Mount Royal Conservative Campaign Turns Nasty, Misrepresents Truth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CSL Councillors denounce the misinformation regarding MP Irwin Cotler

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

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

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

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

Read more:

Cotler says Libman misrepresented his position on ISIS – CJN

Housefather packs TMR Town Hall, Libman a no show

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Mario Rimbao, Dennis Trudeau and Anthony Housefather at the TMR candidates debate. Missing from photo is Robert Libman who refused to participate.

Mario Rimbao, Dennis Trudeau and Anthony Housefather at the TMR candidates debate. Missing from photo is Robert Libman who refused to participate.

Mount Royal candidates Anthony Housefather (Liberal Party of Canada) and Mario Rimbao (NDP) debated before a full house at City Hall in the Town of Mount Royal last night. Conservative candidate Robert Libman refused to attend, advising the moderator by way of a written statement minutes before the scheduled debate that he would not participate.
Housefather was invited to the debate by Philippe Roy, Mayor of TMR. The debate was organized by the TMR municipal citizens association.  Unfortunately Robert Libman, the Conservative candidate, did not attend the debate and put out a statement stating his refusal to attend was linked to support for the BDS movement by the President of the municipal association.  Anthony pointed out at the debate that both he and the Liberal Party strongly oppose BDS but that this opposition was even more of a reason for Anthony to participate in the debate and forcefully make that point.
“This debate, the only one in TMR, a very important part of the riding centered on local TMR issues and environmental, domestic and international issues,” Housefather said.
When receiving questions on Israel Anthony made the same forceful defence of Israel that he has made in front of Jewish audiences.  “It is easy for a candidate to defend Israel in front of a largely Jewish audience but the real test of a candidate is being able to make the same statements in front of people who may disagree with you,” he said.  The debate was expertly handled by the municipal association which remained strictly neutral and Dennis Trudeau the moderator.
Listen to Dennis Trudeau reading Libman’s statement:
Housefather, alluding to Libman’s refusal to participate, began his remarks stating it’s very easy to only debate before a friendly crowd where everyone agrees with you. “But I’m not afraid to come to come to TMR and make a statement (in support of Israel) where some people don’t agree with me.”
Listen to Anthony Housefather’s opening remarks:
The two participating candidates debated everything from airplane noise to climate change, mail delivery to foreign policy, military investment to job creation.
Moderator Dennis Trudeau kept the event moving along allowing for many questions from the crowd, many of whom were annoyed that the Conservative candidate chose to ignore TMR residents.
Speaking on the issue of Canada Post home mail delivery Housefather said, “Under the Harper government plan we would be the only country in the western world to end home delivery. This is blatantly unfair to seniors and the disabled. And not consulting with local representatives is completely unacceptable. A Liberal government would end this right away.”
“Anthony and I are on the same page. Stephen Harper made the biggest mistake,” Rimbao said.
Anthony Housefather debates Mario Rimbao with moderator Dennis Trudeau
Anthony Housefather debates Mario Rimbao with moderator Dennis Trudeau
Housefather said he has a proven track-record on environmental issues citing his achievements as mayor. “I lead my city to become tops on green issues. We were the first in the region to begin composting, we are big into waste diversion and recycling. We began an urban agriculture movement and we’re on the verge of finally saving Meadowbrook,” he said. “Harper leads the only government that withdrew from the Kyoto Accords,” adding that a Liberal government will provide real leadership in climate change and environmental issues.
On the issue of security and Bill C-51, “Harper wants you to think there’s a terrorist around every corner. We need to balance security with freedom. You need to be pragmatic and reach consensus. Harper could easily have achieved consensus in Parliament. He could have created an oversight committee as requested by the Liberals,” Housefather said.
“How would your government support the refugees flooding into Europe?” asked the moderator.
