As the past vanishes

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Two days ago I read in the Montreal Gazette that George Lau the owner of L’Orchidée de Chine was closing his restaurant after 34 years in operation. The restaurant is located at the corner of Peel street and De Maisonneuve in Montreal. This was a favourite of my parents who lived just one block North on Peel street. So many family reunions took place there over the years. George is aging and he and his wife Eva want to move on, the children have their own careers. George Lau came to open his restaurant after the celebrated and luxurious Ruby Foo’s restaurant closed on Decarie Blvd. He wanted to have a Chinese restaurant with class for fine dining with dishes well prepared in a traditional manner.  L’Orchidée de Chine was also the place where we had my father’s wake, all his favourite dishes and champagne, the way he and Mom would have wanted it.  My Dad had known George and Eva for decades.

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Over the years many restaurants in Montreal patronized by my parents came and went. Years ago a standard was Les Jardins du Ritz in the Ritz Hotel on Sherbrooke street and its famous garden with duckling pond, you felt like you were in Paris. This was before the renovations 10 years ago when all changed.

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Then there was many years ago The Coffee Mill on Mountain street, which closed around 1994, a Hungarian coffee shop which catered to so many Hungarians who fled the Uprising of 1956 in Hungary. It was very European, in its food, service and atmosphere, my mother loved it.

My parents also loved The Beaver Club dining room at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel, it was modelled on the famous Fur merchant’s Club established in 1785 near Beaver Hall Hill it closed in 2014.

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Le Paris on Sainte Catherine street West, my parents knew the owner a Frenchman and it was a great little restaurant. Then the owner died suddenly and the restaurant closed a year later.

It seems that when I go back to Montreal now there are less and less places left where my parents and all of us went to, replaced as time moves on my more hip places but not as it once was.

Not in Montreal but in New York my Dad liked The Plaza hotel before it was turned into a condo style hotel and the restaurants and bars all closed. Only the Palm Court is left but it is not quite the same.

My parents spent their lives in the hotel/retaurant business and my Dad loved to find new restaurants and find out who was the Chef and what was his background. Before his death a few years ago, it became difficult to go out with him, he did not like the direction restaurants in general were taking, too much decor and not much on food and service. He was often appalled by the lack of attention to details or cleanliness, he wondered why people would put up with such low standards, noise and expensive prices. He did not find often good value for the money spent. In the last year of his life he was teaching restaurant management at the Hotel School in Montreal, he told me how un-motivated the students were and he finally asked them why they wanted to work in the hospitality industry, the answer was to make money, he was shocked by the answer. He explained to them that you went into that business because you liked people and wanted to offer a service not to make money.

For me there is nothing or little to return too in Montreal nowadays, I do not recognize the City, it has changed a lot and the people we knew save a few old friends are gone. The  place of my childhood is gone but then again this is what happens in life, nothing stays the same.

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Vacations

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So we are scheduled to leave for Portugal and spend about 10 days there, it will be a pleasant change all around. We have never been and I heard plenty of good things about the country.  We are also thinking of going to the Galapagos Island next year with friends, that also will be a first.

In the meantime I am worried about the USA and how your system of government is unraveling, no longer the example of democracy and in the firm grip of a President who is keen on ignoring the rules of your Constitution. The bizarre incident with the CNN reporter and his being banned because the President did not like the question. The new threats made by Trump on the new majority Democrat Congress, it will be war if they look into his finances and his family holdings. I think that he has now admitted to wrongdoing by simply making this threat, he is very obviously worried Congress will find out the truth.  This should be an incentive for Congress to act quickly. The firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his replacement by his Chief of Staff who penned an opinion this past Summer calling into question the legitimacy of Courts and the Supreme Court in particular. This new fellow could also limit the Mueller investigation and even refuse to publish the findings. This new Attorney General sounds like someone who again would do just about anything to ensure Trump stays in power no matter what happens. This is worrisome for any country with institutions and the principle of Law and Order.

