By Beryl Wajsman on January 26, 2017
"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?
By Prof. Peter March on January 15, 2017
It is difficult to write this little piece. My chest bursts with the desire to weep for sudden memory, uninvited shame, and long regret. Making myself write it, well, that is an exercise Aurelius would have demanded of me. So I will try to be a good Stoic. In his way.
I first read Aurelius in Gorsebrook School Elementary when the principal, Mr.Moser read a little journal which I put up on the blackboard each morning before school. That would be in Grade 6 and I was twelve.
By Beryl Wajsman on January 4, 2017
This 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.
By Beryl Wajsman on November 21, 2016
It 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.
By Robert Presser on October 29, 2016
There are restaurants around Montreal that were anchors of my youth, all gone but certainly not forgotten by those of a certain age. I remember lunches at the Brown Derby with my best friend, Bernie Hyams, dinner at Pumpernick’s after my grade school graduation, watching Magic Tom at the Beaver Club at the Queen Elizabeth hotel, and the list goes on. These restaurants were gathering places for clients of many generations, ethnic and linguistic backgrounds, and they mingled in these locales as if they were public squares. Le Mas des Oliviers on Bishop was one of those restaurants where the business community mixed with politicians and notables at lunch and dinner, and for forty years owner Jacques Muller and his crew served them timeless French cuisine in a ground level location that mixed Norman Conquest décor with Quebec charm and grace.
By Dr, Mark Grossman on September 19, 2016
I am neither a dog lover or hater. I cried when Old Yeller died. Underdog was one of my childhood heroes.
But when I am invited to your house please have a person, and not your dog, answer the door. I do not like being pawed, barked at and sniffed in my nether regions in your vestibule, prior to be granted free passage into your home. I won’t object if you try to sniff me.
Please do not expect me to go onto the road so your dog can remain in the passing lane of the sidewalk. Do not assume that I wish to interact with your dog when out on my evening stroll. I will engage and babble in baby talk If I want to have some dog time.
By Jill Salomon on September 19, 2016
I'm so glad that I was born in 1961. I am a product of my time. A time of rebellion against a raging war in Vietnam. A time of loving love and wanting peace - but really wanting it. Meaning it. Woodstock and the free love movement. Colors and nature and coke ads where they wanted us all to teach the "world to sing".
When Bell wanted us to "reach out and touch someone." When there were four movies that we watched each year on one televisio. -(The Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, It's a wonderful Life) - and it wasn't an HD big screen. You may have even had rabbit ears on top of that television for better reception. (For the millenials, you can google "rabbit ears.")
By Beryl Wajsman on September 19, 2016
There 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.
By David T. Jones on August 19, 2016
Washington, DC ~ Politics is now in the phase of “let it all hang out” and, if there is reluctance to such exposure, rip it out of the recalcitrant.
Thus the endless clarion calls for politicians to release their federal tax returns. Ostensibly, these demands are couched in dulcet “good government” terms designed to reveal whether certain financial claims by a candidate are accurate or that income is honestly obtained. “Transparency” is the new buzz word.
In truth these demands are hypocritical and self serving. They are emphasized by political opponents who suspect that published tax returns will provide further grist for derogatory attacks.
By Beryl Wajsman on July 28, 2016
We 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.
By Beryl Wajsman on July 2, 2016
Elie 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.
By Beryl Wajsman on May 20, 2016
We 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.
By David T. Jones on May 9, 2016
Washington, DC - For most of human existence and identifiable history, toilet facilities were wherever the urge struck one. The world was one’s toilet for those actions which could neither be delayed nor delegated. One memorable and illustrative little jingle went: “In days of old, when knights were bold, and toilets weren’t invented, they left their loads upon the roads and went away contented.” Chamber pots from standard dwellings were dumped on the streets (often just hurled from upper story windows). Creeks and rivers were open sewers.
You were into relatively modern times before society recognized the close connection between sanitation and disease. And while there was an appreciation that clean water was a significant health benefit, it is still recognized primarily in “Western” civilization.
By Beryl Wajsman on May 2, 2016
It 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.
By Beryl Wajsman on April 11, 2016
We 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.
By Kevin Budning on April 4, 2016
Usually I would say sit back, relax, and enjoy this piece. But instead, I must urge you to sit forward, tense up, and worry about the blatant hypocrisy, anti-Semitism, and double standards the United Nations has now placed on the state of Israel.
On March 24, 2016, the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) concluded its annual meeting by labelling Israel as the worst violator of women’s rights in the entire world. Despite pronouncing themselves as an intergovernmental organization that is “instrumental in promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women,” one clearly should not judge an IO based on its mission statement.
