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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. 

Canada Is Never Dull

Par David T. Jones le 4 février 2014

jones_david.jpgWashington, DC - Almost a generation ago, when first I contemplated engaging with Canadian issues, I was told that “Canada is dull.”  Subsequently, when assigned to Ottawa, I experienced a referendum on revising the Constitution (1992), a change in Tory party leadership, the virtual annihilation of the Tory party (1993), a cliff-hanging referendum on Quebec-Canada separation (1995), and reconstitution of conservatives until they ultimately won a majority government in 2011.  Simultaneously, the “natural governing party” imploded with revolving door leadership, Bloc Quebecois separatists lost 90 percent of their seats, and the previously laughably amusing socialist NDP became the federal official opposition. Interspersed there were two wars, a Great recession, and complex trade arrangements.

A wake-up call to Quebec: “ We’re Quebecers too and we’re here to stay – our way!”

Par Beryl Wajsman le 3 février 2014

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgIt seems that every week the Marois government gives us new reasons to pause in astonishment at its craven opportunism and breathtaking hypocrisy. Not to mention its continued pursuit of monstrously wrong-headed policies and manipulation of the public purse. Last week was no exception.
And there is the political profit. Nationalist governments will go to any lengths to spend public dollars pursuing the language and culture wars and eeking out whatever `victories` they can get. This administration has spent its almost 18 months in power proposing divisive and demonizing legislation that is a slap in the face to the 20% of Quebecers who are not Francophone. Constant and continuing marginalization. It`s time for a wake-up call.

Claude Ryan Remembered

Par Alan Hustak le 1 février 2014

claude_ryan.jpgAlthough Claude Ryan died ten years ago  he remains a moral presence in Quebec. As a measure of his ongoing influence, former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, NDP Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair and former Quebec Premier Jean Charest will take part in a seminar at the Newman Centre on Peel St. February 13 and 14 marking the 10th anniversary of Ryan’s death.

As well, the first volume of Michael Gauvreau’s two volume Ryan  biography is about to be published.

Remembrance - Auschwitz, January 27th, 1945

Par Beryl Wajsman le 27 janvier 2014

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgToday, January 27th, is the 69th 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.

Harper to Israel "Through fire and water Canada will stand with you."

Par Beryl Wajsman le 21 janvier 2014

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgThis past Monday, Prime Minister Harper addressed Israel’s Parliament – The Knesset. His speech was a bold and resolute statement of the family of the free. It was truth clearly spoken. On moral relativism. On international double standards. On the new anti-semitism. And on the incontrovertible place of Israel as the vanguard of democratic nations.  It was history made.  On a personal note, it was the most compelling expression of conscience by a Canadian leader in my memory.  We have posted the video link to the speech on our website and Facebook page. But we wanted to bring you some excerpts. They are set out below. Please take a few moments to read them. It is worth your while.  

Canada-Israël : une amitié forte et exemplaire

Par Amb. Freddy Eytan le 21 janvier 2014

Freddy_Eytan.JPGJérusalem, Israël - Rares sont aujourd’hui les chefs d’Etats et de gouvernements  qui manifestent publiquement leur soutien inconditionnel pour Israël . Le Premier ministre canadien fait partie de cette poignée d’hommes courageux qui déclare sans ambages et tout haut de la tribune de la Knesset  « Oui, je suis un sincère ami de l’Etat d’Israël ! Oui, j’y suis avec vous corps et âme, dans le feu et l’eau ! Oui nous défendons l’existence d’un Etat libre, démocratique et juif». Un discours sincère  qui  nous réconforte et qui prouve que l’Etat juif n’est pas isolé sur la scène internationale. 

Time for prosperity over prejudice: Let’s improve « nous-mêmes » not demonize « les autres »

Par Beryl Wajsman le 20 janvier 2014

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgThe Leger Marketing poll released this week was dismaying for several reasons. Obviously troubling was the fact that the percentages seem to put the PQ within reach of a slim majority government. But equally – if not more – troubling , is the fact that the reason for increased support for the government is broader acceptance of its identity initiative called Bill 60. This truly puts into question where Quebecers’ minds are at. Too many just don’t seem to get it.

Romeo, Romeo Wherefore Wert Thou?

Par David T. Jones le 17 janvier 2014

jones_david.jpgWashington, DC - On 22 December, Romeo Dallaire, Liberal Senator and former senior Army officer, published a column lamenting what he viewed as “stealth” cuts in current Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel, equipment, and readiness.  Senator Dallaire is best known for his catastrophic role in the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda in 1993-94, culminating with a “never-again” style genocide with the death 800,000 Hutu and Tutsi civilians, along with 10 Belgian peacekeepers.  The Belgian Senate branded Dallaire “careless and unprofessional ”--presumably for perceived inaction resulting in the death of the Belgian soldiers. 

Why The Red Hat Stays In Quebec City?

Par Alan Hustak le 16 janvier 2014

cardinal_lacroix.jpgMontreal may have been bypassed for appointment of a new Roman Catholic cardinal because Jean-Claude Turcotte remains eligible to vote in the College of Cardinals even though he retired two years ago.

Gérald Cyprian Lacroix will become the ninth Cardinal Archbishop of Quebec City – and one of three Canadian cardinals - when he is formally installed as a prince of the church in Rome on Feb 22.  Lacroix was given the red hat rather than Montreal Archbishop Christian Lepine,  62.

Bill 60 "Destructive Legislation". Quebec's Anglocatholics Want It Scrapped

Par Alan Hustak le 16 janvier 2014

Hustak_Alan_bw.jpgThe English Speaking Catholic Council wants the minority PQ government to scrap Bill 60 arguing that its proposed secular charter would undermine the so-called “First Freedoms” enshrined in any democratic society.In its submission to public hearings on the legislation which opened Jan 14, the ESCC says the bill is an “unnecessary and destructive” piece of  legislation.  

The issue has polarized Quebec.

The Brutish Temper Of Quebec's Times: Language, Commerce And The Law

Par Beryl Wajsman le 13 janvier 2014

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgI wrote the following several years ago - Dec. 15 2010 - when the OLF issued its original directive to over 160 government agencies to stop communicating with businesses in English. At the time only the CSST complied. It's not a new story, but given the recent report by CJAD's Anjelica Montgomery that the PQ plans to enforce the original directive, the situation is even more objectionable today than it was then. This is all about politics and power. 

Where Is Virtue Ethics In The Quebec Charter Of Values?

Par Father John Walsh le 3 janvier 2014

father_walsh.jpgWe are hard-wired to be happy.  What we want most is a good life.  What does make people happy? In the World Happiness Report of 2013 Jeffrey Sachs offers a very thoughtful chapter entitled, Restoring Virtue Ethics In The Quest For Happiness.  He presents differing views on how happiness is achieved.  He writes that virtue ethics, the ethical dimensionleading to happiness is the most often overlooked in any discussion about well-being. Where is virtue ethics in the Quebec Charter of Values? 


La Charte : nationalisme identitaire, ou denationalisme républicain? On doit choisir

Par Pierre Brassard le 3 janvier 2014

generic.jpgLe ministre et depute du Parti Quebecois de Jonquiere Sylvain Gaudreault est un personnage special dans la faune politique. Fierde ses origines acadiennes et bon serviteur envers sa formation politique qui l’a vue naitre, M. Gaudreault obeit bien aux consignes pequistes. Son sens du devoir politique peut cependant reveler des postures surprenantes. Surtout a la lumiere du debat sur la Charte des valeurs.


2014 : année d’incertitudes, de menaces et d’espoir

Par Amb. Freddy Eytan le 2 janvier 2014

Freddy_Eytan.JPGJerusalem, Israël - Le gouvernement Netanyahou se trouve aujourd’hui dans l’obligation de prendre des décisions graves pour assurer la sécurité d'Israël. Nous ne pouvons plus demeurer indifférents devant toutes les turbulences qui secouent notre région comme d’ailleurs nous ne pouvons être étrangers à la solution du problème palestinien. L’inaction et l’immobilisme risquent toujours d’aggraver les dangers, et ainsi, pour pouvoir garantir notre défense nous devrions changer à la fois de stratégie et de tactique.
Depuis l’effondrement de l’Empire ottoman, le Moyen-Orient demeure un foyer de crises permanentes, de conflits à répétitions, de coups d’Etat et d’interventions étrangères.

Imagine….

Par Beryl Wajsman le 23 décembre 2013

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgImagine….
Close your ears to all the noise and hubbub for a few moments and imagine the following…
You go to a CLSC or EI or Revenue office and the civil servant you encounter actually tries to be of service…
You turn to  a police officer for help and they don’t automatically regard you with suspicion but go out of their way to help…
You go through your lists of things to do for you and find that at the top are things that you want to do for others…

A Christmas letter

Par Father John Walsh le 23 décembre 2013

father_walsh.jpgChristmas reminds us that many people cannot find a room in the Inn.  They are left out in the cold because we failed to invite them into -  not our home because there isn’t room for all of them -  but we could open our hearts to them. S rely there is enough room in our hearts for them.
It is truly amazing that when those who are out in the cold come out of the cold and into the warmth of our hearts, everyone is speaking the language of love and everyone understands each other. The many colors of their skin form a rainbow to celebrate the end of prejudice and hate.

A caution on corruption

Par Beryl Wajsman le 17 décembre 2013

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgLast week the City of Montreal and the provincial government announced that the Montreal anti-corruption squad, known by the acronym EPIM, would be folded into UPAC, the provincial anti-corruption unit.. The two are being combined  to better coordinate resources and shared intelligence. EPIM is a select 20-person team created by the city this past January.
Mayor Coderre said,  “What we're looking for is efficiency. What we're looking for is results. I think that as the minister just mentioned, there are no boundaries, saying after Montreal, that's it. So we need the expertise and sensitivity of Montreal, but at the same time we need the intelligence of UPAC. It's clearly in my mind a sign of success and that's only what it's all about.” 

Rouhani’s Nuclear Deal is Old Wine in a New Bottle

Par Rouba al-Fattal le 16 décembre 2013

Al-Fatal_Ruba.jpgLost in Translation, seems to be a fitting title to describe the discrepancy between the Iranian and American understanding of the nuclear deal. On 24 November, an interim agreement was signed in Geneva between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany). The White House published a ‘fact sheet’ on the agreement a day before the text of the pact was officially released, and the Iranian government also published its translated version of the pact. The American version claims that the agreement ‘halts the progress of Iran’s nuclear program’; while the Iranian version states that the US ‘concurs with Iran’s right to a nuclear energy’. Even on technicalities the two versions seem to clash that the only thing they seem to agree on is to disagree.

Raise a Million, Save The Sun

Par Alan Hustak le 12 décembre 2013

IMG_1604_s.jpgThe Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has launched a million dollar fund-raising campaign to acquire the monumental  Chihuly glass sculpture entitled The Sun, which enchanted thousands of people this summer when it was mounted on the steps of the museum’s  Hornstein pavilion.   The work has been moved inside to the atrium  of the Jean-Noel Desmarais  pavilion across the street.  The dazzling sculpture is more than 4  metres  in diameter, with 1,200  shimmering rays of  yellow  tendrils  accented with elements of blue and red. The sculpture takes four days to assemble. It was the focal point of last summer’s  Chihuly exhibition, Utterly Breathtaking.

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