The Métropolitain

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Time for some perspective on laity in Quebec

By Beryl Wajsman on October 15, 2018

laity.jpegIt was certainly not our most pressing issue. But since Premier-elect François Legault decided to bring the issue of laity front and centre on his first day, and since that issue has caused so much debate and discord the past week - including thousands of Montrealers demonstrating this past Sunday - we thought it was important to bring some perspective, and a warning, on this issue.
It is quite reasonable in the western liberal tradition to put up a firewall between faith and state. From American President James Madison stating, “The civil administration shall take no cognizance of religion” at the beginning of the 19th century, to the French “modele Republicain” inspired by Jean Jaurés at the end of that century, freedom of religion has been accepted to mean freedom from religion as well. 

Let's get serious on energy in Quebec

By Beryl Wajsman on October 15, 2018

wajsman_beryl_02.jpgPremier-elect François Legault has said over and over again that he wanted to be known as the "business premier." His platform calls for a large reduction in the bureaucracy, less bureaucratic forms, more ways to attract out-of-province investors and lower taxes. We can think of no better priority for him to commence his mandate on. And we can think of no better area to start his program than in energy. It is time for Quebec to get serious on its energy potential.
The time is very propitious. The previous government's failure to move on the Energy East pipeline has still left 

Remember Robillard: Rays of reasons for Quebec for all parties

By Beryl Wajsman on August 31, 2018

Robillard.jpgIn an election, all parties look for policies to attract voters. Too often they are ideas at the edges meant not to upset too many. We would suggest that this is a time for big ideas. And lucid ones.
Precisely at this time in 2015 the Robillard Report was released. Lucienne Robillard was the former federal Treasury Board President among other portfolios she handled so well under Prime Minister Chrétien. She was named by Premier Couillard to head a Commission to study ways to reform and improve Quebec governance. Her conclusions pulled no punches. It was the broadest and most wide-ranging agenda of common sense in a generation.

Surprise! English is an official language of Quebec

By William Johnson on August 31, 2018

johnson_william_01.jpgQuebec’s quiet certitudes were troubled on the morning of August 23 when the Québec Solidaire party published on its website the following sentence: “English is an official language of Quebec and Canada.” Horrors!
The consternation was compounded when the party’s co-spokesperson, Manon Massé, repeated the heresy, in English, in a tweet, and then, after launching the party’s election campaign that afternoon before the press, she replied, in French, to a reporter’s question: “Currently, because we are still in Canada, English is an official language in Quebec. What I’m saying is that Québec Solidaire is a sovereignist party, pro-independence, which, in its first mandate, will launch the process of Quebec’s independence and, in that Quebec, for Québec Solidaire, French is the official language.”

Fracking for natural gas is key to wealth creation in Quebec

By Robert Presser on July 9, 2018

Presser_Robert_new.jpgWhile many Quebeckers like to unplug in the summer and turn their backs on politics, in a few weeks they can expect representatives from the Quebec Liberals, PQ, CAQ and Quebec Solidaire to begin breaking into their peaceful hazy days.  There will be no avoiding the October 1st provincial election, and one of the major issues will be economic development and wealth creation in Quebec.
Francois Legault of the CAQ reminds voters at every turn that Quebec’s finances only appear healthy because we receive $11 billion in equalization payments under the current regime.  Our $2 billion budget surplus would really be a $9 billion deficit if we did not have the generosity of the rest of Canada to fall back on. 

Canada is Sucking and Blowing on NAFTA

By Robert Presser on April 2, 2018

Presser_Robert_new.jpgThe renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA has been going on for over a year now with several rounds of discussions held between its three partners – the US, Canada and Mexico.  Up until very recently, the American negotiating team, led by chief trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer have complained of slow progress due to a reluctance by Canada and Mexico to engage wholeheartedly on US demands for massive changes to pillars of the existing pact.  These most contentious points include the auto sector and US demands for minimum US content in all autos manufactured for sale in the US as well as proposing the effective dismantling of Canada’s supply management programs in the food and dairy industries.

