It’s time to come home’

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The Suburban, April 16th, 2014

Côte St. Luc Councillor Mitchell Brownstein made a passionate plea at last week’s city council meeting for former Montrealers to return, especially in light of last week’s Quebec Liberal majority, and for current Montrealers to stay.

Many have interpreted the election results as a return to long-term stability and a wholesale rejection of the separation option.

Brownstein pointed out that Côte St. Luc has taken stands in favour of Canadian unity, including the Staying Canadian resolutions in the 1990s; and against the PQ’s proposed strengthened language law Bill 14 and the Charter of Values that would have prohibited very visible religious symbols and headgear in provincially-controlled institutions.

“If we look at the numbers, and the popular vote, of this election, I think we should feel comfortable now to talk to our children and grandchildren, and let them realize how lucky they are to live in a city that’s part of the island of Montreal, which has a European flavour in a beautiful province with two languages in a leading federal democracy that is respected throughout the world,” Brownstein said. “There’s no place like home, and that is Montreal.
“And the talk has to be, Montreal, the suburban municipalities, Côte St. Luc, it’s time to come home. You don’t have to travel for an hour and a half, as in Toronto, to get to work. You can live in Montreal. The cost of housing — whether it’s buying real estate, renting an apartment, doing business here — is cheaper. There’s great opportunities here. We’re one hour away from our lakes and mountains and our American neighbours.”

The councillor said Montreal is an ideal place to live.

“As an immigration attorney, I’ve been saying this for years. When I fly back to Canada and I arrive in Toronto or Vancouver, when I’m coming from Asia, Africa or Europe, I still don’t feel like it’s home until I take that last flight to Montreal. This is our home and it’s a great place.”

Brownstein also pointed out that last week’s poll results indicated that Quebec youth aged 18 to 24 voted two to one against the Parti Québécois.
“The youth are the people who feel connected to the global community, to Canada and to Quebec, and they’re interested in jobs and the economy.
“They’re the future, so you can stay here and be a part of a great future in one of the greatest places in the world to live, which is Quebec, the island of Montreal and Côte St. Luc.”

Brownstein was applauded by his fellow council members.

Language cops went too far yet again


The much maligned Tongue Troopers were dealt a severe blow by Quebec Superior Court yesterday. This is a real good week for Quebec’s Anglos and those who believe in tolerance, rights and freedom.

Years of PQ lies of the demise of the French language have been exposed as fear mongering nonsense. Although Marois’ final words stressed her worry about French in Quebec, Premier-Elect Couillard’s assertion that there isn’t a parent in Quebec that doesn’t want their child to be bilingual connected with voters.

Quebecers are waking up to the reality that English does not diminish the French language; that being bilingual offers opportunity and prosperity; that the Fleur de Lys flag belongs to us all; that religious signs are not a danger to society.

Voters have turned their backs on old, tired debate. They have rejected the fear mongering about identity. Many no longer believe political demagoguery that held them back from learning the predominant language in Canada and North America. The dark days forced upon us by the PQ have come to an end – hopefully for good.

If the real issues are the economy, health and education, the time has come for the government to find new job opportunities for the Language Cops who are a drain on our tax dollars, an international embarrassment and overzealous according to our courts.

Passover and Easter are wonderful opportunities to reflect on a brighter, more prosperous future here in Quebec. Live and let live.


Major retailers win against Quebec language watchdog in French sign battle.

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!

This election can’t be over soon enough

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I’m counting the minutes until they count the last ballot. I’m frustrated and worn out from the longest 33 day (plus 18 months) campaign in memory. I’m exhausted from clenching the newspapers, yelling at the TV and wincing at the radio. I waved my fist back at PKP and cringed at Janette Bertrand. I got angrier each day with Marois’ venomous attacks on Anglos and religious folk and Ontario students domiciled in Quebec yet robbed of their right to vote.

Mailloux spewed anti-semitic poison that would have led to demonstrations elsewhere in Canada, but here the Premier stood by her side and shook her head in agreement.

Lisée contradicted Drainville who contradicted Marois who contradicted herself. I could barely keep score.

Yes, Canadians would still be able to visit Quebec without a passport as our borders with the ROC would be open, Quebec would help set Canadian monetary policy… Forget unilateral declaration of independence. Marois just willed it by snapping her little fingers without a referendum or negotiation. Chutzpah!

The Premier of all Quebecers showed us that nous didn’t include us. No need to debate in English.  You, ain’t nous. (The only upside was that we didn’t have to see her face on telephone poles deep in D’Arcy McGee).

But, Couillard gained the courage and determination to say to Quebecers what no liberal leader has said as long as I could remember (except when Charest was leader of the PCs in Ottawa, I’ll give him that). The English-speaking people of Quebec are full partners, our language does not diminish theirs and every parent in Quebec wants their kid to be bilingual, if not trilingual. And, oh this was a biggie, maybe, just maybe, he could settle old scores by working on Quebec’s place within Canada.

