The Bull & Bear | March 2015 – Student Innovation Issue

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The Bull & Bear


MARCH 2015



A Publication of the

Table of Contents Issue 7, Volume 13



4 A Discourse on Race 6 Unpacking the Brain Attic


Heart City Apparel: Inside and Out 10 Team MILA Pursues the 2015 Hult Prize 12 The Launch of the AUS App 14 Harnessing the Power of the Musical Alphabet


15 The Price of Convenience 16 A Boom in Broadcast Sports 18 A New Wave of M&A Deals is Coming 20 Discounted Shopping for Private Equity Firms? 21 We’ll Run it to the Ground!


23 The Viral Apparel 24 Quebec: To Preserve the French Language, Stick with Canada 26 French in Quebec: Promotion vs. Protection


28 Sex Ed: College Edition 29 L’Gros Luxe: A Review 30 From Braniac to Billionaire The Bull & Bear is published by the Management Undergraduate Society. The content of this publication is the responsibility of the Management Undergraduate Society and does not necessarily represent the views of McGill University.


h, sunlight and human interaction; missed me? It’s been 72 hours. Sorry, I was marathoning House of Cards. Like everyone else, I’ve just fought a long, strenuous battle with the little button that reads “Next Episode Playing in 14 seconds,” and the tiny voice in the back of my head (ironically) guilt-tripping me about my US Government paper. Now I’ve returned, having “emerged from [a] 13-hour House of Cards hole clutching [a] commemorative Claire Underwood figurine,” as one Twitter user aptly put it. Whether it’s because of an irresponsibly planned Netflix marathon, or because of the continuously mounting exams, papers, and assignments, everyone seems to be sleepless, buzzed on caffeine, and stressed. In the midst of it all, it can be easy to lose sight of the progress we’ve already made, doubt the outcomes of our current efforts, and become disillusioned of our capabilities. The month of March is one that is fraught with hurdles and tests. We all need a little inspiration. That’s why we present to you our Student Innovation Issue. In this issue you’ll find stories about social entrepreneurs at Heart City Apparel, students promoting social justice through music, McGillians changing the world one Hult Prize at a time, and the newly created AUS app. We hope you’ll feel as encouraged and inspirited reading these stories as we did putting them together. Keep your chin up and march on – you’ve got this, McGill.

Jennifer Yoon Opinion Editor


Editorial Board March 2015 Chukwubwuikem Nnebe EXECUTIVE EDITOR Julia Rodriguez MANAGING EDITOR

Omarion at Glam Cardiff March 12 At Glam Cardiff. Revisit 2005 and jam out to our favorite R&B heart stealer.

The World’s Largest Toga Party March 20 At Forum de Montreal. Get your unlimited drank on while wearing a bed sheet. Could there be anything more wonderfully sloppy?

National Women in Business Conference 2015 March 20, 8:30 am - 5:30 pm At Hotel Omni-Montreal. A day of empowered women sharing their entrepreneurial wisdom to help the women of McGill achieve their fullest potential.

Montreal’s 192nd St. Patrick’s Parade March 22 On Saint Catherine Street. Because we need another reason to drink.

Ana Maljkovic FEATURE EDITOR Yuliya Gorelkina Sijia Ye CHIEF LAYOUT EDITORS Elizabeth Emerson Suzanne Ma Lucia Mkhitarova Kathryn Wittoesch LAYOUT EDITORS Stella Lee Jenny Liao Elizabeth Wu MEDIA EDITORS Kathleen Tully LEAD NEWS EDITOR Natalya Hibbert Arash Nayerahmadi BUSINESS EDITORS Jennifer Yoon OPINION EDITOR Chelsey Ju Jessica Farber LIFESTYLE EDITORS Kosa Akra Victoria Paskannaya Ebuka Ufondu WEB EDITORS Alain Kasparian BUSINESS DIRECTOR Paul de Bretteville ADVERTISING DIRECTOR COVER PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHUKWUBWUIKEM NNEBE


