Previous month:
October 2015
Next month:
December 2015

November 2015

Lots of interesting information at Crohn's and Colitis Canada education seminar in CSL

The City of Côte Saint-Luc hosted the annual Crohn`s and Colitis Canada Education Seminar at our Aquatic and Community Centre on November 21. Myself and Councillor Mitchell Brownstein delivered greetings and let’s just say our words came from “the gut.” Mitchell has had Crohn’s for 40 years. For me, it has now been 28 years.

This is National Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Month. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are both major categories of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD). These chronic diseases tend to run in families and they affect males and females equally. Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract and may affect any part from the mouth to the anus. Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory condition limited to the colon, otherwise known as the large intestine. 

Crohn’s and Colitis Canada is the only national, volunteer-based charity focused on finding the cures for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and improving the lives of children and adults affected by these diseases. This organization is one of the top two health charity funders of Crohn’s and colitis research in the world, investing over $94 million in research to date. Its Crohn’s & Colitis – Make it Stop for Life Campaign will raise $100 million by 2020 to advance its mission.

See this video:
I have been very fortunate to have a case under control for most of the time since I was first diagnosed. Last February I decided to completely change my eating habits, cutting out soft drinks, junk food and heavy desserts while eating more vegetables and exercising. I lost nearly 30 pounds, but most importantly I feel even better. I had one surgery some 12 years ago, preventive in nature to deal with a stricture (the narrowing of the colon). Mitchell was only 12 when he got IBD. Despite some bumps along the way and five surgeries, he built a thriving law practice, performs on stage in musical and soon will be running for mayor.

Councillor Brownstein (left) and myself (far right) with guest speakers Dr. Francois Nantel, Kevin McHugh and Stephane Bensoussan. (PBL Photography)

The seminar began with Kevin McHugh, the Medical Manager of Gastroenterology for Abbvie Immunology who spoke about The Future for the IBD patient. He alluded to the GEM Project, an international research study attempting to determine possible causes for Crohn’s Disease by following healthy individuals who are at a higher risk for developing it over time. GEM stands for genetics, the environment and microbial. The study consists of blood and stool samples and a questionnaire. It does not look at the patient with Crohn’s, but at his or her siblings and offspring. The study will take several more years to complete. Abbvie makes Humira, a TNF blocker medicine that can lower the ability of one’s immune system to fight infections. But it is used to reduce the signs and symptoms of moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis, moderate to severe juvenile idiopathic arthritis in children aged two or more, psoriatic arthritis, moderate to severe Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.

McHugh shared some information about a University of Alberta study on fecal calprotectin, a reliable non-invasive marker for intestinal inflammation usable for monitoring patients with IBD. Tests are usually performed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), which is time consuming and delays results, thus limiting its use in clinical practice. The study’s aim was to evaluate CalproSmart, a new rapid test for fecal calprotectin performed by patients themselves at home, and compare it to gold standard ELISA. A total of 221 patients with IBD (115 ulcerative colitis and 106 Crohn's disease) were included. The CalproSmart test involves extraction of feces, application to the lateral flow device, and taking a picture with a smartphone after 10 minutes of incubation. Results appear on the screen within seconds. Patients were instructed at inclusion and had a video guide of the procedure as support. When using CalproSmart at home, patients also sent in two fecal samples to be analyzed by ELISA. A total of 894 fecal calprotectin results were obtained by ELISA, and 632 of them from CalproSmart. McHugh also referred to Dr. Kerry Novak from The University of Calgary and her work on imaging in inflammatory bowel disease, particularly the use of ultrasound for the evaluation of Crohn’s disease.

As for the future, he spoke about how the day will come when people can do full blood workups from their own home and the development of a smart toilet in Japan.

Dr. François Nantel, the Medical Director of Janssen, addressed the topic of looking into the future. Janssen is behind anti-TNF drugs Remicade, Stelera and Simponi. “Anti-TNFs do not cure IBD,” he explained. "They can put you in remission. You take them until something better comes along.”

