Quebec government

CSL leads the way in speaking out against Bill 14

Côte Saint-Luc, in particular our mayor Anthony Housefather, has taken a leadership role against the minority PQ government's mean spirited Bill 14. Among other things, it threatens to remove bilingual status from cities and towns like ours. Mayor Housefather wrote the script for this impressive video, with our valuable Public Affairs and Communications Director Darryl Levine working ever so carefully behind the scenes.

This video really explains the situation as Bill 14 impacts upon bilingual municipalities magnificently.

 

 


CSL's Bergman set for sixth mandate at D'Arcy McGee MNA

Lawrence Bergman made it official last week. With a standing room only crowd cheering his every move at the Adath-Israel Poale Zedek Congregation in Hampstead, he was confirmed as the candidate for the riding of D’Arcy McGee. District 2 resident Martin Bogante presided over the festive evening in his capacity as riding president, a position he has held since Bergman first got elected 18 years ago. Below Bergman greets one-time riding MNA and cabinet minister Dr. Victor Goldbloom and his wife Sheila.

BergmanGoldblooms

Commonly referred to as Quebec’s de facto Minister of Jewish Affairs, Bergman says he never contemplated retirement even as he approaches his 72nd birthday. The next Quebec election, which many predict could be called before June, will be Bergman’s sixth. He first took office in 1994, regaining the riding for the Liberals after Robert Libman wrested it away in 1989 for the former Equality Party. This was a time when the English-speaking community wanted to send a message to the Liberals for the way in which they were handling the language laws.

Libman ran again in ’94 as an independent against Bergman, a notary who at the time was the president of Adath-Israel Poale Seek. Bergman won the election and over the past 18 years has gained a reputation for being the “go to” man for any issue affecting the Jewish community. He served in Premier Jean Charest’s cabinet as Minister of Revenue and for the past three and a half years he has been the chairman of the government caucus. This gives him access to the premier at least once a week for 90 minutes and to all of the members of cabinet.

On hand to show support for Bergman at the nomination meeting were Quebec Health Minister Yves Bolduc. Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities Kathleen Weil, MNAs Yvan  Marcoux, Pierre Marsan and Karl Blackburn as well as municipal representatives and community leaders.

“We are now in our 18th year in office,” Bergman told the crowd. “For Jewish people, 18 is Chai: Chai is life, Chai is inspiration and Chai is optimism.”

Bergman recalled his highlight as an MNA. It occurred in December 1999 when the  Liberals were in opposition and he proposed Bill 198 which gave official recognition to Yom Hashoah. “If you add one, plus nine, plus eight it also comes to 18 and Chai,” Bergman explained. “Just before the vote, then Parti Québecois Premier Lucien Bouchard crossed the floor to speak to Jean Charest. He said that he wanted a member of his party to sign their name so this could be a united effort. My proudest moment was seeing all 125 MNAs stand up and vote to recognize Yom Hashoah.”

Minister Bolduc pointed to the more than $400 million the government has awarded to the Jewish General Hospital to expand its services, noting that Bergman’s  efforts played a crucial role in this becoming a reality. “It is important to have a guy like him,” Bolduc said. “When we talk about the Jewish community, we always get the opinion of Lawrence.”

Bogante emphasized that a number of years ago D’Arcy McGee was in danger of being wiped off the electoral map. “But Lawrence stopped that from happening,” he said.

I joined Mayor Anthony Housefather and several members of council at the nomination meeting. Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg and his council were there as well. We all agree that Lawrence Bergman has been a truly excellent MNA, one who has always been there for us in a time of need. When the demerger process took place and we were in jeopardy of losing our Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Lawrence stepped in and prevented that from happening. As we proceeded to build our $18 million Aquatic and Community Centre, the provincial funding that was necessary to see this project through was acquired thanks in large part to Lawrence. He even brought the Provincial Minister of Municipal Affairs here not once, but twice: for the construction announcement and for a tour of the actual facility when it was inaugurated.

Thank you Lawrence and we wish you many more years in office!

