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The dissolution of Mont-Royal riding must not be allowed to stand. We must respond to the "fierce urgency of now!"

Par Beryl Wajsman le 22 mars 2017

cbc_daybreak_201703.jpgThe decision of the Director-General of Elections to eliminate Mont-Royal riding cannot be allowed to stand. It is about the compromise of our most basic rights as citizens. It is about the disenfranchisement of our suffrage. It is about the second largest population of the economically vulnerable on the island not having a place to turn to. It is about anglophones and allophones losing a voice in our Assembly of law and legislation. It is about natural communities torn asunder with some moved into ridings represented by elected officials with neither the time nor understanding of their particular needs. It is a decision of egregious hypocrisy.

M-103 threatens freedom of expression

Par Kevin Budning le 18 mars 2017

bill_103.jpgOttawa - In February, Liberal MP Iqra Khalid introduced Private Member’s Motion M-103, which calls for the end of systematic racism and racial discrimination. The motion, which condemnsIslamophobia, while simultaneously omitting hatred towards all other religions, is inherently flawed. Here is why.
To be clear, the Conservative Party remains fully opposed to all forms of hate speech, racial discrimination, religious intolerance and bigotry. It is for those exact reasons the previous conservative government created the Office of Religious Freedom within the Department of Foreign Affairs. This office was tasked with protecting freedom of religion and belief internationally, as well as to promote Canadian values of tolerance and pluralism. However, in complete juxtaposition of this motion, the Liberal Government decided to shut the office down. 

WHAT DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND ABOUT “ILLEGAL”?

Par David T. Jones le 27 février 2017

jones_david.jpgWashington, DC - Language changes over time.  Try reading Shakespearean plays without constant reference to explanatory commentary.  Words take on new meanings.  “Cute” once meant “short and fat.”  Some words are transient—notably “slang” seldom lasts from one generation to the next (or even one year to the next).
Thus anyone still extant who would respond to “Twenty-three skidoo” is not of the current generation.  Indeed, even the “It’s cool” of the 1950s-60s is long passé.  When “pimp” arrived on the linguistic scene, it had a positive connotation—not a man running a string of whores.
But “illegal” still has a solid basis.  If an action is illegal, it is contrary to the law and subject to official sanction.  Killing is illegal; assault is illegal; theft is illegal.  Trespass is illegal—or is it?

THE DONALD MEETS THE JUSTIN—NO “BROMANCE”

Par David T. Jones le 11 février 2017

jones_david.jpgWashington, DC - On Monday, 13 February, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington.
The likelihood of a “bromance” equivalent to that between President Barak Obama and Trudeau is akin to anticipating icebergs in the Potomac.
However, the president and the prime minister have some points in common:  remarkable hair and wives more attractive than they.
Thus, we should not anticipate President Trump offering an official state visit to Trudeau (President Obama covered that base after denying former PM Harper the honor).  Nor should we anticipate that Trudeau will propose Trump visit Ottawa to give an official address to Parliament. 

Healthcare: Reforming the reforms

Par Beryl Wajsman le 29 octobre 2016

wajsman_beryl_02.jpgCIUSSS West End Director Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg's suggested reforms of our new health agencies could have an important positive impact for the English community of Montreal. Rosenberg has proposed that Montreal's English healthcare institutions - in the West End, West Island and MUHC agencies - be merged with regard to establishing a seamless flow of information and communication as well as easing the ability of doctors to have input on their patients regardless of which of the hospitals in the English stream their patients may be treated at on any particular occasion.

PEACEKEEPING? MAKE HAITI THE PRIORITY NOT AFRICA

Par David T. Jones le 11 septembre 2016

jones_david.jpgWashington, DC - Canada is contemplating a return to “peacekeeping.”  The Liberal government’s concept of peacekeeping falls into the “we’re not Stephen Harper’s Tories” category of avoiding expeditionary military activity such as Afghanistan like the plague.  There is even the thought that Canada-the-Peacekeeper will get more votes when seeking a seat in UN committees.

But if there is some vague amorphous concept of once-upon-a-time peacekeeping which featured the equivalent of civilians in military garb, “back to the future” will prove a bitter and perhaps bloody comedownance.

56,59,74... The numeric markers of Quebec as a failed state

Par Beryl Wajsman le 1 septembre 2016

wajsman_beryl_02.jpgNo, the numbers in our headline are not the combination to a safe nor the secret winning numbers for a Loto draw. They are however numeric markers of a society moving to  the status of a failed state. They are the numbers of Bills being presented and studied for passage in Quebec's National Assembly this fall.
You have all heard the term "failed state." It usually refers to an oppressive regime. A state where there is often sectarian violence. Where the institutions of government have stopped functioning, other than to press their heels onto the necks of the people.  A state where the economy is in tatters and essential services cannot be delivered. A state that taxes its citizens to the point of ruin. And finally, a state that passes rule and regulation meant to control, command and coerce.

