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Rouhani’s Nuclear Deal is Old Wine in a New Bottle

By Rouba al-Fattal on December 16, 2013

Al-Fatal_Ruba.jpgLost in Translation, seems to be a fitting title to describe the discrepancy between the Iranian and American understanding of the nuclear deal. On 24 November, an interim agreement was signed in Geneva between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany). The White House published a ‘fact sheet’ on the agreement a day before the text of the pact was officially released, and the Iranian government also published its translated version of the pact. The American version claims that the agreement ‘halts the progress of Iran’s nuclear program’; while the Iranian version states that the US ‘concurs with Iran’s right to a nuclear energy’. Even on technicalities the two versions seem to clash that the only thing they seem to agree on is to disagree.

Raise a Million, Save The Sun

By Alan Hustak on December 12, 2013

IMG_1604_s.jpgThe Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has launched a million dollar fund-raising campaign to acquire the monumental  Chihuly glass sculpture entitled The Sun, which enchanted thousands of people this summer when it was mounted on the steps of the museum’s  Hornstein pavilion.   The work has been moved inside to the atrium  of the Jean-Noel Desmarais  pavilion across the street.  The dazzling sculpture is more than 4  metres  in diameter, with 1,200  shimmering rays of  yellow  tendrils  accented with elements of blue and red. The sculpture takes four days to assemble. It was the focal point of last summer’s  Chihuly exhibition, Utterly Breathtaking.

How Mandela Made a Difference

By John Parisella on December 10, 2013

Parisella.pngThe tributes to Nelson Mandela will continue to pour in over the next few days, as dignitaries make their way to pay their final respects to the leader who did more to transform Africa than any other in recent memory. His life story is now becoming more familiar by the day, and the upcoming film about his life will only add to the remarkable achievements of the man called Madiba.
We in Canada have always had a special place in our hearts for Nelson Mandela.  The first country Mandela visited after his release from prison was Canada.  The prime minister of the day, Brian Mulroney, was the principal world leader pushing for sanctions against the white supremacist government of South Africa, which ultimately brought the downfall of apartheid.  

Remembering Mandela

By l'Hon. Irwin Cotler on December 10, 2013

We are all, wherever we are, deeply saddened and profoundly pained at the passing of a great historical figure, Nelson Mandela – who endured 27 years in a South African prison and emerged not only to preside over the dismantling of apartheid, but, in fact, to make possible, as President, the establishment of a democratic, multiracial, free South Africa.
Mandela was the embodiment of the three great struggles of the 20th century: the long march toward freedom - as he put it - the march for democracy, and the march for equality. In a word, he was the metaphor and message for the struggle for human rights and human dignity in our time.

MANDELA: The captain of his soul. A man for our seasons.

By Beryl Wajsman on December 10, 2013

Mandela.jpgNelson Mandela once said, "A people comes to a point in its history where it has two choices. The first is to accept permanent inferiority. The second is to defy the government. We chose to defy the government." There would be no "permanent inferiority" for citizens of color in South Africa if Mandela had anything to say about it. For that matter, there would be no permanent inferiority for any citizen of South Africa.
But in his defiance, Mandela accomplished what no other revolutionary leader in the twentieth century had - attaining freedom for the oppressed without persecution of the oppressors.

Drainville's deceit

By Beryl Wajsman on December 3, 2013

drainville_deceit.jpgMinister for Democratic Institutions Bernard Drainville's last minute decision to pull out of a debate on Bill 60, the "Values" Charter, at Concordia University last week due to "security concerns" was disappointing and deceptive. It also played loose with the facts and reasonable people could argue that his action could incite violence.
If an elected official, particularly a Minister of the Crown, is not prepared to meet the public in open debate on legislation they support, that official should reconsider their suitability for Ministerial responsibility. This is the litmus test of political courage.

The West and the Challenge of Democracy in Bangladesh

By The Hon. David Kilgour on December 2, 2013

Kilgour_David_bw.jpgRecently , I had an opportunity to read the report of two respected Canadian Members of Parliament, Russ Hiebert and Joe Daniels, following their pre-election visit to Bangladesh with Antonio Vieira da Cruz of SADF’s Ottawa office. They met with a broad cross-section of religious leaders, journalists, lawyers, academics, former government and military officials, and representatives of civil society organizations. They heard differing perspectives on the role of the Anti-Corruption Commission, the International War Crimes Tribunal, the Awami League (AL), Bangladesh National Party (BNP), Jamaat-e-Islami, and other political parties on Bangladeshi hopes generally for a stable political future. 