Hampstead: Trying to penalize what it can't criminalize

By Beryl Wajsman on March 24, 2018

wajsman_beryl_02.jpgHampstead's ban on smoking in public spaces - including sidewalks - is an affront to a free community, unconstitutional in its breadth, unenforceable without encroachments on individual liberty, unnecessary even for health reasons and exhibits the worst elements of blue-haired prohibitionism that forgets the teaching of history which is that prohibitions increase crime. And the paternalistic manner in which Hampstead  did it is a slap in the face to the democratic due process owed to voters. Elected officials are our employees. Not the other way around.

An open letter against the closing of Mount Royal traffic

By Me. Hannah Deegan on February 20, 2018

Deegan_Hannah.jpgDear Mayor Plante ,  I wish to voice my opposition to your decision to close a large part of chemin Camillien-Houde, effectively removing one of the more convenient, and beautiful, east-west trajectories of this city.
I drive that route every morning on my way to work, and it’s truly one of the things I cherish the most about my day. When everyone obeys the traffic signs, as they usually do, Camillien-Houde is a safe road, both for cyclists and drivers. I do not believe this decision is in the best interest of Montreal’s population. Closing the road will increase traffic congestion on other major arteries in the city by re-routing thousands of cars daily.  It will also needlessly restrict access to the park, especially for those with families or limited mobility.

Closing Mount Royal: Plante administration exploits the politics of fear

By Beryl Wajsman on February 15, 2018

wajsman_beryl_02.jpgGeorge Orwell warned that the limits to freedom by command-state government will come as much through the use of the psychology of fear as the brute force of arms. That is a prophecy that has become overwhelmingly evident as rule and regulation is constantly formulated to limit our everyday actions “for our own good.” Quebec elected officials know that game very well. Le Jour’s great editor Jean-Charles Harvey first condemned it in his seminal novel of Quebec political life titled “La Peur” – “The Fear” – published in 1938 in the darkest time of the Duplessis era. But the tactics of the old right, have been adopted by the new left.

The Malysa Affair: Compassion should be the only language of healthcare

By Beryl Wajsman on January 18, 2018

malysa_affair.jpgBy now most of you have heard of the language prejudice suffered by Zbigniew Malysa when he went to the CHUM for some medical tests and was refused service because he asks to have things explained in English. His daughter  Suzanne has done a remarkable job of bringing this unconscionable behavior to the public's attention. We offered her whatever support and intervention she and her father need, and will continue to help through the pricess of examination of the behavior of the doctor by the CHUM and the Human Rights Commission to whom she has made a formal complaint. 

Quebec obstructs medicare portability and Ottawa does little to help

By Dr. Charles S. Shaver on December 17, 2017

medicare.jpgHospital care is fully portable across Canada, but unlike all other provinces and territories, Quebec has refused to sign a reciprocal agreement for physician services. Quebecers seeking medical treatment in another province usually find that the MD refuses to accept their provincial health card. Instead they must pay upfront and wait for partial reimbursement (often only half of the amount paid) from the Quebec government. This affects three major groups of persons.
Quebecers may wish to visit friends and relatives in other provinces. Those with pre-existing conditions should not be deterred from travel for fear that they may develop an unexpected illness and face unaffordable up-front medical charges in another province.

Shame! Not one voice against the suppression of expression

By Beryl Wajsman on December 6, 2017

bonjour_hi.jpgYet again in Quebec, we are living through more suffocating political hypocrisy and pandering to the worst elements of division and discord merely to cover the cowardly partisanship of elected officials. And as has become de riguer here, truth, equity and respect for civil rights be damned. It is not justice that "rains down like waters" from the National Assembly but words of "nullification and interposition" as Martin Luther King, Jr. once called the rule and regulation of institutionalized prejudice in the American South. And not one voice was raised in the Assembly against the latest installment of capitulation and appeasement. Not one voice.

Who will watch the watchmen?