“We need to help. Bringing people is part of the solution but doesn’t solve for millions being displaced,” Housefather said. “We need to send much more relief to those leaving their countries. Canada has been an expert in this for many years. But we need to solve larger problems in the region and help people where they are, over there.”
Rimbao agreed with Housefather. “This should not be a divisive political issue. As Canadians we should be proud to support people in need.”
Further, on the foreign policy theme Housefather said, “A reformed United Nations is the best route to fix some of the evils in the most challenging parts of the world. The U.N. has lost our respect in many areas, citing the preposterous example of Saudi Arabia presiding over the Human Rights Council. “What’s wrong is that Harper doesn’t work with world leaders to convince them of his principled foreign policy. If he doesn’t agree, he shuts the door, just like his local candidate who didn’t show up to debate tonight.  Harper should show up on the world stage and dialogue and try to convince people of Canada’s position, not stay away from the table,” he said to loud applause.
Housefather stated that the Liberals have the exact same position on Israel as the conservatives with one exception. “We do not believe that Israel should be a political wedge issue,” he said, again to the delight of the audience. “Support for Israel started not under Harper but with former Prime Minister Paul Martin. Justin Trudeau has been very clear on his intention to continue strong, principled support of the Jewish State.
On Israel:
On the issue of airplane noise the NDP would put penalties if noise is not reduced and change flight paths. The Liberal candidate said that the airport authority should have municipal representation, make sure curfew is respected. “I’d work with all mayors on the island to deal with this problem,” Housefather said.
“Improve safety and move pipelines out of major urban centres. The Liberal Party is committed to solutions. The Conservatives have not moved fast enough in redesigning oil tanker train cars,” Housefather stated referring to the riding being home to the second largest rail yard in eastern Canada.
Rimbao said, “You need strong safety procedures. The Harper government cut funding to scientists and research. How can we improve the situation if we do not carry out proper research?”
The first questioner criticized Libman for staying away saying that we don’t all agree with each other’s beliefs but as candidates it’s incumbent to show up and to state their opinions, to say what they agree or disagree with.
Asked what he would do specifically for the riding Housefather said he would lobby for funding for priorities, citing railway safety, the Cavendish extension, congestion and exppansion around the 15 and 40. “I would hold public information meetings throughout the riding on a regular basis,” Housefather added.
Another resident took to the microphone and thanked Housefather and Rimbao for showing up rather than the one candidate (Libman) who stayed away. The questioner asked if they were for or against reopening the Canadian embassy in Iran. Housefather responded, “We would not reinstate until security concerns are cleared. Our issues aren’t with the Iranian people. It’s with their regime. We should have embassies to represent Canadian interests, to protect Canadians citizens to support Canadian business people and to speak out against those regimes that we do not agree with. There’s no reason to close an embassy because we don’t agree with their regime,” Housefather said. “Harper hasn’t closed the Venezuelan embassy, yet Chavez is completely anti-Semitic and anti-Israel. Yes, we need to ensure the security of our embassy staff and represent our interests everywhere.”
The third questioner also said it was too bad that Libman was not there. “Strange way to support Israel by staying away,” he chimed in.
Yet another questioner decried the irony that Harper’s commendable position on foreign policy is not backed up with investment in the military. “They study and study but they haven’t delivered the goods.”
Housefather remarked, “Harper hasn’t planned to replace fighter jets or ice breakers. We need to properly equip our armed services to protect Canadians. While Harper talks about it he doesn’t do it.”
A TMR resident asked about Trudeau’s position on Israel. “The Liberals have the exact same position on Israel as the Conservatives with one exception. We do not believe that Israel should be a political wedge issue,” Housefather stated. “Support for Israel started, not under Harper, but with former Prime Minister Martin. Justin,” he said. “Justin Trudeau has been very clear on this issue.”
Housefather gave an impassioned closing to the audience. “I have proven my dedication serving the public for 21 years. I also bring my business experience as a lawyer in a multinational corporation. On October 19, I ask you to vote for the best candidate to support you in Mount Royal riding.”
Concluding remarks:

Once a Liberal stronghold, this riding has been targeted as Tories’ best hope of gaining a Montreal foothold | National Post

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CSL Mayor Anthony Housefather at his campaign launch to seek the Liberal Party of Canada nomination in Mount Royal

CSL Mayor Anthony Housefather at his campaign launch to seek the Liberal Party of Canada nomination in Mount Royal

Battle for Mount Royal: Pierre Trudeau’s former riding has a large Jewish population and is seen by the Conservatives as their best chance of gaining a Montreal foothold

Source: Once a Liberal stronghold, this riding has been targeted as Tories’ best hope of gaining a Montreal foothold | National Post

Mount Royal: Israel Policy Key In Battle For Liberal Stronghold

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The battle in Mount Royal is representative of a larger fight between Liberals and Conservatives.

Source: Mount Royal: Israel Policy Key In Battle For Liberal Stronghold


In my opinion: An excellent article by the Huffington Post that gives a balanced look at the race in our riding. Once again it shows that Anthony Housefather is up against Stephen Harper, not Robert Libman, and pretty much on the Israel issue alone.

As important as Israel is to members of the Jewish community, we are voting for or local representative in Parliament, both of whom are supporters of Israel, quite obviously. Both of their leaders are supporters of Israel. Both will continue to support the Jewish State in Parliament, at the U.N. and around the world. They’ve said so publicly. So vote for the best candidate!

Also, a pretty cheap shot by Libman in criticizing the city councillors for supporting Housefather. Libman would only wish to get some local elected folk to support him. Having broken his promise on demergers it is instructive that city councillors are not throwing support behind Libman. To suggest councillors are being paid by the city to work on a federal campaign is false and defamatory and Libman should be ashamed to be spewing such nonsense.

Housefather and Libman debate on CTV News

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If you missed yesterday’s noon-hour mini-debate between Mount Royal candidates Anthony Housefather and Robert Libman on CTV News with Mitsumi Takahashi click here to watch.


Last night I was proud to welcome my closest neighbours and friends to meet and exchange with Anthony. He is a highly intelligent communicator. Honest, faithful and committed to his constituents. Take the opportunity to chat with him when he knocks on your door, calls you or when you meet at the next debate or rally. He’s a delight to talk to, cares deeply about the community and always remembers your name!

Anthony Housefather meeting some of my neighbours and friends

Anthony Housefather meeting some of my neighbours and friends

Senior Times endorses electing Anthony Housefather as M.P.

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Senior Times September 2015 Editorial

A “Yes” to Housefather is a “No” to Harper on Oct. 19

It’s been a long ten years with Stephen Harper and his Conservatives running the country and it is high time to change direction.

First with his minority government and the last four years with his majority, Harper has transformed public policy in Canada in a frightening way. It is alien to the liberal and progressive values that have been the hallmark of this country under Liberal and Progressive Conservative governments.

The transformation has been slow but inexorable, and long in consequence. It is rooted in an ideology that harkens back to Harper’s days as a prime mover in the Unite the Right movement that is committed to reducing the role of government in protecting vulnerable citizens and the environment from the excesses of capitalism.

It kicked off its ten-year rule with such seemingly innocuous moves as scrapping the compulsory long-form Census, which has seriously compromised the value of essential data, in the name of protecting individual rights not to participate. The Conservatives have inflicted harsher sentences and longer waits for parole, choosing repression over rehabilitation, and forcing the provinces to build more jails, even as violent crime is receding. They scrapped the compulsory long-gun registry over the opposition of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, who said it was an essential tool. They refused to turn over the data to Quebec. They imposed gag orders on government scientists talking in public and put strict controls on MPs and ministers giving interviews to the media. Regular press conferences with the Ottawa media have been cancelled. It’s all controlled from The Centre, the all-powerful “boys in short pants” who run the Prime Minister’s Office.

Omnibus bills were introduced covering a broad range of subjects, making detailed examination impossible before time limits were imposed. The Canadian Bar Association representing 36,000 lawyers denounced provisions of Bill C-51, the anti-terrorism legislation as a threat to civil rights, yet every suggestion it made for changes was dismissed. There is no Parliamentary oversight. The Privacy Commissioner was not allowed to testify at the Conservative-controlled Parliamentary committee examining the bill.

Under Harper’s watch, Canada’s foreign policy has shifted from that of honest broker and peacekeeper to active participant, such as in the Iraqi quagmire. Many applaud Harper’s embrace of Israel, but many also question his failure to balance traditional Canadian support for the Jewish state – a policy feature of all major parties – with calls to advance efforts to end its Occupation of lands captured in 1967 and allow for creation of a Palestinian State.

Finally, the Duffy Affair so far has shown that Harper’s closest advisers did everything they could to sweep Duffy’s alleged transgressions under the rug and make it look like he was paying back the $90,000 he owed even though the money came from Harper’s Chief of Staff, Nigel Wright. Duffy faces 31 counts of fraud, breach of trust, and bribery. A Harper appointee, he has been suspended from the Senate along with fellow Harper appointees Patrick Brazeau, who faces two charges for false housing claims, and Pamela Wallin.

Meanwhile, Ray Novak, Harper’s current chief of staff, was told in an email that Wright paid Duffy’s $90,000, even as Harper was saying Duffy paid back the money on his own. Harper’s former issues manager, Chris Woodcook, was also told in an email, but claims he didn’t read it. Is it plausible that Harper, who is known as a control freak, did not know about Wright’s role? If accepting the money was a crime, is giving it not also a crime?

Not everything that happened in Canada under Harper’s watch was negative. When the price of a barrel of oil hovered around US$100, our economy boomed. Now that it’s down to around US$40 and the Canadian dollar is down to US 75 cents, we are on the verge of recession.

