Not ruling out law on riding change criteria: Couillard

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Not ruling out law on riding change criteria: Couillard

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard spoke Friday to a full audience of the Côte St. Luc Men’s Club at that city’s Aquatic and Community Centre.

The Premier spoke and answered questions about various issues, including health care, court case delays and seniors issues. He was also asked about the planned provincial riding changes for the next election, including the elimination of the Mont Royal riding as part of a merger with the Outremont riding, and the expansion of the D’Arcy McGee riding eastward.

Local politicians and activists have argued these changes violate the Election Commission’s own guidelines that ridings’ “natural communities” should be respected. Local ethnic communities say they will be split between ridings.

A citizens committee, chaired by Suburban editor-in-chief Beryl Wajsman and former NDG-Lachine MP Marlene Jennings, has hired constitutional lawyer Julius Grey to handle the legal case. Wajsman has been spearheading the fundraising effort for the legal case having raised over $6,000 in crowd funding. He took the opportunity to inform the Premier that the legal challenge will be filed in court before the end of the month.

Couillard told the gathering that the riding issue is not restricted to Montreal, but also affects the Mauricie where two ridings are also set to merge.

“People are not very happy there — it’s not related to language, it’s related to representation [in that area] on a very large territory,” the Premier said.

Couillard explained that it was decided years ago to enable the independent, non-partisan Quebec Electoral Commission to decide on riding changes “to remove petty politics and partisanship from the issue.

“The only way for us to act on [riding changes considered to be unjust] is to change the criteria on which the commission bases itself to make decisions, and for this we need to change electoral law.

“I’m not ruling this out. We’re going to have significant discussions. I know legal recourse has been tabled by the community here on this, and people should exercise their rights. That’s something that should be done.”

Couillard said he is concerned about representation by number.

“On the island of Montreal, the issue is numbers, because you say ‘why is our vote less important, apparently at least than in other parts of Quebec with a smaller population?’”

The Premier said he is also worried about the quality of representation, in relation to the rural ridings, because of their massive size distance-wise.

“We have MNAs who have to literally drive for full days and they don’t even see the whole of their community.”

Numerous dignitaries attended Friday’s speech. Couillard was introduced by D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum and thanked by Côte St. Luc mayor Mitchell Brownstein, and other attendees included Israeli Consul-General Ziv Nevo Kulman, Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather and his chief of staff Bonnie Feigenbaum, Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg, and other MNAs — including Mont Royal’s Pierre Arcand — and Côte St. Luc council members, amongst many others.

Premier Couillard charms his audience at packed Côte Saint-Luc address

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Premier Couillard charms his audience at packed Côte Saint-Luc address

by: Councillor Mike Cohen

It is pretty rare that we see the Premier of Quebec come to speak in the City of Côte Saint-Luc. But this finally did occur on May 12 as Philippe Couillard addressed a standing room only crowd at our Aquatic and Community Centre on Parkhaven Avenue.
Credit is due to our incredible Men`s Club and of course the Member of the National Assembly, David Birnbaum, who made this happen. As event emcee and District 2 resident Sidney Margles pointed out that in his then capacity as new Quebec Liberal Party leader Couillard was slated to address this same group at the urging of Birnbaum`s predecessor, Lawrence Bergman. Something came up at the last minute and his appearance had to be cancelled. The Men’s Club has 560 members and counting.

Couillard CSL

The Premier shakes hands as he enters the room. (Photo: mikecohen.ca)

This time everything worked out just fine. The Men`s Club began distributing reserved tickets a few weeks ago. When I arrived, there was a strong police presence around the building. Couillard did get to the ACC a little late and like a born campaigner he enter the room by shaking as many hands as possible.
One thing must say about our Premier, who by profession was a former professor and neurosurgeon. He speaks both languages so beautifully. While many of us are upset with the significant budget cuts we incurred early in the Liberal mandate and their gutting of the health system, Couillard has this audience eating out of his hands from the get go. He began with some humour, alluding to the massive flooding in different parts of Quebec and the fact he decided to visit an aquatic center. He drew applause immediately when he announced “I will do this speech in English so we can all follow.” He also introduced Greg Kelley, son of Native Affairs Minister Geoff Kelley, as his new point person for Quebec’s English-speaking community. “Anglophone liaison officer,” is the exact title. I met Kelley after the talk. He’s 31 and presently bunking with his parents in Beaconsfield. He formerly worked in the office of government House Leader Jean-Marc Fournier.
Couillard drew cheers again when he previewed his upcoming trade mission to Israel. “This will be my third trip there…it is the first time a Quebec Premier has gone.” More than 100 Quebec business persons and leaders will accompany him. “Why are we doing this?” Couillard asked rhetorically. “Israel is a start-up nation and an example to follow.”

