban in late January, plans call for the new merged station to be located at the current Station 9 site in CSL. Station 11 on Somerled in NDG, unless minds change, will close its doors this fall.

Tordjman said that while the SPVM erred in the way the information about the merger was disseminated, “I think, as many others do, that this is a positive move for CSL and the adjoining communities. It will improve efficiencies and we’ll end up having more officers available for all of our communities.

“We need to have further discussion, but I don’t think a one-year moratorium is the way to go. We should be working with the SPVM, rather than fighting them.”

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein was disappointed, saying he was hoping for a unanimous vote.

“As a person who was very involved with the demerger of cities and understands that smaller is better, it seems quite clear to me we know what we have right now is unique and beautiful,” the Mayor added. “As soon as we merge with Station 11 in NDG, where most of the crime is happening, no matter how many extra officers we’re going to have, they will all go to where the action is — there’s a stabbing, a murder, a rape. It’s happening outside of CSL.”

Sebag said Station 9 does not currently operate 24 hours a day.

“I think there’s an advantage of having a larger station that works around the clock in CSL, and I agree we should make sure the station stays in CSL,” he added. “I personally think our city is denser, it has a lot more activity that could be viewed as an evolution in crime, and we need proper coverage… 24 hours a day.”

Councillor Mike Cohen said that with the current COVID-19 pandemic in progress, “now is not the time to push through such a merger.”

SPVM Stations 9, 11 to merge

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The Suburban has been informed by a well-placed source that the process is underway for SPVM Station 9 in Côte St. Luc and Station 11 in NDG to merge.

From what we have heard so far, the new merged station will be located at Station 9’s current location, at the corner of Westminster and Côte St. Luc Road. Station 9 serves Côte St. Luc, Hampstead and Montreal West.

But we have heard concerns expressed that there will not be a police station situated in NDG for the first time and that there will be less police presence in Côte St. Luc, notwithstanding the station’s planned location.

The Suburban has placed calls to Côte des Neiges-NDG Mayor Sue Montgomery, and the SPVM’s media representatives, and we await their response.

We did speak with Côte St. Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, who told us Monday afternoon that he has not heard of the alleged merger plans.

Brownstein added that it while it would be difficult to make a statement without finding out further details, he did say it would be good news if the alleged merger results in the station remaining in Côte St. Luc, and that he hoped the police presence would not be lessened there.

joel@thesuburban.com

Carbon monoxide from car in garage killed Côte-St-Luc couple: coroner

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This is a heartbreaking, tragic reminder to be vigilant and prudent when parking your car in the garage and of the critical need to have CO detectors in your home.

GJN
House where couple was found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019 in Côte-St-Luc. PIERRE OBENDRAUF / MONTREAL GAZETTE

Woman probably forgot to turn her car’s ignition off after parking it in the garage

FRÉDÉRIC TOMESCO  Montreal Gazette: December 9, 2019

A Côte-St-Luc couple died of carbon monoxide poisoning last winter when the wife probably forgot to turn her car’s ignition off after parking it in the garage, a coroner has concluded.

Roger Banon and Simone Elkeslassy were found dead by one of their sons Feb. 6 after uncharacteristically failing to answer phone calls during the day. Firefighters called to the scene noted the presence of carbon monoxide inside the garage and the house.

The couple lived in a single-family residence, with their bedroom located directly above the garage. A carbon monoxide detector was installed in the basement and was in service, the report said.

Banon, 88, had Parkinson’s disease. He had the constant help and support of his 84-year-old wife and other family members, according to the coroner’s report, which was released Monday. Husband and wife — both wearing pyjamas — were found lying on the floor of the guest room.

“It appears that Mr. Banon’s spouse probably had a moment of distraction when returning from the grocery store on Feb. 5 and forgot to shut down the engine of her car,” coroner Julie-Kim Godin concluded in her report dated Sept. 25, ruling out suicide.

Having just returned from a trip, Elkeslassy “had to resume her activities and her routine,” Godin wrote. “She had several tasks to perform and needed to take care of her partner. She probably had a lot of concerns on her mind, which contributed to this moment of distraction.”

Montreal police investigators found Elkeslassy’s car parked in the garage. While the garage door leading onto the driveway was closed, investigators were unable to establish whether the inside door leading to the house was open or closed.

The car key was in the ignition and it was switched on, the coroner’s report said. The fuel gauge indicated that the tank was empty and the hood was lukewarm.

“This allows us to conclude that the engine continued to run, probably for several hours, producing significant carbon monoxide emissions in the house,” Godin wrote.

Elkeslassy was an “active, autonomous woman who was very involved in the community,” Godin also wrote. She was seeing a doctor regularly, and a recent appointment had not resulted in any problems being identified. Elkeslassy “loved life and was very resilient,” the report cited her doctor as saying. She had never expressed suicidal ideas, the report said.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a recurring problem in Quebec.