A Discourse on Race: Anti-Blackness and Its Transatlantic Roots Panelists discussed the roots of anti-blackness in both Canada and the US, as well as its manifestations in today’s society in Quebec and on campus Chukwubuikem Nnebe, Executive Editor


s part of its calendar of activities for Black History Month, McGill’s Black Students’ Network recently hosted a discourse on race and anti-blackness in both Canada and the US. Presented in collaboration with the McGill Debating Union, the Women of Colour Collective at the McGill Law School, Media @ McGill, and the McGill Department of History, on February 16, the SSMU ballroom was the site of a panel discussion featuring Dr. Charmaine Nelson, Dr. Darryl Leroux and Frank Mackey. While the renowned scholar and national correspondent at The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates, was originally supposed to be in attendance, he was unable to partake in the discussion due to a last-minute emergency. As a result, Mackey, a respected academic focusing on slavery and Black historic life in Montreal, was present in his place. Nelson, an Associate Professor in Art History at McGill and Canada’s only black professor teaching Art History at a Canadian university, was also joined by Leroux, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at Saint Mary’s University. The panel discussion was moderated by Rachel Zellars, a McGill PhD candidate in education and focusing on critical race theory. Blackface in Quebec In discussing the roots of transnational anti-blackness in North America, Zellars began the evening by stating that “we need a re-understanding of racism and slavery in Canada, and blackface and minstrelsy in Quebec.” This latter specification was in response to what has seemingly emerged as a trend: the annual case of blackface in Quebec. The latest incident occurred just last December when a white actor painted his face for a skit paying homage to the hockey player, P.K. Subban, as part of a satirical play celebrating the top news stories of 2014. For Nelson, the reaction – or lack thereof – to this most recent case arose from the fact that, in Quebec, “we have no practice in talking about race. [Rather,] we’ve been trained that to talk about race is to be racist.” Although a small group of critics were vocal about their disapproval of the use of blackface in the play, many commentators, columnists,


and even cartoonists simply brushed those remarks aside, under the pretext that the simple act of painting one’s face black does not equate to blackface, and is thus not racist. In unpacking this reluctance to actually talk about race in public forums, Nelson then went on to highlight how, in Quebec and Canada as a whole, there’s “no infrastructure” for discussing race relations, racism and blackness. Fundamentally, such infrastructures are built through education, but “in Canada, you can’t even get a minor in Black Canadian studies,” Nelson later added. Her thoughts were later echoed by Leroux who pointed to “the problems of knowledge production” as impediments to the progress of racial discourse in Quebec. Blackness at McGill In discussing the place of blackness in academics, Nelson highlighted that “in 2007, we finally got a diversity policy at McGill that names race.” However, because they are not all applied, Nelson explained that such bureaucratic changes are nothing more than “tools for the university to make [itself] look good internally and externally.” When relating her own racialized experience at McGill, Nelson stated, “I constantly feel isolated at McGill; this is not a safe space for me.” She explained that, as black scholars, “our psychic and spiritual well-being are at risk by being in these spaces,” and, as a result, “I feel better being further away from campus.” Ultimately, she revealed, “my experience at McGill is not the experience of my white colleagues at McGill.” Leroux joined in, affirming that “the academy is an incredibly violent place [and] I’m not saying that metaphorically.” Referencing a research project completed by the scholar Melinda Smith on the experiences of POC faculty (both racialized and indigenous) at academic institutions, he noted that “there has been a decrease in the number of such faculty in Canadian institutions.” Basing herself off her own experiences, for Nelson, this is consistent with what she has noticed emerge as a trend in “the disappearance of black scholars – [which] is what we call ‘nervous breakdowns.’”

