Sunday, 27 October 2019

Broadway Hits and a great committee team effort highlight 2019 CSL Cats Committee Benefit Concert

A capacity crowd of well over 300 people attended the Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee’s (CSLCC) annual benefit concert on   October 24 at the Syd Wise Auditorium of the Wagar Adult Education Centre. Featured performers  for Broadway’s Greatest Hits were the Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Joseph Milo. There were also solo performances by soprano Olivia Charette-Hancinsky, baritone Burney Lieberman and saxophonist Gideon Vigderhaus.

Conductor Joseph Milo. (Photos by Rami Negev)

Funds raised will go towards the CSLCC’s Trap, Neuter, Release and Adopt Program. There are many feral cats in the community. The CSLCC’s team of volunteers sets out to trap as many as possible, have them sterilized and then adopted or returned to the spot where they were originally found.  In the latter case, efforts are made to assist the feeders in the community. The committee has also rescued a number of  kittens and found homes for them.  


Councillor Mike Cohen, responsible for Animal Protection in the city, chaired the event. Diane Liebling is the chair of the CSL Cats Committee.  Fern Collier-Pereira once again organized a highly successful bake sale which supports the committee's program for outdoor feeders. Malka Labow, Ronnie Roter and Randi Kader introduced a new raffle,  with more than $3,000 worth of prizes up for grabs. Alexandra Cohen served as emcee.

The Expedia Cruise Ship Centres table.
Event sponsors were Expedia Cruise Ship Centres, with franchisee Sean Flynn; Gestion;  Elm Investments, Rozenblat Realty Group and Parkhaven Towers; and D’Arcy McGee Liberal MNA David Birnbaum.


Anthony Housefather, Mitchell Brownstein, Mitch Kujavsky and Mike Cohen.

Thanks to Liberal MP for Mount Royal Anthony Housefather, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, Councillor Mitch Kujavsky and Chris Savard from the Office of David Birnbaum for their encouraging words. Chris presented a cheque of $500 from the committee from our MNA.

Chris Savard (left) presents a cheque from David Birnbaum.

Musicians of the World

The Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra (MWSO) was founded in 2006 by conductor  Milo and his wife Lucy Ravinsky. This one of a kind orchestra is composed of 55 musicians: about 80 percent of its members are from 15 countries around the world, while the remaining 20 percent are natives of Montreal who successfully facilitated the integration of the newcomers. They have been rehearsing at Côte Saint-Luc City Hall for many years and as part of the arrangement, they agree to perform a benefit concert once a year for the CSL Cats Committee. We are very grateful to Conductor Milo and his talented team!

The orchestra in action.
On this night they performed a beautiful array of Broadway hits from the likes of West Side Story, the Wizard of Oz, Les Miserables, Aladdin, Cats, Phantom of the Opera, My Fair Lady and Fiddler on the Roof.

Olivia Charette-Hancinsky

Olivia Charette-Hancinsky
Olivia Charette-Hancinsky is a multi-talented Montreal soprano known for her “captivating stage presence,”  “sparkling upper register” and “extensive range”. She speaks seven languages and plays seven instruments. Olivia just completed her Bachelor’s degree in Classical Performance at McGill University under Professors Winston Purdy and Joanne Kolomyjec, receiving the Margaret Kalil award for “Vocal Excellence” (2018), and the “Tomlinson Award” (2018, 2019) for “advanced musicianship skills”. Her passion for performing started at the young age of three with piano, dancing and singing. Since then, she’s sung in a wide variety of concerts, ranging from Jazz & Big Band to Musicals and then opera. This led to performances on international stages such as Tel Aviv University Israel, Florence Italy, Salzburg Austria, Montreal & Los Angeles Jazz Festivals, Maison Symphonique, Oscar Peterson Hall, Queen Mary cruise ship, Frank Sinatra’s Estate, PBS TV New York and finally Carnegie Hall.