 

 

 

 

 


Quebec Finance Minister charms CSL Senior Men's Club

As the chairman of the provincial Liberal government caucus and a long time D’Arcy McGee Member of the National Assembly, Lawrence Bergman continues to demonstrate the valuable influence he has. Last week he arranged for Premier Jean Charest to attend and speak at the annual Yom Hashoah commemoration at Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem Congregation in Côte Saint-Luc. On May 9, he brought Minister of Finance and Revenue Raymond Bachand to address a packed room of the Côte Saint-Luc Senior Men’s Club.

BachandCSL

I had the good fortune of spending some time and chatting with Bachand a few weeks ago when we met at the Centaur Theatre for a showing of Schwartz’s The Musical.  I joined Mayor Anthony Housefather, Bergman and Senior Men’s Club President Sidney Margles in welcoming Bachand when he arrived at the Côte Saint-Luc Shopping Centre.

“I sent a few friends of mine to see Schwartz’s” he told me.

Bachand is  one smart cookie.  A lawyer by profession, he also has a doctorate of administration from  the Université de Montréal and an MBA from Harvard University.

An assistant professor at École des hautes études commerciales de Montréal (1972-1977), he entered the world of politics as the chief of staff for the Minister of Labour and Manpower (1977-1979), then as special secretary in the Office of Premier René Lévesque (1979-1981). In the early 1980s, he embarked upon his business career, first as vice-president of Métro-Richelieu (1981-1989), then as vice-president of Culinar (1990-1993), first vice-president (1994-1997) and president and CEO (1997-2001) of the Fonds de solidarité de la FTQ and president and CEO of Secor Conseil (2002-2005). Throughout this period, he sat on numerous boards of directors.
Despite his many professional activities,   Bachand finds the time for community and cultural involvement, working with organizations such as  Fondation Jules et Paul-Émile-Léger, Fondation de la Tolérance, Fondation Charles-Bruneau and Oxfam-Québec. He chairs Carbone 14 (Usine C) and the advisory group on Montréal’s first cultural policy.

Elected MNA for Outremont in a by-election in December 2005, he was re-elected in the general elections of 2007 and 2008. He headed the ministère du Développement économique, de l'Innovation et de l'Exportation from February 2006 to June 2009, and the ministère du Tourisme from April  2007 to December 2008. In April 2009, the Ppremier appointed him Minister of  Finance, a position he still occupies. In August 2010, he was also entrusted with the ministère du Revenu.

BachandBillTaylor As Bachand made his way to our second floor headquarters for Seniors (soon to be moved to our new Aquatic and Community Centre), he came upon 90 year Bill Taylor (left). It seems the elevator leading to the room was broken and Bill can no longer climb stairs.  Bachand stopped to talk to Bill and answer a few of his questions. He also stopped to talk to Tamar Lewis (below) , who had a personal photo to present

Bergman referred to Margles as a close friend of his for more than  50 years now. He then presented Margles with a $1,000 cheque from the Quebec government for the Men’s Club. “We will not use this for the elevator,” Margles quipped,  noting that we are a tenant in the Centre.

TamaraLewiisBachand

Bergman then introduced Bachand, whom he credited with assisting on three important files in the riding: the saving of our Emergency Medical Services (EMS) program; the millions of dollars of support from the government for the Aquatic Community Centre which is being funded by the Quebec and Canadian governments and Côte Saint-Luc;  and another substantial contribution to the construction of Pavillion K of the Jewish General Hospital which will focus on patients requiring emergency treatment, surgery, or intensive, coronary, or neonatal intensive care.

“For Pavillion K I was originally told I had a half hour to discuss our role with the premier,” Bergman recalled. “When  I walked into his office, who was sitting there but my good friend Raymond Bachand. Now I  knew I would be successful. And I was.”

Bergman also recalls going to Israel with Bachand and sharing in the experience of visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum. “I can only describe with one word and that is a mensch,” Bergman said, referring to the Yiddish translation for  “a person of integrity and honour.

