Auteurs > Beryl Wajsman

Beryl Wajsman

Über and fast-food: The banality of state intervention

Par Beryl Wajsman le 24 février 2016

wajsman_beryl_02.jpgThe current debate over Über and the restriction by the CDN/NDG borough of future fast food restaurants to two streets and a mall, should make everyone wake up to the unacceptable level of intervention by politicians and bureaucrats into our private lives. These are not areas where the state should be involved. And the very banality of government involvement is underscored by its actions that treat us like children.
Politicians take note: people are going to exact retribution when our power to choose is taken away. And you do no good to future generations when you destroy individual capacity for making reasoned decisions.

Holocaust: Memory and witness

Par Beryl Wajsman le 27 janvier 2016

soviet_troops_auschwitz.jpgToday, January 27th, is the 71st commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops. Perhaps for this reason, this date was chosen as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Curiously, and sadly, it took the UN sixty years to give recognition to this most seminal and apocalyptic event in human history. The organization at whose entrance are carved the words of the prophet Isaiah that, “Swords shall be beaten into plowshares and nation shall not make war against nation anymore,”got around to commemorating Holocaust remembrance only in 2005. We are not only still waiting for Isaiah’s prophecy to be realized but also for that day when those other prophetic words “Justice shall roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream…” have life breathed into them.

"Mr. Trudeau, the honeymoon is over on foreign policy!"

Par Beryl Wajsman le 25 janvier 2016

wajsman_beryl_02.jpgSeveral years ago Canada failed to get elected to a seat at the Security Council in the United Nations. The opposition NDP and Liberals lambasted the Harper government condemning it for not being "balanced" in its Mid East policy and for being too strong an ally in the war on terror in Afghanistan. Frankly, Canada's failure to get that seat was a badge of honour.
The countries that voted against us were for the most part members of - or fellow travelers with - the very same theocratic tyrannies and tinpot dictatorships that are overtly and covertly aiding and abiding the various jihadist groups that have formed a front against western liberal democracies. At the core of those countries is the 50-odd member Arab League.

The Mark Blandford tragedy... M. Barrette, we need medicine not manslaughter!

Par Beryl Wajsman le 17 janvier 2016

wajsman_beryl_02.jpgThe Oxford dictionary defines manslaughter as "the crime of killing a human being without malice aforethought." The tragic death of Mark Blandford, due to government restrictions on St.Mary's Hospital's allowable medical procedures, brings our current crisis into even starker relief. Bureaucratic miasma has morphed into bureaucratic manslaughter. How many other deaths have been, and will be, caused by it?
The government claims that the written directives disallowing surgery for emergency aortic aneurysms at St.Mary's  - the condition Blandford died from - had not been sent out in written form. But it admits that the verbal discussions had been made clear since July.

Knowing the price of everything but the value of very little. The tragedy of La Presse' closure

Par Beryl Wajsman le 31 décembre 2015

wajsman_beryl_02.jpgAfter 130 years, the daily La Presse has ceased weekday hard-copy publication reverting to its digital platform only. The Saturday edition will still be printed. This is a societal failure on multiple levels.
Marshall McLuhan was right when he said that the "medium is the message." But part of a medium - and media - being effective, is that it must be "in your face." We cannot rely on people choosing to go to digital platforms to be informed if we want to keep a healthy democracy. The essence of a healthy democracy, where citizens are not lulled into passive acceptance of pandering political sound bites and fleeting electronic images so often manipulated on social media, is that they have a chance to be deeply informed. Without an educated populace we have only a pretense of liberty with the uninformed electing the unchallenged.

Aujourd'hui, c'est une guerre pas un symbole

Par Beryl Wajsman le 15 novembre 2015

wajsman_beryl_02.jpgLes lombrics se sont glissés hors de leurs repaires une fois de plus dans les attaques brutales et barbares envers la liberté. Maintenant, il est une fois de plus le devoir de tous les peuples libres de se rassembler avec audace et détermination en exposant, en dénonçant et en détruisant la vermine qui commet une telle horreur afin que nous puissions débarrasser notre société de cette peste.
Nous pouvons vaincre le terrorisme et nous pouvons vaincre malgré la terreur. Nous pouvons bâtir des communautés de conscience qui — ensemble — permettront de venir à bout des puissantes sources haine et d'oppression. Parce qu'ensemble les gens trouvent le courage.