Could we really be at the dawn of a new era? This may be the last big chance to fix what’s wrong in Quebec and in Canada. Our kids are more mobile than ever before. The bilingual ones can pick up and get a job well beyond Quebec’s borders. Not so for the one’s whose parents voted away their right to teach them English at a young age.

If we can just get beyond the old and tired debates about language and independence and work to become more bilingual and more united with our fellow Canadians (who transfer billions of dollars to our cash-starved, economically depressed province, merci very much), maybe, just maybe, we can look ahead to a brighter, healthier, richer, happier tomorrow.

Fingers crossed. I’m going to vote!

Rick Blue comments on Canada Day in CSL

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Rick Blue

Blue Notes – July 8, 2013 – West Island Gazette

A week ago Bowser and Blue performed at the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park in Cote St. Luc for Canada Day. We were worried about the rain, but it held off until we were finished. The crowd was large and supportive. We brought out our best Canadian and Quebec material for them.

It’s always great to play for an audience that understands our jokes.

Cote St. Luc is an interesting city. It is completely surrounded by railroad tracks. And because there are only a couple ways in, it is like an island in the midst of the Montreal sprawl.

Indeed it is a unique community. And these days a rebellious one. They are none too happy about the current regime in Quebec City. Both the mayor and the local MP were vocal in their criticism of Bill 14 and the PQ’s never-ending political civil war.

Yes, the mayor and the entire city council were there. We even sang a song with them at the end of our set. They all wore red. Because they are proud Canadians.

We share the feeling. I don’t think there are any Canadians more conscious of our identity than Canadians living in Quebec. We are constantly under threat. It is a truly unique situation. Canadians across our country might be proud of our land and feel the surge of patriotism that we unleash every July 1st but there is no Canadian as desperately attached to it as we are.

Because it is our only hope to survive.

The PQ’s latest campaign of open hostility toward Canada is also open hostility toward us. It is a government that acts hostile toward its own citizens. And we pay our taxes for the privilege.

We try to lessen the burden with humour. Because if you can laugh at something, it makes it much less oppressive. And if you can laugh at your enemies, you have escaped their control.

And because laughter is the best revenge.

But we are musicians first and comedians second. We are very serious about our songs. Even if they are funny. Songs have power. And they have many functions. They can make people dance or fall in love. I always like it when our songs make people laugh. And I like it when our songs say something that you just won’t get from any other songwriters.

Like folk singers anywhere we write about our people. And it is their support that keeps us going. We sing about the shared experiences of the people we sing for. It has to be entertaining, of course. But it is also a little subversive.

And in Cote St. Luc, they understood the subtext.

Jean Charest takes his leave with class and dignity

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My wife Judy and I join Jean Charest and his wife Michelle for a quaint and personal dinner

As one political era begins with the election of a minority PQ government another fades to black with the exit of Jean Charest after a 28 year stint in federal and provincial politics, the last nine years as Premier of Quebec.

Jean Charest is described by many who have met him personally as a likable, sincere and interesting character with a good sense of humour.  So too was my own experience, having met the Premier on more than one occasion.  Two years ago, my wife and I were invited to a friend’s home for an elegant dinner with three other couples.  One of those couples happened to be Jean Charest and Michelle Dion.  What a unique and privileged opportunity to spend a few informal hours over dinner and wine with Quebec’s first couple.

We kibbitzed, laughed and questioned one another on so many subjects.  How did they meet? How did we meet? What music do they like?  Favourite vacation destinations? Visits with foreign leaders. Views on Quebec identity, economy, education, health and so much more.  The Charests made everyone feel at ease and were interested in each of us as much as we were in them.  It was a memorable, entertaining and educational evening and ended with a personal invitation from the Premier to come visit him in Quebec City with our families.

We may not have agreed with every position  Jean Charest has taken.  Indeed, so many Anglos expressed a sense of frustration during this campaign (and previous ones).  I wish he would have spoken up more for the rights of the English-speaking community and loosened some of the despised, restrictive language laws.  But such is politics in Quebec and surely it is no easy job being the Premier of this province.

But one thing is for sure.  Jean Charest served the public during these 28 years in politics with determination, integrity and a strong sense of purpose.  His belief in a strong Quebec in a united Canada was proven beyond a doubt.  He can take enormous credit for playing a pivotal role in saving the country in 1995.  His jump to provincial politics was more like a call to serve where he was needed most.

Jean Charest with George Nashen during a 1993 election stop in Cote Saint-Luc

We haven’t seen the last of Jean Charest.  He’ll be back to play an important role in the future of this country and we’ll all be better off for his contribution to society.

So, thank you, Jean, for all of your positive contributions to Quebec and to Canada.  Your concession speech, on your 28th anniversary of entering politics as a rookie MP, was classy, respectful and highly dignified.   You tried your best to please as many as you could. You exit politics with great distinction.  Good luck with all the lies ahead for you and your family.  But don’t go too far.  Quebec and Canada  still need you, Jean.