JEAN LOUIS ROUX: 1923-2013 - Grand homme du Theatre

By Alan Hustak on November 29, 2013

Jean-Louis_Roux.jpgJean-Louis Roux was a distingushed actor who was hounded out office as Quebec’s lieutenant-governor by Quebec nationalists within six months after he admitted he once wore a swastika in his teens while taking part in an anti-conscription demonstration during the Second World War. One of the founders of Montreal’s Theatre du Nouveau Monde  and former head of both the National Theatre School and The Canada Council for the Arts, Mr. Roux was also briefly a Canadian senator. “He was a great man of the theatre, an electrifying doyen,” recalled author Jan Martel.

Reading Room Remembers Richler

By Alan Hustak on November 29, 2013

florence_and_jake.jpgAs children, Jacob Richler and his siblings weren’t allowed into their famous  father’s upstairs study when Mordecai Richler was pounding away at his typewriter writing his books or his satirical essays.   So when Jacob dedicated the Mordecai Richler Reading Room at Concordia University last week  the occasion brought back “happy memories of my father.” 
The room on the sixth floor of the McConnell  Building  is not, as some have suggested a replica or a re-creation  of Richler’s office  in the family  cottage at Lake Memphremagog. 

Dali Le Magnifique??

By Louise V. Labrecque on November 29, 2013

Labrecque_Louise_bw.jpgDali moderne, – postmoderne avant son temps-,  se situe réellement dans ce continuum moderne, en marche sur un fil d’acier, – dire en équilibre serait exagéré, mais il tenta par son œuvre à libérer sa puissance créatrice de son narcissisme- en recherche incessante de points culminants s’imposant d’eux-mêmes. En ce sens, Dali ouvre la porte à tous les possibles, construit et déconstruit le genre avec son célèbre : «  le surréalisme, c’est moi! »


   

La victoire des ayatollahs à Genève

By Amb. Freddy Eytan on November 29, 2013

Freddy_Eytan.JPGJerusalem - A Genève, l’Iran a été officieusement reconnue « puissance nucléaire ». Avec des sourires, des accolades hypocrites, face aux projecteurs, les grandes puissances ont remis à l’Iran les insignes de membre du club atomique. La victoire des ayatollahs est une injustice flagrante ! L’obscurantisme, la politique belliqueuse et haineuse font désormais partie de la diplomatie occidentale, celle de la politique de l’autruche. On accepte sans rougir la politique d’un Etat voyou et on offre à ce pays, membre des Nations unies, la capacité de détruire un autre Etat de l’Organisation, et la légitimité de mettre en péril la paix dans le monde.

Is the Iran Nuclear Deal a Positive Step?

By John Parisella on November 29, 2013

Parisella.pngIt has been said that if Iran develops a nuclear bomb, the world will become more dangerous than at any time since the height of the Cold War. The interim accord between Iran, the five members of the UN Security Council and Germany is meant to address this fear. The accord sets specific and significant limitations on Iran’s nuclear capability and development (that is, to freeze Iran’s nuclear program) with UN inspections in return for some temporary sanction relief for the Iranian government. The six-month agreement is temporary and is intended to provide a foundation for a long-term settlement beyond this deadline.

OTHELLO: Climbs a slippery slope.

By Alan Hustak on November 27, 2013

othello.jpgA word or two before you head out to see the Segal Centre’s production of Othello running until Dec. 1. It is only the third time the Segal has done Shakespeare, so one wonders why it decided to tackle what is arguably the most difficult play in the canon. It is certainly a stretch to suggest, as artistic producer Paul Flicker does in  the program that Othello  is a work that might foster intercultural understanding. Nor does it have anything to do with the Charter of Quebec values. Othello is a sexual tragedy, a story of twisted relationships that encompasses inter-racial marriage,  prejudice,  jealousy, calumny, insecurity and murder.

Où sont-ils? Que sont-ils devenus? Reviendront-ils un jour?

