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CIJA national assembly reception attracts diverse politicians

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PQ leader Pauline Marois, second from right, joins Leah Berger, left, CIJA assistant director for social advocacy, CIJA interns Ariel Shapiro, centre left, and Reuben Perez, centre right, and Segal Centre CEO Manon Gauthier, right, at CIJA’s wine and cheese reception at the national assembly.

MONTREAL — Members of the national assembly from Quebec’s three main political parties turned out in large numbers for the May 30 wine and cheese reception hosted by the Quebec office of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) at the legislature.

The cocktail is an annual opportunity for participants to dialogue with politicians on issues of concern to the Jewish community, in a relaxed setting.

The menu reflected the strong ties between Quebec and Israel in its pairing of Israeli wines and Québécois delicacies, including a variety of cheeses and breads, as well as lox and bagels.

Those present were privy to a briefing by French expert Bruno Tertrais, a senior research fellow of the Paris-based Fondation pour la recherche stratégique on Iran’s nuclear capability.

Tertrais emphasized the serious threat that Iran poses to the international community and the danger of confining this issue to the relationship between Iran and Israel or even the Middle East. He also challenged analysts who downplay the likelihood of a U.S. strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, while overstating the chances of an Israeli intervention.

Tertrais was in Quebec City as part of a three-day tour organized by CIJA that included high-level meetings in Montreal and Ottawa. Israel Consul General Joel Lion was also present.

The Liberal, Parti Québécois (PQ) and Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) parties were well represented at the event. Among the MNAs attending were Kathleen Weil, minister of immigration and cultural communities; Geoff Kelly, minister responsible for native affairs; Norman MacMillan, minister of transport; Serge Simard, minister for natural resources and wildlife; Speaker Jacques Chagnon; Deputy Government House leader Henri-François Gautrin; and PQ leader Pauline Marois.

Other MNAs there included Liberals government caucus chair Lawrence Bergman (D’Arcy McGee), Emmanuel Dubourg (Viau), Yvon Marcoux (Vaudreuil), and Gerry Sklavounos (Laurier-Dorion); from the PQ, Sylvain Simard (Richelieu), Pascal Bérubé (Matane), Maka Kotto (Bourget), Marie Malavoy (Taillon) and Martin Lemay (St. Marie-St. Jacques), and from the CAQ, François Bonnardel (Shefford).

Numerous National Assembly staff were also in attendance.

Among the Jewish community delegates were CIJA Quebec board vice-president Jason Caron, CIJA vice-president (Quebec) Luciano Del Negro, Jewish Federations of Canada – UIA president Marc Gold, Canadian Jewish Political Action Committee Quebec co-chair Elliot Lifson, YM-YWHA executive director Marlene Jennings, and Segal Centre for Performing Arts chief executive officer Manon Gauthier.

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The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) commended the Quebec national assembly for commemorating the 180th anniversary of the political emancipation of Quebec Jewry in a unanimous all-party motion.

On June 5, 1832, the legislature of Lower Canada, presided over by Patriotes leader Louis-Joseph Papineau, adopted a law establishing full civil, political, and religious rights for Jewish citizens. This was the first law of its kind in the British Empire, followed 27 years later by a similar act in the British Parliament.

“As Quebecers, we take great pride in the unanimous resolution of the Quebec national assembly commemorating Quebec’s pioneering role in 1832 in the emancipation of Quebec Jewry,” CIJA Quebec chair Eric Maldoff said.

“We, therefore, rejoice in the decision taken by all Quebec political leadership to celebrate the 180th anniversary of this important milestone.”

The law represented the end of a long struggle for the people of Trois-Rivières, who twice elected a Jew, Ezekiel Hart, as their representative to the legislature and twice saw him forbidden from taking his seat in the chamber because he was Jewish, Maldoff said.

The June 7 motion was sponsored by the three main political parties, represented by Liberal MNA for D’Arcy McGee Lawrence Bergman, Parti Québécois MNA for Richelieu Sylvain Simard, Coalition Avenir Québec MNA for Deux Montagnes Benoît Charette, as well as independents such as MNA for Borduas Pierre Curzi and MNA for Cremazie Lisette Lapointe.

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