MONTREAL — Liberal Anthony Housefather’s bid to become the next MP for Mount Royal has received a major boost, with ringing endorsements from the dean of Montreal city council, Marvin Rotrand, as well as former D’Arcy McGee MNA Lawrence Bergman and Russell Copeman, borough mayor of Côte des Neiges-Notre Dame de Grâce.
A broad spectrum of cultural community, municipal and public school representatives were also on hand to give their support to Housefather at the official opening of his campaign office Sept. 9.
Rotrand, who has represented the Snowdon district for 33 years, said Housefather is “honest, dedicated, competent, progressive – wonderful traits that speak to his potential to fill those big shoes left by [retiring MP] Irwin Cotler.”
Rotrand read out the names of a long list of people from the Filipino, Caribbean, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, Chinese, Armenian, Muslim and other communities who are endorsing Housefather. From the Jewish community, he cited Aline Malka of the Sephardi community; Lubavitch Rabbi Mendy Zirkind; David Lisbona; and Sid Kronish, president of the Côte St. Luc Senior Men’s Club.
Housefather’s campaign office is in Côte des Neiges, a highly multicultural area, and gives Housefather visibility outside his natural base in Côte St. Luc and Hampstead.
Housefather, who has been Côte St. Luc mayor for 10 years, also has the backing of English Montreal School Board chair Angela Mancini and all eight Côte St. Luc city councillors, as well as others from Hampstead and Town of Mount Royal.
Rotrand praised Housefather for having rallied a multicultural network around him that reflects the diversity of the riding, and of Canada itself.
Rotrand stressed that a longstanding bond exist between ethnic groups and the Liberal Party because of its traditional support for multiculturalism.
“It was [former prime minister] Pierre Trudeau [Mount Royal’s MP for 20 years] who was against the discriminatory law on people of colour immigrating,” Rotrand said, to wild cheers.
“The difference between my campaign and that of my opponents in this riding, is that they are trying to get the support of one community,” Housefather said. “We are working for the support of every community.”
This was an apparent reference mainly to Conservative candidate Robert Libman, who has been emphasizing Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s “unequivocal” support for Israel in his campaign.
New Democratic candidate Mario Jacinto Rimbao, who is prominent in the Filipino community, was campaigning a block away outside the Plamondon metro station, along with Jimmy Gutman, president of the Mount Royal NDP riding association.
Libman was at a seniors’ residence delivering Rosh Hashanah food baskets, prepared at the Mada Community Centre.
Bergman, who served 20 years in the National Assembly, called Housefather “a man of honour and great integrity, tremendous competence and disciplined in his work… He loves all Canadians, whether they were born here or chose to come to our shores, no matter their colour, creed, religion or country of origin.”
Bergman said he “will work hard to get my friends and family to vote for him, too.”
It was recalled that Housefather fought more than a decade ago for the de-merger of Côte St. Luc, Hampstead and Montreal West from the new island-wide city, while Libman, then Côte St. Luc mayor, was castigated for reneging on his promise to support de-merger. “He ran to get elected on that promise and did the exact opposite,” said Housefather.
Housefather also invoked the name of the elder Trudeau for his championing the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, and noted that he himself had spent his public career fighting for minority rights.
“Immigration is a richness, not something to be afraid of,” said Housefather.