The D’Arcy McGee Medal of Citizenship of the National Assembly goes to…

4 Comments

Receiving the D’Arcy McGee Medal of Citizenship of the Quebec National Assembly by (L-R) Former MNAs Robert Libman and Lawrence Bergman, current MNA David Birnbaum and Mayor Mitchell Brownstein

What a great honour in receiving the D’Arcy McGee Medal of Citizenship of the Quebec National Assembly by MNA David Birnbaum surrounded by family and friends. This annual event awards three people for their outstanding contribution to the residents and communities of the D’Arcy McGee riding.

 

 

David Birnbaum, député de D’Arcy-McGee MNA honoured three people for outstanding community service last evening at Ashkelon Gardens: Lina Fortin, me, and the late Gerry Weinstein. The winners were selected by a blue-ribbon jury of three former D’Arcy-McGee MNAs and Ministers, retired Justice Herbert Marx, Robert Libman and 20-year MNA Lawrence S. Bergman. The Victor Goldbloom Essay winner was Sarah Buzaglo, a grade 10 student at École Maïmonide.

Most of you will know that I have served in public office nearly all of my adult life. Allow me sum up this incredible journey in the form of my shift-on-duty.

Glenn J. Nashen riding aboard Cote Saint-Luc’s first Rescue Medical Fire vehicle RMF-11, 1981

 

Glenn J. Nashen, on duty, in Cote Saint-Luc’s second ever First Response vehicle

My shift begins. Fall of 1979. I’m a young First Responder in the Cote Saint-Luc Emergency Measures Organization. Dressed in a smart looking brown uniform, yellow stripe down the side of my pants, the alert tone rings and we spring into action, lights and siren blaring from our small red rescue-fire truck. An elderly person tumbles down the stairs at home. A car crashes into a light pole on Cavendish. Suddenly, a call for a cardiac arrest across the street. We respond to hundreds of emergencies, on every street in CSL. And that’s just the early morning.

 

I rise through the ranks of EMO and EMS, promoting citizen CPR training and pushing for Automated Defibrillators in public buildings and public vehicles, relentlessly championing for recognition of paramedics across Quebec, and advocating for air ambulance helicopters for the outlying regions.

Cote Saint-Luc EMO launched my side-career as an Urgences-Santé ambulance technician in 1980

It’s a busy shift and we are only in the mid-80s. My uniform changes colour, and so does the vehicle, as I find myself riding aboard yellow ambulances and doctors cars with Urgences Santé. Racing to life and death situations, performing CPR 125 times, bringing some people back to life and even delivering a baby. What a privilege. What responsibility at a pretty young age, to be in a position to make a profound difference in someone’s life during their moment of highest anxiety.

Councillors Glenn J. Nashen and Ruth Kovac enrolled at the Emergency Preparedness College of Canada 1991

My shift continues, it’s 1990, and I’m elected as the youngest member on city council. My first priority is to make cycling safer and CSL adopts the first bicycle helmet bylaw in the country! I play a leading role during major floods, the infamous Ice Storm, preparing for doomsday during Y2K, you remember year 2000!

Newspaper ad from June 2005 commemorating the 1st anniversary of the demerger referendum by the Cote Saint-Luc Demerger Committee Co-Chairs

No rest on this patrol. It’s the early 2000s and Anthony, Ruth, Mitch and I are up for the biggest challenge, to get our City back… and saving our EMS and keeping our police and our fire stations from closure.

The men and women of Cote Saint-Luc volunteer Citizens on Patrol

It’s time for a lunch break when a great idea strikes me… It’s 2005, CSL is about to be back in our own hands again, and I decide that we need to harness the energy of more volunteers to ensure CSL’s place as the safest community on the Island of Montreal. We need to enlist more volunteers, retirees, a group of neighbours watching out for neighbours. After lunch I set out on founding the volunteer Citizens on Patrol organization. We launch on Canada Day 2006. Now suited up in a bright orange polo top and in marked vans, scooters and bikes, we continue our patrol through the streets and parks and municipal facilities.

Fmr. Cllr. Glenn J. Nashen and Supervisor Mitchell Herf inaugurate the newest vCOP electric scooters

We stop to alert a resident that they forgot to close their garage door, a possible theft averted. We remind another to keep the emergency lane clear at the mall, we get the finger on that one, but that’s OK. All in a day’s volunteer work. An elderly couple thanks us for changing the battery in their smoke detector. We block a street from traffic and hold onlookers back as the fire department douses a house fire. Over to check on the home of vacationers. Then, we assist the police in looking for a missing child and we reunite the frightened youngster with their relieved parents. We feel pride and satisfaction knowing we’ve helped. We’ve made a difference. We’ve given our time but we’ve gained so much in return.

My first public council meeting as Mayor of Cote Saint-Luc, November 9, 2015

My shift isn’t quite done and yet another quick uniform change. This time for a two-month stint as mayor of CSL in 2015. What was once just a dream actually became a reality.

 

And as we head back to the station to wrap up this shift for today, in 2018, I can see how my my parents gave me the keys to these patrol vehicles, for this mission to Repair the World.

Receiving the D’Arcy McGee Medal of Citizenship with my parents, George and Phyllis Nashen (June 19, 2018)

So thank you mom, who just celebrated her 90th birthday and thank you dad, who is three days shy of his 95th. Thank you for these important life lessons in public service and looking out for one’s neighbour.

 

These lessons were also fueled by my wife, Judy, who’s always ready to give her utmost to her patients and to the community and together we are handing over these keys to our children, Nicole, Nathalie and Jeremy.

Glenn J. Nashen, Judy Hagshi with Nicole, Nathalie and Jeremy Nashen (*June 19, 2018)

So I close by again thanking my wife and children, because when my proverbial uniform went on, they knew that it meant I’d be away from the house again and again and again. Public service, and long shifts, do come at a very high cost!

 

My wife says this about me: My heart is in Cote Saint-Luc and Cote Saint-Luc is in my heart. I feel that way too about our beautiful province and our amazing country. And I hope that one day my tour of duty will continue and my unquenchable need to Repair the World (Tikun Olam) will take off in some new direction to make this place the very best for all of us.

