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Les Misérables: An intimate spectacle

By Alan Hustak on December 26, 2012

Les_Miserables.jpgLes Misérables, the movie version of the durable stage play which has been running for 30 years, is an epic three-hour opera, with almost no spoken dialogue, and probably the best screen musical since West Side Story won 10 Oscars fifty years ago.  Tom Hooper, who directed last year’s Oscar w inning, The King’s Speech  gives us a production that creates 19th Century Paris on a grand scale,  a film that is simultaneously  intimate and spectacular, even  if, from time to time is also tuneless, choppy  and occasionally tedious.

Of images and guns

By Beryl Wajsman on December 18, 2012

…and yet again.

Words fail. Comfort the bereaved yes. But platitudes to the living, whether from realms private or public are inappropriate. As Father John writes on the page opposite, there is a time to respect silence. Or perhaps a time for respectful silence.
But let us suggest that in one arena this is just the time for certain words. Not the obsequiousness of public officials promising to do something about…it…at some time…soon. But the urgency of addressing…it… in the public arena, with fierce urgency… now.

Bill 14- Don't even think about it! A memo to Liberals and the CAQ

By Beryl Wajsman on December 13, 2012

Rarely does a piece of legislation come forward that calls for complete rejection. Bill 14 however is just such a piece of proposed law. No Liberal or CAQ MNA should even think of compromise or common cause with the PQ government of Pauline Marois on this regressive and retrograde proposal.
Its rejection is compelled not just by the social, cultural and economic damage it will cause; not just by the civil rights - legislative and acquired - that are once again aborted ; but by the sheer transparent political opportunism and venal prejudice that gave it birth.

Justin Trudeau’s decision to address Islamic Revival Conference hurts Canada

By Beryl Wajsman on December 13, 2012

Mere prescence will be used to validate Conference speakers and sponsoring organizations with Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas ties

Liberal leadership candidate and Papineau MP Justin Trudeau’s decision to give a keynote address at the “Reviving the Islamic Spirit” conference taking place in Toronto Dec.20-23rd  . is a disappointing one and potentially disastrous for liberalism. His mere prescence will be used to validate some of the most retrograde elements on the political landscape that are associated with this Conference. In that he hurts Canada. 

Le camouflet palestinien et le théâtre onusien de l'absurde

By Amb. Freddy Eytan on December 9, 2012

L'Assemblée générale de l'ONU est "la bête noire" des diplomates israéliens. Le Général De Gaulle parlait de "machin" et Ben Gourion enchérissait  "Oum Shmoum" qui veut dire "ONU=néant". 

En fait, depuis 1948 à ce jour, l'ONU demeure impuissante dans la solution du conflit Israélo-arabe. Cette Assemblée au vote automatique a adopté plus d'un millier de résolutions au détriment d’Israël sans être capable d'imposer leurs applications, toutes les tentatives ont subi un cuisant échec. 

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Fiscal Cliff?

By Robert Presser on December 9, 2012

fiscal_cliff.jpgThe concept of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) was a key element of deterrence that kept the peace during the Cold War, while the nuclear powers fought proxy wars around the globe but avoided direct confrontation.  The FC was born in a similar fashion in that it represented such a vicious cocktail of spending cuts and tax increases as to be unimaginable in actual application.  Conceived in the summer of 2011 as part of the agreement to raise the US debt ceiling, it was supposed to force the Republican and Democratic leadership back to the negotiating table before January 1, 2013 to strike a grand bargain on fiscal reform.

RED, the play, paints a powerful portrait of an eccentric genius

By Byron Toben on December 3, 2012

RED , the Tony award winning drama, is a powerful and absorbing theatrical experience.

Written by prolific John Logan (12 stage plays, 5 movies) and directed by National Theatre School grad Martha Henry ( Stratford and Shaw festival director and actor), this show is well served by actors Randy Hughson and Jesse Aaron Dwyre.


