2018: The Year in Review

Last year’s uncertainties continue to haunt us in 2019

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Martin C. Barry

Although some people are predicting that 2019 will be a year of ongoing turbulence much like last year, others are looking back upon 2018 as a period they’d perhaps rather choose to forget. As investment markets continue to be volatile, last year’s uncertainties are haunting us still.

January

You might get some idea of the kind of year it was just for those working in Canada’s community newspaper industry. In January 2018, the Laval News published a full-page ad at the front of its Jan. 10 edition. In it, representatives from three of the country’s newspaper associations pleaded with the federal government to take action against forces threatening the industry’s survival.

“The urgency of action is very real and the status quo is not an option since community media are about to be unable to serve their French and English-speaking minorities,” wrote the presidents of the Association de la presse francophone (APF), the Alliance des radios communautaires du Canada (ARCC) and the Quebec Community Newspapers Association (QCNA).

Although 2018 wasn’t exactly a year to write home about, in retrospect it was nothing like 1998, the year two decades ago that many Laval residents still remember for the massive ice storm that swept eastern Canada that January. On the 20th anniversary of the calamity, the Laval News featured several articles on an event remembered as the “Ice Storm of the Century.”

“One person in Laval is dead, six were injured and thousands were left without electricity and heat in what was most certainly the worst ice storm to ever hit the province of Quebec,” wrote former Laval News journalist Peter Karahalios in an article that was first published in early 1998 in the Chomedey News (the former name of the Laval News).

The editorial in the Laval News’ Jan. 10 edition focused on the frustration felt and expressed by concertgoers who had been left literally “out in the cold” at Laval’s Place Bell because of organizational foulups. “It is totally unacceptable that the arena authorities did not foresee the situation that was endured on January 6th, by thousands of concert goers,” wrote Laval News co-publisher George S. Guzmas. “Surely it does not help Laval’s image. In a $200 million project we would expect much better administration.”

With Action Laval no longer the official opposition at Laval city hall since the November 2017 municipal elections, the party’s lone member on city council, Chomedey councillor Aglaia Revelakis, was asked by the Laval News about the future of the party as well as her own plans. “We are looking forward to a great year and are continuing to do the great work that we were elected for at city hall,” Revelakis said in an interview published in TLN’s Jan. 24 issue.

The same issue also featured an investigative article on shortcomings in the city’s snow removal service in areas of Chomedey, such as on Bennett St. “We’ve been living here for 28 years and we’ve never had a problem like this,” complained Andreas Pantelis. Six days after a recent snowfall, residents on Bennett St. were still waiting for snow on both sides of their street to be cleared away.

February

The front page of the Laval News’ Feb. 7 issue drew attention to the case of a Laval family that had recently been awarded a $700,000 settlement from the RCMP after the federal police force wrongfully charged family members with breaching Canada’s new “anti-slavery” laws.

The case against Nichan Manoukian and his wife Manoudshag Saryboyajian dated back to January 2006 when officers from the RCMP, the Canada Border Services Agency as well as from the Laval Police Department raided their home. They were absolved of human trafficking and exploitation charges, which had been pressed by a domestic who formerly worked for the family.

Chomedey MNA Guy Ouellette, whose arrest by the province’s anti-corruption unit (UPAC) stunned Quebecers a few months before, testified during a court hearing for corruption charges against former Liberal cabinet minister Nathalie Normandeau that he never disclosed any information about UPAC’s work to the media.

When asked in court if he thought UPAC head Robert Lafrenière was “the right man for the job,” Ouellette said the workplace relations at UPAC could certainly be improved. Lafrenière has since then resigned from his post.

The Feb. 7 issue also featured an in-depth profile of Parti Laval leader Michel Trottier, who effectively became head of the opposition at Laval city hall following the November 2017 municipal elections. Well known in Fabreville, which is a stronghold of Parti Laval support and where Michel Trottier was a community organizer and fitness promoter for years, Trottier became one of the rising players in Laval city council in 2013 when he was elected as one of only two independents.

The Sir Wilfrid Laurier Foundation’s 2018 annual gala fundraiser earned $39,280 for educational equipment, programs and resources at schools and training centres across the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board’s territory. The ever-popular fundraising event was held at the Embassy Plaza in Laval.