 

Thank you as well to our incredible life-saving volunteers at CSL EMS and to our dedicated and unstoppable volunteers in vCOP.

Thank you David and our former MNAs Herbert, Robert and Lawrence for this great honour. And thank you for reading this and for “joining” me on today’s shift. I appreciate all the good wishes and support I receive from family, friends and members of the community.

 

Congratulations to my fellow laureates, Lina Fortin and the family of the late Gerry Weinstein

 

Celebrating with the Pressers (Sandie and Robert) and Fabians (Leslie, Ricki, Jamie and Sammi)

 

My longtime friend and fellow vCOP volunteer Mitchell Herf

 

Sharing the good vibes and smiles with my colleagues Stephanie Malley and Marisa Rodi

 

Siempre me complace celebrar con mis amigos cercanos Natalia y Pablo

 

D’Arcy McGee National Assembly Citizenship Medal Ceremony (Photo Darryl Levine)

 

Friends from way back to Bialik days, Ben Burko (and son Milo) and Gary Polachek

 

Mitchell Brownstein and I go way, way back. I am so proud of my friend the mayor and pleased to celebrate with him.

 

David Birnbaum and Glenn J. Nashen (Photo Darryl Levine)

 

Former Quebec Cabinet Minister Lawrence Bergman and I have had a wonderful relationship over the years. He has been a friend and a mentor.

 

Gracias Miguel Banet y Lulu Brenner por venir y mostrar tu amor y apoyo

 

 

Montreal elections: Traffic, parking and daycare are on voters’ minds in Côte-St-Luc: Montreal Gazette

Leave a comment

Côte-St-Luc voters will choose between incumbent Mitchell Brownstein and former mayor Robert Libman.

Longtime Côte-St-Luc resident Carole Blank says she’s “happy with everything” about life in the west-end municipality of more than 34,000 – a community with more than two dozen parks, an enviable aquatic and community centre complex, a stellar library and an almost even split between rented and owned dwellings. Although there are many older residents, the median age of 45.7 has dropped from 49 in 2016.

Côte-St-Luc residents, along with voters in other municipalities, go to the polls Nov. 5 to elect a mayor and council; in Côte-St-Luc, seven of the eight council seats are being contested. In the run-up to the election, the Montreal Gazette stopped by the Eleanor London Côte-St-Luc Public Library to get a sense of issues important to residents.

Keren Shemesh, who was browsing at the Cavendish Blvd. library with her son, 18-month-old Max Blauer, said she’d like to see more private daycares in Côte-St-Luc, particularly those with spaces for children under the age of two.

Pleased as he is with the facilities and “how everyone is friendly,” Miguel Laliberté said he wouldn’t mind a few small tweaks, like more late-night buses and parking signs he could interpret more easily.

For Julio Laufer, who with his wife, Dorothy, was waiting for a tablet class to start, traffic and the state of the roads are issues. Had the long-talked-about (and recently approved) Cavendish Blvd. extension from Côte-St-Luc to St-Laurent been in place connecting the two dead ends of Cavendish, the commute to his Côte-de-Liesse-area workplace would have been considerably shorter.

The condition of the roads and the long-promised Cavendish extension are issues for CSL residents Dorothy and Julio Laufer. (John Mahoney / MONTREAL GAZETTE)

Bernard Arbitman also wants to see the extension built – “There’s no quick exit now from Côte-St-Luc except for the Cavendish underpass,” he said – and would like overnight parking on city streets permitted. Currently it’s not.

Côte-St-Luc voters will be choosing between the current mayor and a former one. Incumbent Mitchell Brownstein, acclaimed as mayor in 2016 when longtime mayor Anthony Housefatherresigned after winning the federal seat in Mount Royal for the Liberals, had served as a city councillor since 1990. A lawyer by profession, he calls himself a full-time mayor – the kind of politician who gives out his personal cellphone number to constituents.

Traffic and parking are the issues for CSL resident Bernard Arbitman, who was reading a newspaper at the Eleanor London CSL Public Library, Tuesday October 17, 2017. (John Mahoney / MONTREAL GAZETTE)

Challenger Robert Libman, an architect and urban planner, was a provincial MNA from 1989 to 1994 and mayor of Côte-St-Luc from 1998 to 2005. He returned to private life and opened his own architectural consulting firm but returned to politics in 2014 and won the nomination in Mount-Royal for the Conservative Party of Canada; he was defeated by Housefather in the 2015 federal election.

There is substantial overlap in their platforms and both candidates consider reducing taxes, seeing through the Cavendish extension, improving roads and relocating and redeveloping the CP rail yards among their top priorities.

For resident Matthew Ross, whose home borders on the yards, their relocation is “my Number One issue.” Aside from advantages for the city linked to redevelopment of the area, which constitutes virtually a third of the municipality’s territory, Ross said he would welcome an end to the noise and odours generated by the yards.

CSL resident Carole Blank, checking out books from the Eleanor London CSL Public Library, says she is “happy with everything” in her municipality as residents prepare to vote for a mayor and councillors in the Nov. 5 municipal election. Tuesday October 17, 2017. (John Mahoney / MONTREAL GAZETTE)

Despite their agreement on issues, a seemingly personal rivalry between the candidates has become evident. Each has levelled insults against the other on Let’s Chat CSL, a closed Facebook group for residents. And during a recent television debate moderated by Jamie Orchard of Global News, the two interrupted each other, talked over one another and traded barbs.

One issue that has garnered media attention involves Libman’s role as in-house architect coordinating new projects with Olymbec, a real-estate company that owns parcels of land on the site of the future Cavendish extension. Brownstein has said this creates a potential conflict of interest. In fact, the land in question in the eventual corridor has already been reserved for expropriation – and was reserved before Libman entered the race.

As mayor, he said he would recuse himself in the event of a zoning issue or development project in Côte-St-Luc in which a potential conflict existed, “to be perfectly transparent … and to avoid perceived conflict.” But the Cavendish extension is not such an issue, he said, “because it is a done deal.”