A Question of Time

By Father John Walsh on December 2, 2012

Many years ago I entered a dialogue with the children during a Sunday morning Eucharist.  I asked the children if they could make a sentence with the word time in it.  One little girl blurted out, “time flies.”  I thanked her.  Then another girl, with her hand waving in the air, and somehow to her mother’s premonition and chagrin, said, “My mother kept saying, hurry up or we won’t get to church on time.” 
The congregation chuckled.  Then, at the very back of the Church, a young man of about eight put up his hand.  I walked down the length of main aisle and escorted him to the center of the aisle.  I asked him to cup his hands around his mouth so everybody could hear his sentence.  In a booming voice, he said, “We’re wasting time.”

L’AFFAIRE FABI” The Need To Hold To A Higher Standard

By Beryl Wajsman on November 28, 2012

Let us be clear. Freedom is indivisible. And perhaps the most indivisible freedom is expression because it is perhaps the most fragile and always the first to be assaulted by tyrants.
So where is the line? This has been the subject of endless debates and discussions. But on one aspect, all agree. Overt incitement to violent hatred – and the encouragement of that incitement – clearly and candidly expressed, cannot be tolerated. And more. Those who are in positions to influence public opinion, whether in elected office or in the fourth estate, have a responsibility to maintain a higher standard of vigilance and intelligence....

Students protests just don't cut it

By Kristy-Lyn Kemp on November 25, 2012

Another twenty-second of the month has come and gone, and with it, yet another student protest. This latest was two-thousand strong, and was just as demanding as ever. You would figure that now that Pauline Marois is in office and has abolished all proposed tuition increases that the students’ battle would be over. Finally, you’d figure, they could hang up their little red squares and put their parents’ pots and pans back where they belong, but this latest demonstration has proven that they believe their cause is not over. Rather, as one protester stated, it is “just beginning”.

Media coverage of Mid-East is biased not balanced

By Beryl Wajsman on November 21, 2012

Too many in the media, in their rush for "balance" on reporting on Israel's response to Hamas' attacks, have forgotten that words matter, images can be contrived and facts must be checked. An anti-Israel bias has brushed all that aside far too often.
Even CNN has resorted to using phrases normally heard on local radio stations without a sophisticated news-gathering organization. Phrases like "Palestinian retaliation for Israeli bombing." They are either kidding themselves or purposely misleading the public.

Spielberg's Lincoln

By Alan Hustak on November 20, 2012

Lincoln_Daniel_Day_Lewis.jpgAbraham Lincoln’s marble statue shuffles down from his  monument in Washington D.C.  dons  a stove pipe hat and is  deified on the screen in Steven Spielberg’s  reverential  historical drama  Lincoln. The movie, now playing, covers the last three and a half months of the 16th U.S. president’s life. 
As portrayed with a high pitched voice by Daniel Day Lewis,  this is an embattled  Lincoln,  world weary,  war weary,  wily, but still stubborn and politically expedient.

Paramours in Power

By Robert Presser on November 16, 2012

Presser_Robert_new.jpgYou would have to live in monkish isolation to have missed the most recent Washington sex scandal involving the ex-CIA director David Petraeus and his biographer, PaulaBroadwell. This is far from Washington’s greatest infidelity scandal, nor is it it’s most consequential.  What makes it exceptional is that the main actor, General Petraeus, resigned from his CIA directorship right at the outbreak of its becoming public, rather than waiting for the situation to evolve, the contours of the crisis to develop and at least make an attempt to ride the waves of public opinion to potential salvation.

Le Hamas dans le collimateur d'Israël

By Amb. Freddy Eytan on November 15, 2012

Freddy_Eytan.JPGJerusalem - L’opération « Pilier de défense » est justifiée et légitime et était prévisible. En lançant une attaque foudroyante contre le Hamas, Tsahal reprend la maîtrise du ciel et du terrain et renforce considérablement sa dissuasion. Contrairement aux chefs terroristes du Hamas, les officiers et les commandants de Tsahal sont toujours en première ligne et tous combattent pour une cause juste et noble, celle d’assurer la sécurité des femmes et des enfants dans un pays démocratique  en proie de la terreur des attentats aveugles et de la panique des roquettes et desmissiles. Un cas unique dans l’Histoire contemporaine !

The American Election Mulling Over the Entrails

By David T. Jones on November 15, 2012

jones_david_01.jpgWashington, DC - Republicans are poised between relishing recrimination and reviewing revenge scenarios.

Heading into the election, they had a wide variety of positive indicators on their side:


Hamlet Lives On

By Byron Toben on November 6, 2012

hamlet10.jpgWritten around 1596, Hamlet has endured as one of the world`s greatest plays. Although Hamlet dies at the end (as do all of the main characters, save Horatio), yet he lives on in myriad performances , both live and filmed. In his latest incarnation by the fine Persephone Productions, the melancholy Danish prince comes alive again for three hours in an incisive portrayal by Christopher Moore. As Hamlet is Shakespeare’s longest play, it requires a protagonist with stamina as well as clear elocution and acting chops. Mr. Moore brings these skills to the fore.


A Matter of decency: Does Montreal need a Birmingham Bus boycott to get the point across?

By Beryl Wajsman on October 30, 2012


And here we go again! Another incident with a subway ticket taker insulting a customer on language. This time it ended in a fight with possible assault charges against the STM employee.
Mina Barak said the incident occurred at the De La Savane métro station (in a predominantly English part of town) when an Opus machine took her money but did not provide transit tickets. When she spoke to the STM employee in the ticket booth in English, harsh words were exchanged. The employee allegedly told her to “go back to your country” and “in Quebec, we only speak French."


What Do Egyptians Deserve from their Democracy?

By Rouba al-Fattal on October 29, 2012

Al-Fatal_Ruba.jpgEgyptian human rights activists recently criticized the human rights situation in the country after the first 100 days of President's Mohamed Morsi rule. The most prominent of these criticisms focused on the attempts of the new regime, which is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) that Morsi belongs to, to reproduce the ‘state of emergency’ which the Egyptians suffered from during Mubarak’s era.

NEXEN and a Proposal to define the opaque Net Benefit Criteria

By Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette on October 28, 2012

Payette_Hervieux.JPGThe proposed buyout of Nexen Inc., a Canadian oil and gas company which has been discovering and developing energy resources in some of the world’s most significant basins – including Western Canada, the UK North Sea, offshore West Africa and the Gulf of Mexico – has been causing quite the commotion amongst politicians and the public.  Why is that?  The interested buyer happens to be wholly owned by its government – a government, it can be argued, whose values and beliefs differ greatly from our country, Canada.

The Books

By Chloe Landry on October 28, 2012

Landry_Chloe.jpgWritten for Quebec Library Week

To the people of the world,

For thousands of years, we have existed. For thousands of years, we have lived in harmony. For thousands of years, we have stayed silent. Progress, though, has put pressure on our existence. The doubts of our value in this world have forced us to take a stand.

Ella Bergeron and the empowerment of intolerance

By Beryl Wajsman on October 24, 2012

And now the youngest victim of the nationalist rhetoric of the recent election campaign. The tragedy of two-year old Ella Bergeron this past weekend in Hudson. We say this not to exploit a child. But if the “little children shall lead them,” then the story of little Ella leads us to a hard and bitter truth.

Des promesses qu’il valait mieux ne pas tenir, sauf une !

By Pierre K. Malouf on October 19, 2012

Élu le 4 septembre avec 31,9 % des suffrages exprimés (0,7% de plus que les libéraux)  et 54 sièges sur 125, le gouvernement dirigé par Mme Marois ne pourra pas tenir la plupart de ses promesses. N’étant pas totalement réduit à l’impuissance,  il a quand même pu prendre quelques décisions douteuses découlant de son programme électoral. J’en mentionnerai quelques-unes. Le moratoire complet sur l’exploitation des gaz de schistes annoncé, moins de vingt-quatre après son assermentation, par la nouvelle ministre des Ressources naturelles, Martine Ouellet, est le premier exemple qui me vient à l’esprit.

No mandate! A prejudiced, “not-ready-for-prime-time” government

By Beryl Wajsman on October 19, 2012

One thing is clear from the narrow election result in Quebec - it gave the PQ no mandate for any of its radical agenda. It was to be hoped that we could take Pauline Marois at her word that she not only respected, but understood the will of the people. However, from the  inflammatory rhetoric, the sparking of new language friction and the irresponsible fiscal policies it was perhaps too much to hope for.The only sign of hope are the endless flipflops and reining in of her Ministers that she has done.

Tolerating intolerance in Quebec

By Dan Delmar on October 19, 2012

Delmar_Dan_bw.jpgAnglophone pundits, myself included, were targeted recently by the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste, a radical sovereignist group founded in 1834, whose ideas are barely more evolved than they were 178 years ago.

SSJB president Mario Beaulieu was so crass as to accuse some in Anglo media of creating a climate of hate that led a madman to shoot up the Parti Québécois’ victory celebration, killing Denis Blanchette.


Once upon a time in Quebec

By Akil Alleyne on October 19, 2012

alleyne_akyl.jpgI’m not sure what to make of the recent Quebec provincial election. To be sure, the results were hardly surprising, given Jean Charest’s long-dwindling popularity. It’s a shame that the outcome appears to vindicate the anti-tuition-hike movement’s unreasonable goals and undemocratic tactics. (In truth, it does no such thing, at least not without proof that the tuition issue moved more votes than, say, the Charest government’s corruption. Alas, in politics, perception always trumps reality.) Nonetheless, since the Parti Québécois was first elected in 1976, Quebecers have consistently given each major party exactly nine years in power before trading it for the other.

Revenue Quebec reforms regulations Minister and Director-General take action after problems brought to light

By Beryl Wajsman on October 19, 2012


Bachand.jpgWhen we take on advocacy cases and causes they usually center on an individual. An individual who has suffered a prejudice that is demonstrative of a broader systemic problem whether in a government department or within a major corporation. Individual cases that have within them issues illustrative of universal applicability. But sometimes it can't be done that way. Fear and impotence stand in the way.
Fear of retribution, and impotence in the face of a maze of ever-changing rules and regulations that baffle even experts. That is the way it is for most citizens who feel victimized by Revenue Quebec and have no idea what to do about it. Many call us.


Some Federal Electoral Boundaries proposals are questionable

By Marvin Rortrand on October 19, 2012

The Federal Electoral Boundary Commission is proposing major changes to the electoral map and citizens and community groups have only a few more weeks to register to comment.

The Commission is mandated by law to review the electoral map on a periodic basis taking into account population shifts. This time the task is complicated by the decision of Parliament to increase the number of seats nationally from 305 to 338. Quebec's representation goes from 75 to 78 which has provoked major changes in boundaries many of which will give citizens pause as it often appears that the principles of physical integrity of neighbourhoods and community identity have not been respected.


Quelques questions pour J-F Lisée

By Steve Ambler on October 19, 2012

Prenons deux individus, les deux parlant bien le français, le premier de Bordeaux et le deuxième de Shanghaï. Le premier parle français à la maison, et donc selon la logique du PQ vaut plus que le deuxième...

Religion and a secular charter for Quebec

By Father John Walsh on October 19, 2012

I grew up in Montreal when the French-speaking Roman Catholic Church was literally present everywhere, from the opening prayer at a hockey tournament to the blessing of a beauty salon.  The hierarchy and the local clergy were the Church.   They were placed on pedestals with the expectation that they could solve all problems and do no wrong.   The religious, priests, brothers and religious women (nuns) ran the schools, hospitals, orphanages and every institution that dealt with the lives of French-speaking people in Quebec.   The educational system offered a classical education which meant that the French-speaking students were not introduced into the world of science where progress was exponential and the system also left them without an understanding of the impact of economic development. 

The Problems with Nexen

By The Hon. David Kilgour on October 19, 2012

Kilgour_David_bw.jpgThe proposed buy-out of Nexen Inc., Canada's sixth largest oil company, for $15.1 billion by the government-owned China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) obliges the Harper government to decide whether or not to approve the purchase under the undefined "net benefit" and "national security" tests in the Investment Canada Act. Here are some concerns.