We can't let Quebec eliminate Mount Royal riding

Par Beryl Wajsman le 8 août 2016

wajsman_beryl_02.jpgEvery few years, particularly after a census, the Quebec Electoral Commission studies our provincial ridings to determine whether new boundaries may be necessary given changes to population. But this year, one of Quebec's faceless bureaucrats, has suggested not just changes in boundaries, but studing the possibility of eliminating one Montreal riding altogether. That riding is Mount Royal.
The provincial Mount Royal riding rests between D'Arcy McGee and Outremont. What is being studied would split Mount Royal's citizens between those two ridings and shunt part of Outremont's residents into Mercier riding.

BREXIT MAKES DE GAULLE ULTIMATE WINNER

Par David T. Jones le 10 juillet 2016

jones_david.jpgWashington,DC - French leader Charles De Gaulle was one of the protean figures of the 20th century.  His monumental physical stature (6 foot 5 inches) was exceeded only by his monumental ego and arrogant self regard.  

Not that he was without accomplishment.  When Europe and France had collapsed under German aggression in 1940, De Gaulle as leader of the “Free French,” surviving in North Africa and England, provided a rallying point for his countrymen.  As such he was a useful tertiary figure for England (Churchill) and the United States (Roosevelt) to prop up as an ally against fascist Germany/Italy.

Let's make individual liberty a special interest again

Par Beryl Wajsman le 20 juin 2016

wajsman_beryl_02.jpgSo, Montreal wants to ban pit bulls and "other dangerous breeds" in its 19 boroughs. When we heard about this, we began to reflect on how many bans we have lived through in the past year or so. It seems that the default reaction of our elected officials is prohibition. The last prohibitionary era gave us organized crime. This one won't end any better. It will give us a permanent big-brother command state.
Pit bulls, caleches, plastic bags, fireplaces, woodburning ovens, outdoor smoking and sidewalk terraces. All have been banned in the past year. And the war on cars and parking continues as well as the restriction of language rights.Some have enforcement dates that only begin next year. All are wrong in most of their aspects.

Barrette displays nothing but contempt and disdain

Par David Benrimoh le 8 mai 2016

Barrette.JPGAs future health professionals, we at the Quebec Health Professional Students' Roundtable (FRESQue) have made several attempts to communicate to Minister Barrette our view that public consultation is a necessary part of reforming our health system. Unfortunately, our attempts at engagement have been met with something almost worse than silence: contempt, condescension, and intransigence. We do not doubt that the Minister has a plan for Quebec healthcare. Our issue is that he refuses to share these plans and engage the population that pays for and is served by the system. His attitude has led to antipathy and mistrust regarding his reforms, which is sure to hamper their effectiveness. 

Budget 2016: Mr. Morneau, it did not have to be this way

Par Beryl Wajsman le 22 mars 2016

wajsman_beryl_02.jpgOver the past six weeks we have published two editorials almost as personal letters to  members of our federal cabinet. One was addressed to the Prime Minister entitled, "Mr. Trudeau, your honeymoon on foreign policy is over." The other was to Immigration Minister John McCallum who defended maintaining the Canadian citizenship of dual national convicted terrorists entitled, "Mr. McCallum, a rose is a rose, but a Canadian has responsibilities." Sadly, we now have a trilogy of these. This week's message is addressed to Finance Minister Morneau.

Shame! The McGill BDS vote

Par Beryl Wajsman le 24 février 2016

wajsman_beryl_02.jpgDon't let the title of this fool you. It is not on McGill that I heap the scorn of shame. It is on the apathy of the Jewish students and of the Jewish community. 

I have never regretted choosing a life of social activism and advocacy journalism. With all of its moral and material frustrations, there is so much good that has been accomplished. So much justice attained. Whenever I am introduced, most hosts lead with the fact that I am a recipient of a Martin Luther King, Jr. award for the promotion of human dignity. For in the final analysis that is what the struggle is about. Dignity.

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.

Dr.Victor Goldbloom: A life of "serene awareness"

Par Alan Hustak le 22 février 2016

goldbloom_pope.jpgDr, Victor Goldbloom,  a pediatrician, prominent leader in the community, the first Jew to be named a Quebec Cabinet Minister and a former federal Commissioner of Official Languages, died in Montreal last week at the age of 92. He was also invested by Pope Benedict XIV as a knight in the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Sylvester Pope and Martyr, one of the few Jews worldwide to be so honoured by the Vatican for his efforts to promote Catholic-Jewish dialogue for a period of almost six decades.His interest in resolving the misunderstanding between Christians and Jews began in the 1950’s when he was invited by Jesuits to be part of a dialogue at Loyola College.

Are you supporting the "Hijab Day” at Ottawa's City Hall?