“There is no conflict and will not be a conflict,” Libman wrote in his Let’s Chat CSL post. “It’s already reserved. I’ve been pushing this project for the past 15 years, well before I ever started working as an architect with Olymbec. Let’s stick to the issues in the campaign and let the democratic process unfold fairly and with respect for all candidates.”

Both mayoral candidates are seasoned politicians and each has his supporters. Turnout for municipal elections in Quebec tends to be low: Fewer than half of those eligible voted in the 2013 municipal elections, although that’s slightly more than voted in previous elections. But as one Côte-St-Luc councillor observed: “I think the good news about all this is that we will get a strong voter turnout. And that is good for democracy.”

sschwartz@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/susanschwartz

RELATED

Battle heats up in Côte Saint-Luc

Leave a comment

 

The race is heating up in Côte Saint-Luc with clashing personalities battling it out for mayor.

Incumbent Mitchell Brownstein is seeking a second term.

He’s being challenged by former mayor Robert Libman who is trying to get his old job back.

 

WATCH: The former mayor of Côte Saint-Luc has decided to run for re-election, but as Global’s Tim Sargeant reports, Robert Libman is a registered lobbyist. This has incumbent Mayor Mitchell Brownstein questioning his rival’s true interests.

Global News Report

Côte Saint-Luc mayoral candidate’s vow to extend Cavendish raises possible ethical concerns

Leave a comment

Robert Libman plays down lobbying work for Olymbec, company that stands to profit from proposed link

By Sarah Leavitt, CBC News Posted: Oct 05, 2017 7:30 PM ET

Robert Libman was mayor of Côte Saint-Luc between 1998 and 2005 and is now in the race to win back that post.

Robert Libman was mayor of Côte Saint-Luc between 1998 and 2005 and is now in the race to win back that post. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

 

 

As a mayoral candidate for Côte Saint-Luc, Robert Libman is promising to “champion the Cavendish extension,” but as a registered lobbyist, he is also representing a real estate company with land in the area of the proposed link.

That may place him in a conflict of interest if he wins the election, according to one expert, who suggests Libman could be forced to recuse himself from decisions involving the long-planned extension of Cavendish Boulevard.

Libman is an architect and an urban planner.

According to Quebec’s Order of Architects, any architect who solicits governments, for instance, seeking building permits or zoning changes, must register as a lobbyist.

Libman denies his relationship with the real estate company, Olymbec, places him in a potential conflict of interest.

Incumbent mayor Mitchell Brownstein has sought to draw the media’s attention to those ties.

Olymbec owns two plots of land on the corner of Dalton Road and Cavendish Boulevard  north of the railyard that cuts the boulevard in two.

Filings with the Quebec Registry of Lobbyists indicate Libman stands to be paid less than $10,000 to lobby municipal officials for building permits allowing Olymbec to build on the land.

Olymbec plots on reserve

In June 2016, the City of Montreal put the two vacant lots, which cover nearly 17,000 square metres, on reserve, to prevent Olymbec from developing or expanding the properties while plans to extend Cavendish Boulevard are worked out.

In October 2016, the city’s executive committee approved a resolution to negotiate with Olymbec to buy one of the lots.

“It’s not even a conflict,” Libman told CBC News. “The City of Montreal reserved land in the corridor where the Cavendish extension is going to go.”

“The fact that Olymbec happens to own the land next to it, it doesn’t make a difference. I’ve pushed for the Cavendish extension since 2002. Nothing has changed there.”

Olymbec land

The land owned by Olymbec is within the area highlighted in red, an area which will be impacted by the Cavendish extension. (Google Maps)

Michel Nadeau, the executive director of HEC and Concordia University’s Institute for Governance and Public Policy, points to the Elections and Referendums Act for regulations concerning conflicts of interest.

Section 361 reads:

Every member of the council of a municipality who is present at a sitting when a matter in which he has a direct or indirect pecuniary interest is taken up for consideration shall disclose the general nature of his interest before discussions on the matter are begun and abstain from participating in the discussions and from voting or attempting to influence the vote on that matter.

Nadeau says those rules apply within the municipality to which the official belongs, but they also apply to interests involving other municipalities.

Public governance expert Michel Nadeau says for a candidate to be fully transparent, voters must be made aware of lobbying that candidate has done for any organization.

“As a mayor, you should work full-time for the voters or the citizens of your city. To vote, to take the interest of the citizens, this interest could be in conflict with the neighbouring cities,” Nadeau said.

“You should not have any financial, legal or contractual commitments with the neighbouring cities because of business activities.”

Libman says he is aware of the rules and has been in touch with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to go over issues of conflict of interest.

“If there’s ever an issue that might be perceived as a conflict, there are rules that govern conflict of interest, and I would recuse myself in any such case.”

Lobbying ‘miniscule part of my work,’ Libman says

However, Libman downplayed his lobbying work.

“I don’t lobby at all,” he said, before adding: “That’s a minuscule part of my work.”

“I’m an architect. Because I meet with cities, because I make a request for zoning changes or building permits, I have to be on the lobbyist register, like other architects are.”

But lobbying records show that Libman has six active lobbying mandates from Olymbec, including for the properties on Cavendish.

In five of those mandates, Libman was paid less than $10,000 in each instance.

Among those is a mandate in which he was to be paid less than $10,000 to lobby Côte Saint-Luc to place rental signs in a vacant property on Westminster Street.

In the sixth mandate, Libman is to be paid between $10,000 and $50,000 for lobbying on behalf of Olymbec’s interests in a massive redevelopment project in Montreal North.

Olymbec is owned by Derek and Richard Stern. Derek Stern helped organize Libman’s 2014-2015 campaign for the Conservative nomination in the federal riding of Mount Royal.

He won the nomination but lost the 2015 election to Liberal Anthony Housefather.

Robert Libman promises

In his list of campaign promises, Libman says he’ll work to ‘ensure the completion of the Cavendish extension,’ despite what could be a conflict of interest. (Robert Libman)

Transparency concerns

Libman, who was mayor of Côte Saint-Luc between 1998 and 2005, says he signed on to the lobbyist register in 2010 with the goal of full transparency.

