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Canada's National Day of Honour. One of our finest hours

Par Beryl Wajsman le 12 mai 2014

day_of_honour.JPGLast Friday Canada paid tribute to the veterans and the fallen who served in Afghanistan. It was a unique tribute. It was necessary, and it brought comfort and recognition to the families of our soldiers and pride to all Canadians.
There were those who questioned this memorial. They were petty in their criticisms and were silenced by the result.

The age of the death of privacy

Par Jordan Turner le 5 mai 2014

Lost in the whole controversy over LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling is the complete and total disregard of privacy.   Although Mr. Sterling’s comments were despicable, racist, outdated and misguided, they were made in the privacy of his own home. He did not make any comments in a public form, whether it was online, in the media or in the streets.  Mr. Sterling was having a private conversation with his girlfriend in his home.  People will allude to the fact that Mr. Sterling has made controversial comments in the past regarding race, yet the firestorm that he is now facing, including a life ban from attending NBA games, a $2.5 million fine and will undoubtedly receive extensive pressure to sell the franchise, only occurred when a private conversation was secretly recorded. 

Faith and secularism after the election

Par Father John Walsh le 5 mai 2014

father_walsh.jpgIn many way we may be experiencing the end of the cultural wars that have marked Quebec politics and Québec life for the past many decades.  The recent proposal of a “Charter of values” was divisive of the population and the use or non-use of religious symbols in public institutions raised the ire of members of all religious communities and resulted in professionals in health and educational institutions publicly refusing to follow the demands of the Charter.
The reactions to the election of a Liberal majority government by pro-federalists is one of elation; the defeat of the PQ has sent the party members into a deep reflective mode questioning the very redefinition of the “raison d’être” of the party. 

She gave away millions. Liliane Stewart, philanthropist 1928-2014

Par Alan Hustak le 3 mai 2014

lilianestewart.jpgLiliane M. Stewart, the Montreal tobacco heiress who  endowed and supported several Montreal museums, including the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Château Ramezay  the Stewart Museum on Île Sainte-Hélène,  and as well as a number of hospitals died early Saturday, May 3.  She was 85. She was an intensely private, sometimes difficult woman, who carried on and expanded her husband’s philanthropic works.  Mrs. Stewart  refused to talk about herself or answer personal questions.  Once, when asked to furnish biographical material to a journalist she declined.  “Me, I am me,” she said. “That’s all you need to know.  I am a very private person.”

“Mr. Abbas, your actions belie your words.”

Par Beryl Wajsman le 28 avril 2014

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgWe write this on Monday, April 28th,  the day the world commemorates the Holocaust. We just attended a ceremony at City Hall at which Mayor Denis Coderre led the Montreal commemoration of  “To every person there is a name.” This an annual event organized by B’nai B’rith in Montreal. Names of some of the six million Jews slaughtered by the Nazis are read out together with their age, place of residence and place of murder. This ceremony takes place in almost all major cities in the western world. Mayor Coderre was accompanied by much of Montreal’s political leadership. He was eloquent, empathetic and emotive. His words and feelings were sincere and authentic.

How the PQ eviscerated itself

Par David T. Jones le 27 avril 2014

jones_david.jpgWasington, DC -In another time; in another society, following April 7’s electoral defeat, the leaders of the Parti Quebecois would have given Mme Marois a revolver with one bullet and escorted  her to a closed room.
A Medieval Era response would have been more polite—simply consigned her to a nunnery to live out her days contemplating the errors of her ways.
Media observers have said that Canadian federalism “dodged a bullet” with the PQ defeat in the 7 April election.  To be sure—but only because the bullet it dodged had already been fired by separatists directly into their own hearts.

Power Play At The Pumps

Par Beryl Wajsman le 23 avril 2014

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgI wrote this in 2007 as gas prices were in the 1.20-1.40 a litre range. Now that they have broken 1.50 today in Quebec, it seems opportune to republish this. Sadly the numbers quoted here are more or less the same as seven years ago. It is a crisis. It is also unconscionable. ~ BW
"The bottom line is that in the life of every nation there comes a time of reckoning. That reckoning determines whether its people have the maturity to cast aside false notions and fictitious pieties and assert the strength of their nationhood. If that maturity is lacking, if there is no courage, then citizens condemn themselves to eternal subservience to vested interests."

