Quebec government

Council adopts resolution supporting Quebec English universities and institutions of higher learning

Here is a resolution from CSL City Council supporting supporting Quebec English universities and institutions of higher learning. It was moved by Councillor Andee Shuster, who works in communications for McGill University.


Councillor Shuster reads the resolution.


Whereas the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal states as of 2023, McGill University and Concordia University’s out of province students contribute $520 million annually to the greater Montreal economy;

Whereas these two major English language universities have contributed to Quebec society through higher learning, research innovation, publications, and through their output of highly educated and skilled students, graduates, and alumni throughout their
history which dates back to 1821 in the case of McGill and 1974 in the case of Concordia;

Whereas these universities have achieved top rankings for education excellence bestowed by established Canadian and global organizations and media outlets, and that these reputations attract students from more than 150 countries;

Whereas 24% of Concordia’s enrollment and 30% of McGill’s enrollment is international students;

Whereas 9% of Concordia’s enrollment and 22% of McGill’s enrollment is Canadian students from outside of Quebec;

Whereas in December 2023, the Minister of Higher Education (the “Minister”) Quebec Government imposed a plan exclusively for these two English-language universities that (a) significantly increases the tuition rate applicable to Canadian residents from outside Quebec, as of the 2024-2025 academic year; (b) regulates tuition fees for certain international students that results in a net loss of revenue as of the 2024-2025 academic year ; and (c) requires the francization of 80% of non-resident students (newly enrolled as of 2025-2026) in undergraduate programs taught in English by the time they graduate
(the “Decision”);

Whereas this Decision was followed by the adoption in January 2024 of a series of modifications to the budgetary rules to be applied to the Universities entitled Règles budgétaires et calcul des subventions de fonctionnement aux universités du Québec (les« Règles budgétaires ») which put this Decision into effect;

Whereas despite protests and attempts for negotiations from the universities and other organizations, the Quebec Government has refused to reconsider the Decision;

Whereas since the new reforms were announced, Concordia has seen a 27 percent decline in applicants from the rest of Canada and a 12 percent decline in the number of students coming from abroad, McGill announced a 20 percent drop in out-of-province applicants;

Whereas the Quebec Government rejected reasonable francization proposals from the universities and instead imposed requirements which are viewed by the universities as unreasonable, unachievable, and punitive;

Whereas the measures taken by the Quebec Government represent a clear and present danger to the missions of Concordia and McGill universities and will weaken their vital role within the province and their reputations as international draws;

Whereas the reduction in students applying and attending Concordia and McGill universities will lead to budget cuts that will negatively impact the education of local students from Quebec as well as students from out of province in addition to impacting
employment for academic and non-academic staff from the Greater Montreal area;

Whereas reductions in the number of out-of-province students attending Quebec universities will lead to reduction in tax revenue for all three levels of government and a decrease in the number of well-educated professionals, hurting the economic and social
development of the Island of Montreal and Province of Quebec;

Whereas the Decision was made in clear violation and in total disregard of the recommendations issued in January 2024, by the Advisory Committee on Financial Accessibility of Education (Comité consultatif sur l’accessibilité financière aux études, hereafter “CCAFE”), an advisory committee appointed by the government, composed of representatives of government and French-language universities and Cégeps, who have stated that the new regulations risk compromising access to quality education and depriving Quebec society of potential talent;

Whereas on or about February 23rd, 2024, McGill and Concordia Universities both filed separate legal proceedings in judicial review contesting and challenging the Decision of
the Minister of Higher Education and the modifications to the Budgetary rules;

Whereas, as per the court filings, the Universities submit that these measures from the Quebec Government:
• Constitute discrimination under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as
well as the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms,
• Were an unreasonable exercise of the powers of the Minister of Higher Education,
since they were incompatible with the mission assigned to her by the Ministry of
Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology Act,
• Were adopted following inadequate and an unfair process,
• Constitute a disguised and illegal tax, which is being imposed without the authorization of the National Assembly,
• Create unconstitutional barriers to interprovincial trade thereby limiting student mobility, choice of university, and access to education,
• Limit the diversity of the student body at these universities by creating barriers for international students,
• Were designed to inflict harm on the institutions by reducing the number of students attending the universities, changing the demographic profiles, shrinking the revenues and weakening their financial positions.

