Irwin Cotler Award presented to Madison Gold

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The City of Côte Saint-Luc is presenting the Irwin Cotler Award to a student at a Côte Saint-Luc school in grade 6 and grade 11 who has devoted themselves to the cause of social justice. “All the schools in Côte Saint-Luc will be asked to nominate one of their students from grade 6 and grade 11 to receive the Irwin Cotler Award,” said Acting Mayor Glenn J. Nashen. “It will be given the student who best exemplifies the act of improving the world and fighting for social justice. This has been the hallmark of Professor Cotler’s life and we think this award is a fitting tribute.”

For the last five decades, Irwin Cotler has devoted his intellect and advocacy skills to the promotion and protection of human rights around the world, first as an international human rights lawyer and later as a Member of Parliament for Mount Royal, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, where he made the pursuit of international justice a government priority. Côte Saint-Luc honoured him on its Human Rights Walkway in 2015.


Global News report

Housefather and Trudeau welcome Chanukah in Parliament

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Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather has made his mark early on in Parliament by co-chairing the annual candle lighting for Chanukah along with York Centre MP Michael Levitt.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lights the Chanukah Menorah in Parliament as MPs Michael Levitt and Anthony Housefather look on

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lights the Chanukah Menorah in Parliament as MPs Michael Levitt and Anthony Housefather look on

Unlike in previous years, Housefather invited leaders from all streams of Judaism as well as from other religion to participate. In addition, MPs from all parties participated in the event which was held last Wednesday night on the fourth night of Chanukah.

Prime Minister Trudeau, a strong supporter of the Jewish community and Israel spoke about the spirit of inclusiveness and respect. “We all come together to celebrate the light that unites as all,” Trudeau said to a gathering that included several invited guests from Cote Saint-Luc including former MP Irwin Cotler, Councillor Mitchell Brownstein and his wife Elaine and Mitch and Jordana Kujavsky.

Elaine Yagod-Brownstein smiles under the towering Prime Minister at the Chanukah celebration in Parliament

Elaine Yagod-Brownstein smiles under the towering Prime Minister at the Chanukah celebration in Parliament

“All Canadians are friends of Israel and all parties support Israel, and going forward we will continue to stand steadfast to our friends and allies around the world,” the PM said. “Happy Chanukah. Chag Sameach,” Trudeau.

Irwin Cotler: Vote for hope, not fear

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Mount Royal Conservative Campaign Turns Nasty, Misrepresents Truth

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Important Statement from Mount Royal Member of Parliament Irwin Cotler on Conservative Misrepresentations

Recently, Mount Royal Conservative candidate Robert Libman sent a postcard to homes in the Mount Royal riding, which in misrepresenting my quote, falsely implied that I did not support the Liberal Party. He then issued a press release which made the same uninformed and misleading statements.

Let me reaffirm again: I strongly support Anthony Housefather who was my law student, who has been an exemplary Mayor of Côte Saint-Luc, and who is a highly knowledgeable, eloquent, effective and caring candidate who is responsive on all the issues of concern to the Mount Royal riding and beyond. He will be an outstanding Member of Parliament.

I might add – though it hardly needs to be said because it is a matter of record over time – that Justin Trudeau, the Leader of the Liberal Party, has my unequivocal support in matters of domestic and foreign policy.”

Mr. Cotler also released this second detailed statement addressing the Conservative campaign misleading press release

Robert Libman’s release to the effect that “Irwin Cotler admits the Liberal Party failure on the fight against terrorism” – and quoting me that “Harper was the only adult in the room regarding terrorism” – are as uninformed as they are misleading.

First, I have been a strong and persistent critic of Harper’s anti-terrorism law and policy (bill C- 51), including: 1) proposing, on behalf of the Liberal Party, a ten-point critique of bill C-51; 2) joining former prime ministers and others in an express critique of bill C-51’s absence of any oversight mechanism, Charter protections, and the like; and 3) critiquing Harper’s bill C-24 with its wrong-headed – and constitutionally suspect – policy of stripping Canadian citizenship and deporting terrorists back to the arena of terrorism.

Second, in the matter of the policy and position of the multilateral mission against Syria and Iraq – and as one who for years has called for the implementation of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine for the victims in Syria – I was astonished, as I said during the House of Commons debate, that the Prime Minister had effectively turned R2P on its head. Initially, Harper made the Canadian mission in Syria conditional upon the approval of the criminal Assad regime; later, when the mission was extended into Syria, it allowed Assad to continue his criminality with impunity. As I said in the House at the time, “to allow the perpetrator of war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and genocide to green light Canadian intervention is to turn R2P on its head. Assad should be a criminal defendant not a coalition partner”.