Herb Gray: The passing of a giant "Baruch dayan emet"

Par Beryl Wajsman le 22 avril 2014

Gray-Wajsman5.jpgI received the news of the Right Honorable Herb Gray's death Monday night. It was the eve of the last day of Passover. This last day is one of four days in the Jewish calendar when Yizkor prayers - memorial prayers - are recited in memory of departed relatives. And as I reflected on my own late parents, I must admit to pangs of loss for this very special gentleman who was not merely a Parliamentary giant, but perhaps the last of that generation of public servants who always put ideas before identities and principle before partisanship. He was a mentor, guide and most of all a dear friend whose wise counsel I could call upon at all times and in all circumstances even when events and circumstances kept us apart for long periods.

The duty of witness. Forgetting evil is a dangerous corrosive

Par Beryl Wajsman le 21 avril 2014

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgAs we approach Holocaust Remembrance Day this coming Sunday night, and the commemoration of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising that follows soon thereafter, there is a moral duty to take a hard look at the world around us. What we see must compel us to the responsibility of memory and witness. Particularly as, seemingly all around us, there is a desire to forget.


The Politics of Criminal Justice Pardons

Par Michael Ashby le 10 avril 2014

Is it ok to punish a criminal for the same crime twice. Recently, the Supreme Court of Canada said no, ruling that tougher parole-eligibility rules -applied retroactively - violated an offenders’ Charter rights in this respect. 

But what about punishing someone for crimes that were never committed in the first place? Would it be okay to judge a person based on allegations that could not be proven in court? 

"Ç’est assez! " Le Québec rejette la politique de la peur

Par Beryl Wajsman le 10 avril 2014

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgLa semaine dernière, nous avons demandé aux Québécois de voter comme si leurs vies en dépendaient et ils l’ont fait.
La semaine dernière, nous avons écrit que « c’est le référendum ». Les Québécois l’ont compris également et ils ont répliqué avec un « non! » retentissant.
La semaine dernière, nous avons exhorté les électeurs à ne pas pénaliser M. Philippe Couillard d’avoir dit la vérité en ce qui concerne la question de la langue. Ils ne l’ont pas fait.

Déception et méfiance- changeons donc de stratégie

Par Amb. Freddy Eytan le 10 avril 2014

Freddy_Eytan.JPGRien ne va plus avec l’Autorité palestinienne  et la méfiance persiste, pourtant rien n’est complètement perdu. L’administration américaine est confiante pour l’avenir et souhaite un prolongement des pourparlers. Tout en exerçant des pressions sur les deux parties elle réanime à chaque fois le processus pour prouver sa puissance et surtout pour ne pas perdre la face.
Jusqu’à ce jour, nous avons pensé sincèrement que notre partenaire est vraiment sérieux et que notre voisin a de bonnes intentions, capable de mettre fin aux hostilités et à la belligérance et même pourra signer  un jour un traité de paix viable. 

"Ça suffit!" Quebec rejects the politics of fear

Par Beryl Wajsman le 8 avril 2014

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgLast week we asked Quebecers to vote as if their lives depended on it. And they did.
Last week we wrote that "this is the referendum." Quebecers got that too. And answered with a resounding "NO!"
Last week we urged voters not to penalize Philippe Couillard for speaking truth on the language issue. And they did not.
Perhaps that is the most eloquent legacy of Décision 2014. Quebecers - all Quebecers - rejected the rhetoric of marginalization and the politics of fear. They said "Ça suffit!" to division and discord.

Syria “Sauve Qui Peut “

Par David T. Jones le 7 avril 2014

jones_david.jpgAt some point, one has to recognize that the cause, no matter how noble, has been lost.
And the “West” has lost in Syria.
Recall that approximately two years ago pontificating cognoscenti were saying Syrian leader Assad couldn’t last another six months, that it was “just a matter of time,” that the rebels would shortly prove victorious.
In a word, “Not.”
Assad has not only survived, he is winning; indeed, he has virtually won the civil war.

This is the referendum

Par Beryl Wajsman le 6 avril 2014

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgClearly, this is the most important vote you will cast since 1995. But aside from the fact that both Pierre-Karl Péladeau and Premier Marois have made it clear that there will be a referendum – whether Quebecers be “ready” or not – depending on which one you listen to, vote Couillard and the Quebec Liberal Party because of his courage to speak some much-needed truths and candidates with the competence to tackle the problems that face us with focus on the priorities that really matter.