Whereas these actions by the Quebec Government could lead to retaliatory actions by other provinces in Canada limiting the options available for Quebec students to study at universities throughout Canada;

Whereas the residents of Cote Saint-Luc value higher education and have a high level of level of scholarity with nearly 60% residents having some university education and 55% of residents achieving at least one university degree (according to the 2021 census);

Whereas Cote Saint-Luc's population is comprised of alumni, academics, scholars, and current students who take pride in the high standards and reputation of these universities;

Whereas the inevitable decline in the universities’ standing will prompt an exodus of our youth to pursue their degrees elsewhere, which will have a deep negative impact on our community;

It was moved “THAT the Côte Saint-Luc City Council calls on the Minister of Higher Education and the Government of Quebec to reconsider the Decision and reverse the tuition increases and new tuition regulations and revise the compulsory francization
requirements to a more realistic attainable level;

THAT the Côte Saint-Luc City Council calls on the Minister of Higher Education and the Government of Quebec to follow the recommendations of its own Comité consultatif sur l'accessibilité financière aux études, which Committee “strongly urges the
government to reconsider this decision;

THAT the Côte Saint-Luc City Council calls on the Minister of Higher Education and the Premier of Quebec to meet with representatives of the English universities and English-speaking community to renegotiate these changes which have been unfairly imposed and are not respectful of the English-speaking community of Quebec;

THAT the Côte Saint-Luc City Council directs its City Clerk to send copies of this resolution to all of members of the National Assembly of Quebec including the Member of the National Assembly for D’Arcy McGee, to all other municipalities in the Montreal Metropolitan Community, to the Member of Parliament for Mount Royal, to the Prime Minister of Canada, to the federal Minister of Official Languages, to the Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada, to the Union des Municipalités du Québec (UMQ), to the Fédération Québécoise des Municipalités (FQM), to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), to the Presidents of Concordia and McGill’s Universities and to the members of the Quebec Advisory Board on English Education.”

I also added that the Canadian Party of Quebec should receive the resolution as well for they are indeed speaking out loudly for our community.

It was carried unanimously.

D'Arcy McGee will have excellent representation in Elisabeth Prass

As expected, the Coalition Avenir Québec swept back to power with a huge majority in the October 3 provincial election. That was a foregone conclusion.

In my riding of D’Arcy McGee, it looked like  we might have had a race on our hands when the campaign began. There was so much anger over how the Quebec Liberal Party handled Bill 96. How many people did I run into who told me they would be voting for either the Canadian Party of Quebec, the Conservative Party or Bloc Montréal?

Elisabeth Prass, with her son, at the voting station.


In the end, the Liberals’ Elisabeth Prass won with more than 52 percent of the vote. Unquestionably, the constituents of D’Arcy McGee  are in good hands. I worked closely with Prass during the time she ran the riding constituency office. She left that post a year ago for the corporate sector so she was not on the job when her predecessor David Birnbaum committed a career ending move by proposing inexplicable amendments to Bill 96 which infuriated the anglophone community.  David is a wonderful human being; someone I consider a friend. He loved his role as an MNA and had no intention of retiring. Unfortunately he had to walk the plank for his misdeed.

The Liberals did not get shellacked as badly as I anticipated in this election. Frankly, I did not  expect them to get more than 20 seats. Instead of focusing on how the party handled Bill 96 in the past year, what will be their position in the next mandate?  The CAQ may have a massive majority, but they could be looking at losses at the court level for Bill 40 (abolishing school boards), Bill 21 (secularism) and yes even Bill 96. Should that occur, the Liberals will benefit as the CAQ licks its wounds.

In this election, the Liberals kept all of their anglo strongholds. If Dominique Anglade keeps her job as leader, she will need to find a way to  bring the francophone population back to the fold. It is safe to say that no matter what position she takes, anglos will not walk away from the brand.

What will become of the Canadian Party of Quebec, Bloc Montréal and the Conservatives? If ever there was an opportunity for anglo rights parties to win a riding, this was their moment. Yet the CAPQ and Bloc Montréal did not get any support at all. Four years from now, with the CAQ completing a second mandate, anglos will not want to roll a dice on any party other than the Liberals. 

The Conservatives opposed Bill 96, but they did not oppose Bill 21 - a big mistake.

As a member of Côte Saint-Luc City Council, I was happy to sit on an ad hoc committee with Councillors Dida Berku, Andee Shuster and Steven Erdelyi. We met with four candidates - Prass, Bonnie Feigenbaum of the Conservatives and Marc Perez of the CAPQ, Joel DeBellefeuille of Bloc Montréal. I did podcast interviews with each of them as well, in addition to the Québec Solidaire candidate. We were engaged. There was one Zoom debate with the candidates, but it did not have a large audience nor an impact on the vote.

D’Arcy McGee has excellent representation in Elisabeth Prass and I look forward to working with her.

