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!