An off duty CSL nursing assistant saves a life in Heywood crash

Congratulations to a constituent of mine in District 2, Nina Cohen, who saved someone’s life last week.

Nina, who  lives on Rembrandt Avenue and works as a nurse’s assistant/PAB ( préposés aux bénéficiares) at the Jewish General and Royal Victoria Hospitals. She got her training at the Shadd Health and  Business Centre, part of the English Montreal School Board.

Nina Cohen

Last Monday night Nina and Rozanne Abramson were on the balcony overlooking Heywood when there was a car crash. They both headed towards the accident, with Nina swinging into action. The driver had no pulse. Two people removed him from the vehicle and she gave him CPR. When he regained consciousness it was clear  he had been driving under the influence. Public Security, Urgences Santé, Emergency Medical Services and the police all arrived. The car was totalled .

Heywood accidentOct2023
A view of the accident. (JP Amiel Photo)

I called Nina to thank her for what she did.

“I am just so glad that I had the training which allowed me  to step in and save someone’s life,” Nina said.

Said building mainstay JP Amiel: I don't know if the victim survived and has learned a lesson, but his chances were greatly improved by the presence of Nina and Roxanne."  

We all salute her!

Félicitations à l'une de mes électrices

Félicitations à l'une de mes électrices du district 2, Nina Cohen, qui a sauvé la vie d'une personne la semaine dernière.

Nina, qui habite sur l'avenue Rembrandt, travaille comme infirmière auxiliaire/PAB (préposés aux bénéficiaires) à l'Hôpital général juif et à l'Hôpital Royal Victoria. Elle a suivi sa formation au Centre de santé et d'affaires Shadd, qui fait partie de la Commission scolaire English-Montréal.

Lundi soir dernier, Nina et Rozanne Abramson se trouvaient sur le balcon surplombant Heywood lorsqu'un accident de voiture s'est produit. Elles se sont toutes deux dirigées vers l'accident, et Nina s'est empressée d'intervenir. Le conducteur n'avait plus de pouls. Deux personnes l'ont sorti du véhicule et Nina lui a fait un massage cardiaque. Lorsqu'il a repris conscience, il était évident qu'il conduisait sous influence. La sécurité publique, Urgences Santé, les services médicaux d'urgence et la police sont arrivés sur les lieux. La voiture a été détruite.

J'ai appelé Nina pour la remercier de ce qu'elle avait fait.

"Je suis tellement heureuse d'avoir reçu la formation qui m'a permis d'intervenir et de sauver la vie de quelqu'un", a déclaré Nina.

JP Amiel, pilier du bâtiment, a déclaré : "Je ne sais pas si la victime a survécu et en a tiré une leçon, mais ses chances ont été grandement améliorées par la présence de Nina et de Roxanne".

Nous la saluons tous !



Meand Isadore
Chatting with Isadore at the last Remembrance Day ceremony he attended.

Isadore Goldberg was a city councillor for District 1 in Côte Saint-Luc from 1982 to 2001. He was unbeatable in any election for one reason: he gave constituents what they wanted, that being full customer service. This was before the internet era.  What you got from Isadore was a return phone call or a personal visit.

In February of 2020 Isadore passed away.  In a strange geographic makeup, District 1 in Isadore’s day included the area of MacDonald Avenue, North of Hampstead, some buildings along Côte Saint-Luc Road and yes – Marc Chagall and Sir Walter Scott. The latter two became part of my District 2 in time for the 2005 election. It is for this reason that a park, located behind the apartments on Sir Walter Scott, was named after Isadore. At that time a sign was placed on Kildare Road, meaning for those who wanted to actually go  to the park they had to navigate their way through a parking lot and a narrow strip of land.

Friends and family join us at the rededication ceremony.


When I was elected I promised Isadore that I would do something about this.   We spent considerable time looking into the feasibility of moving the park to a large green space on Marc Chagall Avenue. When that land was needed for parking lot to accommodate workers for a large construction  project, discussions were placed on hold for three years.

Public Works Director Beatrice Newman, Foreman for  Parks, Horticulture and Green Spaces Joanne Warren and their team were absolutely marvelous to deal with.  In late 2019 I called Isadore with good news. His park would be refurbished and the sign moved to a more appropriate spot. Sadly, he passed away soon after and then the pandemic hit. Again. Projects were delayed.

Our group visits the park.