Couillard mentioned the fact that both Air Canada and Air Transat have direct flights from Montreal to Tel Aviv. He also laughed that when he is in Israel, so will controversial US President Donald Trump.
“Since elected our government is doing exactly like we said we’d do; putting our financial house in order.”

The Premier gave a ringing endorsement for federalism. “Some people are telling me that I cannot be a Quebecer and Canadian. We will stand tall for a strong Quebec within Canada.”
Couillard expressed pride about his government’s job creation program. He also pointed to the investments made at the Jewish General Hospital. “This is a hospital that serves all communities,” he said. “My (late) father was treated there in oncology. So was Mr. Parizeau”
Couillard asked, “How do we build our economy in such an unstable world?” He referred to the three pillars: advance manufacturing, exports and entrepreneurship. “You need a strong educational system to build a proper economy,” he said.

Couillard spoke very excitingly about the planned 67-kilometre, $6 billion electric-train system which will connect downtown Montreal with the South Shore, Deux-Montagnes, the West Island and Trudeau airport. “This will be the equivalent of Expo ’67 in 2017,” he said.

Rather than a straight question and answer period, Margles said that members were asked to submit queries. From the 40 or so obtained, he chose to share a few with the Premier related to assisted living for seniors, the availability of family doctors, special needs children, the sale of marijuana and the Quebec Electoral Commission’s decision to merge the Outremont and Mont Royal ridings and change the boundaries of D’Arcy McGee.

Couillard said that he turns 60 in June so he is sensitive to issues related to seniors. “We are devoting significant dollars to seniors,” he acknowledged. “We have many more doctors than we did before – hundreds of new physicians and they are staying in Quebec.”

As for access to family physicians, Couillard said that right now there are 600,000 people more who have this option compared to 2014.

Turning to the sale of marijuana, which will become legal in Canada in July 2018. “An easy thing for me to say that at first glance I think there is merit to the idea,” said Couillard. “It is now controlled by the black market. There is still a tremendous amount of work to be done. My biggest concern is public health. Smoking pot is probably not good for your lungs. Young people now are smoking a product that much worse than the hippy days.”

Couillard also wished to clear up a myth that the province is not going to make a lot of money on this. “If to price it too high you will send people back to the black market,” he remarked. “If you price it too low, you will increase consumption.”

Mayor Brownstein concluded proceedings by thanking the Premier for coming to Côte Saint-Luc and particularly the ACC, which the provincial government contributed one-third of the cost.

Also on hand for Couillard’s speech were provincial cabinet ministers Kathlee Weil, Pierre Arcand and Francine Charbonneau, Mount Royal Liberal Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather, Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg, CSL councillors Sam Goldbloom, Ruth Kovac, Allan J. Levine, Dida Berku and myself and English Montreal School Board Commissioner Bernard Praw.

CSL Men’s Club donates to Italian earthquake relief

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Kudos to the ever active members of Cote Saint-Luc’s Men’s Club. These energetic and youthful men, now numbering over 500, are busy every week with a myriad of activities, lectures, trips and more. Recently, they passed around the hat and ponied up over one thousand dollars to ease the suffering just a tiny bit for those affected by the devastating earthquake in Italy.

csl-mens-club-italian-earthquake-donation-2016

CSL Men’s Club Gala – A Lively Celebration

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The men range in age from their 60s to well into their 90s but you’d think they were all in their 20s the way they partied at last night’s annual gala dinner-dance at the Gelber Centre. President Sydney Kronish served as emcee along with funny-man Manny Young and chairman Joe Presser. The ballroom was packed to capacity with hundreds of members along with their spouses and significant others. The dance floor was filled to capacity and guests filled every corner of the hall in dance and merriment.