C’est le referendum.

Par Beryl Wajsman le 6 avril 2014

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgC’est le vote le plus important depuis 1995. Mettons de côté le fait que tant Pierre-Karl Péladeau que Mme Marois se sont clairement exprimé sur la tenue d’un referendum, que les Québécois soient prêts ou non (dépendamment de qui vous écoutez). Votez pour le PLQ et les libéraux en raison de leur courage de dire la vérité qu’on a tellement besoin d’entendre, d’attirer les candidats compétents pour s’attaquer aux problèmes auxquels nous faisons face; l’accent étant mis sur les priorités qui comptent vraiment.

Geriatric Gem: 4,000 Miles at Centaur

Par Alan Hustak le 2 avril 2014

4000_miles.jpgThank God for understanding grandmothers.
And thank our lucky stars for director Roy Surette’s  solid, production of Amy Herzog’s  intergenerational play, 4000 miles at the Centaur until April 20.   Essentially, the play is about blood ties, about   the relationship between Vera, a 91-year old non-judgmental grandmother (Clare Coulter) and her 21-year old grandson, Leo. (Nathan Barrett.)
Grandma, as it happens is  an  independent  left-wing idealist who cut her teeth during the McCarthy era.  She’s losing her hearing, she’s frail and a bit forgetful, but  still mentally tough and  perceptive,..

Shysters at the Segal: Glengarry Glen Ross By David Mamet

Par Alan Hustak le 24 mars 2014

Thomson_Watson_Glengarry_Glen_Ross.jpgIt takes a special cast to pull off a David Mamet play, and Paul Flicker has assembled a superlative team of actors who can indeed handle the playwright’s spare, scalding idiomatic dialogue with his directorial debut of Glen Garry Glen Ross at the Segal until March 30.  The 1984 Pulitzer Prize winning work about a group of cut-throat Chicago salesmen selling worthless Florida real-estate to gullible victims  is a riveting exercise in Flicker’s hands, made even more topical following the bust in the corrupt U.S. housing market six years ago.

Les navires iraniens dans le collimateur d’Israël

Par Amb. Freddy Eytan le 16 mars 2014

Freddy_Eytan.JPGUne fois encore Israël brouille les cartes de ses ennemis, une fois encore Tsahal prouve que son bras est long et qu’elle est capable d’atteindre des objectifs à des milliers de kilomètres de ses frontières. Dans le passé, nous avons connu des exploits extraordinaires comme à Entebbe, à Bagdad, à Tunis ou au Soudan, soit pour libérer des otages, soit pour détruire une centrale nucléaire, éliminer un chef de l’OLP et faire écrouler son QG tel un château de cartes, ou bombarder des convois de contrebandes d’armes et des chefs terroristes, en Syrie, au Liban et dans les déserts africains.

Quebec's China Syndrome: A snitch society gnaws at the body of a just society

Par Beryl Wajsman le 3 mars 2014

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgBack in the 1970s amidst the fear and panic over nuclear power plants, Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas starred in a move set in California called “The China Syndrome.” The story centred on a nuclear power plant gone wrong, and the hypothesis was that if the nuclear rods went out of their cylinders they could melt through the earth’s core all the way to China.
Last week’s attack by the OQLF on a store  in Chelsea, Quebec called “Delilah in the Parc” raises the spectre of a different kind of China Syndrome. The syndrome of state censorship of public media and communication.

Climate Change Claptrap

Par David T. Jones le 3 mars 2014

jones_david.jpgI too believe in climate change--absolutely.  I believe in global warming--and in global cooling--and in global “just the same.”  By definition “climate” changes every day, even every hour--just look at your daily weather forecast.  On a larger scale, climate has changed repeatedly over millennium; ice ages have come and passed.  Fifty years ago prognosticators mulled over a coming ice age (which didn’t). Climate will change again--over decades, centuries, and longer, given a wide variety of conditions, e.g., the sun is a variable star.  And the climate may, repeat may, be changing over a period of time so that the Earth becomes measurably warmer.  But living long enough to prove/disprove it is problematic.

War Is Hellish

Par Alan Hustak le 3 mars 2014

motherhouse_01.jpg“The War of the Worlds, not the one from outer space happened right here,”  Lillabit Bradley reminds us in David Fennario’s  Motherhouse, a 90-minute  monologue staged at the Centaur Theatre until March 23 to commemorate the centennial of the Great War.
Motherhouse is not so much a play as an arresting diatribe in search of one.   As the protagonist, Bradley, who worked at the British Munitions Factory in Verdun when her brother went off to fight the war, Holly Gauthier-Frankel has her work cut out for her.

Le chaos hospitalier au Québec

Par Beryl Wajsman le 28 février 2014

hospital.jpgAvis au ministre de la Santé M. Hébert : Les gens ne croient plus à rien et ce, pour de bonnes raisons.
Le débat récent sur la « régionalisation » des hôpitaux et où ils peuvent se faire soigner peut embrouiller même les gens raisonnables qui pensent qu’il ne s’agit pas d’un simple malentendu, mais d’un ballon d’essai qui a mal tourné.
Comme le lecteur peut s’en rappeler, il y a quelques semaines, le Ministère de la Santé a émis des directives à l’Hôpital Général Juif – mondialement reconnu, entre autres, dans leur spécialitéen traitement du cancer – à l’effet que les gens qui viennent de l’extérieur d’une région géographique spécifique ne devraient pas être admis comme patient à l’hôpital ni avoir droit à des soins. 

Quebec`s hospital havoc. It’s not about regionalization, it’s about desperation

Par Beryl Wajsman le 28 février 2014

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgMemo to Quebec Health Minister Hébert: nobody believes anything anymore. And with reason.
The recent back and forth on hospital “regionalization” and where patients could get care, can rightly leave reasonable people thinking that this wasn’t so much a misunderstanding as a trial balloon gone bad. The reality is there is no way to fix it.
As readers may recall, the Health Ministry issued directives several weeks ago to the Jewish General Hospital – world renowned in cancer treatment among other areas – not to admit as patients, nor administer care to, anyone outside of a specific geographically defined area.

Leslie’s Legacy

Par David T. Jones le 19 février 2014

jones_david.jpgWashington, DC…It is a shame and a pity that Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie’s immediate legacy from a lifetime of professional and distinguished military service should be a kertuffle over his moving expenses.
The “perk”--and it is a serious benefit--is standard not only for Canadian Armed Forces retirees but also for U.S. professional military and career diplomats.  
Specifically, retiring U.S. diplomats often serve a final posting overseas or, if serving a terminal assignment in Washington DC, don’t expect to retire there.

Remembering Ryan

Par Alan Hustak le 18 février 2014

charest_mulroney.jpgFormer Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and former Quebec premier Jean Charest paid homage last week to Claude Ryan, one of Quebec’s last great Catholic intellectuals.
Ryan, who was a champion of asymmetrical federalism, often frustrated both Mulroney and Charest with his notion that Quebec required enhanced constitutional powers to promote the equality of the French-language throughout Canada.
But that didn’t stop either of them from reminiscing about him on the 10th anniversary of his death, and warmly remembering him as a great Canadian. 

Drainville just doesn't get it

Par Beryl Wajsman le 17 février 2014

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgAs I have written before, reasonable people can agree that laity in the areas of the public square where we make laws, interpret them and enforce them has a long history of tradition and jurisprudence in western democracies. There have even been lay regulations in public schools that have withstood tests of intellectual rigour and legal challenge. What is not acceptable about Bill 60 is the breadth and depth of its imposition of secularism in areas such as healthcare where it is irrelevant. It should not, and must not, be imposed beyond the confines described here.

A Bob Forsaken Time

Par Alan Hustak le 17 février 2014

Book_of_Bob.jpgLucinda Davis is God in the Centaur Theatre’s  existential  drama The Book of Bob, and she’s divine. 

The premiere of  Arthur  Holden’s  updated interpretation of the strained Old Testament parable, The Book of Job,  running until March 2,   is a toute de force for Davis  who  is an astonishing  presence throughout the 90 minute show.   If, as  scripture  insists,   we are  created in the image of God,  Davis seizes the conceit  and infuses  ten different characters with her phenomenal  talent.  