Last year, Public Works completed work on Isadore Goldberg Park. For starters, the sign was moved to Marc Chagall next to a new, nicely paved pathway. Finally, there was a easy way to get there.  Bollard lights and trees were installed in that space as well.

At the park itself, Public Works removed all invasive species of weeds and trees. New sand and some new play equipment was added as well as urban furniture. A drinking fountain will be added in the next few months. Because we have named the large greenspace on Marc Chagall as Sheila Finestone Park,  an  arrow will be added to the Goldberg sign pointing people in the right direction.

A few weeks ago we held a ceremony to dedicate Finestone Park. I decided it would not do justice for Isadore to merely mention his park as a sidenote. So, on September 3, members of the Goldberg family and some friends joined myself and Councillors Steven Erdelyi and Sidney Beniziri for a lovely rededication ceremony.   We were also lucky to have local teenage recording artist Rachel Dara on hand to sing a beautiful tribute song to Isadore.  Rachel is 16, the same age Isadore was when he went to fight for Canada in World War  II.

I shared some kind words about Isadore, as did his sister-in-law.  Mayor Mitchell Brownstein was not able to attend, but he wanted me to express how much he appreciated the 11 years he served on council with Isadore. Everyone loved Rachel’s song, Comme Toi by Jean-Jacques Goldman, about Sarah, a Jewish child victim of the Holocaust. Rachel felt it was appropriate given that Isadore was veteran of  WWII.

Please watch the video

Most appropriately, we all  took a walk over to  the park, which is used regularly by families living in the area and those in the condos who bring their grandchildren there.

It took some time, but Isadore Goldberg Park and its signage have been properly delivered. I am very proud to have helped see this through.

It is official: Marc Chagall greenspace to be named Sheila Finestone Park

Following a thorough consultation with neighbourhood residents, Côte Saint-Luc  City Council has accepted a recommendation from the Toponomy Committee that I chair to name the greenspace on Marc Chagall Avenue as Sheila Finestone Park.

The late Sheila Finestone

Sheila Finestone was the Liberal Member of Parliament for our riding of Mount Royal from1984 to 1999, which had previously been held since 1965 by former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Finestone admired Trudeau and said he inspired her to go into politics. She concluded her political career a member of the Senate, retiring in 2002. I always felt that our city should name something after her.

History will note that the land for this park had been rented to the developers of the Equinoxe apartments for three years as a parking lot for construction workers in order to ensure residents and guests had places to park. Alternatively,  all available spots would  have been taken by the workers. When it came time for the developers to return the land to the way they found it, they failed to do so. This became a legal matter after several ill-fated attempts to get it right. The city took over the job and got it right and then some. Some dead trees had to be cut down. Public Works installed a new pathway, repositioned the picnic tables, added new benches and trees.

I have been in touch with the children of the late Sheila and Alan Finestone and they have accepted this honour. We will have a dedication ceremony in late spring or early summer.

Sheila Finestone, whom I was proud to know, was a devoted community activist before entering politics. Notable among these, at a young age she ascended to the presidency of the Women's Federation of Allied Jewish Community Services of Montreal (now Federation CJA), followed by many executive and leadership roles in this community. She then brought her insight and drive to the broader community where she earned the position of president of Les Federation des Femmes de Quebec. Her passion for the rights and dreams of all people ultimately took her into the political sphere, first as an advisor to the leaders of the Quebec Liberal Party, then as a Liberal MP, Cabinet Minister in Jean Chretien's government and ultimately to the Red Chamber as a Senator. She worked tirelessly and with passion for the causes of a united Canada, human rights, the cause of Soviet Jews, equality and justice for all peoples regardless of origin or geography. Amongst her proudest accomplishments were her leadership of Canada's delegation to the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, her membership on the Executive Committee of the No Campaign in the 1980 referendum on national unity and as a principal mover of the "Yvettes," her engagement with other notables to rid the world of landmines and most of all the fight for human dignity, privacy and the inherent rights that are intrinsic to all peoples.

Extending her influence beyond Canada's boarders, Finestone was a force in upholding the values of Canadian democratic tradition in such organizations as the Interparlimentary Union as well as other groups pursuing important global causes. In a life filled with tributes and awards her final accolade came from her parliamentary peers when in 2008 she was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award on behalf of the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians. She well understood and exemplified the notion that with power and influence comes great responsibility and she never shrank from the challenges it presented. She passed away from cancer at the age of 82 in 2009.

Mayor Brownstein with Sheila Finestone in a photo from her early years as MP.