Olivia’s innate musicality inspired her to arrange, conduct and sing with a girls’ choir claiming second  place at the Heritage Fair in NYC. Similarly, she choreographed, arranged and conducted a boys’ team to 1st place in Montreal’s GLEE Competition. This led to being the youngest recipient of “Saint Lambert’s Cultural Personality Award.” She has played the title role of Marian Paroo in The Music Man, performed in A Chorus Line, sang in the North American premiere of James Garner’s Much Ado! and Die Zauberflöte, both directed by Patrick Hansen at McGill, and performed the role of Flora in Verdi’s La Traviata. Her latest appearances onstage were in Canada’s largest summer opera festival in Edmonton this year, where she performed in Cole Porter’s Kiss me Kate, and Benjamin Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, while understudying for Tytania, the fairy queen.

Burney Lieberman

Burney Lieberman
Burney Lieberman is a long time performer of 32 years with the Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre. Burney sang with the Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue choir for 22 years, and is currently with the Chevra Kadisha Synagogue choir- directed by Joseph Milo.



Burney has performed in 2 major movies, one of which he is extremely proud, to have sung the Kol Nidre as cantor in “Enemies, A Love Story”, the other movie being, “Barney’s Version.” Burney is a professional photographer , providing his images to hotels and private collectors.

Fantastic Raffle

There was also a fantastic raffle. The grand prize was  a three night stay at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Old Montreal, with a fully cooked morning breakfast each day, evening receptions and dinner for two at the restaurant valued at $1,200. 

Alexandra Cohen, Ronnie Roter, Malka Labow and Randi Kader.
A number of beautiful paintings were available. Internationally recognized multimedia artist  Valeriya Khomar  donated a gorgeous painting of a menorah on a glass light box. It includes a functioning lamp, with light bulbs inside. Valeriya's true belief, her philosophy, is that through Art, unity among people becomes a reality. Her goal is to show that the universal language of Art brings individuals together, regardless of their upbringing.  Norma Nutkevitch was the lucky winner.  

Mike Cohen, Norma Nutkevitch and Valeriya Khomar.
 Other prizes, broken down into lots, were as follows:

Lot #1 Ben and Tournesol gift Basket
Lot #2 Stokes Gift Card, Spa Mani Pedi G.C, Golteez G.C (Gift Card)
Lot #3 Casablanca Florist G.C, Spa Mani Pedi G.C, Paragraph Books G. C
Lot #4 Stokes G.C, Foula Manicure, G.C, Paragraph Books G.C. 
Lot #5 Salon Carina G.C, Foula Manicure G.C, Spa Mani Pedi G.C
Lot #6 Billionaire Brows G.C, J and R Kosher G.C.  Mtl. Bagel G.C
Lot # 7 Foula Set of Acrylic Nails, Montreal bagel G.C
Lot #8 Avanti: Mani and Blow Dry G.C, Foula Mani G.C
Lot #9 2 Porcelain Cat mugs and plates, Mtl Bagel G.C
Lot #10 2 Hand Made Cat mugs, Foula Manicure G.C, Fruiterie Maruti G.C 
Lot #11 E Qulib Gift Bag   with spa cosmetics , Foula Manicure G. C
Lot #12 Little Bear gift Bag with 50$ G.C, Dermally Shampoo and Conditioner
Lot # 13  Two Paintings made by Frank Elekes
Lot # 14 Pharmaprix Gift Basket, Annie Young Gift Certificate

Recognizing Others For Supporting Our Event and Cause

We also wish to thank Shelley Schecter, Barbara Hilliker and the Côte Saint-Luc Hospital for Animals.

Thanks to our devoted fundraising committee.

This event could have never taken place without Janine West and her team at the CSL Public Library. They assumed responsibility for the concert last year.  Thanks to Danielle Belanger,  Lisa Milner, Justin Burnham and Farrah Mohammed as well as Maurizio Giobbi from Parks and Recreation, Wagar  Principal Nick Katalifos and his caretaking staff, sound man Jeffret Karkour, photographer Rami Negev, Darryl Levine, Regine Banon,  Ruth Farrugia and  our wonderful Volunteer Citizens on Patrol (VCOPs).