All of which brings us to Mount Royal riding, where Côte Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather is seeking to hold the seat for the Liberals, while the town’s former mayor, Robert Libman is running for the Conservatives. Libman has said he resisted running in the past because he did not want to oppose Irwin Cotler, who is retiring as Liberal MP for the riding. Cotler is a quintessential liberal, former justice minister, distinguished law professor, a lifelong fighter for human rights and veteran Zionist. Libman, an architect, channeled Anglo discontent over the language law in 1989 when he staged an upset victory in d’Arcy McGee riding as leader of the Equality Party. He later served on Mayor Gérald Tremblay’s executive committee.

The issue in Mount Royal, however, is not about Libman’s competence, it is about the party he now represents. Anthony Housefather is a success in all he’s undertaken — in business, politics, as a supporter of Anglo rights, and as a committed Liberal. He is honest, hardworking, a good listener, and a trusted leader.

The Conservatives would dearly love to win Mount Royal, the last riding in Canada with a substantial Jewish population (about 35 per cent) that has yet to switch to the Tories. That is why Harper launched his 72-day campaign in the riding; his wife visited there in previous weeks. They hope Libman can improve on Saulie Zajdel’s score in 2011. Zajdel has pleaded guilty to two of five charges of breach of trust and corruption in connection with land deals while he was on council. The Conservatives’ best hope to win an island seat in 2011 was given an 18-month suspended sentence, has to perform 240 hours of community service and donate $10,000 to various groups.

The NDP is running Mario Rimbao, an outstanding candidate who is known in Mount Royal as The Coach because of his work with basketball teams. Unfortunately, since the results are expected to be close, a vote for Rimbao in this riding is a vote for Harper.

Strategic voting is called for to ensure that Anthony Housefather wins the riding and helps contribute to what, according to the polls, may be a possible coalition of Liberal and NDP MPs to run the country.

Standing room only at first Mount Royal debate



Robert Libman, Mario Rimbao and Anthony Housefather battle with words at Mount Royal candidates debate

There wasn’t an empty seat at the first Mount Royal candidate’s debate last night at the Spanish and Portuguese synagogue in Cote des Neiges. Supporters of the three main parties and their local candidates were out in great numbers, cheering and clapping as each of the three made their way to the podium to make their points and rebut one another.

In his usual style as a masterful debater, Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather took to the microphone over and over without a single prepared note and brilliantly communicated Liberal Party policies along with his own opinion. He recited fact after fact on recent political history, on party policy, on the question of Israel, on Iran and much more. Kudos to Anthony for keeping on a positive note, always smiling and being confident enough to say he agreed on several points with his opponents, Robert Libman and Mario Rimbao.

On Israel, Anthony said that Justin Trudeau shares the same viewpoint as Stephen Harper and will always stand in solid support of the Jewish State. He took issue with Harper trying to create a wedge issue and divide the Jewish community and its dual loyalty to Canada and to Israel. “The Jewish community should be united.  The Mount Royal community should be united. We can have different opinions and perspectives, but when it comes to Israel we share a common, Canadian viewpoint in supporting Israel,” Housefather said. “I am a proud Jew, travel often to Israel where my company has offices, won seven medals in the Maccabiah Games last year in Israel and can assure you I will always speak up and defend and support Israel, he said to thunderous support from the crowd.

“What has to end are those who will tell you that you’re not a good Jew if you don’t vote for the right party,” Housefather said to great applause. This was a direct shot at the Conservative rhetoric that they are the only party able to defend Israel.

This was the first of several debates in Mount Royal riding.


La Presse

CJAD and CTV News

Mike Cohen’s blog

Candidates to debate in Mount Royal

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Aug. 26, 2015 | Suburban | Click to enlarge

Aug. 26, 2015 | Suburban | Click to enlarge

The Demerger Decision: Did CSL Make the Right Choice?


The Demerger Team, Ten Years Later: Mitchell Brownstein, Glenn J. Nashen, Peter Trent, Ruth Kovac, Anthony Housefather

The Demerger Team, Ten Years Later: Mitchell Brownstein, Glenn J. Nashen, Peter Trent, Ruth Kovac, Anthony Housefather

Powerless under the country’s constitution, Canadian municipal governments often find themselves in conflict with their provincial masters. In 2002, the Province of Quebec forcibly merged all cities on the Island of Montreal into a single municipality – a decision that was partially reversed in 2006. The first book-length study of the series of mergers imposed by the Parti Québécois government, The Merger Delusion is a sharp and insightful critique by a key player in anti-merger politics.

