Wednesday 10 September 2014

Alain and Audrey share their thoughts about being eliminated from The Amazing Race Canada

And then there were none!

The second and only remaining Montreal-based team on CTV’s TheAmazing Race Canada has been eliminated. Super couple Alain Chanoine and Audrey Tousignant-Maurice from the South Shore saw their dream of winning it all end with a last place finish  in picturesque Prince Edward Island.

It was a detour (a decision between two tasks, each with its own pros and cons) requiring them to strip a bin full of mussels that did them in. “Those mussels smelled pretty disgusting,” said Audrey, who joined me by telephone with Alain the morning after the telecast. Added  Alain: “The way we looked it is a good thing we did not need to race to a taxi.”

Alain and Audrey were  overtaken by Ryan and Rob, who also had to complete a Speed Bump which involved finding moonshine bottles buried in a steaming pile of horse manure. Ryan and Rob have survived being bounced twice already thanks to finding out they were part of non-elimination rounds when they arrived at the pit stop dead last.  This included the previous episode in Montreal. “We thought P.E.I. was going to be the non-elimination round,” said Alain. “We were not aware , of course, that this had occurred in Montreal.”

Alain (L) and Audrey (R) learn they are the seventh team eliminated when they join host Jon Montgomery at the mat in Rustico, Prince Edward Island.
Now that their adventure is over,  Alain and Audrey no longer have to keep their fate secret with friends, family and fans. Two episodes earlier, in Paris. Alain proposed marriage and Audrey accepted. “That was taped four months ago,” said Alain. “So for all of that time I had to still keep calling Audrey my girlfriend. Now I can call her my fiancée."

There is no question that any couple’s compatibility is tested in a competition like this whereby they are together 24/7 and according to show rules unable to communicate with anyone from the outside world,  including family. At the hotels radios, TVs and phones are removed. No newspapers are accessible. Guards are placed in front of each door to ensure you do not leave the premises. No contact is permitted between teams. “It is like being incarcerated,” Alain told me in an earlier talk. “We loved this entire experience. We’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

Alain the stuntman and Audrey the real estate agent will likely walk down the aisle next spring.  Just like last year's Montreal couple, physicians Brett Burstein and Holly Agostino, we clearly have a rock solid head over heals in love two some here. And yes, they have spent time with Brett and Holly.

 “I’m sad this experience is over,” said Audrey. “But we’re gonna start our life together and that’s absolutely wonderful.”  

The four remaining teams competing for the biggest grand prize in Canadian television history ($250,000, two Chevrolet Silverado trucks, free gasoline for life from Petro Canada and the ability to fly for free anywhere for a year with Air Canada in business class)  are Mickey and Pete, best friends from Muskoka, Ont; Sukhi and Jinder, siblings, from Terrace, B.C.;  Natalie and Meaghan,  Canadian Olympic women’s hockey team players from Scarborough, Ont. and Calgary; and Ryan and Rob, co-workers from Vancouver, B.C.

Twin brothers Pierre and Michel Forget from Terrebonne were eliminated a few weeks ago. There was no love lost between them and Alain and Audrey and they hardly became friends. The twins claim that they offered the couple a chance to work together early on in the show and never got a proper response. Audrey and Alain said they considered the twins to be quite unfamiliar with what the show is all about and for that reason they wanted them to succeed. “We were a strong team and they wanted us out,”  said Alain. “That was a compliment.”


Next week it is  semi-final time (Tuesday, Sept. 16 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV and CTV GO) as ther teams race to New Brunswick to fight for a spot in the finale. It’s an uphill battle as racers claw their way through a gruelling Roadblock. Teams face a blizzard of a time at an Acadian birthday party, but a complicated coastal Detour leaves them desperately waving a white flag.

Below is a link to episode 8 of the series, my personal favorite from Paris, France, when Alain proposed to Audrey near the end and the twins were eliminated.

Tuesday 9 September 2014

Federal Minister Lisa Raitt draws a crowd at Montreal breakfast reception

When Richard Yufe personally invited me to the  Place Ville Marie offices of the marquee law firm Norton RoseFulbright to hear Federal Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt speak at a breakfast reception, I chose to attend. For one thing I wanted to personally thank Raitt in person for blocking a strike by Air Canada pilots two years ago which would have stranded me in Florida. I got to deliver that message and whole lot more, rubbing elbows with some of the movers and shakers of the Conservative Party of Canada who clearly intend to have a strong presence in Montreal leading up to the 2015 federal elections.
Yufe and Mulroney.

Introductory remarks were delivered by none other than former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, a partner at Norton Rose Fulbright. He praised Raitt for performing "yeoman service for the Harper government and Canada." Looking back at his years as PM, he added: "I remember the contribution of women in Canadian public life. They have to be quite as good to get half the credit. Keep an eye on her. Remember her name. Get her autograph. You will be able to say 'I knew her when.'"
Sochaczevski, Bachand, Wajsman, Caspar Bloom and Assouline.
Weiner and Drabkin.
Yufe, the National Council Vice-President of the Conservative Party of Canada, introduced Raitt who has quite a CV. She was first elected to the House of Commons in 2008 and re-elected in 2011. In July 2013, she was appointed Minister of Transport. Previously, she was appointed Minister of Natural Resources in October 2008 and Minister of Labour in January 2010. Prior to her election to the House of Commons, she  was the president and Chief Executive Officer of the Toronto Port Authority (TPA). She had previously served as the TPA's general counsel and harbourmaster. 