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NEWS Denial of Representation and Self-Representation In terms of the implications of blackface in modern society, Zellars contextualized that the use of blackface essentially dictates that, “as a black person, [you are] both denied representation and self-representation in normative ways.” Already, there are so few black individuals present in Quebec media, and this lack of representation is further compounded by the denial of having one’s own blackness accurately portrayed. When asked why blackface seems to be particularly persistent in Quebec, Nelson responded that, you have to ask yourself, “what kind of white backlash do the incidences of blackface in Quebec represent?” In offering an explanation as to why such backlash is often vocalized by “upper class, educated, white university kids” who seem reluctant to come to terms with the historic, racist connotations of painting one’s face black, Nelson went on to clarify that, “whites mobilize their marginalization instead of their privilege.” She explained, “They can only see themselves as victims, rather than perpetrators of racial oppression. That’s why you can have the director-general of the theater saying that she feels victimized by the reaction to her decision.” Add to that the additional, language layer that Montreal adds to the mix, and you end up facing a situation in which those actually criticizing the use of blackface are then being criticized for reacting in English. For Leroux, a blatant example of this surprising turn of events was voiced by Patrick Lagacé, a popular columnist who commented that “because most of the critiques [of the use of blackface] had been in English, they were essentially invalid.” The Notion of Quebecois Exceptionalism Leroux later reminded the crowd about the, “importance of the concept of the French Atlantic,” in the sense that slavery and racism in Quebec were and are greatly influenced by the province’s identity-defining relationship with France. Essentially, as Leroux explained, this idea of “kinship” manifests itself through societal attitudes that tenaciously support the notion of “Quebecois exceptionalism.” Such a belief lies at the heart of how, in Quebec, “the inheritors of French-regime slavery [...] can now confidently assert in the public sphere that they have no history of antiblack racism because they were themselves colonized by the

British.” According to Leroux, such sentiments arise from the historic role played by colonial victimhood in defining the province’s colonized identity, whereby the “descendants of original French settlers are victims of colonialism.” However, for Leroux, such a victimization is unwarranted, as “subjugation does not equal colonization.” Rather, “Quebec was and continues to be on the side of the colonists.” Slavery in Canada Referencing her initial statements on the “borderlessness of Jim Crow,” Zellars briefly discussed how, “in Canada’s self-representation of itself, it touts the underground railroad as proof of how Canada was a haven for slaves.” However, as discussed, such ideals of exceptionalism open the door to the fact that blackness is often wrongly perceived as having emerged and evolved differently, compared to its development south of the border. Mackey, skeptical of the use of the underground railroad as the archetypal example of Canada’s history of blackness, stated that “we have to stop seeing [slavery] in American terms [because] that’s not how it happened in Canada.” Rather, slaves in Canada benefited – so to speak – from “a growing sympathy for the slaves in the US,” a trend that emerged in the 19th century and “rubbed off on the Blacks in Canada.” All the same, Nelson disputed that “if [we assume] slavery didn’t happen here, [then] the black diaspora didn’t happen here,” thus perpetuating the false narrative that blackness suddenly emerged in Canada through the immigration of Caribbeans during the 50s and 60s. In the end, such assumptions lead to the present situation where “the records are being erased and patrolled” – to the extent that, “according to the employees of McCord Museum, slavery didn’t happen in Canada [...] or they would rather have students do assignments on American slavery.” With that in mind, “how do you push back against that retroactive erasure,” she later asked the crowd. “People need to become aware of their own history for society to actually give a damn about the history of slavery,” Nelson concluded. After all, you only need to “go back a few generations [to uncover how] everyone can find links to slavery.”

Unpacking the

BRAIN ATTIC Profiles of Student Savvy Psychology LABS → article on next page


NEWS Victoria Eon, News Writer


cGill University has a long history of making groundbreaking discoveries in psychology and neuroscience. Notably, alumnae such as Dr. Wilder Penfield, Dr. Ron Melzack, and Dr. Brenda Milner, redefined the field with their insights into neuropsychiatric function, pain mechanics, and memory formation. Today, the legacy continues with the many McGill students who are at the forefront of cutting edge research. Such students are making groundbreaking discoveries in the discipline. For example, McGill’s psychology research utilizes a diverse spectrum of techniques and approaches to unlock the secrets behind the human brain and behavior. Research in this field combines theory from manipulation-based behavioral science with molecular and physiological neuroscience in an attempt to find answers and form new hypotheses. Research topics span from neurochemical mechanisms in drug abuse to pain behaviors and patterns underlying clinically-diagnosed psychiatric disease processes. In 2015, McGill undergraduate students and professors continue to decipher the mysteries behind human function and behavior. The Bull & Bear focused on the work of two research laboratories in McGill’s Psychology Department to share the details of their research. Precursors to Sleep/Wake Cycles in Vitro Dr. Maria Pompeiano’s lab focuses on the mechanisms that regulate sleep and the effects these chemicals have on other body systems. The lab also focuses on the relationship between sleep, memory, and synaptic plasticity. Students in the professor’s lab recently published findings in an article that examined the early expression of neurons in the chick embryo brain. The target of the investigation was orexin (also known as hypocretin), a type of neurotransmitter responsible for regulating sleep/ wake cycles in chickens, as well as humans. The students conducting the research sought to determine how early these neurons begin firing and what impact their activation has on prenatal development in chickens. Mammalian production of the neurotransmitter in developing embryos is more complicated due to the dependence of the embryo on the mother’s biological system. On the contrary, the physiological systems of chicks are separate from their mothers’ during gestation. These chicks give the research community a viable model for understanding early development of neurons. It is thought that early expression of these neurotransmitters is necessary for laying down the circuitry for their related functions, a process that is analogous to laying down railroad tracks for trains. Some of these circuits are responsible for maintaining a waking state, or mediating the transition between sleeping and waking states. These neurotransmitters promote synaptogenesis – the creation of connections between neurons – as well as neuronal maturation, which allows for neurons to gradually perform their destined functions.