Peter Trent, mayor of the City of Westmount, foresaw the numerous financial and institutional problems posed by amalgamating municipalities into megacities. In his book, he presents a stirring and detailed account of the battle he led against the provincial government, the City of Montreal, the Board of Trade, and many of his former colleagues. Describing how he took the struggle all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, Trent demonstrates the ways in which de-mergers resonated with voters and eventually helped the Quebec Liberal Party win the 2003 provincial election.

As the cost and pitfalls of forced mergers become clearer in hindsight, The Merger Delusion recounts a compelling case study with broad implications for cities across the globe.

Mayor Peter Trent was the keynote speaker at the annual luncheon of the Cote Saint-Luc Senior Mens Club that took place yesterday at the CSL Gymnasium. Mayor Trent presented his case in excerpts from his book and in news clippings specifically targeting the battle that developed between two former council colleagues, then Councillor Anthony Housefather and Borough Mayor Robert Libman.

The Cote Saint-Luc Demerger Co-Chairs, Anthony Housefather, Mitchell Brownstein, Ruth Kovac and myself listened on with keen interest.

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

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

Trent read from the November 2001 election platform of the Borough Council made up of Libman, Housefather and Dida Berku. “We have consistently opposed the creation of the Mega-city (…) We will support the decision of residents in any referendum held by a future Quebec government to reverse the forced merger.”

Said Trent, “Housefather and Libman made the same promises. Housefather kept his!”

Trent recounted how Libman told the Montreal Gazette in October 2001, “I share the resentment, the anger, and the frustration, and I am very much against this forced merger. We are fighting this to the nth degree.”

“How much a month – and an Executive Committee membership – can change things,” Trent emphasized, in questioning Libman’s about-face on the demerger issue.

Before a full audience of CSL seniors with sharp memories of the merger years of 2001 to 2005, Trent recounted how Libman made the case for demerger only to flip-flop after his appointment to Megacity Montreal Mayor Tremblay’s Executive Committee.

“We were sold a bag of goods,” he said, stating that smaller is better in terms of controlling finances and expenses and ensuring protection against corruption. Sure there were a handful of small municipalities that were singled out for illegal practices. But these cases were caught quickly and corrected because “citizens like you, and councils like yours,” are closely watching over everything. That wasn’t the case in Montreal, he said, where corruption ran amuck for a very, very long time.

Mayor Trent went on, “Anthony Housefather is known for his intelligence. He was front and centre during the Charter of Values debate and has the respect of all of the mayors.”

Trent made the case from several perspectives how the promises of the merger did not hold up and how Cote Saint-Luc is infinitely better off now than those former suburbs that failed to demerge. Outremont controls 22% of its budget and is dependent upon handouts from the megacity, Trent stated, while CSL controls 59% of its budget.

As for your demerger choice,” Trent concluded, “Congratulations!”

For more, see Mike Cohen’s blog.

Why I support the call for an Office of Anglophone Affairs

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The need for an Office of Anglophone Affairs to represent the interests of 800,000 English-speaking Quebecers is reasonable and quite evident.

First, having three cabinet members of the Quebec Liberal Party who come from the English-speaking community does not absolve the government from its ongoing obligation to its English-speaking population. Cabinet members come and go, so do governments, and cabinet members have many more responsibilities than uniquely watching out for linguistic issues of their constituents.

The last four decades have shown us that English-speakers promoted to cabinet are no guarantee that the rights afforded to the English-speaking community will be respected in each ministry and throughout the government.

No disrespect or lack of appreciation to our Anglo MNAs, past or present. Their competencies are far from limited to their mother tongue. In D’Arcy McGee riding, for example, David Birnbaum is off to a great start, is very interested in his constituency and his assistance is quite sincere, I have no doubt. Lawrence Bergman was a model MNA, of the highest calibre. Robert Libman (Equality Party) was elected specifically because of his position on language and Bill 101 and had wide community support because he was a thorn in the side of the government – a voice specifically for the English-speaking community.

An Office  of Anglophone Affairs would be such a representative body that is sorely lacking in Quebec City.

Editorial: An Office of Anglophone Affairs is needed now more than ever | Montreal Gazette.

Second, in an era when a judge of the Quebec Court rules that it is legitimate for the government to deny the rights and freedoms guaranteed to all Canadians and Quebecers, such as this week’s ruling to uphold Bill 101 with respect to marked predominance of French on signs, it is clear that the Quebec English-speaking community needs greater presence within government. An office, as suggested by Commissioner of Official Languages, Graham Fraser, would be a good start.