Now Is the Time for Anger

By David T. Jones on October 19, 2012

Jones_David_bw_new.jpgAmericans are now reaping the results of the “Arab spring.”  The out-with-the-old; in-with-the new upheavals in 2011 were supposed to demonstrate a surge of democracy, human rights, personal freedoms, and liberties akin to those in Eastern Europe, following the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the end of Soviet tyranny in 1991.  Commensurate, albeit ancillary, was the expectation that the United States, the “shining city on a hill,” as the exemplar of democracy and human rights, would be appropriately appreciated by these flower children of spring.  It would be the culmination of the Middle East “reset” epitomized by President Obama’s Cairo doctrine speech in June 2009, emphasizing U.S. respect and appreciation for Islam.

L'échec de l'Occident dans la confrontation avec les"fous d'Allah"

By Amb. Freddy Eytan on October 19, 2012


Freddy_Eytan.JPGDepuis les attentats spectaculaires du 11 septembre 2001 contre l'Amérique, le combat inlassable contre le terrorisme n'a pas cessé un seul jour, mais il a fallu plus de dix ans à la CIA pour réussir à tuerle chef commanditaire, le tristement célèbre Oussama Ben Laden.
En dépit du combat tous azimuts contre l'Axe du Mal, les islamistes de tous bords, chiites et sunnites, continuent sans crainte à dicter leur loi fanatique et à propager le culte de la mort. Ces groupes extrémistes tels qu'al Qaïda rêvent d'instaurer un sinistre objectif, à savoir un califat de l'Indonésie au Nigéria dont le centre serait al Qouds…


Tony Loffreda - The Rainmaker

By Beryl Wajsman on October 19, 2012

Loffreda_Tony.JPGIn business and the law a rainmaker is someone who brings in important clients. Keeps the money flow coming, and in a big way. But there are two aspects to rainmaking. And it is not everyone who can pull it off with grace and effectiveness. RBC’s Tony Loffreda may be first among equals.
Leaders come in two categories. Insiders and outsiders. A few, a very few, manage to be both. We have all met rainmakers whose sole concern is money. Whether it be a  businessman,  banker, lawyer, they are people who focus all their energy on a constant round of power breakfasts, meetings and presentation. They may be charitable with their money, but frankly have little time left to give of their talent. These are the insiders.

Occupy Wall Street Blues

By Akil Alleyne on October 19, 2012

alleyne_akyl.jpgOn my way to the subway station in mid-September, I was somewhat startled to glimpse a community newspaper headline screaming “OCCUPY’S ONE-YEAR BLUES” on a newsstand. Then I remembered that, lo and behold, the first anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street protests was fast approaching. I realized that I was momentarily taken aback by the headline because I had almost totally forgotten about Occupy Wall Street. Less than a year ago, the airwaves and the Internet were burning up with talk about this audacious and potentially game-changing new movement. Now, in the middle of an election campaign that will determine whether and how Washington will address OWS’ concerns, the movement itself seems moribund. What happened?

Le réveil macabre d'Arafat et la tragi-comique justice de François Hollande

By Amb. Freddy Eytan on October 19, 2012

Freddy_Eytan.JPGJeudi 11 novembre 2004, 3 heures du matin, Yasser Arafat est décédé à l'hôpital des armées Percy à Clamart… Quelques heures après, sur le tarmac de la base aérienne de Villacoubay, le cercueil d'Arafat est recouvert du drapeau quadricolore palestinien et porté par huit soldats français de l'armée de terre. Au son de la marche funèbre de Chopin, trois compagnies de la Garde républicaine en tenue d'apparat rendent les honneurs…Après la sonnerie aux morts retentit l'hymne national palestinien et la Marseillaise, joués par la fanfare militaire. Des drapeaux français et palestiniens en berne flottent au vent tandis qu'un avion Airbus de l'armée de l'air s'envole avec la dépouille vers les cieux escorté par un autre avion de la République française avec, à son bord, le chef de la diplomatie…

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