As a lawyer,  Raitt specialized in the areas of intellectual property, commercial litigation and shipping arbitration. Raitt is an active member of her community. She volunteered as a Halton canvasser and fundraiser for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, and for her children's hockey, soccer and gymnastics organizations. In 2002, Raitt was invited to become a member of the Canadian chapter of the worldwide Young Presidents' Organization. She is a graduate of St. Francis Xavier University (like Mulroney)  and holds a Master of Science degree from the University of Guelph. She earned her law degree from Osgoode Hall at York University. She resides in Oakville, Ontario, and is the mother of two boys whom she talked about a lot in her speech.
Corey Bloom and dad Caspar.

Raitt started off with a few words in French, promising to improve her skills in that regard.She planned to spend a few days doing business in Quebec and will be back here again for more meetings September 22. She called the Bloc Québecois "a radical party and something we need to be concerned about." On her party's record, she said: "What makes me proud is our own projections of lowering taxis and our projections of spurring on the economy. Who does not love lower taxes?"

After Raitt's address, it was interesting to watch those on hand line up to shake her hand and that of Mulroney's. In fact there was a lengthy lineup of people requesting photos from the former PM. Even noted photographer Joe Papa handed his camera to someone and shared a pose.
Raitt, Papa and Mulroney.

Former Quebec Finance Minister Raymond Bachand, now a member of the Norton Rose Fulbright team, was on hand and looked like a man who would not turn his nose up at a chance to get back into politics if a winnable seat opened up for him with the Tories.  Arnold  Cohen, another partner at  the firm, was an interested observer as well.

Also in the room were Suburban owner Amos Sochaczevski, editor Beryl Wajsman and architect/politician Robert Libman.  Former Tory cabinet minister Gerry Weiner reunited with immigration lawyer Neil Drabkin, his former chief advisor and most recently chief of staff to Stockwell Day and Joe Oliver in Ottawa.  West Island lawyer Valerie Assouline was on hand as was Marianopolis College head of alumni affairs Dino  Mazzone, noted lawyer Caspar Bloom and his multi-talented daughter, Corey Bloom, perhaps one of this country's top specialist in  investigative and forensic accounting. Naseer Mehdi Khan, the president of the India Canada Organization, was on hand.

I chatted with Cheryl Stein, recently appointed to the new position of director of major gifts for the party. "It was a crazy opportunity that I just couldn't pass up," said the former head of the Canadian Jewish Parliamentary Affairs Committee in Quebec and Atlantic Canada. "It happened over the summer. I got a call that was life changing. I am still staying in Montreal, but get to develop a national program"

Sunday 7 September 2014

Lila Sigal Marathon Hockey Tournament raises needed funds for hospital program

The 10th annual Lila Sigal Marathon Hockey Tournament raised more than $75,000 in support of the Cancer Nutrition – Rehabilitation Program (CNRP) at the Sir Mortimer B. Davis – Jewish General Hospital last  Saturday at the Samuel  Moscovitch Arena in Côte Saint-Luc.

Seventy players participated in this non-stop tournament Alex Kilhorn and Andrej Sustr of the Tampa Bay Lightning were among those who suited up.  Others included Delmar International president and CEO Rob Cutler, Ritz-Carlton Montreal boss Andrew Torriani and former Montreal Juniors owner Farrel Miller.
From left to right Farrel Miller (co-chair), Alex Killorn, Andrej Sustr, Andrew Torriani, David Sigal (Co-chair) and Larry Sidel (Vice-President and COO of the JGH Foundation).  Photo by Daniel Wolfe

The play is began at 9 a.m. and continued non-stop until 6 p.m. Each of the five teams played a minimum of  two  preliminary round games plus one playoff game. In addition, a Parent/Child skate occurred.  Former Montreal Canadiens forward Mathieu Darche was the event’s spokesman as part of his work with Delmar, a major sponsor. Over the past decade,  the event has raised more than $500,000 to support the CNRP and made it possible to hire  a nutritionist for the program. The CNRP is entirely privately funded as there is no government support.

Co-chairs of the tournament, David Sigal and hockey buddy Miller, came up with the idea for the tournament to honour David’s mother, the late Lila Sigal, who passed away from pancreatic cancer in  2004.

Rob Cutler of Delmar looking serious.

The CNRP is a key component of the JGH’s Segal Cancer  Centre program. It  provides patients experiencing cancer related nutrition problems with a  coordinated approach that combines nutritional assessment, counselling, and exercise programs with  therapies that directly attack the tumour and proide pain and symptom management. If left untreated,  nutritional problems associated with cancer can lead to progressive wasting, weakness, debilitation  compromised immune function, potential therapy intolerance, and even death. Certain forms of cancer common to Quebec, most notably advanced lung and gastrointestinal cancer, are associated with weight  loss that usually begins at the onset of disease and progresses throughout the course of illness, making  this centre all the more important to Quebecers.

Farrel Miller still has his Montreal Juniors t-shirt.