Smaller English wording on signs will convince more people to speak French? Nonsense. This is nothing more than the government, through its OQLF, bullying small business owners, who have enough trouble making a living in this province without being restricted from communicating with their non French-speaking customers.

It is harassment of Anglo seniors who have difficulty reading much too small English wording in the few cases where English is even provided.

It is an insult to English-speaking Quebecers that their language is diminished by such mean spirited laws that do absolutely nothing to promote the French language

It is pure politic and it is contrary to what Philippe Couillard told us in last year’s election campaign (‘English is not the enemy’).

Finally, Quebecers were screaming their support for freedom of expression, alongside people of good will all across the planet just two weeks ago. Where are they today? Where are our business leaders demanding their freedom of expression to run their businesses as they see fit in order to create wealth in our province? Where are those politicians who waved their signs upholding freedom of expression? Where are all those marchers?

We’re quick to cry for freedom for everyone all over the world. I fully support that. But what about right here in Quebec, in Canada, where we have something called a ‘Notwithstanding Clause’ that allows our own government to deny our rights? What about our own freedom of expression?

All other provinces have an office for their French-speaking communities. Anglo Quebecers need a voice too.


Read more:

Court quashes challenge to Quebec’s sign law (The Gazette)

Judge shoots down sign law challenge (CTV News)

Suburban | Feb. 4, 2015 | Click to enlarge

Suburban | Feb. 4, 2015 | Click to enlarge

Hearings into Bill 14: Bill 101 should not be subject to tinkering, civil rights lawyer says

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Lawyer Julius Grey seems to have adopted the CAQ approach of suggesting that with changes to Bill 14 it would be an acceptable law.  Furthermore, he even concludes that Bill 101 should be allowed “to do its work and not try and change it.” So much for language and human rights.

Grey, apparently, is increasingly out of sync with the community he purportedly seeks to protect.  The English-speaking community has little interest in whittling away what few rights it has left.  The threat of Bill 14 hangs heavy upon English-speaking Quebecers, but Grey acts as if it is merely a minor discomfort to be shaken off.

What’s more, Grey argues that the imposition upon small business is not too heavy a burden. The business community doesn’t even agree with him. Ridiculous, Mr. Grey.

On the other hand, I salute the representatives of CRITIQ, the newest group to speak out for linguistic equality. Montreal Lawyer Richard Yufe, newspaper publisher Beryl Wajsman and former Cote Saint-Luc Mayor and D’Arcy McGee MNA Robert Libman presented their brief before the National Assembly yesterday calling for Bill 14 to be struck down in its entirety.

Wajsman, editor-in-chief of the Suburban, is unabashedly outspoken in human and language rights issues.  Libman, who lead the Equality Party in the National Assembly from 1989 to 1994, stood for his party’s namesake, equality.  These worthy goals, sadly, seem unattainable today to Quebec’s English-speaking community.  However, it’s only through the continued efforts of these leaders, and others like Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather, that we will eventually succeed in making Quebec a better society for all.

Hearings into Bill 14: Bill 101 should not be subject to tinkering, civil rights lawyer says (Montreal Gazette)


Cavendish link a longstanding issue

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The Suburban looks back at 50 years in our community

Cavendish link a longstanding issue in The Suburban

April 18, 2012

Joel Goldenberg, The Suburban


Sometimes, when I go out into the community and identify myself as being from The Suburban, longtime readers will frequently bring up the Cavendish extension issue. And why not? The issue of the link, or lack thereof, between St. Laurent and Côte St. Luc is almost as old and perhaps even older than the paper itself, and has become synonymous with us.

At a recent press conference announcing the ceding of the Hippodrome land from the Quebec government to Montreal and the resultant resurfacing of the Cavendish link, I inwardly chuckled as a local reporter said she has been hearing about the issue since she started reporting about 16 years ago. That’s only a fraction of the time the matter has been discussed.

For the last 45 years, motorists from Côte St. Luc, Hampstead, NDG and St. Laurent stuck in traffic on the Decarie expressway have been dreaming of an alternate north-south route. But it always seemed elusive. Côte St. Luc was opposed for many years (”We don’t want it, we don’t need it and we can’t afford it,” former mayor Bernard Lang famously said) and then supportive under the Robert Libman and current Anthony Housefather administration.

The link resurfaced during the merger years – with a project bureau even being formed – and was seemingly placed on the shelf again after demerger.

Yet, in recent weeks, Côte des Neiges/NDG, Town of Mount Royal, Côte St. Luc, Montreal West, St. Laurent and Hampstead have passed resolutions calling on Quebec and Montreal to prioritize the link. And some believe the future development of the Hippodrome land gives the project new hope.

Hopes of this sort were temporarily dashed in one of the earliest stories The Suburban had on the Cavendish link. The front page of the June 16, 1966 issue carried the story “Cavendish WILL NOT be extended.” The story quotes an A. Branchand, chief engineer for the department of roads; and Jean-Paul Matte, project director for what was to be a second bridge from Montreal to Laval, as saying there was “no intention” to extend Cavendish from Côte St. Luc to Côte de Liesse in St. Laurent. Both told The Suburban that bigger priorities were the second bridge, the Décarie expressway then nearing completion and what became the Rockland overpass north o f Van Horne and south of Jean Talon. Matte even said that Montée de Liesse in St. Laurent was more of a possibility for an extension, to be linked northward with the second bridge.

To this day, there has been no Montée de Liesse extension to Gouin and there is no span west of the Lachapelle Bridge in the area where an extended Montée de Liesse would be.

“Both Mr. Branchaud and Mr. Matte agreed that ‘Cavendish was not a provincial problem,’” the 1966 story concludes.

But today, the municipalities involved are very much looking to the province to finally resolve this issue. As the years go by, many have told us they wonder whether the Cavendish link will ever be completed in their lifetimes. At least there is a little more hope now than in 1966.

Quebec should be the envy of the world: Letter to the editor, Montreal Gazette

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Robert Libman strikes a chord with many Quebecers who have endured decades of mean-spirited Anglo-bashing (Anglophones have absolutely nothing to apologize for, Montreal Gazette, Apr. 18, 2012). English-speaking Quebecers are living under very different circumstances today than when the restrictive and loathsome legislation was brought in some 30 years ago.

The facts speak for themselves: English schools continue to close, businesses are pressured into compliance by the dreaded OQLF tongue-troopers and anonymous snitches, bilingual institutions and municipalities are under constant threat by shifting demographics and English-language services are increasingly rare in outlying regions, for example. The economic cost on the community and the province has been severe and the personal toll on thousands of families has been painful.

How unproductive and sad that our political atmosphere remains stuck in an artificial and cruel linguistic pressure cooker.

Just think how much better off we would all be if we channeled our energy into embracing our rich and vibrant cultures, celebrating our ability to speak many languages, and appreciating how fortunate we are to live in an extraordinarily beautiful province. We should be the envy of the world.

Glenn J. Nashen
City Councillor, Cote Saint-Luc
Former Executive Director, Alliance Quebec

Bergman, 71, set to run for sixth time

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D'Arcy McGee Liberal MNA Lawrence Bergman. Law...

Congratulations to our MNA, Lawrence Bergman, on his nomination as the Liberal candidate for D’Arcy McGee in the next provincial election. A five term incumbant, there is little surprise in this nomination, yet it is significant just the same.

Lawrence is a hard-working, dedicated and honest man who never forgets his roots.  He is ferociously committed to his riding and to the issues facing us as Cote Saint-Lucers.  He is very approachable, interested in helping local folks with their issues and can be credited with many achievements in our community.

In a word, he’s a real Mentch.

Most important on my agenda, Lawrence was very much involved in saving the CSL Emergency Medical Services during the merger with Montreal when the new island-wide fire department gobbled up all of the suburban brigades and took over emergency medical first response, except in CSL.

He was also integrally involved in securing funding for the new CSL Aquatic and Community Centre. His involvement with the Jewish General Hospital is becoming legendary.  And ask any member of the CSL Senior Men’s Club and they’ll speak of Lawrence in endearing terms, as they would of a close family member.

I often joke with Lawrence how he put me out of work back in 1994 when I was serving as Robert Libman’s chief of staff.  Libman was the former MNA for the riding.  Bergman won the general election that year evicting me (and Libman) from the office. (I harbour no ill feelings toward Lawrence. He helped advance my career by tossing me out of work).

Although I would like to see Lawrence and his fellow English-speaking MNAs speak out more forcefully on language issues and the erosion of our rights, which are constantly under attack, I must give him high marks on other aspects of local representation.  Having spent two years in his office before his arrival, and working as a City Councillor for a significant portion of his constituency, I know personally how difficult it is for him to be responsive to the many requests that he receives and to balance these demands with his obligations in the National Assembly, his responsibilities to the government and to his political party.

This is not an easy job to be sure.  But Lawrence does an impressive job and makes it look easy.

Read more in this week’s Canadian Jewish News: Bergman, 71, set to run for sixth time | The Canadian Jewish News.

Bergman, 71, set to run for sixth time

Janice Arnold, Staff Reporter, Tuesday, April 10, 2012

MONTREAL — At 71, Lawrence Bergman is going to seek a sixth term as the member of the National Assembly for D’Arcy McGee.

Bergman, who was first elected in 1994, was unopposed in his bid to once again run for the Quebec Liberal Party in the next provincial election.

A standing-room-only audience of about 300 turned out at Hampstead’s Congregation Adath Israel, of which Bergman is a past president, for the April 2 nomination meeting.

Two cabinet members, Health and Social Services Minister Yves Bolduc and Kathleen Weil, minister of immigration and cultural communities, were present to praise Bergman, who chairs the government caucus.

Bergman and Bolduc talked at length about the major expansion the Jewish General Hospital (JGH) is undergoing.

Bergman was credited with tenaciously working to persuade the Charest government to approve the construction of Pavilion K. The first phase, to which the government contributed $95 million, is expected to be finished at the end of this year. The government is committed to contributing more than $300 million toward the next three phases, planned through to 2016.

“This will change the face of health care in Montreal for generations to come,” Bergman said.

“If Lawrence was not your MNA, the work of Pavilion K would not even be started now,” Bolduc added.

Bolduc lauded Bergman’s personal qualities of likeability and gentlemanliness, and his effectiveness in representing the interests of the anglophone and Jewish communities.

“He’s good for you. He knows how to speak to a French guy like me, from Lac St. Jean,” said Bolduc.

Bergman noted that every Tuesday morning, he meets for 1-1/2 hours with Premier Jean Charest.

Weil reassured that she and Bergman, as well as Families Minister Yolande James and MNA Geoff Kelley, are representing the concerns of anglophones within the government.

She also said speaking English is OK. “Yes, we promote French as the language of work and the common language, but to speak a second or third language is not a threat to the creation of an overall French society.”

Bergman said, “Quebec values are that everybody, whether they were born here or chose to live here, whatever their colour, religion or language, has equal rights.”

D’Arcy McGee is the only Quebec riding with a majority Jewish population, and Bergman has garnered more than 90 per cent of the vote in some elections.

Bergman, a notary by profession, singled out for gratitude one of his most prominent supporters from the start, Steven Cummings, “the de facto president of the Quebec Jewish community.”

Another person he is counting on for support once again in the next election campaign is his mother, Nettie Bergman, who was also present.

Bergman recalled that his proudest achievement in the National Assembly was the unanimous adoption of his bill officially recognizing Yom Hashoah in December 1999, when the Parti Québécois was in power.

Looking to the future, he said his government’s priority is the economy. Charest’s Plan nord, an ambitious project to develop the province’s territory north of the 49th parallel, will benefit all of Quebec, Bergman said.

“When Robert Bourassa launched the James Bay hydroelectric project, there was opposition at first, too,” he said.

Bergman echoed Charest’s resistance to the demands of students to not go ahead with increasing university tuition.

“It’s important that students pay their fair share. We will maintain the increase over five years, notwithstanding the protests,” Bergman said.

For area residents, Bergman held out hope that the long-awaited linking of the two sections of Cavendish Boulevard will be realized with the purchase by the City of Montreal of the former Hippodrome site for residential development.

The Free Press, April 10, 2012:

Click to enlarge. The Free Press. April 10, 2012.

Read more in Mike Cohen’s blog

Why is Robert Libman still talking of a merged CSL, Hampstead, MoWest?


Former Cote Saint-Luc Mayor, CSL-Hampstead-Montreal West Borough Mayor and Montreal Executive member Robert Libman was hired to write a report on the future of Hampstead’s town hall, fire station and Hampstead Park.

As reported in the Suburban, Hampstead wants 16-storey high rise at fire station site, Libman was quoted as saying:

“A number of people I spoke to said that if a major change is made in Hampstead Park, keep in mind if one day it becomes an entity such as Côte St. Luc-Hampstead-Montreal West, the facilities should be adaptable to a larger population.”

With well over 90% of our local voters having cast ballots in 2004 to demerge (putting an end to the Borough of  CSL-Hampstead-Montreal West) it is unclear which people Libman consulted, and why, for him to make such a statement? 

The forced mergers were a failed experiment in Quebec and ought to be banned completely. Let’s leave Pandora where she belongs.

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