Tuesday, 1 October 2019

CSL Cats Meow Concert will be all Broadway Hits: Fantastic raffle prizes up for grabs

The Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee (CSLCC) will hold its annual benefit concert on Thursday, October 24 (7:30 p.m.) at the Syd Wise Auditorium (5785 Parkhaven) of the Wagar Adult Education Centre. Featured performers  for Broadway’s Greatest Hits will be the Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra (http://www.musiciansoftheworld.ca), conducted by Joseph Milo. Some members of his orchestra  will  also present solo performances by soprano Olivia Charette-Hancinsky, baritone Burney Lieberman and saxophonist Gideon Vigderhaus.



Funds raised will go towards the CSLCC’s Trap, Neuter, Release and Adopt Program. There are many feral cats in the community. The CSLCC’s team of volunteers sets out to trap as many as possible, have them sterilized and then adopted or returned to the spot where they were originally found.  In the latter case, efforts are made to assist the feeders in the community. The committee has also rescued a number of  kittens and found homes for them.  

Councillor Mike Cohen, responsible for Animal Protection in the city, notes that the concert will be an opportunity for people who love animals to enjoy an evening of fine music while contributing to a good cause.   He also wishes to announce that Expedia Cruise Ship Centres, with franchisee Sean Flynn; Gestion Elm, Rozenblat Realty Group and Parkhaven Towers; and D’Arcy McGee Liberal MNA David Birnbaum,  will be the evening’s official sponsors.

Fantastic Raffle

There will also be a raffle. The grand prize will be a three night stay at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Old Montreal with a fully cooked morning breakfast each day, evening receptions and dinner for two at the restaurant. It is valued at $1,200. 


A number of beautiful paintings will be available. Internationally recognized multimedia artist  Valeriya Khomar  has donated a gorgeous painting of a menorah on a glass light box. It includes a functioning lamp, with light bulbs inside. Valeriya's true belief, her philosophy, is that through Art, unity among people becomes a reality. Her goal is to show that the universal language of Art brings individuals together, regardless of their upbringing. See the photo above.   

Musicians of the World

The Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra (MWSO) was founded in 2006 by conductor  Milo and his wife Lucy Ravinsky. This one of a kind orchestra is composed of 55 musicians: about 80 percent of its members are from 15 countries around the world, while the remaining 20 percent are natives of Montreal who successfully facilitated the integration of the newcomers. They have been rehearsing at Côte Saint-Luc City Hall for many years and as part of the arrangement, they agree to perform a benefit concert once a year for the CSL Cats Committee.

Tickets are only $15 each (tax included). A limited number of VIP reserved seats are available for $25.  Special prices can be arranged for groups. They can be purchased at the CSL Public Library (5851 Cavendish Boulevard) and  the Côte St. Luc Hospital for Animals (7930 Baily Road) on Baily Road. Tickets can be purchased at the library by credit and debit card or cash and cash only at the Animal Hospital.

Councillor  Cohen and event Co-Chair Councillor Mitch Kujavsky note that information will be available that night for people interested in possibly joining the committee or adopting a cat.  The committee will hold a bake sale before the concert and at intermission, with proceeds going to the outdoor cat feeding program. Diane Liebling chairs the CSL Cats Committee.   


The  event is being organized by the CSL Public Library.

Here is a link to last year's concert: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5Hbnlkxtw4

For more information call 514-485-6806, ext. 2200 or log on to www.cotesaintluc.org/catscommittee.

Here is a story that appeared in the Canadian Jewish News.







