Τρίτη, 19 Ιανουαρίου 2021

The Chaotic Pandemic Crisis in Canada


By Justine Frangouli-Argyris

 Progressive Canada, a member of the seven most developed countries in the world, is proving, after 10 months of the pandemic, that it has been unable to handle the crisis, registering thousands of deaths while continuously moving towards harsher and harsher lockdown measures.

With 708,619 cases and 18,014 deaths at the time of writing, the country is constantly teetering between an economic catastrophe and an explosive spread of the virus which remains impervious to the ever stricter measures of confinement.

The popular Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has reached an impasse, constantly printing money to distribute to the unemployed and shuttered businesses, with seemingly no plans to revive the economy and an inability to promptly secure a vaccine for its 38 million inhabitants. The government plans to spend $322.3 billion on business and population relief of which, according to the national broadcaster, CBC, it had already dispersed $240 billion as of the end of November.

To complicate matters, in the midst of the crisis, Justin Trudeau was implicated in the infamous “WE” scandal when his government approved a $900 million contract to the aforementioned NGO whose co-presidents were personal friends of the Prime Minister and had paid large sums to his mother Margaret for public speaking engagements. 

Trudeau’s Finance Minister, Bill Morneau, was forced to resign as a result of the scandal as he partook in approving the contract while having accepted free travel from the organization, contrary to Canada’s code of conduct.

Currently, another scandal is haunting the internationally popular prime minister given that his government decided to order vaccines from China—orders that have been neither approved nor fulfilled—leaving behind potential supplies from major U.S. and European manufacturers. 

To date, the country has vaccinated only 1.55% of the population, far behind other western countries, leaving frontline doctors and hospital staff indignant and nursing homes taking court action over the delay.

Regardless, the Prime Minister continues to reassure the population that all is well and that all those who want a vaccine will get one by the end of September.

In the meantime, Canada is teetering on the limits of the absurd. Its borders have been closed since March with all non-Canadians barred from entering the country. Returning citizens are still leaving its airports without their temperature being taken nor being subjected to any rapid testing for the diagnosis of the virus. A strict 14-day quarantine continues to be imposed on those entering the country regardless of their condition while the land border with the U.S. has remained closed since last April.

Passport renewal offices as well as the issuance of diplomatic visas at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs remain dormant resulting in citizens without valid passports having to wait until the end of the crisis before being able to travel.

All restaurants and retail have been locked down in Ontario and Quebec, Canada's most populous provinces. Only grocery stores, pharmacies and banks remain open. Indoor gatherings are strictly forbidden with only one visitor allowed in houses with only one resident.

At the same time, huge queues form outside the government-run monopolies that sell alcohol and cannabis. Citizens are outraged that retail shops suffer while young people are permitted to buy booze and hash that are consumed in secret parties that are major sources of transmission of the virus.

The chaos is worsening with Justin Trudeau now threatening to ban all flights leaving Canada. The country’s main carriers, Air Canada and WestJet, continue to protest, pointing out that the government’s policies are “incoherent and inconsistent” to no avail. Left with little choice, they continue to lay off thousands. 

Restaurants, a large majority of which are Greek-owned, are dying with modelling showing that 30% may never re-open once public money stops flowing.

And all this chaotic, untenable dependence on public money has created an environment that has Justin Trudeau smiling smugly, anxiously waiting for the earliest opportunity to call a snap election and improve his government’s standing to a majority.

Τρίτη, 24 Νοεμβρίου 2020

A Sexist Slap in the Face to Canadian MP, Emmanuella Lambropoulos


By Justine Frangouli-Argyris

I followed the conversation with Ville Saint-Laurent MP, Emmanuella Lambropoulos, and Commissioner of the Official Languages, Raymond Théberge, which took place virtually a few days ago.

 Emmanuella Lambropoulos, a Greek-origin MP in her early 30’s currently serving her second term in Parliament as a member of the ruling Liberal Party, is there defending the rights of the English-speaking minority of Quebec. In this capacity, she conveyed certain questions to Théberge, noting that unilingual anglophones in Quebec are experiencing difficulties in the workplace due to a lack of knowledge of French where it is very difficult for all non-French speakers to secure employment.

