Housefather seeks nomination

Leave a comment

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

Click here: Housefather_CJN_liberal_nomination_20140323

If Quebec separates, we keep Montreal

1 Comment

Jonathan Kay: If Quebec separates, we keep Montreal

National Post | March 5, 2014 

Having sown the political fields with an ugly campaign against ethnic garb and the English language, Quebec Premier Pauline Marois is now hoping to reap a bounty of votes in an April 7 provincial election. If she wins a majority, the province likely will hold a third sovereignty referendum. It’s been almost two decades since the last one, and separatist foot-dragging on the question of when they’ll get their “winning conditions” is beginning to take on a farcical Waiting-for-Godot aspect. If not now, when?

During the 1995 referendum campaign, the federalist forces held a downtown Montreal rally that drew an estimated 100,000 participants. But as Michael Den Tandt reported in Wednesday’s edition of the National Post, such scenes are unlikely to be repeated this time around. Quebec’s bloated welfare state and dysfunctional infrastructure programs suck in $16.3-billion more in federal money than the province gives back. Increasingly, Alberta is becoming Canada’s economic engine, as Quebec dawdles about developing its own energy resources and repels investors with its absurd language laws. To many Canadians, Quebec’s government looks less like a partner in confederation, and more like a bailout case.

Meanwhile, the Quebec government’s completely gratuitous attack on religious freedoms in the province finally has convinced many Canadians that the province’s society truly is distinct, albeit in the worst possible way. It goes without saying that not all Quebecers are xenophobes. But if they are willing to re-elect, in majority form, a government that builds its popularity at the expense of turbaned nine-year-old soccer players, hijabbed nurses, and yarmulke-wearing doctors, well that says something doesn’t it? We’re all federalists here, but the behaviour of Quebec’s government truly does strain the conceit that “Canadian values” hold interrupted sway from coast to coast.

So how should our federal government respond if a referendum is called by a re-elected Parti Québécois? Here are four suggestions:

First, don’t act as if Quebec separation would be some kind of apocalypse. Acting as if Quebec’s departure from Canada is unthinkable destroys our bargaining position on a hundred different issues once the referendum fails. Indeed, such hysteria is a major reason Quebec has built up that annual $16.3-billion bribe.

Second, notwithstanding the paragraph above, let’s not waste our breath lecturing Quebec about the economic fallout of separation. Like all sentimental nationalists, Quebec separatists see independence as a sort of magical elixir. Warning them about dollars and cents is like warning teenage poker players that all those cigars might eventually give them gum cancer.

Third, make NDP leader Thomas Mulcair — and every other soft federalist — tell us clearly whether he or she respects Canadian law. Specifically, the Clarity Act, which defines a valid referendum result as one based on “a clear expression of the will of the population,” expressed through “a clear majority” of voters — as opposed to the bare-bones majority standard of 50%-plus-one, which the NDP has supported since the Jack Layton era.

Fourth, and this is the big one: Have the courage to tell Quebec, flat out, that if Canada is divisible, so is Quebec. And whatever clear voting standard is used to adjudicate the overall result of the province’s referendum will be the same result used to adjudicate the status of the province’s northern Cree regions, the Eastern Townships, and, most importantly, Montreal.

There are several million people living in Quebec who oppose their provincial government’s separatist agenda

Which is to say: If 60% of Quebcers somehow can be convinced to vote for separation, while 60% of Montrealers vote to retain the status quo, then Ottawa should partition Montreal as part of sovereign Canada, free of Quebec’s parochial language laws, ethnic demagoguery and dead-end economic policies.

Partition wouldn’t be about Canada making any sort of land grab, even if that is how separatists would describe it. Partition would be about fulfilling our historical and constitutional obligations to Canadians — especially Anglophones and immigrants — who have grown up in this country expecting their government to respect basic rights (especially those pertaining to language and religion). Since Quebec’s separatists have shown that they have no intention of respecting these rights — indeed, that are willing to ostentatiously flout these rights as a means to appeal to the worst instincts of Québécois voters — the federal government must signal that it will act decisively when the votes are counted.

It is fine for jaded Canadians in Toronto and Calgary to say they’re tired of Quebec’s complaints, and that the province can just “go its own way” if it likes. But there are several million people living in Quebec who oppose their provincial government’s separatist agenda, and they may soon be looking to Ottawa for vindication of their rights. In the unlikely event that the separatists win a referendum, the voices of these Canadians must not be ignored.

