Benedict Vanier 1925-2014 A Spiritual Life

By Alan Hustak on May 20, 2014

benedict_vanier_01.jpgBenedict Vanier stood  tall,  head and shoulders above all the other  the Trappist  monks in his religious community  at l’Abbye Val Notre Dame in  St. Jean de Mantha.  The regal bearing came naturally. He   was  the   son of Canada’s devoutly catholic Governor-General Georges Vanier and his wife Pauline Archer. He   lived a life of contemplation in relative obscurity as a monk  and as a  priest for almost seven decades. Yet at his funeral on May 17, he was remembered as a genial spiritual advisor who was both pithy and profound. 

A prescription for healthcare

By Beryl Wajsman on May 16, 2014

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgAs the new Couillard administration prepares its agendas, let’s put some pressure on to make sure it gets healthcare reforms right. Health Minister Barrette knows the score. He knows what needs to be done. We must press that the government to have the political will to do it.
As the super hospitals come close to opening, we must be honest as a society and realize that they cannot succeed. The plans were based on the thesis – a correct one - that most people can now be treated on an out-patient basis if enough equipment – enough as to quality and quantity – is obtained. People would do better.

The age of the death of privacy

By Jordan Turner on May 5, 2014

Lost in the whole controversy over LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling is the complete and total disregard of privacy.   Although Mr. Sterling’s comments were despicable, racist, outdated and misguided, they were made in the privacy of his own home. He did not make any comments in a public form, whether it was online, in the media or in the streets.  Mr. Sterling was having a private conversation with his girlfriend in his home.  People will allude to the fact that Mr. Sterling has made controversial comments in the past regarding race, yet the firestorm that he is now facing, including a life ban from attending NBA games, a $2.5 million fine and will undoubtedly receive extensive pressure to sell the franchise, only occurred when a private conversation was secretly recorded. 

Faith and secularism after the election

By Father John Walsh on May 5, 2014

father_walsh.jpgIn many way we may be experiencing the end of the cultural wars that have marked Quebec politics and Québec life for the past many decades.  The recent proposal of a “Charter of values” was divisive of the population and the use or non-use of religious symbols in public institutions raised the ire of members of all religious communities and resulted in professionals in health and educational institutions publicly refusing to follow the demands of the Charter.
The reactions to the election of a Liberal majority government by pro-federalists is one of elation; the defeat of the PQ has sent the party members into a deep reflective mode questioning the very redefinition of the “raison d’être” of the party. 

She gave away millions. Liliane Stewart, philanthropist 1928-2014

By Alan Hustak on May 3, 2014

lilianestewart.jpgLiliane M. Stewart, the Montreal tobacco heiress who  endowed and supported several Montreal museums, including the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Château Ramezay  the Stewart Museum on Île Sainte-Hélène,  and as well as a number of hospitals died early Saturday, May 3.  She was 85. She was an intensely private, sometimes difficult woman, who carried on and expanded her husband’s philanthropic works.  Mrs. Stewart  refused to talk about herself or answer personal questions.  Once, when asked to furnish biographical material to a journalist she declined.  “Me, I am me,” she said. “That’s all you need to know.  I am a very private person.”

The Politics of Criminal Justice Pardons

By Michael Ashby on April 10, 2014

Is it ok to punish a criminal for the same crime twice. Recently, the Supreme Court of Canada said no, ruling that tougher parole-eligibility rules -applied retroactively - violated an offenders’ Charter rights in this respect. 

But what about punishing someone for crimes that were never committed in the first place? Would it be okay to judge a person based on allegations that could not be proven in court? 

Climate Change Claptrap

By David T. Jones on March 3, 2014

jones_david.jpgI too believe in climate change--absolutely.  I believe in global warming--and in global cooling--and in global “just the same.”  By definition “climate” changes every day, even every hour--just look at your daily weather forecast.  On a larger scale, climate has changed repeatedly over millennium; ice ages have come and passed.  Fifty years ago prognosticators mulled over a coming ice age (which didn’t). Climate will change again--over decades, centuries, and longer, given a wide variety of conditions, e.g., the sun is a variable star.  And the climate may, repeat may, be changing over a period of time so that the Earth becomes measurably warmer.  But living long enough to prove/disprove it is problematic.

Remembering Ryan

By Alan Hustak on February 18, 2014

charest_mulroney.jpgFormer Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and former Quebec premier Jean Charest paid homage last week to Claude Ryan, one of Quebec’s last great Catholic intellectuals.
Ryan, who was a champion of asymmetrical federalism, often frustrated both Mulroney and Charest with his notion that Quebec required enhanced constitutional powers to promote the equality of the French-language throughout Canada.
But that didn’t stop either of them from reminiscing about him on the 10th anniversary of his death, and warmly remembering him as a great Canadian. 