On Friday, a Laval woman was found dead in a house after being poisoned by the toxic gas, police said. Two other people were taken to a hospital for the same reason. Results of the investigation may be announced Tuesday, a Laval police spokesperson said Monday.

Carbon monoxide is a clear, odourless and tasteless gas that can make humans sick and can lead to death. The gas is created when fuels such as oil, coal, wood, gasoline, propane and natural gas are burned.

Carbon monoxide doesn’t irritate the eyes or respiratory tract. But when a person inhales it, the gas enters their blood and interferes with oxygen intake, damaging tissue, according to Quebec’s health department. The effects can vary depending on the quantity of the gas in the air and the length of exposure. Severe carbon monoxide poisoning can lead to a coma and death within minutes.

ftomesco@postmedia.com

Toronto cop weighs in on “armed police for hire” debate

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Toronto cop weighs in on armed police for hire debate
Toronto police sergeant Lawrence Sager, Facebook

Toronto police sergeant Lawrence Sager weighed in regarding a Suburban report that Hampstead is pressing for local Montreal Torah Centre congregants to be able to hire armed off-duty SPVM police officers to provide security.

“Police Paid Duties have always been an extremely effective way to provide security to an event,” Sgt. Sager wrote on Facebook this past weekend. “Few would try and cause trouble with highly visible uniformed police officers present. The only pitfall is the cost.”

As we reported, Hampstead councillor Harvey Shaffer was told by the SPVM that the MTC congregants would not be allowed to hire officers. The SPVM declined to comment to The Suburban, when asked the reason for the refusal. Mayor William Steinberg is working on the matter as well, in light of recent shootings in synagogues in the U.S. and religious institutions around the world.

Sgt. Sager posted as part of a Facebook discussion on our article initiated by former Côte St. Luc councillor Glenn Nashen.

“Toronto Police have done paid duties at synagogues for many decades, as well as funerals and many other large private events,” the sergeant, who attended Wagar High School in Côte St. Luc, explained. “The paid duty office determines the number of officers required, depending on the venue and can also provide cruisers for funeral escorts.

“The drawback is that paid duty officers are quite expensive,” he added. “You get what you pay for. A police officer is armed, well trained, has other use of force options and is equipped with a police radio, in touch with the police dispatcher, capable of calling for immediate police backup without delay. We actually have difficulty filling all the paid duty requests due to manpower shortages.”

Nashen responded to Sager by saying that paid armed off-duty officers “would be a viable option in Montreal for those that can afford it. Unfortunately, the cost couldn’t be sustained by community organizations already struggling.”

Sgt. Sager further wrote that he does not know why Montreal police have not provided the service, “but I suspect it has to do with the Quebec Police Act.

“In Ontario, it’s called the Ontario Police Service Act and every province has its own laws governing what their police can do,” he wrote. “Toronto Police do paid duties in order to bolster our numbers rather than using on-duty officers and it’s allowed in Ontario.

Sgt. Sager also pointed out that the Toronto police’s 32 Division “has the largest Jewish community in Toronto with many synagogues.

“During the High Holidays, there were so many paid duties that they filled its own binder. Once no more could be given out because we ran out of officers to do them, they were offered to the rest of the service outside our division. …. Despite the high cost, there’s no shortage of requests and in many cases insurance companies require that paid duty officers be hired.

joel@thesuburban.com

Hampstead pressing to enable armed off-duty police at synagogue

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Hampstead pressing to enable armed off-duty police at synagogue
The Montreal Torah Centre in Hampstead. themtc.com

Hampstead is pressing to enable the congregants of the Montreal Torah Centre to be able to pay for armed off-duty police officers to provide security.

This, in light of recent synagogue shootings in the United States. As well, other religious institutions have been attacked around the world, including at a mosque in Quebec.

But Hampstead councillor Harvey Shaffer says the SPVM will not allow such officers to be hired.

“Many Hampstead residents, especially those who attend synagogue on a regular basis, were very concerned and somewhat alarmed about the problem of security at synagogues,” he explained. “In Hampstead, there are four synagogues. The one which receives the largest attendance is the Montreal Torah Centre.”

Shaffer added that in Ontario, synagogues can retain the services of off-duty, armed police officers, along with a police car, for as many hours as is required, “usually four hours.

“Due to the fact many congregants at MTC were concerned and sought that type of protection, I communicated with a ranking officer at police headquarters on St. Urbain and asked if it would be possible that the MTC be authorized to hire [two] armed, off-duty police officers and a police car for a little under four hours,” the councillor said. “I was told how much the rate would be if approved. Unfortunately, later that day, I was told the request was refused.”