National Post

Association of Suburban Mayors releases Bill 60 brief

1 Comment

The Association of Suburban Mayors representing the 15 demerged municipalities on the Island of Montreal today made public their brief opposing the Charter of Quebec Values proposed by the Marois government.

This plan reveals a conscious denial of the multicultural reality of Montreal and will only lead to division and exclusion, the ASM said. The plan threatens the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

The Association of Suburban Municipalities (ASM) suggests that the Marois government focus instead on pressing problems such as Quebec’s spiralling debt, crumbling infrastructure, and stagnating economy.

Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather has played a key role in the ASM’s opposition to the charter along with his counterpart Mayor Philippe Roy of TMR. With an expected election call this week hearings on the charter would be suspended and the ASM brief not presented, in person, at this time. Nonetheless, it is important for the position of the demerged cities to be made available to the public prior to an election which will hinge upon the PQ government’s dreadful draft law.

The ASM represents 15 municipalities on the Island of Montreal, with an approximate population of 242,600 citizens. These municipalities are Dollard-Des-Ormeaux, Côte-Saint-Luc, Pointe-Claire, Kirkland, Westmount, Beaconsfield, Town of Mount Royal, Dorval, Hampstead, Montreal West, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Baie-D’Urfé, Montreal East, Senneville and Dorval Island.

Read the full brief.

Duo performance at CSL Men’ Club

Leave a comment

Mark Cotler, Dr. Judy Hagshi, Glenn J. Nashen, Sidney Margles

Mark Cotler, Dr. Judy Hagshi, Glenn J. Nashen, Sidney Margles

Recently I had the opportunity to speak with the Cote Saint-Luc Men’s Club at their weekly Thursday morning meeting.  Being a very cold January morning I figured most members would be away in Florida and I’d speak to a small group of a couple of dozen members. I should have known better than to underestimate the resolve of this group of dedicated and proud members of civic-minded and active seniors and its uber-determined president Sidney Margles. Almost 150 people showed up that morning!

I was asked to speak about the Jewish General Hospital’s position on Bill 60, the so-called Charter of Quebec Values. Being one of the key authors of this major position paper, and official spokesperson for the hospital, I was very pleased to inform the membership about the position taken by the JGH Board of Directors and its newly appointed Executive Director, Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg. After all, this is an establishment that this group supports fiercely, as volunteers, contributors, users and so on.

The energy and pride in the room was palpable as I told them that the JGH would remain true to its founding principles of being an institution providing “Care for all.” Under no circumstances would the hospital trade away its values and ethics set in place 80 years ago in being an institution that welcomes all people regardless of faith, language, religion, etc…  The JGH stands firmly opposed to the draft legislation that would erode basic freedoms as guaranteed in the Quebec, Canadian and Universal charters protecting minority rights and freedoms.

I also offered a brief photo tour of the soon to be opened, brand new state-of-the-art Emergency Department in Pavilion K at the JGH.

Then it was time for me to introduce the real keynote speaker, my better half, Dr. Judy Hagshi. Dr. Hagshi spoke about how to prepare for a doctor’s visit so that the interaction is as effective as possible.  Taking notes and sticking to just one or two issues per visit are key she emphasized.  She also highlighted the importance of having an accurate written account of your medical history and medication list to present when meeting a new doctor or in an emergency situation.  The conclusion was a reminder to everyone that the best defence against getting sick is still getting a flu shot and washing your hands.

CTV News: Mayor Anthony Housefather comments on Bill 60

Leave a comment

Todd van der Heyden of CTV News Channel interviews Mayor Anthony Housefather of Côte Saint-Luc about the Parti Québécois’ proposed Bill 60.

Être québécois, qu’est-ce que ça veut dire ?

Leave a comment

The Christian-Jewish Dialogue Group was founded in the early 1960s. The mandate of Christian-Jewish Dialogue of Montreal is to promote activities and develop projects which encourage good relations between Christians and Jews in Montreal. Dr. Victor Goldbloom has been instrumental in bridging the divide between communities, religions and language groups for decades. I salute him for this marvelous initiative to reach out and to encourage Quebecers of all faiths to remain tolerant, respectful and accommodating. Bravo Dr. Goldbloom.

N

Le groupe Dialogue judéo-chrétien  a été fondée au début des années 1960. Le mandat du Dialogue judéo-chrétien de Montréal est de promouvoir les activités et développer des projets qui encouragent les bonnes relations entre chrétiens et juifs à Montréal. Le Dr Victor Goldbloom a contribué à combler le fossé entre les communautés, les religions et les groupes linguistiques pendant des décennies. Je lui salue pour cette merveilleuse initiative à atteindre et à inciter les Québécois de toutes les religions à rester tolérant et respectueux. Bravo M. Goldbloom.