Bachand captivated the audience with a power point presentation on the Quebec economy and left time to answer questions. “Our five-year financial framework will stay in place,” he commented.  “We are going back to a balanced budget, we are going to control our debt. But we are doing so while protecting health and education. That’s a choice we’ve made in Quebec,”

In March Bachand tabled  a "stay the course" budget, meaning he intends to keep on the path toward eliminating the provincial deficit by 2013-2014. “The  Quebec economy is going well,” he assured us. “During the recession we were very active in providing financial support to good companies and stepped in with guaranteed bank loans. As a result we created an additional 60,000 jobs. If we had done nothing, by 2013-2014 we would have had a $12 billion deficit.”

If Charest were to retire before the end of his mandate, many are touting Bachand as a possible successor to lead the Liberal Party and the province.


Sign the Bill 104 Petition: The Quebec Liberals Should Respect the Supreme Court of Canada Ruling

Here is a press release I sent out from the English Montreal School Board which I urge everyone to read and then go online to sign the petition.

The Central Parents Committee of the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is urging parents, students, staff and the community at large to support  their online petition related to Bill 104, which the Supreme Court of Canada declared unconstitutional last fall.  This petition calls upon the Quebec government to respect the ruling.

Bill 104 came into force in 2002 and  closed a section in Bill 101, the charter of the French language in Quebec,  that made a child eligible to attend English public school after as little as a year in a non-subsidized private English school. This applied to  siblings and,  eventually,  offspring  as well. The EMSB had more than 27,000 students in its youth sector at the time. That number has since dropped to 22,000, due mainly to Bill 104.

The petition can be accessed at www.emsb.qc.ca

“It is our fear that the Quebec government will draft  new legislation in the very near future that may very well mirror Bill 104, once again infringing upon our freedom of choice,” states EMSB parent commissioner Angie Bertone, who moved the resolution initiating the petition.  “Enough is enough! The time has come to stand up for our rights: the right  and freedom to choose. Let us protect our freedom of choice and that of generations to come!”

EMSB Chairman Angela Mancini notes that the October 22, 2009 Supreme Court of Canada ruling gave the Quebec National Assembly one year to rewrite the legislation so that it does not contravene the Charter of Rights and Freedoms of Canada. Until such time, their decision is considered suspended and not applicable. The Charter of the French Language (Bill 101), adopted by the National Assembly  in 1977, clearly states its objective of assuring the quality and influence of the French language in Quebec “in a spirit of fairness and open-mindedness, respectful of the institutions of the English-speaking community of Quebec.” The CPC reasons that the  EMSB, as well as other English School Boards across Quebec, have consistently supported this objective of the French Language Charter by going far beyond the minimum requirements for French language instruction set out in Ministry of Education regulations.

Ms. Mancini emphasized that the petition represents a joint effort with the Lester B. Pearson School Board, which also has an online petition. “Our two Central Parents Committees are meeting on the issue,” she said. “I remain in constant touch with their chairman, Marcus Tabachnick.  As the two largest English public school boards in the province I believe it is important that we collaborate on  a matter as important as this.”

Ms. Mancini points out that the EMSB and other English school boards across Quebec have over the years demonstrated their strong commitment to graduate fully bilingual and biliterate students in an effort to better qualify them for the Quebec work force.

The resolution, adds that the charter of the French Language has severely limited access to the public schools of the English-speaking community. Furthermore,  the resolution  wishes to ensure that any proposed amendment to the charter will in no way restrict access to the network of schools of the English-speaking community or threaten its sustainability.  The CPC is also calling for the government to open a dialogue with the English speaking community regarding French language education and its role in the social context of Quebec before proposing any changes to the charter of the French language.



Multi-million dollar Intergenerational/Aquatic complex announced for CSL

Today I was proud to be in attendance at a press conference at Côte Saint-Luc City Hall where city council's wish to build an intergenerational/aquatic centre became a reality thanks to an investment of $11.5 million from the federal and provincial governments. We will make up the remainder of the cost.

