By Beryl Wajsman, October 17th, 2012
Tremblay had been given the book “Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle” written by Dan Senor and Saul Singer before the trip. He was tremendously impressed with the fact that tiny Israel has more publicly listed companies on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq than any non-US nation save three. He feels there are lessons to be learned and dynamic energy to be husbanded for us here at home.
The mission included some fifty representatives of industry, academia and the law. The businessmen on the trip ranged the gamut from independent entrepreneurs to leading executives of corporations making up what is commonly referred to as “Quebec Inc.” Universities represented included Université Laval, Université de Montréal and McGill. Tremblay reminisced that it had been almost twenty years since he had been first encouraged to visit Israel and take some lessons home from it. He admitted he should have gone sooner.
The mission visited all of Israel’s major cities and meetings were held with Israel’s major universities and industries including the giant Israel Aircraft Industries. Aside from meetings with Israel’s political elite including President Shimon Peres, Tremblay was very pleased to have met people from the creative pursuits like Moshe Safdie the Israeli architect with such close ties to Montreal through his design of Habitat ’67. One of the most pleasant things Tremblay found was the complete lack of overt security presence in the cities. The mayor said “I did not feel any security issues or pressures at all as we toured Israel.”
Tremblay was very pleased that several partnership agreements were signed during the trip. Among them were Novatek International and its subsidiary Cognistat finalizing an agreement with Israel`s world pharma leader TEVA. The Judith & Charles company signed an agreement with Tel Aviv`s high-end clothing boutique ANIK as well as with the Isari boutiques in Amman, Jordan. The Board of Trade of Metropolitain Montreal signed a memorandum of agreement with the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce. McGill signed an agreement with the Weizmann Institute of Science, Tel Aviv University and Bar-Ilan University. The Université de Montréal signed an agreement with the Hebrew University. And the École Polytechnique de Montreal signed an agreement with the Technion – the Israel Institute of Technology.
The mission also scheduled coming visits of Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and Be’er Sheva Mayor Ruvik Danilovich to Montreal. Tremblay also visited Yad Vashem and laid a wreath of flowers on behalf of all Montrealers. The Mayor also paid a visit to Ramallah where he met outgoing mayor Janet Michael, Dr. Mohammed Shtayyeh the Minister of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development as well as members of the Canada-Palestine business network and the Palestine International Chamber of Commerce.
The Mayor was so impressed with what he himself called the “miracle” of Israeli development, that he wants Montreal’s Charter of Rights – already translated into several languages representing Montreal’s diverse population – to be translated into Hebrew as soon as possible.
Quebec politics could not be kept out of the conversation. The Mayor vigorously denied allegations made at the Charbonneau Commission of kickbacks to Union Montreal. He repeated that Quebec’s director-general of elections had repeatedly given his party’s books a clean bill of health. He stated that he is ready at any time to appear before the commission and refute the allegations. When we questioned him about his political future Mayor Tremblay responded quickly and resolutely that, “One thing’s for sure, I’m not going to resign!”
Source: The Suburban