You can see the election results here and follow the instructions to get to D'Arcy McGee.



UPDATE: An analysis of the race for the D'Arcy McGee riding in the upcoming Quebec election

With the nnouncement by Quebec Liberal Party leader Dominique Anglade in Côte Saint-Luc that Elisabeth Prass will be her candidate in D’Arcy McGee, the stage is now set for one of the most interesting riding races in the province.

I was among Anglade’s biggest critics for the exceedingly long delay in selecting a candidate. Incumbent Member of the National Assembly David Birnbaum announced in April that he will not seek another mandate. Anglade’s team either turned good candidates down or had others of quality simply decline the invitation. But good things often come to people who wait and Prass is beyond an excellent choice. In fact she checks off all of the boxes for the party in this constitituency, which covers Côte Saint-Luc, Hampstead and part of Snowdon.

Elisabeth Prass is introduced as the Liberal candidate at a press conference at Trudeau Park.

Prass is Jewish (a large proportion of the voters are), knows the riding intimately (she ran the D’Arcy McGee office  but stepped away months before Birnbaum’s ill-fated amendment to Bill 96 as it relates to CEGEP French courses), is a mom (one of her boys is special needs, which will translate into empathy and understanding for parents in the same boat) and is impeccably bilingual. She also grew up in Côte Saint-Luc. Over the years she’s worked for provincial ministers in Quebec city and knows the game. Full disclosure: she was always a big help to me wearing my hats as city councillor and via my school board post, so I can vouch for her worthiness of this opportunity.

For the first time since Robert Libman won D’Arcy McGee for the then Equality Party in 1989, this riding is by no means an easy mark for the Liberals.

The Canadian Party of Quebec, The Conservative Party of Quebec and Bloc Montréal will all gain the attention of voters looking to switch allegiances over the Liberals’ handling of Bill 96.

Marc Perez
Marc Perez

Marc Perez is the flag bearer for The Canadian Party of Quebec, with political veteran Bonnie Feigenbaum representing the Conservatives and Joel DeBellefeuille for Bloc Montréal. There are reasons too to vote for each of them.

Bonnie Feigenbaum

The Canadian Party of Quebec, headed by Colin Standish, has been front and center as a defender of anglo rights for more than a year now and would be a real thorn in the side of  Premier Francois Legault and the CAQ. There are many people who have told me they will park their vote there.

Under the leadership of Eric Duhaime, the Conservatives will win some seats in this election and Legault fears them. That is a good thing. Duhaime has come out strongly against Bill 96, but not so on Bill 21- the obscene religious symbols  law. The good news is that he will let his candidates take whatever position they want. So Feigenbaum plans to campaign against Bill 21 and get other candidates from the party to follow her. But that policy of Duhaime is also the bad news, for some of his candidates have some pretty wacky views.

Joel BlocMTl
Joel DeBellefeuille

As for the Bloc Montréal, represented by Joel DeBellefeuille, of course we must admire the perseverance of leader Balarama Holness. He ran on an anglo rights plank for mayor of Montreal and is doing the same here. However, by not signing a non-agression pact (something Balarama told me he would pursue) it is likely the Canadian Party of Quebec and the Bloc will cancel each other out. And that is the best news Prass could ask for. By vying for the same vote to oust the Liberals, these two parties stand to do the exact opposite.

DEBATE: Calvin Finkelstein, Grand Chancellor of the Knights of Pythias, Québec Domain, and Marvin Rotrand, National Director of the League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada, have announced the two organizations will host a joint candidate debate for D’Arcy-McGee riding, It will be held on Thursday, September 22 at 7 P.M, by ZOOM. The agreed upon format will see candidates briefly speak about themselves and their party platform and then take questions from the audience.

Confirmed participants are: De Bellefeuille, Feigenbaum, Perez, Prass and  Hilal Pilavic (Québec Solidaire). 

During the campaign I have been filing podcast interviews with these candidates so stay tuned.

Here is my first one with Bonnie Feigenbaum 

Here is my podcast with Elisabeth Prass

Here is my podcast with Marc Perez

Here is my podcast with Joel DeBellefeuille



Bill 96 rally won't cost the CAQ votes, but their international representation is at risk

Did the May 14 Bill 96 rally and march accomplish anything?

For one thing, given the fact so many activities have been held virtually these past two years, it was indeed a morale booster. A few thousand people gathered outside Dawson College. The 10 am start was delayed and difficult to hear speeches went on for close to an hour. Then those who remained marched in unison to Premier Francois Legault’s office.

