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Beryl Wajsman

Westmount: For community and for dignity

By Beryl Wajsman on April 6, 2017

westmount.jpgI want to thank the hundreds of you that have expressed your support and confidence as I explore a possible candidacy for the Mayoralty of Westmount. Most of you have been with me in so many of our efforts. The fight against Bill 14, battling the Payette Plan, advocating for seniors rights, helping strengthen our food bank network, protecting minorities from racist authorities, representing the vulnerable against state fiat and championing our Canadian civil rights in the face of institutionalized prejudice.  Without your help I would not been honored with a Martin Luther King, Jr. Award  from Rev. Darryl Gray, nor a Parliamentary Certificate for contributions to Canadian democracy from the Hon. Marc Garneau, nor a Queen's jubilee medal for community service from Sen. Leo Housakos. You've been at the barricades with me.

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

By Beryl Wajsman on March 22, 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.

The Holocaust: On memory and witness

By Beryl Wajsman on January 27, 2017

holocost.jpgToday, January 27th, is the 72nd anniversary 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.

Quebec's problem with due process and the rule of law

By Beryl Wajsman on January 26, 2017

due_process.jpg"The means are all important. The means by which a society finds guilt or innocence is what determines whether it has a place at the table of civilized nations." ~ Justice William O. Douglas

Attorney-client privilege. Guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Freedom of the press as the fourth estate of government. Confidentiality of journalists' sources. Pretty straight forward stuff right?Any tenth-grader in a civics class gets these. So why is it that so many Quebec prosecutors and judges not get it? 

YAHYA AND ALI: TWO HEROES WHO MADE ME CRY TODAY

By Beryl Wajsman on January 4, 2017

yahya_03.jpgThis made me cry today. We live in a time when too many cannot bear to confront in themselves the realities of this thing called life. They refuse to reflect on the true purpose of our own fleeting existence, much less our own inevitable mortality. It's too sad for them. The resolve we can demonstrate that defines a life of purpose, is too difficult for them. Most can't be bothered. They hide behind veneers of false illusions and ascribe unwarranted importance to ungracious consumption, childish games and purile entertainment. Rare is there appreciation for true beauty,  thought, love. Rarer still are there examples of personal engagement to bind up the wounds around us. Character, fidelity, caring are too often scorned as weak. A corroding cynicism has pervaded our everyday life and our everyday relationships. 

Leonard: Of poetry and power...

By Beryl Wajsman on November 21, 2016

Cohen3.jpgIt has been written that we love so that we know we are not alone. The outpouring of love for Leonard Cohen this past week has brought all Montrealers together. In our grief, with pain falling drop by drop upon the heart, no one was alone here.
From the hundreds who stood in near freezing temperatures outside his now iconic greystone on rue Marie-Anne to the musicians who appeared - seemingly spontaneously - in various sites singing Cohen's songs to the artists painting canvas tributes. No one was alone. Love was in the air in this time of sadness. A love born in the poetic pathos of the words of this most gifted son of this island.

Healthcare: Reforming the reforms

By Beryl Wajsman on October 29, 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.

Ottawa's plain packaging cigarette proposal: Illogical, illiberal and illegal

By Beryl Wajsman on September 19, 2016

tobacco_first.jpgThere have been many over-the-top actions by governments in their wars on tobacco, but few have been as illogical, illiberal and illegal as the proposal by Ottawa to enforce uniform plain packaging on cigarette packs accompanied by grotesque pictures of diseased organs. It doesn't work, breaches fundamental liberal principles of free expression and infringes trademark protections. Worst of all, it will cost us money that the government will eventually take out of our pockets.
To begin with, tobacco is a legal product and smoking is a legal activity. For those who are concerned that smoking puts a strain on our health care costs here are the real numbers. 

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

By Beryl Wajsman on September 1, 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.

Munich Massacre commemoration at Rio Games may be too little, too late

By Beryl Wajsman on August 15, 2016

Munich.jpgForty-four years after the Munich massacre, the 11 Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Olympics were finally commemorated in an official International Olympic Committee ceremony last Thursday at the Rio Games. The ceremony was held at a memorial site in the Olympic Village. Called the Place of Mourning, the site honors the memory of the Israelis as well as four other people who were killed at Olympic Games. The others are the German policeman who was killed in a failed rescue attempt in Munich; two victims of a bombing at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and a Georgian athlete who died in an accident at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

We can't let Quebec eliminate Mount Royal riding

By Beryl Wajsman on August 8, 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.

Céline

By Beryl Wajsman on August 8, 2016

celine.jpgOk, confession time. I haven't seen Céline Dion live in twenty years. But when a lady named Brigitte tells you she got the tickets and asks, "So Wajsman, you going?" Well, you go. Now, at least half of you will be saying to yourselves, "Who cares Wajsman! Get back to the problems we all have!" You would be wrong. As I tell a lot of activist friends, if tomorrow, all the problems of the world were solved, we would still need art and music and poetry and passion. Céline Dion delivered all that and more. It wasn't just a concert.  It was a mesmerizing, seductive, singularly unique outpouring of talent laced with the maturity and authenticity that is only born out of pain. This is not just a "Queen of pop" as she is too often flippantly labeled.