Much of his work as a lobbyist involves approaching different cities and boroughs in attempts to change zoning designations, to seek permission for development or demolition or to request bylaw changes.

There are no laws directed specifically at lobbyists running as candidates for elected office, but Nadeau said it’s important they be fully transparent about their work.

“The electors should know this candidate is a lobbyist for any organization,” said Nadeau.

Libman does not mention his work as a lobbyist on his campaign website.

With files from Jonathan Montpetit

News video at 5:45

CSL candidates go at it on Global

Leave a comment

Côte St. Luc mayoral candidates Mitchell Brownstein and Robert Libman debated the issues last Thursday on Global TV’s Focus Montreal, hosted by Jamie Orchard.

Libman praised Côte St. Luc as an “incredible municipality.

“But I don’t believe we’ve achieved our full potential, we can do a lot better with the right leadership,” he added.

 Brownstein said that since he became mayor a year and a half ago, “I negotiated a deal with the City of Montreal whereby Côte St. Luc will be paying $4.8 million less for essential [island-wide agglomeration] services, reduced our debt by $4 million and we’re running a surplus of $1.9 million in 2016. I settled collective agreements with our three unions.”

The debate dealt with the most prominent issue in Côte St. Luc for the past 50 years — the long-awaited Cavendish Blvd. link with St. Laurent. Libman said he ended the longstanding impasse prompted by former Mayor Bernard Lang’s opposition.

“In 2000, I developed a consensus that I proposed to the Quebec Transport Ministry and the municipalities in the surrounding area were in agreement with us,” he said. “The City of Montreal created a project bureau with a $5 million budget at the time, public studies and environmental tests were prepared and ready to go for the extension to be completed in 2010, and 15 years later, it’s still not there. We need someone with an urban planning and architectural background that I have to really push this file forward.”

Brownstein said the ceding of the Hippodrome land from Quebec to Montreal last June for a housing development has a condition that the Cavendish extension “must go forward.

“It didn’t happen by itself. As soon as I was elected, I made a commitment I would push Cavendish forward, and I met with Montreal executive committee chairman Pierre Desrochers. We had a meeting with our MNA David Birnbaum, four ministers came, and all the five mayors — everyone was committed to moving it forward. I met with CP and CN for the first time together in my office. The result was that Minister Carlos Leitao announced with Mayor Denis Coderre that there will be an extension…”

“That was the biggest non-announcement,” Libman began, before both spoke over each other.

“If Robert [was going to] to move it forward, he would have been able to do it when he was on the Montreal [megacity] executive committee, but now he can’t do it at all,” Brownstein countered.

‘That’s when we announced it,” Libman responded. “The file was going to go ahead, and 15 years later it’s still sitting on the backburner.”

Brownstein then said Libman is a lobbyist for the development company Olymbec, “and there is a reserve on a piece of land owned by Olymbec that is required for the Cavendish extension. He will have to recuse himself from the whole debate!”

“This is so typical of this whole campaign,” Libman said. “All of the allegations, ridiculous comments…”

Orchard asked if the Olymbec land is under reserve, and if it is required for the extension.

“A piece of land owned by Olymbec has been reserved by the City of Montreal, but it doesn’t affect what I do…” Libman said.

“Would you have to recuse yourself from that debate?” Orchard asked.

“To be perfectly transparent, just to avoid any perceived conflict, perhaps I would, but it’s not even necessary, I’ve spoken with ministry officials about that,” Libman said.

Last week, Libman told The Suburban that while he is registered as a lobbyist, “I have no choice —every architect and urban planner that meets with city officials has to do that.”

At another debate at the Or Hahayim Synagogue Brownstein raised the issue of remerger as a “possible” threat. “The threat is not imminent,” he said, “But there have been Mayors who have told me that they’ve heard discussions of the possibility. I wouldn’t want to say more because I don’t want it to happen. I heard it at the municipal level. Certain people at the municipal level would like that to happen.” Brownstein declined to reveal further details.

Libman said Brownstein’s contention is a “scare tactic. “I have tried over and over again to bring issues to the fore that affect Côte St. Luc residents going forward regarding taxation, urban planning challenges, infrastructure and roads, transparency and creative programs for our city and he hasn’t advanced a single idea,” the candidate said. “All he does is try to spin the 15-year-old demerger tale and shy away from the real issues.”

Watch the debate here.

CSL election battle intensifies over 2004 demerger vote

Leave a comment

The Côte St. Luc election race just heated up greatly, all over the position of some current incumbents during the lead-up to the 2004 demerger referendum.

The demergers of municipalities whose residents voted to do so took effect Jan. 1, 2006.

As The Suburban reported last week, CSL mayoral candidate Robert Libman criticized incumbent Mayor Mitchell Brownstein for, during the latter’s campaign, denouncing Libman for his stance on the mergers. Libman said last week he did not oppose demergers per se, but the Charest government’s Bill 9, “which would have stripped us of clout and political power and forced us into a ‘taxation without representation’ straitjacket.’” The law was since changed. Brownstein countered that Bill 9 gave Côte St. Luc and others the opportunity to demerge.

Libman also contended that incumbents Dida Berku, Mike Cohen and Allan Levine supported Côte St. Luc remaining in the megacity. Brownstein replied that Cohen and Levine voted for demerger.

Berku says she was majority leader in the megacity, but still signed the register, enabling people to vote in the 2004 referendum. Cohen told us that he worked as a communications consultant for the Côte St. Luc-Hampstead-Montreal West borough, and remained neutral. He signed the register and voted in the referendum.

Levine said he signed the register, opposed the stripping of powers from the demerged cities, and “personally supported demergers,” saying it benefits services for residents, such as Emergency Medical Services, in the current City of Côte St. Luc.

That’s where we were last week. But this story has taken on a couple of new twists.

•••

Last Wednesday morning, Libman sent The Suburban a 2004 flyer counselling a vote against demerging, which he said was circulated a week before that year’s demerger referendum.

In it, there’s a picture of then-former councillor Allan Levine, and the following quote: “I believe that a unified City of Montreal is the best way to solve the Cavendish extension issue, the preservation of Meadowbrook Golf Course and the protection of our Emergency Medical Services. That’s why I am voting NO.”