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein was very close with Finestone and served as president of the Young Liberals  of Mount Royal when she was first elected.

I wish to thank Darryl Levine and his team from the Public Affairs and Communications Department for properly consulting residents.

In Memoriam: Dr. Ernest Burman was one of my earliest supporters

More than a year prior to the 2005 municipal elections, I announced that I would be running for the city council post in District 2. I launched this blog and literally began campaigning.

One of the first persons to contact me was Dr. Ernest Burman, a retired dentist who lived in the Rothchild. “I saw in the newspaper you want to become my city councillor,” he said, upon tracking me down. “I want to meet you.”

Dr. Ernest Burman

A few days later I sat down with Dr. Burman and formally introduced   myself. He shared with me issues of concern and I told him how I would try and resolve them. When we finished, he put out his hand and proclaimed: “You have my vote Mike!”

When the election came around I did have an opponent. We set up an office at the Quartier Cavendish and supporters came by and helped call people to go out and vote. Dr. Burman was among them.

Since that time Dr. Burman his wife Caroline (Kelsey) contacted me whenever an issue needed my attention. I never forgot Dr. Burman’s support and I was very sad to learn that he passed away on December 20.

Dr. Burman is being remembered as  wonderful person and dentist. Noted Renee Gutterman Sandler: “He was not only our dentist, he was a family friend. He was the best dentist I have ever had, having lived in Chicago and Cincinnati. I'll never forget how he saved my wedding day. Our late mom woke up that morning with a filling missing on her front tooth. There was major panic in the house and Ernie came to the rescue. When most Mother of the Brides are getting their hair done, Ernie met her very early and fixed her up! He will be missed by many."

Added  Frank Chalk: “Ernie had such a gift for friendship, caring, dentistry, wood carving, stained glass, and sports. He was an instinctive builder, improving every association and project that earned his support. And what a joy it was to be his friend! We were so fortunate to have him among us. He will be missed and remembered. May his memory be a blessing.”

Lynn Gordon from the Cummings Centre remembered a dear friend. “Ernie was a dedicated volunteer for many years sharing his wisdom, and expertise to enhance the daily lives of seniors in our community. In his own kind and gentle manner, he helped bring about positive changes, all with compassion for the well-being of others.”

Carol Levine has fond memories of Dr. Burman’s connection to her late brother. “More than 55 years ago a young boy was inspired to become a dentist because of his great admiration for Dr. Burman,” she recalled. “My brother the late Dr. Jeffrey Levine, who had cystic fibrosis, achieved his goal defying all odds. “

Rest in peace Dr. Burman!

Saul Ettinger: The man who brought us Briskets and Il Etait Un Fois has left us

I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Saul Ettinger, a constituent of mine in District 2 for the past 17 years and an iconic figure on the Montreal restaurant scene.

Saul and Farla in this 2012 photo.

Saul and his wife Farla have always been tireless supporters of mine

Saul was a well-known respected restaurateur and real estate magnate, having brought us the Briskets smoked meat chain and the Il Etait Une Fois burger spot. More than 40 years ago, Saul opened his first Briskets deli on Bishop Street. Twelve franchises in Montreal and Ottawa soon followed.  

As Saul told me just a few years ago, people who remember dining at Briskets described the smoked meat sandwiches as "addictive."  He went on to say: “Briskets smoked meat was not only homemade, but it was never pumped.  Most smoked meat in Montreal and elsewhere were and still are prepared with briskets that are pumped with phosphates and a preponderance of nitrates and sodium. This pumping technique is used in order to increase profit margins by making the briskets heavier. Strange, isn't it---the government bans the use of phosphates in your dishwasher and laundry detergent, but allows it in food? Briskets' smoked meat was made with unpumped briskets using a tightly-held secret recipe. They were dry-cured the truly old-fashioned way over a period of two to three weeks, producing superior smoked meat---smoked meat that was mouth-watering, and truly addictive.”

Briskets smoked meat sandwiches were just about everywhere, be it the Olympic Stadium concession stands or catered at private parties.   As for Il Etait Un Fois, the classic hamburger spot was located in a standalone building in heart of Old Montreal at a time when it was a relative ghost town, Saul recalled pioneering a new phenomenon. While McDonald's was selling burgers for as little as 60 cents, he decided it was time to introduce Montreal to a gourmet half-pound burger at $5. In those days, the thought of a burger for $5 was ludicrous. Yet, within a short few weeks, Il Etait Un Fois attracted huge line-ups and rave reviews. Saul's burgers were made through a rarely used secret process that turned out the juiciest and most scrumptious burgers in Montreal. And along with mouth-watering burgers and incredible fries, the menu included specialities such as homemade beer-battered onion rings and fish n' chips as well as fried mushrooms and foot-long dogs.