By Father John Walsh on February 21, 2016
There is a current in history that is pushing us towards reconciliation and peace. Listen to the whisper of God everywhere. At Vatican II the whisper of God could be heard in the document Nostra Aetate when fundamental questions about our human existence were posed. Men expect from the various religions answers to the unsolved riddles of the human condition, which today, even as in former times, deeply stir the hearts of men: What is man? What is the meaning, the aim of our life? What is moral good, what is sin? Whence suffering and what purpose does it serve? Which is the road to true happiness?
By Beryl Wajsman on December 31, 2015
After 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.
By Alan Hustak on November 8, 2015
As Canada moves toward legalized assisted suicide starting in February, Quebec will jump the gun and become the first province to permit doctors to euthanize patients beginning next month.
When Quebec’s Bill 52 takes effect on Dec. 10, physician-assisted suicide will be deemed an acceptable health-care option which doctors may offer to certain terminally ill patients. Still to be resolved, however, is the question of whether Quebec’s law conforms to the Criminal Code of Canada, which makes it illegal “to help a person commit suicide, whether suicide ensues or not.”
By Me.Linda Hammerschmid on November 1, 2015
The powers that be have decided to modify, yet again, the Quebec Civil Code of Procedure [C.C.P.] which will come into effect January 1, 2016. So it seemed only fitting to let you in on a few of the more important changes and new arrivals in the domain fondly known as Family Law.
You should first be aware that every time a Government changes existing legislation, under the guise of making Justice more accessible and less costly, I shudder.
By Alan Hustak on November 1, 2015
Fifty years ago this week marks a dramatic turning point in relations between Catholics and Jews.
On Oct. 2 8, 1965, Pope Paul VI issued a ground breaking Vatican II declaration, Nostra Aetate (In our Time) which ordered Catholics “to enter with prudence and charity into discussions and collaboration” with people of other religions, especially Jews . It represents an historic condemnation of anti-Semitism and paved the way for ecumenical dialogue. In particular, it rid the church liturgy of its offensive language which for centuries had dismissed Jews as “perfidious."
By Suzanne Reisler Litwin on October 7, 2015
Stop it! Just stop it! It's getting out of control! It's getting to the point that we can't live our normal lives without someone, some place, somewhere telling us you can't do something.
Ok, I get it. It's bad for your health. For this reason I don't smoke. I won't smoke. I made that decision for myself. I don't go to places where people smoke. That's my choice. But there are people who do enjoy smoking and that's their choice. Not mine, but theirs.
By Beryl Wajsman on August 14, 2015
Quebec 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?
By Father John Walsh on August 9, 2015
People are often happy to scratch the surface of discontent and see little victories that offer hope. The major difficulty is that the problems created by any system require that the system be literally dismantled and sent to the sin bin, not the recycling bin. The bishop of Rome, as he refers to himself, signed the encyclical Laudato si, on care for our common home, Francesco or simply Francis. Why does Francis do what he does? To the first question posed to him: Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio? He answered, I am a sinner and he added that he wished it were a verb “mercying” him all the time.
By David T. Jones on June 23, 2015
Washington, DC - The classic teacher student ratio has been said to be “Socrates at one end of a log and the student at the other end.”
Unfortunately, even in the time of Socrates, there were very few such teachers. And today one suspects there are none.
The educational bureaucratic effort is to get the most students taught by the fewest teachers. They hope that the students learn something and the teachers do not walk away from the process. Unionized teachers, however, seek to teach the fewest number of students with the shortest work day implicitly (if not explicitly) citing Socrates as an example.
The U.S. educational process has seen an interesting evolution.
By Father John Walsh on June 23, 2015
The human being is a work in progress. The human narrative is being re-written. “Human” means many things to many people. Hat’s off to Mayor Denis Coderre, Mayor of Montreal, for inviting 30 mayors of the cities of the world to a Summit in Montreal to address the theme, Living Together. Humans living together. No person is an island and communities are made up of diverse individuals from a variety of traditions, languages, cultures, religions, secularists and atheists. Diversity is a treasure to be opened and shared by all humanity. Diversity is ubiquitous. Our streets and our neighborhoods are a microcosm of the diversity found in the entire world.
By Julius Grey on May 14, 2015
The death of Allan Borovoy deprives Canada of a unique voice speaking in favour of liberty, but without the constraints of political correctness.
The human rights industry in Canada has often shown undue deference to fashionable causes, whatever they might be for the moment. Allan Borovoy, long-time president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, never let himself be swayed by fashion. As a lawyer, writer and activist, he put individual liberty first and in particular defended freedom of expression, which is always under attack. Unfortunately, Canadian human rights activists are all in favour of freedom of expression, but not when their favourite cause is at issue.
By David T. Jones on May 14, 2015
I didn’t know that I could have two mothers.
Nor did I know that my little sister could have two fathers.
