Sunday, 28 June 2015

Howard Liebman already thriving as Mayor Coderre's special advisor on international relations

Could Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre  have made a better choice for his special advisor on international relations than Howard Liebman?  Howard spent a decade as the chief of staff to Mount Royal Liberal Member of Parliament Irwin Cotler. At one point Cotler served as the country’s Minister of Justice and one of his cabinet colleagues was Coderre.

With Cotler preparing to retire once the October 19 election is called, Liebman decided to look for a new challenge. He has most definitely found one at Montreal City Hall and his years working with Cotler turned out to be excellent training.

“Mayor Coderre is an extremely engaged, dynamic, ever-present leader with the gift of vision and the political experience to deliver results,” Liebman says. “ The mayor previously served as federal MP for Bourassa for 16 years. He served as Minister of Sport  and brought the World Anti Doping Agency to Montreal and as Minister of  Immigration he placed Hamas and Hezbollah on Canada's terror lists.”
Liebman (left) shows B'nai Brith France President Serge Dahan and Yonathan Arfi, vice-president of the CRIF (Council of French Jewish Institution) a little bit of Montreal.  
As a special advisor, responsible primarily for international relations and part of the mayor's circle, Liebman’s first weeks  on the job have been jammed packed. Among his work - all duly posted to social media notably the @HowardLiebman Twitter Feed - has been the annual meeting of Metropolis in Buenos Aires, the International Mayors Summit on Living Together (where Montreal hosted 23 mayors from every corner of the planet), the Mayor's Montreal - Paris international panel on the role of cities in combatting antisemitism, and dozens of meetings with visiting mayors, consuls, ambassadors, governors, senators, ministers, parliamentarians, former prime ministers, the mayor's annual gathering of the Consular Corps, and Her Excellency Michaelle Jean's first official visit to City Hall in her new capacity as Secretary General of the Francophonie.

Mayor Coderre has announced plans in the fall for a Mission to China, including an economic delegation, a leading role among international mayors at the United Nations environment summit COP21 in Paris in December, and looking further afield, a possible mission to Israel in 2016. 

The brutal attacks on Charlie Hebdo and then on the kosher market in France last February compelled  Mayor Coderre to take action. The round table on anti-Semitism prompted him to state: “Anti-Semitism exists [and] we have to denounce it, we have to talk against it,” he said.Montreal has not been spared – there have been attacks and troubling hate crimes perpetrated here.

Serge Dahan, the president of B'nai Brith France, says we can and should learn from one another, sooner rather than later. “In France, we've gone from graffiti to murder,” he said.
The House of Commons in Ottawa recently voted unanimously in favour of a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, and it specifically mentioned the role that municipalities play in curbing the problem.

“They have the most direct with people, they're engaged in the whole civil society,” said Cotler.

The mayor suggested a new hate crimes division could be created within Montreal’s police department and emphasized better integration of newcomers and stemming the tide of hate speech on social media.
Smadar Brandes, members of council and dignitaries present the translated Montreal Charter to Mayor Denis Coderre.
Last week  Coderre unveiled a Hebrew translation of the Montreal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities. The translator was Smadar Brandes, whose mom Pnina is a longtime teacher at JPPS-Bialik. Smadar’s proud husband is Lev Berner, a teacher at Vincent Massey Collegiate in Rosemount.

Howard Liebman is truly making his mark! 

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Nearly 91 year old Harold Finkelstein shares lots of laughs

Harold Finkelstein will be 91 years young in August and he is quite the funny character. Last year the Côte Saint-Luc resident, married to his beloved Ruth for 68 years,  sat down with his younger friend Sheldon Grekin who rolled the camera and recorded  25 minutes of his one liners.  He calls them  “Harold’s old jokes on the phone.”  Years ago Harold managed the career of his brother Marty Hill, a recording artist and song writer. “The video was Marty’s idea,” he says. “Every time we spoke on the phone I told him a joke.”
Harold contacted me this week and urged me to review his work. I will be sharing it with my friends at the Comedy Nest.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Adelstein named Entrepreneur-in-Residence at John Molson

Westmount's Greg Adelstein has been named the first-ever ‘Entrepreneur-in-Residence’ (EiR) at Concordia University’s JohnMolson School of Business (JMSB).
Greg Adelstein
The EiR role includes participation in research, guiding student projects, acting as a guest lecturer and mentoring students. The focus of  the mentorship is on venture ideas, opportunities for and challenges to businesses, and advice on family businesses. The EiR position was created as part of the National Bank Initiative in Entrepreneurship and Family Business, established by a donation from the National Bank. The Initiative is run by Alexandra Dawson, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Management, Concordia University.