Emmanuella Lambropoulos did not make any statement, but, rather, asked the following question to the Commissioner for Official Languages: 

"I have another question along the same lines. We hear that the French language is declining in Quebec. I don't want to call it a myth; I'll give it the benefit of the doubt. I've heard that on several occasions. I have to see proof in order to believe that."

 It is at this point that Conservative MP, Alain Rayes, and Bloc Québécois MP, Stéphane Bergeron, stood up and demanded her expulsion from the Commission. In fact, similar remarks were made in Parliament by other MPs from the New Democratic Party and the Conservative Party. How could Emmanuela Lambropoulos dare challenge the concept of the use of the French language in Quebec, they intended?

 Of course, without any valid reason, the knives were out for the ethnic MP Lambropoulos in the French media. The result being that some MPs from the Liberal Party attacked Lambropoulos (Propos d’Emmanuella Lambropoulos sur le français | « J’étais vraiment abasourdie » (lapresse.ca)

 It should be noted that the attack on Emmanuella Lambropoulos culminated in an ugly sketch published in the vaunted Montreal French-language newspaper, “La Presse,” where she appears to be slapped by a Liberal colleague while others await their turn in line to do likewise.

Needless to say, the sketch had Canada’s Greek community up in arms. The Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal, the Hellenic Congress of Quebec and the Lyceum of Greek Women of Montreal addressed statements to the Prime Minister's Office, the Inter-Party Committee for Official Languages ​​and to “La Presse” condemning the sexist and misogynistic depiction of the young Lambropoulos being subjected to violence by men in a country of democracy and equality such as Canada.

The falsification of Emmanuela Lambropoulos' question by opposition MPs, but also by those of her own party, clearly shows that it is fodder for any politician of any faction to try and take advantage of the sensitive issue of the French language in Quebec. It can offer political benefits and all sides are eyeing the many seats in Canada’s French-speaking province, knowing full well that an election could be around the corner.

Quebec’s anglophones often do not dare ask the obvious questions about the use of the English language and the difficult realities of their monolingualism. Those belonging to ethnic communities, even though often trilingual, continue to be bullied and made to feel like second class citizens by those allegedly cut from the French-speaking cloth of Quebec society.

The Greek community of Quebec and Canada  is fully supportive of Ms. Lambropoulos and may end up being indifferent for the Liberals in the next federal election, especially in Justin Trudeau's Greek-heavy riding of Papineau. 

 It is noteworthy that, although this shameful sketch should have been a rallying point for an “egalitarian” party like the Liberals, neither the Prime Minister nor anyone in his parliamentary caucus has come out with an official condemnation!


Δευτέρα, 1 Ιουνίου 2020

Rich Benefits, Poor Leadership in Canada!

Justine Frangouli-Argyris

Three months after the enforcement of the “lockdown” in Canada (which began March 15), the country continues to count cases and casualties at a steady rate with their numbers reaching 90,947 and 7,295, respectively. The province of Quebec has been hit the hardest, with 51,059 cases and 4,641 deaths from COVID-19.

The weak links in this pandemic, especially in the populous provinces of Quebec and Ontario, have been nursing homes, where the elderly and the weak were left abandoned by fleeing employees and left to suffer a tragic fate. As much as provincial governments have tried to alleviate the problem by recruiting, among others, Canadian army personnel, nursing homes continue to account for two-thirds of deaths across the country.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, with the support of all the opposition parties, has launched massive, large-scale aid packages for those financially affected, which, along with with announced tax breaks and deferrals, amount to some $300 billion or 15% of GDP.

The government has been generous from the start, offering $2,000 monthly emergency wage replacement for workers, $40,000 loans to small and medium-sized businesses as well as rent relief and increased pension and child care benefits.

Everything was done quickly and hurriedly so that those in need would be able to cope. An emphasis was placed on strengthening small and medium-sized businesses that were shuttered as a result of the abrupt cessation of the flow of the economy. The country was bleeding and the government rushed to provide first aid and build a protective shield.

However, three months after the shutdown, Justin Trudeau's federal government and Canada’s provincial governments are still doling out public money on a daily basis (which will be added to the Canada's deficit tomorrow) with minimal control over where and how the funds are distributed.

Workers, including many who have the opportunity to return to work, continue to stay home as they have become accustomed to their government benefits. Still others, such as the country’s teachers, for example, have fiercely resisted returning to school, feigning the health risks involved while continuing to draw their normal salary.

The vast majority of airline flights have been suspended indefinitely with no planned restart given the worldwide situation. The border with the United States has been closed for months with the governments of Quebec and Ontario continuing to request it remain sealed.

From the outset, the restaurant sector has borne the brunt of this policy of inaction. The summer terraces that could offer Montreal and Toronto the beginnings of a restart of everyday life remain closed without any plan or perspective for reopening.

Restaurant owners in Montreal staged a demonstration last week demanding the opening of their eateries so they do not completely lose the summer season but to no avail. It should be noted that the vast majority are owned by Greek-Canadians with many facing dire consequences.

In general, the federal and local governments are taking a phobic stance when it comes to a resumption of the economy even though they are well aware that 2/3 of the victims were confined to nursing homes.

This stance is highly disappointing and, unfortunately, demonstrates that Canada, a great and prosperous country, has found itself:

1) completely “naked” in terms of its health system;

2) incapable of handling matters of nursing home operation;

3) led by officials with no strategy as how to reopen its economy. 

Unfortunately, this crisis has proven and continues to prove that a lack of leadership exists at all levels. The country, which has been generous to its citizens but lacks any vision for a return to normalcy, will pay dearly, and very soon.

Τετάρτη, 4 Μαρτίου 2020

Bach's requiems with Thirteen Strings and the Bass-Baritone Joel Allison

It only takes one to love the melancholy of Holy Week  to enjoy the requiems of Johann Sebastian Bach and his son Wilhelm Friedemann Bach performed by the Canadian bass‐baritone Joel Allison in a  concert organized by the Thirteen Strings chamber orchestra of Ottawa.
The concert will take place April 10 at Carleton Dominion Chalmers Centre (355 Cooper St., Ottawa) at 7:30 pm.

Good Friday with Thirteen Strings


Featuring Rising Star Bass-Baritone Joel Allison

Ottawa, Ontario, March 4, 2020: Ottawa’s premier chamber orchestra, Thirteen Strings is delighted to present rising star Joel Allison bass and Choeur De la Salle at its Good Friday concert featuring the works of Johann Sebastian and his son Wilhelm Friedemann Bach on April 10 at Carleton Dominion Chalmers Centre (355 Cooper St., Ottawa) at 7:30 pm.
Canadian bass‐baritone Joel Allison has earned praised for his “rich, ringing tone” (Ludwig Van Toronto). Currently a member of the elite Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio, Joel was awarded Second Place in the Christina and Louis Quilico Competition in 2019 as well as Second Prize at the 2018 Metropolitan National Council Auditions in the Great Lakes Region. A committed soloist since childhood, Joel’s solo debut was at the age of twelve as the treble soloist in Howard Shore’s “Lord of the Rings Symphony” with the National Arts Centre Orchestra. He performs Cantata: Ich habe genug at the Good Friday concert.

Choeur De la Salle (whose usual director is Robert Fillion) will join Thirteen Strings for Jesu Joy of Man’s Desire, and O Jesu Christ meins Lebens Licht BWV 118. The Orchestral Suite no 1 BWV166 and Overture BWV 1070 will complete the concert’s repertoire.

(Interesting fact: Bach Senior had two wives and 20 children. Though son Wilhelm was considered a genius organist, improviser and composer, he never gained the stature of his father due in part to his difficult personality.)

Tickets at $10-$45, are available at The Leading Note, Compact Music and Books on Beechwood and by contacting info@thirteenstrings.ca or calling 613-738-7888. Visit: www.thirteenstrings.ca


Media: Kita Szpak, KS Communications, kita@sympatico.ca , #613-725-3063

Τετάρτη, 26 Φεβρουαρίου 2020

The Melina and Joanne Fashion Show for the DOvEEgene Project

The Melina and Joanne Fashion Show for the DOvEEgene Project

For a second year, the Lyceum of Greek Women of Montreal (LGWM) is organizing a fashion show, featuring Greek and Canadian designers, dedicated to the "DOvEEgene Project" for the early diagnosis of ovarian and endometrial cancers, led by Dr. Lucy Gilbert at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC).

The LGWM began its support of the initiative last year by holding its inaugural “Greek Fashion Show” fundraiser in April. Currently, an MUHC fundraising committee co-chaired by Micol Haimson, Matthew Marchand, and Joanne Photiades is in the midst of raising $2,000,000.00 to fund the clinical trial stage of this ground-breaking research.

This year, the LGWM, our local chapter of the historic feminist cultural organization that was established in Greece in 1911, will be presenting the “Melina and Joanne Fashion Show” on April 7th at 6.30 p.m. at the Palace Convention Centre.

Melina Tsagaropoulos, a brave 30-year old currently battling ovarian cancer, and Joanne Photiades-Vellopoulos, an ovarian cancer survivor, are both patients of Dr. Lucy Gilbert’s team at the MUHC.

With this endeavour, The LGWM is hoping to contribute $100,000 to abet Dr. Gilbert in her ongoing quest to complete the clinical research of her test that aims to detect ovarian and endometrial cancer early.

After 10 years of hard work, Dr. Gilbert has made a scientific breakthrough for the early diagnosis of ovarian and endometrial cancers. Cure rates for these cancers are over 80% when diagnosed early, but, sadly, some 75% are diagnosed at a late stage. Dr. Gilbert has developed a genomic intra-uterine test, the “DOvEEgene,” to detect these cancers early enough to cure them. This is ground breaking as there have been no significant advances with respect to these cancers in over 30 years.

To get this project from the research laboratory to a clinical-grade test, the MUHC is in the midst of raising $2M in order to leverage public funding that will triple this amount. While many researchers are working on ovarian and endometrial cancers, Dr. Gilbert, the sole researcher in Montreal seeking an early detection test, is uniquely positioned to achieve this goal. While labs in the US may sport superior funding, Dr. Gilbert’s expertise as a physician and her access to a diversity of women given our public healthcare system should enable her to finish the clinical study needed to confirm her discovery. This is historical and it is happening right here, in Montreal!

The LGWM wants to contribute to this research with a further $100,000.00 so the clinical trials of the "Genomic Pap Test" can succeed and women around the world can be saved from the silent killer that is ovarian cancer.

To find out more about the DOvEEgene project and donate online, please visit the website: www.muhcfoundation.com/dreambig/dovee/.

To donate to the LGWM, a cheque may be made payable to the Lyceum of Greek Women of Montreal (charitable CRA/Business/Registration number:759448889 RR 0001).

The "Melina and Joanne Fashion Show" will feature Greek and Canadian designers, showcasing their newest spring collections from Europe and Canada, respectively.

The Melina and Joanne Fashion show will be featuring
 the Greek designers
BlueBlue Beachwear
Orsalia Parthenis silk scarves
Fourrures Starlight Furs

 the Canadian designers

Sinders Bridal House
Wiwi Z Elegance and

The event will be hosted by prominent CTV journalist, Rob Lurie, and will be co-ordinated by Maria Fotopoulos. 

For tickets, please contact Yula Kiskiras at (438) 822-7047.

April 7, 6.30p.m. at the Palace Convention Centre,

1717 boul Le Corbusier, Laval.

For tickets call 438- 822 7047 

Photo shooting: Harry Barba
Intercontinental Hotel, Montreal

Τρίτη, 7 Ιανουαρίου 2020

They are jazzing it in Ottawa!

Photo Credit - Photo Lafontaine Photographe

Ottawa, Ontario, January 7, 2020: Ottawa-based Odyssey Showcase presents its “Ultimate  Valentine to Jazz” in “The Gift of Jazz”, a tribute to Black History Month showcasing music from Africa to New Orleans to The True North Strong and Free. The concert takes place in the National Gallery of Canada Theatre (380 Sussex Dr., Ottawa, K1N 9N4) on Thursday, February 13, at 7:30 p.m.

This one-time performance celebrates the profound impact of Black history and culture on music with host Stefan Keyes (CTV News) and features Deborah Davis and Segue to Jazz.

This event celebrates the courage, determination, grace and unrelenting spirit of men and women who overcame incredible challenges and reflects the history, impact and contributions of these performers on the world of Jazz. Some of the iconic works you’ll hear include Night in Tunisia, Joint is Jumping, Jump Jive and Wail, Miss Otis Regrets, Hymn To Freedom from jazz greats Dizzy Gillespie, Fats Waller, Louis Prima, Cole Porter, Oscar Peterson as well as a medley tribute to Motown and Aretha Franklin included in the evening’s stellar repertoire.

Tickets for “The Gift of Jazz” are available through Eventbrite or by contacting Odyssey Showcase at (613) 321-2066 or at info@odysseyshowcase.org

Thank You to our Sponsors

The Gift of Jazz: From Africa to New Orleans to the True north Strong and Free - Presented by Odyssey Showcase, Sponsored by TD through The Ready Commitment. . The National Gallery of Canada is the proud host venue of The Gift of Jazz.

About Odyssey Showcase

Odyssey Showcase is a registered charity (Charitable Registration #849021944 RR0001) that advances education by providing information to the public and presentations on the history of culture, arts and music. Odyssey Showcase is mandated to present, distribute and archive documentation and history of Canadian art, music, and performance. The focus is to support programming that contributes to the study of both music and history in Canada. Among its other presentations, the organization is particularly well known for its annual joint presentation with TD Canada Trust of Canada Roars: A Musical Taste of our Canadian Heritage.

Media contact: Kita Szpak, KS Communications, kita@sympatico.ca , #613-725-3063

2019 Review of The Gift of Jazz

Σάββατο, 7 Δεκεμβρίου 2019

A splendid Gala organized by the Alexandrion Foundation

His Eminence Archbishop Elpidoforos was the recipient of the humanity award

Written by Justine Frangouli-Argyris

The “Alexandrion Foundation” payed homage to individual excellence in the fields of science, culture and society at their annual gala at Gotham Hall last Tuesday night. It was an amazing event with distinguished guests and esteemed personalities.

The Alexandrion Foundation first organized “The Constantin Brâncoveanu Awards” in 2014 to honor the values of Romanian culture and related personalities who have achieved universal recognition. The recipients are selected from the realms of culture, art and science, in general, and, in particular, from the fields of literature, history, music, theatre, film, social science, architecture, medicine, religion, politics and economics.

This year’s winners were: Mariela Shaker (Music), Adriana Călin (Architecture), Alexandra Nechita (Arts), Baroukh El Kodsi (Medicine), Daniela Rus (Science), Archbishop Elpidophoros (Cults) and Carolyn Maloney (Politics). 

In his inaugural address, Nawaf Salameh, founder and president of the Alexandrion Foundation and the Alexandrion Group, outlined the reasons for establishing the Constantin Brancoveanu Awards in New York and remarked, "…tonight we honor Syria, we honor Romania, Greece and the USA. We honor their culture and human values…”

Alexandrion Group chief executive, Stelios Savva, cited the group's activities, stressing that it is the largest spirits producer in Romania. Mr. Savva proudly announced that the company is currently in the process of undertaking an investment of $100M in a distillery in Putnam, New York and has plans to expand its production of whiskey, bourbon, gin, brandy and vodka to other parts of the country.

The organizers of this spectacular event were Greta Kamaterou, USA Director, Yannis Horozoglou, Alexandrion Group advisor (Athens) and Angela Giannopoulou, Studio3 NYC. Anthoula Katsimatidis was the mc of the fabulous event. 

Among the distinguished guests spotted were Consul General of Greece, Konstantinos Koutras, Metropolitan Joseph of Antiochia, fr. Alex Karloutsos Vicar General of  the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, archimandrite fr Vassilios Drossos from the GOA, bankers, business people, lawyers and young professionals.