Third, the government neither briefed, nor consulted, with Opposition leaders re the multilateral mission, nor did it share the necessary information about the mission’s objectives, costs, command, rules of engagement, etc. so as to allow Parliamentarians to make an informed decision. Both as a matter of process – and on matters of substance – the government’s initiatives were a failure.

Fourth, the Liberal Party’s position on the anti-terrorism bill (C-51) are both protective of the security of Canadians and of their civil liberties. In a word, it is a principled position unlike that of the Harper government which refused any of the proposed Liberal amendments to C-51 – such as a necessary oversight process – and therefore was deficient both as a matter of principle and as a matter of policy. In summary, it is not Justin Trudeau or the Liberal Party that have failed in the fight against terrorism. Rather, Prime Minister Harper’s law and policy – and his “playing the adult in the room” (which is what I literally said, rather than “is the adult in the room”), that has undermined – and continues to undermine – anti-terrorism law and policy with its fear-mongering and divisiveness, and thereby undermines the effective fight against terrorism.”

CSL Councillors denounce the misinformation regarding MP Irwin Cotler

Recently Mount Royal Conservative candidate Robert Libman sent a postcard to homes throughout the riding which used the image of our MP Irwin Cotler without his consent and falsely implied that he supported the Conservative Party. Mr Cotler has unequivocally stated that he considers this use of his words and image as misinformed and misleading. What is true, is that Cotler strongly supports Anthony Housefather and Justin Trudeau.

As Cote Saint Luc City Councillors who have been involved in many elections and who have worked closely with both Mr. Housefather and Mr. Libman, we are quite frankly shocked at the way the Libman campaign has abused the good name of Mr. Cotler and deliberately mislead the constituents of our Mount Royal riding.

It is a disgrace to dishonour and attack the reputation of Irwin Cotler by falsely inferring that he supports Harper for PM. The Conservatives and Robert Libman owe our MP an apology and they need to set the record straight. At this time of his illustrious career as most outspoken humanitarian scholar and most respected MP across Canada, Mr. Cotler deserves to be treated with respect and not have his name tarnished in this way.

Regardless of the outcome of the election, this wrong needs to be addressed and Mr. Libman and his team need to recognize the error of their ways for the sake of Mr. Cotler and the residents of Mount Royal.

Read more:

Cotler says Libman misrepresented his position on ISIS – CJN

Waving the flag in CSL

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Rain or shine the party must go on. And so it did under threatening skies for the 2015 Canada Day celebrations in Cote Saint-Luc. And what a fun time it was.

The Incredible Boris takes the stage in Trudeau Park

The Incredible Boris takes the stage in Trudeau Park

We started off with the annual Citizenship Ceremony. Always a moving and emotional experience, expertly presided over by the compassionate Judge Barbara Seal, 38 new citizens from nine countries were sworn in. Smiles were ear to ear as these new Canadians, many of them young children, took the Oath of Citizenship, as did a few of us life-long Canadians as well. With a decorated Mountie by her side the judge welcomed all to the Canadian Family, stating, “You came here today as Permanent Residents but you leave as full Canadian Citizens,” to loud applause.

Canada's newest, and youngest, immigrants

Canada’s newest, and youngest, immigrants

2015-07-01 Canada Day in CSL 2015 012 2015-07-01 Canada Day in CSL 2015 015 2015-07-01 Canada Day in CSL 2015 017

Mayor Anthony Housefather addressed the crowd and with great pride wishing them well in their new home and encouraging them all to soak in this magnificent country. Councillor Mitchell Brownstein, an immigration lawyer, recounted the voyage of his great-grandparents in coming to Canada from Eastern Europe in the early 20th Century.

MNA David Birnbaum, MP Irwin Cotler and Mayor Anthony Housefather welcome the new citizens to CSL, Quebec and Canada

MNA David Birnbaum, MP Irwin Cotler and Mayor Anthony Housefather welcome the new citizens to CSL, Quebec and Canada

Meanwhile families gathered in the covered area known as Confederation Annex for kid-friendly activities, food and exhibits. The stage was all set for the main performances. Global TV hosts Camille Ross, Jess Laventure and Elysia Bryan-Baynes emceed the evening and introduced Beatles cover band, Replay. They took to the stage and performed four incredible sets throughout the evening, wowing the crowd as if they were the real Fab Four. All the classic Beatles tunes were sung and the crowd, which grew in  numbers throughout the evening, sang along.

Up next was The Incredible Boris, renowned hypnotist-comedian who invited up audience members to fall under his spell. Four participants remained “under” for the duration of his show including the giggling Councillor Dida Berku. Boris had them dancing the Congo-line, counting their “eleven fingers”, trying desperately to remember their own names, paddling down the Colorado River and over Niagara Falls, speaking foreign languages and many more zany antics that kept the audience laughing out loud.

Councillors Ruth Kovac, Sam Goldbloom and Dida Berku accept the invitation to be hynotized

Councillors Ruth Kovac, Sam Goldbloom and Dida Berku accept the invitation to be hypnotized

Only Cllr. Dida Berku remined under hypnosis, chuckling throughout the show, as ordered by The Incredible Boris

Only Cllr. Dida Berku remined under hypnosis, chuckling throughout the show, as ordered by The Incredible Boris

Retiring Member of Parliament, Professor Irwin Cotler, was inducted onto Cote Saint-Luc’s Human Rights Walkway and Public Security Agent Johnny “Elvis” Champagne was congratulated on his 35 years of service to our community as his badge was officially retired and presented to him.

35 year veteran of CSL, Public Security Agent Jean-Noel "Elvis" Champagne, accepts his encased badge upon his retirement

35 year veteran of CSL, Public Security Agent Jean-Noel “Elvis” Champagne, accepts his encased badge upon his retirement

As always the festivities culminated in the traditional fireworks display, this year twinned with a spectacular laser light show.

Thanks go out to Recreation Director David Taveroff and his talented team for championing a sensational evening of fun and celebration along with the Public Works crews, Public Security agents and Station 9 police officers. Kudos as well to our talented Communications staff under Darryl Levine and many, many thanks to all of our die-hard volunteers, especially those from vCOP and EMS, who go above and beyond in helping our staff to create the best events and in keeping everyone safe. Special thanks to my co-chair of Canada Day 2015 in Cote Saint-Luc, the indefatigable Mike Cohen.

Happy 148th Birthday!

Fireworks and laser light show capped a fantastic evening in CSL

Fireworks and laser light show capped a fantastic evening in CSL

More on Mike Cohen’s blog

Canada Day in CSL 2015, Celebrate the Flag

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The Canada Day celebration in the City of Côte Saint-Luc on July 1 will highlight the fiftieth anniversary of the Canadian flag and will honour Irwin Cotler with an induction onto the Human Rights Walkway.


“Our Canada Day event attracts thousands of people and it’s an opportunity to honour people who have made a difference, whether somewhere else in the world or here at home,” Mayor Anthony Housefather said. “This year we have decided to induct Professor Irwin Cotler on the Côte Saint-Luc Human Rights Walkway. For the past 5 decades, he has devoted his intellect and advocacy skills to the pursuit of justice around the world, first as an international human rights lawyer and later as a Member of Parliament for Mount Royal, and Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, where he made the pursuit of international justice a government priority.”


All Canada Day activities take place at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park on Mackle Rd. The Irwin Cotler induction takes place at 9:05 pm.

2014-07-01 010 Canada Day Maple Leaf

“To highlight the fiftieth anniversary of the Canadian flag we will be flying a greater than usual number of Canadian flags throughout Côte Saint-Luc,” said Councillor Glenn J. Nashen, who is co-chair of the event.  “Also, the children from our day camps will be producing a banner that will be displayed during the festivities. The theme of the banner is Canada and what does being Canadian mean to you.”


Canada Day will also feature a Canadian citizenship ceremony for new Canadians, live music by Replay the Beatles and a show with The Incredible Boris, comedy hypnotist. Kids will enjoy storytelling, inflatable games, the children’s train, the roaming magician, arts and crafts and more. Other activities include free pedal boats on Centennial Lake, a photo booth, a model airplane show, a model boat show, free cupcakes, and the closing fireworks at 9:45 pm.


See the Canada Day schedule at


“This year’s masters of ceremonies is a tag-team of four anchors from Global TV: Camille Ross, Jessica Laventure, Elysia Bryan-Baynes and Travis Todd,” said Councillor Mike Cohen, who is also co-chair of the event.


Event sponsors include Canadian Heritage, Global, Qualitifruits, Domino’s Pizza, The Suburban,, Quartier Cavendish, RBC, Scotiabank, Chartwell Castel Royal and West Island Music Academy.


In case of heavy rain, many activities would move to the Confederation Annex in Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park. The Canadian citizenship ceremony would be moved to the Aquatic and Community Centre (5794 Parkhaven) at 5 pm. The induction ceremony for Irwin Cotler on to the Human Rights Walkway would take place at 6 pm. The fireworks display would be postponed to Thursday, July 2 starting at 9:30 pm. The kids train and model airplanes and boats would be cancelled.


Côte Saint-Luc rendra hommage à Irwin Cotler et soulignera le 50e anniversaire du drapeau canadien lors des célébrations de la fête du Canada
Les célébrations de la fête du Canada qui auront lieu à Côte Saint-Luc le 1er juillet comprendront cérémonie pour introniser Irwin Cotler sur la Promenade des droits de personne et souligneront le 50e anniversaire du drapeau canadien.
« Nos festivités de la fête du Canada attirent des milliers de participants. C’est aussi l’occasion d’honorer des personnes qui ont contribué à changer les choses, ailleurs dans le monde ou ici dans notre pays, a déclaré le maire Anthony Housefather. Cette année nous avons décidé d’introniser Irwin Cotler sur la Promenade des droits de la personne de Côte Saint-Luc. Depuis  cinquante ans, Irwin Cotler a consacré son intelligence et ses talents de plaideur à la promotion et à la protection des droits de la personne partout dans le monde, d’abord comme avocat des droits de la personne internationaux, puis comme député fédéral de Mont-Royal, et ministre de la Justice et procureur général du Canada, faisant de la poursuite de la justice internationale une priorité du gouvernement. »
Toutes les activités de la fête du Canada se dérouleront au parc Pierre Elliott Trudeau sur le chemin Mackle. L’intronisation d’Irwin Cotler aura lieu à 21 h 05.
« Pour souligner le cinquantième anniversaire du drapeau canadien, nous flotterons un plus grand nombre que d’habitude de drapeaux à travers Côte Saint-Luc, dit le conseiller Glenn J. Nashen, qui copréside les célébrations de cette année. Aussi, les enfants du camp de jour prépareront une bannière qui sera affichée durant les festivités. Le thème de la bannière est le Canada et que cela signifie-t-il pour vous d’être canadien. »
Le programme de la fête du Canada comprend aussi une cérémonie de citoyenneté canadienne pour les nouveaux Canadiens, la musique de Replay the Beatles et un spectacle avec l’hypnotise-comédien The Incredible Boris. De nombreuses activités sont prévues pour les plus jeunes : histoires, manèges gonflables, train des enfants, magicien ambulant,  bricolages et plus encore. Il y aura également des balades gratuites en pédalo sur le lac Centennial, un kiosque de photo, une exposition d’avions modèles réduits, une distribution de petits gâteaux et, pour terminer, les feux d’artifice à 21 h 45.
On peut consulter l’horaire de la fête du Canada à
« Cette année, les maîtres de cérémonie de l’événement seront une équipe de quatre personnalités de Global : Camille Ross, Jessica Laventure, Elysia Bryan-Baynes et Travis Todd », dit le conseiller Mike Cohen, qui copréside également les célébrations de cette année
Les commanditaires de la fête du Canada comprennent Patrimoine canadien, Global, Qualitifruits, Domino’s Pizza, The Suburban,, Quartier Cavendish, RBC, Banque Scotia, Chartwell Castel Royal et l’Académie de musique de l’Ouest de l’île.
En cas de fortes pluies, plusieurs activités auront lieu dans l’Annexe de la confédération au parc Pierre Elliott Trudeau. La cérémonie de citoyenneté aura lieu au Centre communautaire et aquatique (5794 Parkhaven) à 17 h et l’intronisation d’Irwin Cotler sur la promenade des droits de la personne suivra à 18 h. Les feux d’artifice seront reportés au jeudi 2 juillet à 21 h 30. Certaines activités telles le train des enfants et les avions et bateaux modèles réduits seront annulées.

Liebman to join Mayor Coderre on international scene


Howard Liebman outlasted most political attachés. After more than a decade on the job, day and night, for MP Irwin Cotler, Liebman is calling it a day, having accomplished more than most could have expected.
What a tremendous career this young lawyer and family man has had. He worked diligently and passionately on behalf of his boss, arguably the most outspoken Members of Parliament in recent history. Liebman took his job very, very seriously. It was a calling. A career. He could be counted on to represent the MP, at any time, at any place, while his boss traveled the globe on behalf of his human rights dossiers.
Liebman acted as the MP-lite, on behalf of our residents and city and riding. He delivered speeches and greetings, always in attendance at gatherings large and small across the federal Mount Royal riding, encompassing Cote Saint-Luc, Hampstead, TMR, and the Snowdon district of Cote des Neiges – NDG.
Glenn J. Nashen, Ruth Kovac and Howard Liebman at the International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal

Glenn J. Nashen, Ruth Kovac and Howard Liebman at the International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal

“It is with bittersweet emotion that I announce the departure of my long-time, trusted and respected Chief of Staff, Howard Liebman, who has been appointed Special Advisor to the Hon. Denis Coderre, Mayor of the Ville de Montreal, with responsibility for international relations,” Professor Cotler said. “Howard has been an indispensable and loyal leader of this Office and an exemplary public servant, whose commitment and tireless engagement and advocacy for this constituency – and overall public diplomacy and personal counsel – has been without parallel, these past 11 years.”
Howard Liebman and Heather Leckner

Howard Liebman and Heather Leckner

This appointment with Mayor Coderre is a perfect fit for Liebman, who carries himself like a career diplomat. Mayor Coderre is lucky to have gained such an asset on his team.

I wish you lots of success, Howard, and great personal enjoyment. I hope our paths will continue to cross both professionally and personally.

Howard Liebman, Irwin Cotler and Glenn J. Nashen at a briefing at Cote Saint-Luc City Hall

Howard Liebman, Irwin Cotler and Glenn J. Nashen at a briefing at Cote Saint-Luc City Hall


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

Irwin Cotler will not seek another term as Mount Royal MP

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Potential successors include Côte St-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather


MONTREAL – Veteran Liberal MP Irwin Cotler will not seek another term as the member of Parliament for Mount Royal.

Cotler, who was first elected in a landslide victory in 1999 but has seen support for his party diminish in the years since, confirmed on Wednesday that he plans to retire from political life after his current term ends in May 2015.

“There comes a point … where one has to pass the torch to the younger generation,” Cotler, 73, told The Gazette on Wednesday, shortly after making the announcement in Ottawa. “I felt that, to be fair to those who may seek to run, to let it be known as soon as possible that the seat is open.”

Cotler, a law professor and tireless human rights advocate, emphasized that he will continue to serve his constituents and act as a full-fledged member of Parliament until next year’s federal election campaign is over, and that he will support and campaign alongside whoever is chosen to carry the Liberal banner in Mount Royal.

Cotler’s riding — once represented by former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau — has long been a Liberal stronghold. Cotler was first elected in 1999 with a staggering 92 per cent of the vote, but support for the federal party has been slipping in Mount Royal since that time.

In 2011, the Conservatives came within six points of unseating the former federal Justice Minister and replacing him with star candidate Saulie Zajdel. The latter is now facing numerous charges in connection with alleged bribes paid to officials in the Côte-des-Neiges — Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough, and is therefore unlikely to try his luck again in 2015.

Cotler acknowledged that 2011 was not a good year for the party. The Liberals were left with only seven seats in Quebec when the dust settled.

“I suspect there will be a strong turnaround with the leadership of Justin (Trudeau),” he noted.

Potential successors are already jockeying for position in anticipation of Cotler’s departure, with current Côte St-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather the early favourite to win the nomination. Housefather began an initial push last week to drum up support, sending out a letter to potential backers making it clear he wants the job.

According to Cotler, the 44-year-old Housefather would make “a very good candidate.”

“He knows the issues,” Cotler said. “Anthony was actually a former law student of mine, and I remember him as a student being very engaged in the issues of the day. He has remained that way all these years.”

Reached on Wednesday afternoon following Cotler’s announcement, Housefather confirmed he intends to pursue the nomination and that he hopes to speak directly to Cotler in the coming days.

“If I run, I believe I’ll have the vast bulk of elected officials in the riding supporting me,” he said, adding that he’ll also be working to win support among community groups and individual voters.

“I wouldn’t enter any race if I didn’t think I could win. This riding is trending Conservative, and I think that if I became the candidate, I would be able to draw people back … based on personal support.”

There were rumours that Cotler’s chief of staff, Howard Liebman, was another possible successor — but he has reportedly decided not to seek the nomination. The Liberals are expected to hold open nomination meetings in all ridings across the country as early as this spring.

For now, Cotler promised it will be business as usual in his office.

“I’ve loved serving the people of Mount Royal,” he said. “It is a riding that I grew up in, lived in, treasure and will continue to be engaged with — both until the end of my mandate and beyond.

“It’s been a privilege and a pleasure.”

Twitter: monique_muise

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Irwin Cotler — Career Highlights


Former law professor at McGill University, now Professor Emeritus. Cotler has also been a visiting professor at Harvard University and a Woodrow Wilson Fellow at Yale Law School.

Served as counsel to numerous prisoners of conscience around the world, including Nelson Mandela, Natan Sharansky, Saad Eddin Ibrahim and Jacobo Timerman.

Elected to Parliament for the first time in 1999 with 92 per cent of the vote. Re-elected in five subsequent federal elections, most recently in 2011 with 47 per cent of the vote.

Named federal justice minister and attorney general by former prime minister Paul Martin in 2003.

Appointed two female justices to the Supreme Court of Canada, making it the most gender representative Supreme Court in the world. Appointed the first aboriginal justice and first visible minority justice to an appellate court.

Crafted the Civil Marriage Act, legislation that granted marriage equality to gays and lesbians.

Introduced Canada’s first-ever human trafficking legislation as well as legislation for the protection of children and other vulnerable persons.

Initiated Canada’s first prosecution under the War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity Act.

Played an instrumental role in ensuring the inclusion of civil liberties protections in the Anti-Terrorism Act and later initiated the first prosecution under that legislation.

Recipient of 10 honorary doctorates and an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Source: Office of Irwin Cotler

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Contrary to rumours, Liebman not running in Mount Royal

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Jewish Tribune. Feb. 6, 2014. Click to enlarge.

Jewish Tribune. Feb. 6, 2014. Click to enlarge.

Cotler’s Chief of Staff to ‘explore new opportunities’

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I applaud Howard Liebman for his dedication to our MP Irwin Cotler and devotion to the constituents of Mount Royal riding. Having served as a political Chief of Staff I can attest to the endless hours of work, insurmountable demands and constant attention for pressing issues, breaking news and emergent situations large and small. Howard has done a yeoman’s job for the constituents. Yasher koach Howard and may success continue to follow you as you move forward.



Comments on announcement that Irwin Cotler will not seek re-election

Montréal – February 5, 2014 – Ten years ago, I was recruited from my downtown law practice by Mount Royal MP Irwin Cotler, then-federal Justice Minister, for what was slated to be a brief leave of absence of a year or two.

Throughout these 10 years it has been a privilege for me to serve a most distinguished Parliamentarian, Minister, a leading jurist, a national icon, and an internationally-renowned scholar-advocate. His announcement moments ago that he will not seek re-election in the next federal election affects not only his constituency, but all of Canada. I wish to add my voice in tribute and thanks to Prof. Cotler for his service and tremendous impact.

As I reflect on my chosen path of public service over the more lucrative private sector, I see a decade-long mentorship like no other. Prof. Cotler is like a father to me, and I am proud to be treated like a son. Together with my colleagues, I remain privileged to be called upon by neighbours and community to touch lives daily – to try make things better, to advocate tirelessly for the people of the Mount Royal riding, and uniquely, to engage by Prof. Cotler’s side in public diplomacy locally and across the globe with heads of government and the like.

I have received calls to stand for elected office and heart-warming support from grass-roots constituents across the Mount Royal riding, from Prof. Cotler, from long-time volunteers, from community leaders, from friends and from a supportive family. I am humbled and deeply grateful.

I cannot escape the many sacrifices my wife and three young sons have made these many years. The call to public service rings loud for me, yet I am cognizant of the incredible burden my choice would further impose on them at this formative stage of their lives. After deep reflection, and now that Prof. Cotler has announced his intentions, I will be exploring new opportunities. One can never replace Prof. Cotler, but my sincerest desire is that this riding will identify a candidate worthy of their support, capable of continuing Prof. Cotler’s exemplary work, ethics and values. Mount Royal constituents deserve nothing less.



Suite à l’annonce d’Irwin Cotler qu’il ne se portera pas candidat à la prochaine élection

Montréal – Le 5 février 2014 – Il y a dix ans, j’ai été recruté de ma pratique du droit dans le centre-ville par le député de Mont-Royal, Irwin Cotler, alors ministre de la Justice, pour ce qui se voulait un court congé d’un an ou deux.

Tout au long de ces dix années, ce fut pour moi un privilège de servir un parlementaire hautement distingué, un ministre, un éminent juriste, une icône nationale, et un érudit-avocat de renommée internationale. Son annonce, il y a quelques minutes, de sa décision de ne pas se porter candidat à la prochaine élection affecte non seulement sa circonscription, mais le Canada en entier. Je désire rendre hommage au professeur Cotler, et le remercier pour ses années de service et son impact majeur dans la vie de chacun.

Alors que je réfléchis à mon choix du service public versus le plus lucratif secteur privé, je vois un mentorat d’une décade sans égal. Le professeur Cotler est comme un père pour moi, et je suis fier d’être traité comme un fils. À l’instar de mes collègues, je demeure privilégié d’œuvrer au quotidien à toucher les vies de mes voisins et de la communauté – à tenter d’améliorer les choses, à défendre sans relâche les intérêts des résidants du comté de Mont-Royal, et – privilège exceptionnel – à participer aux cotés du professeur Cotler à la diplomatie publique, ici aussi bien qu’avec des représentants et chefs de gouvernements à travers le globe.

J’ai reçu des invitations à me porter candidat et un soutien qui fait chaud au cœur de la part de résidants et résidants de toutes parts du comté, du professeur Cotler, de bénévoles de longue date, de dirigeants communautaires, d’amis, et d’une famille aimante et généreuse. C’est avec humilité et reconnaissance que je transmets à tous mes remerciements les plus sincères et ma gratitude pour cette marque de confiance.

Je ne peux effacer les nombreux sacrifices que mon épouse et mes trois jeunes fils ont faits durant ces années. L’appel du service public résonne puissamment en moi, mais je suis conscient du lourd fardeau que mon choix leur imposerait à une période cruciale de leur développement. Après mûre réflexion, et maintenant que le professeur Cotler a annoncé ses intentions, j’ai décidé d’explorer de nouvelles avenues. Nul ne peut remplacer le professeur Cotler, mais mon souhait le plus sincère est que ce comté saura élire un candidat digne de leur soutien, capable de poursuivre l’œuvre exemplaire du professeur Cotler, avec un égal sens élevé de l’éthique et des valeurs. Les résidantes et résidants de Mont-Royal ne méritent rien de moins.

Irwin Cotler announces he will not seek re-election

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I salute Professor Irwin Cotler, an extraordinary human rights leader and outstanding parliamentarian. May he continue to go from strength to strength.



Ottawa – February 5, 2014 – Longtime Liberal MP Irwin Cotler today announced that he will not be a candidate in the next election, stating “I have enjoyed the honour and privilege of serving my riding, Parliament, and the Canadian people as a whole for close to fifteen years. I look forward to completing my mandate and continuing the pursuit of justice in other arenas.”

Explained Cotler, “When I first ran in 1999, I viewed coming to Parliament as a temporary sabbatical from being a law professor and human rights lawyer; however, given the support and encouragement of my family, constituents, and Parliamentary colleagues, I continued to serve in Parliament, which I consider to be one of the highest forms of public service. Later, Prime Minister Paul Martin invited me to join his cabinet as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. I am particularly proud of my time as Minister, during which I introduced Canada’s first law to combat human trafficking, crafted the Civil Marriage Act – landmark legislation that extended marriage equality to gays and lesbians while at the same time guaranteeing religious freedom – and made the quashing of wrongful convictions a priority.” Cotler was also the first Minister of Justice to democratize the process of appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada.

In Opposition, Prof. Cotler remains a very active Parliamentarian, introducing numerous bills and motions annually. Said Cotler, “It is a privilege and an honour to serve in Opposition as well, working with Members of all parties to advance the causes of justice and human rights for all.” Cotler’s initiatives have included both international and domestic concerns, including: chairing the Save Darfur Parliamentary Coalition; founding and leading Iran Accountability Week; promoting compliance with the Charter of Rights and the rule of law; protecting women’s rights, minority rights, and the rights of Aboriginal Canadians; and,  seeking to ensure evidence-based public policy in the matter of criminal justice.

Continued Cotler, “I will remain a vocal and engaged Member of Parliament serving constituents until the next general election. Beyond that, I look forward to remaining active in public life, lecturing and writing on the issues of the day, advancing the causes of human rights and international justice, and advocating on behalf of political prisoners – efforts in which I have been engaged for over thirty-five years.” He concluded, “I would be remiss if I did not thank as well the staff, interns, and volunteers who have served me so ably over the years, and am most appreciative for their devotion and hard work.”


Biographical Highlights

Prof. Cotler was first elected to Parliament in 1999 with 92% of the vote.  As Minister of Justice and Attorney General, he helped transform the face of the judiciary through the appointment of two outstanding women justices to the Supreme Court of Canada – making the Supreme Court of Canada the most gender representative Supreme Court in the world, while also appointing the first aboriginal justice and first visible minority justice to an appellate court.

While Minister, Cotler introduced Canada’s first-ever human trafficking legislation as well as legislation for the protection of children and other vulnerable persons. He also initiated Canada’s first prosecution under the War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity Act, while spearheading the first-ever National Justice Initiative Against Racism and Hate.

Cotler played an instrumental role in ensuring the inclusion of civil liberties protections in the Anti-Terrorism Act and later as Minister initiated the first prosecution under this legislation. He has been a vocal advocate for international justice and genocide prevention, and the promotion and implementation of the Responsibility to Protect Doctrine.

Though Cotler served as Minister for only a short time, he quashed more wrongful convictions in a single year than any prior Minister, notably in the case of Steven Truscott. And, as part of his commitment to equality and human rights, he crafted the Civil Marriage Act, legislation that granted marriage equality to gays and lesbians while protecting religious freedom.

As an active global parliamentarian, Prof. Cotler has chaired international groups such as the Inter-Parliamentary Group for Human Rights in Iran, the Justice for Sergei Magnitsky Interparliamentary Group, and the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism.

Prior to serving in Parliament, Prof. Cotler was a law professor at McGill University (where he is now Professor Emeritus), and was also a visiting professor at Harvard University and a Woodrow Wilson Fellow at Yale Law School. A noted advocate for civil liberties, Cotler has litigated every section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including landmark cases in free speech, freedom of religion, women’s rights, minority rights, war crimes justice, prisoners’ rights, and peace law.

As well, Cotler has served as counsel to numerous prisoners of conscience around the world, including Nelson Mandela, Natan Sharansky, Saad Eddin Ibrahim, and Jacobo Timerman. He is the recipient of 10 honorary doctorates and is an Officer of the Order of Canada.

City of Côte Saint-Luc to honour Nelson Mandela on Human Rights Walkway

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The City of Côte Saint-Luc will unveil a plaque honouring former South African president and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela on the city’s Human Rights Walkway next summer.
“What makes Nelson Mandela’s story most compelling is not just that he helped end an unjust political system, but that he ensured the new political system didn’t create new injustices,” Mayor Anthony Housefather said. “All too often, new regimes use their new-found power to take revenge against the ones they overthrew. Mandela chose reconciliation over revenge and made the transition in South Africa a model for the world. That’s his legacy.”
The unveiling will take place on July 1, 2014, at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park as part of the annual Canada Day event. More details on the unveiling will be released next spring.
In 2007, Côte Saint-Luc honoured South African parliamentarian Helen Suzman on its Human Rights Walkway. Suzman was a vocal critic of the policy of apartheid. After apartheid ended and when free elections were held, Ms. Suzman was by the side of President Nelson Mandela when he signed the new constitution in 1996.
The Human Rights Walkway, inaugurated in 2000, is located at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park (6975 Mackle Rd.), and is dedicated to men and women who have promoted human rights. The public can learn more about the past honourees at


Last night I attended a tribute event for Nelson Mandela put on by the Cote des-Neiges Black Community Association together with MP Irwin Cotler. The room at Hotel Ruby Foo’s was packed with an overflow audience including mayors Anthony Housefather and Bill Steinberg, Councillors Ruth Kovac, Mitchell Brownstein, Leon Elfassy, Karen Zajdmen, Marvin Rotrand and me, MNA Pierre Arcand as well as members of the diplomatic corps. We were entertained with musical chorus, dancers, poetry and keynote speeches by Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz, Reverend Darryl Grey and MP Irwin Cotler.
Cotler had just returned from the Mandela state funeral in South Africa with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Canadian delegation. He recounted his anti-apartheid advocacy as part of Mandela’s international legal team, his detention in South Africa in 1981 and his encounters with young South Africans living a free life thanks to the legacy of Nelson Mandela.
Prof. Cotler announced, on behalf of Mayor Anthony Housefather that the City of Cote Saint-Luc will honour Mandela on its Human Rights Walkway which was greeted with much enthusiasm.
The evening was stirring, emotional and inspiring. I learned much about the man who is a legend around the world.

Remembering Nelson Mandela

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Memories of Mandela: MPs Mulcair, Cotler moved by South Africa ceremony (Globe and Mail)

A remarkable man, a remarkable legacy – Irwin Cotler on the lessons we must learn from Mandela (Macleans)

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

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