Prestigious D’Arcy McGee citizenship medals presented

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It was my honour to attend this weeks ceremony by D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum at the CSL Aquatic and Community Center.

The ceremony was set up three years ago by the engaging and charismatic Birnbaum to honour exceptional citizens for their outstanding contribution to society, in particular affecting those of us residing in the D’Arcy McGee riding, which includes Cote saint-Luc, Hampstead and Snowdon west.

This year’s winners were Baruch Cohen, Susan Wener and (posthumously) Jean Lapierre. Jean’s daughter graciously accepted the award. In addition, the Victor C. Goldbloom ‘Vivre Ensemble’ essay contest winner was Reisa Gilfix (Grade 10, Herzliah High School).

The ceremony also included a video presentation by Quebec Pemier Philippe Couillard.

An excellent jazz combo ensemble entertained the crowd from the Saint-Luc secondary school.

Baruch Cohen, left, is feted on his 90th birthday by well-wisher Frederick Krantz, founder and director of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research. (Photo CJN)

Baruch Cohen
Baruch Cohen recently celebrated his 97th birthday. During the second world war, Baruch survived pogroms, anti-Semitism, state-sponsored tyranny and forced labour camps in Romania. He escaped to Israel and later made a life here in Montreal with Sonia, his wife of 73 years. Upon retirement from his position as a financial officer, Baruch completed a Master’s Degree in Jewish Studies. He subsequently devoted 30 years of volunteer service as Research Chair of the the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research. He spearheaded the first holocaust commemoration in memory of Jews killed in Romania and Transnistria 23 years ago, an event that continues to be held annually.

Susan Wener (Photo: The Georgia Straight)

Susan Wener

For 30 years, Susan Wener has dedicated her life to helping others. She is a therapist for people struggling with life-threatening illness. She speaks across Canada at literary festivals, medical conferences, universities and libraries, touching on subjects such as the doctor-patient relationship, integrative cancer care, overcoming obstacles and other topics related to health and well-being. Following a near death experience at 18, Susan knew that her mission would be to work with the gravely ill. She hasn’t looked back since. Her moving memoir, “Resilience” and recent Tedx Talk have reached thousands, far beyond our community’s borders.

 

Jean Lapierre

Jean Lapierre was a former member of Parliament, minister and political analyst on English and French radio and television. He died tragically along with four members of his family in a plane crash into 2016. Lapierre made perhaps his greatest mark in a final career as political analyst. He did regular spots that topped the ratings on Radio 98.5, CJAD, CTV, TVA and other media outlets. His commentaries garnered huge audiences in English and in French, and inevitably elicited reactions from politicians, other journalists as well as regular watchers across the province, who reacted to his daily scoops and analyses and discussions around the water cooler and supper table. What happens in Quebec City and Ottawa can sometimes seem remote and isolated from our lives in CSL, Hampstead and western Montreal. Jean Lapierre made it less so. He deserves our recognition for enriching our lives and widening our horizons.

Congratulations to the winners and the family of Jean C. Lapierre for this well-deserved honour.

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He repaired the world: the loss of a medical giant

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To those who knew Dr. Mark A. Wainberg, he was an unassuming and genteel character with a sweet yet dry sense of humour. On the one hand, he would hobnob with royalty and world-renowned business and political leaders. On the other hand, when he spoke with you on the streets of Cote Saint-Luc or in the halls of the Jewish General Hospital, he made you feel that you were just as important as those other machers (big shots). And to him, you were.

Dr. Wainberg was at once a man of the people, a man of great faith, a real mentch. It was almost hard to fathom that this same man was responsible for saving the lives of millions of people. In the field of medical sciences he was the equivalent of a rock star.

His work changed the world for millions in Africa, for gays, for women. His activism moved multinationals, and countries. He was a force to be reckoned with.

