Housefather holds first summit of elected officials

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Anthony Housefather's first summit of elected officials at Cote Saint-Luc City Hall, July 13, 2016

Anthony Housefather’s first summit of elected officials at Cote Saint-Luc City Hall, July 13, 2016

This morning I attended the first ever Summit of Elected Officials in the Mount Royal Riding. Organized by federal MP Anthony Housefather this was the first time that our local MP has organized such an encounter for all elected representatives at all three levels of government and school commissioners.
Housefather’s staff highlighted federal grant opportunities and programs for municipalities and local not for profit and community organizations. Excellent information that we will be consulting city staff on and bringing back to my office at West-Central Montreal Health at the Jewish General Hospital.
Significant discussion took place on the extension of Cavendish Boulevard from Cote Saint-Luc to St. Laurent. This is the first time in the half century this project has been debated that all involved parties are sitting around the same table. This crucial project includes all levels of government as well as CP Rail and Canadian National Railways.
Additionally, we reviewed the mega 15/40 “Royalmount project” and received updates on the Blue Bonnets development. The 15/40 is a $2 billion project which will be totally private. It is the largest development of its sort in Quebec. The mega entertainment and shopping complex will include five hotels and an interior water park. Carbonlea is the same developer at the 10/30 on the South Shore. Plans are to make it one of the most visited tourist spots in Quebec. They are also seeking a metro and electric light rail connection as well as major public transit and bike routes. Construction is set to begin in 2018 and to be completed in 2021.
Housefather has made it a priority to bring together local representatives and to open up channels of dialogue. To his credit, this is the most in-depth and involved gathering of this sort ever organized by our local MP. The dynamic and engaging MP brought his entire staff of six assistants (four from Montreal and two from Ottawa). His staff has begun attending all public council meetings in the riding as well.
Housefather indicated that he worked very hard on the federal End of Life legislation, making it fair and equitable for all Canadians. He is proud to indicate that the Liberal government has agreed to reinstate the Court Challenges Program that had been disbanded by the previous Conservative government. This is of significant importance to minority language communities, especially the English-speaking communities of Quebec.
I put forward my opinion that it was ill-advised for the previous Conservative government to have scrapped the Long Gun Registry and reprehensible that the data collected was trashed. While it’s good for Quebec to have its own registry this will have limited effect, acting on its own.
Moreover, our cities and country would be far safer without guns (except for anyone who absolutely requires one). Anthony and I are in total agreement on this position. I hope other MPs will be convinced as well by their constituents. While we are far better off than our American neighbours in this regard we can still do much better.
CSL was represented by Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and Councillors Ruth Kovac, Allan Levine and myself.  Town of Mount-Royal Mayor Philippe Roy and Councillors Joseph Daoura and Minh-Diem Le Thi and Hampstead Mayor Bill Steinberg and Councillor Michael Goldwax participated along with representatives of the CSDM, Borough of CDN-NDG as well as MP Marc Garneau’s office.
The next “Anthony’s Assembly” public forum takes place on Thursday, July 14 at CSL City Hall at 7:30pm.
August 28 is Anthony’s Family Fun Day in Van Horne Park. Open to all, there will be inflatables, bingo, hot dogs, food trucks and more.
On November 13 the Mount Royal riding office will host its first job fair at Lavoie School in conjunction with Agence Ometz.
Congratulations to the omnipresent and indefatigable Anthony Housefather and his dedicated staff for organizing this excellent summit.
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Learning from Canada’s best at FCM

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Close to 2000 of Canada’s municipal leaders gathered last week at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Annual Conference and Trade Show in Niagara Region. They had opportunities to learn from experts, attend workshops on a variety of issues, and network with colleagues. There was a lot of discussion on how to influence the federal government to ensure that Canadians have the quality of life they deserve, and enabling the innovation that creates jobs and growth in this country.

Pleased to join my colleagues Councillors Mitchell Brwonstein, Ruth Kovac, Sam Goldbloom (with wife Beverly) and Allan Levine at FCM conference

Pleased to join my colleagues Councillors Mitchell Brownstein, Ruth Kovac, Sam Goldbloom (with wife Beverly) and Allan Levine at FCM conference

From investing in our roads, bridges, transit and water system to making sure all Canadians have a decent pace to live, we know many of the solutions lie in strengthening our hometowns and their ability to be innovative and responsive.

From the largest cities to the tightest knit communities across Canada, more than 2000 member municipalities share a common passion and a belief in building a strong Canada from the ground up. Much of the discussion revolved around the frontline role municipalities play in delivering key services to Canadians.