Bill 96 rally
Protesters Rally against Bill 96. (Glenn J. Nashen Photo)


Bill 96, the obscene new language legislation drafted by Legault’s CAQ, is expected to be adopted this week. There is no question that during the four years of the CAQ’s mandate they have spoken loud and clear that anglos and minorities are now second-class citizens in this province.

The CAQ has only one goal in mind and that is to get re-elected in October with a massive majority. Without an effective opposition and a clued-out electorate in the regions, they will coast to such a victory. The CAQ makes the Parti Québecois of old look like an English choir group. They have handed down laws that would even make the late René Lévesque spin in his grave. I am certain that former PQ Premier Lucien Bouchard would not endorse their inflammatory legislation ever.

The rally, in my opinion, was a necessary activity. It will not cost Legault any votes. In fact, he will likely secure some more PQ and Liberal ridings as a result of it. However, but what former businessman Legault has not realized is how media coverage of a rally likes this affects Quebec’s image nationally or internationally. Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon’s mandate is to attract to attract corporate business to the province. What non-francophone would want to move their family to Quebec where a religious symbol precludes you from becoming a schoolteacher and any connection to “English” translates into a dirty word? Lévesque and Bouchard were always particularly mindful of this.

People I spoke to felt good they were there. However, had I been the organizer, I would have scheduled it for a weekday at noon. Saturday prevented busloads of Shabbat observing Jews from attending; Sunday would have impacted church services. I would have started on time, presented far few speeches and like lawyer Michael Polak told me, “not play festive music at the start. We were not here to celebrate!”

As the manager of marketing and communications at the English Montreal School Board, a city councillor in Côte Saint-Luc and a columnist/blogger/podcaster for Quebec’s largest English weekly newspaper (The Suburban), Bill 96 will have an enormous impact on my life and my livelihood. Sadly, there is nobody out there to help us – not our Prime Minister or the other federal parties nor the once effective Provincial Liberal Party. (Mount Royal Liberal MP has spoken out loudly; too bad he is not in cabinet). The future for all of us looks very bleak.

 Tordjman becomes the first candidate to confirm interest in D’Arcy McGee Liberal nomination

In my previous blog, I had a recommendation for how the Quebec Liberal Party can turn their fortunes around in the October provincial election. That would be to oppose  Bill 21 (prohibits Quebec citizens who work in public service from wearing religious symbols while fulfilling their duties), Bill 40 (abolition of English public school boards) and Bill 96 (the draconian new language law) and transform this opportunity into an attractive array of candidates.

The Liberals have an opening in the D’Arcy McGee  riding, with David Birnbaum stepping down. Imagine party leader Dominique Anglade campaigning in a core CAQ region with her new D’Arcy McGee hopeful wearing his kippa. She can explain to those voters what a kippa is and how  this individual can run for public office, yet is not eligible to become a teacher, vice-principal or principal unless they remove their religious symbol.  The same route could be followed for  her candidates with a hijab, turban or a cross around their neck. Wow, would the CAQ be on the defensive!

David Tordjman says he has the support of his wife and five children to pursue the Liberal nomination in D'Arcy McGee.


Since I live in D’Arcy McGee, I decided to reach out to some potential candidates who do wear kippas to see if they would be interested in the nomination for the Liberals – and whether Bill 21 serves as motivating factor.  David Tordjman,  who sat with me on Côte Saint-Luc City Council for four years, responded immediately: “As you’ve pointed out, the Legault government has a track record of violating fundamental rights: banning Quebecers who wear religious symbols from working as teachers, lawyers, and police officers with Bill 21; stripping the rights of parents to democratically elect and manage school boards with Bill 40; and restricting access to the judicial process in English while freezing enrolment in English-language CEGEPs with Bill 96, which was flawed from its inception and does nothing to nurture the English-speaking community. Rather it creates limitations and divisiveness.”

I asked David if he would pursue the Liberal nomination. The answer was “yes.”

“Bill 21 in particular hits home,” said David, a fully bilingual Sephardic Jew who attended English public school. “As a practicing Jew who wears a kippah, I recognize that this legislation impacts me along with countless Quebecers. Most importantly, it affects those presently working in the civil service, and dissuades our youth who aspire to serve the public. As a father of five children, this is not the society of diversity, inclusiveness, and acceptance I wanted to raise them in.

“Many of your readers know me as an active political figure in Côte Saint-Luc. They should also know that I’m not afraid to spark a discussion on why I and others wearing religious symbols can contribute positively to Quebec society at all levels.”