Hundreds of families from all over the Montreal region converged on the Berge des Baigneurs in Laval’s Vieux Saint Rose neighbourhood for day three of Laval en Blanc, an enthusiastic celebration of winter. Who would have thought there was so much fun to be had during this dismal time of the year? For many parents, fun in the cold and snow was a discovery in itself.

In an interview published in our Feb. 21 issue, Senator Leo Housakos took Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to task for drawing a comparison between the experiences of immigrants to Canada and pro-Islamic ISIS militants returning to Canada after participating in terrorism abroad.

Sen. Housakos described Prime Minister Trudeau as being “all over the map with some of his mis-speaks.” However, with regards to Trudeau’s comparison between immigrants and ISIS, he said a few people in Montreal’s Greek community “expressed their complete hurt feelings on this issue to me – and legitimately so,” added Housakos.

Set to retire from politics in June when he would be stepping down as MP for the riding of Outremont, former NDP leader (and former Chomedey MNA) Tom Mulcair told the Laval News he was feeling confident about his future on the faculty of one of the country’s leading universities and as the head of an environmental group that organizes Earth Day in Quebec.

“I can say that I’m in a very good place in my career right now,” said Mulcair. Mulcair said he underwent a period of feeling disenchanted following the election. “You feel a great deal of disappointment that the great ideas we had put forward are not going to come to pass,” he said.

March

As reported in the Laval News’ March 7 issue, the unpredictable weather that the Laval and Montreal regions were experiencing in recent years played havoc with Laval Senior Academy’s annual Hockey Day event.

The two-day gathering – which was highly successful in past years – was reduced last year to just two hockey matches. Unseasonably warm temperatures had melted the frozen surface on the Chris-Karigiannis and 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Memorial Rink behind the school on Souvenir Blvd.

With the Quebec Liberal government’s annual budget expected to be tabled in the National Assembly in late March, nearly three dozen representatives of interest groups met a few weeks before with the Laval region’s six Liberal MNAs to say how they feel the government should be spending Quebec taxpayers’ money.

Among the various representatives of interest groups attending the gathering at The Palace on Le Corbusier Blvd., was Louise Lortie, president of the council of commissioners at the Commission scolaire de Laval (CSDL).

In the meantime, Laval mayor Marc Demers reacted favorably to a new budget tabled by federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau. “The City of Laval wholeheartedly welcomes the various measures favoring the equality of men and women,” Demers said the city was also pleased with the government’s proposal to reduce taxes on small businesses. “All measures encouraging the growth of our businesses are welcome,” he said.

During Laval city council’s March 13 public meeting, Mayor Marc Demers announced a new council by-law to modify existing regulations in order to increase a subsidy from $100 to $150 paid by the city annually to senior citizens 65 years and older who rent or own their home. The subsidy rises from $200 to $300 per year when the recipient is already receiving the federal guaranteed revenue supplement in accordance with the social security act.

Councillors Isabella Tassoni (Laval-desRapides) and Aglaia Revelakis (Chomedey) tabled a report on work they were assigned to carry out with regard to gender equality in the city. Revelakis said that she and Tassoni, along with Councillor Virginie Dufour, would be helping to form a committee that will lead towards the creation of a new consultative council on women’s issues.

Also in March, the City of Laval said it was putting into place an action plan in anticipation of the spring melt following the winter season. The city said it was adopting a new approach for the systematic delivery of sand bags in a pre-determined impact zone. The city said would be delivering sand bags a week before any flooding would be expected to happen.

During an International Women’s Day gathering held at Vimy Liberal MP Eva Nassif’s constituency office on March 8, she encouraged everyone to participate in celebrations for this important date. This year’s theme, #MyFeminism, was in recognition of the positive role that feminism plays in Canada and in countries worldwide.

As part of the Laval News’ ongoing commitment to providing in-depth political coverage, the paper’s March 21 issue featured a full-length interview with then-federal Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly, who was facing criticism over a decision to exempt Netflix from Canadian content regulations. Joly has since been re-assigned portfolios as Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie.

April

Officials from the provincial government, the City of Laval, as well as school boards and organizations dedicated to autism spectrum disorders, are seen here on March 26 at the Embassy Plaza during the launch of Laval Autism Month.

During an official launch for Laval Autism Month – which takes place each year in April – The Société de l’Autisme de Laval announced that the 2018 co-chairs would be Alexandre Poirier-Charlebois, author of a book on his experiences with Asperger’s Syndrome, and Guy Picard, general manager of the Société de Transport de Laval (STL).

