Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg is a fourth cousin of Mitchell Moss, one of the developers involved in the controversial plan to demolish two apartment buildings on Côte St. Luc Road and replace them with a nine-storey apartment building.
Hampstead council recently voted 3-2 not to approve the project, some citing the plight of the current tenants, some vulnerable. Steinberg did not vote, but vetoed the council decision, saying he wanted all council members to be present to vote. Councillor Harvey Shaffer was absent. Steinberg’s veto can be overturned at the Aug. 5 council meeting.
Steinberg confirmed he is Moss’s fourth cousin, and pointed out this was revealed several years ago during the debate over what would be built on the site of the town’s former fire station on Macdonald.
“[Moss] is a fourth cousin, but I have no financial interest in his company and no reason to recuse myself,” the Mayor e-mailed The Suburban. “I do have an obligation to do what is in the best interests of Hampstead residents. The two developments being proposed for Côte St. Luc Road will be quality buildings that will bring huge additional tax revenue and more residents to the town. We need these new housing options.”
According to last week’s Superior Court decision in which Judge Michel Yergeau refused to suspend Bill 21 because it would be “...an exceptional measure,” the judge ruled that the government’s new law was presumed to have been “...presented, debated, and adopted for the benefit and well-being of the community as a whole.”
Plaintiffs included both the Canadian Civil Liberties Association as well as the National Council of Canadian Muslims and Ishrak Nourel Hak – a single education student at l’Université de Montréal who believes the new law will prevent her from becoming a primary school teacher because she insists upon wearing a hijab in public.
Aside from the outcry that occurred when the CAQ administration imposed closure in order to force its new bill through the National Assembly, plaintiffs described Bill 21 as being “...explicitly discriminatory” and “...unconstitutional.” The new bill presently prevents civil servants in positions of authority – including certain legislative officials, judges, police, prison guards, and public school teachers, from wearing any kind of religious garb or symbol while carrying out their duties. Opponents believe that the new law will affect mostly Muslim women – some of whom insist upon wearing their hijab as a matter of personal choice. Although a ‘grandfather ‘ clause protects employees who are already working within the system, the plaintiffs still believe the issue deserves a far more serious debate.
As Judge Yergeau put it, “...no matter how noble the intention behind the process,” defeating this law in the name of individual interest must be considered as a “...demand to be decided on merit, and not on a preliminary basis.”
Following the CAQ administration’s announcement that they were pleased with the recent decision, Minister Simon Jolin-Barette announced that the government would apply the law such as passed in Québec’s National Assembly.