The Not So Perfect Martini in New York City

By Robert K. Stephen on October 19, 2012

nycmartini.jpgMartinis and Kraft Dinner have much in common. One can spend hours comparing techniques, add-ons, personal preferences and anecdotes and reach no conclusions as to the ultimate Martini or bowl of Kraft Dinner. Do you like your Kraft Dinner, milky, cheesy, al dente and with chopped up hot dogs in it? Do you like a gin vs. vodka Martini, dirty Martini, with lime twists or with or without vermouth? Do you like to eat your Kraft Dinner right out of the pot with a soup spoon or in a bowl? Would you like your Martini shaken in front of you or be content to hear it be shaken twenty feet behind you? Do you want it stirred or shaken? All these questions are deep and serious worthy of contemplation by both philosophers andprobably not wine writers who should keep their snouts out of Martini stemware.

Carlo Maria Cardinal Martini: Candidate for Papacy forged new alliances between Catholics and Jews

By Father John Walsh on September 30, 2012

carlo_martini.JPGThe death of a retired Cardinal has made headlines throughout the world.  The headline of the New York Times was "Cardinal Carlo Martini says Church 200 years behind."However, the headline didn't capture his prophetic voice as a reflection Jeremiah knew when he wrote:  “When I found your words, I devoured them, they became my joy and the happiness of my heart."

Twas The Time Before Idiocy

By Peter Anthony Holder on September 21, 2012

Many years ago, during the Nixon administration in the U.S., Vice-President Spiro Agnew once called the press “the nattering nabobs of negativity.”
Perhaps that chestnut of a phrase, which was actually penned in a speech for the Veep by William Safire, could be applied today to the folks who wish to reign over language and culture with the sanitization that is political correctness.
How else could you explain the idea of taking a poem that is a Christmas classic, written by Clement Clarke Moore back in 1822, and changing it for the sake of appeasing today’s sensibilities of removing anything a child might see or hear that has a negative connotation?

John Lynch-Staunton

By Alan Hustak on August 23, 2012

John_lynch.jpgJohn Lynch-Staunton was the amicable Canadian senator who played a crucial role in the merger of the Canadian Alliance and Progressive-Conservative Parties and served as the Conservative Party’s first interim leader for four months until Stephen Harper won the leadership  in  2004.  Before Lynch-Staunton was named to The Senate by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in 1990 he had been a Montreal city councillor and vice-chairman of the City of Montreal’s Executive committee when Jean Drapeau was Mayor. 
Lynch-Staunton was 82 when he died August 17 of a heart attack while on vacation in the Alberta foothills.


105: The New 85 Westmounter Lucille Pacaud

By Alan Hustak on August 19, 2012

Lucille_Pacaud.jpgLucille Pacaud joins an exclusive club next Monday (Aug 27) when she celebrates her 105th birthday. Only about  100 women in Quebec have reached that age. Not many of them who have are  as alert as the woman affectionately known to her friends as  “Auntie Lou. “It’s a hell of a nuisance,” she said about her birthday as she thumbed through  some letters that she wrote in 1926 which she hadn’t seen in years.  “I am a little bit  frightened and  amazed  that have outlived all the friends of my generation. There is so much to remember and so much to forget.”   The secret to living so long she says, is to “walk, to keep walking everyday.” Pacaud retired from her job as a volunteer at the Montreal General Hospital six years ago shortly after she moved into Fulford House.

Perfidy! The United Church betrays "Bearing Faithful Witness"

By Beryl Wajsman on August 17, 2012

So,  in the face of a world of horrors, the General Council of the United Church of Canada chose to vote a boycott of products produced in Israeli settlements in the West Bank because the Council claims that the settlements are the primary impediment to a two-state solution. Reasonable people can debate the settlements. But where is the Council's concern over Hamas' thousands of murders of their own people as well as Israelis? Where is the Council's concern over the utter failure of the Palestinian Authority to stop suicide bombers operating from its territory against Israel? Where is the Council's concern over Palestinian children being taught anti-Jewish, yes anti-Jewish not anti-Israeli, hate in PA schools from textbooks paid for in part by Western foreign aid dollars? Whether or not one supports the settlements, to announce that they are the major impediment to peace is a travesty of truth.