We contacted Levine and sent him a copy of the 2004 flyer. In one of a series of replies, he described it as a “cut and paste that I never saw nor wrote!”

In a second reply, Levine said that the reference in the flyer to EMS “is totally absurd as the City of Montreal uses their fire department [as first responders], which would have killed EMS.

“I knew it then and EMS is my passion, as is Meadowbrook We as a demerged city fought and won to preserve EMS. And this is a major reason why demerger was so wonderful for Côte St. Luc. Also, I never favoured a direct Cavendish-Cavendish link so the claim on Cavendish is ridiculous! Finally, as a demerged city, we have been able to preserve Meadowbrook.

“So the flyer was obviously not my quotes!…We had this discussion 16 years ago and a few times since and my reply was and remains, always the same. Never authorized and never said! What I do say is that ‘demerger was the best thing to happen to Côte St. Luc.’”

We then contacted Libman for his reply to Levine’s response. The mayoral candidate sent us the entire flyer, which includes quotes from several Côte St. Luc, Hampstead and Montreal West residents.

“I don’t do ‘cut and paste’ jobs, or fake endorsements. I found [the flyer] in a demerger document from 2004,” Libman told The Suburban. “A lot of people were very concerned about Bill 9, as [Levine] obviously was, because he cares about his community.”

Libman also responded to Cohen’s statement to us last week, that he never publicly took a position on the demerger issue and remained neutral.

“Emails from Mike Cohen at the time agreeing with my position also expressed similar sentiments and concern about the impact of Bill 9 on our city,” Libman said. “People who looked at the structural and taxation aspects of Bill 9, allowing Montreal to tax us directly, were very concerned. In our hearts everyone was for demerger, but in our heads, Bill 9 was an attack on municipal governance and taxation.”

We then asked Cohen for a reply.

“I was hired by Robert to handle all media relations for the borough,” the District 2 councillor said. “He was my direct superior and as such he corresponded with me a lot during the referendum period and I completed work he assigned to me. I am sure there are some points of view he had I agreed with at the time, and the same goes for Anthony Housefather, whom as a borough councillor at the time communicated with me regularly as well.” (Housefather was a leader of the de-merger movement).

“But I was not an elected official nor was I part of a pro or anti-merger team. I had no choice but to stay out of the public debate. I did sign the register because I believed in the importance of the public deciding on our future. Once I saw the results, it was clear to me that the will to stay in Montreal was not there. It is for that reason I voted to demerge, but I kept that personal as I still had to work with Robert for another year and a half. Anthony Housefather felt confident enough in me to support my candidacy in 2005, go door to door with me and ended up becoming a very close friend.”

N

In my opinion:

The irrefutable FACT is that Anthony Housefather, Mitchell Brownstein, Ruth Kovac and I co-chaired the demerger campaign and succeeded in getting our city of Cote Saint-Luc back.(There’s plenty of posts on that subject right here on this blog).  Had we not done so, CSLers would be voting in the Montreal elections this Nov. 5, would be sending all of our tax dollars to Montreal, would have no life-saving volunteer service, would have lost our police and fire stations in CSL, to mention just a few examples.

I have no interest in risking being remerged into Montreal. Don’t you agree?

You can rest assured that Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and I (not to mention Councillor Ruth Kovac and others) will fight tooth and nail to ensure that Cote Saint-Luc remains its own proud and independent city with excellent services and close proximity to its residents.

CSL demerger co-chairs, 10 years later: Mitchell Brownstein, Anthony Housefather, Glenn J. Nashen, Ruth Kovac

No plans for new CSL auditorium: Brownstein

Leave a comment

No plans for new CSL auditorium: Brownstein

A performance of the Côte St. Luc Dramatic Society’s production of Hairspray.

There are no plans for Côte St. Luc to proceed with a city hall project that would have included a new state-of-the-art theatre-style auditorium, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein told The Suburban.

“We have no plans to move the project forward in the future,” the Mayor said Friday.

Last week, The Suburban reported that demerged Montreal municipalities were left out of this round of federal-provincial grants for communities, while numerous off-island municipalities did receive sizeable grants. The grants are decided on by the Quebec government. This was revealed by Montreal West Mayor Beny Masella.

Grants were denied for a new recreation centre in Montreal West and the Côte St. Luc project in this round of funding.

“We will definitely keep on top of all government announcements to ensure we are first in line to submit a funding request when a new program opens,” Masella told the late August town council meeting.

The Côte St. Luc project, Brownstein explained last week, was for “an extension to the city hall complex which would have added a theatre-style auditorium and other community spaces for programming and offices.

“The grant opportunity between federal and provincial was up to 90 percent and the other 10 percent would have been raised through private sponsorship and savings regarding the plaza renovation required in front of city hall which is estimated to cost around $1.5 million and will need to be done in the not too distant future,” the Côte St. Luc Mayor added last week. “The plaza renovation was part of the grant application.”

In the meantime, Côte St. Luc mayoral candidate Robert Libman reacted to last week’s Suburban story about the grant refusals, saying residents cannot afford to build and support an $11-$15 million theatre.

“The city’s three year capital works budget (PTI) identifies $11 million for the project —complicated projects of this nature always go over budget,” Libman said. “The sitting Mayor is a producer and actor in the CSL Dramatic Society (CSLDS) productions, so I understand that he is enticed by the project.”

Libman also contended that the current Harold Greenspon Auditorium at city hall is adequate, and the English Montreal School Board’s Wagar Auditorium can also be used —it was for the CSLDS’s Fiddler on the Roof. The candidate also called on the city administration to “confirm that the $11 million in funds allocated in the Capital Works Budget will not be used for this purpose now that the grant has been refused.”

Brownstein replied that, indeed, “now that the grant application was refused, the three-year capital expense and associated grant revenue projections have been removed from our capital plans.”

