Housefather seeks nomination

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Housefather seeks Mount Royal Liberal nomination, Canadian Jewish News (March 20, 2014)

Click here: Housefather_CJN_liberal_nomination_20140323

Large crowd rallies against ‘Charter of shame’

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“We’re not going anywhere. We’re staying!”

These ominous words uttered by Mayor Anthony Housefather echoed off the walls of Cote Saint-Luc city hall in an impassioned speech that delighted the crowd.

Major personalities to take the microphone included Rabbis Chaim Steinmetz and Reuben Poupko, Father Peter Laviolette and Mayors Bill Steinberg of Hampstead and Beny Masella of Montreal West.

Housefather gave an electrically charged plea to about 700 enthusiastic residents who cheered him on in great support before he even uttered his first word.

Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather addresses the large crowd

Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather addresses the large crowd

“This is an odious bill that sends a message that some Quebecers are more equal than others,” Housefather said. “This is not the charter of most Canadians, most Quebecers or most Cote Saint-Lucers,” the mayor added saying that the government can remain secular. with equality between men and women without needing such legislation.

“We can light the Christmas tree and the menorah in front of city hall, we can employ staff wearing hijabs, kippas, turbans or crosses, and none of this interferes with offering excellent services at fair rates to our taxpayers,” said Housefather. The mayor added that the city will never fire anyone for displaying their religious convictions and that we will go to court to fight this bill should it ever become law.


“Some people have asked why as a city we are speaking out against the Charter,” said Mayor Anthony Housefather. “City government has an absolute right to speak out against the charter. Our council is unanimous in opposing it and, in fact, each and every city on the Montreal island has adopted positions against the charter. We are against the charter because it is a violation of both the Canadian and Quebec Charters of Rights and international treaties Canada has signed. It would reduce religious and linguistic freedoms in Quebec as the primacy of French is also bundled into the charter. In the same way CSL led the fight in opposing Bill 14 which would have reduced our residents linguistic rights we will also lead the fight against this charter. Indeed the charter is a municipal issue as it impacts our employees and how the municipality operates including forcing elected officials to adopt policies against their conscience.”

Photo Pascal Dumont

Photo Pascal Dumont

Housefather ended with a poignant reminder citing former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s famous quote that the ‘State has no business in the bedrooms of Canadians’. “Well, I say that the state has no business in the wardrobe of Canadians,” the mayor emphasized, to wild applaud.

Mayor Bill Steinberg announced his council was set to adopt a resolution after the rally vowing to ignore and to fight Bill 60 if it were ever to be adopted into law.

Photo Pascal Dumont

Photo Pascal Dumont

Rabbi Steinmetz, the spiritual leader of Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem Congregation, worried aloud that a year ago he would never have thought twice about wearing his kippah elsewhere in Quebec. Today, he would be worried for his children’s safety to wear a kippah outside of Montreal.  He referred to Bill 60 as the “Charter of darkness”. “It is destructive and divisive,” he said. “This is cheap demagoguery. A ploy to get better results at the ballot box.”

Citing the civil disobedience movement of Martin Luther King, the rabbi added, “We are here not just to oppose it Bill 60, but to deny its legitimacy. We will never respect this law. If it is ever passed, we will deny it and undermine it. We will act with civil disobedience and follow the lead of the Jewish General Hospital.”


After Father Laviolette’s remarks and illumination of the Christmas tree, the St. Richard’s choir sang Christmas songs in English and Italian and ended off on a unique and hugely appreciated rendition of: “We wish you a happy Chanukah.”

Rabbi Poupko of Congregation Beth Israel Beth Aaron added in, “I am glad they did not sing Silent Night. History has taught us that when rights are being trampled we must never remain silent.”

Mount Royal Liberal MP Irwin Cotler was unable to attend the rally, but he sent a message calling Bill 60 ‘the Charter of shame’.

Mayor Masella acknowledged that while our communities have not elected PQ MNAs, “we need to tell the CAQ and the Liberals that there is no common ground here.”