Quebec Human Rights Tribunal's Ward decision is a threat to free speech

By Beryl Wajsman on July 28, 2016

think.jpgWe have written often of Quebec's problems with freedom of expression. We have received awards for those editorials. Particularly one in opposition to Quebec's upcoming Bill 59 that would give the province's Human Rights Commission more power to curtail expression. We have advocated for that freedom to Ministers in the face of government encroachment when everyone was silent. And we have won those battles too, especially important being the defeat of Quebec's Payette Plan which would have imposed a government registry of - and language testing for - all journalists. But the struggle for the minds of Quebec's opinion-makers - and its citizens - on this issue continues.

After Nice, a new freedom.. Now we dare!

By Beryl Wajsman on July 15, 2016

french_flag.jpgIt has always been a matter of some frustration that after every Jihadist slaughter too many western leaders and opinion makers bent over backwards to avoid calling the enemy by its name, drawing comparisons with other brutal dogmas and stating - with open candour - that we are in a war. A new type of war certainly. But a war nonetheless.

In the aftermath of the horror in Nice, something new is becoming evident. The "none dare call it.." mentality is being replaced by a "now they dare..." resolve.

Elie Wiesel: "And now he belongs to the ages..."

By Beryl Wajsman on July 2, 2016

weisel.JPGElie Wiesel - child survivor of Auschwitz, renowned author, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and conscience of our time - has died. We shall not see his like again. He now belongs to the ages. I had to share my feelings at this sad moment with you all...
The Book of Joshua tells us that, “…the Lord delivered up the Amorites… and he said Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; …And the sun stood still at mid-day, until the people avenged themselves upon their enemies.” I used those words in my eulogy at my father's funeral.
Some seventy years ago, Elie Wiesel was a young man with no name, no hope, no future and was known only by a tattooed number.

Let's make individual liberty a special interest again

By Beryl Wajsman on June 20, 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.

Grand Prix in the "inspector state"

By Beryl Wajsman on May 20, 2016

gp_alex.JPGWe are a couple of weeks away from the Grand Prix coming to town. More than anything else Montreal stages, this event puts this city in front of the eyes of the world. And more than anything else Montreal stages, the Grand Prix week is responsible for up to 15% of annual revenues for many downtown stores, restaurants and bars. As we thought of what we will project this year, the images were very sad indeed.
The construction and repair madness will shoot out scenes reminiscent of the rebuilding of Balkan cities. It's not just the mess that will embarass us, it's the seeming total lack of planning and coordination. Getting around will be a nightmare for the more than 100,000 visitors expected that week.

Time to put the new prohibitionists on the run

By Beryl Wajsman on May 2, 2016

jersey_saloon.jpgIt seems that every day that politicians wake up in the morning they want to make some new prohibition on our personal adult choices. They make war on cars; prohibit English even where the law allows it; make controls on soft drinks and fast food; restrict outdoor smoking; demand politically correct language; outlaw fireplaces and totally ignore privacy, property and commerce rights. We say enough. It's time to put the new prohibitionists on the run.
What sparked our ire this week was the controversy over the opening of the Jersey's Saloon bar on Sherbrooke St. in NDG.

First Bill 59, now Bill 74: Quebec's continuing problem with freedom

By Beryl Wajsman on April 11, 2016

wajsman_beryl_02.jpgWe have written, sadly and far too often, of the institutions in Quebec that have sought to impose conformity and constraint on freedom of expression and freedom of choice. It is a systemic malady. Last year the Couillard government  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 still ongoing, but national media and civil liberties groups have called it everything from a threat to free speech to pandering to Islamists. It has shamed Quebec and underscored once again Quebec's continuing problem with freedom.

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

By Beryl Wajsman on March 22, 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

By Beryl Wajsman on February 24, 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

By Beryl Wajsman on February 24, 2016

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

Holocaust: Memory and witness

By Beryl Wajsman on January 27, 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!"

By Beryl Wajsman on January 25, 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!

By Beryl Wajsman on January 17, 2016

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

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

By Beryl Wajsman on December 31, 2015

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

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

By Beryl Wajsman on November 15, 2015

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

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

By Beryl Wajsman on November 15, 2015

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

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

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

By Beryl Wajsman on November 2, 2015

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

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

A system “to die for”

By Beryl Wajsman on September 7, 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..."

By Beryl Wajsman on September 2, 2015

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

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

Bill 59: Our continuing problem with freedom

By Beryl Wajsman on August 17, 2015

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

The Buonanotte Affair: Massimo Lecas and Quebec McCarthyism

By Beryl Wajsman on August 14, 2015

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

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

By Beryl Wajsman on July 13, 2015

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

On Parizeau

By Beryl Wajsman on July 9, 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. 


Editorial Staff

Beryl P. Wajsman

Redacteur en chef et Editeur

Alan Hustak

Senior Editor

Daniel Laprès

Redacteur-adjoint

Brigitte Garceau

Contributing Editor

Robert J. Galbraith

Photojournaliste

Roy Piberberg

Editorial Artwork

Mike Medeiros

Copy and Translation

Val Prudnikov

IT Director and Web Design

Editorial Contributors
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