Albert Camus: Le portrait d’un juste

By Esther Benfredj on February 6, 2014

Benfredj_Esther.jpg« Chaque génération, sans doute, se croit vouée à refaire le monde. La mienne sait pourtant qu’elle ne le refera pas. Mais sa tâche est peut-être plus grande. Elle consiste à empêcher que le monde ne se défasse. » Lorsqu’Albert Camus prononce ces mots le 10 décembre 1957, il est à l’hotel de ville de Stockholm. Le prix Nobel de littérature vient de lui être décerné tandis que la guerre froide scinde le monde en deux blocs ennemis. Camus évoque alors la terrible condition des intellectuels condamnés à la censure dans les pays communistes d’Europe centrale et orientale.  C’est à Louis Germain, son instituteur de l’école communale, qu’il dédie son discours de Suède : Camus n’a jamais oublié cet homme qui lui avait transmis, dans sa jeunesse en Algérie, le goût des lettres. 

Claude Ryan Remembered

By Alan Hustak on February 1, 2014

claude_ryan.jpgAlthough Claude Ryan died ten years ago  he remains a moral presence in Quebec. As a measure of his ongoing influence, former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, NDP Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair and former Quebec Premier Jean Charest will take part in a seminar at the Newman Centre on Peel St. February 13 and 14 marking the 10th anniversary of Ryan’s death.

As well, the first volume of Michael Gauvreau’s two volume Ryan  biography is about to be published.


By Beryl Wajsman on December 23, 2013

Close your ears to all the noise and hubbub for a few moments and imagine the following…
You go to a CLSC or EI or Revenue office and the civil servant you encounter actually tries to be of service…
You turn to  a police officer for help and they don’t automatically regard you with suspicion but go out of their way to help…
You go through your lists of things to do for you and find that at the top are things that you want to do for others…

A Christmas letter

By Father John Walsh on December 23, 2013

father_walsh.jpgChristmas reminds us that many people cannot find a room in the Inn.  They are left out in the cold because we failed to invite them into -  not our home because there isn’t room for all of them -  but we could open our hearts to them. S rely there is enough room in our hearts for them.
It is truly amazing that when those who are out in the cold come out of the cold and into the warmth of our hearts, everyone is speaking the language of love and everyone understands each other. The many colors of their skin form a rainbow to celebrate the end of prejudice and hate.

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.

About love

By Jill Salomon on July 8, 2013

For some strange reason, I have not had a relationship in seven years. This last relationship was not even Salomon_Jill.jpga good relationship. It was on again, off eight months. It was with a man who could not communicate his thoughts or feelings. If ever he did, it was purely physical. Men are like that.

I was not one to constantly say "what are you thinking".  That is a very big mistake, as the answer is usually a frustrating..."nothing...why?."
I crave communication. I need to understand and be understood.  I think that is the basis for any good relationship.

Two Popes In The Footprints Of Two Saints

By Father John Walsh on July 8, 2013

father_walsh.jpgIn the early Jesus movement a serious dispute arose between Peter and Paul.  Paul held that the new Gentile converts would not be required to be circumcised.  A Council was called in Jerusalem to address the problem.  In the letter to the Galatians commentators have described the confrontation of Peter by Paul as one where the sparks were flying.  The issues:  Are Gentile converts to be circumcised?  And what about following the Mosaic Law?

The pertinent record of the Council is found in the Acts of the Apostles chapters 10 and 15.



By Father John Walsh on July 6, 2013

father_walsh.jpgIt is time to take off the gloves.
I find you are amazing the world with your innovations, making incredible strides in so many fields of endeavour, and you are greatly respectful of all that is genuinely human.   You have created a new enthusiasm for the protection of our planet, you want creation to flourish, and you have a true desire for peace.   You are forging new roads where no one has travelled.  You want the planet to be sustainable.  You belong to this world.  You venture into the unexplored mystery of life on the planet earth and in the unfolding mysteries in the universes beyond our planet.   You are not shutting your eyes to the world around you.  You are secular, and that means, in its full sense, world-centered.

Life is short. Stand tall!