Another of Saul's visions was launched on the Trans Canada, Linguini, an Italian restaurant situated in a rustic log cabin built by Saul on the south side of the 40 just west of Morgan.  

Here was Saul cutting the brisket he made for me in his condo.

Long retired from the restaurant business, Saul still hosted dinners and parties where he served his amazing smoked meat.  When I saw him at an event about three years ago  I jokingly asked if he planned to make any briskets. Two days later I got a call to come to his condo. My brisket was ready. When I arrived Farla presented me with a special fork which Saul used to demonstrate how to carve the huge piece of meat. It was absolutely delicious.  

In 2012 Saul made a comeback and opened a new restaurant in LaSalle called Ettingers Deli. It was to be a mix between Briskets and Il Etait Un Fois. I was at the opening and did this video interview.


I ate there a number of time and enjoyed it, but the location off the beat and path of Newman Blvd. did not resonate with customers and it closed.  He had partnered with his stepson Warren Kleiner, and Warren's best friend, Charles Benedek.

Saul was a good man. My deepest sympathies to his wife, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Tribute: Beryl Peletz was a stalwart with the CSL Men's Club and a true mensch

While I knew Beryl Peletz was in his 90s, he was one of those individuals whom I thought would simply live forever.

I had the pleasure of being his city councillor in Côte Saint-Luc District 2 these past 16 years. He and his wife Miriam were model constituents, always providing  timely advice. When there was an issue they would call me together, with one of them doing the talking and the other sharing comments from the background.

When it came to election time and campaigns, Beryl would give me the ultimate compliment when I knocked on his door by saying, “you don’t need to ask our vote…it is guaranteed.”

David Haltrecht and I with Beryl (right) at the 2018 Men's Club Dinner.

Beryl was a true leader  with the Côte Saint-Luc Men’s Club.

“There are no simple words that I can use to pay tribute to Beryl,” said Sidney Margles. “There can only be superlatives. Beryl only had friends. He was always there. A pillar of the Cote Saint-Luc Men’s Club, he will be sorely missed.”

Irving Leiner called Beryl “a treasure whose absence will be deeply felt by many. I had the privilege of meeting and knowing Beryl when I first joined the Men's Club. His friendship and support for me was always evident and his willingness to help and take charge of anything that was required for our live evening events contributed to making these events enormously successful.”  

Syd Kronish noted that Beryl was  his key man during his eight years years as a member of the executive, including four as president. “He assumed with pleasure the job of heading the breakfast meetings which fed 200 to 275 members every month.” He said.  “He also was the leader of our monthly trips to Morrisburg to see some wonderful live shows what a man, always ready to help wherever he could. “

Phil Matlin resided in the same condo as Beryl on Rembrandt Avenue . “He was one of a kind,” he said. “When I moved into the Briar Cliffe I was elected to the board the same year as Miriam was. Beryl introduced himself to me as Miriam's husband. It didn't take very long to become friends. Beryl was always there for me and many others. We lost a man who was the definition of mensch. There will never be a man quite like Beryl.”

Mannie Young, another former Men’s Club president, wrote , “As I sit here writing this obituary , I am shivering not yet realizing that my mentor has left me.”

Debbie Adelstein-Posner called Beryl “ aremarkable man with an outstanding personality. He made everyone who met him feel important and loved and valued. Beryl was a pillar of his community, admired and respected by the many people he had come to know over his years particularly those in the Men’s Club.”

 Adelstein-Posner said that when  her  father stopped working and could not longer golf (his joy in life), Beryl reached out and invited him to community outings, to lectures and bridge games. “He let my father know that he was there for him at any time for any social need,” she said. “Beryl is leaving his legacy in the heart of my friend, who would, and does, go to the end of the earth for me, her friends, acquaintances and yes, without question, strangers.”  

Donations in his memory may be made to the “Abe Beryl Peletz Memorial fund” for Pancreatic cancer c/o the Jewish General Hospital Foundation (514) 340-8251 or the Sam Klinger chapter of Montreal Hadassah WIZO Organization of Canada (514) 933-8461.