By Beryl Wajsman on November 26, 2017

watchers.jpgWhen UPAC was created, there were many who warned that setting up another level of policing - with extraordinary powers - was inconsistent with due process of law and could pose a threat to basic liberties. UPAC's arrest without charge of former senior SQ officer and now Laval MNA Guy Ouellette may have finally woken up those in power to the dangers of such a body.
Assembly Speaker Jacques Chagnon rose to give an extraordinary statement criticizing UPAC and saying in part that UPAC's action demonstrated, "...ignorance of our institutions, and in particular of parliament, which is at the very heart of the democratic governance of our State."

40 years of Bill 101: The legacy of narrow spirit

By Beryl Wajsman on August 30, 2017

wajsman_beryl_02.jpgForty years ago this past week - Aug.26, 1977 - Bill 101 became law. We all know the material damage it has done. The exodus of hundreds of thousands of anglophones and francophones. The departure of head offices. The giant sucking sound of foreign investments drying up and leaving. But we want to examine today the moral damage it inflicted. That perhaps is as much its lasting legacy as anything else.

The Kahdr settlement: A bodyguard of lies

By Beryl Wajsman on July 12, 2017

wajsman_beryl_02.jpgFree nations in order to survive in liberty do not negotiate with, pander to or reward terrorists. This has been the keystone of policy among all western countries for decades. The Trudeau government's decision to settle Omar Khadr's legal pursuit against Canada for the alleged violation of his sec.7 Charter rights protecting the "security and liberty of the person" is shameful in principle, distorts the 2010 Supreme Court decision upon which the Prime Minister claims to rely on, opens the door to the compromise of the very Charter protections he seeks to defend and potentially blocks the ability of the widow of the man Khadr killed to obtain redress under the 2012 Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act that allows for the collection of damages from U.S. judgments in Canadian courts.

The Khadr Settlement: An Embarrassment to Canada

By Kevin Budning on July 9, 2017

Budning_Kevin.jpgIf there has ever been a time to question the integrity and moral compass of Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government, the time is now. A few days ago, news broke that Omar Khadr had reached a settlement agreement with the Canadian government that entails a formal apology and a $10.5 million payout. Apology and payout for what you may ask?
Well, Khadr - who at age 15 decided to move to Afghanistan to live with his father, a high-ranking Al-Qaeda member - believes he should be compensated for ‘wrongful imprisonment’ at Guantanamo Bay. In 2010, after allegedly being tortured, Khadr pleaded guilty to throwing a grenade that killed U.S. Special Forces medic, Christopher Speer, and for blinding another soldier, Layne Morris. It was this act that landed him in the notorious prison.

Quebec pockets $2.8 billion in Hydro profits and still raises rates

By Debbie Byer, Iocent Crammer, Aissatou Diallo, Maria Ines Garduno on April 23, 2017

generic.jpgApril 1st was a day of unpleasant surprises for many people across Quebec.  On this day Hydro Quebec started cutting electricity to households that have not been able to keep up with their electricity bills.  It was also the day when hydro hiked its rates 0.7 percent for residential consumers.  This increase is not trivial for the dramatically increasing numbers of households that have fallen behind on their bill payments.  While wages and government benefits have stagnated, the prices of food, rent, and other necessities have skyrocketed.  That the cost of electricity, an essential service under the responsibility of a crown corporation, should have also outpaced inflation is outrageous and shameful.    

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.

M-103 threatens freedom of expression

By Kevin Budning on March 18, 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”?

By David T. Jones on February 27, 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”

By David T. Jones on February 11, 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

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.

PEACEKEEPING? MAKE HAITI THE PRIORITY NOT AFRICA

By David T. Jones on September 11, 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

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.

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.

BREXIT MAKES DE GAULLE ULTIMATE WINNER

By David T. Jones on July 10, 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

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.

Barrette displays nothing but contempt and disdain

By David Benrimoh on May 8, 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

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.

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

By Alan Hustak on February 22, 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?

By Dr. Sima Goel on February 22, 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

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.