In terms of Crohn’s and Colitis, Remicade can reduce signs and symptoms and induce and maintain remission in adult patients with moderately to severely active Crohn’s disease who haven't responded well to other therapies. This is an infusion and for those it works for, it is a miracle and can result in a completely normal life style. Those who develop anti-bodies to it must stop, generally switching to Humira. The patent for Remicade ended two years ago, opening the door for generics. One, called Inflectra, is on the market, but as Dr. Nantel explained it has been approved to treat psoriasis and arthritis, but not IBD. When the day of approval does come, will insurance companies and the government force people to take the generic version? Will that generic version truly be as effective?

One woman at the seminar said that she was doing so well on Remicade and  so worried about potential long-term side effectsthat  she decided to go off of it. She subsequently flared and was fortunate to resume taking it.

How long can Remicade work? Nantel said he knows of patients who have been on it since 2002 and are still doing excellent on the drug. In fact, there are others who started on it in the late 1990's as part of trials and they too are still in remission.

Dr. Stéphane Bensoussan, a Holistic Health & Educational Psychologist, concluded the seminar with a very interesting take on the influence of stress on Crohn's and ulcerative Colitis. This was an interactive session and those in attendance really appreciated the opportunity to share their thoughts on this very relevant subject.

Stress does indeed exacerbate IBD, Bensoussan noted. Some of the stress factors relate to pain, unpredictability, emergencies, fear of a relapse, embarrassment, loss of independence, loss of friends, changes in social life, absenteeism at work, changes of body image, side effects of medication and emotions such as anger, frustration, grief and anxiety.

“If you feel pain from IBD that is a physical pain,” said Dr. Bensoussan, whose Psysante Clinic is in Kirkland. “Maybe it is 9/10. But if you can control the stress level, maybe you can get it down to three.”

Dr. Bensoussan said that the rates of anxiety and depression are 29 to 35 percent for people with IBD in remission and 60 to 80 percent for those in a flare. “We know that the gut has passages to the brain,” he said.

As for tackling stress, Dr. Bensoussan said having a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, exercising and practicing relaxation techniques can help. He had us all sit in a position with our bums at the edge of our seats while laying back. We put one hand on our chest, the other over our gut, closed our eyes and breathed. The entire room almost fell asleep.

Two Côte Saint-Luc residents, Regional Director Edna Mendelson and development coordinator Stefanie Rosenblatt, continue to do a great job to put this organization on the map here. The day concluded with a brief presentation by Shannon Epstein about Generation C, a young adult group under the auspices of Crohn's and Colitis Canada. Their aim is to organize fundraising events and bring young students who suffer from IBD together to share their experiences. Look them up on Facebook.

Over lunch, Stefanie shared ways in which people can get involved with the organization. The annual fundraising gala will take place on April 4 at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts while the Gutsy Walk is set for June 5 at Maisonneuve Park. Last week members visited the Quebec National Assembly and set up a booth. Two Members of the National Assembly suffer from IBD, D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum and Benoit Charette from Deux-Montagnes. Even Premier Philippe Couillard, a physician by profession, stopped by the booth.

Finally, a Volunteer Appreciation Event was held earlier in the week. Those recognized were: Stéphanie Ruel and Virginie Sinotte (Gutsy Walk Leadership); Kevin Smee, Sam Rimoin and Adrienne Cadloff from Stanpro ( Gutsy Walk Fundraising team); Marian Sniatowsky and Erin Battat (Gala Committee Leadership Award); Julie Jill (Third Party Event); Robert Martin and Salvatore Ciarlo (Third Party Event, Hockey Tournament); Steph Ouimet (Third Party Event, Mountain Climbing); Arianne Leroux-Boudreault (Top Pledge Earner); Sheldon Miller (Top Pledge Earner from the Gutsy Walk); Brandy Safran (Third Party Event, Yoga); Samantha Maldoff and Adina Zairi (Leadership Award, Generation C); and Marie-Claude Guerin (Third Party Event).



The following press release was issued today:

Côte Saint-Luc City Councillor Mitchell Brownstein has announced that he will be a candidate for the vacant mayor’s position in the upcoming by-election.