Just imagine David in Shawinigan with Anglade, speaking flawless French and explaining to the audience what Bill 21 really means. The CAQ hierarchy believes that all Quebecers support this law. But they don’t; there are merely too many of our citizens who need to be educated on what the real implications are.

“This election, Dominique Anglade and the Quebec Liberals are best positioned to take on the CAQ. While some may wish to divide our community’s voice at the ballot box, I believe we must stay united in fighting against a government that enacts legislation harming women, religious minorities, racialized people, and immigrant communities.”

As for the two anglo rights parties now forming, unless they find a way to merge neither will have any impact at all on the Liberals. By feuding in the media, leaders Balarama Holness and Colin Standish are losing credibility by the minute.

The Conservative Party of Quebec will get some  votes and I would not be surprised to see their kippa-wearing candidate from 2018, Yaniv Loran, back in the race.

D’Arcy-McGee-National Assembly Citizenship Medals go virtual very successfully

Bravo to D'Arcy McGee Liberal MNA David  Birnbaum and his entire team for doing such a first-class job with their live Zoom-focused awards ceremony.

The winners of the sixth annual D’Arcy-McGee-National Assembly Citizenship Medals competition were to be recognized at a public ceremony. Like everything else due to the COVID-19 pandemic that had to be postponed. But David and company adjusted beautifully to the "new normal" and one might make the argument that this format should be followed in future years. It was wonderful to watch. I started on my phone as I washed the dishes and finished on my laptop. In fact more than 100 people watched it live.

David Lisbona

 Three individuals and one organization were recognized for “outstanding achievement in community involvement”. They were George Nashen, 96, in the name of surviving veterans of World War II and those who passed before them; Sima Paris, co-founder and President of the Friendship Circle; MultiCaf, a store-front community outreach and referral service in Snowdon-Côte-des-Neiges and David Lisbona, Côte St-Luc entrepreneur and initiator of an emergency food-delivery network for seniors during the current pandemic.

Roméo Dallaire

 “This has been an unprecedented and trying time for all us but it has also brought out the very best in so many individuals and organizations in this riding,” said  David, who initiated this citizen-medal program soon after his first election in April 2014. “While the crisis around us is far from over, I think it is always the right time to recognize those who inspire us to do more and do better by our fellow citizens. Even if we can only celebrate this event virtually this year, I do hope it will lift us up at this very tough time. "


George Nashen and his wife Phyllis.

Lt. Gen. Roméo Dallaire (ret’d) delivered a brief address to the Zoom gathering. His own harrowing and heroic experience during the Rwandan genocide, and his outreach efforts since retirement have made him a sought-after public speaker. His Roméo Dallaire Foundation works to inspire young people from underprivileged backgrounds to develop their leadership potential. In appreciation of Mr. Dallaire’s participation, David's office made a donation of $1,000 to the Foundation. It was only appropriate that Dallaire introduced Nashen, an extraordinary gentleman whom I have been proud to know and call a friend for many years.

David was an excellent emcee. Each recipient spoke live via Zoom. It was a flawless production. Bravo!!

You can see the entire program via video on David's Facebook page.

Strict measures must be implemented for public and private pools to reopen

Now that the Quebec government has permitted public pools to reopen, it is important to note that a great many safety standards must be met.

Our Mayor has already announced that Parkhaven Pool will reopen with many new rules.  As for those pools in condos and apartment buildings, it is by no means a slam dunk. Many have already indicated to me  they do not wish to take the risk of a COVID-19 spread. Others simply do not feel they can properly comply with the measures necessary.

I have personally gone on record that pools should not reopen this summer. It is not the water I am concerned about; rather the ability for people (especially kids) to social distance in the water; common touching of railings and chairs; the use of bathrooms; and more.

As for pools in condos and apartments, I am still seeking clarification as to whether they are included in Premier Legault's reference to "privately owned pools" in this article.

There will have to be fewer people in the pool under new guidelines.


The Institut National de la Santé Publique du Québec (“INSPQ”) has published a document for condominium associations and apartment building owners to prepare for the eventual reopening of their swimming pools. These preventive measures must be implemented before owners and tenants can use the pools in order to respect the government measures on physical distancing and hand hygiene. The preventive measures notably include:

  • Measures should be put in place in order to respect physical distancing of at least two (2) meters at all times, inside or outside the pools, such as:
  • Limiting the number of pool users at one time;
  • Distributing tickets to users for a specific period of time to use the pool;
  • Have a guard at the entrance of the pool at all times during opening hours to control the number of users who enter;
  • Ensure that all chairs are placed at a minimal distance of two (2) meters;
  • Installation of marks of the ground in strategic areas to enforce physical distancing measures;
  • Promote hand washing inside the facility, such as installing hand sanitizer dispensers or hand washing stations inside and outside the entrance of the pools;
  • Ensure users shower with soap for at least one minute before entering the pool;
  • Prevent access for users who have contracted the COVID-19 virus or show symptoms of the virus;
  • Ensure proper ventilation for indoor pools in order to control the concentration of contaminants in the air and therefore, update ventilation systems as per industry standards, if necessary;
  • Close all areas where physical distancing of two (2) meters is not possible or where there is poor ventilation by establishing physical barriers such barricades or tape;
  • Locker rooms should only be used to go to the toilet and allow for only a limited number of people to use the locker rooms at the same time;
  • Distribute a triage questionnaire to all pool users to detect COVID-19 related symptoms and explain to users the risks of using the pool;
  • Have a guard at the entrance of the pool at all times during opening hours to remind users of these measures;
  • Installation of signage indicating these measures;
  • The usual measures to ensure the quality of the water must be rigorously applied as per the Regulation respecting water quality in swimming pools and other artificial pools; and
  • The usual measures for cleaning and disinfecting must be rigorously applied for all surfaces including but not limited to locker rooms, showers, washrooms, water fountains, doorknobs, pool ladders, diving boards, etc. The hiring of additional staff/personnel may be required to ensure proper cleaning.

In order to respect the abovementioned measures, condominium associations and owners of apartment buildings may have to purchase the necessary equipment or incur certain expenses, such as but not limited to:

  • Hand sanitizer dispenser or hand washing stations;
  • Pictograms to be placed on the ground such as arrows and lines;
  • Printing of signage indicating the abovementioned measures;
  • Printing of triage questionnaires and information flyers;
  • Upgrade in ventilation systems; and
  • Hiring of additional staff/personnel to survey and ensure the abovementioned measures are respected;

The City urges condominium associations and owners of apartment buildings to follow these guidelines and asks that serious and responsible personnel be appointed to implement these procedures. If these procedures can’t be realistically met, the shared swimming pools should remain closed.  

Furthermore, please note that a pool operation permit is still required and the present letter will be included in any permit that is issued by the Urban Development department. The following clause will also be added to any permit that is issued:

“The condominium association or owner of the apartment building confirms that he has read the attached letter and will abide by the terms and conditions provided therein.”

Finally, the City will be actively encouraging the DSP to enforce the abovementioned measures through the guide of their top senior bureaucrats.

Should condo and apartment buildings managers have any questions, we ask that they contact the DSP by email [email protected] or by phone at 514-842-7226. If you do not receive an answer within a reasonable delay you may contact  your city councillor.

A huge thanks to Assistant City Clerk Jason Prevost for  all of his work on this  file!

Introducing my new podcast: please tune in

For many years now I have thought about starting my own podcast. 

Now it is a reality at :

On your iPhone or iPad go to  the Podcasts folder and in the search engine type in "Mike Cohen Podcast" and subscribe.



I graduated from Concordia University's Broadcast Journalism Program in 1985 and a future in radio or TV was definitely on my radar screen. Yes, I was able to get some freelance assignments. Mitch Melnick,  then  with CJAD, gave me my first taste in the business when he arranged for me to do some post game reports at Montreal Expos games. A number of years later, I served as the Montreal correspondent for The FAN all-sports radio in Toronto and for two  years co-hosted the Expos pre  and post game shows on the old CIQC Radio 600 (a successor to the old CFCF Radio). It  was a blast. Meanwhile, as the then national director  of communications for Canadian Jewish Congress I became an official spokesperson and did countless interviews. That continued  in 1999 when I joined the English Montreal School Board as communications and marketing specialist, a position I still hold today. Responding to media inquiries is a huge component of this job. From time to time I also get to  do a sports radio bit on TSN 690 with the likes  of Tony Marinaro and Matthew Ross.

In 2005 I was elected to city council in Côte Saint-Luc. I started this blog as a way to regularly communicate with my constituents. Last September my colleague, Councillor Oren Sebag, started his own podcast. I think that was the wakeup call I needed to launch mine. My intent is to draw from the people I interact with via my three main jobs: the EMSB, city council and as a writer for a number of publications, notably The Suburban. During the present COVID-19 pandemic,  interviews will be done by phone. As such the podcasts will not have a lot of bells and whistles attached, but I do hope to  chat with different players in the field under the three hats I wear. I greatly look forward to the day when I can go on location.