Kyle Godden, an Honours Cognitive Science student who graduated last year and is the article’s first author, commented on the invaluable experience he acquired working in the lab as an undergraduate. “Doing independent research as an undergraduate is such an interesting and enriching experience.” Godden elaborated further, “Although I’m not sure that I’ll return to work in wet lab environments, doing research instilled a confidence that I am capable of taking on large and complicated projects that require me to be self-motivated, which definitely informs my professional life now.” Modifying Traumatic Memory Professor Karim Nader’s lab focuses on unlocking the tools to rewire the “brain attic.” Specifically, the lab investigates longterm memory, and how our memories can be mediated or forgotten in the case of traumatic events. Experiments target reconsolidation, which is a period of time when old memories can be recalled and manipulated to decrease their negative impact. In a recent article, Dr. Nader explained, “Remembering may return inactive memories to an active state during which they can be enhanced or impaired [through] pharmacological or behavioral intervention.” “Theoretically, can we erase memory or not?” This question was the topic of a TEDx talk at the University of Chicago in 2012, during which Dr. Nader emphasized the important implications on patient care: “The feeling is that memories can define who we are. It would be an odd thing to imagine if we globally wiped out a memory.” In individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), rewiring memories during the reconsolidation phase is the prime therapeutic target. Because patients with PTSD can’t simply forget the traumatic events they experienced, unrelated but similar sounds or situations trigger the fear response associated with the original memory. This dysfunction in memory retrieval makes living with PTSD quite debilitating for everyday life. For example, a car backfiring may trigger a difficult memory and incite a fight-or-flight response. This is known as generalization of the original stimulus. Research shows that those with PTSD may lack hippocampus-dependent spatial and contextual memory, which could lead to generalization. Nader defined the ideal solution to PTSD as “tuning down” the emotional traumatic memory without erasing the conscious details of the event. “We have drugs that can block the memory storage centers of the brain.” These drugs have shown significant success in rewiring the emotional response to traumatic memories by targeting the memory in the vulnerable reconsolidation state. Nader added, “I asked my undergraduates if they would take a pill to erase a memory. But, it’s not that simple.” In addition, the memory processes involved in Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenic hallucinations and delusions have the potential to benefit from reconsolidation research. Understanding how people form and modify emotional memories is critical for understanding these disease processes and for creating new, more effective clinical therapies.



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THE STUDENT INNOVATION Celebrating what’s at the heart of McGill and it’s innovative culture: you



Heart City Apparel: Inside and Out Excerpts and Insight from interviews with co-founders Matt Dajer and D’arcy Williams

Co-Founder and Assistant Director D’Arcy Williams

Rory Shepherd, Lifestyle Writer


tarted in 2014 by McGill’s own Matt Dajer and D’Arcy Williams, Heart City Apparel is a clothing company that aims to strikes a balance between profit and giving back to the community. After coming to Montreal and recognizing the increasingly dire problem of homelessness in Montreal, they created the company as a way to connect street art with helping victims of poverty and homelessness. Although it is still in its infancy, Heart City Apparel has already managed to establish serious brand recognition in the Montreal-area as well as an increasing presence internationally. B&B: What would you say is the aim or goal of your organization? D’arcy: We have a double-pronged approach. One side is that we’re supporting artists…you’re wearing art rather than brands, which is a pretty cool idea we both really like; that you’re not walking around paying $45 to be some brand’s billboard. Then, the second prong is that you’re allowing artists themselves to give back to their cities and supporting those in their cities who are most vulnerable. On top of that, we also have a lot of social action cam-