Alexandre Poirier-Charlebois, who attends Université du Québec à Montréal, wrote Ma vie avec l’Asperger. The STL’s Guy Picard said it was a great honor to be chosen as the co-chair for Autism Month in Laval.

During a recent special meeting of Laval city council, city officials confirmed that major investments would be made towards building 292 new units of community and social housing in Laval as part of a provincial AccèsLogis subsidy program. Through the program, whose financing is shared equally by the City of Laval and the Société d’habitation du Québec, AccèsLogis projects would be taking place at Val-Martin, Pie-X and Athena’s Shield with support amounting to $4,389,714.

Members of the Quebec chapter of Equal Voice, a national organization that encourages women to run for elected office, heard during a gathering in Pont-Viau (reported in our April 4 issue) about the experiences of two women who’ve become well-known in municipal politics in Laval and Montreal over the past few years.

Addressing the 18 or so women at the gathering, Laval city councillor for Sainte-Rose (and executive-committee member) Virginie Dufour recounted the beginning of her career in municipal politics around 2009. The second speaker, AhuntsicCartierville Borough Mayor Émilie Thuillier, said politics was first and foremost a personal choice, although at one point it started to conflict with her family life.

The Laval News’ April 4 issue also reported on the Montreal Hellenic community’s annual Greek Independence Day gala and festivities which took place in late March. Hundreds of patriotic Greek Montrealers had gathered at the Hellenic Community Centre in Côte des Neiges. Among the dignitaries seated at the head table were RBC executive Tony Loffreda who was Philhellene of the Year, Hellene of the Year Justine Frangouli-Argyris, and Greek Consul General in Montreal Nicolas Sigalas.

Senator Leo Housakos was back in the news in our April 18 issue. In a p. 2 interview article, the Conservative member of the Upper Chamber maintained that the Liberal government was pressuring the Senate to speed up their debate on the marijuana legalization law because the government’s proposed legislation “doesn’t stand up to the most basic of scrutiny,” he said.

Insisting that he’s more interested in the province’s economy, its level of debt as well as education and health care, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard gave every indication during a gathering in Montreal with multicultural communities that he was willing to debate hot issues like immigration and religious symbols with the CAQ and the PQ before a general election in October.

“If they want to go on debating that sort of thing that’s fine,” said the Premier. “But as for us, we will be talking about public finances, the economy, health, education and the debt.” Despite this, the Liberals lost the election and Couillard is no longer Premier.

May

Autoroute 19 extension project green lighted
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard announces the provincial government’s plans to extend Autoroute 19 with Vimont Liberal MNA Jean Rousselle at his side.

With Quebecers preparing to go to the polls on October 1, the province’s Liberal government announced a potential enticement for Laval-area voters with the release of preliminary details for the long-awaited Autoroute 19 extension project.

The announcement, which was made by Premier Philippe Couillard with Laval’s six Liberal MNAs on hand as well as Laval mayor Marc Demers and several members of city council, took place from a small green space in northern Laval near the spot where Route 335 (the future A-19) juts out across the Rivière des Mille Îles to the North Shore and Bois-des-Filion.

The May 2 issue of the Laval News reported on the Forum on Mobility and Public Transport, which was held in Laval recently. It ended with an agreement between 19 participating municipalities that they will work together to develop an integrated public transit system in the Laval/North Shore area to reduce traffic and improve the quality of life for the region’s approximately one-million residents

But how much did Laval’s Forum on Mobility and Public Transport end up costing? According to Mayor Marc Demers himself, the bill for the event, which was attended by several hundred representatives from municipal, provincial and federal governments, could run as high as $300,000. However, the City of Laval was asking the mayors of the 18 other participating municipalities to chip in to help defray the cost.

The May 2 issue also reported that around 80 members of the Hellenic Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal and their guests gathered at the 40 Westt Steakhouse on Montreal’s West Island in April to recognize the contributions of the board’s founders and past presidents.

The founders and past presidents were presented by current HBOT president John Charalampopoulos with plaques attesting to their service. “Our organization is as great as it is because of the people behind it,” he said in an interview with the Laval News.

The front page of the May 16 issue of the Laval News drew attention to an investigative piece on p. 2 about a Laval limousine service operator who claimed the City of Laval wasn’t equitable in its enforcement of local parking rules. According to an ombudsman’s office report on the situation, a neighbour filed a complaint about parked limousines and city inspectors responded by enforcing a by-law that forbids parking of large vehicles.