Mens Club President Sydney Kronish flanked by Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather, Member of the National Assembly David Birnbaum, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and Members of Council and spouses

Men’s Club President Sydney Kronish flanked by Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather, Member of the National Assembly David Birnbaum, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and Members of Council and spouses

 

The joy of the evening was punctuated by the very sad and sudden passing of club VP Bill Surkis. Bill was slated to be presented with the Man of the Year award for his great efforts in the organization. Having passed away suddenly just one week ago, his brother and members of the family attended to receive his award and support and encouragement from the 500 member club. Bill will be missed by his many friends in the club and by the city.

With Bernie and Cookie Band

With Bernie and Cookie Band

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein addressed the crowd and said, “We cannot change the past and cannot predict the future. So enjoy every moment in the present, in celebration and in good health.”

MP Anthony Housefather is a very familiar face to the members and needed no introduction whatsoever. In his usual good cheer he congratulated the leadership and its members for building a remarkable organization and incredible community. “I was honoured to recognize the hard work and dedication of the Cote Saint-Luc Men’s Club in the House of Commons when 110 members and their partners came to Parliament Hill.”

MNA David Birnbaum’s declaration in the National Assembly on the occasion of the 29th anniversary of the Men’s Club was read aloud and he announced that he is working on getting his “chef”, the premier, to come and address the group.

Men's Club members, many of whom are also from volunteer Citizens on Patrol

Men’s Club members, many of whom are also from volunteer Citizens on Patrol

 

Artist Phil Kurtz, a member of the organization who previously donated an oil painting depicting 150 faces from the Men’s Club and their spouses offered up another one of his works that he painted specifically for the occasion. He described the abstract oil painting as one depicting the active participation, creativity and building of community by his fellow members.

Painting presented to the Men's Club at the 2016 gala by artist and meber Phil Kurtz

Painting presented to the Men’s Club at the 2016 gala by artist and member Phil Kurtz

 

Certificates were handed out to all the 90 year olds, door prizes of golf foursomes were given out and special awards were presented to those members who have given much time and energy.

Former MNA Lawrence Bergman was in attendance with Vivian Konigsberg.

Kudos to President Sydney Kronish and his executive on a sensational evening and a unique and exemplary organization that is active all year long, even down south over the winter. Their Thursday breakfast speakers see upwards of 200-300 in attendance. Day trips around Montreal are generally sold out. Theatre evenings are very popular. I was amazed at seeing over 200 members when I was the guest speaker for their winter luncheon in South Florida a couple years back.

To 120, gentlemen!

At the 2016 Men's Club Gala with President Sydney Kronish and my dad, George Nashen

At the 2016 Men’s Club Gala with President Sydney Kronish and my dad, George Nashen (looking good at 93!)

Intensivist doctor Paul Warshawsky tells it like it is at JGH Mini-Med School in CSL

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Glenn J. Nashen and Dr. Paul Warshawsky at JGH Mini-Med School 2016

Glenn J. Nashen and Dr. Paul Warshawsky at JGH Mini-Med School 2016

“I’m not afraid to use the word ‘death'”, Dr. Paul Warshawsky told the audience. There’s no point of sugar coating the inevitable. We need to speak in sensitive yet clear terms, the chief of the Jewish General Hospital Intensive Care Unit told the audience at the 14th annual JGH Mini-Med School.

This year Mini-Med is presented at the Cote Saint-Luc Men’s Club. This is the first time Mini-Med is delivered in the community as opposed to in the hospital.

Dr. Warshawsky was true to the slogan of the JGH Mini-Med School, in delivering Medutainment to the masses. As the founder of JGH Mini-Med School I picked up the term, a play on the words medical, educational and entertainment, as coined by my good friend and well-known pediatrician from Tiny Tots, Dr. Ben Burko.

The hour-long presentation at the Cote Saint-Luc Aquatic and Community Centre earlier this week touched on the major aspects of the ICU: its people (doctors, nurses, orderlies, social workers, nutritionists and many technicians), the vast array of high-tech equipment and the types of patients routinely admitted to the unit.

