Wednesday Night #1706 with Eric Maldoff

Written by  //  November 12, 2014  //  Wednesday Nights  //  1 Comment

RJG14 1112 Eric Maldoff Wed Nit4_01
More photos by Robert J. Galbraith

English community uneasy about Bill 10
(Global News) Thu, Nov 13: Despite every reassurance form the health minister that he will address their concerns, many in the English community are increasingly troubled about handing over that power. Aalia Adam has more on the English community’s unease over Bill 10.

An unusual evening as the discussion remained focused on Bill 10 throughout, with only a brief mention of the amazing achievement of the “Rosetta” landing [ Rosetta Probe Makes Historic Comet Rendezvous — The space probe Rosetta on Wednesday made a historic rendezvous with a comet, climaxing a 10-year, 3.7-billion-mile chase through the Solar System, the European Space Agency (ESA) said.] as we wound down.

Eric Maldoff was ably supported and abetted by Sylvia Martin-Laforge  along with documentation from the Quebec Communities Network Group (QCGN) which has led the anglophone community’s battle against Bill 10 as it is drafted. For those of us who needed more time to absorb all the facts.

Why should the English-speaking community be concerned by Bill 10? Shouldn’t we, along with all citizens, be happy that the government is seeking to cut costs and administrative overload?
The objectives of Bill 10 are laudatory. No-one can or should object to any serious attempt to  improve efficiency, slash bureaucracy and save an estimated $220 million annually in the health system.
Bill 10 would eliminate an entire layer of bureaucracy — namely,  18 regional health agencies. These agencies that currently act as middlemen between the minister and the  Health and Social Services Centres (CSSS) would be merged  into 28 integrated  Centres intégrés de santé et services sociaux (CISSS)  – one for each of the 16  health regions  —  except for Montreal, which will have have 5.   Two hundred administrative boards would be reduced to 28.  With all health facilities being grouped under regional bodies, their individual boards would be eliminated and replaced by one regional board — appointed by the minister.

128 individual existing institutions that have been built and supported by the community over the past 150 years – facilities like The Jewish General and  St Mary’s, rehabilitation centres and long-term care homes – would  technically cease to exist in law and be made “installations” of  the new super-boards (CISSS).

This is a move that in effect threatens the status all but one of the institutions currently designated to provide bilingual service under the Charte de la langue française. Only the MUHC would remain untouched. Bill 10 does not explicitly contain any threat to English services, but making “installations” of independent institutions would weaken the legal protections that recognized hospitals, rehabilitation centres and long-term care homes currently have allowing the use English as a language of work, internal communications, patient files and signage.
And as the QCGN has pointed out, the bill’s threat to the English minority goes beyond language of service. It also would sever crucial links between minority communities and their institutions, links of involvement and investment that reflect and reinforce the vitality of the communities themselves. No longer would each institution be governed by its own board of directors, many of whose members are prominent community members who volunteer their time. Those grassroots boards would be disbanded, and members of the mega-boards would be appointed by the health minister.
A loss of attachment to public health institutions could also have a financial fallout, as support for hospital-affiliated foundations dries up amid feelings of alienation or confusion. These foundations raise huge sums that are then reinvested in the public health care system and their loss could cancel out other cost savings.
As well, health-care institutions designated to provide English services are also a major source of sometimes-scarce employment for the anglophone community. As institutions merge, bargaining units consolidate, and jobs are shed, it is unclear what, if any, protections Bill 10 would provide for retaining bilingual employees and positions — another indirect threat to English services. Anything that increases anglophones’ unemployment is a blow to the future of the community.

It was generally agreed that there exists a serious prejudice against hiring Anglophones within the Quebec Civil Service. On the other hand there is a problem in the English educational institutions from elementary to university with finding highly competent, totally bilingual Anglophones to fill senior administrative positions. It is always an open competition and more than half the applicants will be francophone. Many will have many years experience and they often have useful political connections. It is not surprising if sometimes or even frequently they are hired in good faith and in the perceived best interest of the institution. This is a problem for our institutions as these administrators then hire people they know for other administrative positions and before you know it the management of the institution becomes French. It is up to the community members on the Boards to assure this does not happen.