A ranking member of Premier Philippe Couillard’s cabinet acknowledged during a speech delivered in Laval during an investiture meeting for incumbent Laval-desRapides Liberal MNA Saul Polo that the Quebec Liberals face a potentially difficult struggle leading towards the October provincial election.

“The elections that are coming will not be an easy battle,” Economy, Science and Innovation Minister Dominique Anglade told the more than 150 supporters who came out to École de l’Arc-en-ciel on Meunier St. on May 12. Alluding to surveys that came out showing the Coalition Avenir Québec ahead in the polls and the Liberals behind, Anglade remained upbeat. “Remember that we are ready, that we are determined to win the next election,” she said.

As reported in our May 30 issue, Chomedey-based Agape social services took a courageous leap forward in their ongoing determination to see that members of Laval’s English-speaking community are provided with adequate service in their own language. Agape held a grand opening for their new Laval English-speaking Seniors’ Wellness Center. It’s located on the third flood at 3860 Notre Dame just east of Curé Labelle Blvd.

June

Following a non-confidence vote in May in which Mayor Marc Demers received just 57 per cent support from the Mouvement Lavallois membership, there was more bad news for the mayor less than a week into June when he was confronted by a revolt by city councillors that reduced his party to minority status.

The June 5 city council meeting was nothing less than a meltdown for Demers and the Mouvement Lavallois. Former executive-committee vice-president David De Cotis – who had been the number two man on council as well as founder of the Mouvement Lavallois – emerged as the leader of a dissident faction of ML councillors.

Laval Police to be equipped with fentanyl antidote
City of Laval executive-committee member Sandra Desmeules who is responsible for public safety issues on city council, Laval Police Chief Pierre Brochet, and Urgences-Santé associate-director François Charpentier are seen here with a mannequin on the left equipped with some of the protective gear the Laval Police will be using when intervening in situations potentially involving fentanyl.

While maintaining that the City of Laval isn’t facing an imminent opioid abuse crisis, officials responsible for public safety decided to make a well-known antidote medication widely available as a treatment for opioid overdoses.

The Laval Police held a media briefing on June 4 at their headquarters in conjunction with Urgences-Santé to explain the deployment of 64 kits containing naloxone, which can be used to reverse the deadly side effects of fentanyl overdoses. The action was being taken as the powerful painkilling opioid fentanyl increasingly makes headlines.

While it may seem a bit of a cliché, the fact was you couldn’t have asked for a weekend better – in terms of weather at least – than the three days when the City of Laval’s 13th annual Firemen’s Festival took place. On June 2 and 3, the Centropolis was the place to be for a range of activities – the most exciting of which was the arrival of nearly two dozen antique fire trucks on Saturday morning

In her 2018 report on the City of Laval’s overall performance, auditor-general Véronique Boily said the absence of a specific policy to oversee the municipality’s inventory of goods, tools and equipment “is hindering the consistency of management, while periodic inventories “are not providing reliable information on the quantities held and their value.”

On June 20 during a tribute evening held at the Islemere Golf Club on Bord de l’Eau Rd. in Laval-sur-le-Lac, Fabre Liberal MNA Monique Sauvé thanked several outstanding citizens, while also presenting each with a National Assembly Medal along with a personalized parchment telling their story. The recipients were: Jeanne Tremblay, Peter Papadakis, Madeleine Allard, Marcelin Cantin, Patricia Lapraino, Tinel Timu, Jeanne Cazabon, Labib Farajallah, Gilberte Roy and the Brisebois family.

If the business of running a municipality was taking place a little slower than usual at Laval city hall lately, the good news was that city council hasn’t broken down completely and the elected officials are at least getting something done – despite their differences. The 21-member body, which by now included more than half who were dissidents, met for a special city council meeting on June 20, which was convened to deal with unfinished business from a session that had started the day before.

Agape took in a significant number of Nigerian Christian refugees fleeing persecution last year, according to a report of Agape’s activities tabled at their annual general meeting this month. According to Agape secretary-treasurer Elizabeth McLeod, between October and December 2017 Agape received 446 refugee status claimants, all of whom were cared for by Agape.

July

SWLF nearing $1 million goal for equipment and materials for students
Board members of the Sir Wilfrid Laurier Foundation reveal the amount – $32,268 – raised from this year’s Lobster Fest during the event held in Laval on June 14.