 

Presentation of the 2016 D'Arcy McGee Citizenship Medal - David Birnbaum, Dr. Mark Wainberg, Glenn J. Nashen

Presentation of the 2016 D’Arcy McGee Citizenship Medal – David Birnbaum, Dr. Mark Wainberg, Glenn J. Nashen

Dr. Wainberg was born in Park Extension and made Cote Saint-Luc his home for more than 30 years. He was head of AIDS research at the Lady Davis Institute at the Jewish General Hospital and director of the McGill University Aids Centre. He served as president of the International AIDS Society and presided over worldwide symposiums.

As an extraordinary individual whose accomplishments encircle the globe, and as someone whom I had befriended for nearly 30 years, I was delighted to be the impetus in nominating Dr. Wainberg for a local award just last year – the D’Arcy McGee citizenship medals from the Quebec National Assembly, presented by MNA David Birnbaum.
“I am very grateful that my research career in the field of HIV/AIDS has helped countless people around the world to live improved lives despite being infected by a dreaded virus,” Dr. Wainberg said at the ceremony in his humble office, where I was honoured to be his sole invitee.
Also last year, I asked my fellow city councillors to award Dr. Wainberg with a special recognition for his humanitarian gesture in donating a Torah scroll in Jerusalem in memory of a young woman, Shira Banki, following her brutal slaying at the 2015 Tel Aviv Pride Parade.

Wainberg 2016 Torah donation

“Your work in the area of AIDS researcher is well-known around the world. Your donation of a restored Torah to the Ethiopian community of Jerusalem is a wonderful act. We are proud of you as a distinguished Côte Saint-Luc resident,” Acting Mayor Dida Berku said at the February 2016 presentation to Dr. Wainberg.

 

Wainberg Council Feb 2016

Cote Saint-Luc Council presents a special recognition award to Dr. Mark Wainberg (Feb. 8, 2016)

When I first ran for city council, I reached out to Dr. Wainberg who was then the president of the TBDJ Congregation on Bailey. His support of my campaign and his warm friendship were unequivocal. He asked for nothing in return, satisfied in helping to build his community, one leader at a time.

Having known Dr. Wainberg for so many years I can attest to his profound sense of healing the world. He was a compassionate and benevolent academic and community leader, well deserving of many honours including the Order of Canada, the National Order of Quebec and France’s Legion d’honneur.

Glenn J. Nashen and Dr. Mark Wainberg (Oct. 2009)

Dr. Wainberg’s contributions began here, at home, and spread around the globe. The biblical responsibility of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, was a calling Dr. Wainberg took to heart and to which he dedicated his life’s work.

His work will go on. His name will be remembered. May his memory be a blessing.

 

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Second annual presentation of D’Arcy McGee Citizenship Medals

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The second annual presentation of the D’Arcy McGee citizenship medals took place last Monday evening at the Cote Saint-Luc Aquatic and Community Centre. This ceremony is the brainchild of D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum who also serves as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education and the Minister of Higher Education.

Three winners of this National Assembly medal were recognized for having touched and enriched the lives of riding residents through their community engagement and beyond. The selections were made by a blue-ribbon jury composed of three former D’Arcy McGee MNAs, Justice Herbert Marx, Lawrence S. Bergman and Robert Libman.

David Birnbaum, MNA for D'Arcy McGee

David Birnbaum, MNA for D’Arcy McGee

“I’m privileged to serve a riding population that consistently distinguishes itself by its community involvement, compassion and leadership,” said Mr. Birnbaum. “We are all beneficiaries of this dedication, and I look forward to this formal opportunity to show our recognition to three such individuals.”

This years medal winners are Dr. Mark A. Wainberg, Ian M. Solloway, and Liselotte Ivry.