Anthony Housefather stepped down as mayor recently after being elected as the Member of Parliament for Mount Royal.  Housefather has endorsed Brownstein for mayor as have all seven other members of council: Dida Berku, Allan J. Levine, Sam Goldbloom, Mike Cohen, Steven Erdelyi, Glenn J. Nashen and Ruth Kovac.


“In stepping down as Mayor I am not leaving Cote Saint-Luc” said Housefather.  “I still live here and as the federal member of Parliament I will be working very closely with my former council colleagues as well as the other elected officials in the riding.  It is very important to me that Cote Saint-Luc remain a city that empowers and encourages each council member to succeed in their areas while having a Mayor that can unite the council and create consensus ensuring the best services are delivered to residents.  I have worked closely with Mitchell as leaders of the demerger movement and on council for the last 10 years and Mitchell is that man.  The fact that so many other talented council members who also could have been excellent candidates support Mitchell is testament to his abilities.  I firmly believe that Mitchell will deliver the same type of results that I did as Mayor and due to our close friendship I will remain very involved in advising him whenever he wants my input.” 

Brownstein is an attorney by profession and has served on city council from 1990 to 2001. He then joined Housefather, Kovac and Nashen as a co-chair of the successful demerger movement that won the 2004 referendum to reconstitute the City of Cote Saint Luc and returned to council in the 2005 election.  He was re-elected by acclamation in 2009 and 2013.  

As a Cote Saint Luc Councillor he has held important portfolios, including overseeing the two largest municipal departments, Public Works and Parks and Recreation. He founded the highly successful Côte Saint-Luc Dramatic Society, co-chaired the Aquatic and Community Centre Development Project and was one of the pioneers of the Fun Card concept.  As a long time member of the Planning Advisory Committee he was integrally involved in many development projects in the community including the OrHahayim synagogue expansion, the Hebrew Academy building, Beth Chabad, the Cavendish Mall redevelopment project and many residential projects where he put the emphasis encouraging young families to move in to Cote Saint-Luc. He was instrumental in having Hydro move the high tension wires away from the homes on Sabin Ave, that are backing onto the substation.  He played a pivotal role in the upgrading of many parks, including Nathan Shuster, Richard Schwartz,  Arthur Zygielbaum, Allan J. Levine Playground and others.

Brownstein is most proud of his being one of the leaders of the successful Canadian Unity resolution movement in 1996. Cote Saint Luc was the first city to adopt a unity resolution and was followed by more than 50 municipalities and served as a contributing factor in the Supreme Court reference and ultimate adoption of the Clarity Act by the government of Canada.

“For the past 10 years we have seen the benefits of demerger, which allows for direct taxation, control over our unions, our infrastructures, emergency medical services, and so much more,” said Councillor  Brownstein.  “Through Anthony Housefather's portfolio system each one of the councillors has excelled in their areas of expertise pursuing their passions to the benefit of the city. I worked extremely closely with Anthony these past 10 years and I believe together with our most talented Council we can continue to build one of the most desirable communities in which to live.

“Côte Saint-Luc is fortunate to be a relatively small city without a party system, allowing individuals to work together, by consensus, without having to tow the party line.  Most importantly, it allows us to speak up on behalf of our residents on issues of concern to them whether it be Canadian Unity, demerger, opposing the Charter of Values, maintaining bilingual status, maintaining post office home delivery, saving our EMS or keeping our police station in Cote Saint-Luc.”

Councillor Goldbloom said that when he thinks of Councillor Brownstein, the word “innovation” comes to mind. “I am a member of the Dramatic Society and watched how Mitchell built that from scratch,” he said. “When Mitchell has a goal in mind he does not let anything stand in his way.”

Councillor Cohen notes that Councillor Brownstein has been involved with some of the city’s most important files during his time in office. “This council needs continuity and leadership,” he said. “Councillor Brownstein has all of the right qualifications to thrive in this job.”

Councillor Berku said “Given that we just came out of a very divisive federal campaign, and since there are less than 2 years to go until the end of this mandate, it’s a good time for council to rally around one candidate for Mayor while all councillors continue to focus and pursue their areas of interest. I want to promote the best interests of the city by rallying our efforts into team governance,  minimizing tension on and off council and hopefully saving the city the costs and disruption  of a city wide midterm election.”