Shaffer said he was told the request could only possibly be granted by the town going through Montreal city hall or having the issue publicized in the media.

“There seems to be no justification why we shouldn’t have it,” he added. “I wasn’t give a reason. It was simply refused.

Mayor William Steinberg agrees synagogues should be allowed to hire armed off-duty officers.

“I’m in favour of it — every synagogue hires unarmed guards, and it’s much better to have armed policemen. It’s obvious. I will investigate to see what the rules are and what I can do so that this can happen. When I sat on the [agglomeration’s] Public Security commission, I was aware that off-duty policemen were being hired in all kinds of situations. I’m not aware if they had guns or not, but they were being hired. Once I get more information, I will be advocating on behalf of this.

“We live in dangerous times and you want effective protection.”

We contacted the SPVM, which declined comment. Steinberg told us he is still working on the matter. Montreal Torah Centre officials have not responded by press time.

joel@thesuburban.com

Montreal to debate allowing police to wear religious symbols

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Good proposal by Montreal Councillor Marvin Rotrand. Montreal should not be bullied down the road to Bill 21 without speaking up. The members of our police department should reflect the population it serves and while they have made some efforts in the last years there’s plenty more to do. We can learn from other major Canadian police forces. Good luck Marvin, in helping to develop an inclusive police service.

 

http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/montreal-to-debate-allowing-police-to-wear-religious-symbols

Police Commander calls for calm in the wake of Cavendish stabbing incident: Cllr. Mike Cohen

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Police Commander calls for calm in the wake of Cavendish stabbing incident

by: Cllr. Mike Cohen

Posted: 15 Feb 2019 06:09 PM PST

Since last week’s stabbing incident at the Quartier Cavendish Cineplex Odeon Theatre, I have received many calls from frightened constituents.  A couple were reportedly  watching a movie when the wife asked a man behind her to stop smoking cannabis. He allegedly lunged towards her with a knife. The husband stepped in front and was stabbed in the leg.

Five men were stopped by police in the parking lot, but released.

¨PoliceCommander

Commander Oliveira

“Our Sergeant on the scene interviewed them and they were not at all connected to the incident,” Commander Luis Oliveira told me. “There was no evidence to bring any of them in.”

The Commander said none of the men smelled from cannabis either. “We have all of the information on each one of them in the event we need to communicate with them,” he said.

According to the Commander this was an isolated incident and people do not need to panic. In the meantime officers from Police Station 9 have been doing foot patrols in the Quartier all  week and they will continue to do so. The socio community agents are meeting with the cinema management to establish proper procedures  for what to do when people light up, get into fights, etc.  As our City Manager Tanya Abramovitch righly told members of council today, “We at the city have the reflex to call  Public Security and/or the police, but they do not. Had such a procedure been in place, this likely would not have escalated in the way it did. The fact that what they were smoking was cannabis is not really relevant. They could have been smoking a cigarette and the same thing would have happened. ”

I, like many people, often go this theatre. It is absolutely necessary for one staff member to routinely go in and out of each room to see if anyone is acting inappropriately and to take the proper action. How many times have any of us turned around in a movie theatre and, for instance, asked someone to be quiet. As the Commander told me, the perpetrator “was clearly someone  high on dope,”

Côte Saint-Luc has the the second lowest crime rate on the island . The Commander said we can all can consider ourselves residing in a  a “safe” city.

Montreal adopts motion calling for ban on private ownership of handguns, assault weapons | CBC News

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Bold move, long overdue. Canadians do not need handguns.

Let’s see Montreal suburbs pass the same resolution and add to the outcry. Contact your City Councillor as well as your MP.

 

Source: Montreal adopts motion calling for ban on private ownership of handguns, assault weapons | CBC News

Could CSL vCOP, PS and Police host summer camp for kids? Longueuil police host first ever camp for aspiring young detectives

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A group of kids took part in a day camp put on by the Longueuil police this week, where they got to learn about police work. (CBC)

What a novel idea in summer programming for kids. Sign up a group of pre-teens and expose them to first responders: police, fire, EMS, ambulance, public security and volunteer Citizens on Patrol. Teach them essential skills and expose them to these critical and life-saving services. Excite, inspire and educate them.

Would such a program be possible in Cote Saint-Luc and suburban Montreal municipalities? Would you sign up your pre-teen?

Source: Longueuil police host first ever camp for aspiring young detectives | CBC News

Côte-St-Luc cold case: Killing haunts daughters nearly 19 years on | Montreal Gazette

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At first, Naomi Mouadeb called often. After the initial blur of the first few days, every week or so she picked up the phone and dialled the same number. Then it became every couple of months. Then, gradually, two calls a year became one: every Sept. 2.