Our sympathies go out to his family.



Community mourns the passing of dynamo Miriam Lang

The community is mourning the passing of Miriam Lang, the longtime first lady of Côte Saint-Luc. Her late husband, Bernard Lang, served Côte Saint-Luc as mayor and a member of city council for 35 years. He passed away in 2014. The couple were married for 65 years.

In her own right, Miriam Lang was an active figure in our community. I first met her when I was a toddler. My parents sent me to the Davis YM-YWHA Nursery School on Kellert Avenue, where Hebrew Academy is presently located. Miriam Lang was the director and de facto Principal. Growing up I was a frequent visitor to that locale. She also ran the Laval branch for many years. 


Miriam Lang


My late dad preceded me as a writer for The Suburban and he was regularly called upon to emcee city events so he interacted with the Lang’s regularly. In 1985 I was hired as a news reporter for The Suburban and my beat was Côte Saint-Luc City Hall. At that time I got to know the Langs very well.

Miriam was a true first lady, just as Elaine Brownstein is to Mayor Mitchell Brownstein today. Miriam attended all events and got involved in many dossiers and projects. She was instrumental in the establishment of our most lauded  CSL Public Library.

Sixteen years ago, at the age of 80, Mayor Lang attempted a comeback and challenged Anthony Housefather for the top job. He was defeated and while Miriam told me privately she was not thrilled with her husband’s decision she backed him nonetheless.

Miriam and Bernard became grandparents for the first and only time late in life when Dylan came into their lives, the son of Harvey. They forged an extraordinarily close relationship with this young man. Miriam was also the mother and mother-in-law of David Lang and Molly Hilsenrath and the late Barbara Asselin.

“Miriam was a great community activist and mentor for me when I was a very young city Councillor,” commented Mayor Brownstein. “ She had a great love for the City of Côte Saint Luc with a special place in her heart for the Library. She was a wonderful first lady, always there to support Mayor Lang in everything he did. She will be dearly missed.”

“Miriam was a powerful advocate for all aspects of community life in Cote Saint-Luc over many, many years,” added former Councillor Glenn J Nashen. “She was a stalwart supporter of Mayor Lang helping to move plans forward.”

Susan Puritz of Canadian Magen David Adom for Israel had this to say: “I first met her in 1984 when she was Director of the Laval branch of the YM-YWHA and I was secretary to the Executive Director. Miriam may have been short in stature, but she was a fierce advocate for all things relating to the Y. I re-connected with Miriam in 2010 when I accepted a position at CMDA. Although many years had intervened, Miriam was still a force to be reckoned with. As a past president and member of the board, Miriam had very strong ideas and did not hesitate to let her views be known. I had great respect for her and I will miss her and our many conversations. I am glad that I did get to speak with her this past Friday."

My City Council colleague Sidney Benizri is the national executive director of CMDA. Miriam first joined the organization in 1991 and became the first woman on their board of directors. She served two terms as president and was a co-editor of the 40th anniversary tribute book which just came out last year. “Researching the 40th Anniversary book, she had great appreciation of those who were instrumental in establishing CMDA – their visions, courage and dedication to make CMDA a reality and an important part of Magen David Adom Israel,” a passage in the book itself states. “She was very involved in all aspects of CMDA – fundraising events, chapters, presentations and more. Her primary goal was to make CMDA a truly national charity represented across Canada by promoting the creation of new chapters in every major city. Her efforts also included expanding the organization’s marketing, membership and fundraising.”

Should you wish to attend contact the family directly please do so at [email protected] or (514) 484-3252. Contributions in Miriam’s memory may be made to the Canadian Magen David Adom for Israel, (514) 731-4400.

Mourning Harvey Levine: B'nai Brith's Quebec Director was a gem

I am deeply saddened to share the news that Harvey Levine, longtime CSL resident and the director of B'nai Brith Canada in Quebec, has lost his battle with cancer.

Harvey was the brother of former CSL City Councillor Allan J. Levine and an extraordinary individual whom I am proud to say I had a very close relationship with,  notably via his role with B'nai Brith.

Harvey and myself in a summer 2019 photo.