Black Friday: "Charlie was a symbol. This is a war."

Par Beryl Wajsman le 15 novembre 2015

black_friday.JPGThese words were spoken by French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy during the ISIS attacks on Paris. "Charlie était un symbole. Là, c'est une guerre," he said. Several hours later, French President François Hollande finally repeated what few world leaders have stated. "This is war," he declared. France's response would be "ruthless" he promised. There are lessons for every free nation in this.

ISIS has, over the past few weeks, demonstrated the capacity for military operations on multiple fronts in multiple operations against multiple nationalities.

A Pope and two Prime Ministers. Interesting times "In our times"...

Par Beryl Wajsman le 2 novembre 2015

pope_2_prime_ministers.jpg"To attack Jews is anti-Semitism, but an outright attack on the State of Israel is also anti-Semitism. There may be political disagreements between governments and on political issues, but the State of Israel has every right to exist in safety and prosperity."

Many have heard or read these words before. But never from someone of the stature who expressed them last week. This quote came from His Holiness Pope Francis himself.
The occasion was an event marking the 50th anniversary of the encyclical "Nostra Aetate" - "In our times" - issued by Pope Paul VI. The work was begun at the Second Vatican Council under Pope John XXIII who entrusted the supervision of the work to Cardinal Augustine Bea.

A system “to die for”

Par Beryl Wajsman le 7 septembre 2015

Urgences.jpgIt is 3.40 in the morning, Saturday, September the 5th as I write this. It’s the kind of sultry late summer night that Montreal famously seduces you with. Gentle, tangy breezes caress your face. Somewhere in the distance people are laughing. Elsewhere, there is the sound of a deep, soft saxophone bringing Coltrane’s “Night Train” to life again.   I am savouring the first sips of Irish whiskey slither in their serpentine manner down my throat. I’m an Irish whiskey guy anyway, but tonight’s brand, “Writer’s Tears,” is particularly aptly named. Because I’m not drinking to top off what should have been an evening of passion and pleasure.  I’m drinking to take the edge of a harrowing fourteen hours that could only have been dreamt of in the imagination of Franz Kafka on crack. Or been realized in the brutish, venal, petty reality that has come to define the daily combat between governors and governed in Quebec.

"The right to be let alone..."

Par Beryl Wajsman le 2 septembre 2015

wajsman_beryl_02.jpgElected officials need not all be lawyers. In fact, sometimes it is better that they are not. But all those who present themselves for election as lawmakers - at any level of government - must be familiar with the basic concepts of justice that are the foundation of our free society. If they are not, they do damage to the delicate fabric of our most basic civil liberties.

The decision of the city of Beaconsfield to install cameras on its garbage trucks is an example of such damage. 

Bill 59: Our continuing problem with freedom

Par Beryl Wajsman le 17 août 2015

wajsman_beryl_02.jpgI have written, sadly and far too often, of the institutions in Quebec that have sought to impose conformity and constraint on freedom of expression. It is a systemic illness. But today, in the midst of what should be a restful summer pause from political excesses, we are facing what may be the most serious threat yet. The Couillard government has proposed a law that would allow the Quebec Human Rights Commission (QHRC) to censor speech that promotes "fear of the other." The proposed law is Bill 59. Hearings are about to start. And it underscores once again Quebec's continuing problem with freedom.