Too many countries like China, Russia, North Korea control the Courts to ensure that the leadership can persecute its perceived enemies and hand down judgements it likes. If the USA goes down this road then all pretence of being a democracy founded on the principle of the rule of Law is gone and you are nothing more than a tin pot republic. It could happen in the USA because no one wants to believe that it could. This is what happened in Germany in 1933 no one believed that the parliament (Reichstag) and the Courts would allow Chancellor Hitler to take over, after all Germany was a country founded on the rule of Law, and in one night it was all gone.

Hopefully President Trump can be removed from Office before it is too late. Hopefully Congress will take charge. It shows how checks and balances is a fragile thing and not fail proof.

Then there is China, in the last few months dangerous close encounters between the Chinese Navy and the USA Navy have taken place in disputed areas at sea where China now claims total control. Would Trump declare war on China if a USA Naval ship was rammed or attacked or sunk? It could very well happen if Trump becomes desperate to cling to power.

What about Trump’s promise to do away with the Nuclear Treaty with Russia, this is pure madness and even Putin is worried, all of it moves to destabilize the world and push us towards war or the destruction of institutions in the USA.  I cannot remember any President being so callous.

All the signals are there, something needs to give to avoid a disaster. Canadians are dismayed and worried.

 

The results

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Well the election took place and the results surprised me and I am puzzled. The bulk of the votes went to one candidate, I think it is called a landslide in election parlance. No that person was not me. However I did receive a flood of message from friends and supporters this morning who congratulated me for a dignified campaign, well run, focused on issues and the City and that is always nice to hear. Yes I am proud of my campaign despite the nastiness, I stayed above it all and refused to engage in negativity.

During this campaign there was a lot of talk about change and how the people wanted fresh air, a new approach. There was also much talk about engaging youth and how they could be voting for change at City Council. All that was nothing more than talk and nothing came of it.

The local newspaper held a televised coverage on Eastlink which is a private service available only to subscribers, the CBC only offered radio coverage. The Guardian invited the out going Mayor to comment on the election of the new Mayor and for the youth panel we had the same 3 faces who represent all youth in the Province to offer their comments which were not terribly illuminating and dovetailed with the out going Mayor’s comments. Engaging youth and youth is our future are themes that come back all the time but I found few young people under 35 willing to put their money where their mouth is. Even the youth panel when asked why they had not put up their names for the election avoided answering and instead fell back on the old canard of no time and other priorities and blame the boomers.

On City Council only 2 new faces in my ward 1 (downtown) and ward 9 (near the airport) out of the ten councillors again not exactly the massive change the people were apparently asking for.

During this campaign I learned an awful lot, this being a small place, the political/business alliances do control all and in some cases in a pernicious way and if they support a candidate, will expect much for their support.

Ward 1 in particular being the downtown core is now firmly in the grasp of big corporate and business elite. This means that the corridor from Pownal to Prince streets and Euston street to the river will see the change business wants and gentrification will now happen in accelerated mode. This is not a bad thing much needs to be improved upon in that specific area if we are to revitalize the downtown core.

Now comes with the end of the year the Budget period and I have a project on this one I started last year and got a little bit of result and now with a new Mayor and renewed City Council I will propose again an open process for the budget. The one councillor who blocked my motion last year is gone, so I may get better results.  I have not lost any time and already reconnected with those councillors with whom I have been working in the last year.

So now time to move on and first a vacation with a departure date fairly soon to Portugal. For my new look, I know with this new look I could be Freddy Mercury’s twin, I bet that is what you are thinking or is it Hercule Poirot.

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People now refer to me as a politician, in my life I have been a Public Servant, a Diplomat and now a Politician, it makes me smile.

 

Events

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So today 5 November is Municipal election day in PEI in the 4 big towns, Charlottetown, Stratford, Cornwall and Summerside. The other places are more resort or settlements with less than 600 people living in any one spot so they simply have assembly meetings and people discuss issues and vote on them.

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Charlottetown the Capital has 36,000 people, Summerside 15,000, Stratford 10,000 and Cornwall 6000. In the last 7 days we have had lots of torrential rains and during the past weekend 18 hours of 95 to 130km winds which I am told is hurricane grade, this is what happens here in the Fall and Winter Season, high winds. So canvassing was not possible and many of my electoral campaign signs just vanished or were badly damaged by the wind. What I have learned though is that you only put up your signs in the last 6 days of the campaign, no need for signs prior to that since the most important element is to meet people on their door step and chat. I did that a lot and visited them again reminding them of what we had talked about.