After the rally, the large crowd moved over to the giant menorah where Chabad Rabbi Mendel Raskin, just back from his native Casablanca, Morocco, and Rabbi David Cohen led them in song and celebration.

The view from up above. The crowd spills into Cavendish Blvd. as lomos wait to begin the parade.

My view from up above as a light the giant menorah. The crowd spills into Cavendish Blvd. as limos wait to begin the parade.

I was privileged, as the Deputy Mayor, to climb into the ‘cherry picker’ to be hoisted up to the top of the menorah to light the six ‘candles’ (for night six of Chanukah) and sing the traditional blessings. The view was amazing from 30 or 40 feet in the air and I stated over the loudspeakers, “I hope Mme. Marois can see us lighting this menorah in Quebec City! These lights of freedom and celebration should shine bright across our province.”

In Chabad tradition, jelly-filled donuts were passed around along with dreydles and Chanukah-gelt (Chocolate coins) and several youngsters were chosen to ride in limousines – with illuminated Chanukah menorahs atop their roofs – through the streets of Côte Saint-Luc, holiday melodies blaring for all too hear.

Watch Global News from CSL

Watch CBC News from CSL (advance to 5 minute mark)

Watch CTV News from CSL (first news item)

Des juifs et des chrétiens de Côte-Saint-Luc se révoltent contre la Charte (Huffington Post)

Hampstead council votes unanimously to condemn Bill 60 values charter (Montreal Gazette)

Cote Saint Luc, Hampstead, Universities denounce Charter (CTV News)

West-end mayors vow to defy values charter | The Canadian Jewish News.

Cllr. Mitchell Brownstein on Global Montreal

Letter: We, in our gorgeous diversity, are all Québécois

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This is a letter to the editor published in the Montreal Gazette. The writer is Cheri Bell, an articulate commercial lawyer. Cheri’s letter reflects her considerable passion for Quebec society.  It is an excellent opinion piece that deserves praise and wide circulation. Well done Cheri.



As a member of several minority demographics — I’m a Jewish, female, anglophone Quebecer — I am thoroughly embarrassed and concerned by the proposed Charter of Quebec Values. Taken together with other nationalist PQ policies, actual and proposed, such as Bill 101 with its expanding scope, Bill 14, the xenophobic manipulation of the reasonable accommodation principle for political gain and the seemingly innocuous proposal to extend a mandatory Quebec History course — or, should I say, more “identity propaganda” — to the CEGEP level, all send the clear but disturbing message that one population segment (francophones de souche) holding one religious viewpoint (secularism, now via a state-imposed reaction to the rigid Catholicism of Quebec’s past) is the only authentic, appropriate and welcome demographic in Quebec. These retrograde and anti-democratic policies create government-sanctioned divisions and prejudice in our society, not the cohesion the government is claiming to promote.

Growing examples of harassment of veiled women on our streets not only were foreseeable, but are sure to extend to other visible religious minorities. This is because “cohesion” cannot be legislated through enforced secularism. Doing so not only distorts the principle of separation of church and state, but creates an absurd homogeneity à la Harry Potter’s Ministry of Magic.

True tolerance, acceptance of the “other,” comes about through mutual exposure, not by state-imposed repression of the “other.”

And where will it stop? Whether or not personally affected by the charter of values and these other myopic policies, we must unite against them; and against the narrow-minded, agenda-driven government that endorses them. Let us all show the PQ that we do not accept its regressive, divisive policies. We, in our gorgeous diversity, are all Québécois, and we will not be concealed.

It is also not because the proposed charter of values goes too far, as Jacques Parizeau has said, but because it exists at all. These are not my values. Nor are they the values of many enlightened Québécois. The Charter of Quebec Values is a shameful blight on Quebec’s political landscape that both underestimates and undermines the openness of the Quebec people.

Cheri Bell

Cheri Bell is a concerned citizen, wife and mother who resides in Montreal, Quebec (Canada). She is a commercial and contracts lawyer who is the acting General Counsel and Director of Purchasing for the City of Côte Saint-Luc.


