Anthony Housefather Steps In To Keep Christmas Poem Tradition Alive In House

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POLITICS 12/12/2019

With big shoes to fill, a Liberal MP’s spin on a popular Christmas tradition had the House of Commons roaring with laughter Thursday.

Montreal MP Anthony Housefather rose before question period to assume the mantle left vacant by Rodger Cuzner, the popular former Nova Scotia MP who did not run again this year after serving 15 years in Parliament.

Every year, Cuzner penned a parody of “Twas The Night Before Christmas” that took good-humoured jabs at political rivals just before everyone headed home for the holidays.

“Twas the last sitting week before Christmas and who knew? Cuzner’s Christmas poem tradition would be assumed by a Jew,” Housefather began, yielding a standing ovation off the top.

Liberal MP Anthony Housefather is applauded by colleagues during a speech in the House of Commons on...
Liberal MP Anthony Housefather is applauded by colleagues during a speech in the House of Commons on Dec. 12, 2019.

Housefather treated the Tories with kid gloves, an apparent rewrite after the earlier announcement from Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer that he will step down.

“For our Conservative colleagues, I know today has been a shock. In the spirit of the holidays, I’ll go straight to the Bloc,” he said.

Housefather even navigated the tricky terrain of Quebec’s Bill 21, which prohibits some civil servants in the province from donning religious symbols on the job. Bloc Leader Yves-François Blanchet is an outspoken supporter of the controversial law.

“The Bloc leader, flush with success… for Mr. Claus, he had but one request,” he said. “When flying over Quebec, please remove that red suit. It’s a religious symbol, and ugly to boot.”

The MP even had a joke lined up for his boss.

“When it comes to our PM, we know what he wants, all being equal. No more hot mics and a new Star Wars sequel,” he said, a dig at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s headline-grabbing comments about Donald Trump on the heels of the NATO summit in London this month.

“So I wish all members some holiday cheer. Enjoy your family and friends, and maybe some beer,” Housefather said. 

“And when we come back in January, let’s see the light. Let’s work together for Canadians and let’s get it right.”

Not bad.

Not bad at all.

Year End Roundup: Inside City Hall with Mayor Mitchell Brownstein

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Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein has done a magnificent job in rallying all those around him since becoming mayor nine months ago. Mitch has brilliantly achieved consensus among members of council, has strengthened the city administration and brought our unions onside.  He is building upon a magnificent legacy created over a decade by former Mayor Anthony Housefather.

As an outgoing, effervescent and engaging full-time mayor. He created this wonderful recap of Cote Saint-Luc activities and accomplishments in 2016.

“We are a very special family,” the mayor said. Enjoy this video, these beautiful holidays, and take the time to count your blessings and appreciate all we have and the good times we share.”

Santa parade does little to welcome English-speakers

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Montreal's Santa Clause Parade 2014 - A unilingual event

Montreal’s Santa Clause Parade 2014 – A unilingual event (Photo credit: Destination Centre Ville)

What a terrific, festive Montreal experience I had with my son on Saturday. It was the first time my five year boy experienced such a major event. And right out of the mouths of babes he asks: Why is everything in French, daddy?

It really is quite incredible – and not in a very positive way – that the reality that is multicultural and multilingual Montreal is totally ignored by the organizers of this annual sensational parade. Barely a word was uttered in English. Hardly a song was played in English. Nary a sign was displayed in English.

Yet there was a huge crowd of non-francophones present: Anglos, multicultural communities, tourists and so on.
Is the downtown merchant association that funds this wonderful event so disconnected from their customers and the demographics of Montreal? The near complete absence of English in the parade was startling.
Let me be clear. I understood just about everything that was displayed in French and have no issue with all signage and announcements being in French. But why not in English as well? The evident lack of respect for English-speaking people and Montreal’s English-speaking community was astounding. Not quite the message of joy and generosity of the holiday season that I was expecting.