Cote Saint-Luc mayoral race shaping up to be a battle between Mitchell Brownstein and Robert Libman

2 Comments

0
Côte-St-Luc, Que., Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, surrounded by supporters, makes his re-election bid official on June 9. JANICE ARNOLD PHOTO

He hasn’t yet decided whether he would try to get his old job back as mayor of Côte-St-Luc, Que., but Robert Libman has come out swinging against incumbent Mitchell Brownstein, for his and his supporters’ criticism of how Libman handled the municipal demerger issue more than a decade ago.

Libman suggests that federal partisan politics are motivating the “attack.”

At a press conference held at a kosher restaurant on June 9, Brownstein officially announced that he is seeking re-election in November. A longtime councillor, Brownstein was acclaimed mayor in March 2016, following the resignation of Anthony Housefather, who was elected as the federal Liberal MP for Mount Royal the previous fall.

Housefather, who had been mayor for 10 years, was on hand to endorse Brownstein’s candidacy. Friends for more than 20 years, Housefather said Brownstein is “probably the person I have asked advice of more than any other.”

He and Brownstein were leaders of the Côte-St-Luc demerger campaign from 2002 to 2004.

Also present were Peter Trent, former mayor of Westmount, Que., and former chair of the Association of Suburban Mayors, and Lawrence Bergman, who was an MNA for the riding of D’Arcy-McGee for 19 years.

READ: PROPOSED NEW SHUL DIVIDES LARGELY JEWISH MONTREAL SUBURB

Both praised Brownstein for, as Bergman put it, his “blue-chip integrity.”

Brownstein, 56, has also received the endorsement of all eight councillors, each of whom will be seeking re-election.

The decision by residents of Côte-St-Luc to fight the forced creation of the island-wide city of Montreal, which was finally achieved through a referendum in 2004, has proven to be the right one, Housefather said.

“I’ve not heard one person say, ‘Why did we not stay in Montreal? What a terrible decision we made’.”

Then Housefather turned his sights on Libman, the former provincial Equality Party leader and MNA, who was acclaimed Côte-St-Luc mayor in 1998 and then borough mayor of Côte-St-Luc-Hampstead-Montreal West in 2001.

At the time, he was named to the Montreal Executive Committee, which is responsible for urban planning, and supported continuing as part of the megacity (with some nuances). He quit municipal politics in 2005.

In the 2015 federal election, he ran unsuccessfully as the Conservative candidate in Mount Royal against Housefather.

Housefather, a borough councillor at the time, said winning on the demerger issue was a hard struggle, and Libman a tough opponent.

A blue ribbon became the symbol of the demerger campaign, he recalled. “Libman called them shmatte and ordered the ribbons taken down from public property, where they were legally, and from private property.

“Mitchell reacted calmly and simply said ‘put them back up,’ which we did over one weekend.”

Libman, 56, responded with a statement: “I haven’t even decided yet if I am running … yet the current mayor and other local politicians decided to come out and attack me … with falsehoods and exaggerations. This odd spectacle was bizarre and over the top, but I’ve always been up against this Liberal establishment mentality that is so condescending towards our community and which constantly takes us for granted and tells us how we have to vote.

“Their comments about demerger were disingenuous. About half of the current Côte-St-Luc council supported the same position that I did at time.…It was an intellectual debate about municipal structures and taxation. I wasn’t against true demerger, but opposed the (Quebec) government’s Bill 9 … the so-called demerger legislation was a ‘dog’s breakfast’ allowing former suburbs to supposedly demerge according to a controversial voting formula but also stripped them of any clout and political power and forcing them into a ‘taxation without representation’ straitjacket.”

A lawyer by profession, Brownstein said he would continue to be a full-time mayor, if re-elected.

“Our finances have never been better,” he said. “This year, we had a surplus of over $1 million and we will be paying $2.4 million less to the Montreal agglomeration council over the next three years for island-wide services.”

Libman begs to differ. “Côte-St-Luc is a great community in which to live, but we can do much better with stronger leadership,” he said. “We have the second-highest tax rate of all 35 cities and boroughs on the island of Montreal. This was unheard of when I was mayor.”

Brownstein, first elected to council in 1990, was also praised as a “consensus” builder.

Sidney Benizri, the city’s first francophone Sephardic councillor, who was elected in a byelection last year, said, “I was immediately welcomed by Mayor Brownstein as part of the team. I appreciate his openness to all communities.… Mitchell has a capacity for united people and this characterizes his strong leadership skills.”

Mitchell Brownstein announces plans to run for re-election

Leave a comment

Global News Montreal

Côte Saint-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein formally announced that he will be throwing

his hat in the ring and will be running for re-election in this year’s November elections

On Friday morning, current mayor of Côte St-Luc, Mitchell Brownstein, announced that he was putting in his candidacy to run for another term as mayor of the city.

At the Elna Bistro press conference, Brownstein made the announcement with the support of six city councillors present and with statements read from two other city councillors who were unable to attend.

He was also supported by Anthony Housefather, member of Parliament for Mount Royal, Lawrence Bergman, former minister of revenue, and Peter Trent, former mayor of Westmount and former president of the Association of Suburban Mayors.

“Mitchell has the capacity of reuniting people and this characterizes his strong leadership skills,” city Coun. Sidney Benizri said.

When Trent spoke, he mentioned that he had originally written a speech that focused on Brownstein’s accomplishments but since he learned yesterday that another candidate would be running, he decided he needed to speak about Brownstein’s potential opponent.

“I didn’t want to use the L-word at that point,” Trent said.

“But then yesterday, I discovered that Mr. Robert Libman has decided to put his toe in the water to see the temperature with regard to running again as the mayor of Côte St-Luc.

And I thought it was important that I give some context to this rather strange desire on the part of Mr. Libman to come back.”

Trent said that during 2002 and 2004, he led the de-merger movement.

“And my comrades in arms were Anthony Housefather and Mitch.”

Trent placed his hand on Brownstein’s shoulder as he spoke.

“I have seen them fight for their city which I think is important that potential electors realize,” Trent said.

Trent explained that five weeks before the 2001 election, Libman thought the mega-city would be a “bureaucratic monster” and that Libman was “completely against it”.

But, Trent said, then he changed his mind.