The last time she tried calling, in 2015, no one answered.

Source: Côte-St-Luc cold case: Killing haunts daughters nearly 19 years on | Montreal Gazette

Police station 9 moving

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West-end Montreal police Station 9 closes on Monday as it moves to Westminster Ave.: http://montrealgazette.com/news/west-end-police-station-9-closed-on-monday-as-it-moves-to-westminster-ave

Assurer votre sécurité / Experience in keeping you safe: Réélisez / Re-Elect NASHEN in District 6

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Assurer votre sécurité:

Des décennies d’expérience comme bénévole aux services d’urgence, dirigeant professionnellement les préparatifs dans des situations de désastres à l’Hôpital général juif, 18 ans à Urgence Sante…Votre sécurité est ma préoccupation première.

 

À titre de conseiller responsable de la protection civile, j’ai dirigé le comité des services d’urgence de la ville qui gère les SMU, la sécurité publique et les mesures d’urgence et qui assure également la liaison avec les services de police et d’incendie. J’ai lancé à CSL le premier programme au Québec de Citoyens en patrouille. Aujourd’hui, je dirige 90 bénévoles qui patrouillent notre ville et nos parcs, jour et nuit. J’ai assumé un rôle de leadership dans la planification des mesures d’urgences lors d’importantes inondations, d’incendies graves dans bien d’autres cas urgents. Avec trente cinq ans d’implication auprès des services d’urgence de CSL, je suis la personne la mieux qualifiée pour vous représenter durant les moments éprouvants.

 

 

EXPERIENCE IN KEEPING YOU SAFE:

Your safety at home and around CSL has been my priority. With decades of experience as a leader in Emergency Medical Services and founder of volunteer Citizens On Patrol, championing Public Safety and Disaster Readiness, Police, Fire and Ambulance issues and overseeing emergency measures at the Jewish General Hospital I have ensured that CSL is the safest place on the Island of Montreal. My focus is on your safety.

I was there for you during major emergencies including the Ice Storm and am always preparing the city for the next disaster. Recognized by the Governor General with over 35 years of involvement in CSL emergency services I am the most qualified to represent you at the most challenging of times.

Station 9 conducts Senior Safety Day

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Police officers from CSL Station 9 at their information booth together with Cllr. Ruth Kovac

 

Thank you to Police Station 9 officers Marie-Christine Norbert, Vincent Deangelis, and more, for educating and reaching out to our residents at the recent Senior Safety Day at the Cavendish Mall.

“Your visibility instills confidence and the little gifts are valued and useful,” said CSL Councillor Ruth Kovac who visited the kiosk.

Ruth and I have worked on every major (and most minor) safety campaigns since we began volunteering at the CSL Emergency Measures Organization in the early 1980s. Thanks to our first class security programs CSL remains the safest place on the Island of Montreal. We need to be vigilant, always looking to improve and expand these services to ensure we stay in this position and that just what Ruth and I speak out on throughout the year.

Celebrating Canada Day 2017 with our local police officers. Thank you to these fine officers for their vigilance in CSL.

Large swath of CSL without power, trees down, after “micro-burst” sweeps Western Montreal

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City crews preparing to remove branches from trees that came down on Hudson north of CSL Rd.

The storm earlier today created havoc across many parts of Quebec. Areas hardest hit include the West End. Large trees, some over 200 years old were uprooted in NDG following the worst part of the storm that lasted one or two minutes.

In Cote Saint-Luc, many residents are still without power as midnight approaches. Many trees were knocked down.

I did a late night loop around Cote Saint-Luc to survey the situation and saw several Hydro Quebec crews working to restore power and city staff and volunteers ensuring our safety.
Councillor Steven Erdelyi said, “I was driving through my district and saw teams from Public Works, Public Security, vCOP and EMS out keeping the residents safe.”
“I saw our teams working in conjunction with Hydro, vCOP ensuring that streets were blocked off, crews removing trees and branches, foremen leading HQ to the site of downed lines and speaking to and reassuring residents. I saw Public Security agents putting flares down at key intersections to provide some light and EMS crews supporting the fire department to help frail residents going to their apartments on upper floors,” Erdelyi said.

Trees down on Hudson north of CSL Rd.

“A special thank you to John, Thierry, Laurence, Claude and Jordy (all of whom I saw in action tonight) for all your hard work and dedication,” Erdelyi added.
Said Mayor Brownstein, “Thank you all. You are truly amazing and appreciated very much.  You all make us very proud.  I have been receiving compliments for your great work by email from residents all evening.”
CSL has issued an overnight parking tolerance across the city due to ongoing power failures.
The CSL Tennis Club will be closed Wednesday as the power lines are down and some fences have been damaged.

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