Indeed, I didn’t know (at age four) that my mother was pregnant, and when my sister appeared in our apartment and I viewed her diaper being changed, I asked with naïve ignorance, “Where’s her little ‘gigger’?
Yes, I also assumed until about age 10 that “the stork brought me” or that “you were found under a cabbage leaf”—both then-prevalent circumlocutions for the messy reality of sex and birth. To be sure by that age such nonexplanations were wearing a bit thin.
By Father John Walsh on May 2, 2015
Every once in a while someone delivers a commencement address to graduates that makes you sit up and notice. A recent address by Fareed Zakaria, at Sarah Lawrence College, the quintessential liberal arts college, admitted that to speak about the liberal arts is not very cool. What you’re not supposed to do is get a liberal arts education … A liberal education - as best defined by Cardinal Newman in 1854—is a “broad exposure to the outlines of knowledge” for its own sake, rather than to acquire skills to practice a trade or do a job. However, the President of Yale, the late Bart Giamatti, asked in one of his beautiful lectures, “what is the earthly use of a liberal education?” Zakaria says it teaches you how to write.
By David T. Jones on May 2, 2015
Washington, DC - Currently, in the United States, a widening number of states have laws and regulations addressing “child neglect” that require intensive monitoring of children for a significant part of their lives.
The proximate example is Maryland where police seized a 10-year-old and a six-year-old walking home from a local park approximately a mile from their home. Maryland law says a child must be eight years old to stay home alone, and a child must be 13 years old to baby sit a younger child.
The result has been a new level of confrontation between “helicopter” parents (most recently epitomized by a man that had a drone to monitor his child’s progress to school) and “free range” parents who believe that children early on should be taught independence and given an opportunity to exercise such.
By David T. Jones on April 16, 2015
Washington, DC - I am now certifiably an “old man”—well past social security age with a gray beard.
And, the sexual mores of today are so different than those prevailing when I was young that one wonders how a young man (often with his “brain” between his legs) is able to negotiate the minefields laying between his desire for sexual intercourse and acceptable female acquiescence in his desire.
Recently, an Internet Headline News article, ostensibly directed at Canadian athletes but applicable to all young men, displayed as part of its story a wall-mounted poster listing a dozen examples illustrating how and when “NO MEANS NO.”
By Beryl Wajsman on April 7, 2015
There are core belies of personal civil conservatism that drive my social activism and journalistic advocacy. Foremost amongst them is my concern that many of the approaches of today’s inappropriately named liberalism have supported the proposition that the state has an undisputed authority to impose a framework of imperatives that not only delineate and define how we should live but who we should be. Social engineering as statist faith has become too ingrained and is increasingly seen as central to “progressive” government doctrine. In today’s “liberalism,” Individual expression is to be moderated and sublimated to the supposed greatest good for the greatest number.
By Beryl Wajsman on March 30, 2015
Although Mayor Copeman has already received a longer and far more detailed letter from Ms. Ronald, the following is an abridged and edited version, with Ms. Ronald’s permission, for the purpose of publication. It is a story of her trials and tribulations with the city's social housing bureaucracy. It raises critical issues of the tragedy of what our seniors on fixed incomes have to go through. They, who built our society, suffer needlessly because our governments have not met their fiduciary responsibility to assure that pensions are sustainable. By 2020, some 30% of Montreal's non-francophone population will be seniors. Close to 40% will have no other source of income than government pensions which are below poverty levels of $19,000 for a single individual. There is no more vital issue on the agenda of social justice than to right the wrongs to the most vulnerable among us. Former Finance Minister Jim Flaherty wanted to start increasing pensions two years ago. It is time to begin.
By Jordan Turner on March 9, 2015
Two weeks ago, a story that received limited press should have sent shockwaves throughout the legal establishment and to anyone who has prepared a last will and testament. Ontario, Judge C.A Gilmore rejected the will of the late Rector Emanuel Spence who bequeathed his entire estate to only one of his two daughters as the judge believed his motivations were racist. As such, the Judge set a controversial precedent where the thoughts and views of the deceased, and not the recipient of the inheritance, was determined to be detrimental to public policy and warranted the complete nullification of his will.
By Joel Ceausu on February 16, 2015
Few things unite the right and left in Canada, Tim Hortons and hockey notwithstanding, but a not-so-radical idea might be one of them.
Mention “guaranteed income” and most people think “handout.” But there’s a lot more to it, says Jonathan Brun, spokesperson for the Basic Income Canada Network and co-founder of Revenue de base Quebec, working to get Canada to adopt a basic income scheme.
“It appeals to everyone because it addresses the burgeoning government bureaucracy and maintains a solid social safety net while changing the way government transfers wealth between taxpayers.”