Provincial Minister of Municipal Affairs Lauren Lessard made his first visit to our community. He was accompanied by D'Arcy McGee MNA Lawrence Bergman. Senator Judith Seidman represented the federal government. Côte Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather gave Mr. Bergman a lot of credit for pursuing this file. Councillors Allan J. Levine and Ruth Kovac were also on hand. Ms. Kovac will co-chair the new project with Councillor Mitchell Brownstein. Below is a group photo after the announcement and the full press release.

IntergenerationalAnnouncement 


Senator Judith Seidman, acting on behalf of the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of State for Canada Economic Development, today joined Laurent Lessard, Minister of Municipal Affairs, Regions and Land Occupancy, and Lawrence S. Bergman, Member of the National Assembly for D’Arcy-McGee and Chair of the Government Caucus, in announcing that the City of Côte Saint Luc will receive $11,571,880 in joint government financial assistance under the Communities Component of the Building Canada Fund – Quebec for the construction of an intergenerational/aquatic centre. 

The project involves the construction of an intergenerational/aquatic centre covering a total gross area of about 5,456 square metres in the City of Côte-Saint-Luc. This new complex will comprise a 25-metre swimming pool, a wading pool, an indoor terrace adjacent to the aquatic pools, portable bleachers for about 200 people, multifunctional community halls, a physical fitness room and dance and warm up studios. 

The new complex will bring sport and recreational facilities under one roof and boast modern equipment tailored to contemporary indoor leisure and fitness activities as well as suite of activities for persons aged 55 and over. Students from nearby schools and residents from surrounding cities and boroughs will also be able to benefit from the activities and services on offer at the new centre. 

"Côte-Saint-Luc’s construction of a new intergenerational/aquatic centre will serve the interests of its residents and businesses. In supporting this project, we are seeing to it that the population enjoys the high quality of life for which our country is famous. Indeed, the Government of Canada is committed to equipping every community with modern facilities and equipment to ensure citizens’ health and safety. The renewal of public infrastructure is part of a broad action plan that will enable us to thrive and prosper in a healthy environment," stated Senator Judith Seidman. 

"By participating in this project, the Government of Quebec is moving forward to ensure the province’s municipalities have infrastructure that meets their unique realities while fostering sustainable development. By injecting new capital into the Quebec Infrastructure Plan, our government is looking to accelerate the execution of numerous infrastructure projects throughout the province, like this one in Côte Saint Luc, in an effort to improve Quebecers’ well-being, create jobs and promote a high-performance economy. In this way, we are leaving the municipality a legacy of quality infrastructure with which to face the challenges of the future," said Minister Laurent Lessard. 

"Côte-Saint-Luc is the Island of Montréal’s third largest city and its population is growing faster than that of Quebec as a whole. It is important that the City have all the necessary infrastructure to meet the needs of its increasing number of residents," added MNA Lawrence S. Bergman. 

Completion of this project will necessitate an overall eligible investment of $17,357,821. The governments of Quebec and Canada will each contribute $5,785,940 toward the work, for a total of $11,571,880 in combined government funding, while the City of Côte Saint Luc will assume the remaining third, or $5,785,941, of the project’s costs. 

The Communities Component of the Building Canada Fund – Quebec is a cost-sharing initiative aimed at funding infrastructure projects in communities with fewer than 100,000 inhabitants. These communities are thus able to use this assistance to improve infrastructure that is in major need of revitalization, including water treatment plants, water supply systems and cultural and sports centres. 

For provinces, like Quebec, that have committed all of their funding under the Communities Component, the Government of Canada’s Economic Action Plan provides for up to $500 million in additional funding for projects that will be completed by March 31, 2011. 

In Quebec, a joint federal-provincial contribution of $232 million will be used to fund 106 infrastructure projects. 

The contribution from the Government of Canada has been awarded through Canada’s Economic Action Plan. To learn more about this plan, visit 

www.actionplan.gc.ca
. 

For further information on the Government of Quebec’s Quebec Infrastructure Plan, see 
www.infrastructures.gouv.qc.ca. 