By Alain-Michel Ayache on November 21, 2013

Ayache.jpgLorsque je regarde un peu dans le passé proche à la recherche d’un modèle à donner en exemple à mon fils dans quelques années, je me trouve avec la bouche bée car je n’en trouve pas! Oui! Les bonnes gens semblent avoir disparu et les hommes ou femmes politiques qui ont contribué à changer la vie de l’être humain et la perception de l’autre ne sont qu’un souvenir dans la mémoire des Baby-boomers.
Toute une génération qui a connu des héros avec toute la signification que peut porter cette appellation va bientôt devenir orpheline après la disparition – dans de nombreuses années, je l’espère – de ce dernier des dinosaures, symboles du courage et des causes justes et qui ont réussi à changer le monde… je parle bien entendu de Nelson Mandela. Après lui, plus personne…  ou y a-t-il encore un espoir de voir la relève?

The John F. Kennedy I Remember

By John Parisella on November 21, 2013

Parisella.pngFifty years ago, I was entering university when a tragic event with worldwide repercussions occurred: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.  Many who lived through that day and the following three days can recall where they were, what they were doing and how they felt.
Besides the United States, Canadians probably felt the pain most vividly.  JFK had visited us earlier in his presidency and described us as neighbors, allies, partners, and friends.  No relationship was closer and more interdependent.   He had effectively seduced us on that visit.

Dare To Care: A Testament To Memory And Witness

By Beryl Wajsman on November 21, 2013

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgI think it is fair to state that what brought my colleagues and I into lifelong commitments to social advocacy was that we came to maturity during a period when we knew –viscerally - that the best people we would ever see in public life had been murdered. But it was not simply their killings that made us rage, though that would have been enough. It was not simply that the energy, charisma, eloquence and courage of Medgar and John, of Martin and Bobby had been ripped from us. It was the reason why these bold and resolute men found themselves in the line of fire. After all the theories of who or what killed them, it was really only one thing…they dared to care! 

JFK: 50 YEARS AFTER – WHY HE STILL MATTERS

By Beryl Wajsman on November 19, 2013

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgThere could be no more poignant day to remind us all that submission to this bodyguard of lies is not a strategy against existential threat. A threat that has been driven as a stake into the hearts of almost every western capital over the past dozen years.
During Kennedy’s Presidency Europe threats of similar magnitude, though of different origin. Kennedy went to Berlin to address that threat and to send a message to the enemies of freedom. On a glorious June day in 1963, some five months before his murder, he delivered his famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” address in Rudolph Wilde Platz facing the then recently constructed Berlin Wall. 

From 14 to 41: The “Charter’s” other danger

By Beryl Wajsman on November 19, 2013

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgIt is clear to any objective observer that the PQ's "Values" proposal goes too far for nothing other than political opportunism. The old politics of appeal to division and discord. The spectre of "les autres." There is no justification for it in hospitals, social services and anywhere else where laws are not made, interpreted, enforced, and where impressionable young minds are not affected.

Reasonable people can argue that the imposition of laity in legislatures, courts, security authorities and public schools has a long and accepted tradition in liberal democracies.

FATIMA HOUDA-PÉPIN IS ONE OF OUR MOST COURAGEOUS LEGISLATORS

By Beryl Wajsman on November 14, 2013

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgFatima Houda-Pepin`s letter has caused much debate today. That debate is driven - as happens too often in our public discourse - by a lack of facts and intellectual rigour. Houda-Pepin is one of our most courageous legislators. Let us not forget that it was she who introduced the motion in the National Assembly - unanimously adopted some years ago - against allowing Sharia Law any role in our civil family law system as demanded by certain fundamentalist religious elements in Quebec at the time. She withstood much menace for for that courage. But she spared Quebec the 18-month battle that Ontario went through. People should read past the headlines. Including many reporters. 

Que Faire Maintenant?

By Louise V. Labrecque on November 10, 2013

Labrecque_Louise_bw.jpgNul n’est prophete en son pays et les traditions ont la vie dure.  Notre temps salue des ruptures que l’ont dit  necessaires .  Or, je prefere, et de loin, saluer l’invention, la continuite des connaissances.  Il y a une zone grise qui s’exprime ainsi :  Sapere aude ! , soit  le message celebre des Lumieres : « ose penser par toi-meme !» ou « aie le courage de te servir de ton propre entendement! »  De plus, Pierre Bayle a ecrit sur le deracinement, ce qu’il exige de l’homme, a savoir le droit d’ « une conscience errante ».  Et de la on suppose le defi irreconciliable avec une racine identitaire.

Canada and the Commonwealth

By David T. Jones on November 3, 2013

jones_david.jpgWashington, DC - The decision by Prime Minister Harper to avoid the leaders meeting of the Commonwealth in Sri Lanka has unleashed the pack of media attack dogs.  The reaction is predictable but also pathetic.  While there is an implicit obligation of Opposition to oppose, the criticism has been over the top.
There has been a remarkably intense and palatably cynical critique that Harper is acting either hypocritically and/or for prospective political gain.
Harper has taken a reasoned decision, telegraphed far in advance.  To wit, he noted upwards of two years ago that unless Sri Lanka leadership improved its human rights performance in relation to the Tamil minority, he would not attend the conference.  They haven’t; he won’t.

Seeds: Monsanto Under The Microscope

By Alan Hustak on November 2, 2013

petersen_as_schmeiser.jpgWho would have thought a play about canola, corn, soybeans and wheat could be so, uhm, damned entertaining and thought provoking. Seeds, AnnabelSoutar's docudrama at the Centaur until Nov. 24 is all about the perceived evils of Monsanto Inc., the international bio-tech seed monopoly,  and the meaning of life.

It is a complex, fast paced, three-hour experience which examines the “unintended consequences of genetically modified seeds.”

An Open Letter To Montreal`s New Mayor

By Philippe Roy on October 28, 2013

Roy_Philippe.jpgIn just a few days, we will know the identity of Montreal’s new mayor. As such, the chosen person will be given a broad and impressive mandate. In the current political context, he or she will face numerous challenges and big expectations.
Beyond the many duties inherent in being mayor of Montreal, the new chief executive will assume the chair of the Montreal Agglomeration Council, which is responsible for organizing a wide range of services for the 1.8 million inhabitants of the 16 related Montreal Island municipalities.
It is in my role as mayor of one of the 16 Montreal Urban Agglomeration municipalities that I want to draw my future colleague’s attention to three issues with a significant impact on all who live on Montreal Island.

Montreal…meet Mumbai!

By Robert Presser on October 28, 2013

Presser_Robert_new.jpgI write this on my way home from my second business trip to Mumbai in the past year.  When I visit a new country, I ask a lot of questions of those I meet about their daily lives, their opinions of their government, their perceived quality of the services they receive and their expectations for the future.  I also read the local papers.  At the end of this four-day trip I developed the following observations of similarities between our two cities.  Montrealers often joke that we are on the path to becoming a third-world city.  The reality is that we already share some remarkable traits with Mumbai.

Les impôts municipaux : prérogative des élus

By Claude Garcia on October 25, 2013

Garcia_Claude.jpgLe salaire des employes des municipalites de plus de 25 000 habitants au Quebec est superieur de 18,6 % a celui des employes de l’administration provinciale. La remuneration globale (ce qui comprend , en plus, les benefices marginaux et autres avantages) est quant a elle 33,6 % plus elevee chez les travailleurs du secteur municipal que chez leurs homologues de la fonction publique provinciale. Cette situation ne date pas d’hier puisqu’on constate, depuis l’octroi du droit de greve aux employes de l’Etat, il y a une cinquantaine d’annees, une croissance continue de l’ecart entre la remuneration globale des employes municipaux et celle de leurs collegues provinciaux.

Salem: Museums, Culinary Trails and...Witches

By Sharman Yarnell on October 16, 2013

Yarnell_Sharman_bw.jpgA drive into New England’s coastal area for the fall colours and a dose of history is just the thing - a history that is rather relevant when we consider what’s happening here in Quebec with the Marois government. People’s rights being taken from them, finger pointing, religious persecution - their rights of belief, rights of behavior, rights of thought, even - were summarily denounced, illegally declared criminal against all normally accepted laws of humanity and social behavior - and heavily paid for.

Korean NAvy vessels arrive in Montreal

By Alan Hustak on October 15, 2013

IMG_1160.JPGVisit Commemorates 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean engagement

A South Korean destroyer and an auxiliary naval vessel arrived in Montreal Sunday as part of ceremonies being held to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean engagement.  The  Roks Dae Jo Yeong and Roks Hwa Chen will be open to visitors in the Old Port until Wednesday, Oct. 16  The ships are on a round the world cruise and are visiting ports of call in 14 countries which sent troops to the Korean engagement.

Lisée, Drapeau and Montreal`s special status

By Beryl Wajsman on October 15, 2013

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgOne of the reasons that the nationalist narrative in Quebec gained currency over the past forty years – particularly with young Francophones – is that our history is not known. People buy into whatever version of history the nationalists sell, particularly the skewed version of Francophones  having been victims of imperialists in their own native land when in fact their very presence here is as much the product of European imperialism as the Anglophone presence. History matters. And not just because, as Santayana wrote, `Those who forget it are bound to repeat it.” It matters because Its perversion is used as a political tool. Particularly in a jurisdiction with North America`s highest high school dropout rate.