Par Dr. Sima Goel le 22 février 2016

Goel_Sima.jpgThe City for All Women Initiative (CAWI) is asking Canadian women in the nation’s capital to offer support for the Hijab, the head covering worn by many Muslim women. It is their belief that in order to eliminate hatred and Islamophobia, all non–Muslim women should unit and wear the hijab on February 25th at Ottawa city hall.
Although not all Muslim women wear the Hijab, those who wear it, do so as a religious obligation. I have yet to meet a non-Muslim woman who wears the Hijab as a form of cultural expression. However, I have met many devout followers of Islam, who say that the Hijab is not a required tenet of faith.

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.

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.

Advice for Cabinet Newbies

Par Robert Presser le 28 octobre 2015

Presser_Robert_new.jpgCongrats, you got the call!  Whether you are an experienced parliamentarian or part of the new wave of government MPs, being asked by the PM to sit in cabinet is a transformational experience in the life of a politician.  Your success or failure is dependent on much more than just your intelligence, wit and talents.  Here are a few things to consider as you prepare to walk into Rideau Hall on November 4th:
You are one of a select club of thirty or so cabinet ministers, but there are another 150 members of the Liberal caucus who are not in cabinet and probably a majority of them would have liked to be in your place.  You are still a member of caucus, and these other Liberals are still your colleagues. 

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. 

Report confirms taxes take greater bite than food, clothing and shelter combined

Par Joel Ceausu le 30 août 2015

Ceausu_Joel.jpgIf you're like most people, you probably suspected it all along, even joked about it come tax time, bill time, paycheque time, heck anytime at all. But the Fraser institute in its most recent report confirms it:
The average Canadian family paid more in taxes last year than for food, clothing and shelter combined. 

According to the Vancouver-based think-tank, families spent $33,272 (42.1%) of income to the federal taxman and his provincial, municipal, and school board minions compared to $28,887 (36%) on basic necessities last year. 

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.

CANADA, BETTER ONE HARPER THAN 16 REPUBLICANS

Par David T. Jones le 21 juillet 2015

jones_david.jpgWashington, DC ~ In 1992 when I was preparing for my assignment in Ottawa as political counselor, I read many serious, academic oriented books and spoke with a wide variety of individuals in Washington with hands-on experience in Canada.  I also had the good fortune to talk with counterparts in the Canadian Embassy.
During the process, however, I also encountered a little cartoon book, Son of a Meech:  The Best Brian Mulroney Jokes, edited by Mark Breslin and published in 1991.  A quick search of the Internet did not reveal it available for current sale.  It was unique in its way; frankly, I’d not seen anything outside of straight pornography with such viciously crude humor.

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.

Signs of Privilege

Par Jeffery Vacante le 23 juin 2015

As the venerable Canadian department store The Bay continues the process of rebranding into Hudson’s Bay, which is part of a plan to go upscale and thus to fit a bit more comfortably into the culture of a corporate family that now includes Lord & Taylor and Saks, one wonders how this change will affect the facade of the company’s downtown Montreal store on Ste. Catherine Street. Removing the old yellow “The Bay” lettering and replacing them with the longer “Hudson’s Bay,” or more likely, “La Baie d’Hudson,” won’t be a simple matter since the old signs fit perfectly inside the arched recesses that dominate the facade of that grand old red sandstone building.

Alberta’s Notley is saddling up on a stranger’s horse

Par Robert Presser le 23 juin 2015

Presser_Robert_new.jpgI write this column as I return from the Global Petroleum Show that took place in Calgary, Alberta.  The trip, as part of a Quebec delegation exhibiting and holding supplier meetings at the show, allowed me to gauge the reaction of a segment of Albertans (read, oil patch executives) to the recent election of the province’s first NDP government, lead by Rachel Notley.  The comments I am going to share with you are a rather pleasant surprise, given the chortling and dismissive amusement displayed by many columnists in the mainstream media in the election’s aftermath.
First, there is no panic.  From a taxpayer’s standpoint, there is general acceptance that the Alberta portion of the income tax will increase for anyone in the upper middle-class and above. 

À la défense de l'enseignement bilingue

Par Frédéric Hébert le 23 juin 2015

Il existe au Québec depuis bien des années une sorte d'apartheid linguistique au niveau de l'accès à l'éducation primaire publique bilingue. Il demeure anormale que seules les communautés d’expression anglaise du Québec ont accès à ce système d'enseignement, au détriment de la majorité d’expression française du Québec. Lorsque je parle d'écoles publiques bilingues, je fait spécifique référence aux écoles publiques anglaises qui offrent des programmes d'enseignement bilingues où le français occupe un temps de classe variant entre 50% et 90% de l'horaire régulier. L'accès à ces écoles reste évidemment le privilège des communautés d’expression anglaise du Québec.

A NEW LOW FOR THE OQLF "SEGREGATION NOW, SEGREGATION FOREVER?"

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.