Councillor Erdelyi said that when he was first elected 10 years ago, it was Councillor Brownstein who provided him with a lot of important insight to the job. “I actually sit right next to Mitchell at our caucus meetings,” he said. “He is a real team player and someone I appreciate turning to for counsel. That is what I want in a mayor.”

Councillor Nashen, who presently serves as Acting Mayor, said that he and Brownstein share a common vision for the city which is why they have run on common issues in every election. “Mitchell and I want to see the rejuvenation of the city, responsible and transparent accountability,  involvement by residents and volunteers. We are concerned about environmental issues and above all are focused on public safety,” Nashen said.

Councillor Ruth Kovac said "We have worked side by side and shared common goals since 1990. One of my proudest moments was the work of our Demerger team consisting of myself, Anthony, Mitchell and Glenn, and getting our City Back. As I chair the Planning Advisory Committee, I know Mitchell has a keen interest in the development of our city. We will continue in the cohesive way we have over the past 10 years.”

Councillor Allan J. Levine, the longest-serving councillor said “As I focus on my priorities representing my district and the city, I will not seek the mayoralty. Councillor Mitchell Brownstein is announcing his declaration to run for mayor, and I intend to fully support him in his campaign. I have worked alongside Councillor Brownstein, and I believe together we can lead Cote Saint Luc in the right direction.”

Anthony Housefather officially sworn in as Member of Parliament

Former Côte Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather (that still sounds funny) is now officially the Liberal Member of Parliament for Mount Royal. He was sworn into office in the House of Commons on November 13.  I had intended on making the trip, but work commitments from my day job required that I stay in the city

Sworn in
Anthony is officially sworn in.

My council colleague and long-time close friend Glenn J. Nashen, presently our acting mayor, did go to Ottawa with his family and filed this comprehensive summary of the day.

At the movie theatre, Anthony, Marvin and Mitchell.

On Thursday night I was at the Cinéstars at Plaza Côte des Neiges for an event where Anthony thanked his volunteers. Guests were invited to see the new James Bond movie Spectre. Upon arriving they each received a coupon for a complimentary drink and popcorn. Before the showing, Anthony was busy shaking hands and posing for photos. The ultimate campaigner, he is indeed keeping his team in place for the next vote four years from now.

Just before the curtains parted for Agent 007, Montreal City Councillor Marvin Rotrand welcomed everyone. Marvin has represented the Snowdon District for 33 years and played an enormous role in this campaign. While the voting was tight between the Liberals and Conservatives in Côte Saint-Luc and Hampstead, this election was going to won based on the turnout in Côte des Neiges, Snowdon and Town of Mount Royal. Those areas went overwhelmingly Liberal. TMR Mayor Philippe Roy backed Anthony publicly and Tory candidate Robert Libman`s decision not to attend a debate in the Town had a very negative impact on voters there who were still on the bubble. Rotrand took care of the area he has mastered  for more than three decades.

Côte Saint-Luc Councillor Mitchell Brownstein, who also serves as the president of the Mount Royal Liberal Association, praised the volunteers for playing such a crucial role in the campaign.

Bonnie Feigenbaum

Anthony made his first official hire public. Former Hampstead Councillor Bonnie Feigenbaum, a true dynamo, will serve as his constituency manager and oversee the local riding office. She will do an excellent job in this role. Anthony thanked everyone in the room, noting he had a team of more than 400 volunteers. Special mention was made of Sidney Margles, his campaign manager. There are others who could be singled out, perhaps too many to mention but I will  identify the likes of Dan Pfeffer, Sonny Moroz, Mitchell Kujavksy, Toby Shulman, Mark Merson, Elaine “The Good Wife” Yagod Brownstein and Merle Margles. There is also a long list of cultural community leaders.

Bravo Anthony! Your dream has come true. Soon we will turn our attention to our choice for a new mayor in Côte Saint-Luc. Please stay tuned.