Delegates also had the opportunity to hear from, and influence speakers, representing all parties including three leaders of opposition parties (Liberals, NDP and the Green Party) and two federal ministers.

Municipal leaders left the conference with knowledge, resources and a strong commitment to champion municipalities and the key services they provide to Canadians.

I always spot interesting and helpful road signs when I travel. This would be a neat safety feature around Montreal.

I always spot interesting and helpful road signs when I travel. This would be a neat safety feature around Montreal.

We are leaving the Niagara Region with a united message that a strong Canada begins with strong hometowns. These are the services Canadians rely on and we know that they want to see all levels of government cooperate to make our hometowns stronger.

In fact, municipal leaders from coast to coast will be pushing that message to the top of the agenda in the next federal election.

Continuously seeking new ideas to improve the quality and delivery of local services requires learning and networking on the part of the administration and elected officials. The FCM does an extraordinary job of bringing together mayors, councillors, reeves, wardens, commissioners and other local elected officials from across the country to advance the cause of where we live: home.

My fascination with ending dependency on fossil fuels continues. I hope to see electric vehicles tested in the Cote Saint-Luc fleet soon.

My fascination with ending dependency on fossil fuels continues. I hope to see electric vehicles tested in the Cote Saint-Luc fleet soon.

I have benefited greatly from experts and fellow councillors who have immense experience in disaster readiness, urban planning, public safety and all aspects of municipal life and services. It is incredibly informative to discuss how other elected officials from other cities and towns deal with issues of doing more for their constituents without relying on more taxes, for example.

The session on extreme weather and how it is affecting all of our communities was an eye opener. Dr. Blair Feltmate from University of Waterloo demonstrated that there are techniques in urban development that all cities should be engaging in to safeguard current and future residents as our country, and indeed the world, continues to grow in population, well beyond a sustainable threshold.

Experts urging immediate action by municipalities to mitigate extreme weather disasters

Experts urging immediate action by municipalities to mitigate extreme weather disasters

Experts in emergency preparedness, public safety and rail safety instructed delegates in always being prepared, in constant planning and most of all, ‘practice, practice, practice.’ Disasters are not remote possibilities. They will occur, sooner or later. The experts all say that. This is not news to Cote Saint-Luc or to me, having dedicated most of my life to this area of civic engagement.

Calgary Mayor Nahid Nenshi is a masterful communicator with younger voters thru his use of social media. It's nice to see Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre following Nenshi's lead.

Calgary Mayor Nahid Nenshi is a masterful communicator with younger voters thru his use of social media. It’s nice to see Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre following Nenshi’s lead.

I salute outgoing FCM President and Lachine Borough Mayor Clause Dauphin, whom I have observed for many years. Claude is a talented, energetic and charismatic leader who has led FCM for the past year with determination and purpose. I am amazed how he championed the FCM, ran for reelection in Lachine and still managed time for constituents, family and himself in just one year. Bravo to Claude for his public service.

I appreciate the opportunities to meet with mayors from across town and around the country. Councillor Kovac and I had an interesting chat with the dynamically talented Town of Mount Royal Mayor Philippe Roy.

I appreciate the opportunities to meet with mayors from across town and around the country. Councillor Kovac and I had an interesting chat with the dynamically talented Town of Mount Royal Mayor Philippe Roy.

Thank you FCM for this marvelous opportunity in becoming better educated and informed about major issues affecting all of our hometowns. I am better equipped to serve my constituents having learned from Canada’s leading experts.

Always dediacted to prototing first aid and CPR training I was thrilled to bump into this Toronto Pearson International Airport firefighter in the departure area

Always dedicated to promoting first aid and CPR training I was thrilled to bump into this Toronto Pearson International Airport firefighter in the departure area

 

Time: In Quebec’s War on English, Language Politics Intensify

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Protesters opposing Bill 14 demonstrate outside the office of Quebec Premier Pauline Marois. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press.

Protesters opposing Bill 14 demonstrate outside the office of Quebec Premier Pauline Marois. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press.

The PQ government’s horrible Bill 14 continues to embarrass this province around the world.  This month’s Time Magazine exposes the narrow-mindedness of this discriminatory draft law.

Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather continues to play a leadership role in opposing Bill 14 and has been quoted in this article and several others across the country. We’re lucky to have him and other such as Town of Mount Royal Mayor Philippe Roy to speak up in defence, not only of the English-speaking population, but all Quebecers in favour of equality among citizens, a vibrant economy and a better, fairer society.

You can read the full article here: In Quebec’s War on English, Language Politics Intensify | TIME.com.

Housefather and Roy defend English-speaking cities

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Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather and Town of Mount Royal Mayor Philippe Roy appeared before the Quebec National Assembly hearings into Bill 14 this morning.  They did a stellar job at defending the acquired rights of the English-speaking communities residing in 86 bilingual municipalities and boroughs throughout the province.

The snarky language minister Diane de Courcy pressed the mayors on why they hadn’t consulted their residents (in a referendum) as to whether or not they wished to have bilingual status, suggesting the mayors spoke emotionally and not based in fact.  Such chutzpah and warped logic, to poll the majority on the rights of the minority, is to be expected from the narrow-minded PQ.  A testy liberal MNA Geoff Kelley shot back that the PQ themselves hadn’t consulted the population before they wiped out these two cities through forced mergers.  His microphone was abruptly shut off for being too smart.  Way to go Geoff!

“It concerns me that you haven’t consulted your residents,” de Courcy asked of Housefather.  “And, you haven’t consulted other areas, such as Cote des Neiges-NDG, that would probably vote to acquire bilingual status,” a very wise Housefather retorted.

Housefather went on to press his point.  “In some countries, bilingual status is obligatory in municipalities where 5% of the city’s population is a minority community. Nowhere, other than Quebec, is it prohibited to have bilingual status unless the minority forms the majority,” the mayor quipped, in reference to Bill 14’s provision that a city would lose its bilingual status if its minority language population fell below 50%.

When asked what he would propose as a way to make Bill 14 acceptable to municipalities, Housefather responded he was not prepared to negotiate away fundamental rights.  Roy stated that the autonomy of city councils must be respected as they are closest to the people, best placed to represent its residents.

While PQ MNA Daniel Breton spoke in exclusionary and divisive language the mayors described their towns as inclusive, where respect and equality prevail, as should be the case with all Quebecers.  “What do you propose we do for immigrants to make Bill 14 better?” the MNA asked.  Housefather replied, “If my parents moved to Quebec with me in the 20s, if I’ve used English as my preferred language for 90 years, and if I’m now excluded from your calculation as to who is an English-speaking Quebecer, you’re draft law is unfair!”

Housefather explained that there are three ways of classifying language in the census: mother tongue, language used at home and preferred language.  Bill 14 chooses the most restrictive classification: mother tongue.  A Quebecer is branded by the language of his or her mother, effectively reducing the English-speaking community in Quebec by nearly 300,000 individuals.

D’Arcy McGee MNA Lawrence Bergman was next to speak.  He said that is all of his years in elected office he had never received so many calls from constituents as he did for this bill, except against the forced mergers.  He read a letter from a local English-speaking resident of Italian origin who wrote that his family chose to live in Cote Saint-Luc because of its welcoming, bilingual environment.  None of his family are considered as English-speaking in this legislation.

Housefather too said he had not seen such fierce opposition to a draft bill, save for the mergers, in his 17 years in city hall.  Bill 14 scares English-speaking people, he said.  The message of the bill, Housefather said, is that English-speaking people are not respected.  “You’re a problem,” the bill tells us.  “We’ve evolved.  We’re bilingual.  We built our city, and we’ve been a majority in it for years!” the mayor told the commission.

The CAQ member, Nathalie Roy was only partially opposed to the bill, unfortunately.  “The CAQ doesn’t want bilingual status to be touched.  Cities need to be able to decide for themselves.  This is an acquired right of the minority community,” the MNA said.  She then asked Housefather what would happen if the bill passed?

“There would be chaos,” Housefather asserted.  “Either the city would refuse to obey the law and would fight it in court or you’d have citizens in the streets,’ the mayor concluded. “It would change daily life, the way we live.”

Thankfully the English-speaking community was represented by such fine individuals such as Housefather and Roy.  They spoke with passion and conviction and although I’m confident that bilingual status provisions of the french language charter will remain unchanged it remains to be seen if Bill 14 will be scrapped in it entirety and deposited in the trash bin of of oppressive Quebec legislative history where it rightfully belongs.

Housefather gets first kicks at Bill 14

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Mayor of Côte St. Luc, Quebec, Anthony Housefather

Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather will be among the first to present a brief to the National Assembly commission reviewing the odious Bill 14 that gets started this morning.

Housefather, a lawyer and former president of the English language rights lobby Alliance Quebec will press for status quo for the 85 bilingual municipalities and boroughs in Quebec who already enjoy relative language peace in civic matters.

Housefather will be joined by town of Mount Royal Mayor Philippe Roy. The two mayors will be representing the Association of Suburban Municipalities , the group bringing together the demerged cities on the island of Montreal.

Bill 14 is a shameful piece of work introduced by the PQ government. Ultimately, the law would punish Anglo Quebecers by further restricting their rights and freedoms. The bill, if adopted, would create more anxiety and discomfort not only among English speaking Quebecers but would do the same to small business owners and even to military families who’s children would no longer benefit from the exemption from attending French language schools since they constantly move around the country.

The government ought to have learned something from the recent Pastagate disaster that created international embarrassment for Quebec.  Major world media outlets are now tuned in to the mean-spirited and repressive language laws in this province.

How can Canadians continue to tolerate this infringement on rights for other Canadians?  If they can rally around Idle No More protests what about speaking out for English-speaking Canadians here in Quebec?

If students can continue to rally, clanking their pots and pans, protesting against a tuition increase of pennies a day what about their sense of social justice against the suppression of their fellow citizens’ rights?

Montrealers protest against real and perceived human rights violations all over the world.  What about the human rights violations against fellow Quebecers?

Enough!

The spotlight should shine upon these Bill 14 hearings and Quebec should be shamed yet again for the abuse of rights and freedoms here at home.  The opposition parties ought to vote down the bill, in its entirety.

CSL mayor happy with anti-Bill 14 momentum

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The Suburban, February 20th, 2013

Côte St. Luc mayor Anthony Housefather, who launched the campaign against the proposed PQ language law Bill 14, said last week he is pleased that more than 50 municipalities and boroughs across Quebec have passed resolutions asking to retain their bilingual status.

Eighty-three municipalities and three boroughs have bilingual status in Quebec, according to a City of Côte St. Luc statement.

The municipalities aspect of the proposed law calls for a review every time a new census comes out to determine if a municipality has 50 percent or more English mother tongue residents and the government could take away that status if it falls under that percentage. The current rule is that bilingual status could only be removed if a city council votes to do so. A vote on the law is expected in the spring in the National Assembly.

“The speed at which municipalities have adopted and continue to adopt these pro-bilingual status resolution illustrates how important this issue is to the cities, towns, and boroughs concerned,” Housefather said. “We’re optimistic that these resolutions along with calls to Members of the National Assembly from mayors, councillors, and the general public, is having an impact. We intend to present them at the public hearings.”

The hearings in question take place beginning in March, and Housefather and Town of Mount Royal mayor Philippe Roy will speak on behalf of the Association of Suburban Mayors, as well as “represent the position of other municipalities and boroughs with bilingual status, including parts of the south shore of Montreal, the north shore of Laval, the Eastern Townships, the Gaspé, the Magdalen Islands, the Laurentians and the Outaouais.”

Housefather encouraged members of the public to “e-mail or tweet their Member of the National Assembly and, in particular, the leaders of the Liberal Party of Quebec and Coalition Avenir Québec. These e-mail and Twitter addresses are listed at BilingualStatus.com and StatutBilingue.com.”

 

Momentum building, 50 municipalities adopt pro-bilingual status resolutions

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Côte Saint-Luc, February 13, 2013 — The city councils of more than 50 municipalities and boroughs with bilingual status have adopted resolutions stating their desire to keep their bilingual status irrespective of whether their mother tongue English-speaking population falls below 50 percent.

Each resolution declares the city or borough’s opposition to the provisions set out in the Parti Québécois’ proposed Bill 14 which would allow for the status to be removed against the will of the local elected council.

“The speed at which municipalities have adopted and continue to adopt these pro-bilingual status resolution illustrates how important this issue is to the cities, towns, and boroughs concerned,” said Mayor Anthony Housefather, who has played a leading role in this movement together with his fellow mayors at the Association of Suburban Municipalities, or ASM. “We’re optimistic that these resolutions along with calls to Members of the National Assembly from mayors, councillors, and the general public, is having an impact. We intend to present them at the public hearings.”

Bill 14, or An Act to amend the Charter of the French language, the Charter of human rights and freedoms and other legislative provisions, was tabled by the Parti Québécois minority government in December. The National Assembly Committee on Culture and Education will be holding hearings starting in March. Mayor Housefather and Town of Mount Royal Mayor Philippe Roy will speak on behalf of the ASM, but will also be representing the position of other municipalities and boroughs with bilingual status, including parts of the south shore of Montreal, the north shore of Laval, the Eastern Townships, the Gaspé, the Magdalen Islands, the Laurentians and the Outaouais.

“We encourage the public to e-mail or tweet their Member of the National Assembly and, in particular, the leaders of the Liberal Party of Quebec and Coalition Avenir Québec,” Mayor Housefather said. “These e-mail and Twitter addresses are listed at BilingualStatus.com and StatutBilingue.com.”

There are 83 municipalities and three boroughs with bilingual status in Quebec, which is just 6 percent of all municipalities in Quebec.

More: Bilingual Status In The News

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