Montreal journalist’s method “for calling up ghosts”

By P.A. Sévigny on October 8, 2013

While the pictures are worth a thousand words, Montreal journalist Alan Hustak’s Montreal Then and Now also does a lot to remind its readers that you never really know what you’ve lost till it’s gone. During a recent event in the Dorval Library, attendants had to bring in more chairs in order to accommodate the SRO (Standing Room Only) crowd after which the veteran journalist used a power-point presentation to illustrate his own search for the city’s lost time. 

Montreal can work. Let’s just do it! Part 1

By Beryl Wajsman on October 6, 2013

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgDespite the allegations brought forth at the Charbonneau Commission and the arrests from UPAC, and the never-ending record tax increases, the solutions to Montreal’s challenges are not that complicated. What is complicated, as it is in all matters human and political, is that candidates for office – and the bureaucrats already in – must muster the courage and resolve to commit themselves to speaking hard truths to the people; to entrenched vested interests and most of all to themselves.

DOUBLE WHAMMY: SEGAL AND CENTAUR SCORE WITH SEASON OPENERS

By Alan Hustak on October 6, 2013

aint_misbehaving.jpgMontreal’s  English Language theatre season is off to a rousing start with two shows:  The premiere of local playwright  Steve Galluccio’s acerbic but stirring family drama,  St Leonard Chronicles at the Centaur and a wonderfully entertaining revival of the Fats Waller cabaret  musical revue,  Ain’t Misbehavin’ at the Segal Centre.   It takes a while for the joint to start jumping at the Segal, but when it really gets off the ground in the second act, it leaves you on a high wanting more.  In addition to the title tune, the revue includes favorites like  I’m Gonna  Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter,  Tain’t Nobody’s Bizness if I Do, and lesser-known crowd pleasers like the silly but irresistible Your Feet’s  Too Big. 

"Breaking Quebec” –The Marois malaise

By Beryl Wajsman on October 6, 2013

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgThe hit cable series “Breaking Bad” ended its five year run this past weekend. But we have another up here. It’s called “Breaking Quebec” starring Pauline Marois.

Amidst the stark battles over Bill 14 and the Values Charter, sight has been lost of the broader malaise of the Marois administration. And frankly, some anger should be kept in reserve by demonstrators to make their voices heard on it.

40 ans après la guerre de Kippour et 20 ans après les Accords d’Oslo : vérités historiques et réflexions

By Amb. Freddy Eytan on September 25, 2013

Freddy_Eytan.JPGJerusalem, Israel - Le general Moshe Dayan ministre de la Defense declarait en avril 1973: « Je ne crois pas que dans les dix prochaines annees, une nouvelle guerre eclatera avec les Arabes ». La guerre de Kippour est declenchee brusquement quelques mois plus tard, et Dayan evoque dans une allusion biblique la fin du troisieme Temple. En depit de certaines informations alarmantes et d’un serieux avertissement du roi Hussein de Jordanie sur un eventuel conflit arme, les Arabes ont surpris Israel pour la premiere fois. En ce jour du Grand Pardon les Israeliens ont vu la mort en face !

Puzzling Our Way Through Syria

By David T. Jones on September 25, 2013

jones_david.jpgWashington, DC - When someone throws a drowning man a life line, he grabs it--and doesn’t worry whether it is firmly attached at the other end.  Putin tossed such a rope to President Obama with his proposal to arrange international control of the Syrian government’s chemical weapons (CW) stockpile; the lifeline was accompanied by a sanctimonious op-ed in the New York Times.
It is not that Putin’s op-ed platitudes were entirely wrong, e.g., noting the United Nations as sanctioning agent for any military action other than self defense, but that he blithely ignored the many Moscow maneuvers to prevent UN collective action on Syria.

Why special status would work

By Beryl Wajsman on September 25, 2013

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgThere has been considerable public confusion on what special status for Montreal would actually mean ever since last week's release of the CRITIQ commissioned IPSOS poll demonstrated a dramatic 76% support for the idea among francophones and anglophones alike living on the island of Montreal. The most common misconception is that special status is equated with partition or some other form of division from Quebec. That is not the case. Indeed if it was, special status would not work. Special status is an idea whose time may have come precisely because it would be a boon for both the metropolis and the province.

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