By Jill Salomon on June 26, 2013

Salomon_Jill.jpgA week of grey skies,, cold temperatures and rain in Montreal.  Not the best spring that we are having.   It has gotten to me. It has gotten to a lot of other people as well.
There are no backyard bar -b-que smells. The parks are empty. People are holed up in their homes, waiting for the Spring. The real spring.  The sunny skies and the terasses.  Walking up on the mountain. Strolling through old Montreal. Taking bike rides, motocycle rides, going up to the laurentians. Or just sitting on a park bench watching the people go by.


By Beryl Wajsman on June 18, 2013


Much has been written about  Morgentaler’s  acts and his convictions that affirmed collective dignity and individual freedom for all women in Canada. This is as it should be. This was  paramount.
But the legacy of the Morgentaler trials in Quebec was greater than that. We are affected by them to this very day. They were profiles in courage and conscience. Profiles of a doctor who challenged the  law of our land, and his lawyer - Claude-Armand Sheppard - who changed the life of our law.  And not enough has been written about that.

Bridging The Secular Divide

By Father John Walsh on June 9, 2013

father_walsh.jpgMcGill University was the site of a two-day Seminar that gathered people from all over Canada to discuss and debate how religion can or must bridge the growing divide between religion and secular society.   Persons from a myriad of religious faith traditions were represented and each took an active role in contributing to the Canadian religious mosaic and expressed varied views of how religious people are investing time and energy to dialogue with the secularization of society.

Dare to dream! Thoughts on Commencement 2013

By Beryl Wajsman on June 9, 2013

Wajsman_Beryl_bw.jpgSome of you will be graduating this month. You go forth at a time in history of great danger as well as great opportunity. You are surrounded by far too much sham and drudgery, but also by noble acts of selflessness and courage. So these thoughts go to the class of 2013.
You will soon be leaving the comfortable world of academe for the much harder school of life. It’s waiting for you. Just there in the early morning. What you leave you should always remember. Keep these years of study and searching warm in your hearts, and remember the lessons of effort and striving. It is the truth you looked for. Never forget that goal in all your endeavors. It is pre-eminent of purpose.

Un silence rempli d’éloquence

By Louise V. Labrecque on May 7, 2013

Labrecque_Louise_bw.jpgLe silence des musulmans dit modérés a de quoi laisser pantois. Il vient un temps où il faut cesser de s’accouder à la fenêtre, pour enfin prouver au monde notre « extraordinaire vision ». En effet, aucun vœu pieu ne fera l’affaire : ce qu’exige maintenant tous les états éclairés de la communauté internationale, ce sont des preuves, des données tangibles, empiriques, irréfutables, exprimant hors de tout doute que l’Islam est bel et bien une religion de paix. Et si nous sommes un tantinet pressés, voire clairement agacés, c’est que la farce a assez durée : nous sommes las de ce scandale fondamental laissant croire en une paix puisant hypocritement son eau à la source des pires barbaries, du terrorisme, de la haine perverse et mortifère.

Why do meds cost so much?

By Dr. Mitch Shulman on March 17, 2013

shulman_mitch.jpgDrug companies can’t charge whatever they want. The highest price they can charge is actually set by a federal institution.  Before we begin though, there’s something you should know about me. For 16 years I held medical positions of increasing responsibility in 2 international research- based pharmaceutical companies. I bring you an insider’s perspective very few people have.


Tom Flanagan and Death by Political Correctness

By David T. Jones on March 16, 2013

jones_david.jpgThus Tom Flanagan’s musing, off topic response to a Q&A, regarding whether viewing (not creating, circulating, let alone participating/implementing) child pornography/pedophilia justified a prison sentence has destroyed his career.  Virtually instantly CBC dropped him as a commentator and the University of Alberta announced his retirement.  So toxic is his name that reportedly an article he coauthored on a totally different political topic was withdrawn from publication--even when Flanagan offered to remove his name from the article.

The Papacy Part III: The Church in Quebec

By Father John Walsh on March 11, 2013

father_walsh.jpgAttention has been riveted on Rome since the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.  The possible election of Cardinal Marc Ouellet, a native of Quebec, may even distract Quebecers from the reality of the Church of Quebec which was recently addressed by the Assembly of the Bishops of Quebec.  The title of their letter to Catholics in Quebec is entitled, Catholics in a Pluralist Quebec (January 2013).  It serves as a reminder that the Catholic Church is essentially a grass-roots church.  The Church is built upon the lived experience of faith expressed in local ecclesial communities, commonly known as parishes. 

The Papacy – Part II: Who Is Knocking On The Pope's Door?