Today I walked around the neighbourhood and met at random people, all told me they had voted for me and why they did. I found that very encouraging, I am hoping for the best. However if I do not win it will not be the end of the world and life goes on, I do have lots of projects and volunteer work and will still keep in touch with what is going on at City Hall, which is not difficult to do in a small town.

Of course now that we are about 7 weeks from XMAS!!!! a lot of fairs and charity events are in full swing. For the Holiday Season there is a lot of food and clothing drives and gift donations for poor children.  There is a lot of poverty in PEI but it is often well hidden until like me you start walking the neighbourhood or go out in the small settlements and see how people live. Makes one wonder how they survive in Winter, when the choices between food or heat becomes stark.

One Charity we like to support is called

Christmas Tree Dress Fashion Show Fundraiser

this is part of the Santa’s Angels Charity drive, the idea is to arrange for a $50 Xmas gift for a child who has never had any gifts on Christmas Morning, it also includes food and clothing for a family who are in need.

There are many other such charity events around the Province, Farmers give out 10 pound bags of potatoes, the CBC our National Broadcaster does a turkey drive and each year will collect over 1000 turkeys for families who cannot afford to buy one. There is also a warm clothing drive for adults and for children. Visits to Seniors home and to Hospitals. The idea being not to leave anyone behind or alone.

All of it done by volunteers, hundreds of them, it is quite the operation.

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This is the WESTJET Airline entry into the Xmas Tree Fashion Show.

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A group photo of the Fashion show, the idea being that each dress would be appropriate for a Xmas Party event.

 

Yesterday the 4 November around 3pm the small Jewish population of Charlottetown and other residents gathered in front of Founder’s Hall, which is the old Canadian National Railway repair shops now transformed into a market place to commemorate the memory of the 11 victims of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg last week.  A nice quiet service attended by about 100 persons.

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168:01 Installation

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I was at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery today to have a good look at the new Winter Show. Several artists are presenting their works. One artist is Wafaa Bilal  b. 1966 in Najaf, Iraq, he is an Iraqi American artist, a former professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and currently an associate professor at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.  Wafaa Bilal fled Iraq in 1991 and spent 2 years in a refugee camp in Saudi Arabia. Many members of his family where killed during this period.

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The exhibit is entitled 168:01 

The title of the installation, 168:01, refers to the 13th-century destruction of the historic House of Wisdom library – then the largest in the world – at the hands of Mongol invaders. “Legend has it that they dumped its entire contents into the Tigris river to create a bridge to cross over, and that the pages bled for seven days – 168 hours,” Bilal said. “The extra 1 is that second when I imagine the books turned white and drained of knowledge.”

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Aimed at restoring the roughly 70,000 books lost to looting and fire during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Wafaa Bilal’s 168:01 mourns the loss of the College of Fine Arts Library at the University of Baghdad. The site-specific installation, organized and circulated by the Art Gallery of Windsor, positions viewers as potential participants who can choose to donate educational texts to the Fine Arts Library.
The installation becomes a system of exchange where art objects are traded for academic texts. Visitors are encouraged to donate books from the university’s wish list to help rebuild the library collection. Each participant who donates a book to the exhibition receives a white book in return — a symbol of the void that they have helped to fill and as a reminder of their contribution.
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Wafaa Bilal’s powerful suite of photographs titled “The Ashes Series” brings the viewer closer to images of violence and war in the Middle East. In an effort to foster empathy and humanize the onslaught of violent images that inundate Western media during wartime, Bilal has reconstructed journalistic images of the destruction caused by the Iraq War. He writes, “Reconstructing the destructed spaces is a way to exist in them, to share them with an audience, and to provide a layer of distance, as the original photographs are too violent and run the risk of alienating the viewer. It represents an attempt to make sense of the destruction and to preserve the moment of serenity after the dust has settled, to give the ephemeral moment extended life in a mix of beauty and violence.” In the photograph “Al-Mutanabbi Street” from “The Ashes Series”, the viewer encounters dilapidated historic and modern buildings on a street covered with layers upon layers of rubble and fragments of torn books. Bilal’s images emanate a slowness that deepens engagement between the viewer and the image, thereby inviting them to share the burden of obliterated societies and reimagine a world built on the values of peace and hope.

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Reading again

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Well I have been reading some more, reading usually in the evening before bedtime or until Morpheus comes to take me to the land of dreams. Lately I have been reading the Essential Works of Josephus compiled by Paul Maier.

Titus Flavius Josephus born Yosef ben Matityahu יוסף בן מתתיהו‬, was a first-century Roman-Jewish scholar, historian, born in 37 CE in Jerusalem—then part of Roman Judea—to a father of  priestly descent and a mother who claimed royal ancestry.

He initially fought against the Romans during the First Roman-Jewish War as head of Jewish forces in Galilee, until surrendering in 67 CE to Roman Forces led by Vespasian after the six-week siege of Jotapata. Josephus claimed the Jewish Messianic Prophecies that initiated the First Roman-Jewish War made reference to Vespasian becoming Emperor of Rome and founding the Flavian Dynasty. In response Vespasian being superstitious  decided to keep Josephus as a slave and presumably interpreter. After Vespasian became Emperor in 69 CE, he granted Josephus his freedom, at which time Josephus assumed the emperor’s family name of Flavius and lived with them on the Palatine.

Flavius Josephus having defected to the Roman side and was granted Roman Citizenship. He became an advisor and friend of Vespasian’s son Titus, later Emperor, serving as his translator when Titus led the Siege of Jerusalem. Since the siege proved ineffective at stopping the Jewish revolt, the city’s destruction and the looting and destruction of Herod’s Temple (Second Temple) soon followed.

Josephus recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the first century CE and the First Jewish–Roman War (66-70 CE), including the Siege of Masada. His books provide valuable insight into first century Judaism and the background of early Christianity.

The works on Jewish history presents God or Yawveh יהוה as a vengeful god who thinks nothing of ordering the slaughter of entire cities over and over again simply to let his people win. His people turn against Yawveh many times but he is willing to forgive and forget if they do his bidding, more conquest and more killing. He always rewards his male followers by giving them fertile wives bearing many sons. Reading this reminded me of the book by José Saramago, The Gospel according to Jesus Christ, in this book Saramago present Yawveh has a rich Jewish merchant who is quite willing to do anything to get his way, unscrupulous and sadistic.

Josephus is interesting to read because it is the only account of that period to survive and can be used to compared to what you read in the Old Testament and the Gospels. Josephus wrote for his patrons the Flavian in Rome presenting their point of view.

The other book I read was a history of Rome in 7 sackings by Matthew Kneale. It is a different approach since it speaks directly of the ups and downs of Rome as a city as invaders come and go, from the first in July 387 BCE when the young city became embroiled in a conflict with a band of Gallic Celts led by the warlord Brennus to the last being the Nazis occupation in 1943-44.  Lots of details on daily life of Romans through the ages and what life in the city was like.

I am now reading a book I picked up during our trip this September in Nova Scotia entitled A great and Noble Scheme, the tragic history of the expulsion of the French Acadians from their homeland by John Mack Faragher a professor at Yale.

The history of the Acadians is one that touches all French speaking Canadian families in one way or another. Though officially the Acadians are forgotten in the history of modern Canada. Their deportation from the region that is today the Maritime Provinces of Canada happened in 1755 at the time this part of the world was still a band of colonies being disputed both by France and Britain, a pawn in Imperial gamesmanship. It is a complicated history yet fascinating to read, a civilian population at the mercy of two great powers who did not think much of the people.  The book is also interesting because Faragher present how France managed or we should say mismanaged its colonies overseas and how Britain was already involved in free market experiment and parliamentary consultation with colonists a concept totally foreign in France and seen as dangerous to Royal authority.

Faragher writes about social mores and how Acadian men often coming to the colonies alone would take native Mikmaw wives and become in the process assimilated into native culture though retaining their European heritage.  Speaking French and integrating Mikmaw words and expression into daily conversation. There was also amongst the Acadians a mix of Protestant Huguenots and Catholics fleeing the wars of religions in Europe, many showed litte religious fervour, everyone was in North America to trade and make a better life than what they left behind in France. On the other hand the social life of the New England Puritans was vastly different, no such mixing of races, lots of religion and horrified curiosity towards these Acadians with whom they did a lucrative commerce between Boston and Port Royal, the Puritans found the Acadian amusing, scandalous and rough.

Faragher’s book does away with the romantic notions and the often partisan presentation in most history books. It brings clarity to a confusing but compelling tale.

None but the Brave

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Today is Friday 26 October and advance voting has started in PEI on the municipal elections. By having a lot of days of advance voting PEI Elections hopes that more people will participate and vote. I have encouraged people in my speeches to vote, young or old, you must vote it is your Civic duty as a Citizen. I did so this week to a class of 16 year old at a school near us. They can vote in 2 years and luckily their teacher had prepared them well.

I voted today for a new Mayor and for myself as Councillor in Ward 1. It took all of on minute to do. I also finished thanking the people of the Ward for receiving me and listening to me and giving me their views.

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All along I ran a dignified campaign according to several people who took an interest in what I was doing. I continually emphasized that it was about the people and not me the candidate, my wish is public service and what I can do for you.

I was the first to use YouTube to produce videos on issues, I ran an 8 month long campaign, most probably the longest in the history of this Island Province, however I wanted to attract the attention of the public who often was not interested. Would I do it again, yes but differently. I learned a lot about society in PEI and complex alliances amongst individuals. I also learned about the economics of the province and its social problems. I have now a far better understanding of the Capital and the Province. My past government work experience helped a lot.

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In the oratorio Alexander’s Feast by Haendel, the aria None but the brave deserves the Fair = Success comes to those who dare and act.  The proverbs which illustrate that success comes only to the people who are ready to work hard. This proverb means that one can attain success only when a person is bold enough to act and ready to give up every other enjoyment in life and sweat for his success. The goddess of success visits only those who dare to act and lay everything at her Altar. I hope the goddess will smile on me and Fate will reward my efforts on November 5. But who knows, I take nothing for granted and hope that it comes to pass. If not well life goes on and I have other plans. One being travel, we will certainly travel in late November somewhere and again this Winter. I also have my volunteer job at the Art Gallery and at Government House plus other volunteer work at the Fédération Culturelle as Secretary where I have been reconfirmed for another 2 year mandate.

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End of the trail

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Well I have been at this campaign since 15 February 2018 and it is coming to an end.

Saturday 27 October will be the first advance poll and then 29 Oct and then 2 Nov. Most people vote on Advance Poll days and once this starts canvassing is over.  The Official day is Nov. 5.

As I said before despite strong support I do not take for granted that I will win, anything can happen. I got my Thank you Ward 1 video up on my FB page Larry for councillor.

I chose this Old Lutheran Hymn composed in 1529 by Martin Luther, based on Psalm 46 for today to mark the end of this long trail.

Cannabis is now legal

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Canada today became the first country of the G7 to legalize recreational Cannabis. People have been flocking to government stores to buy their pot. Many well known politicians like former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney are now sitting on Boards of Corporations marketing and selling the stuff. The demands is huge as if it was candy.

Here are the prices per Province in Canada for one gram of the stuff. Notice how progressive Quebec has the cheapest prices.

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Some people describe today as Xmas, New Year’s Eve and Canada Day all wrap into one.

Radio shows on CBC have been playing music connected to the topic and on classical radio mentioning composers who like Francis Poulenc use to smoke it. Now you see Trump was right, Bolsheviks live up North in Canada. LOL!!!!

 

 

16 October Poll

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Here is a Poll from The Guardian in PEI on the possible results of the Municipal Election in Ward 1 Charlottetown. Voting Day is November 5.

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Have your say in our online poll

Today’s question: Who will win in Ward 1

Laurent Beaulieu  46.15%  

 

Paul Haddad  25%  

 

Alanna Jankov  15.38%  

 

Leo Killorn  9.62%  

 

Ron Dowling  3.85%