Action Party intros young, future leaders with politicos of all stripes

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Dr. Judy Hagshi, Mayor Anthony Housefather, Glenn J. Nashen, Sandie Sparkman

Dr. Judy Hagshi, Mayor Anthony Housefather, Glenn J. Nashen, Sandie Sparkman

The Canadian Jewish Political Action Party hit the ball out of the park once again last week as hundreds of young and future leaders from Montreal’s Jewish community filled the majestic and fabled Bonsecours Market.

The marquee event, held annually in Toronto and Montreal, brings together many of our community’s young professionals, distinguished business leaders and philanthropists, as well as politicians from all levels of government to celebrate political engagement and support for Canada and Israel. In 2014, almost 2,000 people attended these events, in addition to more than 100 federal, provincial and municipal elected officials.

My wife and I met Mount Royal MNA and Minister of Natural Resources, Pierre Arcand, on the way in. Pierre is one of my favourite MNAs having had the opportunity to interact with him over the years in my capacity as head of communications at the Jewish General Hospital, in his riding. He is open, attentive and interested in his riding affairs. Pierre has the gift of remembering names and faces with ease, a trait I often admired in former Premier Jean Charest.

Kathleen Weil, Minister of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusiveness, Glenn J. Nashen, Pierre Arcand, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources

Kathleen Weil, Minister of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusiveness, Glenn J. Nashen, Pierre Arcand, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources

There was no doubt that we would meet up with D’Arcy McGee MNA, David Birnbaum, and his dedicated, trusty political attaché, Elisabeth Prass. David was elected in the last provincial election a year ago, succeeding longtime MNA and former Minister of Revenue and Leader of the Government Caucus, Lawrence Bergman. Bergman was affectionately referred to as the Minister of Jewish Affairs and David has certainly succeed him in that capacity.

Birnbaum is extremely devoted to his constituents and interfaces very routinely with local mayors and councillors. His staff are equally engaged in riding affairs and keen to problem solve.

MNA David Birnbaum and Councillor Ruth Kovac

MNA David Birnbaum and Councillor Ruth Kovac

Pascal Bérubé is a very interesting member of the Parti Quebecois. I met Pascal a few years ago when I read about his interest in Israel. Finding this fact as somewhat out of sync with the average person I’ve met from the Gaspé I decided to invite him to meet with the leaders of the JGH. The then Minister of Tourism took me up on my offer and he has been a friend of the JGH ever since, and indeed a good friend of the Jewish community.

Glenn J. Nashen, PQ MNA Pascal Bérubé, Mayor Anthony Housefather

Glenn J. Nashen, PQ MNA Pascal Bérubé, Mayor Anthony Housefather

Anthony Housefather is a true friend and colleague. He surely did not need the title of Liberal Party candidate in the federal riding of Mount Royal to spur him into shaking every hand at the party. That’s just Anthony. Always interested in meeting young professionals, asking a little about them and always remembering their names and everything he learned about that person.

Anthony is a great person to be around on these occasions as he’ll provide introductions to all kinds of interesting people and quickly strikes up conversation on topics well beyond politics, with his interest in sports, history, world affairs and so much more. He will make an incredible Member of Parliament.


Conservative stalwart Robert Presser all smiles with Liberal friend Anthony Housefather

Conservative stalwart Robert Presser all smiles with Liberal buddy Anthony Housefather

Kol Hakavod (congratulations or job well done) to community leader Elliot Lifson and organizer Jono Kalles and their entire team. What a fantastic opportunity for young people to connect and mingle with the political strata and to ensure the vitality of the many facets of the Jewish community and supporters of Israel.

Tourism Minister will contemplate promoting Quebec to English-speaking community

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Quebec Minister of Tourism Pascal Bérubé

Quebec Minister of Tourism Pascal Bérubé

Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet with Quebec Minister of Tourism, Pascal Bérubé.

This 37 year-old cabinet member (the second youngest in cabinet) is not your average PQ MNA.  He is personable, articulate in French and English and down-to-earth.  He is also a good friend to the Jewish community and has visited Israel and has even introduced Israeli culture and society to his constituents in the Gaspé.

Bérubé is also no stranger to Cote Saint-Luc having lived on Old Orchard Ave in NDG.

I suggested to the minister that he consider Montreal’s English-speaking community as a target audience for a “Travel in Quebec” campaign.  So few west-end anglos have visited the many extraordinary regions of Quebec, yet are fluent in the towns, shops and restaurants of neighbouring Vermont, Upstate New York and Ontario.

Informally polling my friends, I wasn’t surprised that none were familiar with the Gaspé, North Shore, Saguenay and most other regions beyond the ski centres and popular lakes of the Laurentians and to a lesser extent the Eastern Townships and Quebec City.

I find Quebec to be a fascinating and extraordinary province, having traveled to every province and much of our own.  The Magdelene Islands is breathtaking, the scenic vistas across the Charlevoix is amazing, the North Shore is remote and isolated while the locals are so friendly.  The Gaspé is a very worthy destination (I traveled there overnight by train once) and the Pontiac in the Outaouais is friendly and great for biking along the mighty Ottawa River.

There are so many wonderful opportunities that I’ve personally enjoyed in cycling, photographing and eating my way across the province I call “notre home”.  From St. Louis de Haha to St. Leonard d’Aston, Entry Island to Chisasibi, the people and places in our very own province are magnifique.

I asked the minister to consider targeting a travel publicity campaign to the huge number of English-speaking Montrealers who have yet to visit the sights within our province.  He found the idea to be of interest and committed to giving it consideration.

I also took the occasion to tell Minster Bérubé that Bill 14 is causing the English-speaking community, and bilingual municipalities in particular, an enormous amount of frustration, discomfort and anxiety.  I urged him to think about what he is trying to accomplish with respect to promoting the French language and to do so in a constructive, positive and inviting manner.  Cote Saint-Luc, and many other cities and towns with bilingual status are strongly opposing this mean-spirited draft law, I said to the minister, and surely it is the job of the government to unite all Quebecers around a common idea rather than continuing to divide them, and even punish some, as is the case with this bill.

Overall, I found Pascal Bérubé to be a fine gentleman, someone really willing to hear the other side.  I could see him rising in the ranks as he gains in experience.

Read more: Canadian Jewish News 2011-06-23 Bérubé