The Invisible Servants

Par Father John Walsh le 15 février 2014

father_walsh.jpgThere once was a television series about New York called The Naked City and the opening line was: There are 8 million stories out there.  How true!  Each woman and man has a story to tell and so few are told.  I would say that is really true about the homeless.  The story of homeless people begins and ends with what they look like, not who they are, not what they have experienced and we never get to know why they are homeless.  They just are!  They just are on our streets, in our neighborhoods, and although they are just there we distance ourselves from them by not recognizing who they really are. 

A Real Charter For Quebec

Par Father John Walsh le 15 février 2014

father_walsh.jpgThe fundamental reason for the Quebec Charter of values as proposed by the present PQ Government, tabled as Bill 60, is to render Quebec a secular society, defined as a neutral society disallowing any faith community to be part of a public discourse.   No society can move forward without hope and if it were possible to create a neutral society the need to instill hope in every member of Quebec society remains fundamental.   Hope speaks louder than faith.
The following expressions of hope are essential to a Charter which opens all of society to a good life today and a better life tomorrow.

Budget 2014: “Move along, nothing to see here!”

Par Robert Presser le 15 février 2014

Presser_Robert_new.jpgThe problem with reading most of the post-budget analysis is that it fails to answer the critical question, “what does all this mean to me?”  This lighter analysis will attempt to answer this query both metaphorically and through several Canadian personas.
Overall, accepting this budget is like buying a new car in the last year of the current model’s production, right after spy photos come out showing you what the replacement will look like. Unfortunately for you, the current family ride died and this year’s model meets all your needs, though you wish you could hold out just a little longer for the newer, sleeker, sexier, more economical (if that’s your thing) version.

Potty-mouth Diplomacy

Par David T. Jones le 15 février 2014

jones_david.jpgWashington, DC - Even two generations ago, I was probably a sheltered middle-class child.  Perhaps my upbringing was closer to “Victorian” in ignorance of sex and sexuality than even 20th century protocols.  At an age when today’s children are getting explicit, detailed information on pregnancy, homosexuality, etc, I was still being told that “the stork brought you” or that I was “found under a cabbage leaf.”  It generated an inchoate sense of frustration, but not living on a farm where normal animal activity would have clued me in, I had no obvious source of information.

Former Canadian Bar President condemns Bill 60 - Bernard Amyot calls it a “vindictive act”

Par Beryl Wajsman le 11 février 2014

Amyot_Bernard.jpgAmyot told The Métropolitain that, “All my professional life I have made respect for the rule of law the hallmark of my public engagement. The reason is simple. Our social cohesion, and the protection of our democratic values depends strongly on the fidelity we evidence towards the rule of law and due process, which fidelity obliges elected officials to work within established parameters - within the rules of the game if you like - that protect the equity and equality of all citizens.”

The Seagull Soars at the Segal

Par Alan Hustak le 8 février 2014

Patrick_Costello_Constantine.jpgIn director Peter Hinton’s coherent and highly entertaining adaptation of The  Seagull at the Segal until Feb 19, Chekhov’s  enigmatic psychodrama  has been transplanted from a Russian dacha to a chalet somewhere in the Canadian wilderness. The script has been updated and is as full of  contemprary references as a pop-culture magazine.  It is a three-and a half –hour excursion into the tragi-comic relationships of dysfunctional family that has gathered together in the claustrophobic confines of the lakeshore cottage.
All of them are self-absorbed characters, who talk about art, philosophy and their individual struggles in an attempt to relate to one other  another. 

Albert Camus: Le portrait d’un juste

Par Esther Benfredj le 6 février 2014

Benfredj_Esther.jpg« Chaque génération, sans doute, se croit vouée à refaire le monde. La mienne sait pourtant qu’elle ne le refera pas. Mais sa tâche est peut-être plus grande. Elle consiste à empêcher que le monde ne se défasse. » Lorsqu’Albert Camus prononce ces mots le 10 décembre 1957, il est à l’hotel de ville de Stockholm. Le prix Nobel de littérature vient de lui être décerné tandis que la guerre froide scinde le monde en deux blocs ennemis. Camus évoque alors la terrible condition des intellectuels condamnés à la censure dans les pays communistes d’Europe centrale et orientale.  C’est à Louis Germain, son instituteur de l’école communale, qu’il dédie son discours de Suède : Camus n’a jamais oublié cet homme qui lui avait transmis, dans sa jeunesse en Algérie, le goût des lettres. 

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