“From then on, he became the biggest cheerleader for the mega city, to the point that when we managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat and have a chance at de-merging, he actually argued against de-merging,” Kent said.

According to Trent, the de-merger is the most important thing to happen to Côte St-Luc.

“You can judge a person’s character on how they behave during a tough time,” Kent said.

Trent added that Brownstein has the capacity to “do the right thing when times are tough” and that history has proven that Brownstein can stay the course and fulfils his promises.

Housefather said that you can tell a lot about a man from what he does when the chips are down, and told a story about how Brownstein lifted him – and others – up.

Housefather reminded the crowd about how difficult it was to bring the de-merger to life back then.

“There was not an incentive from the government for us to de-merge,” Housefather said. “They put a process in place that was exceptionally difficult.”

He explained that at the time the symbol used to support the concept of a de-merger was a blue ribbon and told a story about how, one weekend, they all went out and put up blue ribbons on both public property, and the private property of those who requested it, across the city.

He said he was shocked and discouraged when he heard that then-mayor, Libman, was on the news opposing the ribbons and had Public Works crews out taking down all their blue ribbons.

This year, his first year as mayor, they ran a surplus of over a million dollars, he says, but with the Association of Suburban Mayors, they were able to negotiate a deal with Montreal where the city of Côte St-Luc will be paying $2.4 million less, phased in over three years, in order to support island-wide services.

“That is really who I want to be as mayor,” Brownstein said at the press conference when it was his time to speak.

“Someone who could create consensus, who can work together for what the people want.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Côte-St-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein to run again

Leave a comment

Côte-St-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein announced Friday morning during a news conference he will be running again for mayor in the municipal election in November.

Last year, the former Côte-St-Luc councilman won unopposed, but could face more opposition this year. Former mayor of Côte-St-Luc Robert Libman said he is considering a return to municipal politics.

Libman, who became mayor in 1998, left municipal politics in 2005 after the demerger from the megacity of Montreal. He had a stint in federal politics from 2014 to 2015. Originally opposed to the forced merger, Libman became a member of mayor Gerald Tremblay’s new megacity executive committee. Libman angered many of his constituents when he campaigned in favour of the merged city during the June 2004 referendum on demergers.

When asked about the possibility of Libman returning to municipal politics, Brownstein was surprised he would consider it, calling him the “enemy of Côte-St-Luc.”

“No one on council wants him, not one of the councillors, the association of suburban mayors are surely not going to want that guy sitting around the table with them … all those cities who demerged. The community doesn’t want somebody who turned their back on them,” Brownstein said.

“If someone was to run against me, Robert Libman is the least (threatening).”

Libman said Côte-St-Luc needs stronger leadership, citing the city has the second-highest tax rate in Montreal.

“Seems that they’re scared of the possibility of me running,” he said of Brownstein’s news conference, “otherwise, they wouldn’t have gone to this extent.”

Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

City of Côte-St-Luc eyes CP rail yards for development

9 Comments

Shaun Michaud, Montreal Gazette

The Canadian Pacific rail yards take up about one-third of Côte St-Luc — land that the city would like to re-purpose.
Mayor Mitchell Brownstein says owning that land “would be a great boon for the city,” which “desperately needs” the land for housing and business development. 
The railway company has owned the land well over 100 years, and Brownstein said CP could make a profit by selling. 
“I do believe that it’s a reality that could happen in the next five to 10 years with the proper plan,” the mayor said in an interview with the Montreal Gazette, adding developments similar to the future Quinze40 shopping complex in Town of Mount Royal and a residential redevelopment of the former Blue Bonnets racetrack on Décarie Blvd. in the Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough could increase the value of the rail yard land.

Brownstein, who has been in office since April, said during that time he has met with CP to discuss moving the train yard off island to Les Cèdres near Vaudreuil, and that the company wouldn’t be opposed to the idea as long as a reasonable development project were proposed. Brownstein said CP could make a financial gain by selling the land and relocating. 
But the Coalition for the Relocation of the St-Luc Rail Yards — a non-profit organization led by a former mayor of Côte-St-Luc and former MNA for D’Arcy-McGee, Robert Libman — says city hall isn’t doing enough, “and this is why citizens felt the need to create something to make it happen.”
“(The rail yards) are located at the geographic epicentre of the island of Montreal,” said Libman, an architect and real estate lobbyist. “It’s somewhat of an obstacle to economic development.”
If train operations were moved off the island, Libman said, Côte-St-Luc would find itself with 2.04 million square metres (though the city estimated it at 1.6 million square metres) of land in a prime location, which he valued at least $1 billion. Libman, who now runs Libcorp, an urban-planning consulting firm, said he has no intention of becoming personally involved in developing the land.
“The even number I used was based on the relative value of residential land in that area, which about $50 a square foot,” he said in an interview.
The city said it couldn’t confirm the land’s potential value. Potential developers would buy the land directly from CP.  
“Côte-St-Luc has right now the second-highest tax rate on the island,” Libman said. “And one way to expand Côte-St-Luc’s tax base would be to allow the rail yards to leave.”
Libman’s coalition has asked a class of graduate students at McGill University’s School of Urban Planning to come up with a redevelopment plan and feasibility study for moving the yards, including possible decontamination. In the meantime, the coalition sent a letter to CP Rail in mid-July to present its vision. CP hasn’t responded yet, Libman said. 
***

