Friday 11 April 2014

The PQ just does not get it and I have the proof

Now that former Quebec Premier Pauline Marois is mulling over retirement options, perhaps she would consider a trip to the Super Expo Sciences Hydro-Québec in Terrebonne with her colleagues Bernard Drainville, Pierre Karl Peladeau and Jean-François Lisée. There are two more days to go and yes, bilingualism is alive and well in this province and there is no reason to be ashamed of it.

I have been at this provincial Science Fair since Wednesday. There are 159 students from 12 regions in Quebec. Virtually all of the proceedings have been conducted in French. For the kids I am chaperoning that has not been an issue. They understand everything just fine. We are all staying together in a Laval hotel, dining “ensemble” and I see a lot of bonding taking place. And when  the subject of last week’s Quebec election comes up, folks from the Saguenay to the Mauricie and Outaouais seem content to see the Parti Québecois out. 

“We don’t want to separate from Canada,” said one.

“I never liked their Charter of Values,” added another. “It made me uncomfortable.”

One chaperone, who is Muslim, said that the entire Charter debate prompted her daughter to come home from school one day questioning whether she should change her last name. “I may not have been born here, but this is her native land and she should feel welcome,”  the mom told me.

This is a perfect example of how the PQ misread the electorate.  And thank goodness for that.  The next Quebec election will not take place for four and a half years as the fixed election law brings that vote to October 2018.

So what happened? Here are some of my thoughts. 

PKP helps send the Liberals to victory.

-Thank you Pierre Karl Peladeau. Your entry into the campaign with a famous fist pump and a call that you wanted to build a country for your children gave the Liberals an extraordinary shot in the arm. There was no turning back. PKB handed Philippe Couillard a gift. Now the PQ may reward him with the party leadership.

-Mr. Drainville really thought that his xenophobic Charter would bring the PQ a majority. But just look at the Cremazie riding, where former Commission scolaire de Montréal chairman Diane De Courcy was defeated after only 18 months as their MNA and the Minister of Immigration and Responsible for the Quebec Language. The Charter was clearly her undoing.

-Good for Fatima Houdin Pepin. She chose to embarrass Couillard and her party over the Charter. Wisely, the leader ousted her from the party. After 20 years of service and a very health pension in sight, she should have done the right thing and walk away. Instead she ran as an independent in her South Shore La Piniere riding  and was trounced by star candidate Gaetan Barrette. 

-I wonder how Henri Paul Gautrin feels now? The veteran MNA for Verdun went public before the election was called that he foresaw a PQ majority. What was he thinking? Couillard wisely replaced him. To Gautrin’s credit, he walked away quietly.

I feel great relief today. Real estate agents I speak to our elated. Businessmen who contemplated closing up shop if a PQ majority came to pass are now thinking the opposite.

If the PQ wants to take power again, their members should think clearly before selecting a new leader. Separation and the Charter do not sell. Just ask people at the Science Fair.

Sunday 6 April 2014

Demers, Lafleur and Calvillo headline another superb Sports Celebrity Breakfast

High profile personalities from the world of sports were on hand for the 10th annual Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors Foundation Sports Celebrity Breakfast on Sunday, April 6 at the Gelber Conference Centre. It was once again my great privilege to sit on the  organizing committee and shared the emcee duties with Charles-André Marchand for this sold out event with 600 people on hand. Here is a video of the introduction of our head table guests.
Jacques Demers receives his award from (left to right) Federal Minister Denis Lebel,  Sentaor Judith Seidman, Senator Leo Housakos and Mark Routtenberg.
The event featured a special tribute to the Honourable Jacques Demers, a Canadian senator and former Stanley Cup winning coach for the Montreal Canadiens.  Legendary Montreal Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo, who recently announced his retirement, was honoured as the Sports Personality of the Year. The Gazette's Herb Zurkowsky delivered an outstanding introduction.

Here is a nice video done by The Gazette

More than $190,000 was  raised from the event to support "Seniors in Crisis," a program that delivers much needed assistance to seniors.  Since the inception of the Breakfast, more than  $1 million has been raised.

New Alouettes head coach Tom Higgins, players Josh Bourke, Scott Flory, John Bowman and Luc Brodeur-Jourdain were on hand. So were Canadian Olympic diving legend Alexandre Despatie (now of City's Breakfast TV), RBC athlete and Canadian Olympic Snowboarder Caroline Calve,  former Quebec Nordiques enforcer Wally Weir, former Habs Guy Lafleur, Patrice Brisebois and Mathieu Darche, now a senior executive with Delmar International.

See Despatie talking about the event with highlights here on BT Montreal.

Red Fisher and I present Dick Irvin with the Larry Fredericks Media Award.

Dick Irvin was presented with the Larry Fredericks Media Award (named after my late dad Lawrence Frederick Cohen by Red Fisher, the 2013 recipient.  Members of the media on hand included André Corbeil of CTV, Bob Babinski and Wilder Weir from City Montreal and  Conor McKenna and Matthew Ross (the chairman of Expos Nation) from TSN 690See this excellent CTV report.

New this year was a live feed and special interviews from the VIP Room, with McKenna and Ross.  We also had the team from Montreal Hockey Talk broadcasting live. This amazing internet show, hosted by the great Ted Bird, has been posted here on their website so give it to a listen. Superb interviews with Guy Lafleur, Tom Higgings, Scott Flory, Anthony Calvillo, Jacques Demers and Wally Weir. Hats off to producer Kosta Papoulias and  his team.

Fan Daniel Alon meets Guy Lafleur.

Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors Foundation Past President Michael Wagen and businessman Bram Naimer served as co-chairs of the event. Morden “Cookie” Lazarus was honourary chair. 

The Cummings Centre is one of the largest senior centres in North America and its doors are open to all seniors, regardless of religion. One in five Montreal seniors lives below the poverty line. This is a shocking statistic that is expected to increase over the next few years. 

In 2013 the Cummings Centre saw a 35 percent increase in dollars spent for crisis needs. This includes the cost of medication, rent, Hydro, clothing, dentures and eyeglasses. This past winter was the coldest winter in 45 years. Without the help of the Cummings Centre how many of our seniors would have been without a roof over their heads, heat & hot water or a warm winter coat? When our seniors are in crisis the Cummings Centre is there for them and the dollars raised at this event will help us continue to be there for them.
Diane Dupuis Kallos of the Cummings Centre meets the Alouettes cheerleader.

Close to 500 Meals on Wheels are delivered to needy seniors per week. In many cases this is the only full meal these people will have all week.

Over 3,000 clients are served annually through our Social Services department. This includes a team that is dedicated, and trained, in helping Holocaust survivors and their unique needs. Every person that comes through our doors is treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve.

When people bought raffle tickets or participated in the silent auction at the breakfast we told them to consider the following:

  • $20 will buy two Meals on Wheels;
  • $40 will buy two hours of Homecare Services. This can include help with bathing, dressing, shopping, meal preparation, routine household tasks, respite from caring for an ill relative or just simply keeping someone company;
  • $100 will help buy a senior a warm coat for the winter;
  • $150 will help pay a senior’s hydro bill so their electricity won’t be turned off;
  • $500 will help pay a senior’s rent so they are not evicted;
  • A minimum of $1,500 is needed to replace a senior’s dentures, $700 for a hearing aid, $250 for a new pair of eyeglasses, and the list goes on. 
    For more  information log on to