Presentation of the 2016 D'Arcy McGee Citizenship Medal - David Birnbaum, Dr. Mark Wainberg, Glenn J. Nashen

Presentation of the 2016 D’Arcy McGee Citizenship Medal – David Birnbaum, Dr. Mark Wainberg, Glenn J. Nashen

I was very proud to have nominated Dr. Mark Wainberg, an extraordinary individual whose accomplishments encircle the globe. Dr. Wainberg has been a world leader in advancing treatment for, and awareness of AIDS and HIV. His research and collaboration have helped save millions of lives around the world.
Dr. Wainberg was born in Park Extension and has made Cote Saint-Luc his home for more than 30 years. He is currently head of AIDS research at the Lady Davis Institute at the Jewish General Hospital and director of the McGill University Aids Centre. As president of the International AIDS Society, he organized and presided over the watershed 13th International Congress on AIDS in Durban, South Africa in 2000. The courage and determination inherent in the choice of South Africa for the Congress is emblematic of Dr. Wainberg’s character and his contributions. The congress drew unprecedented international attention to the scandalous lack of access to anti-HIV drugs in developing countries.
Dr. Wainberg is also an active member of his synagogue and his community.
“I am delighted to be the recipient of a 2016 D’Arcy McGee Citizenship Medal and to share this distinction with two very worthy co-recipients,” said Dr. Wainberg last week at a private medal presentation in his research office owing to the fact that Dr. Wainberg’s duties required him to travel to Kenya this week.
“I am very grateful that my research career in the field of HIV/AIDS has helped countless people around the world to live improved lives despite being infected by a dreaded virus,” Dr. Wainberg added.
Last year the city of CSL awarded Dr. Wainberg with special recognition for his humanitarian gesture in donating a Torah scroll in Jerusalem in memory of a young woman, Shira Banki, following her brutal slaying at the 2015 Tel Aviv Pride Parade.
The ceremony and reception made for a lovely event. Kudos to David’s trusty staff including Elisabeth Prass, Chris Savard and Fran Guttman.
An impressive gathering of family members, friends and community leaders came together including former MNAs, mayors and councillors, a cabinet minister, Anthony Housefather MP along with Mrs. Sheila Goldbloom, wife of the former MNA for D’Arcy McGee, the late Dr. Victor Goldbloom. A talented group of young performers with the Ecole secondaire St-Luc Orchestra entertained the attendees. The refreshments were thoughtfully organized by a caterer that donates one sandwich to the homeless or less fortunate for each one purchased for the event.
Birnbaum Couillard 2016-03

The evening ended with a beautiful message from Premier Philippe Couillard appearing alongside MNA Birnbaum.

 

Congratulations to all the winners.
Read more in Mike Cohen’s blog.

Students in D’Arcy McGee riding encouraged to enter contest in memory of Victor Goldbloom

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By: Mike Cohen

David Birnbaum, MNA for D’Arcy-McGee, has  announced the creation of the Victor Goldbloom Vivre Ensemble Essay Contest. Victor Goldbloom, the first MNA for D’Arcy-McGee, first Jewish Cabinet Minister in Quebec, first Minister of the Environment, passed away at the age of 92 earlier this year.  It was one of those deaths which, despite his age, had people saying “he really did leave us too soon.” That is because he was so incredibly active on many dossiers  right up until his death. I was with him at a press conference in December against Bill 86, the proposed law aimed at abolishing school board elections. He was the main speaker.

Dr. Goldbloom  served as Canada’s Commissioner of Official Languages. Dr. Goldbloom was a champion throughout his life of building bridges between English- and French-speaking communities and between those of diverse faiths.

Victor-goldbloom

Dr. Victor Goldbloom

“It seems only fitting that we perpetuate Victor’s tremendous legacy by inviting young people in the riding he represented to explore the principles of openness, compassion and understanding that so marked his life,” noted Birnbaum, who presented the contest to area school principals at a meeting.

All Secondary IV and V students studying within the riding are invited to submit essays of no more than 700 words on the general theme of “Vivre ensemble.” They are entirely free to choose their specific subject to address that theme. Entries can be submitted in English or French, and must include a single-paragraph summary in the second language. They must be received by Friday, June 3, 2016 at 4 p.m. at fran.gutman@assnat.qc.ca.