The CP rail yard in Côte-St-Luc is one of largest in Canada, linking Eastern Canada to the West and the United States. A variety of products, including wood, chemicals, plastic, metals, minerals, consumer products and oil pass through the yards, which also border St-Laurent, Lachine and the CN-owned Taschereau yards. 
Since the Lac-Mégantic disaster of 2013, which saw 47 people killed after a runaway oil train jumped the tracks and blew up in the centre of town, several cities have expressed concern about hazardous materials being shipped through their territories by rail. 
Libman’s group call the rail yards in Côte-St-Luc “a threat to safety and security” because of the dangerous elements that are handled there.
Mauricio Guitta lives on Wentworth Ave. close to the freight cars. He considers the move a welcome proposal. 
“My friend … he (lives) right in front of the trains. The whole house shakes and the lights shake and everything,” he said.
Still, not everyone in the neighbourhood agrees.
Yao Liu said he’d never heard of the idea and would rather keep the yards because they block off traffic and provide security to the family-friendly area.
“We don’t have a lot of traffic on our side,” he said. “Even in summertime when I open the windows, I hear nothing.”
The city’s communications manager, Darryl Levine, said the city would work with developers by re-zoning parts of the new district for both residential and commercial buildings. He added that Côte-St-Luc hopes property taxes from new business and homeowners would make up for losing revenue from CP’s property taxes CP.
As well, Levine said, the rail yards have for years stalled progress on a plan to connect Cavendish Blvd. from Côte St-Luc to St-Laurent.
“You have to build an overpass to go over all the tracks that are in the CP rail yard and you may also have to build an underpass beneath some of them and that’s hugely expensive,” Levine said. “It’s an important missing link in the road network.”
This summer, the city of Montreal put a reserve on a parcel of land adjacent to the yards necessary to build the missing link of Cavendish Blvd. and allay traffic woes in the area.
Yet the city would encourage potential developers to create a neighbourhood built around people rather than around cars, Levine said.
***
CP Rail would not confirm or deny holding relocation talks with Brownstein, but emailed The Montreal Gazette a pamphlet of its relocation policy, which describes the moving of rail lines out of a city as a “complex and serious issue,” requiring an extensive review to “determine the impact to customer service and the full cost to all stakeholders, which will be significant.”
Three Canadian prairie cities that are among the fastest growing metro centres in the country are similarly eyeing such spaces for development.
Regina is working on plans to redevelop the site of a former CP rail yard located in the heart of the city. Saskatoon is considering the possibility of relocating its rail yard. And the Manitoba provincial government even hired former Quebec premier Jean Charest to head a task force to analyze rail yard relocation efforts in Winnipeg. 
smichaud@postmedia.com
Twitter.com/shaun_mic

City of Côte-St-Luc lobbies Canadian Pacific to move its rail yards off island

Federal election leaves Côte-St-Luc without a mayor

Leave a comment

The election last month of Anthony Housefather as the MP for Mount Royal riding has created a vacancy that may interest as many as three sitting members of council.

Housefather, 45, mayor since 2005, resigned Wednesday after winning the federal seat in Mount Royal for the Liberals. He’d been acclaimed in the last two municipal elections in 2009 and 2013. With the next one not scheduled until November 2017, the city is required by provincial law to call a by-election to replace him.

If a single candidate is nominated, he or she will be acclaimed. But there appear to be more aspirants this time around.

Councillor Allan J. Levine confirmed to the Montreal Gazette he is running.

“I feel the city needs a new direction on finance,” he said. “The debt ratio is high and Côte-St-Luc, with the second highest tax mill rate on the island, needs someone with a tough stand on taxes.”

Mitchell Brownstein, who worked on the Housefather election campaign and was president of the Liberal riding association in Mount Royal, has already obtained the support of fellow councillors Mike Cohen and Sam Goldbloom without stating his intentions so far.

Brownstein said he’ll be attending Housefather’s swearing-in at Ottawa next week and won’t make any announcement before then, but did say “I’m seriously considering it” and  “I’m very appreciative of the overwhelming support I’m getting from the public.”

Councillor Dida Berku said she’s thinking about it as well “but I don’t know yet. I’m not ruling it out.”

Berku, who ran once for mayor against  Bernard Lang in 1994, said her choice would have been for city to function with a succession of acting mayors until the next scheduled election in 2017.

“We’ve just come out of a very divisive (federal) election. Nobody has an appetite for another election now, in the middle of winter. We get along well, it’s a good team, there’s a lot of collaboration. If we could continue to run it that way, collectively, that would be my preference.”

Robert Libman,  who ran second to Housefather as the Conservative candidate in Mount Royal and preceded him as Côte-St-Luc mayor, also has been mentioned as a possible mayoralty candidate.

“A lot of people approached me about it, but it’s not in my plans right now. I’m going back to my career as an architect and planner,” Libman said.

If an election is needed, the municipality likely will ask the province for permission to delay it until April, in part because so many of its residents are snowbirds who winter in warmer climes. It’s one of the topics on the agenda for the first council meeting without Housefather on Monday night.

Housefather holds Mount Royal for the Liberals – The Canadian Jewish News

Leave a comment

Mount Royal was the riding the Conservatives had pinned their hopes on for making a breakthrough in Montreal. But in the end, it wasn’t even close.

Source: Housefather holds Mount Royal for the Liberals – The Canadian Jewish News

Acrimony and recriminations mark election battle in Mount Royal riding

1 Comment

Libman’s Mount Royal Conservative team have run the nastiest campaign, smearing the impeccable reputation of Professor Irwin Cotler, misrepresenting statements by Liberal Candidate Anthony Housefather and shamefully distributing deceptive postcards making it look like they came from the Liberals when they did not. This behaviour disrespects all voters and the democratic process. I have heard from supporters, Conservatives, Liberals and NDP, who find this action to be reprehensible.

Montreal Gazette

Global News

CTV News

Statement from Lawrence S. Bergman, former MNA for D’Arcy McGee riding

Leave a comment

Lawrence Bergman, fmr. MNA for D'Arcy McGee

Lawrence Bergman, fmr. MNA for D’Arcy McGee

Statement from Lawrence S. Bergman, former MNA for D’Arcy McGee riding:

 

I received an election pamphlet today (October 14, 2015) that obviously was created to deliberately mislead the public.

On one side, in Liberal colours and pictures showing statements taken out of context. In fact, the issuer was actually the Conservative Libman campaign.  

These Conservative pamphlets are an insult to the intellect of the voters of Mount Royal, who have always elected Members of Parliament in the tradition of Allan McNaughton, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Sheila Finestone, Irwin Cotler and soon, Anthony Housefather …people of tremendous integrity, intellectual honesty and respect for the electors of Mount Royal.

The people of Mount Royal deserve better, not the negative campaign undertaken by the Conservatives who should apologize for their tactics.

Older Entries