The Buonanotte Affair: Massimo Lecas and Quebec McCarthyism

Par Beryl Wajsman le 14 août 2015

wajsman_beryl_02.jpgQuebec seems always to be digging for new lows in its abuses of civil rights. In the latest instalment, the government is demanding that merchants enforce shunning of citizens. Yes you read it right. The Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux (RACJ) is threatening to pull the liquor license of well known Restaurant Buonanotte unless its owner, Massimo Lecas, agrees to refuse service to a list of people the RACJ considers "undesireable." It's not the first time the RACJ has tried this. The other two times were also against Italian restaurants. Does the expression "ethnic profiling" resonate with anyone? What's next...blacklists to apartment owners and retailers not to rent or sell to those blacklisted?

The hypocritical criticism of Magic Mike XXL "It's reverse sexism,"says Andie MacDowell. "Women are in Charge!"

Par Beryl Wajsman le 13 juillet 2015

magic_mike.JPG"We want our streets teeming with sensual echoes framed in smoky blue-grey hazes fueled by intoxicating spirits. We crave to hear the sweet murmurs of pleasure. We yearn for those breathless encounters on the precipice of peril and menace. Without all this, life would be nothing but a vast treadmill from birth to grave. Let's all be kids in a sandbox and act like 'boys and girls together' to borrow William Goldman's phrase, and suck the marrow out of the bones of this thing called life!"
I don't usually write about movies. But the criticism of Magic Mike XXL has reached the crescendo of a public issue. And, save for a few brave female commentators who admit liking the pure fun of watching male hunks and some great dancing, the general condemnation is breathtaking in its hypocrisy.

On Parizeau

Par Beryl Wajsman le 9 juillet 2015

parizeau.JPGTo be frank we were thinking of not commenting on the passing of former Premier Jacques Parizeau. Enough has been written in our pages over the years. Our disagreements with him are on the record. Yet some of the outpouring of opinion on him in recent weeks ascribing so many achievements to him - so much nobility of purpose - demonstrated such a lack of intellectual rigour, so much pandering to political correctness, that we felt some perspective was in order. 

Let's make justice for seniors a priority

Par Beryl Wajsman le 9 juillet 2015

seniors.jpgJean Bottari has the type of face that lets you know what life is about. It reflects toughness, determination and pain. It's in his eyes. He's seen it all. And the handsome vigour of his face that younger men would envy, cannot mask what his eyes have seen and what they say. Bottari  has spent much of his working life in the healthcare system. Specifically taking care of elderly patients in chronic care facilities. And he was revolted by the treatment of our seniors in our CHSLDs. He confronted authorities and organized and gave hope to his colleagues. But this kind of work takes its toll. He left his work pained in heart but not broken in spirit. Bottari decided to do something about it.

M. Couillard, time to end the suppression of expression

Par Beryl Wajsman le 9 juillet 2015

wajsman_beryl_02.jpgThe Couillard administration is failing in its promise to restore the dignity of all citizens on minority rights and constitutional protection of language. This failure will inevitably harm economic recovery as surely as the policies of the Marois government did. Appeasement of language extremists for political expediency, impotence or unwillingness to reign in the OQLF and the tactic of changing rule and regulation to thwart judicial decisions, is making Quebec look like nothing other than a banana republic.
We yearn for investors from outside Quebec to invest here. We know that foreign investment is critical to job creation and to increased bank credits for small business.

Politeness is…..

Par Beryl Wajsman le 9 juillet 2015

wajsman_beryl_02.jpgSo, Premier Couillard defends his decision to table legislation requiring French descriptors on trademarked English store names by characterizing it as “protecting basic politeness” to francophones. Some media commentators have actually bought into this transparent disingenuity. We thought it might be worthwhile to provide him with a list of what civil politesse – politeness – really should be about.
Politeness is….respecting the rule of law and abiding by the decision of Quebec courts that descriptors are not required.
Politeness is….not expanding Bill 101 which itself protects trademarked names from the application of the language laws.