Message from the Mayor of Cote Saint-Luc to residents of District 6

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Mayor Anthony Housefather and Councillor Glenn J. Nashen

Mayor Anthony Housefather and Councillor Glenn J. Nashen

It gives me great pleasure to communicate with the residents of District 6 and I want to congratulate Councillor Glenn Nashen who continues to play an important role on our council particularly for his leadership on public safety and transportation issues.

Like you, I was troubled by the train derailment and fire in Lac Mégantic on July 6. As you are no doubt aware railways fall under federal jurisdiction and the federal law places no obligation on railways to share information with municipalities on what goods are passing through their territory. Although the safety record of railways is generally good and the City has an Emergency Measures Plan to respond to any railway related incident we need to learn lessons from this tragedy. We have asked for a meeting with officials from CPR to review the measures and procedures it has put in place to ensure the safety and security of transport throughout the yards and in particular along the shared track used by commuter trains and freight trains. We will also be joining with our fellow cities and towns in Canada to ask for changes to federal regulations to respond to the issues raised by this incident.

Over the last several years we have seen some important developments in District 6. We have constructed the new Aquatic and Community Centre (ACC) that has created a community hub in Côte Saint-Luc and made us a leader in swimming programs. The building with its library annex, dance studio, arts studio, gym, multipurpose rooms and seniors centre, not to mention a café is an enormous asset to our city.

We have also revamped Imagination Park behind the ACC investing in new and innovative equipment enjoyed by kids of all ages. We have worked hard to convince the English Montreal School Board to reopen a mainstream public high school at the old Wagar site and are thrilled that Wallenberg Academy will open in September 2014 provided enrolment targets are met. We also resurfaced the Caldwell tennis courts and entered into a new long term lease with the EMSB. We have also worked closely with École Maimonides to improve safety in front of the school and will continue to try to improve the configuration on Parkhaven and nearby streets since changes we made clearly need to be tweaked. We have also received a development proposal for the Griffith-McConnell site and public consultation meetings on this proposal took place on July 8 as well as an information meeting on July 2.

Your City Council has worked hard to lead the fight against Bill 14 at the municipal level and has coordinated the campaign against the provisions within the bill on bilingual communities. We have successfully secured the support of almost every bilingual municipality in Quebec as well as many non-bilingual communities and both of the major groups representing Quebec municipalities. Please visit a website established by the city to learn more.

– Mayor Anthony Housefather

Josh Freed: No saints allowed; time to rename our streets

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You gotta laugh. Otherwise you might cry.

The proposed Charter of Quebec Values is so outlandish, so mean, so unconscionable that it’s easy to make a total mockery of this PQ piece of, errr, work.

Josh Feed does a  great job of just that. For Cote Saint-Luc he suggests, in the spirit of religious neutrality, we might drop the Saint and just go with Cote Luc!

One thing you can count on is this city councillor, along with Mayor Anthony Housefather, to speak out loud and clear against this horrific proposal that deserves to be flushed away together with Bill 14, the other PQ draft legislation to further restrict our language rights.

Cote Saint-Lucers are not known to be quiet and obedient when our rights are threatened.  We will not be quiet now.

Josh Freed: No saints allowed; time to rename our streets.


Rick Blue comments on Canada Day in CSL

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Rick Blue

Blue Notes – July 8, 2013 – West Island Gazette

A week ago Bowser and Blue performed at the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park in Cote St. Luc for Canada Day. We were worried about the rain, but it held off until we were finished. The crowd was large and supportive. We brought out our best Canadian and Quebec material for them.

It’s always great to play for an audience that understands our jokes.

Cote St. Luc is an interesting city. It is completely surrounded by railroad tracks. And because there are only a couple ways in, it is like an island in the midst of the Montreal sprawl.

Indeed it is a unique community. And these days a rebellious one. They are none too happy about the current regime in Quebec City. Both the mayor and the local MP were vocal in their criticism of Bill 14 and the PQ’s never-ending political civil war.

Yes, the mayor and the entire city council were there. We even sang a song with them at the end of our set. They all wore red. Because they are proud Canadians.