Saturday, 10 August 2019

Cats can be wonderful companions for older adults


(Good Free Photos)
Dogs may be man’s best friend, but cats reign as the most popular pet in Canada.
“I always considered myself a dog person,” says Audrey Green, 61. “However, I work full-time and there was no way I could take care of one. Then I saw Ruby and I instantly fell in love.”
Green adopted Ruby as a kitten from a cat rescue organization last year. “From the moment I saw her, it was love at first sight,” she says. “I never had a cat of my own before, but now I can’t imagine life without her.”
When Green walks in the door, Ruby is there to greet her and make her laugh. “She has her own mat in the kitchen where I keep her food bowl,” she says. “One day, we were both eating and suddenly she dragged the entire mat closer to my chair so we could eat side by side! People don’t realize just how wonderful cats are or what good company they can be.”
Green has trained Ruby to give kisses, especially when she wants to eat. “She taps me on the face. It’s so sweet,” she says. “I have three grown children and two grandchildren, but Ruby is my fur-baby.”
Audrey Green and her “fur-baby” Ruby.
Jerry Solomon, 72, and his wife Gloria have been providing a home for elderly and infirm cats since they both retired. “Cats are such beautiful creatures,” he says. “We adopt the ones that have been living out their years in a cage.”
There’s no shortage of cats who need a home, something the couple realized they could easily provide. “They fit in well with our lifestyle,” he says. “We don’t have to walk them, and if we’re gone for a few hours, we know they’re fine at home. When we return, there’s all these lovely little faces waiting for us.”
The couple now has four cats, ranging from ages six to 16. “Our youngest, Polo, came from our vet’s office,” he says. “His owners wanted to put him down because he had a broken leg, but he was only four. So, we took over and now he’s as good as new.”
Adopting an older animal may involve more health issues, but this isn’t necessarily so, he adds. “We adopted our first senior at age 11 and she lived until 19,” he says. “Senior pets are special. They’re grateful for a warm bed, regular food and someone to care about them. It’s not so different than with people.”
Despite their popularity, cats – both stray pets and feral felines – also make up the largest population of homeless pets in Canada. “Feral cats have reverted to a wild state and can’t get used to human contact,” says animal advocate Lydia Carter.
To address the problem, changes need to be made, starting with spay/neuter laws and prosecuting people who abandon animals – a crime in Canada that is rarely enforced. “Another issue is that many landlords or seniors residences in Quebec don’t allow animals, which can force people to give up their pet,” adds Carter.
Then there’s the mentality that animals are disposable. “Sometimes students adopt a cat to keep them company,” she says. “Then when they go back home, they discard them like they’re a piece of furniture.”
Polo found a loving home after he broke his leg.
In the community of Côte-St-Luc, the CSL Cats Committee addresses the problem of homeless cats with their Trap, Neuter, Return, Maintain (TNRM) program. “We call the feral population community cats now,” says chair Diane Liebling. “We re-release them with assurance from the resident that they will feed, water and shelter the cat for the rest of its natural life. Some residents have been feeding the same cats for years.”
The committee holds a Food for Felines fundraiser every November to February to collect food and/or funds. They also provide Styrofoam shelters to help the homeless cats survive Quebec winters. “There’s no question that every cat deserves a home,” says Leibling. “But if they can’t have one, they still deserve to be treated with love, care and dignity.”
If you’d like to make a difference in a cat’s life, visit your local shelter.
The CSL Cat Committee can be reached at 514-485-6800 ext. CATS (2287).

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

The Algonquin Hotel cat: A fabulous story for anyone who loves felines

I absolutely love the historic Algonquin Hotel. It is always our first choice when visiting New York City. Located on 44th Street, near 6th Avenue, walk out the front door and you are a block and a half away from Times Square. 
Hamlet strikes a pose. (Lisa Raymond Photo)

The Algonquin first opened its doors in 1902. Today, it is part of the Marriott chain’s Autograph Collection, an evolving ensemble of strikingly independent hotels. Each destination has been selected for its quality, bold originality, rich character, and uncommon details. The result is an array of properties that is nothing less than unique. The Algonquin Hotel was the first New York City property to become a part of the collection. 
   
For well more than 100 years, the Algonquin has been greeting and lodging the country's most prominent writers and literary personalities, as well as the leading figures of the American stage. The hotel is best known, perhaps, for the members of the Round Table, a group of luminaries who had in common both the ability to fire blazing witticisms and to withstand being on the receiving end of them. 

Alice De Almeida shows her passion for Hamlet.
There are many reasons why The Algonquin is our family's chosen hotel in New York. As cat lovers it pains us to be separated from Cleopatra, our  magnificent tortoiseshell cat who regrettably cannot come on holiday with us. The Algonquin Cat has been a fixture at this iconic hotel for almost a century now so we were very excited to see Hamlet VIII, the three year-old orange cat who calls this hotel his home. According to hotel executive assistant Alice De Almeida, he was originally a feral cat found in Long Island and brought to the Bide-a-wee shelter (the oldest shelter in the Big Apple), where the Algonquin then adopted him as their own. He came to the hotel in July 2017 after their former cat, Matilda III, retired. “He is so friendly and lovable that people who never liked cats love him.” Alice says proudly. “He has great purrsonality!”

Hamlet lets me pet him.
Joanna Szepietowska is the recently appointed rooms operations manager at the hotel. She admitted to me that she was not much of a cat lover before coming to work here, but Hamlet has changed that in a big way. She is looking into adopting her own cat now.

Hamlet has his own Twitter and Instagram accounts, as well as an email account.  “I take care of all his needs, front and back, vet visits and more,” says Alice, a wonderful lady who gets into the office each weekday at 6:30 am and immediately gives Hamlet a big kiss.

Alice  has three cats of her own at home and feeds several ferals in her area. She came to work at this hotel in 2005 and quickly became the natural guardian of the resident cats. “I have become a real Jewish mother to our cats,” she laughs.

Based on the timeline of a book written by the hotel’s first general manager, the hotel is now proud to say that the lineage of The Algonquin Cat dates back to the early 1920s. Two days after this first cat, Billy, passed, another stray cat wandered into the hotel and The Algonquin welcomed Rusty. The famous classical actor, John Barrymore, best known for playing Hamlet on stage, was a resident at the time in the early 1930s, and Rusty was renamed Hamlet in his honor. The lineage thus far now includes eight Hamlets and three Matildas. Each cat that has reigned at The Algonquin has been a rescue. 

The hotel’s executive chef cooks Hamlet special meals on holidays. He receives fan mail and gifts constantly from around the world. He has recently been the subject of a painting that hangs above the Front Desk, by New York artist Marcus Pierno. Hamlet can often be found at the front desk, in one of his two tree houses or prancing through the lobby. He has been trained to never go outside and is wonderful with everyone who wants to pet him.
This fellow  was in last year's Cat Fashion Show.


Every August The Algonquin hosts an annual Cat Fashion Show to raise money for the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals. The event  brings together the city’s most fashionable felines to strut their stuff in one-of-a-kind outfits that coincide with  different themes – the 2019 edition being “It’s a Small World.”   Hamlet VIII is naturally the star.

The spectacle begins with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and desserts; a silent auction featuring a variety of kitty-centric items; an on-site mobile adoption unit in front of the hotel that day and of course NYC cats hitting the catwalk in opulent threads designed by legendary pet fashion designer Ada Nieves. Human guests are encouraged to wear their most eccentric, feline-inspired outfit and share photos from the un-fur-gettable night on social media using the hashtag #AlgonquinCat.

A total of 100 percent of proceeds benefits the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals, a non-profit charity that works with more than 150 partner rescue groups and shelters to offer important programs and services that save the lives of NYC's homeless animals. A raffle raises additional funds throughout the evening, with prizes including a variety of pet products curated by the event’s co-chair, pet lifestyle expert and author Sandy Robins. 

Hamlet can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  He can also be reached via email: hamletalgonquincat@algonquinhotel.com. 

A home away from home

After World War I, Vanity Fair writers and Algonquin regulars Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley and Robert E. Sherwood began lunching at the Algonquin. Though society columns referred to them as the Algonquin Round Table, they called themselves the Vicious Circle. "By force of character," observed drama critic Brooks Atkinson, "they changed the nature of American comedy and established the tastes of a new period in the arts and theatre."



This year marks the centennial of the Round Table and as a result special programming took place all summer long. We were there to take in some of the festivities

Each of the 181 rooms and 25 suites features a comfortable well-lit work desk, as well as complimentary Wi-Fi. We stayed in a very comfortable one bedroom Heywood Broun Suite, named for the noted American journalist, sportswriter and newspaper columnist in New York City who founded the American Newspaper Guild.

The layout was ideally suited for us. There is a nice sized entrance, with the master bedroom to the left featuring a nice-sized bathroom. The spacious living room has a pullout couch, a large desk which was perfect for me to write my stories and good drawer and cupboard space. You can get a fridge and a microwave, depending upon availability and on request.

When you enter the hotel, you come face to face with the casual Lobby Lounge, along with The Round Table Restaurant. Just to the left is the hotel’s trendy and aptly named Blue Bar. 

The Algonquin Hotel is located at 59 W 44th Street, New York, New York 10036. www.algonquinhotel.com. Info: 212-840-6800


Save the Date for our 2019 Concert - October 24



The Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee (CSLCC) will hold its annual benefit concert on Thursday, October 24 (7:30 p.m.) at the Syd Wise Auditorium (5785 Parkhaven) of the Wagar Adult Education Centre.  Featured performers  for Broadway’s Greatest Hits will be the Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra (http://www.musiciansoftheworld.ca), conducted by Joseph Milo. Some members of his orchestra  will  also present solo performances by soprano Olivia Charette-Hacinsky, baritone Burney Lieberman and saxophonist Gideon Vigderhaus.

Funds raised will go towards the CSLCC’s Trap, Neuter, Release and Adopt Program. There are many feral cats in the community. The CSLCC’s team of volunteers sets out to trap as many as possible, have them sterilized and then adopted or returned to the spot where they were originally found.  In the latter case, efforts are made to assist the feeders in the community. The committee has also rescued a number of  kittens and found homes for them.  

Councillor Mike Cohen, responsible for Animal Protection in the city, notes that the concert will be an opportunity for people who love animals to enjoy an evening of fine music while contributing to a good cause.   He also wishes to announce that Expedia Cruise Ship Centres, with franchisee Sean Flynn; Gestion Elm, Rozenblat Realty Group and Parkhaven Towers; and D’Arcy McGee Liberal MNA David Birnbaum,  will be the evening’s official sponsors.

The Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra (MWSO) was founded in 2006 by conductor  Milo and his wife Lucy Ravinsky. This one of a kind orchestra is composed of 55 musicians: about 80 percent of its members are from 15 countries around the world, while the remaining 20 percent are natives of Montreal who successfully facilitated the integration of the newcomers. They have been rehearsing at Côte Saint-Luc City Hall for many years and as part of the arrangement, they agree to perform a benefit concert once a year for the CSL Cats Committee.

Tickets are only $15 each (tax included). A limited number of VIP reserved seats are available for $25.  Special prices can be arranged for groups. They can be purchased at the CSL Public Library (5851 Cavendish Boulevard) and  the Côte St. Luc Hospital for Animals (7930 Baily Road) on Baily Road. Tickets can be purchased at the library by credit and debit card or cash and cash only at the Animal Hospital.

Councillor  Cohen and event Co-Chair Councillor Mitch Kujavsky note that information will be available that night for people interested in possibly joining the committee or adopting a cat.  The committee will hold a bake sale before the concert and at intermission, with proceeds going to the outdoor cat feeding program. Diane Liebling chairs the CSL Cats Committee.   

There will also be a raffle. The grand prize will be a three night stay at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Old Montreal with a fully cooked morning breakfast each day, evening receptions and dinner for two at the restaurant. It is valued at $1,200.   

The  event is being organized by the CSL Public Library.

Here is a link to last year's concert: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5Hbnlkxtw4

For more information call 514-485-6806, ext. 2200 or log on to www.cotesaintluc.org/catscommittee.







Sunday, 14 October 2018

Recap of 2018 CSL Cats Committee Benefit Concert

On October 9 at the Wagar Auditorium, the CSL Cats Committee held its annual benefit concert.

Click here for  a complete recap.

If you scroll to the very bottom you will see links to TV and Radio coverage.


Conductor Joseph Milo



Saturday, 29 September 2018

Montreal Gazette Story on Cats Committee and Quebec Election

Quebec election: A councillor calls for new ministry of animal welfare

'There are so many municipalities with different laws on pets, but the provincial government needs to take leadership,' says Mike Cohen.
Côte-St-Luc councillor Mike Cohen and Nancy Reich with twins LuLu and MiMi, whom she adopted from a litter born to a feral cat. DAVE SIDAWAY / DAVE SIDAWAY / MONTREAL GAZETTE
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Mike Cohen has a big beef with the major provincial parties: “They are not really addressing the needs of thousands and thousands of constituents.”
Namely, cats and dogs.
Cohen, the Côte-St-Luc city councillor responsible for animal protection, has a soft spot for pets, particularly cats. But he laments that while the provincial parties have made billions of dollars of promises to two-legged constituents in this election campaign, they have talked precious little about animal welfare.
For the last eight years, Cohen has been at the forefront of Côte-St-Luc’s Trap, Neuter, Release and Adopt Program, which has successfully dealt with the plight of nearly 500 feral cats in the community. To raise funds for the program, the Côte-St-Luc Cats Committee, which Cohen founded, will be holding its annual benefit concert, featuring the Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra, Oct. 9 at the Syd Wise Auditorium.
Cohen estimates that Côte-St-Luc alone is home to many thousands of homeless cats. “And that doesn’t take into consideration all those that die daily.”
“So, do the math and draw conclusions about the number of feral cats as well as homeless dogs throughout the province,” says Cohen, who started the Côte-St-Luc Dog-Owners Committee this year.
“I think it’s insulting that provincial governments over the last many decades have basically thrown these animals under the umbrella of the minister of agriculture. That ministry has sort of been responsible for animal welfare, but has achieved only limited success.”
Cohen’s concern is shared by the Montreal SPCA. In July, the Montreal SPCA mandated Léger Marketing to undertake a poll assessing the importance of animal welfare to Quebec voters. The survey determined that 72 per cent of Quebecers felt it was “very important” or “somewhat important” for candidates to address issues affecting animals during this election campaign.
So in August, the Montreal SPCA sent out a questionnaire to the main political parties to learn more about their positions on several animal welfare issues.
“All the parties to which the Montreal SPCA sent its questionnaire — apart from the Quebec Liberal Party, which refused to participate — seem to recognize the importance of animal welfare issues in the eyes of voters, as all of them state that this is an issue of great importance,” Sophie Gaillard, director of animal advocacy at the Montreal SPCA, notes in her analysis.
“Yet only two parties suggest concrete measures to improve animal protection in Quebec. The Coalition Avenir Québec and the Parti Québécois both responded to only a small number of the questions submitted. Only Québec solidaire and the Green Party of Quebec took the time to answer the questionnaire in its entirety and seem to have given these issues serious thought.”
Québec solidaire wants the Montreal model — requiring pet stores to source animals for sale from shelters — to be expanded throughout the province. As well, it’s against the permanent chaining of dogs and no-pet clauses in residential leases.
Green Party concurs on the latter two issues but would also like to ban the sale of all cats and dogs in pet stores and on the internet, and to impose mandatory sterilization on pets with the exception of small, family-scale breeders.
Cohen isn’t surprised by this seeming lack of interest on the part of three of the major provincial parties and suggests that the situation will only change when pet owners and other concerned citizens speak up and force politicians to address animal welfare issues.
“Animal advocates have been shunted to the side, but the time will come when the situation with homeless cats and dangerous dogs will reach epidemic proportions here and something will have to be done,” Cohen says. “There are so many municipalities with different laws on pets, but the provincial government needs to take leadership and have laws that bring all the municipalities together.”
He concedes his passion for pets hasn’t been a lifelong affair.
“I honestly didn’t like cats 23 years ago, but they came as part of my marriage,” he says. “I’ve since had four cats and they’ve been like humans to me.
“How many other voters out there feel the same way? Yet we have no idea how the provincial party leaders feel about pets — if they even have them. We haven’t heard them bring this up during the campaign. So I’m calling for the next Quebec premier to appoint a minister of animal welfare. Time has come for an animal program with some teeth.”
Maybe claws, too.
AT A GLANCE
The annual Côte-St-Luc Cats Concert, featuring the Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra, takes place Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the Syd Wise Auditorium, 5785 Parkhaven Ave. Tickets: $15. Reservations: http://bit.ly/catsconcert.
bbrownstein@postmedia.co