B'nai Brith Canada has been active in Canada since 1875 as the Jewish community's foremost independent human rights agency. "People Helping People" is their motto with community projects, affordable senior housing, and other charitable endeavors. Harvey was the Quebec Regional Director since 2014. Prior to that he was involved with the organization for decades. Under his leadership,he maintained the B’nai Brith office in Côte Saint-Luc. He played an important role in the construction and realization of Chateau B’nai Brith, a subsidized residence for seniors. Over the years he was an ardent defender of the community, speaking out against acts of antisemitism and intolerance. He built bridges with other intercultural communities.

On a daily basis Harvey responded to antisemitic incidents, media requests and outreach to various groups, participating actively in annual audit of antisemitic incidents, overseeing Quebec community and governmental affairs and special projects as well community volunteer service projects, fundraising and the coordination of volunteers.

Previously, Harvey was an award-winning volunteer and member of B’nai Brith for over 45 years. He was a past president of the Maple Leaf Lodge of B’nai Brith Canada and more recently an advisor and trustee. In addition he continuedd to chair the annual Chanukah candle lighting project at the Jewish General Hospital.

As a professional, Harvey was a senior executive in the pharmaceutical, medical publishing and communications industries, a past president and honorary life member for the Pharmaceutical Marketing Club of Quebec, a past president of The Canadian Association of Medical Publishers and a past vice-chair of the Marketing Section of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Canada.

Last winter Harvey was recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the City of Côte Saint-Luc and he participated in the virtual ceremony.

Born and educated in Montreal, he was married to Doreen and the father of two daughters.

Harvey kept his illness very private, not looking for  sympathy and he kept on working. "I have to Mike," he told last fall. "I need to focus my mind on something positive."

D'Arcy McGee Liberal MNA David Birnbaum worked closely with Harvey over the years. ""I offer my deepest sympathies to the friends and family of Harvey Levine," he said. "Harvey was a stalwart in the fight against anti-Semitism and for equal access to justice and freedom for all. He was also a friend and colleague."

CSL Mayor Mitchell Browntein added this: "Harvey was a best friend to our city, speaking up against antisemitism and intolerance as well as ensuring affordable housing for our seniors in our city. He was respected by all as a kind caring person always ready to serve his community with passion."

Mount Royal Liberal Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather also worked a lot with Harvey. "As Quebec Regional Director of B’nai Brith Canada Harvey was a leader in the fight against antisemitism," he said. "We worked together on many files and he was a kind and erudite and determined man who cared deeply about his community. My deepest sympathies to Doreen and his whole family."

Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada, state: " Harvey was passionate in his love for the Jewish community and for Israel,” said . “For decades, during the Chanukah holiday, Harvey was always so proud to lead a group of volunteers, including the teenagers who represent the next generation, to the hospital – going room to room and bringing a little sunshine to those who were going through serious health challenges.

“That’s just who Harvey was. He was a mensch through and through, and he always had a love for B’nai Brith in his heart. He will be missed by us all, and we extend our deepest condolences to his wife, Doreen, his two daughters and his entire family.”

Eric Bissell, Honorary President for Life of B’nai Brith Canada, played a major role in hiring Harvey for the Quebec post in 2013. “He loved his work and dedicated himself to fighting antisemitism for B’nai Brith,” Bissell said. “He was a great spokesman. He was enthusiastic about Israel advocacy. . All the things that were important to B’nai Brith were important to him. He had great enthusiasm, great zeal and wonderful dedication. He could lighten up a room with his smile and his exuberance.”

Ted Greenfield, Past President of B’nai Brith Canada, said Harvey was “a very devoted, very caring kind of person. Very respectful. He enjoyed life, cared a great deal about the issues that affected the Jewish community and, in fact, the issues that affected everyone.”

Last summer Matthew Ross joined the local team as associate director and Harvey, recognizing his own fate,  worked closely to help show Matthew the ropes. Harvey's right arm was Janna  Minikovich. The two were almost inseparable at community events and made a fantastic team. I am sure Matthew and Janna will make Harvey proud.

Good-bye friend. You will be terribly missed!




Birnbaum’s team gets it right with 2021 D’Arcy McGee National Assembly Citizenship medals

D’Arcy McGee Liberal MNA David Birnbaum is an out of the box thinker and as someone with a communication background, he has a knack for shining the spotlight on his constituents.

David Birnbaum

Seven years ago he introduced the D’Arcy-McGee-National Assembly Citizenship Medals. The ceremonies each June have been moving and memorable.

I am very excited to be the first person to unveil this year’s three recipients: a much-loved and respected city councillor, a mental-health and wellness pioneer and a determined patients’-rights advocate and life-long teacher.