The July 11 issue of the Laval News reported that the Sir Wilfrid Laurier Foundation’s 2018 Lobster Fest, which took place at the Château Royal in June, raised $32,268 for educational equipment and materials for students at SWLSB learning centres and schools in the coming year.

“The Sir Wilfrid Foundation is an important partner of the school board and we are proud to contribute in the achievement of its mission,” SWLF president Christian Fréchette said in the opening address. “Since its creation, close to $800,000 has been given to the schools and centres of the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board. We are getting very close to our goal of $1 million.”

The searing heat wave that descended on the Montreal region during Canada Day weekend wasn’t enough to keep thousands of people with Greek roots from all over Quebec from returning to their cultural origins when the Laval Greek Orthodox community held its Hellenic Summer Festival at Holy Cross Church in Chomedey.

As reported in our July 11 issue, Kathleen Weil, the Quebec Liberal Minister Responsible for Relations with English-Speaking Quebecers, met English-speaking senior citizens from Chomedey on June 27 when she visited the Agape Seniors’ Wellness Center on Notre Dame Blvd.

“The issues that you face are of particular interest to me,” said Weil, who was introduced by Chomedey MNA Guy Ouellette. Vimy Liberal MP Eva Nassif was also on hand to provide a federal perspective on some of the issues.

Weil said her secretariat has been receiving quite a bit of feedback lately on certain issues, including the lack of English documentation for English-speaking seniors and gaps in English communications in the health and social services sector. She said Laval is one of 16 regions where an access plan for health and social services for the English-speaking community will be implemented in the future.

A team of federal and provincial elected officials from the Laval region defeated a team of elected officials from the City of Laval by a score of 6 – 4 in a soccer match played on the grounds behind the CSDL’s Centre de formation Compétences 2000 as part of the Laval International Soccer Cup. The city team was led by Mayor Marc Demers and included city councillors David De Cotis, Paolo Galati (and his daughter), Isabella Tassoni, Sandra El-Hélou, Aline Dib (and her daughter), Sandra Desmeules, Virginie Dufour, Ray Khalil and Éric Morasse.

On July 8, first responders were called to a dépanneur in Chomedey after a car crashed into the store’s front window. The incident occurred around 6 p.m. For reasons that were unknown at the time, the driver of the grey 4-door Honda Civic failed to stop in the allotted parking spot and ended up smashing into one of the floor-to-ceiling front windows of the Couche-Tard located at 2520 Boul. Curé- Labelle.

August

During a pre-election campaign stop in Laval to lend support to Sainte-Rose Liberal MNA Jean Habel, Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitão sounded a warning about the potential impact on the province’s English-speaking community from the Coalition Avenir Québec’s plans to abolish school boards, while changing how Quebec collects school taxes.

“He’s playing a dangerous game because he’s pitting regions against other regions,” said Leitão, while maintaining that the school tax issue is complex. CAQ leader François Legault had raised the issue of school taxes during recent visits to Laval, while reminding Laval residents that they pay higher school taxes than is often the case in other regions.

Justin Trudeau with Martin Barry
It’s been 10 years since Justin Trudeau first went to Ottawa. Canada’s Prime Minister speaks candidly with Newsfirst Multimedia

The Laval News’ Aug. 15 issue featured a lengthy article based on an interview with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Trudeau’s first being elected the MP for the central Montreal riding of Papineau.

In the course of the interview, Trudeau reminisced on his decision to enter politics, while also answering questions on a number of current issues facing the country, including Canada’s processing of immigrants and refugees, and the country’s gun control policies in the aftermath of mass shooting incidents in Toronto and in Fredericton NB.

After coming to Laval on Aug. 2 to explain the Quebec Liberal government’s controversial health and social service reforms of the past four years, Health Minister Gaétan Barrette found himself before an audience consisting mostly of labour union activists critical of the government’s management.

The gathering, organized by the Quebec Liberal Party’s political issues commission for the Laval region, took place in the auditorium of Laval Junior Academy on Daniel Johnson Blvd. While attendance at the meeting was sparse, most of the questions following Barrette’s presentation were overwhelmingly from the unionists who made up at least two-thirds of the audience.

During a visit to Laval also on Aug. 2 to bolster local Coalition Avenir Québec candidates running in the Oct. 1 provincial election, party leader François Legault pledged the CAQ’s longterm support for a Concorde Blvd. East prenatal and maternity services centre, where the management claims the incumbent Liberals turned down their appeal for financial help.