Aussi disponible en français : 
www.dec-ced.gc.ca. 

Meeting Yolande James


MikeYolande  Mike and the charming Yolande James.

 

I had the chance to meet Quebec’s dynamic Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities, Yolande James, and to say I am impressed with this young woman is an understatement.  As part of Black History Month Ms.  James was visiting Coronation Elementary School in Côte des Neiges to address the students. Ms. James  became  the first black woman elected to the National Assembly in 2004 and  the first black cabinet minister upon her initial appointment by Premier Jean Charest in the spring of 2007. Born in Montreal,  she attended Pierrefonds Comprehensive High School, Vanier College, Queen’s University and Université de  Montréal, completing degrees in common and civil law before being called to the Bar in 2004.  Soon after she was elected as the MNA for Nelligan. What I liked most about Ms. James was her down to earth nature.


2009 Municipal Elections To Be Delayed?

The next municipal elections in the province of Quebec are scheduled to take place in November 2009. But according to my sources, they may be delayed until November 2011 in order to coincide with school board elections.  That would mean that city and town councils presently in office across the province would enjoy  unprecedented six year mandates.

Let me go on record again as stating that I strongly oppose the amalgamation of school board and municipal elections. I passed a resolution at our June council meeting, which was subsequently forwarded to  the Quebec Union of Municipalities, the Association of Suburban Municipalities, the Minister of Education, Recreation and Sports, Michelle Courchesne,  the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Nathalie Normandeau, the Chairman of the committee studying Bill 88, Pierre Arcand,  the MNA for D’Arcy McGee, Lawrence Bergman and municipal councils in Quebec. This is the same position espoused by the English Montreal School Board, where I serve as communications and marketing specialist and by the Quebec English School Boards Association - the umbrella body for the province's nine English boards.

Last May the Quebec government tabled Bill 88— An Act to amend the Education Act and the Act respecting school elections —to modify the laws governing public school boards and school board elections.

I have personally spoken to several Members of the National Assembly on this subject, trying to convince them that the presence of separate English and French voting lists at school board elections would create confusion at the polling stations. Let us remember that in the 2005 municipal election, there were already significant problems and delays at the polling stations. Both municipal and school board elections deserve proper attention paid to the candidates and the issues involved. The merger of these elections would be unfair to the candidates and the voters.”

We should learn very soon what Minister Courchesne has in mind. But I am told she seems convinced that the merger route is the way to go. Since it would be very difficult to do this in time for November 2009, she is apparently looking at 2011.

If the federal elections occur in October 2009, which is what a bill adopted by the Conservative government spells out, then that would be another reason to delay municipal elections.

There is still time to hopefully get the Minister to change her mind. If Premier Jean Charest would like to look into the crystal ball, he would see an embarrassing disaster unfolding at polling stations in November 2011. This is a very very bad idea. Once again, I call upon my muncipal colleagues across the province to speak up..


Liberal Minority? Good for the Suburbs?

On the eve of the provincial election, as a Côte Saint-Luc city councillor, I have a feeling what would be the best scenario for all of us. A Liberal minority government, with Mario Dumont's ADQ holding the balance of power, could be just the tonic we need to fix the agglomeration council mess. Premier Jean Charest has been very non-committal about making changes to the agglomeratiom structure. Dumont, on the other hand, has been very straight forward. He would replace it with something that resembles the old Montreal Urban Community. If Charest wins a majority - highly unlikely - he would probably be bullied by Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay not to make any changes to the agglo. But in a minority situation, Dumont will be in a position to exert pressure. Charest and his MNAs representing the suburbs have been saying for some time they want to fix the agglo. I think they need Dumont's presence to get that extra push. Dumont has not managed to attract much attention in the West End. He has come a long way over the years, but policies such as abolishing school boards do not fly here. There is potential and if he could play a role in fixing the agglo it could bode well for him...especially considering the fact a minority government might not last more than a year or two, giving him a realistic chance at becoming premier.