More:

Global News profile on Sheila and Victor Goldbloom

Mayor Housefather’s Santa Claus poem on Bill 60 and the PQ

Leave a comment

Mayor Anthony Housefather of Côte Saint-Luc reads his poem entitled The PQ the Week Before Christmas.

 

Hampstead stands with CSL against Bill 60

Leave a comment

Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg at his desk ...

Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mayor Bill Steinberg and the members of Hampstead Town Council have taken a principled and bold stand against the odious proposed “Charter of shame” (as coined by MP Irwin Cotler), the PQ government’s Bill 60.

Mayor Steinberg announced at Monday night’s rally outside Cote Saint-Luc City Hall that his town was poised to adopt a resolution later that night denouncing the bill as “racist and immoral”. This strong language stands in sharp contrast to that of Cote Saint-Luc’s resolution against the Charter of Quebec Values adopted in October.

The Hampstead resolution says, in part:

  • We believe in the fundamental right of freedom of religion and expression;
  • We believe that in a liberal democracy there is a very real place for the separation of church and state and that the state has no right to impose religious beliefs on its citizens. The separation of church and state should not, however, be confused with the persecution of religion by the state.  It is the basic right of every citizen to be free to believe as he will and practice his religion free of state intervention, so long as the practicing of his religion does not interfere with the basic rights of other citizens to freely enjoy their own civil rights;
  • We believe the wearing of a Kipah, Sikh turban, or Hijab, is not an impediment to carrying out ones’ duties as employees of the State. These symbols do not diminish the wearer, they do not impede the wearer and they are not prejudicial to those with whom the wearer of a religious symbol interacts;
  • We reject the notion that people who believe in a deity are somehow lesser citizens. We reject the notion that wearing an identifiable religious symbol that does not physically impede a person from performing his/her duties, is a basis for discrimination;
  • We believe in a Liberal Democracy the majority does not have the right to pass racist and discriminatory laws against any minority.
  • The strength of a society is not evidenced by its ability to subjugate its minorities but by its ability to protect them.
  • Should this Charter, or any variation which violates the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. be passed by the National Assembly, the Town of Hampstead will not recognize it as a valid law. We will not comply. We will not be complicit with hatred, racism and intolerance.

Mayor Steinberg and the council have shown solid leadership in taking this position and standing up against the Quebec government and their horrendous, discriminatory law.

Indeed, every municipality on the Island of Montreal, including the City of Montreal, has spoken out, either individually or through the Association of Suburban Municipalities against the so-called Charter of Quebec Values.

Town of Hampstead won’t apply ‘racist’ Quebec charter CBC.ca

Hampstead passes resolution denouncing Quebec’s proposed charter Globalnews.ca

Taking a stand against Bill 60: Hampstead, CSL, universities throw down gauntlet CTV News

Large crowd rallies against ‘Charter of shame’

Leave a comment

“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.

2013-12-01-Chanukah-in-CSL-2013-010.JPG

“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.”

2013-12-01-Chanukah-in-CSL-2013-006.JPG

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

Rally in favour of religious freedoms – Dec. 2 at CSL City Hall

Leave a comment

Join in a rally against the Charter of so-called Quebec Values and cast your vote in favour of religious freedom.

Come to Cote Saint-Luc City Hall, 5810 Cavendish Boulevard at 6pm on Monday, December 2, 2013.

The rally event will be preceded by a Christmas tree lighting event with Father Peter Laviolette of Saint Richard’s Church of Côte Saint-Luc. Following the rally event will be a Chanukah menorah lighting event with Rabbi Mendel Raskin of Chabad of Côte Saint-Luc.

“We call on all our residents and our neighbours to attend this rally to send the message that residents of Montreal island municipalities reject the Parti Québécois’ proposed Bill 60 that would restrict our rights as Canadians and Quebecers,” Côte Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather said. “We hope that people from all faiths, backgrounds and communities will join us to send a message to the PQ government that we respect individual rights and freedoms and reject Bill 60 and the division it has caused.”

Speakers at the rally will be Mayor Housefather, D’Arcy McGee MNA Lawrence Bergman and Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz of Congregation Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem. Hampstead mayor Bill Steinberg and Montreal West Mayor Beny Masalla will also address the crowd.