“As you may know, our team from Laval sounded the alarm on the question of financing for prenatal services in Laval,” Legault said during a press conference held at Mieux-Naître Laval. “This is a file that has dragged on too long.”

In the Laval News’ Aug. 29 issue, restaurant and store owners along Daniel Johnson Blvd. in the downtown area complained that a lengthy program of road improvements by the city was literally driving them out of business.

“We didn’t get a warning – we didn’t receive any indication of how long this would last,” said Peter Chiotis, who operates the Casa Grecque restaurant at the corner of Daniel Johnson and St. Martin Blvd. More than year before, another nearby restaurant operator also complained that the incessant road work was killing business.

With the Coalition Avenir Québec leading in the polls and the incumbent Liberals following closely in second spot, the distant third-place Parti Québécois were still hoping – despite the odds – to reclaim seats they once held in Laval when Quebecers head to the ballot boxes on Oct. 1.

PQ leader Jean-François Lisée and the party’s deputy-leader Véronique Hivon arrived in Laval aboard their campaign bus on Aug. 24, a day after the campaign opened. They addressed more than 100 devoted PQ followers at the Entraide community centre in Laval’s Pont-Viau district.

September

David De Cotis
Former Laval executive-committee vice-president David De Cotis reacts angrily during the Sept. 4 city council meeting to the Demers administration’s decision to remove him as president of the STL board.

The ongoing factional dispute on Laval city council involving standing committee and governing board appointments saw city councillor and former executive-committee second-in-command David De Cotis undergo a virtual meltdown during the Sept. 4 council session.

Among other things, De Cotis told Mayor Marc Demers, “You’re a liar” and “A liar is what you are,” in response to the mayor’s explanations of why De Cotis was removed and replaced as president of the Société de transport de Laval (STL). De Cotis continued in this vein until council speaker Christiane Yoakim was ready to signal two Laval Police officers that De Cotis should be removed. He gradually contained himself and finally went silent.

Saint-Martin city councillor Aline Dib announced during this month that, following a short period when she sat as an independent councillor and after careful reflection, she decided to accept an invitation from Mayor Marc Demers to return to the Mouvement Lavallois.

“The last few weeks were difficult, but they allowed me to reflect on my role and responsibilities as a city councillor,” said Dib, adding that mediation initiated by the mayor led to some interesting talks.

The Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board announced the appointment of Gaëlle Absolonne as the SWLSB’s new Director General effective Sept. 10. Ms. Absolonne’s nomination was confirmed by a unanimous decision of the Council of Commissioners at a recent Special Council meeting.

According to a statement from the SWLSB, Ms. Absolonne brings over 22 years of experience in the education milieu at many levels. Beginning her career as a teacher, she has also occupied leadership positions in the elementary, secondary, and adult education/vocational training sectors.

Federal Infrastructure and Communities Minister François-Philippe Champagne had mud on his boots when he arrived for an interview with Newsfirst Multimedia at the federal cabinet’s Montreal offices in Old Montreal. But there was good reason. He had just completed an inspection at the site of the massive new span currently being built across the St. Lawrence River to replace the aging Champlain Bridge.

A lawyer and international trade specialist, Champagne was also, among other things, a senior legal counsel for the multinational industrial equipment manufacturer ABB Group, before being appointed Minister of International Trade last year. He received his current portfolio from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on July 18.

Even though summer wouldn’t be officially over until the middle of September, it came to an unofficial close in Laval on Labour Day weekend when the City of Laval held the Fête de la Famille at the Centre de la Nature. Laval’s annual “family day” celebration devoted to moms, dads and kids was covered in the Laval News’ Sept. 12 issue.

The second Terry Fox Run for cancer research held in Laval since 2004 raised nearly $5,000 for the cause. “The 2018 Terry Fox Run Day Laval held this past Sunday Sept. 16 in Parc des Prairies was a great day and a great success,” said the event’s chief organizer Jeffrey Marshall.

People from Laval and from all over were invited to walk or run at the family oriented non-competitive event. While many schools in Laval hold Terry Fox Runs for their students, this was one of the first Terry Fox Runs to be held in Laval in nearly 15 years.

October

Stray cats and Clarendon ‘shortcuts’ animate Chomedey district meeting
Chomedey city councillor Aglaia Revelakis advised residents of her district to be careful before feeding stray cats or dogs because the city will regard them as the owners if they do.

