Public Consultation in Outremont: Peace or Intolerance?

A sukka at the U.S. Embassy in Tel AvivWith his typical verve, the smiling Pierre Lacerte calls on his blog readers to mobilize on October 29 at the Outremont public consultation to discuss the proposed change to the zoning bylaw regarding sukkas. These temporary religious huts are erected each year in our neighbourhood (and others) during the festival of Sukkot. I took the initiative to submit this comment on Lacerte’s blog and I call on all Outremonters and Montrealers who oppose the intolerant attitude of Mr. Lacerte to do the same.

Mr. Lacerte (slightly less contemptuous than “Pollack”!), you may be a good writer but you’re an even more incorrigible sophist who puts his talents to a dubious cause.

  1. Your choice of sukkot photographs is suspiciously curated. For example, you did not photograph my neighbour’s sukkot nor others equally well put together and maintained, such that one can easily find throughout neighbourhoods in Montreal, Jerusalem or Paris.
  2. Nobody (not even Mindy Pollak!) wants to propose regulations that put the public or the environment at risk. Yet the sole incident you can find to typify the supposed danger created by sukkahs is a fire that happened across the street from my house last January which was caused by a candle. Written, of course, in the conditional (which suits your yellow journalism well) as it had nothing to do with the holiday of Sukkot.

I would think that a journalism based less on hatred and more on reason would have led you to discuss the other fire last winter in Montreal. “The Christmas tree was too close to the fireplace,” the fireman said. Perhaps they should have instead bought something that was, to quote you, “lego-style made of plastic, light, easy to assemble, rot-resistant, reusable forever, etc.” Can you hardly imagine an atheist, let alone a practicing Christian, buying something so horrid? 🙂

You reserve for yourself alone the right to declare whether something is beautiful or ugly. No wonder it is hard for you to understand somebody like Mindy Pollak. Your ethnocentric, intolerant and mob mentality would easily find somebody like her difficult to fathom.

I would like to draw your attention to the question posed by my wife at the last borough council. She asked where is the injury and harm posed by the sukkahs in Outremont. I added that there is no regulation or bylaw against them in the Plateau, while in NDG sukkahs have a period of grace of 7 days before and after the holiday (see PDF).

May I remind you the context for the consultation of October 29? Contrary to your propaganda, Mindy Pollak is not responsible for filing the notice of motion out of a kind of revenge. Rather, she proposed the change to address the fact that the current bylaw is not enforceable (“15 days” but without specific before and after parameters). The motion she filed is a sensible one, echoing the approach of Côtes-des-Neiges rather than the Plateau. That this motion is acceptable to the community was evident in the testimony given at borough council.

The adoption of this motion would, I believe, reflect a broad consensus and save us from another skirmish. This is in contrast to the regulations proposed by Councilor Céline Forget, whose “3 days before and 3 days after” is simply petty. It is yet another slap to the Hasidic community. One wonders if her long term goal isn’t to have them leave “her” borough entirely.

You can count on me, Mr Lacerte, and I am sure many other residents both Hasidic and non-Hasidic, to denounce this latest intolerant drivel that, true to form, stops just shy of revealing its true ugliness. If it succeeds, Outremont will surely go down in history as Montreal’s most intolerant borough. Is this something you look forward to, Mr Lacerte? Is this what you will be harassing us with the next time you go door to door campaigning for yourself?