It is  still hard for me to believe that Ruth Kovac is no longer with us. She lost a hard-fought battle with cancer a year and a half ago. Ruth was a friend and colleague, someone I miss dearly! So kudos to the Birnbaum team and the selection committee for  deciding to honour her posthumously.

The late Ruth Kovac


Ruth was a Côte St-Luc City Councillor from 1990 until 2019 and her untimely passing. Exceptionally dedicated to her city, her community and a host of worthy causes, she was known and loved for her determination, compassion and hard work. During her years of public service, she initiated an annual blood-donor clinic, served as long-time president of the Mount Sinai Hospital Auxiliary, national secretary for Maccabi Canada and co-chair of the CSL Demerger Committee. She was a long-time activist and leader in the defence of English-speaking community concerns. A devoted daughter, mother, wife and grandmother, Ruth had an infectious smile and warmth that is deeply missed by all whom she touched. 

The other two recipients are Beverly Spanier and  Ella Amir.

Beverly has been a determined and tireless advocate for residents of the Maimonides Geriatric Centre, where she has resided since 2015. Her lifetime commitment to and aptitude for supporting her fellow citizens has been focused on the welfare and protection of her fellow residents during the deeply stressful circumstances that marked the pandemic at the centre. Whether the issue was access to caregivers, to

Beverly Spanier

second-vaccine doses or religious services, Beverly was tenacious and unyielding in her quest for answers that could comfort and reassure her fellow residents and their families. Those same qualities have guided Beverly throughout her life as a dedicated and caring teacher, volunteer and union activist. She is a past recipient of the Eshet Chayil Award from Congregation Shaar Hashomayim.  Beverly, or  “Miss Spanier” as we called her, was my economics teacher at Wagar High School dare I say more than 40 years ago.

Ella, a native of Israel, has been the executive director of AMI-Québec Action on Mental Illness since 1990. Under her guidance and leadership, AMI-Québec serves hundreds of families in French and English, through counselling programs for caregivers, school outreach programs and

Ellla Amir

education sessions for those struggling with mental illness. An often-published expert on mental-health issues, Ella is a Diamond Jubilee Medal recipient and a Member of the Order of Canada. Significantly, she coordinated AMI-Québec’s transition to virtual services, ensuring that her vast and vulnerable clientele remained fully connected during this difficult pandemic. She has served on numerous boards and advisory councils in helping to spread knowledge and availability of mental-health services.  

You can watch the virtual ceremony on  Tuesday, June 15th at 6:30 p.m.  Here is the one-stop link to attend:

The final selections were made by a jury comprised of last year’s winners: David Lisbona, Jean-Sébastien Patrice (on behalf of MultiCaf) and Sima Paris. This is the seventh annual edition of the awards program.

“There is such a rich tradition of volunteer and community leadership in this riding,” noted Birnbaum. “Our three winners for 2021 have distinguished themselves throughout their lives as proud examples of that tradition. “I am proud to have instituted this National Assembly medals program back in 2015. It allows us to recognize those in the D’Arcy-McGee riding who have given so much back in service of their fellow residents. I hope that, as every year, many members of the community will join us for the medals ceremony.”

CBC Daybreak host Sean Henry will serve as master of ceremonies for the event, and a musical interlude will be offered by Joanna Cutler and her Que Sera ensemble (

