An open letter to the Minister Of Health Ottawa

 

Dear Minister Sousa,

 

I have studied the response that you sent me on October 10th on behalf of the Honourable Minister Eric Hoskins. In my role as consumer advocate in relation to legalized gaming and as a therapist to compulsive gamblers, I follow the stages of gambling expansion with great interest. I will debate the issues addressed in your response point by point.

 

Initially, my letter outlining the dangers of expanding gambling was sent to the Minister of Health and long-term care because the idea of expanding gambling opportunity in the GTA exposes more people to the risk of becoming problem or pathological gamblers. The Minister chose to have you, the Minister in charge of OLG to respond to issues that were addressed to him. The magnitude of OLG’s proposal to increase gambling opportunities requires an impact study be done before any decisions are made. There needs to be input from the Minister of Health and the Minister of Public Safety regardless of whether or not municipalities want a new site developed.

 

In regard to your praise of the government and OLG’s commitment to ensure responsible gambling programs are both effective and up to date, I suggest that is not entirely factual.

I have presented a paper in Halifax, Responsible Gambling; Whose Responsibility Is It (2003) where I shared the podium with Ralph Nader, and a paper in Niagara Falls, at the 2005 conference presented by the Responsible Gambling Council entitled, Problem Gambling; An Oxymoron? Both of which counter your claim. Responsible gambling is something no addict understands. Therein lays the critical harm to the citizens of this province and all of Canada.

 

Regrettably, governments are becoming addicted to the revenue. In a study conducted by Le Devoir every dollar of revenue carries a three dollar social cost. Throughout history, gambling addiction has resulted in the highest rate of suicides for any addiction and caused desperate people to resort to crime to pay their debts or continue gambling. And now, as gambling continues to expand throughout the country, the number of problem gamblers continues to increase. (Source: California Council on Compulsive Gambling)

 

Insofar as your assessment that OLG takes underage gambling and age verification very seriously, it would be wonderful if that were true. I was part of a documentary on CTV’s W- Five entitled Winners and Losers. In the segment filmed with a hidden camera at Casino Niagara we saw young people entering the casino floor while two security staff that should have been checking ID was off to one side having a conversation.

 

Finally, as you stated, with respect to a casino in Toronto, on August 8, 2017, OLG announced that Great Canadian Gaming and Brookfield Properties were chosen as the successful proponent to operate gaming in the GTA which includes OLG Slots at Woodbine racetrack, Great Blue Heron casino in Port Perry and the OLG Slots at Ajax Downs racetrack.

 

 

My question in a letter to the Minister of Justice on July 24, 2017 was as follows: When the amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada regarding 207.7 lottery schemes took place, there were certain conditions that applied. It was stated that the provincial governments were authorized to conduct and manage the games, with the revenue going to public good, charities, or religious organizations.

 

Therefore, Crown Corporations (Loto-Quebec, OLGC, BCLC , etc.) were formed to conduct and manage all lottery schemes. However, some of these Crown Corporations appear to be operating outside the law. For example, in time OlGC began to outsource the operation of Windsor Casino to Caesars (circumventing the provisions of the Criminal Code) and diverting funds to Caesars, contrary to the original intent of the amendments. Since the move went unchallenged, other jurisdictions continued to do the same. Most recently OLG partnered with Hardrock Café to build a hotel/casino in Ottawa.

 

On September 21st the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould responded: It may be helpful for you to know that, while the Parliament of Canada is responsible for enacting criminal law, the administration of justice, including the prosecution of Criminal Code offences, is the responsibility of the provincial governments. Accordingly, if you have not already done so, you may wish to share your concerns with the appropriate provincial authorities. It is the provincial authorities that are breaking the laws. Am I to expect they will prosecute themselves?

 

In conclusion, I have been sent by the Ministers to deal with bureaucrats who are avoiding the issues. If we cannot get some closure on these issues privately, I will go to the opposition government and to mass media to further recruit and stimulate more public support.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

Sol Boxenbaum

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The Voice disappoints

I am a big fan of The Voice. Very disappointed in the picks in the semi finals. The best voices were eliminated last night and 2 country singers will be moving on to the finals. Believe me, neither of them has any more talent than the average country singer in any bar. The voices eliminated last night will have a tremendous career despite not making the finals.

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Lyric Theatre Singers

 

 

The Lyric Theatre Singers

Candlelight Christmas 2017

Loyola Chapel

Concordia University

 

Tonight was the opening of a four day run and I am a fan. The Lyric Theatre Singers never fail to deliver. Five exceptional musicians and thirty-seven voices under the exceptional guidance of Bob Bachelor brought the audience to their feet on more than one occasion. For nearly two hours we were entertained with a brief interlude during which the audience sang along to two selections. The first half opened with the entire chorus being lead into the chapel by their conductor from behind the audience while singing Orgo ni funoluwa! composed by Rosephanye Powell whose influences include African-American musical styles. The entry reminded me of one of my favourite musicals, The Lion King. All the voices blended beautifully and the rest of the first half consisted of traditional Christmas music. Sweet Little Jesus Boy was performed admirably by the Sopranos and Altos and featured Soprano Laurie-Anne Jean-Baptiste. The absolute show-stopper, Cantique de Noel was performed by Soprano Katherine Fournier.

 

The second half opened with a medley of songs of the holiday easy-listening style like Irving Berlin’s I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm, and Haven Gillespie’s Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. When the final notes had been sung the audience was on its feet and an encore was inevitable.

 

The Candlelight Christmas 2017 continues December 8 at 8:00 P.M.

December 9 at 4:00 P.M. December 10 at 1:30 P.M.

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Candlelight Christmas 2017

The Lyric Theatre Singers

Candlelight Christmas 2017

Loyola Chapel

Concordia University

 

Tonight was the opening of a four day run and I am a fan. The Lyric Theatre Singers never fail to deliver. Five exceptional musicians and thirty-seven voices under the exceptional guidance of Bob Bachelor brought the audience to their feet on more than one occasion. For nearly two hours we were entertained with a brief interlude during which the audience sang along to two selections. The first half opened with the entire chorus being lead into the chapel by their conductor from behind the audience while singing Orgo ni funoluwa! composed by Rosephanye Powell whose influences include African-American musical styles. The entry reminded me of one of my favourite musicals, The Lion King. All the voices blended beautifully and the rest of the first half consisted of traditional Christmas music. Sweet Little Jesus Boy was performed admirably by the Sopranos and Altos and featured Soprano Laurie-Anne Jean-Baptiste. The absolute show-stopper, Cantique de Noel was performed by Soprano Katherine Fournier.

 

The second half opened with a medley of songs of the holiday easy-listening style like Irving Berlin’s I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm, and Haven Gillespie’s Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. When the final notes had been sung the audience was on its feet and an encore was inevitable.

 

The Candlelight Christmas 2017 continues December 8 at 8:00 P.M.

December 9 at 4:00 P.M. December 10 at 1:30 P.M.

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Enough of political bullying

Less freedom for the English. Very important vote in the National Assembly barring the word “Hi” in greeting by merchants. Less democracy and more bullying by the Liberal Party. If you re-elect them you deserve to lose any freedom we once enjoyed. And their English Secretariat is a joke. Read my opinion of that on www.lastcallwithsol.com. Secretariat was a race horse. You can bet this Quebec Secretariat will go directly to the glue factory.

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Neil Young Concert

Neil Young – From Somewhere in Canada – Live Stream Worldwide Friday Night!

Don’t miss Canadian music legend Neil Young perform a 90-minute solo acoustic concert on Friday, December 1st at 8 PM ET.

You’ll be able to live stream the concert on CTV.ca and CTV GO and also worldwide via Facebook.

From a secret location in Canada dear to Neil Young, only to be revealed when the livestream begins. There is speculation that the concert will take place in Omemee, Ontario, a community of about 1,200 in the Kawartha Lakes where Young spent some of his childhood.

The concert coincides with the release of a new studio album on December 1, The Visitor, and also the launch of the Neil Young Archives.

Brought to you by CTV and Facebook, in partnership with Shakey Pictures.

The concert is filmed and directed by actress turned documentarian Daryl Hannah!

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secretariat for the English-speaking community

 

Opinion

As posted on lastcallwithsol.com

As reported on CTV News 24/11/2017

Kathleen Weil is the first minister responsible for English-speaking Quebecers in the history of the Quebec Liberal Party and she’s delivering on a promise made by Premier Philippe Couillard.

“For the first time in our history we will have civil servants dedicated to the future vitality of the English-speaking community,” said the MNA for Notre-Dame-de-Grace in an exclusive interview with CTV Montreal Thursday.

The Couillard government officially launched its new secretariat for the English-speaking community Friday in Quebec City at the Morrin Centre, an English-language cultural centre.

In my opinion this is nothing more than a pre-election ploy and is worth two fifths of three quarters of nothing unless it is accompanied by a promise to repeal Bill 101 which was introduced by the Quebec Liberal Party and has hindered the English-speaking community since its inception. The secretariat will have a start-up administrative budget of $1 million, which will be devoted to hiring seven or eight staffers and setting up office space. I would be interested in knowing the annual budget of the Quebec Office de la Langue Francais and its number of staffers. A figure like a million dollars is a joke when you hear the mega millions that will be spent to light up bridges, erect useless sculptures, or put good millions after bad to repair the roof of a stadium that should have been demolished decades ago. I am not alone when I feel that I am being persecuted in what used to be a democratic society but today I need to be thankful that in some parts of Montreal I can see a stop sign on a street corner.

In my opinion you can take all the political parties in Quebec, put the names in a hat and the name you draw will continue to govern in the status quo.

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The 39 Steps retaken

I reviewed it last week and I am still laughing when I remember scenes as I did on my way home from the theatre. If you still haven’t seen this amazing play at the Centaur Theatre, don’t wait till it’s too late.  The show continues through to December 10 and I recommend it as an evening well spent.

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The 39 Steps

As posted on facebook/lastcallwithsol.com and centaur theatre.com

The 39 Steps adapted by Patrick Barlow from the novel by John Buchan
directed by Eda Holmes.

Where do I begin? From the moment the lights went out and the first lines were spoken by Andrew Shaver as he stumbled his way through the audience and onto the stage, it was immediately established that the audience would be captivated. Shaver, who plays Richard Hannay, reminds me of a young John Cleese. Aside from the fact that he has spent five years as a member of the Stratford Festival and is a graduate of the director’s conservatory program, he owns the stage from start to finish of this two hour laugh riot.

Amelia Sargisson plays three different female characters each one funnier than the other and once again we have an actor who is as comfortable in a Shakespeare festival as in a comedic role.

Rounding out the cast Lucinda Davis and Trent Pardy are consistently hilarious as they change roles, characters, gender, clothes, and create situations a la Monty Python. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe I saw Lucinda Davis in the Hudson Theatre production Around the World in 80 Days last summer. Trent Hardy was a company member of the Stratford Festival for several years and performed in Greg Kramer’s adaption of Sherlock Holmes which had a North American tour.

The foursome re-enact the Alfred Hitchcock spy thriller with a minimum of props and a maximum of laughs. The show continues through to December 10 and I recommend it as an evening well spent.

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Labyrinth Stage Productions presents Queen of Chesed

As posted on facebook/lastcallwithsol and facebook/queenofchesed

Labyrinth Stage Productions presents the world premiere of
Queen of Chesed
Written by Claudia Litvak and Pearl Rothenberg
Theatre Outremont November 15 and 16, 2017.

Attended and thoroughly enjoyed the opening of this dramatic comedy which is based on the real life of Faigie Jacobson, a dynamic, religious Jewish woman who opens her Crown Heights, Brooklyn home to the needy. In the process we are introduced to all the various “guests” and the characters go into freeze frame as the husband of the main character talks about each one individually. The play was mounted despite numerous obstacles that might have discouraged other producers, i.e. minimal access to the theatre to hang lights, install sets etc. but they persevered and performed admirably.

Ellen David who played the lead role also directed. Those of us who saw Clybourne Park at the Centaur Theatre will remember Ellen David as the director of that play.

Kudos to Sam Stein as Tatti, well known to audiences of the Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre, Bill Fletcher played the part of Zalman and made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion, and the amazingly talented Evy Solomon as Ethel Merman. Kudos too, to Claudia Litvak and Pearl Rothenberg for writing a great play.

Only one more chance to see this play, November 16, 8:00 P.M.

Having said that, I hope some enterprising agent will find a home for this great story.

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