Mayors are unanimous in opposing “laughable” and “shameful” Bill 60

1 Comment

Housefather_Bill60_Gazette

Well said Mr. Mayor, umm, make that mayors.

I greatly appreciate the clarity and frank talk that I’m hearing from our local mayors beginning with newly elected Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre. The last think we need is more division, more ways of shaking confidence in Montreal’s future and its economic and social development.

Mayors Anthony Housefather and Bill Steinberg were direct and to the point. “Laughable”, “shameful”, “appalling, “immoral.”

As Housefather summed up, “It’s just so sad.”

Thank you to our mayor. And to yours. Quebecers of various stripes must stand up against such a deplorable abuse of fundamental rights.

What’s more, the tabling of this Bill 60, in the days leading up to Remembrance Day, when we honour and commemorate the lives lost and forever altered of those brave Canadians, Quebecers included, is quite poignant. Our war veterans and peacekeepers put their lives on the line, made the ultimate sacrifice, fought for fundamental rights and freedom for people they didn’t even know in faraway lands. What would they say about what the Quebec Government is trying to do with this bill given the sacrifices made by generations before us? Shame. Shame. Shame.

N

Mayors call proposal divisive, appalling and embarrassing

BY RENÉ BRUEMMER, GAZETTE CIVIC AFFAIRS REPORTER. NOVEMBER 8, 2013

The mayors of Montreal and its neighbouring municipalities joined the chorus of dissent against Quebec’s proposed Charter of Values bill Thursday, calling it divisive, appalling and embarrassing, and vowing to defy it.

Montreal mayor-elect Denis Coderre said he would travel to Quebec City to reiterate the city’s objection before a parliamentary committee and the leaders of the provincial political parties, including Premier Pauline Marois. The bill hurts not only the city’s social fabric but its economy as well, and he repeated earlier promises to challenge the bill in court, if it comes to that.

“There is no problem with having a neutral state and open secularism (where people can display religious symbols),” Coderre said. “Integration does not mean uniformity. We define this city by its diversity, and my role is to make sure we keep it.”

Coderre cited a survey taken by the Conseil du patronat, Quebec’s largest employers’ group, which found 63 per cent of business owners opposed the charter and 82 per cent predicted it would have a negative effect on Quebec’s image internationally. He said he would ask Montreal’s newly elected city council to pass a motion opposing the charter as well as the agglomeration council, as they have done in the past.

Côte-St-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather called the bill both harrowing and embarrassing.

“It’s an absolutely appalling piece of legislation and I think it’s something that would be laughed at in any other jurisdiction in North America,” he said.

“It puts religious freedoms at a level where the state itself is imposing restrictions on people’s individual expression of their religious freedom and their dress at work. Of course, while providing an exemption for whatever they consider to be Quebec’s cultural heritage, such as the crucifix.”

Housefather criticized the bill for putting the will of the Parti Québécois over that of local mayors and constituents.

“It devalues the rights of municipalities, hospitals, school boards, and the rights of elected officials at other levels of government and simply imposes their view of provincial government on everybody.

“The people of Côte-St-Luc did not elect Pauline Marois … and whatever values she is talking about are not the values of Côte-St-Luc. This is the PQ trying to appeal to a segment of the electorate for their re-election, and it’s appalling.”

Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg said his municipality wouldn’t even bother to apply for exemptions to the charter because that would give it a legitimacy it does not deserve.

“We will ignore it” if it is voted into law, he said. “Let them take us to court, I don’t care — we can be the test case. We won’t even consider the law. It’s illegitimate, it’s immoral and shameful and we will not co-operate with it at all.”

None of Hampstead’s public employees wear religious symbols, but many have asked if they could in protest if the law comes into effect. Certainly, said Steinberg, who calls Bill 60 the Charter of Shame.

Westmount Mayor Peter Trent said the PQ is trying to “manufacture discord and problems for ulterior motives … for partisan reasons for the final goal for which the PQ was founded.”

He predicted the party has gone too far, however.

“They’ve gone completely beyond reason and I think they will find such a negative reaction they will have to pull back.”

For Housefather, the damage has already been done.

“This is one of the rare times I am so embarrassed by our provincial government,” he said. “Rob Ford is making Toronto a laughingstock. In my view this current Quebec government is making Quebec a laughingstock.

“It’s so sad. It’s just so sad.”

rbruemmer@montrealgazette.com

Twitter: renebruemmer

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette