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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.

How Mandela Made a Difference

Par John Parisella le 10 décembre 2013

Parisella.pngThe tributes to Nelson Mandela will continue to pour in over the next few days, as dignitaries make their way to pay their final respects to the leader who did more to transform Africa than any other in recent memory. His life story is now becoming more familiar by the day, and the upcoming film about his life will only add to the remarkable achievements of the man called Madiba.
We in Canada have always had a special place in our hearts for Nelson Mandela.  The first country Mandela visited after his release from prison was Canada.  The prime minister of the day, Brian Mulroney, was the principal world leader pushing for sanctions against the white supremacist government of South Africa, which ultimately brought the downfall of apartheid.  

Remembering Mandela

Par l'Hon. Irwin Cotler le 10 décembre 2013

We are all, wherever we are, deeply saddened and profoundly pained at the passing of a great historical figure, Nelson Mandela – who endured 27 years in a South African prison and emerged not only to preside over the dismantling of apartheid, but, in fact, to make possible, as President, the establishment of a democratic, multiracial, free South Africa.
Mandela was the embodiment of the three great struggles of the 20th century: the long march toward freedom - as he put it - the march for democracy, and the march for equality. In a word, he was the metaphor and message for the struggle for human rights and human dignity in our time.

MANDELA: The captain of his soul. A man for our seasons.

Par Beryl Wajsman le 10 décembre 2013

Mandela.jpgNelson Mandela once said, "A people comes to a point in its history where it has two choices. The first is to accept permanent inferiority. The second is to defy the government. We chose to defy the government." There would be no "permanent inferiority" for citizens of color in South Africa if Mandela had anything to say about it. For that matter, there would be no permanent inferiority for any citizen of South Africa.
But in his defiance, Mandela accomplished what no other revolutionary leader in the twentieth century had - attaining freedom for the oppressed without persecution of the oppressors.

Drainville's deceit

Par Beryl Wajsman le 3 décembre 2013

drainville_deceit.jpgMinister for Democratic Institutions Bernard Drainville's last minute decision to pull out of a debate on Bill 60, the "Values" Charter, at Concordia University last week due to "security concerns" was disappointing and deceptive. It also played loose with the facts and reasonable people could argue that his action could incite violence.
If an elected official, particularly a Minister of the Crown, is not prepared to meet the public in open debate on legislation they support, that official should reconsider their suitability for Ministerial responsibility. This is the litmus test of political courage.

The West and the Challenge of Democracy in Bangladesh

Par The Hon. David Kilgour le 2 décembre 2013

Kilgour_David_bw.jpgRecently , I had an opportunity to read the report of two respected Canadian Members of Parliament, Russ Hiebert and Joe Daniels, following their pre-election visit to Bangladesh with Antonio Vieira da Cruz of SADF’s Ottawa office. They met with a broad cross-section of religious leaders, journalists, lawyers, academics, former government and military officials, and representatives of civil society organizations. They heard differing perspectives on the role of the Anti-Corruption Commission, the International War Crimes Tribunal, the Awami League (AL), Bangladesh National Party (BNP), Jamaat-e-Islami, and other political parties on Bangladeshi hopes generally for a stable political future. 

JEAN LOUIS ROUX: 1923-2013 - Grand homme du Theatre

Par Alan Hustak le 29 novembre 2013

Jean-Louis_Roux.jpgJean-Louis Roux was a distingushed actor who was hounded out office as Quebec’s lieutenant-governor by Quebec nationalists within six months after he admitted he once wore a swastika in his teens while taking part in an anti-conscription demonstration during the Second World War. One of the founders of Montreal’s Theatre du Nouveau Monde  and former head of both the National Theatre School and The Canada Council for the Arts, Mr. Roux was also briefly a Canadian senator. “He was a great man of the theatre, an electrifying doyen,” recalled author Jan Martel.

Reading Room Remembers Richler

Par Alan Hustak le 29 novembre 2013

florence_and_jake.jpgAs children, Jacob Richler and his siblings weren’t allowed into their famous  father’s upstairs study when Mordecai Richler was pounding away at his typewriter writing his books or his satirical essays.   So when Jacob dedicated the Mordecai Richler Reading Room at Concordia University last week  the occasion brought back “happy memories of my father.” 
The room on the sixth floor of the McConnell  Building  is not, as some have suggested a replica or a re-creation  of Richler’s office  in the family  cottage at Lake Memphremagog. 

Dali Le Magnifique??

Par Louise V. Labrecque le 29 novembre 2013

Labrecque_Louise_bw.jpgDali moderne, – postmoderne avant son temps-,  se situe réellement dans ce continuum moderne, en marche sur un fil d’acier, – dire en équilibre serait exagéré, mais il tenta par son œuvre à libérer sa puissance créatrice de son narcissisme- en recherche incessante de points culminants s’imposant d’eux-mêmes. En ce sens, Dali ouvre la porte à tous les possibles, construit et déconstruit le genre avec son célèbre : «  le surréalisme, c’est moi! »


   

La victoire des ayatollahs à Genève

Par Amb. Freddy Eytan le 29 novembre 2013

Freddy_Eytan.JPGJerusalem - A Genève, l’Iran a été officieusement reconnue « puissance nucléaire ». Avec des sourires, des accolades hypocrites, face aux projecteurs, les grandes puissances ont remis à l’Iran les insignes de membre du club atomique. La victoire des ayatollahs est une injustice flagrante ! L’obscurantisme, la politique belliqueuse et haineuse font désormais partie de la diplomatie occidentale, celle de la politique de l’autruche. On accepte sans rougir la politique d’un Etat voyou et on offre à ce pays, membre des Nations unies, la capacité de détruire un autre Etat de l’Organisation, et la légitimité de mettre en péril la paix dans le monde.

Is the Iran Nuclear Deal a Positive Step?

Par John Parisella le 29 novembre 2013

Parisella.pngIt has been said that if Iran develops a nuclear bomb, the world will become more dangerous than at any time since the height of the Cold War. The interim accord between Iran, the five members of the UN Security Council and Germany is meant to address this fear. The accord sets specific and significant limitations on Iran’s nuclear capability and development (that is, to freeze Iran’s nuclear program) with UN inspections in return for some temporary sanction relief for the Iranian government. The six-month agreement is temporary and is intended to provide a foundation for a long-term settlement beyond this deadline.

OTHELLO: Climbs a slippery slope.

Par Alan Hustak le 27 novembre 2013

othello.jpgA word or two before you head out to see the Segal Centre’s production of Othello running until Dec. 1. It is only the third time the Segal has done Shakespeare, so one wonders why it decided to tackle what is arguably the most difficult play in the canon. It is certainly a stretch to suggest, as artistic producer Paul Flicker does in  the program that Othello  is a work that might foster intercultural understanding. Nor does it have anything to do with the Charter of Quebec values. Othello is a sexual tragedy, a story of twisted relationships that encompasses inter-racial marriage,  prejudice,  jealousy, calumny, insecurity and murder.

Où sont-ils? Que sont-ils devenus? Reviendront-ils un jour?

Par Alain-Michel Ayache le 21 novembre 2013

Ayache.jpgLorsque je regarde un peu dans le passé proche à la recherche d’un modèle à donner en exemple à mon fils dans quelques années, je me trouve avec la bouche bée car je n’en trouve pas! Oui! Les bonnes gens semblent avoir disparu et les hommes ou femmes politiques qui ont contribué à changer la vie de l’être humain et la perception de l’autre ne sont qu’un souvenir dans la mémoire des Baby-boomers.
Toute une génération qui a connu des héros avec toute la signification que peut porter cette appellation va bientôt devenir orpheline après la disparition – dans de nombreuses années, je l’espère – de ce dernier des dinosaures, symboles du courage et des causes justes et qui ont réussi à changer le monde… je parle bien entendu de Nelson Mandela. Après lui, plus personne…  ou y a-t-il encore un espoir de voir la relève?

The John F. Kennedy I Remember

Par John Parisella le 21 novembre 2013

Parisella.pngFifty years ago, I was entering university when a tragic event with worldwide repercussions occurred: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.  Many who lived through that day and the following three days can recall where they were, what they were doing and how they felt.
Besides the United States, Canadians probably felt the pain most vividly.  JFK had visited us earlier in his presidency and described us as neighbors, allies, partners, and friends.  No relationship was closer and more interdependent.   He had effectively seduced us on that visit.

Dare To Care: A Testament To Memory And Witness

Par Beryl Wajsman le 21 novembre 2013

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgI think it is fair to state that what brought my colleagues and I into lifelong commitments to social advocacy was that we came to maturity during a period when we knew –viscerally - that the best people we would ever see in public life had been murdered. But it was not simply their killings that made us rage, though that would have been enough. It was not simply that the energy, charisma, eloquence and courage of Medgar and John, of Martin and Bobby had been ripped from us. It was the reason why these bold and resolute men found themselves in the line of fire. After all the theories of who or what killed them, it was really only one thing…they dared to care! 

JFK: 50 YEARS AFTER – WHY HE STILL MATTERS

Par Beryl Wajsman le 19 novembre 2013

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgThere could be no more poignant day to remind us all that submission to this bodyguard of lies is not a strategy against existential threat. A threat that has been driven as a stake into the hearts of almost every western capital over the past dozen years.
During Kennedy’s Presidency Europe threats of similar magnitude, though of different origin. Kennedy went to Berlin to address that threat and to send a message to the enemies of freedom. On a glorious June day in 1963, some five months before his murder, he delivered his famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” address in Rudolph Wilde Platz facing the then recently constructed Berlin Wall. 

From 14 to 41: The “Charter’s” other danger

Par Beryl Wajsman le 19 novembre 2013

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgIt is clear to any objective observer that the PQ's "Values" proposal goes too far for nothing other than political opportunism. The old politics of appeal to division and discord. The spectre of "les autres." There is no justification for it in hospitals, social services and anywhere else where laws are not made, interpreted, enforced, and where impressionable young minds are not affected.

Reasonable people can argue that the imposition of laity in legislatures, courts, security authorities and public schools has a long and accepted tradition in liberal democracies.

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