My first interview is with the Liberal MNA for D'Arcy McGee David Birnbaum. David and  I go back decades. We first met when he was  the communications officer for the former Protestant  School Board of Greater Montreal and I was a reporter for The Suburban.It was David,  in fact, who recommended me for my job at the EMSB.  I thought it would be interesting to get his take  on the COVID-19 pandemic. How does it impact local MNAs? Is the CAQ government doing a good job? Where does the Liberal leadership race stand? Will Bill 40, the school board reforms, be enacted on time? Please give it a listen and stay tuned for more.

You can click on this direct link:

and this one  for my interview with Anthony Housefather:  






David Birnbaum to cross the floor and join the CAQ? April Fool's

With Quebec Premier François Legault’s  popularity at an all-time high given the way he has handled the COVID-19 crisis, D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum has decided to cross the floor. He will leave the Quebec Liberal Party and join the Coalition avenir Québec and second Christopher Skeete as one of the Premier’s point-men on anglo relations.

Talks between Birnbaum and CAQ officials intensified as he lobbied for  the installation of a COVID-19 Testing Center at the Quartier Cavendish in Côte Saint-Luc.

David Birnbaum


“I think my constituents will be well served by this decision,” said Birnbaum.

Birnbaum said he is confident that with his presence on the team, the CAQ will withdraw the Bill 21 secular law and Bill 40 abolishing school boards. “François Legault has proven during this crisis that he is the Premier for all Quebecers,” Birnbaum said. “I am proud to now be standing by his side.”

Birnbaum added that when this pandemic crisis comes to an end, he is confident Legault will help push  through the Cavendish Boulevard extension.

Premier Legault

“Premier  Legault is practically our neighbor,” said Birnbaum. “He lives in Outremont  and understands our community very well.”

In fact Birnbaum will accompany Legault this Saturday for a visit to the Quartier Cavendish Testing Centre. “If only I could have bought him a smoked meat sandwich at the Deli Boyz,” he said.

The liaison between the Birnbaum-CAQ talks was none other than  former Quebec Premier and noted flip-flopper Philippe Couillard, whom we are told will be named the province’s delegate general in New York City when this is all over.

Birnbaum has also asked that the name of his riding,D’Arcy McGee, be changed to Côte Saint HampWest – something he says Legault supports. We contacted one-time MNA and Mayor Robert Libman, who was so upset to hear about Birnbaum’s decision that he intends to bring the Equality Party back for the 2022 election.

And folks, one more thing: it is April 1 and a time when we are stressed out and overwhelmed I hope you can see the humour in this April Fool’s joke. David Birnbaum has been doing an outstanding job for us  and rest assured he will always remain a Liberal.


Coalition of elected officials at all levels join to oppose Bill 21/Coalition d’élus de tous les paliers de gouvernement contre le projet de loi 21

 A coalition of mayors, city councillors, school board commissioners, and representatives at the provincial and federal level announced today their intention to oppose Bill 21, An Act respecting the laicity of the State, which was recently tabled by the Quebec government.

The coalition of elected officials announced the Rally for Religious Freedom will take place on Sunday, April 14, 2019, from 11:30am to 1 pm in front of the Bernard Lang Civic Centre at 5801 Cavendish Blvd. in Côte Saint-Luc. The public is invited to attend to show their opposition to Bill 21.


“Yes, ensuring the neutrality of the state is vitally important. That ensures the equality of all but this awful bill will do exactly the opposite. It will tell some Quebecers that they are not as equal as others. What a terrible message! This bill is unfair, it is unworthy of the Quebec that I love and is effectively illegal when applied to the Quebec and Canadian Charters of Rights. Together, we will use all means legitimately available to oppose it.”

- David Birnbaum, Member of Parliament for D’Arcy-McGee and Official Opposition Critic for Indigenous Affairs

“We intend to work together across jurisdictions to oppose Bill 21. The proposed law discriminates against a number of those people we represent and seeks to treat those who wear a cross, kippa, hijab or turban as second class citizens.”

- Anthony Housefather, Member of Parliament for Mount Royal

“We intend to speak out and defend a value we hold dear–that of ensuring all Quebecers can excel in the professions of their choice, irrespective of their religious beliefs.”

- Mitchell Brownstein, Mayor of the City of Côte Saint-Luc

“Bill 21 violates both the Quebec and Canadian Charters of Rights and Freedoms as well as the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We have a moral obligation to fight this law in every way we can. It discriminates against religious people and limits their job opportunities."