Birnbaum noted that a single winning entry will be chosen by a jury composed of the MNA, D’Arcy-McGee Liberal Association President Orna Hilberger and  retired Professor and Association member Dorothy Zalcman-Howard. They will be joined by Michael Goldbloom, Victor’s son and Principal of Bishop’s University.

“My father would have been very pleased to have his name given to this wonderful initiative. He wrote beautifully in both English and French and he loved his interactions with students,” Goldbloom noted. “From his first career as a pediatrician and throughout his public life, my Dad always sought to broaden understanding, bridge differences and help to make a better world. This essay competition is a thoughtful way of inviting young people to share that goal.”

MNA Birnbaum inaugurates citizenship medals

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For the very first time, Member of the Quebec National Assembly, David Birnbaum, inaugurated the D’Arcy McGee Citizenship Medals, this evening in Ashkelon Gardens at Cote Saint-Luc City Hall.

The first three inductees were selected by a blue ribbon panel of three former MNAs for D’Arcy McGee riding: Dr. Victor Goldbloom, Justice Herbert Marx and Lawrence Bergman. All three served as ministers in previous Quebec Liberal governments. The dedicated Bureau Chief of the riding office, Elisabeth Prass, served as emcee.

Attending the D'Arcy McGee Medal of Citizenship Ceremony: Cllr. Ruth Kovac, Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil, Energy Minister Pierre Arcand, Hampstead Mayor Bill Steinberg, CSL Mayor Anthony Housefather and Cllrs. Glenn J. Nashen and Mitchell Brownstein

Attending the D’Arcy McGee Medal of Citizenship Ceremony: Cllr. Ruth Kovac, Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil, Energy Minister Pierre Arcand, Hampstead Mayor Bill Steinberg, CSL Mayor Anthony Housefather and Cllrs. Glenn J. Nashen and Mitchell Brownstein

Mr. Birnbaum introduced the medal presentation as a unique and meaningful manner in celebrating the deep involvement and  active participation of the citizens of D’Arcy McGee. Eloquent and sophisticated in speech-making, Mr. Birnbaum spoke beautifully about each award winner as well as in reference to his esteemed predecessor MNAs.

Medal recipients were Paula Brauer Shuster, Samuel Gewurz and Barbara Seal.

Paula Brauer Shuster is a retired teacher who now serves as a volunteer library ambassador in Cote Saint-Luc, offering community input on library programs and serving as driver in the home delivery program to those who are home-bound. She is always involved in book sales, the annual city tomato plant giveaway and Canada Day celebrations. Paula serves lunch at B’nai B’rith House and volunteers for the Pharmaprix Weekend to End Women’s Cancers. Library Director, Janine West, noted in nominating Paula: “Her willingness to help and selfless spirit have made her a very beloved member of the Cote Saint-Luc library family.”

Paula Brauer Shuster accepting the D'Arcy McGee Citizenship Medal in Ashkelon Gardens

Paula Brauer Shuster accepting the D’Arcy McGee Citizenship Medal in Ashkelon Gardens

Barbara Seal is a former citizenship court judge, Hampstead Town Councillor and director of the Segal Centre for Performing Arts. She’s the National President of the Canadian friends of Tel Aviv University and a director of the McGill School for Continuing Studies. In her long professional and volunteer career, Barbara has been chair or director of more than 40 community, educational, cultural and health support organizations. She has lectured widely, has been a lifelong learner, and the recipient of a myriad of citations and awards. She continues to conduct the annual Canada Day Citizenship Ceremony in Cote Saint-Luc.

CSL Mayor Anthony Housefather congratulates Judge Barbara Seal on being presented with the D'Arcy McGee Citizenship Medal

CSL Mayor Anthony Housefather congratulates Judge Barbara Seal on being presented with the D’Arcy McGee Citizenship Medal

Samuel Gewurz is a commercial and industrial real estate developer who has given back to his community throughout his life. He has been recognized with awards for his impact on urbanism in Quebec and for his leadership initiatives to promote staying in school, heritage properties and sustainable development. Sam has been a volunteer advocate and supporter of MADA, which provides groceries and prepared meals for thousands fighting poverty, Hebrew Academy and Canadian Friends of Bar Ilan University, among others. MADA director Rabbi Chaim S. Cohen noted in supporting Sam’s nomination: “We are continuously honoured and awed by his care to MADA and the community. He’s a true leader, paving the path of goodness and kindness in our community.”