A beautiful piece on the late John Elias

Paying tribute to Johnny Elias
By Danny Gallagher
Canadian Baseball Network
I first met Johnny Elias when I played in the Dorval Senior Baseball League in suburban Montreal in 1988.
I was his teammate that season. He was 50 years old at the time and still throwing competitively. He would regale me with stories about his Grand Slam Baseball School and often asked me to plug his school in my paper, the Montreal Daily News.
I am so happy that I initiated this 2017 CSL Golf Classic where we honoured Johnny (wearing the KC hat).
No doubt about it, Elias was a grand baseball man. He grew up on the sandlots of Montreal and was so talented with that left arm of his that he won a scholarship in 1960 to Michigan State University where he graduated with a bachelor of science degree.
Elias then obtained his master's degree in administration of physical education, kinesiology and physiology from Springfield College in Massachusetts.
Elias went on to pitch in the Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Athletics and Washington Senators organizations. From 1962-65, he threw in the minors and it was in 1963 that he showed some promise for the majors while in the K.C. chain. It was his only full season out of the four he pitched in.
Statistics from Baseball Reference show that he was 9-13 in '63 with a 4.31 ERA, recording 164 strikeouts in 163 innings for Daytona Beach in the Florida State League.
In 1964, Elias pitched for Granby in the semi-pro Quebec Provincial league and would continue to play competitively in Quebec and on the international stage for years. He was a member of the pitching staff for Team Canada at the Pan-Am Games in Winnipeg in 1967. From 1968-70, he helped Trois-Rivieres to two league championships.
Elias died Dec. 10 at the age of 82 following a stroke and a tough battle with Alzheimer's. Elias' wife Marlene said in an interview that he suffered the stroke Nov. 8 and never woke up. For a good portion of the time he suffered from Alzheimer's, his wife looked after him at home.
"He kept falling and I couldn't get him up. His walking was very poor,'' said his wife of 58 years. "He was still 200 pounds and dead weight. I'd call 911 to get him up. It happened so many times. Then the last one (fall), I said, 'I'm taking him to the hospital.' That was two months ago.''
In 1970, Elias embarked on a venture that would last 27 years: his Grand Slam school that featured numerous instructors and many Expos players, whom he befriended over the years. He was an Expos batting-practice pitcher for many years at home games, beginning in 1969. Elias would schedule his three-week school each summer when the Expos were at home.
"I'm sorry to hear of the passing of Johnny, a good baseball man. I served as an instructor at his baseball camp. My heartfelt condolences to his family,'' Expos legend Tim Raines wrote on Twitter.
"Saddened to hear of John's passing,'' former Expo Tommy Hutton said in a Twitter tribute. "I played golf with him often in Montreal and appeared at his John Elias Baseball School many summers.''
Hundreds of young kids in the Montreal area are indebted to Elias for running the baseball school, not only for instructional skills but it allowed them to rub shoulders with their heroes. Many of those fans took to Twitter and Facebook to mourn Elias' loss.
"John was a huge part of Montreal baseball. Another part of it is gone.  What a great man and a great coach,'' Kosta Papoulias wrote in a Facebook post.
"As a 10-year-old, I went to his baseball camps. Johnny would personally pick me up and drive me home. Thanks to Johnny, I got to meet Gary Carter and sign his cast,'' Marc Lechter said on Facebook.
Elias was very fond of Carter. Kid was most definitely Elias' all-time favourite Expos player. Elias and Marlene would go to Florida for years and years to see Carter and his family. Of course, Carter and Elias would partake often in their mutual love of golfing.
Speaking of Florida, Elias participated for 12 years in various forms in the Major League Legends baseball fund-raiser in support of the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Hollywood.It's been said that Elias boasted the largest collection of Carter memorabilia and had acquired an enviable stash of Expos goodies. A few years ago, he donated about 90% of his collection to the Cote St. Luc Sports and Recreation Centre."John and Gary were very good friends,'' Mrs. Elias said. "He helped get Gary get a place in Montreal. Gary used to come for lunch and have a steak. It was so nice.''
Among his many accomplishments was volunteering to become McGill University's first baseball coach in 1994. In 2008, he assembled and managed a team representing Canada to victory at the Vintage Baseball World Series in Westlake, Mass. That championship was a feather in his cap.
A few years ago, baseball historian Bill Young of Hudson, Quebec and a few others successfully nominated Elias for induction into the RDS Quebec Baseball Hall of Fame. Elias was also proud of the Ambassador of the Year award he received years ago from the Town of Cote St. Luc for his help in developing baseball in the community.
Elias was such a wonderful, wonderful man with so many fingers in so many baseball pies.
When he wasn't promoting baseball, he spent a lot of time teaching physical education and coaching basketball. He was a force as a basketball official, something he did for 50 years. He officiated at many Canadian and international basketball events.
"I wanted him to write a book.,'' Mrs. Elias said. "I told him, 'Dictate to me and I will type it in.' He had a lot of stories and anecdotes. He knew all kinds of people.''
Besides his wife, Elias is survived by his daughter Caroline, son-in-law Kevin Smith, grand-children Ashley, Connor and Owen and sister-in-law Audrey Willis along with numerous friends, including many in the media.
Danny Gallagher's Expos book Always Remembered is discounted throughout the month of December at Indigo and Amazon.
ON A PERSONAL NOTE: I will be raising the possibility of naming one of the baseball diamonds at Kirwan Park after Johnny. That is where he held his Grand Slam Baseball School.
See this tribute video we did for Johnny in 2017: