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"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.

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.

Advice for Cabinet Newbies

By Robert Presser on October 28, 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”

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. 

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

By Joel Ceausu on August 30, 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

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.

CANADA, BETTER ONE HARPER THAN 16 REPUBLICANS

By David T. Jones on July 21, 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

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. 

Let's make justice for seniors a priority

By Beryl Wajsman on July 9, 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

By Beryl Wajsman on July 9, 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…..

By Beryl Wajsman on July 9, 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

By Jeffery Vacante on June 23, 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

By Robert Presser on June 23, 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

By Frédéric Hébert on June 23, 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?"

By Beryl Wajsman on May 25, 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!

By Beryl Wajsman on May 15, 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.

Suffering seniors - the sham of social security: Living on a pension in the Pointe

By P.A. Sévigny on April 27, 2015

Sevigny_PA_bw.jpgAt 79 years old, Kathleen Brown keeps a neat and orderly apartment with all the usual details that includes lots of pictures of both her children and her grandchildren on the refrigerator along with the local grocery-store’s Christmas holiday calendar on the kitchen wall.

“I don’t get anything done for free like other people do,” she said. “I’ve been paying bills for all of my life and I expect to keep on paying them till I’m dead and gone.”

No rights without responsibilities

By Beryl Wajsman on April 16, 2015

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgThe latest student displays of arrogant self-indulgence, culminating in the UQAM riot, have been nothing other than thuggery. The same kind of criminal activity we witnessed in the “Red Square” period. Destruction of private and public property, intimidation of others trying to exercise their own rights, criminal trespass and a resort to the appropriation of the facades of terror when rioters broke up classes with faces covered.
What is beyond comprehension is why there is yet again a debate as to how these thugs should be treated? If they can be identified, charge them. If they can’t, then UQAM should use the student association fees to make up the damage. Including the destroying soft drink dispensing machine which some of the riot’s leaders would justify as an attack on global capitalism.

Olympic roof funding deserves a big, fat NO! Quebec needs to get priorities straight.

By Beryl Wajsman on April 7, 2015

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgOut of a $15 billion infrastructure envelope in the new budget we are seeing some ridiculous things. Worst among them is $220 million for the Olympic roof. Again.

It's nice to know that all our other problems have been solved. This useless expenditure comes on top of $400 million to the Beaudoin family for a needless cement plant in the Gaspé. And some $300 million for a phosphate strip mine in Sept Isles. Cement and phosphate prices have been plunging.

Quebec electoral commission still fails cities

By Robert Frank on March 23, 2015

Frank_Robert.JPGRural/urban imbalance continues as Montreal stands to lose seat and Laval will not gain.
Although the Liberal government has embarked on an ambitious effort to fix the provinces finances, Quebec City has not yet moved to address the province’s democratic deficit.
According to the Quebec Electoral Commission, Montreal stands to lose a seat in the National Assembly and fast-growing Laval won’t gain any.
That’s because Quebec crams two-thirds more citizens into its urban ridings than the ones in the hinterland. Last week, the Quebec Electoral Commission said in a statement that urban ridings can contain 60,484 voters, while rural ridings need just 36,290 eligible souls to get the same representation in the provincial legislature.

Boycott this! Enough is enough!

By Beryl Wajsman on March 16, 2015

bds.jpgThis past Sunday McGill students rejected a motion by their student society - the SSMU - that would have urged the university to boycott Israel and divest investments in companies with Israeli ties. Their action is to their credit and should be applauded. Particularly in light of the fact that last December, Concordia students voted in favour of such a motion.
It is astonishing that students - heavily subsidized students at that - would even be allowed a say in determining academic and investment relations of the institution they attend supported by our tax dollars. Last week we used this space to say "Ça suffit!" to Hydro's gouging. This week we say "enough is enough" of the BDS - boycott, divestment, sanction - crowd.

Mr. Trudeau have you no shame?

By Beryl Wajsman on March 9, 2015

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgJustin Trudeau has compared Conservative immigration policies and rhetoric as creating an atmosphere akin to the Liberal government of Mackenzie King's "none is too many" policy against European Jews in World War II. This kind of outrageous demagoguery would disqualify Trudeau from being taken seriously for any office in most western countries.
Aside from the fact that the Harper government just yesterday made clear again it's outreach to Muslims in Jason Kenney's address, there have been no restrictions on Muslim immigration into Canada as there were against Jews. No one is killing Muslims just for being Muslims, as Hitler did to Jews, except for other Muslims like ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Al-Qaeda.

Hydro-Québec: "Ça suffit!"

By Beryl Wajsman on March 9, 2015

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgIt is undignified, insulting and misleading for the Quebec Régie de l'énergie to put a positive spin on it's decision to allow Hydro a 2.9% rate increase instead of the asked for 3.9%. The implication that the Board was somehow protecting the public is nonsense. This Board has allowed almost 13% increases over the last three years. Neither inflation, nor the cost of production, nor our incomes have gone up anywhere near that mark. This is simply a hidden tax with one pocket of the government refilling the other pocket of the government. It is time to paraphrase René Levesque when he finished the nationalization of Hydro, as a member of the Lesage government, and say to the utility monopoly, "Ça suffit!"

Justin Trudeau just doesn't get it

By Beryl Wajsman on February 18, 2015

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgJustin Trudeau said yesterday that Prime Minister Harper's insistence that niqabs - female face coverings - should not be allowed in courts and citizenship ceremonies demonstrates an insensitivity to minority rights. I would say that Mr. Trudeau's continuing failure to comprehend that cultural particularities should never be raised to secular right is an overt threat to the health of a liberal pluralistic democracy and is cause for concern in someone who seeks to become the head of government.

The Mascia judgment: Justice denied

By Beryl Wajsman on February 3, 2015

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgJustice Salvatore Mascia's judgment in the latest challenge to Bill 101 continued the tradition of avoiding the hard truths that would have necessitated condemning the ugly compromise of justice that has been the hallmark of Quebec law since the passage of this notorious legislation. In so doing he failed a generation and blunted hope. Worse still, he denied natural justice.
I do not use the term "natural justice" pejoratively. It is a term of legal art. It refers to those rights inherent to every human being simply by right of birth. And one of those primordial rights is that all people are to be treated - and seen to be treated - equally before the law. The dignity of the individual has been the litmus test of all civilized systems of law. It is a test Quebec fails time and again.

Right in our own backyards

By Beryl Wajsman on December 8, 2014

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgAt the time of the terrorist murders of WO Patrice Vincent and Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, we used this space to remind readers of the need for vigilance on the enemy within. That it was not sufficient just to commemorate the service and sacrifice of others. That all of us in our daily lives must be on guard against extremists hiding behind seemingly normal facades.
Among the reasons I wrote that editorial then was because I had actually been asked by someone, "is there really a threat from these groups in our own backyard?" And I was asked this exactly one day before the Vincent murder. Well there was a threat then, and there is now. Right in our own backyards.

Arrogant authority

By Beryl Wajsman on November 27, 2014

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgTwo stories in the past week brought to light once again the problem of the arrogance of security authority. They are not strictly the types of stories that I have commented upon in the past. Those concerned mistreatment of visible minorities  and the compromise of the basic tenets of due process and the rule of law. No, these stories - in certain aspects - could be termed almost routine, yet they still manifest the maladies that threaten our liberties and our lives. Worse yet, they hinder our progress to be truly just.

The Robillard Report: Courageous common sense

By Beryl Wajsman on November 27, 2014

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgLucienne Robillard's report on cutting government spending and waste is the kind of courageous common sense that comes too rarely yet is so needed. Aside from the specifics, the importance of her work is that it highlights where the Quebec statist model can be cut without affecting the social security programs that we have all paid for during our working lives and which monies were supposed to be treated in trust. Indeed, it demonstrates that dramatic cuts are necessary if we are to keep our social contract viable and our credit worthiness stable.

Memo to Premier Couillard: We elected you to stop this!

By Beryl Wajsman on November 18, 2014

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgWe 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. So forgive our astonishment at last week's news that the websites of international retailers
Williams-Sonoma, Urban Outfitters, and Club Monaco had been blocked in Quebec because...you guessed..they didn't comply with the language laws! After the Marois legacy of Pastagate and all the other little "gates" we expected this government to stop the madness and reign in the OQLF. Apparently it needs another memo.

Trudeau's suspension of MPs shows lack of judgement

By Jordan Turner on November 11, 2014

turner_jordan.jpgLast week, Canadian Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau announced the suspension of two Liberal Members of Parliament (MP), Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti, of his party caucus over allegations of harassment made by two other MP’s from the opposing New Democratic Party (NDP).  The accusations of harassment were made in a private conversation with Justin Trudeau and were not meant to go public.  NDP party whip Turmel was aware of the accusations of misconduct and the alleged victims clearly stated that they did not wish to file formal complaints as they did not want to destroy the political careers of the liberal MP’s being accused of harassment.   However, Trudeau in yet another example of his complete lack of judgement publicized the harassment allegations and suspended his MP’s prior to any investigations.

"One language, one culture?" M. Fournier, an explanation is owed.

By Beryl Wajsman on October 30, 2014

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpg"The Quebec of the future is already visible. A nation within a federation. With one language, one culture, civil law, and distinct social values."
With those words, the Couillard government's Minister for Intergovernmental affairs and the MNA for St.Laurent - one of Quebec's most multilingual and multicultural ridings. - Jean-Marc Fournier reopened a debate we all thought was closed with the election of a Liberal government. "One language, one culture." Really? M. Fournier, you owe voters an explanation.

Liberty demands responsibility Time to stop excusing the enemies within.

By Beryl Wajsman on October 30, 2014

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpg"Liberty demands responsibility. That's why so many dread it." George Bernard Shaw wrote those words at a time when the rising tide of fascism was a clear menace, yet so many in western nations felt compelled to excuse and appease. It was they - free citizens - who were afraid of the responsibility that comes with freedom.
I share these words today, because if there is one living testament that can be made to the ultimate sacrifices of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent  and Corporal Nathan Cirillo it is that we - their fellow Canadians whom they served and protected - must understand that it is our responsibility to fight back in civil society against the purveyors and perpetrators of this era's theocratic fascism. 

A word on the Constitution

By Beryl Wajsman on September 8, 2014

constitution.PNGUrban legends are not relegated to second-rate movies or the twittersphere. Too often even elected officials and members of the fourth estate succumb to the easy story line. Whether it is because some really don't understand an issue or because they are wedded to the notion that a "six second sound bite" is all anyone can absorb, they perpetuate realities that are simply wrong. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan once quipped, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not to their own facts."
Here in Quebec, every time the word "Constitution" is mentioned it is always around the issue that this province is not a signatory to Canada's central governing piece of legislation. That is simply false. We are in this debate once more since Premier Couillard mentioned several days ago that it would be appropriate if Quebec "signed" on by 2017, the 150th anniversary of Confederation. 


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Beryl P. Wajsman

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Editorial Artwork

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