By coincidence, the brand new, state of the art facility had just been inaugurated with a ribbon cutting ceremony a few hours before the Mini-Med lecture. With a generous bequest from the Azrielli Foundation, the unit was renamed in honour of the philanthropic family.

Dr. Warshawsky stressed the importance of having a Living Will, keeping it up to date and ensuring family is informed. We care for the most critically ill with sensitivity and compassion, Dr. Warshawsky said, with an incredible multidisciplinary team of highly skilled professionals. Family members are a very important part of the equation, he added, given that often the patient can no longer speak for themselves.

The good doctor was informative and funny which was most helpful in easing the tension with such a serious topic. The audience appreciated the talk and will be looking forward to the fifth and final lecture with endocrinologist, Dr. Tina Kader, on September 27. Tickets are $10 and will be available at the door starting at 6:30PM with the lecture beginning at 8PM.

Congratulations to the Men’s Club organizers: President Sydney Kronish, 2nd VP and resident funny-man Manny Young and 1st VP and tech wizard Bill Surkis who put on an excellent event.

Put on a white coat – You’re going to Med School

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Côte Saint-Luc Men’s Club presents JGH Mini-Med School. Open to all.

If you haven’t yet participated in the JGH Mini-Med School, now’s your chance to join the hundreds of “mock-tors” who have unlocked mysteries about their health, without the long hours and tiring exams of regular medical school!

The innovative, educational and entertaining JGH Mini-Med School returns to the Côte Saint-Luc Aquatic and Community Centre this spring and summer, and the JGH and Côte Saint-Luc Men’s Club are inviting Montrealers to don their lab coats once again to hear straight talk in non-technical language from some of the JGH’s most dynamic physicians and researchers.

“By making reliable health information available to Montrealers, the JGH Mini-Med School seeks to encourage people of all ages to better manage their health”, says Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg, President and CEO of the Integrated Health and Social Services University Network for West-Central Montreal. “The JGH and Côte Saint-Luc Men’s Club share a commitment to reaching out to the community through public education programs.”

The 2016 series promises to be as enlightening and entertaining as ever, as participants will hear little-known facts on a variety of medical issues from the JGH’s medical professionals. Speakers include Francine Dupuis (Associate Executive Director – West Central Montreal Health), Alan Maislin (Chair of the Board of Directors- West Montreal Health), Dr. Yves Longtin (Chief, JGH Infection Prevention and Control Unit), Dr. Nathalie Johnson (JGH Divison of Hematology), Dr. Paul Warshawsky (Chief, JGH Department of Adult Critical Care) and Dr. Tina Kader (Endocrinology).

Where: Côte Saint-Luc Aquatic and Community Centre, 5794 Parkhaven Avenue, Côte Saint-Luc

When: Tuesdays May 31, June 28, July 26, September 13 and September 27 at 7 p.m.

Registration is now underway at jgh.ca/en/JGHMiniMedSchool or by calling 514-340-8222, local 3337.

Due to the overwhelming response of the previously sold-out Mini-Med sessions, we encourage everyone who is interested in enrolling in the program to register and provide payment as soon as possible. Space is limited.

The fee is $50 for adults and $35 for seniors (55+) or students (with valid I.D.) for all five English sessions.

Housefather lauds CSL Senior Men’s Club in Commons

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Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather lauded the work of the Côte St. Luc Senior Men’s Club in the House of Commons last week.

A large contingent of club members was on hand in Ottawa last Wednesday.

“The Côte St. Luc Senior Men’s Club is the largest senior men’s organization in Quebec,” Housefather said. “With over 520 members, it plays a huge role in the life of our community. Whether through its breakfast meetings, current events group, golf days, or bowling leagues, it keeps its members young and vibrant. They take care of each other and are a social network beyond compare.”

The MP added that the club began when the community’s World War II veterans were retiring and wanted to give back in other ways.

“Today’s members continue that tradition by participating in organizations like Volunteer Citizens on Patrol and assisting our Legion with its poppy campaign,” Housefather explained. “I was honoured to work closely with the club for many years as mayor and will continue to do so as an MP. May they go from strength to strength.”

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