With all of our international and economic preoccupations, many of us may have neglected the looming spectre of Bill 10 and its impact on Quebec’s Anglophone institutions and communities. Among those who have been paying attention on our behalf are the Quebec Communities Group Network (QCGN) – see the brief they presented to Health Minister Gaétan Barrette at the public hearings.

We are indeed fortunate to have Eric Maldoff join us this Wednesday to explain why we should be very concerned by the current provisions of this Bill and what we can do to effect changes.  For those of you who don’t know him, or of his work – presumably because you have been living in a cave on the other side of the planet – this citation from the 2014 Goldbloom Awards gives you a brief summary of his impressive career of advocacy on behalf of the English-language community:

“Lawyer Eric Maldoff has been an effective advocate for minority language rights and access to health and social services for more than three decades. Maldoff served as Chair of the Executive Committee and Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), where he was instrumental in the merger of the five affiliated hospitals. He served 17 years on the Board of the Montreal Children’s Hospital and was the first chair of the Provincial advisory committee on access to health and social services in English. Currently Chair of the Old Brewery Mission and Chair of the Mount Sinai Hospital Foundation, Maldoff is a Governor Emeritus of McGill University. Also a leader within Montreal’s Jewish Community, he was the founding volunteer president of Alliance Quebec”.

Meanwhile, this week gives us two particularly poignant anniversaries:
November 9th, the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. What should be an especially joyous celebration of the milestone considered to be the end of the Cold War, has been clouded by Former Soviet leader Gorbachev’s warning that the world is ‘on brink of new Cold War’ . We note that he places the blame for this situation squarely on the U.S., Europe and NATO, which in light of recent events would appear a trifle unfair, however, perhaps understandable given the fact that Mr. Gorbachev still resides in Moscow in Putin’s Russia. We prefer to think of him as portrayed in Evgeny Lebedev’s sympathetic account of Lion in Winter: Mikhail Gorbachev’s New Memoir  And let us, rather than dwelling on Mr. Gorbachev’s words,  join with Germans and Berliners in celebrating Berlin Wall: Thousands of balloons released to mark fall – Marion Canute writes from Bonn: “Germany has done us proud this day! What an amazing, fantastic, moving day of remembrances as we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall & the courage of so many, who risked everything in the quest for freedom. And it was achieved without a shot fired or a drop of blood spilled! An inspiration to all who are still subjected to the inhumanity of walls and the tyranny of wall-builders.”
The New Yorker has republished this 1962 piece by John Bainbridge Die Mauer – The early days of the Berlin Wall.
“The wall that divides Berlin is hard to visualize, because it defies comparison. Other things in the city are easy enough to imagine, because they can be likened to something familiar—the Kurfürstendamm to Fifth Avenue, Potsdamer Platz (in an earlier period) to Times Square, the Spree River to the East River, and so on. But there has been never been anything quite like die Mauer—or, as Mayor Willy Brandt has called it, die Schandmauer (the wall of shame). Its purpose alone would make it unique. Countries have built walls to keep their enemies out; die Mauer is probably the only wall ever built to keep a people in. Physically, too, it is in a class by itself. Unlike the Great Wall of China, Hadrian’s Wall, and other walls that have figured in history, it is an engineering and architectural laughingstock.”

Poppy wreathNovember 11th – anniversary  of the hundredth anniversary year  of the outbreak of The Great War, but not, of course, Armistice Day.  A good time to reflect on how little the world has learned since then and what we may – or may not – be celebrating on November 11, 2018.  Conjecture: what if Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points had been adopted and among them, the provision that there be no more secret treaties,. Would that have retroactively affected the Sykes-Picot Agreement? What would the world look like now? And would we today be indulging in the acerbic debate over the ‘poppy hijab’?
On another note, while every politician, media and/or public personality now considers it de rigueur to wear the red poppy in the days leading up to November 11, The Story Behind the Remembrance Poppy is perhaps not so well known. It bears repeating.
Live coverage by CBC of ceremonies on Parliament Hill/re-dedication of War Memorial

Slotted in between these two poignant anniversaries:
Moment in time: Nov. 10, 1983 – Microsoft launches Windows 1.0
Computer users were living in a world of DOS: square black screens with green or orange font that could only display letters and numbers in response to basic C: commands. This wasn’t just a world without e-mails, tweets and Instagram – this was a world before start menus. So when Bill Gates unveiled a new operating system called Windows 1.0, people braced for a big overhaul. For $99 (U.S.), the software would be able to run multiple programs at once – things such as a notepad, calendar, clock and Windows Paint. Gates promised Windows would be compatible with 90 per cent of IBM computers. There was one small catch: The software wouldn’t ship for two more years. Windows customers would have to learn to be patient – a virtue often practised since that day.

A few more topics:

On an uplifting note, the Jeanne Sauvé Annual Address delivered by Céline Galipeau was a huge success. Mme Galipeau revealed herself to be not only a thoughtful and accomplished journalist, foreign correspondent and TV anchor, but a warm and endearing human being and humanitarian.
The new Sauvé Encore! Program for Sauvé Scholars alumni was held back-to-back with the Annual Address and brought together 10 alumni from seven different cohorts, and ten nationalities including participants from Afghanistan, Armenia, Bhutan, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Sénégal, Turkey and Uganda. A remarkable group of young leaders who are defying the challenges of our world, and accomplishing great things. So proud to be asociated with the Jeanne Sauvé Foundation’s work! We are looking forward to welcoming some who are still here this Wednesday.

Can anyone see us rubbing our hands in glee? This week in “the Fraser Institute is embarrassing itself” news
The CIGI 2014 Survey of Progress in International Economic Governance John Ibbitson writes in The Globe & Mail: Once a year the Centre for International Governance Innovation polls its own ranks – distinguished, senior, visiting and research fellows associated with the think tank based in Waterloo, Ont. – on the state of the global economy, the banking system, trade and global warming. The 2014 results were released today as a CIGI policy brief. …
The brief concludes that all of this backsliding in governance, financial regulation, trade and the environment warrants “sustained attention from policy makers and innovative solutions from analysts, academics and think-tank scholars.” Here I must part company with my colleagues.
One problem facing policy makers, analysts, academics and think tank scholars is that they struggle to find solutions to pressing global challenges by engaging policy makers, analysts, academics and think tank scholars. Yet, as the policy brief reveals over and over again, progress founders on the reluctance of governments to surrender even a soupcon of sovereignty for the collective good.
Democratic governments are elected by the people. If policy makers, analysts, academics and think tank scholars really want to end the drift, they need to talk to the people, not each other.
This advice would seem to apply as much to the drafting of Bills by the Quebec government as to ‘pressing global challenges’. Bringing us full circle.

One Comment on "Wednesday Night #1706 with Eric Maldoff"

  1. P. David Mitchell OWN November 11, 2014 at 6:17 pm ·

    Thank you for the invitation which, as usual, only makes me wish I were close enough to commute each Wednesday!

    And thank you for the link to the interesting story behind the Remembrance Day Poppy.

    Your email reminded me of my visit to France in June which included many of the WW1 and WW2 battlefields in the Somme and Normany regions, including participation at Juno beach 70th anniversary celebrations on June 6th. A speech by a vet who flew fighter cover there on D-Day was far more interesting and inspiring than the political speeches. (As an aside, some 1,500 guests were seated and standing for hours in the hot sun, waiting for the PM to arrive; there were only 10 portable toilets available for the crowd and another 5 reserved for dignitaries. Good thing the anniversary planners didn’t plan things 70 years earlier!)

    Seeing the Wellington Tunnel Museum was an eye-opener. Some 20,000 Brits emerged from this tunnel one day [thru an opening made by miners into no-man’s land] ; at the end of the day 10,000 were dead. What a waste. We toured Vimy Ridge, Thiepval, the British Monument, Courcelette and Beaumont-Hamel. It was at Beaumont-Hamel that the Newfoundland Regiment fought so bravely on July 1st, 1916; also visited were Albert (the WW1 museum took us through a 230 metre section with rooms on display to depict life in the trenches)., Amiens, and many cemeteries. Other highlights were Dieppe and the D-Day beaches. I find it mind-boggling that so many lives [civilians as well] were sacrificed…. for what? Who benefited? Who benefits from current attacks?
    With warm thoughts and best wishes to both of you, love, David (David Mitchell OWN)

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