By Father John Walsh on March 3, 2013

Will the next Pope be from the Americas, Europe, or Africa?  Speculation is growing exponentially about who the future occupant of the papal residence will be.  More so for us in Quebec with the mention that a Canadian Cardinal, a Quebecker, Marc Ouellet, is in the running!  The other names on the list are several in number and not known by many outside of Italy or South America or Ghana.  The choice will be made shortly but while waiting I recall a priest I knew as a teen-ager, Father Wally Sutton.  

The Papacy: A Time Of Decision

By Father John Walsh on February 12, 2013

father_walsh.jpgMomentous occasions and defining moments are not everyday occurrences.  The sudden stepping down from the Chair of Saint Peter by Pope Benedict XVI was a worldwide surprise.  It was unexpected and unsettling.  The Papacy is in a time of transition and of decision.
No one can predict the future and Benedict himself disclaimed limbo, so we are confronted with the challenge to discover new images and new metaphors to describe our present experience.  I happily recall the words of Pope John XXIII who, in his opening address at the Second Vatican Council, situated the Church at a new dawn, in need of an “aggiornamento,” an updating and a renewal of the Church. 

On Grief

By Kristy-Lyn Kemp on February 9, 2013

Krista.jpgIt has been said that the grieving process is one of several steps, such as denial, anger, and acceptance. Although there is no prescribed time frame for each given step, this has always seemed far too neat and tidy. One can experience many of these emotions at once, and just because a person is considered to be over a given stage does not mean that feelings of anger or denial cannot come creeping back long after it was thought that such emotions had been conquered. Similarly, to accept the death of someone is not to be healed; it does not mean that the grieving process can be done away with.

Blood Is Being Shed Everywhere

By Father John Walsh on February 2, 2013

father_walsh.jpgThe Vietnam War, in the late 1960’s, was the first time that war was transmitted via television into our living rooms.  We had to judge whether or not the shedding of the blood of another human being was acceptable.  Had we forgotten fratricide in the biblical story of Cain and Abel?  

What about the jealousy of blessing in the intrigue of Jacob and Esau?  In the end, the American people confronted their beliefs and values and eventually judged that the war had to be terminated.


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.”

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.

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.

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.

Vivre en plein milieu du peuple

By Father John Walsh on October 19, 2012

father_walsh.jpgUn jour j’ai rencontré Sœur Hélène Préjean, l’auteur du livre Dead Man Walking et consultante majeure du film du même nom, dont Susan Sarandon à obtenu un « Oscar » pour le rôle de la religieuse.  J’ai pu l’interviewer à la radio et j’étais surpris quand elle me disait que la vie à Nouvelle Orléans cote « suburbia » était une vie tranquille.  Mais, un jour elle a déménagée l’autre cote de la ville, quartier pauvre, et le premier soir quelqu’un cognait à la porte.  Elle ouvre la porte et une femme me poussait de cote et entrait brusquement, un homme la suivait avec un couteau à la main.  La surprise qu’elle me révèle : ce soir-là mon Dieu a changé complètement. 

Dieppe : un épisode terrible, mais pour le Canada, une force unificatrice

By Bernard Amyot on October 19, 2012

Amyot_Bernard.JPGLe 19 août dernier, les Dieppois et de nombreux Français ont commémoré le 70ème anniversaire du raid de Dieppe.  
Le 19 août 1942, des milliers de soldats canadiens ont combattu avec grand courage dans le cadre de ce débarquement mémorable, mettant ainsi la table pour les opérations du Jour J et l’Invasion alliée de Normandie plus de deux ans plus tard (Opération Overlord).  Les Français se souviennent encore vivementde ce raid et continuent de le célébrer, bon an mal an.  Les Canadiens devraient, a fortiori, se souvenir avec autant de ferveur des énormes sacrifices de leurs compatriotes.

Yoga gets off the mat and tries to help part of the world

By Beryl Wajsman on October 19, 2012

backbend.jpgMany people think yoga is a discipline practiced by those privileged with the time and means for proper instruction and a certain degree of self-absorption. Somewhat removed from the harsh realities of life that beset most people. It is of course not that at all. And for for the past several years, adherents to a certain school of Yoga have set out to demonstrate just that.
The Global Seva Challenge, a program of "Off the Mat into the World", adopts a cause every year and hundreds of yoga instructors around the world adopt personal projects to raise money for the goal. This year the Seva Challenge is to help victims of sex trafficking. 


Editorial Staff

Beryl P. Wajsman

Redacteur en chef et Editeur

Alan Hustak

Senior Editor

Daniel Laprès


Robert J. Galbraith


Roy Piberberg

Editorial Artwork

Mike Medeiros

Copy and Translation

Val Prudnikov

IT Director and Web Design

Editorial Contributors
La Patrie