“As a Concordia alumnus, I’m honored to have been named EiR at the JMSB,” says  Adelstein, who by day is the president of  iGotcha Media. “I’m looking forward to working with the students. They bring a great deal of energy and passion to their work. I hope to help inspire young entrepreneurs at Concordia and I also expect to draw a lot of inspiration from them.”

Adelstein earned a BA in International Relations from Clark University in 1991, a Graduate Diploma in Sports Administration from Concordia  in 1992 and a JD in Law from Brooklyn Law School in 1996. After working with several technology start-ups in Montreal, he  co-founded iGotcha Media in 2005.

What is iGotcha Media? The company specializes in delivering turn-key digital signage solutions, including: hardware, software, installation, content development and network management. They help businesses achieve their signage needs, generate new streams of revenue, reduce costs and gather data. Clients include Cambridge Group of Clubs, Le Château, National Bank of Canada, Reebok, Rockport and Via Rail Canada. Headquartered here in  Montreal, iGotcha Media was founded in 2005. For more information, please visit

Adelstein moved with his family from Côte Saint-Luc to Westmount at the age of eight. He attended elementary school at Roslyn and St. George`s and continued at the latter for high school as well.


Saturday, 13 June 2015

Gloria Henriquez makes her on-air debut on Global TV

For the past couple of years I got to know Gloria Henriquez in her role as a producer for The Global Morning News. A 2010 Journalism graduate from the University of King's College, she came to Montreal with her boyfriend Douglas Gellevan when the latter got hired as CBC TV and Radio sportscaster. Gloria lined up the guests for hosts Camille Ross and Richard Dagenais and  her charming personality made it pretty impossible to say "no" to any requests.
Gloria Henriquez

Global TV Montreal recently conducted some layoffs due to the change in format of the morning show. Shaw Media decided to add a national newscast to the program. That resulted in less local content and the departures of control room director  Jim Connell, Dagenais and Henriquez.

Henriquez told me she asked news director Karen Macdonald if she could do some freelancing for Global and the boss responded with a few immediate assignments. In fact, I was part of two of them last week alone: one on the subject of  school board elections and another on the planned  closure of Manoire Montefiore in Côte Saint-Luc. She handled both assignments like a grizzled veteran.  Here is one of them. Hopefully we will see her filling in for Jessica Laventure on morning weather this summer as well.

Global is presently down one permanent reporter: veteran Domenic Fazioli stepped away recently for personal reasons. We have now learned that he is not expected to return. The post will likely be filled by one of the many talented freelancers on staff.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Lyric Theatre's Back to Broadway an absolute mastepiece

As I fully expected, the  Lyric Theatre Singers have another winner on their hands with their  25th anniversary show at Concordia’s state of the art downtown DB Clarke Theatre (1455 de Maisonneuve).  I was on hand for the opening show of Back to Broadway on June 11 and musical directors Bob Bachelor and Chris Barillaro, their 48 performers and cast of many others knocked it out of the park. Three performances remain:  June 12 (8 p.m.)  and June 13 (2 p.m. and 8 p.m.).

This highly entertaining Broadway revue features the 48 performers, backed by five musicians, as they transport audiences Back to Broadway via a varied list of musical theatre favourites. Highlights from The Book of Mormon, Chicago, Hairspray and The Producers are featured, along with songs from Company, Catch Me If You Can, Finian’s Rainbow, Beauty and the Beast and so much more!
A scene from the show.

The show starts off with a bang as the entire company enters the stage dressed to the hilt, the men in tuxedos and the ladies in pretty dresses, as they perform Opening Night and The King of Broadway from The Producers, followed by It’s De-Lovely from Cole Porter, My Romance from Richard Rogers and a bilingual version of Singin’ In The Rain. Jonathan Eidelman and Daniel Wilkenfeld pair off nicely in their rendition of a scene from Stephen Sondheim’s Agony from Into the Woods.  In a scene from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Charlotte Clement and Richard Kallos are nicely complemented by the dynamic Sterling Tipton who tries to play matchmaker.

Tipton, a resident of NDG, is originally from Indianapolis where she majored in French studies at nearby Ball State University. She came to Montreal and through Lyric met her
Sterling Tipton.
significant other Geordie while speaking both languages without a trace of an accent in either. She performs several solos in this year’s show, but her day job in post-production makes her invaluable as Lyric’s webmaster.
“I spent a semester in France during my studies and came to find that Quebec was really the perfect blend of what I loved about France and what I loved about Indiana - plus it's a lot closer to home than living overseas!” Tipton noted. “I didn't want to lose my linguistic skills, so it became obvious that this is where I belonged. I've been here five years now and been with Lyric for four of those.

The company was just splendid in a series of Gershwin numbers, with Farida El Kilany, Justin Muniz and Tarik Azgui standing out. In Impossible/I Have Dreamed from A Good Night for Singing by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Jennifer Bond, Eidelman, Laurie-Anne Jean Baptiste, Tipton and Wilkenfeld knock it out of the park. Bond, by the way, is here via New York and much to the dismay of Lyric officials only sticking around for a year because of her husband’s employment. She is absolutely superb and watch for her in the show’s encore.
Jennifer Bond lights up the stage.

Bachelor and Barillaro get into the act as well, performing Irving Berlin’s You’re Just In Love from Call Me Madam.  Cathy Burns, who has been with both the Theatre and the Singers on and off for decades as a performer and director, assists Bachelor with all the staging for this show. The duet was her idea. “We needed something to serve as a filler while the cast got changed for the next big number,” she told me. “Bob and Chris are great together.”

That next number was Hairspray – six complete songs in fact and performer Dan Derkson in drag as the perfect Edna Turnblad. Not only were the costumes bang on, but so was the singing and dancing from Welcome to the Sixties, Good Morning Baltimore and It Takes Two to Mama I’m a Big Girl Now, I Know Where I’ve Been and  You Can’t Stop the Beat. Hats off to Mary Sarli for handling the choreography on this one.

The second half starts off with a bilingual presentation of six songs from Beauty and the Beast, with Charlotte Clement as a stunning Belle and Adam Gallay really impressive as Gaston.

Eidelman and Wilkenfeld returned, much to the delight of the audience, with a reprise of Agony followed by another Rodgers and Hammerstein number called Many A New Day/Wash That Man with Hélene Charbonneau, Takeyce Mais and Yamila Scarone Azzi as leads. The Song of Purple Summer, All That Jazz, How Are Things in Glocca Morra and Be My Friend lead us to one of the most popular parts of the evening –the song Two By Two from Book of Mormon. They closed things out with Live in Living Color from Catch Me If You Can and the finale – Being Alive from the 1970 musical Company by Stephen Sondheim.

The Lyric Theatre Singers and more than 85 alumni performers will unite on Saturday, October 17 at the Oscar Peterson Hall in NDG for a very special 50th anniversary concert.

Back to Broadway’s design team is made up of lighting designer Paul Ludwig Teichgrabersound designer Rob Burgess and costume coordinator Karen Pearce. “It’s a delight and a privilege to work with these talented artists in a state-of-the-art facility,” said producer Louise Dorais. “At the D.B. Clarke Theatre, The Lyric Theatre Singers receive the technical support we need to bring our creative team’s ambitious vision to life. It is very exciting to combine the great performances by our cast and musicians with the enhanced production values at Concordia. The result is 100 percent pure entertainment.”

Tickets are $34 general admission; $30 for students and seniors and $17 for children 12 and under. For more information go to, email or call 514-743-3382. Donations of non-perishable goods will be gratefully accepted for the NDG Food Depot.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Richard Dagenais resurfaces at CJAD

It was great to hear the golden pipes of Richard Dagenais once again.  After having his job abolished at the Global TV Morning News last month, he has resurfaced as a freelance news anchor on CJAD Radio. His first shift was on June 6.
Richard Dagenais

Dagenais was part of  dynamic duo for two and a half years with Camille Ross on Global. The two really played well off each other and I would always tune in to find out via Dagenais what "international day" it was. He has got a great sense of humour. When Global owners Shaw Media decided to rejig the newscast and introduce a newscast from Toronto, that meant somebody from the Montreal team had to go. So, from three on air personalities, they went to two. Ross and Jessica Laventure remained.

I hope Dagenais can get some more work with Bell Media properties here: CJAD, Virgin Radio, CHOM, TSN 690 and CTV Montreal,  In fact, from 1985 to 2002 --16 years - he worked for CHOM and CKGM as  a writer, producer, host, and interviewer.   He joined Global in 2002. When the first incarnation of their morning show was cancelled in 2008 he was out of job, but was brought back two years later as a maternity leave replacement.