Par Beryl Wajsman le 25 mai 2015

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpg"Someone, somewhere in the bowels of the OQLF bureaucracy wants to impose a home-grown version of Alabama Gov. George Wallace's rallying cry in the 1960s of,"Segregation now, segregation forever!" No it is not a stretch to make this parallel. It is actually perhaps time to stop being politically correct about what is "normal" in Quebec. Segregation of people by color is not "normal." Segregation of ideas and words in the press by language is also not "normal." 
Lily Ryan is the publisher of the Pontiac Journal, a free weekly, home delivered to a bilingual community. It is an English newspaper. But in an effort to serve all members of her community,Ryan began publishing articles and ads in French some years ago. The only French community paper, Le Réveil, had closed in the 1980s.

Stop the prohibitions! We have a right to be human!

Par Beryl Wajsman le 15 mai 2015

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgWell, prohibition season is upon us and in full swing.
What seems to be an at least yearly event, perhaps corresponding to the weather, is in full throttle at provincial and municipal governments. Politicians find it easier to prohibit first, question later, than concentrating on getting the basics right. It is an appeal to the base politics of fear and a perpetuation of the lie that life can be legislated into what David Taylor Jones has called the “zero-risk” state.
This kind of politics is wrong. It infringes on Charter rights and natural justice. And worst of all it treats us all like children. The essence of a free society is just that – freedom -  to speak as we like, to choose as we like…even if they are bad choices.

V-E Day 70 years later: Pounded on the anvil of history

Par Beryl Wajsman le 4 mai 2015

Greatest_generation.jpg"The pounding those heroes took on the anvil of history produced the steel that is the stuff of legend. We have an obligation to honor that legend and live up to that legacy every day and in every way. There remain obstacles to storm today that will hold us loyal to that purpose. The beaches of injustice. The cliffs of oppression. The marshes of apathy. We must be standard bearers of compassion and conscience. That would be the living proof that the sacrifices of 70 years ago were not wasted."

Thursday’s Israel Rally. Why it matters to us all

Par Beryl Wajsman le 20 avril 2015

Israel_Rally_BW1.jpgThursday at 11 in the morning, over 10,000 Montrealers of all faiths and backgrounds will march from Phillips Square to Place du Canada to celebrate Israel’s independence. It is important to all of us – as members of the family of free people – that we be there. Here’s why.
If the Jewish people – in its national as well as religious manifestation - is the “canary in the mineshaft of history,” a phrase regularly employed by historians,  then Israel is the litmus test of the ability of western civilization to survive. It is the frontline member of the family of free nations facing the existential challenge of Islamist fundamentalism. It may very well be that as Israel goes, so goes the west.

No rights without responsibilities

Par Beryl Wajsman le 16 avril 2015

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgThe latest student displays of arrogant self-indulgence, culminating in the UQAM riot, have been nothing other than thuggery. The same kind of criminal activity we witnessed in the “Red Square” period. Destruction of private and public property, intimidation of others trying to exercise their own rights, criminal trespass and a resort to the appropriation of the facades of terror when rioters broke up classes with faces covered.
What is beyond comprehension is why there is yet again a debate as to how these thugs should be treated? If they can be identified, charge them. If they can’t, then UQAM should use the student association fees to make up the damage. Including the destroying soft drink dispensing machine which some of the riot’s leaders would justify as an attack on global capitalism.

On civil conservatism/ The restraint of reason over illiberal license.

Par Beryl Wajsman le 7 avril 2015

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgThere are core belies of personal civil conservatism that drive my social activism and journalistic advocacy. Foremost amongst them is my concern that many of the approaches of  today’s inappropriately named liberalism have supported the proposition that the state has an undisputed authority to impose a framework of imperatives that not only delineate and define how we should live but who we should be.  Social engineering as statist faith has become too ingrained and is increasingly seen as central to “progressive” government doctrine. In today’s “liberalism,” Individual expression is to be moderated and sublimated to the supposed greatest good for the greatest number. 

Olympic roof funding deserves a big, fat NO! Quebec needs to get priorities straight.

Par Beryl Wajsman le 7 avril 2015

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgOut of a $15 billion infrastructure envelope in the new budget we are seeing some ridiculous things. Worst among them is $220 million for the Olympic roof. Again.