Music was provided by the local, talented and energetic high school band, Les jeunes musiciens de l’Ecole secondaire St-Luc.

Congratulations to the medal recipients and to MNA David Birnbaum for this excellent initiative.

Oh what a relief it is

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It was an edge of your seat, sweaty palm, nail biter of an evening… for 18 whole minutes until CTV declared a Liberal victory.

 

I was hunkered down with my political brothers and sister, Anthony Housefather, Mitchell Brownstein and Ruth Kovac (the 2004 Demerger Team) along with Elaine Brownstein and Judy Hagshi. The stakes were high and our cheers were higher each time the red coloured results swiped across the screen. We toasted the election results, appropriately, with red wine.

 

Mitchell Brownstein, Anthony Housefather, Glenn J. Nashen and Ruth Kovac tost the Liberal victory with red wine in red goblets

Mitchell Brownstein, Anthony Housefather, Glenn J. Nashen and Ruth Kovac tost the Liberal victory with red wine in red goblets

We are very pleased with David Birnbaum’s victory in D’Arcy McGee, among the most decisive in Quebec with a 25,000 vote margin. David will be an excellent MNA for our riding. He fills enormous shoes worn by the ever so popular Lawrence Bergman but his experience, eloquence and compassion will take our level of representation to new heights.

 

Cote Saint-Lucers, in particular, will be relieved to see the despicable charter tossed into the National Assembly shredder, proposed language legislation shoved aside, Pauline Marois and her team reduced to crumbs, barely ahead of the CAQ in popular support.

 

So put away the For Sale signs, cancel the exploratory trips to Toronto and pack up your PQ kippa you bought in protest. It’s cool to be bilingual again and the Fleur de Lys flag belongs to us all, proudly next to the Maple Leaf.

 

There is hope that tomorrow will be better than yesterday. We will surely hold M. Couillard to his comments about English in Quebec and our place within Canada. But for tonight, let’s catch our collective breath, and pop an antacid. Plop plop fiz fiz. Oh what a relief it is!

David Birnbaum to run for provincial Liberals in D’Arcy McGee

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David Birnbaum to run for provincial Liberals in D’Arcy McGee. (Montreal Gazette)

D’Arcy McGee MNA Bergman set to step aside

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BY PHILIP AUTHIER, THE GAZETTE MARCH 5, 2014

Longtime Liberal MNA Lawrence Bergman is to announce his retirement and will not seek a new mandate in the next election.

Bergman, 73, the MNA for the riding of D’Arcy McGee, is to make the announcement soon, a Liberal source said late Wednesday.

The rumoured replacement for Bergman is David Birnbaum, executive director of the Quebec English School Boards Association.

Reached at home by The Gazette late Wednesday, Birnbaum refused to confirm or deny he was on his way into politics.

Liberal officials also refused to confirm that Bergman is stepping aside, but the decision reflects leader Philippe Couillard’s efforts to renew the party.

Another senior Liberal — Verdun’s Henri-François Gautrin — also retired, making room for new blood, while Vaudreuil Liberal MNA Yvon Marcoux, 72, announced he would not be seeking re-election. He was the MNA there for 16 years.

First elected in 1994, Bergman was revenue minister in Jean Charest’s government.

He was also chairman of the Liberal Party caucus.

Bergman is a key party link to Montreal’s Jewish community. His fundraising efforts in the community were the stuff of Liberal lore.

His electoral record also was stunning, racking up a 20,000-vote majority in the last campaign.

pauthier@montrealgazette.com

Twitter: philipauthier

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