Reverend Msgr. Barry Egan-Jones 1932-2012. “God’s publicist,” priest promoted Jewish Christian dialogue.

By Alan Hustak on July 30, 2012

IMG_2664.JPGBarry Egan-Jones was English-language director of public relations for the Roman Catholic diocese of Montreal for 25 years before he was named administrator of St. Patrick’s basilica in 1996 where he was given the daunting task of completing the $2.5-million restoration of the historic downtown church.  He started the Catholic Times diocesan newspaper, was on the CBC’s regional advisory council and was the commentator for the national broadcaster during Pope John Paul’s 1984 visit to Canada.  Urbane and socially well-connected, Rev. Egan Jones also conducted part of his ministry writing pointed letters to the editor.  He was 80 when he died of a heart attack on July 25.

Leo Leonard, a.k.a Clawhammer Jack : last of the urban horsemen.

By Alan Hustak on July 18, 2012

6899727.jpgLeo Leonard, affectionately known as Clawhammer Jack, was an authentic urban horseman who maintained a horse palace in the heart of  Montreal’s Griffintown  neighbourhood for almost five decades.  A third generation Irishman, Leonard was a horse whisperer and a former caléche driver who lived in the same neighbourhood just below the Bell Centre for almost all of his 86 years. He held out almost to the end against developers  who wanted his property for office and commercial space and for affordable and subsidized housing. He died on July 5 several months after finally moving out of Griffintown.

Notes from the Sinkhole of our discontent

By Joel Ceausu on July 18, 2012


I held my son’s chocolate peanut-butter ice cream slathered hand and looked at that nice strip of fresh black bitumen over the former sinkhole that opened up on Ste. Catherine St. last week and wondered like many others in our city, what if?
What if it happened in front of my house? What if it swallowed a car? What if some protesting window-smashing “anarchist” had taken a journey down that rabbit hole?


"We're just friends" doesn't apply to men and women. An appreciation of Nora Ephron

By Margaux Chetrit on July 18, 2012

Nora_Ephron.jpgNora Ephron, the journalist, playwright, director, producer and actress passed away last week after a years-long battle with leukemia. She was 71. The disease never got the better ofmher until almost the very end. She leaves behind a legacy of best-selling books, sparkling  films and priceless advice. 
Nora, through her ongoing artistic commentary on the romantic zeitgeist, succeeded in imparting lessons and igniting debates on the state of love and relationships.
She shook our conceptions to the core and left us uncomfortably aware of how truly clueless we were about the opposite sex. 

Hot town: putting the new prohibitionists on the run

By Beryl Wajsman on July 2, 2012

It begins as the velvet draping that envelops the downtown core of this pearl of the St. Lawrence as night turns pitch black. As the deep evening turns early morning, the moveable feasts make their pilgrimages to their own holy stations. These hours are ours and there are no rules. The stars sparkle and wink guiding you from one holy grail to another. The playrooms of the inner city, with their terraces and open doors, that beckon all who are willing to live life to the fullest into their open arms.

Maria Marrelli, Italian Community Activist, and former Citizenship Court Judge

By Alan Hustak on June 24, 2012

Maria_Marelli_01.jpgMaria Marrelli was the community activist and local columnist before she was named a Citizenship Court Judge in 1977. Mrs. Marrelli, who was 97 when she died on June 21 was well known in Notre Dame de Grace, where she was heavily involved as a Liberal party organizer and as a warden of St. Raymond’s parish, and as an interpreter at the local caisse populaire.

”She was a leader. A force to be reckoned with. Not only was she able to express her views, she was able to rally people behind her so when she spoke, she spoke with a unified voice,” said  Montreal’s Executive Committee Chairman, Michael Applebaum. Applebaum said the borough will see how best to honour her achievements in a permanent manner

Madeleine Parent

By Alan Hustak on May 18, 2012

parent.jpegMadeleine Parent was a diminutive but fearless union organizer, labour leader and community activist who devoted her life to improving the cause of working women and to the creation of uniquely Canadian labour unions. Parent, who was 93 when she died March 12 helped to create the Candian Textile and Chemical Workers Union, organized women in Ontario, was active in the Féderation des femmes du Québec, fought for abortion on demand in the 1950s, and championed the rights of aboriginal women.

Bring back garbage!

By Mischa Popoff on May 18, 2012

Until someone proves that sorting trash into recyclables and compostables actually helps my family, my community, or society at large, I am no longer doing it. You heard right. I’m bringing back garbage!

Remember when it wasn’t an indictable offence to throw things away? Trash all went into a bin and the garbage man took it all away to the landfill. Why did this stop? Has anyone done a cost/benefit analysis on the various forms of recycling and composting we’re forced to adhere to?


Honest talk and mutual respect can make our health services tolerable

By Rouba al-Fattal on May 18, 2012

Having spent the last five years in Belgium doing doctoral research before returning to Quebec, I did not realize that going to the doctor nowadays is as challenging as going camping. As I was waiting in my silence for three hours, looking around me at the grim faces of the other tired expectant mothers, I could not help but think about how the natives of this country must have waited for hours to see the only doctor in the village.

Neil McKenty 1924-2012: broadcaster, author, and former Jesuit.

By Alan Hustak on May 18, 2012

neil_mckenty.pngThe irreverent Jesuit who left the priesthood and went on to become the cornerstone of Montreal talk radio died Saturday morning at the age of 87. During his 14 years as a CJAD telephone talk show host in the 70’s and 80’s he brought a degree of  civility to  the charged political atmosphere  in province after the election of the Parti Quebecois in 1976, and in the referendum that followed.  In its heyday, his program, Exchange, attracted as many as 85,000 listeners or more than a quarter of the city’s English-speaking audience.

Marc Gervais: Jesuit champion of cinema. 1929-2012

By Alan Hustak on March 28, 2012

Gervais_during_mass_s.jpgRev. Marc  Gervais was a charismatic Jesuit priest, teacher and movie critic who rattled Vatican authorities in the late 1960s by championing Teorma,  a  homoerotic  film by a Communist film maker Pierre Pasolini which celebrated the healing power of human sexuality.    Rev. Gervais taught cinema and communication arts at Concordia University in Montreal for 25 years  where he  influenced the careers of students such as Clark Johnson, who plays in the HBO television series, The Wire,  Oscar winning Quebec film maker, Denys Arcand , producer Kevin Tierney (Good Cop, Bad Cop) and the CBC television journalist Hannah Gartner. Admired as a leading authority on the films of Ingmar Bergman, whom he knew, Gervais died Sunday (march 25) at a retirement home in Pickering, Ont. He was  82 .

Heard the one about the priest, the Rabbi and the Imam?

By Alan Hustak on March 12, 2012

rabbi_priest_imam.jpgIt’s no joke, but there is a punch line:  The new inter-faith blog which went on line three weeks ago (Feb 14) features postings by Montreal broadcaster  and Roman Catholic priest John Walsh, Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz, and Imam Ziyad Delic of Ottawa, who is considered to be among the world’s 500 most influential Muslims. 




There is no such thing as an “honour killing”

By Dan Delmar on March 12, 2012

It has become part of the Canadian lexicon thanks to the furor surrounding the Shafia quadruple murder trial. This concept of an “honour killing” has been widely condemned and strikes most people as shocking and revolting. But the condemnations are in vain and may even be counter-productive. In reality, these types of murders are no more or no less heinous than any other; let us dismantle the Muslim straw man and stop pretending that honour killings really exist.

Time to decriminalize

By Charles Ghorayeb on March 12, 2012

The ever vigilant forces of law and order (mostly the Surete du Quebec) seized 1.7 billion dollars in illegal drugs in 2011. Some of these drugs were seized from shipping containers “randomly” selected by Customs for inspection at the Port of Montreal or at one of the rail yards, others in police raids against organized crime operations and a few on the street.  At first glance, this doesn’t seem like a bad year’s work.  Upon further scrutiny however, the numbers are far from convincing.  Coming in a proud and perennial First Place Winner by a comfortable 10 to one margin, weighing in at a staggering $1.3 BILLION (76%), was marijuana; hashish was a comfortable second at $122 million.  All other drugs combined added up therefore to less than $400 million.


By Alan Hustak on March 12, 2012

Knut_LP_13r_784908d.jpgKnut Hammarskjöld was the Swedish diplomat who served in Montreal for 18 years as the second executive director of the International Air Transport Association, which regulates the interests of most of the world’s commercial airlines. Hammarskjöld was the nephew of the United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, who was killed in a mysterious plane crash in Africa in 1961. Knut Hammerskjold, who died at his home in Lidingo on Jan. 3, two weeks shy of his 90th birthday, considered his distinguished uncle as a second father. 

After Shafia: the conversation we need to have

By Beryl Wajsman on February 5, 2012

The Shafia verdict should have implications far beyond the deserved condemnations of the very concept of "honour" killings. Beyond even the condemnation of the terrible subjugation of women that is at the heart of that retrograde and oxymoronic phrase and the corpus of thought that gave it birth. And  beyond any satisfaction people may have about the verdict. It should lead us straight to the heart of the matter: the absolute rejection of accomodation to any status for any religious law in Canada's legal jurisdictions and the urgent need to reaffirm this nation's dedication to the sovereignty of the individual over any collective

Days that sear our souls

By Beryl Wajsman on January 24, 2012

It is a period that reminds us of those historical encounters between governors and governed, when every act of the authorities exasperates the people and every refusal to act excites their contempt. A period of 12 days that should rend our souls asunder with searing intensity and pierce our hearts with rapier-like violation. A period that begins with a date held sacred to all those of conscience who engage in the struggle for mankind’s transcendent yearning for redemptive change. A period that ends with a date that challenges us to fulfill that struggle as we bear witness to mankind’s debased desertion of any of its noble aspirations.

Killing Kyoto… finally and painlessly

By Mischa Popoff on December 16, 2011

Prime Minister Harper had the guts to remove Canada from the Kyoto Accord almost the same way we got into it: with an order from his phone in the comfort of his office.
Never mind those big rooms down the hall full of elected representatives. Prime Minister Chrétien ratified the Kyoto Protocol at a brief ceremony in his office in 2002. He did not consult scientists, economists or anyone in his Cabinet, nor was David Anderson - Canada’s longest serving Environment Minister - consulted. Only Preston Manning and the Reform Party spoke out and were attacked as stooges for Big Oil.


Looking for God in all the right places

By Father John Walsh on October 26, 2011

I had never imagined a room filled with people who were so different from one another.  There was a woman with a head scarf, a man with a chequered scarf around his neck, a woman with a beautiful sari and others with a variety of western clothing.  One man with a yellow toga and a shaven head was, I surmised, a Buddhist.  They were mingling with one another but they were distant from one another.  I began to speak with a young man who declared immediately, “I am a Sikh,” and the Buddhist I had already recognized declared, “I am a Buddhist.”

Tax is not a four letter word

By Alex Himelfarb on October 26, 2011

tax.jpgIronically it is in the anti-tax U.S. that a conversation has erupted on taxes. Warren Buffett and a few other billionaires helped open the door, if only a crack, and President Obama has, finally, made taxing the rich a key means of funding his jobs plan. In the context of all that is happening now on Wall Street and beyond, these now seem like small and belated steps. Bigger things are in the air. But the conversation is now engaged and, judging from the reaction — accusations of class warfare, “no tax” pledges — tax is a proxy for these bigger things.

Gérald Larose: parcours d'un catholique de gauche - Partie 1 de 3

By Pierre Brassard on October 26, 2011

gerald_larose.jpgCe texte vise à décrire de manière critique un courant au sein de l'Église catholique au Québec : les « catholiques de gauche ». Il n'est pas à proprement parler une contribution à la recherche universitaire sur la petite histoire des « catholiques de gauche ». Il tenteplutôt de circonscrire certains épisodes qui paraissent significatifs sur l’un d’entre eux qui nous dirige immanquablement vers une réflexion sur l’antisémitisme, l’antijudaïsme chrétien et l’antisionisme absolu.

Why “The Children's" is not just any institution

By Brigitte Garceau on August 26, 2011

mch-bldg.jpgThe Montreal Children's Hospital Foundation  recently held its 12th annual ball at Windsor Station. This one, under the chairmanship of the indefatigable Mirella and Nadia Saputo, raised a record $900,000. Several years ago I had the privilege of co-chairing this important community event. I want to tell you why it’s not just another society ball.

To slowly suck the life out of a mockingbird

By Peter Anthony Holder on August 26, 2011

mockingbird_article.jpgToday I became part of a jury pool – a group of 200 people who would be whittled down to twelve jurists for a criminal stabbing case; a group that spent the better part of the morning trying to find a loophole that would get them out of jury duty.
Here in Quebec when the judicial system wants you to fulfill your civic obligation, it sends a letter informing you of where and when to appear, along with a series of reasons why you may be disqualified.

NOUS APPLIQUONS: Graduates need more pragmatic expectations

By Rima Hammoudi on August 26, 2011

We’ve all heard the 20-something lament before. Some of us struggle through university, surviving off vicious amounts of coffee while juggling thesis statements, part-time jobs and whatever we can muster up to deem as a social life. When our degree is complete we’re sent off to conquer the market with our ‘expertise’ and our entry-level fervor. What we’re met with, of course, are tight-knit industries with little to no room for our amateur portfolios to expand from. Degree or no degree, opportunity is scarce, or at least it seems so from this standpoint. Figuring out what you want to spend your entire life doing is not even half the battle.

Nous Appliquons: Graduates need more pragmatic expectations

By Rima Hammoudi on August 2, 2011

We’ve all heard the 20-something lament before. Some of us struggle through university, surviving off vicious amounts of coffee while juggling thesis statements, part-time jobs and whatever we can muster up to deem as a social life. When our degree is complete we’re sent off to conquer the market with our ‘expertise’ and our entry-level fervor. What we’re met with, of course, are tight-knit industries with little to no room for our amateur portfolios to expand from. Degree or no degree, opportunity is scarce, or at least it seems so from this standpoint. Figuring out what you want to spend your entire life doing is not even half the battle.

GRIFFITH BREWER 1922-2011 Theatre Stalwart

By Alan Hustak on August 2, 2011

brewer.jpgGriffith Brewer was a mainstay of Montreal s English- speaking theatre for almost 80 years. He was an unassuming supporting actor, properties master, director, carpenter and all around handyman who rarely let his ego interfere with his love of the stage.  Even after  he retired and lost his sight and roles for senior actors  became  harder to find  he was content to play a  corpse.

The Blogging Bishop

By Alan Hustak on July 18, 2011

dowd.jpgCanada’s newest and youngest Roman Catholic bishop-elect, Thomas Dowd, is  a media savy priest who says his appointment as auxiliary bishop of Montreal signals a generational shift in the thinking of the church.

Dowd is expected to shoulder some  of the workload now being done by Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte. Among his duties, Dowd will be responsible for the city’s 250,000 English-speaking Catholics who have been without a bishop of their own since  Anthony Mancini left four years ago to become Archbishop of Halifax. 

A meaner Canada: junk politics and the omnibus crime bill

By Alex Himelfarb on June 10, 2011

himelfarb_alex.jpgCanada’s new Parliament is poised to reshape Canada’s criminal justice system and, in significant ways, Canada itself.   Within 100 sitting days of its resumption Parliament will pass an omnibus “tough on criminals” bill that represents the biggest change to our justice system in recent memory.  But these changes are coming with disturbingly little controversy or opposition.  They are not part of some so-called hidden agenda.  This is what most or at least many Canadians voted for and, among those who did not, few seem much worried.  Political opposition has been muted.  Who wants to be seen as soft on crime, soft on criminals, concerned about inmates?  

Constitutional challenges that are fair to all Canadians

By Chris Schafer on June 10, 2011

In 2007, on behalf of the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF), I testified before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Official Languages, in support of the federal government decision to eliminate the Court Challenges Program. The Program provided taxpayer financed assistance for constitutional cases involving language and equality rights. All Canadians, through their tax dollars, paid to advance through the courts the public policy agendas of various special interest groups who received Court Challenges Program funding, whether taxpayers agreed with those agendas or not. This was unfair.

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