Co-Founder and Director Matt Dajer


paigns to try and get rid of the social stigma surrounding homelessness, as people, including myself at one time, often dehumanize the problem. The issue Heart City Apparel is combatting, as D’Arcy alluded to, is the dehumanization of the homeless. Heart City Apparel does not only donate money to the cause; more importantly, they are trying to start a conversation about an issue that is too often ignored. People tend to forget that the homeless are just like everyone else. Rather than assuming that all homeless individuals are in that position because of a drug or alcohol addiction, people should treat the homeless with respect. Through something as simple as the combination of street art and streetwear, Heart City Apparel is questioning these assumptions and raising awareness. B&B: Why clothing? What made that the medium of choice to combat the problem of homelessness and why did you choose such a competitive market? D’Arcy: It was a cool idea to wear art on clothes…it was kinda just the natural click I think. Our market is young

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Feature university and high school students wearing fresh designs, and, if you’re doing street art, streetwear just seems to be the natural progression. We like the idea that we can give life to art. It leads to our name that has a lot of meaning behind it, which is about putting the ‘Heart’ back in the city, giving life and art to the city. It’s about people walking around like canvasses instead of billboards, and we make that distinction. As far as competitiveness, yes, it is a competitive market; but, if you have a unique idea it doesn’t matter who else is in it. We don’t know anyone else who’s doing this, so we’ve been doing pretty well. How Does It Work? Step 1: They track down artists through vigorous social media searches as well as through an application located on their website. Step 2: Once they’ve found a design they like and that they can envision on a piece of their clothing, they buy it from the artist. Step 3: The design is then printed onto a series of both men’s and women’s apparel and the products are uploaded to their ecommerce platform. Step 4: Finally, once a sale is made 10 percent of the revenue is given directly to the artist whose design was used, and another 10 percent is given to a charity of the artist’s choice in their hometown. They send their donations to the charities twice a year in lump sums. The Team Although from the outside looking in it would rightfully appear that this is a small company owned and operated by two individuals, Matt Dajer and D’Arcy Williams, Heart City actually has many moving parts that keep the operation alive and running smoothly. B&B: How did you and your co-founder meet? D’Arcy: We actually met at a UNICEF nutrition conference (The McGill Conference on Global Food Security) when I was in first year, and we were the only two guys at the conference [laughs] so we sat next to each other and got along really well…and we just kinda kept in touch after that. He ended up doing the field study program in East Africa, and then I did it my year and then we just connected through interests. B&B: Is it just the two of you doing all this, or is there a larger framework of help from the outside? D’Arcy: Matt and I are technically the only two employees, but we actually have a team of nearly 50 college reps from Canada and the US as well as overseas. Yeah, it’s true that the core is just the two of us, but we rely so much on our reps because they’re the ones who help us expand and get the word out, and we don’t really have the money necessary to do it otherwise.

The Heart City Logo, chosen because the manatee is considered the world’s kindest animal, reflecting the values that drive Heart City Apparel. IMAGE VIA HEART CITY APPAREL

Currently 43 strong, the college/high school reps represent the backbone of Heart City. They act as free promotion and marketing for the brand, as they provide social media coverage as well brand exposure. Ambassadors are paid only in perks including discounts on clothing, marketing experience, and the possibility of a future internship with the company. The Artists As well as the two core founders and their college reps, there also exists an ever-growing list of street artists whose works are chosen as designs for the brand’s clothing. These artists aren’t just from the Greater Montreal Area, but from countries and cities around the world including Chicago, Barcelona, New Delhi and Stockholm. They also have their first contribution from an African artist coming up in the coming months. B&B: Do you have any entrepreneurship tips for young or new entrepreneurs? D’Arcy: 1) Start now. Make the most of all our precious resources available at McGill, there is no better time than now. 2) Don’t be scared to fail. Cheesy, but crucial. You have to fail in order to get anywhere. 3) Love your idea. Or others won’t! For any further information on Heart City or to make a purchase/donation, please visit their website at