Student participation adds a very important touch to CSL Remembrance Day ceremony

Over the years Remembrance Day ceremonies in Côte Saint-Luc have been held in the cold and sparsely attended. For this reason, we do a more elaborate program each May for VE (Victory Day in Europe).   Thanks to the initiative of our Director of Public Safety Jordy Reichson,  November 11, 2015 was a much different story.  First of all, the weather was far better than we can usually expect at this time of year. We also had a very solid attendance, bolstered by students from Bialik High School and Hebrew Academy.

With Bialik students.

"We gather here in Veteran’s Park on Remembrance Day to honour the brave men and women who fought and who fell in the trenches, in the hospitals and on the blood-stained battlefields, in the defence of Canada and in the defence of freedom," said Mr. Reichson. "Those brave Canadians  gave up their lives and their innocence, so that we could live in a world of peace. The Great War, which ended just over 100 years ago, was dubbed the War to End all Wars. Sadly, it was not to be, as Canadian soldiers returned to the front lines in the Second World War, in the Korean War, in peacemaking and peacekeeping missions in the Balkans, in the Persian Gulf, in Cyprus, in Rwanda, in Somalia and most recently, in Afghanistan."

In reference to the students in attendance, Mr. Reichson noted, "this year, we welcome the students of two of our schools to join our Remembrance Day ceremony, for it is they, the children of today that will be the leaders of tomorrow. It is they, who will teach the stories of these veterans when there are none left to tell. It is they that may one day don the uniform, answer the call, and stand guard for the freedoms that we hold dear. To protect the society in which we are free to speak our minds, free to practice our religions, free to elect our leaders, and free to gather. These are not guaranteed universal freedoms, but ones that must be constantly protected and defended, by those who have served, those who continue to serve and those that will serve in the future."

Jordy Reichson

The Public Safety Honour Guard  marched in the colours and the Bialik High School choir sang  our national anthem, followed by the Last Post and two minutes of silence. The choir, guided by Lorna Smith, sang two more songs and a student from Hebrew Academy read  In Flander's Field. Montreal Police Station 9 Chief Jean O'Malley,  veteran Frank Levine of the Brigadier General Frederick Kisch Branch #97 recited the Act of Remembrance in French and English.  I joined Councillors Mitchell Brownstein, Ruth Kovac and Sam Goldbloom in laying a wreath as did others.

"The student involvement really made a major difference to the event," said Councillor Brownstein. "I had wonderful conversations with the students before the ceremony began.  They were very glad to participate and learned more than they could at school from their involvement.  Our efforts to provide an educational aspect to this event and others was very much appreciated."

Frank Levine

Added Councillor Kovac: "Remembrance day is solemn and a great occasion to teach the next generation."Councillor Levine, a former school teacher, was elated with the student involvement.

Another successful Maisons Fleuries competition

Côte Saint-Luc City  Council recently presided over another impressive Maisons Fleuries Awards Ceremony, held at the Aquatic and Community Centre. This honours residents who beautify their gardens.

It is a pleasure to walk, bike or drive through the streets of Côte Saint-Luc and see the beautiful gardens that adorn our city during the summer months. The efforts made by many residents to maintain their lawns, tend to their gardens and landscape their flower beds in a creative and unique fashion beautifies our community and is tremendously appreciated.

Councillors Mitchell Brownstein and Allan J. Levine co-chaired this year`s competition and served as emcees for the ceremony. A big thanks to our staff at Parks and Recreation for their hard work, notably Laura Trihas and Cornelia Ziga. Director of Public Affairs and Communications Darryl Levine put together a great video slide show and Rami Negev did his usual top-notch job taking photos. Judges  assessed front gardens according to the cleanliness of the property, the appearance of plants and flowers and general landscaping.

District 2 resident Frank Palucci from Ilan Ramon Crescent receives his award from council.

Here is a list of the 2015 winners, with District 2 recipients in bold.

We added a nice treat for our guests this year. A silent magic show from Max and Maxine, Max being my old friend Jonathan Levey whom I had not seen perform in many years.   His Silent-Comedy Magic show was a sure-fire hit. He brought people on stage from the audience, including Councillor Dida Berku who kept sipping from a cup of milk only to see Max  empty the contents from her nose and ears. Check out his website here to book him for your occasion.

Councillor Dida Berku performs with Max.