It's nice to know that all our other problems have been solved. This useless expenditure comes on top of $400 million to the Beaudoin family for a needless cement plant in the Gaspé. And some $300 million for a phosphate strip mine in Sept Isles. Cement and phosphate prices have been plunging.

Alana's plea

Par Beryl Wajsman le 30 mars 2015

Although Mayor Copeman has already received a longer and far more detailed letter from Ms. Ronald, the following is an abridged and edited version, with Ms. Ronald’s permission, for the purpose of publication. It is a story of her trials and tribulations with the city's social housing bureaucracy. It raises critical issues of the tragedy of what our seniors on fixed incomes have to go through. They, who built our society, suffer needlessly because our governments have not met their fiduciary responsibility to assure that pensions are sustainable. By 2020, some 30% of Montreal's non-francophone population will be seniors. Close to 40% will have no other source of income than government pensions which are below poverty levels of $19,000 for a single individual. There is no more vital issue on the agenda of social justice than to right the wrongs to the most vulnerable among us. Former Finance Minister Jim Flaherty wanted to start increasing pensions two years ago. It is time to begin. 

Time for an economic «risque de tonnerre!»

Par Beryl Wajsman le 23 mars 2015

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgThursday, Quebec unveils its new budget. It should have one critical, straightforward direction. Cut taxes. Cut bureaucrats. Restart our resource base. Other than these priorities, there is nowhere left to go and nothing left to take. Taxation is not a way to raise revenues. It is time for Quebec to stop pushing people and companies away.
I don’t say this just because the Godbout report last week recommended sweeping changes in Quebec’s tax structure. It was gratifying to read the Godbout Report state clearly and candidly that radical tax cuts are the critical necessary step to economic revival.  But frankly, it is just common sense. And M. Couillard recognized that, in an interview with me in Feb. 2013 when he said, “We need a deep reform so that taking a job does not leave one in a worse net position than if they just remained unemployed.”  

Boycott this! Enough is enough!

Par Beryl Wajsman le 16 mars 2015

bds.jpgThis past Sunday McGill students rejected a motion by their student society - the SSMU - that would have urged the university to boycott Israel and divest investments in companies with Israeli ties. Their action is to their credit and should be applauded. Particularly in light of the fact that last December, Concordia students voted in favour of such a motion.
It is astonishing that students - heavily subsidized students at that - would even be allowed a say in determining academic and investment relations of the institution they attend supported by our tax dollars. Last week we used this space to say "Ça suffit!" to Hydro's gouging. This week we say "enough is enough" of the BDS - boycott, divestment, sanction - crowd.

Mr. Trudeau have you no shame?

Par Beryl Wajsman le 9 mars 2015

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgJustin Trudeau has compared Conservative immigration policies and rhetoric as creating an atmosphere akin to the Liberal government of Mackenzie King's "none is too many" policy against European Jews in World War II. This kind of outrageous demagoguery would disqualify Trudeau from being taken seriously for any office in most western countries.
Aside from the fact that the Harper government just yesterday made clear again it's outreach to Muslims in Jason Kenney's address, there have been no restrictions on Muslim immigration into Canada as there were against Jews. No one is killing Muslims just for being Muslims, as Hitler did to Jews, except for other Muslims like ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Al-Qaeda.

Hydro-Québec: "Ça suffit!"

Par Beryl Wajsman le 9 mars 2015

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgIt is undignified, insulting and misleading for the Quebec Régie de l'énergie to put a positive spin on it's decision to allow Hydro a 2.9% rate increase instead of the asked for 3.9%. The implication that the Board was somehow protecting the public is nonsense. This Board has allowed almost 13% increases over the last three years. Neither inflation, nor the cost of production, nor our incomes have gone up anywhere near that mark. This is simply a hidden tax with one pocket of the government refilling the other pocket of the government. It is time to paraphrase René Levesque when he finished the nationalization of Hydro, as a member of the Lesage government, and say to the utility monopoly, "Ça suffit!"