Team MILA Pursues the 2015 Hult Prize A new milestone for Team MILA’s “Milestone Achievement Through Play”

Sarah Li, News Writer


he Hult Prize is a celebrated social entrepreneurship competition that was named one of the top five events changing the world by TIME magazine. McGill took home the grand prize in 2013, and this year’s five member team – dubbed Team MILA and composed of Attiya Hirji, Amanda Chalupa, Alyssa Wiseman, Vivien Leung, and Lida Faridian – hopes to do the same as the members prepare for the Hult Prize Regionals in San Francisco on March 13th. From over 20,000 applicants, McGill’s Team MILA was one of the 250 teams selected to participate in the regional finals hosted in five cities across the world. Only one of the 50 teams chosen to compete at the regional finals will move on to the final round of competition, hosted by the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City, to compete for the opportunity to spend the summer at the Hult Prize Accelerator, an incubator for social entrepreneurship. The ultimate winner of the prize will receive one million USD as well as mentorship and advice, as they realize their social business initiative. Milestone Achievement Through Play Team MILA is a multidisciplinary group with diverse backgrounds ranging from business, law, educa-



tion, design, psychology and international development. Amanda Chalupa, a graduate student at McGill in social and transcultural psychiatry, explained how the unique composition of their team is an asset, “We have a multidisciplinary team, and what makes us very different from other teams is that we also integrate these disciplines.” The team’s diversity is remarkable: Leung was trained in culturally- and environmentally-sustainable design during her undergraduate work towards a BFA, and is currently in her first year of law at McGill; Hirji is an undergraduate student in her fourth year of International Development studies; Faridian is finishing her second year of MBA at McGill while having worked previously in sustaining educational children’s classes in underprivileged neighborhoods; and Wiseman is finishing both Law and MBA degrees from McGill with a background in psychology. The Million Dollar Question This year, all teams were tasked with the challenge to improve early childhood education in urban slums for 10 million children under age six, by the year 2020. “The idea behind the solution is that [it] is has to be scalable and financially sustainable, so once you receive the money

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Feature you then should be able to create a self-sustaining system whereby you don’t have to keep seeking out funding,” explained team member Wiseman. She further expressed the importance of sustainability to their solution: “The problem itself is one that is systemic in nature, so we recognize that you can’t just build schools, or give books, or train teachers, because at the end of the day, there are a number of systemic barriers. We are creating a social enterprise that is systemic in nature and that is self-sustaining,” elaborated Wiseman. The inspiration for their innovative solution came from an UNHCR image of an impoverished child clutching a doll made by her mother. “Amanda was looking at a picture of a child and there was a story under the picture that said ‘this toy is one of the most valuable possessions of this child, not because of the way it is, but because her mother made it for her,’” said Faridian. The team hopes to create a sustainable marketplace for educational toys made by and for children. Such an exchange would improve the children’s economic security while advancing their education. Hirji added that “rather than just targeting the children, we’re also targeting all of the different barriers that prevent them from getting this early childhood education.” Faridian further explains, “The most important part of our solution that makes it very unique is that we’re addressing many different stakeholders along the way. We’re not just focusing on the child because we realize the problem of early childhood education is a systemic problem and it requires a systemic solution.” Mentorships and Partnerships The team won the Hult@McGill competition in December after presenting to a panel of eight judges, many of whom ended up becoming their mentors. “They see the passion, they see the fire, and they also get excited about it, and it’s a like chain,” explains Hirji. The team is grateful for its many world-class mentors, including Desautels’s Professor Richard Donovan. Wiseman adds, “there’s a mind to collaborate, there’s not a mind to ‘what can you give me’ and I think that’s how we’ve approached everything in terms of the partnerships, and the mentorships that we’ve formed with people” Repeating History in the Making The team has spoken to previous Hult participants and received helpful advice on a number of issues, while adding that they think the past participants and winners give a good glimpse of what is to come. “I think that’s what speaking to them has shown us: they’re actually living that life and they pitched it and now they’re dedicating themselves to it,” says Leung. “It really is something that you have to be ready to jump into, we’re all in this because we’re actually planning on making this happen regardless of the regionals, even though we’re quite confident.” Meanwhile, the hardest part of the process for the