Who takes responsibility for stray cats in Chomedey? This was one of the issues that came up during a district meeting held by city councillor Aglaia Revelakis at Centre de Sablon and reported in the Laval News’ Oct. 10 issue.

Revelakis pointed out that beginning in January 2019, it will be mandatory for all dogs and cats in Laval to be “microchipped” with a miniature implant that contains information identifying the owner. She also revealed that according to the City of Laval’s latest animal control regulations, anyone who feeds a stray cat or dog will be regarded as its owner.

In a rowdy victory speech following the Oct. 1 provincial election, premier-designate François Legault said voters had finally set aside the divisive battle over sovereignty that has consumed provincial politics for the last 50 years.

“Today, we have made history,” he said. “There are many Quebecers who have demonstrated that it is possible to have yesterday’s adversaries work together, to work for the Quebec of tomorrow, together.”

The election also saw major losses for the pro-independence Parti Québécois at the hands of another emerging Superpro-independence party, Québec Solidaire. The PQ’s leader, JeanFrançois Lisée, resigned after losing his seat.

A feeling of victory filled the air at the Notre Dame Blvd. campaign headquarters of incumbent Chomedey MNA Guy Ouellette on provincial election night last Oct. 1 – even though it also rang hollow.

Although Ouellette himself easily won re-election as expected, the Quebec Liberal Party’s losses most everywhere else in Quebec were historic in their proportion. Since election night, events turned in such a way that Ouellette is no longer a Liberal and will be representing the people of Chomedey as an independent member of the National Assembly.

Christopher Skeete, the Coalition Avenir Québec’s candidate in Sainte-Rose, became the only CAQ candidate from Laval’s six ridings to be elected. For Skeete, number three was a charm, since he ran unsuccessfully in two previous provincial elections. The Laval News had the opportunity to sit down for an interview with the newly-elected Skeete. In it, he praised the CAQ for its controversial stance for dealing with the public display of religious symbols.

Later in the month, Skeete, who was appointed head the new CAQ provincial government’s Secretariat for relations with English-speaking Quebecers, said the CAQ’s decision to continue the position created by the Liberals was “good news” for Anglo Quebecers.

“I think what it shows is that the CAQ is not really anything to be afraid of and that we really are the change that we said we would be,” he said in an interview with the Laval News. Asked about his responsibilities, Skeete said, “Basically I’ll be overseeing the work that’ll be going on there. But mostly I’ll be representing the Premier.”

With Halloween less than a week away, last year’s celebration of all things spooky and fit for trick or treating promised to be an especially horrifying one along Jean-Paul-Sartre St. in Laval’s Fabreville district. At 3410 Jean-Paul-Sartre to be precise, members of the Schwartz family would be carrying on a longstanding Halloween tradition on Oct. 31 when their garage and driveway storm shelter were to be transformed into one of the most elaborate and labyrinthine haunted houses in the Montreal region.

November

The Laval Police’s 2019 dog calendar is now on sale
Laval Police Department director Pierre Brochet is seen here with six police officers from the force’s dog handling unit as well as two of the eight dogs that make up the canine squad.

For a tenth consecutive year, members of the Laval Police Department unveiled their canine squad calendar at police headquarters, with sales going towards the Fondation Martin-Matte. While the calendar has become a tradition with the people of Laval after a decade, this was the fifth year that Laval Police chief Pierre Brochet took part in the launch.

All the same, the calendar has proven to be a great success, he admitted, noting that he receives calls from people from as far as Quebec’s Gaspésie region, asking if they can purchase a copy. those attending the release event also paid homage to Cst. Éric Lavoie, an LPD dog handler who died from head injuries in the line of duty more than a decade ago following an auto accident.

As the Laval News projected on Oct. 24, the posts of Chairperson and two commissioners were officially filled at that evening’s regular Council of Commissioners meeting by a vote of the seven remaining council members. Hardly a surprise to the sparse audience of board officials and a handful of interested parties in, Paolo Galati snapped up the Chair in a secret ballot that cast former commissioner Ailsa Pehi aside.

Laval mayor Marc Demers, who was recovering in November following a cancer diagnosis, was challenging elected officials all over Quebec to emulate him and throw their support behind the 2018 Bowvember campaign to draw attention to the fight against prostate cancer.

Demers and other prominent Procure supporters gathered at an Old Montreal hotel on Oct. 31 to mark the fifth year Procure is holding its campaign whose symbol is a stylish bow tie. The campaign hopes to raise $500,000 this year.

“It is with a great deal of emotion that I decided to join you this year, even if it has been four years since the City of Laval supports Procure through our city council,” said Demers, noting that he was diagnosed last April with prostate cancer and underwent therapy for it.

If one thing became clear during a public consultation held at Église Saint-Martin in Chomedey on Laval’s parking policies (and covered in the Nov. 7 issue of the Laval News), it’s that an overwhelming majority of people want the city to abandon its wintertime policy requiring car owners to park on alternate sides of streets to accommodate snow removal.

“Alternate parking has got to go – it should never have been there in the first place,” said longtime resident Nick Furfaro. “Second, is that the city should rethink its whole cycling situation. Because I think that too much importance has been given to having the cycling paths, in comparison with how many people actually use them.”

Royal Canadian Legion members from Branch 251 have been out selling Remembrance Day poppies for several weeks now in preparation for Canada’s annual Remembrance Day on Nov. 11. Legion members and supporters, including Air Cadet program participants from Laval, held an official launch for the campaign at branch headquarters on Curé Labelle Blvd.

When friends and supporters of the Action Laval municipal party gathered at the Palace convention centre for their annual brunch one Sunday morning this month, they held a double celebration. Not only was it the fifth anniversary of the founding of the party, but it was also the fifth consecutive year for Aglaia Revelakis as the Action Laval city councillor for the district of Chomedey.

December

Laval property taxes to rise 1.8 per cent in 2019

Residential as well as non-residential property owners in Laval will be paying 1.8 per cent more in taxes in 2019, according to the city’s latest annual budget which was released to the media this month at Laval city hall.

The Demers administration’s sixth budget since first being elected in 2013 allocated funding for $875.3 million in expenses over the coming year. This compared to $836.3 million in operating expenses and a 1.4 per cent tax increase for 2018.

Parental freedom of choice in what schools children attend was up front at the November 28, 2018 Council of Commissioners meeting of Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board (SWLSB). Theresa Andrusko, representing 189 parents whose support she exhibited in a signed petition, asked SWLSB to respect the right of parents to send their children to schools other than Laval Junior Academy/Laval Senior Academy.

“These schools are too big,” Andrusko stated, echoing a major concern of many that these schools have had problems since an imposed cost-cutting merger converted four manageable schools into two conglomerates much more difficult to administer.

In an interview with Newsfirst Multimedia, federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau – who was the first Canadian in space – appeared to be sold on the idea of sending Canadian astronauts to the moon as part of a NASA mission.

Despite an initially lukewarm response by at least one federal cabinet minister to an invitation by the head of the U.S. space agency for Canada to send astronauts to the moon, Garneau suggested Ottawa is taking an offer made by NASA quite seriously. He said that “if it goes ahead,” Canada’s involvement in the project would be supported financially by the federal government.

For newly-elected Coalition Avenir Québec MNA for Sainte-Rose Christopher Skeete, a recent visit to the Agape English-Speaking Senior Wellness Centre was also a return to the neighbourhood where he was born and grew up.

“I was born and raised in Chomedey,” Skeete told a large crowd of supporters of the centre on Notre Dame Blvd. who gathered there on Nov. 26 to welcome Skeete who was making his first official visit since the Oct. 1 provincial election. He was accompanied by Chomedey MNA Guy Ouellette.

During a rally held at the Palace congress centre by local Conservatives to announce two Laval-area candidates in the 2019 federal election, one name in particular seemed to come up more often than any other – Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s.

the Bloc Québécois from the political landscape, and the uncertain future of the NDP, the evening’s guest of honour, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, predicted that the 2019 election will be a duel between Scheer’s Conservatives and Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.

“The next election will be a clear choice between Justin Trudeau and his Liberal team or the Conservative Party under my leadership,” said Scheer. “And I am confident that Quebecers and Canadians will welcome that choice and will choose the Conservative Party to form the next government.”

A Mobile Soup Kitchen outreach program to “extend a hand” to less fortunate families and homeless individuals in certain areas of Laval this winter was launched by Vimy Liberal MP Eva Nassif in conjunction with the Constituency Youth Council (CYC) in her riding.

Called “Extend a hand to the less fortunate,” the project was specifically designed to help address poverty and homelessness problems in Laval, Nassif and representatives of the CYC said during a launch held at her riding office on Dec. 7.