Justin Trudeau just doesn't get it

Par Beryl Wajsman le 18 février 2015

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgJustin Trudeau said yesterday that Prime Minister Harper's insistence that niqabs - female face coverings - should not be allowed in courts and citizenship ceremonies demonstrates an insensitivity to minority rights. I would say that Mr. Trudeau's continuing failure to comprehend that cultural particularities should never be raised to secular right is an overt threat to the health of a liberal pluralistic democracy and is cause for concern in someone who seeks to become the head of government.

Time for compassion and coherence in welfare

Par Beryl Wajsman le 16 février 2015

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgThe Couillard administration is taking a look at revising welfare. It is in the context of the general austerity plan. It has been made clear that there will be some nominal cuts. This is the wrong policy. It punishes the vulnerable, perpetuates a system that does not work and cannot achieve any economic or social benefits. It is time for compassion and coherence in our welfare policies. 

Our social security system – pensions and welfare – have been compromised for generations by governments taking in what were in fact trust monies – deducted from all of us at source - and using them for general purposes.

The Mascia judgment: Justice denied

Par Beryl Wajsman le 3 février 2015

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgJustice Salvatore Mascia's judgment in the latest challenge to Bill 101 continued the tradition of avoiding the hard truths that would have necessitated condemning the ugly compromise of justice that has been the hallmark of Quebec law since the passage of this notorious legislation. In so doing he failed a generation and blunted hope. Worse still, he denied natural justice.
I do not use the term "natural justice" pejoratively. It is a term of legal art. It refers to those rights inherent to every human being simply by right of birth. And one of those primordial rights is that all people are to be treated - and seen to be treated - equally before the law. The dignity of the individual has been the litmus test of all civilized systems of law. It is a test Quebec fails time and again.

Aujourd'hui, nous sommes tous Charlie ... et nous sommes tous juifs

Par Beryl Wajsman le 11 janvier 2015

je_suis_charlie_01.jpgLes lombrics se sont glissés hors de leurs repaires une fois de plus dans une attaque brutale et barbare envers la liberté en massacrant des dizaines dans les bureaux de journal français «Charlie Hebdo». Des satires sur l'islamisme et les islamistes constituaient le «crime» du journal. D'ailleurs, il avait été incendié en 2011 pour la republication des caricatures de Mahomet. Ce faisant, ils ont ensuite ciblé des Juifs dans un marché cacher appelé Hyper Cacher. Le «crime» des Juifs était tout simplement d'être juif. Notons toutes les fois où la liberté et les Juifs ont été ciblés pour les mêmes raisons et par les mêmes ennemis.

Time to end our tolerance of the intolerable

Par Beryl Wajsman le 11 janvier 2015

je_suis_charlie_01.jpgThe butchery at Charlie Hebdo and at the Hyper Cacher market in Paris has been called France`s 9/11. And the reason for it is that while America’s 9/11 attacked the world’s centre of commerce, the attacks in Paris violated the world’s historical centre of freedom.  These were attacks, co-ordinated attacks,  on those who practice freedom of speech and on those who were just born Jews. Two ways of dying under fascism. The two things these terrorists cannot abide. Free speech and free Jews.
I use the word fascism because that is what France’s leading public intellectuals have used. And France, for all its failed appeasing foreign policies, is perhaps the last western nation where public intellectuals do move policy.

Today we are all "Charlie Hebdo"

Par Beryl Wajsman le 7 janvier 2015

charlie.JPGThe nightcrawlers have slithered out of their lairs once again in a brutal and barbarous attack on freedom butchering dozens in the offices of France's press icon of satire "Charlie Hebdo." The paper's "crime" was satirizing Islamists and Islamism. It had been firebombed in 2011 for republishing the Mohammed cartoons. Now, it is once again the duty of all free people to gather bold resolve and  expose, denounce and destroy the vermin who perpetrate such horror so that we can rid our society of their pestilence. We can have victory over terror and we can have victory despite the terror. We can build communities of conscience that  -  together – will overcome the mightiest wellsprings of hatred and oppression. Because together people find courage. But we must all have the courage – even the audacity - to take the first step. Silence is not an option. 

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