- Dr. William Steinberg, Mayor of the Town of Hampstead

“Bill 21 will institutionalize discrimination for certain jobs in the public service making Quebec the only jurisdiction in North America where candidates who might be entirely qualified, indeed the best candidate, will be barred on the basis of their deeply held religious believes. Quebec's civil service already lacks diversity and the message this Bill sends is that minorities are unwelcome. It flies in the face of the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and what most Quebecers believe that we are a welcoming society where people can be proud of their descent and heritage while being proud of being Quebecers. Clearly this Bill targets Jews, Sikhs and Muslims and as more Quebecers realize it, support for this odious legislation will collapse.”

- Marvin Rotrand, Councillor for Snowdon district of Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (Montreal)

“We must speak out against this legislation together. We stood united against the former PQ government’s Charter of Values in 2014 and I am comforted to see we will do so again. What the government is asking us to do goes against all of the values we teach our children.”

- Angela Mancini, Chair of the English Montreal School Board

Quick facts


Une coalition formée de maires, de conseillers municipaux, de commissaires d’école et de représentants de différents organismes provinciaux et fédéraux a annoncé aujourd’hui son intention de s’opposer au projet de loi 21, la Loi sur la laïcité de l’État déposée récemment par le gouvernement du Québec.

La coalition d’élus a fait savoir que le Rallye pour la liberté religieuse se tiendra le dimanche 14 avril 2019, de 11 h 30 à 13 h, devant le Centre municipal Bernard Lang au 5801, boulevard Cavendish à Côte Saint-Luc. La population est invitée à participer pour manifester son opposition au projet de loi 21.


« Oui, il est essentiel de garantir la neutralité de l’État afin d’assurer l’égalité entre tous, mais cet inquiétant projet de loi fera exactement le contraire. Il indiquera à certains Québécois qu’ils ne sont pas aussi égaux que d’autres. Quel horrible message !  Ce projet de loi est injuste, il est indigne du Québec que j’aime. En fait, il est illégal selon les chartes québécoise et canadienne des droits et libertés. Ensemble, nous utiliserons tous les moyens légitimes à notre disposition pour nous y opposer. »

- David Birnbaum, membre de l’Assemblée nationale pour D’Arcy-McGee et Porte-parole de l’opposition officielle en matière d’affaires autochtones

« Nous avons l’intention de travailler ensemble avec les divers paliers de gouvernement pour nous opposer au projet de loi 21. La loi proposée est discriminatoire envers un certain nombre de personnes que nous représentons et elle a pour effet de traiter ceux qui portent une croix, une kippa, un hijab ou un turban comme des citoyens de deuxième classe. »

- Anthony Housefather, député de Mont-Royal à la Chambre des Communes

« Nous avons l’intention de nous faire entendre et de défendre une valeur qui nous tient à cœur : faire en sorte que tous les Québécois puissent exceller dans les professions de leur choix, peu importe leurs croyances religieuses. »

- Mitchell Brownstein, maire de la Ville de Côte Saint-Luc

« Le projet de loi  21 viole à la fois la charte québécoise et la charte canadienne des droits et libertés, ainsi que la Déclaration universelle des droits de l’homme des Nations Unies. Nous avons l’obligation morale de combattre cette loi par tous les moyens dont nous disposons. Elle est discriminatoire envers les personnes ayant des croyances religieuses et elle limite leurs possibilités d’emploi. »

- Dr William Steinberg, maire de la Ville de Hampstead

« Le projet de loi  21 institutionnalisera la discrimination pour certains emplois dans la fonction publique, faisant du Québec la seule juridiction en Amérique du Nord où des candidats parfaitement qualifiés, voire les meilleurs, seront exclus en raison de leurs convictions religieuses profondes. La fonction publique québécoise manque déjà de diversité et le message de ce projet de loi est que les minorités ne sont pas les bienvenues. Cela va à l’encontre de la Charte des droits et libertés de la personne du Québec et de ce que la plupart des Québécois estiment être une société accueillante où les gens peuvent être fiers de leur descendance et de leur patrimoine tout en étant fiers d’être Québécois. Il est clair que ce projet de loi cible les juifs, les sikhs et les musulmans et à mesure que les Québécois en prendront conscience, l’appui à cette loi odieuse s’effondrera. »

- Marvin Rotrand, conseiller du district Snowdon de Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (Montréal)

« Nous devons nous prononcer contre ce projet de loi ensemble. Nous nous sommes unis contre la Charte des valeurs de l’ancien gouvernement du PQ en 2014 et je suis rassurée de voir que nous le referons. Ce que le gouvernement nous demande de faire va à l’encontre de toutes les valeurs que nous enseignons à nos enfants. »

- Angela Mancini, présidente de la Commission scolaire English-Montréal

Faits en bref