While Dagenais was not eager to do an interview with me, he his finally shared his thoughts on his personal blog. Here is the link. 

"That last day one month ago was difficult and the sign-off, dreadfully precarious," Dagenais writes. "One wrong word or move by anyone would have caused me to unwind emotionally on-air. Just as we came out of the last commercial break, Julie, one of our directors, declared quietly in my earpiece, 'it’s been an honor.' Managing a weak smile, I waved my fist at her through the camera, struggling to hold it together. Thankfully, Camille respected my request to do nothing out of the ordinary. Media critic Steve Faguy hit the nail on the head when he later observed I signed off that last Friday as though I would see viewers on Monday. It took immeasurable effort just to manage what he perceptively described as my 'see-you-Monday' wave!"

When I asked CJAD news director Chris Bury if there would more shifts for Dagenais, he could only respond "it's too early to say." Let's hope we hear more of him in the immediate future.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

CTV Montreal goes for youth and hires Sean Coleman as new weekend sports anchor; Sportsnet Central Montreal lays off staff

When CTV Montreal gave sports anchor André Corbeil the option of having his workload scaled back to only the weekend broadcasts, he chose instead to move on with his life. He is now the territory manager for Robinson Bioproducts. Chantal Desjardins  had previously done weekend shifts, as did Eric Thomas. Both are now with Rogers Sportsnet. Veteran Paul Graif, the morning show co-host at K103 FM, was also in the mix the last few years.
Sean Coleman

Jed Kahane, the news director for Bell Media in Quebec, conducted a comprehensive talent hunt the last few months and the winning candidate is Sean Coleman – late of  City’s Sportsnet Central Montreal and a contributor for TSN 690 Radio. The timing could not have been better for last week Sportsnet Central laid off Coleman, producer George Athans and Kelly Greig. Check out Greig’s blog here for a typically sad story in the world of journalism.

“I am very fortunate  for the timing,” Coleman told me. “I’m incredibly lucky and grateful for this opportunity.  There were whispers of layoffs at City for a while, but the decision to lay off the entire crew caught us blindsided.  On Wednesday the show’s staff was told ‘Congratulations for two great years but that’s it.’  It was the first time I was ever laid off,  so it was a mix of shock and indignation.  Lots of people offered advice on what to do next. Of course, you often hear ’As one door closes, another opens.'  In the moment it’s tough to believe, but literally five days later CTV offered me the new position.  I couldn’t be happier.”

Coleman, 23, says the opportunity to work for CTV is a dream come true. For the past five years he has also worked at TSN 690 Radio as  a sports anchor, delivering Sportscentre updates every half-hour - primarily on the weekend with  The Habs This Week and the Canadiens Saturday pre-game shows as well as for  Alouettes and Impact broadcasts.  In addition, he had the opportunity to host a late show on Friday nights called GameNight OT and now host another  called the Sunday Sermon.  At City, he was a sports reporter and producer for local professional and amateur sport stories.  “I would have to take a story from start to finish: -  locate it, research it, book it, produce the shoot, report and script,” he said.  “Both jobs have left me well-prepared for the duties at CTV.”

Born and raised in LaSalle, Coleman still lives near Riverside Park.  He attended   Loyola High School where he was a three-sport varsity captain, then went to Phillips Exeter Academy – a prep school in New Hampshire – for two years before returning to McGill to study economics and political science.  “I worked for TSN every Saturday and Sunday through my degree at McGill,” he says.  “My last year at McGill I was also working full-time for City, taking early classes before work or online ones.  It’s safe to say I’m accustomed to juggling.”

Coleman says that given the fact he has been doing sports updates since the age of  18, he does not see a big learning curve with his new CTV duties.  “The toughest part of the transition is just the nature of live television,” he says.   “On radio you’re solely focused on your voice.  On TV there’s your voice and fifty other things to worry about as well.  But it’s all part of what makes television so amazing.  I’m blessed to work alongside two of the industry’s best in Randy Tieman and Brian Wilde.  The best way I can improve is through practice, practice, practice and soak up as much knowledge as possible from both of them.:

During the summer months Coleman expects to be busier than usual at both TSN and CTV, filling in for vacationers. Ultimately he will be in the market for  regular weekday work.   “For the last five years I’ve grown accustomed to working and studying six, often seven days a week,” he said.  “While this time off is a nice little break, I still have the itch to work more.  I’m also a golf fanatic, so I’ll have a little more time to work on my game.” 
You can follow Sean on Twitter @colemanmtl