We share the feeling. I don’t think there are any Canadians more conscious of our identity than Canadians living in Quebec. We are constantly under threat. It is a truly unique situation. Canadians across our country might be proud of our land and feel the surge of patriotism that we unleash every July 1st but there is no Canadian as desperately attached to it as we are.

Because it is our only hope to survive.

The PQ’s latest campaign of open hostility toward Canada is also open hostility toward us. It is a government that acts hostile toward its own citizens. And we pay our taxes for the privilege.

We try to lessen the burden with humour. Because if you can laugh at something, it makes it much less oppressive. And if you can laugh at your enemies, you have escaped their control.

And because laughter is the best revenge.

But we are musicians first and comedians second. We are very serious about our songs. Even if they are funny. Songs have power. And they have many functions. They can make people dance or fall in love. I always like it when our songs make people laugh. And I like it when our songs say something that you just won’t get from any other songwriters.

Like folk singers anywhere we write about our people. And it is their support that keeps us going. We sing about the shared experiences of the people we sing for. It has to be entertaining, of course. But it is also a little subversive.

And in Cote St. Luc, they understood the subtext.

National Post Full Comment: Throwing around Quebec’s c-word

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Dan Delmar: Throwing around Quebec’s c-word

National Post | 13/05/07 |

One of the most offensive words in the Québécois lexicon is “colonisé.”

Also abbreviated as “colon” (not the organ, it’s a soft N), it is an adjective hurled at those who have been metaphorically “colonized” by their embrace of the English language.

It’s a word that is used among Francophones casually, in private. In public, it typically is used only by fringe ultra-nationalists, a few rabid radio talk-show hosts, and, last week, an elected member of Quebec’s National Assembly.

In a debate about Bill 14, a language law that might be described as the ugly stepchild of Bill 101, Parti Québécois MNA Daniel Breton objected to Liberals speaking English in the legislature — even though the practice is perfectly permissible, and is done on occasion when legislators are dealing with matters pertaining to Anglo Quebecers.

“I would like to highlight that elected members of the official opposition in the National Assembly expressed themselves in English on the subject of Bill 14, a law on the French language,” Breton said in the legislature (speaking in French, of course). “You might have the right, but it shows to what point you are ‘colonisés.’”

The statement is offensive for a number of reasons. And it shows that Breton knows less about Canadian history than the average high school student.

Francophones were, of course, the colonizers. The true “colonisés” were Aboriginals. Despite the popular myths of ultra-nationalists such as Breton, and their claims to victimhood, Francophones in Canada are not an indigenous people.

Breton’s comments also are consistent with retrograde PQ policies (including Bill 14 itself) that cast multilingualism as a threat to Quebec’s identity, and unilingualism as a mark of true Québécois patriotism.

This is hardly the first time that Breton has attracted controversy. He had a brief stint as Quebec’s environment minister, which ended when it was revealed that he called up the head of Quebec’s public consultation bureau to make it clear that the agency would hear from him if he wasn’t satisfied with their decisions.

To describe a fellow Quebecer as “colonisé” is more than just a cheap insult. It’s a Québécois species of McCarthyism

Breton also was found guilty of three counts of fraud for making false EI declarations in 1988. The co-founder of Quebec’s Green Party, he once was caught speeding in a Porsche at 275km/h. This is the man whom the PQ has chosen to defend one of the most controversial bills in the party’s history.

If the PQ were a normal political party, his behaviour in the National Assembly alone would be enough to have him removed from caucus. He is not fit to represent Quebecers, sovereignists or otherwise.

If the PQ wants to repair its credibility, Premier Pauline Marois must rid her party of those who contribute to hateful, regressive rhetoric. To describe a fellow Quebecer as “colonisé” is more than just a cheap insult. It’s a Québécois species of McCarthyism, and a sad example of how fringe separatist elements are impeding tolerance between Quebec’s two main language communities.


Dan Delmar is the co-founder of Provocateur Communications and the co-host of Delmar & Dwivedi on CJAD 800 Montreal.

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