Santa Claus was perhaps the only one wishing all a Merry Christmas in English and French

Santa Claus was perhaps the only one wishing all a Merry Christmas in English and French

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

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

 

vCOP ready to help

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Thanks, once again, to our friendly neighbourhood Citizens on Patrol volunteers who are out on patrol on the streets of Cote Saint Luc doing their best to help out our Public Security Department and our residents and visitors.

vCOP patrol assist a stranded motorist until the arrival of a towing service

vCOP patrol assist a stranded motorist earlier this week until the arrival of a towing service (Photo: Barry Levine)

vCOP patrollers Barry Levine and Bert Rabinovitch were out on patrol earlier this week when they happened upon a stranded motorist on Cavendish Blvd. near Kildare Road. They followed their protocols by ensuring the motorist was alright and called in for a tow truck and awaiting its arrival to ensure the motorist and passing vehicles were safe and secure.

As well, their presence meant that CSL Public Security was not needed to be pulled off of their patrol.  In this was, PS was able to continue their patrols, on the lookout for more serious situations and able to continue to enforce municipal bylaws, while Barry and Bert waited for a tow truck to arrive.

vCOP ensuring safety of the annual Chanukah Menorah parade through CSL

vCOP ensuring safety of the annual Chanukah Menorah parade through CSL (Photo: Peter Dascal)

On Monday, December 1, there was a Chanukah parade through the streets of Cote Saint Luc, and vCOP was on hand to help out. Here we can see vCOP patrollers Mark Bessner and Issie Karpman bringing up the rear of the parade procession, ensuring an orderly and safe event. vCOP collaborates under the command of police and Public Security to add to the level of security offered to our residents and visitors.

vCOP members Joseph Wajsberg and David Guttman were also on hand as well to assist with crowd control and parade security. Nearly 700 people attended the rally last Monday which featured the Menorah lighting, Christmas tree lighting and a rally in favour of religious freedom and against the governments charter of values.

Thank you again to our dedicated vCOP volunteers as well as to our Public Security agents and local police officers for ensuring the safety of all residents and those visiting our city.

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.

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“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.”

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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

Parking-gate: PQ minister takes aim at Jewish ‘parking tolerance’

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How lucky we are that the PQ isn’t in charge of parking.

That didn’t stop PQ Democratic Institutions Minister Bernard Drainville from coming up with the latest moronic notion of what parking rules would look like in an independent Quebec where the PQ would control everything from pasta on menus to the language kids may use while playing in the schoolyard.

PQ parking rules would never accommodate any Jew whose religion prohibits him or her from driving on a holiday. But G-d forbid that Quebec would ever remove the display of Christmas trees, or close roads for a Santa Claus parade or remove the crucifix from the National Assembly. Not to mention other tolerances such as road closures for the St. Patrick parade or Italian festival or any number of multi-cultural or religious festivities enjoyed by hundreds of thousands across Montreal. Secularism in the PQ’s Quebec is one way, against “les autres”.

The PQ doesn’t miss a chance to insult or denigrate one minority or another in its pursuit of linguistic purity and uni-culturalism. Whether it’s parking, playgrounds or pasta this mean-spirited and ill-advised government has shone a light on itself for the world to see.

Does parking tolerance here or there threaten the French language any more than a christmas tree threatens Judaism?

The vast majority of Quebecers know that accommodation is reasonable, that tolerance is welcoming. The PQ should figure it out too. Live and let live. Park and let park.

Read more:

PQ minister takes aim at Jewish ‘parking tolerance’ in apparent attempt to inflame Quebecers | Full Comment | National Post.

Celebrating with the senior ladies

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Councillor Glenn J. Nashen with Senior Social Club President Barbara Ackerman

The Cote Saint-Luc Senior Social Club is a bustling club with women from around the city who get together regularly for entertainment, education and all sorts of activities to fill their days with joyful pastimes.

Club president Barbara Ackerman welcomed Members of Council to their annual holiday luncheon celebrating Chanukah and Christmas simultaneously.  This year’s feature entertainment was the choir from Roslyn Elementary School.  Under the guidance of teacher and conductor Brigitte Couchemar the children belted out tunes spanning the holidays from classics like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to some original Chanukah numbers.  The Grade 6 students were warmly applauded after each number and were treated to Chanukah Gelt, or chocolate money, an age-old tradition used as reward when playing dreydle games.

Roslyn School Choir perform Christmas and Chanukah songs

If you, or a senior lady you know from  Cote Saint-Luc hasn’t yet hooked up with this club, it’s time to call and start participating.