team has been managing their enthusiasm. “It’s tempting to just spend 40 hours a week on this, and we’re hoping that one day we would be able to, but right now, it’s just not the reality,” explained Faridian. On the other hand, the competition allows teams only eight minutes to explain their idea. “I think taking everything and condensing that into an 8 minute presentation to get our message across, that’s a little bit of a challenge for sure,” Hirji concluded. What Hultimately Matters The team expressed that their success so far can be attributed to the cohesive team dynamic. “I do want to emphasize one thing is that we joke all the time we’re married to each other; I like to look at it like we’re a family,” joked Hirji. “I think we really trust each other, not only in terms of trusting each other’s abilities, but also trusting the intention and the fact that we have a group mentality,” added Faridian. “I think what we’ve been hearing a lot about is that our idea is good, but we hear from a lot of our mentors that there are a lot of good ideas out there. What really matters at the end of the day is, ‘do you have the team that has the passion, the dedication, and the ability to pull it off?’” said Leung, “Our idea is great, but the energy that comes off from the five of us, and how passionate we are about this cause and how committed we are, I think that’s what really makes the difference,” chimed in Faridian. The team is interested in your opinions, and encourages you to check out their Facebook and Twitter pages for regular updates. Facebook: Twitter: @milagroupedu



The Launch of

the AUS App

The app to make information access easier and more efficient for Arts students

Jessica Lyver, News Writer


he Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) released a new app on February 16. The app was developed by the company Kreate Solutions, founded by Tom Zheng, a McGill graduate and former AUS executive. The app provides a variety of information relevant to students about the undertakings of the AUS, including events, news, and general announcements. By the end of the first week after the app’s launch, there were over 400 downloads. The development of the application required a fair amount of collaboration between the AUS and Zheng at Kreate Solutions to ensure that the visions of the AUS were reflected in the app. Max Drabkin, VP Communications for AUS, worked closely with Zheng to develop the finished product. Originally, the application was intended to launch before Frosh 2014, but, due to a number of unforeseen circumstances, there was a considerable delay in releasing the application. Drabkin believes the app will be useful to AUS members. “It is such a large faculty. It’s difficult for people to find something relatable to them or ways for them to get involved that are meaningful to them without having to go through many different mediums and sorting through mountains of information which is often so overwhelming,” explained Drabkin. He hopes that the app will streamline information and help students better engage with the faculty.


Behind the Development During his time as VP Academic of AUS, Zheng noticed it was difficult to get students to pay attention to the information he was sending them, with only approximately 15 percent of students opening their listservs and only about half of them reading it entirely. This also made event attendance a problem as Zheng often found it difficult to get more than just personal friends to attend. The purpose of the app is to inform AUS students of news and information in the most efficient way possible and to avoid feeding the students irrelevant content. Zheng likes to refer to it as “a filter for information.” Zheng knew this was a major issue through his personal experience. He explained: “as a student I was overwhelmed with information, and as a student executive, I was unable to reach people with the information I wanted them to know.” Drabkin, the current VP Communications, shares Zheng’s frustration. “The listserv is something I do every week but it is difficult to get students to look at it, let alone view it as interesting. It almost becomes junk email to them.” Strategies for Success When it came to designing the app, the team at Kreate Solutions began by asking themselves, “What is the fundamental problem we are trying to solve here?” As

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Feature Zheng recalled, finding a focused answer to this question was difficult: “It is easy to get carried away without a solid definition of the scope of the project.” After defining the limits of the project the team moved on to development. The team did not face significant technical difficulties. “Most technical challenges can be easily solved by doing more testing,” said Zheng. “We are innovating using pre-existing technologies, and just trying to ensure it fits into the field we need it to and has the appropriate functionality.” The first two versions failed due to a marketing problems -- students were unaware of the app. To avoid this problem Zheng engaged in a more intensive marketing campaign to promote the third version of the app. Kreate was responsible for the postering throughout campus, and concentrated most heavily in buildings that typically play host to the most Arts students. At the same time, the AUS assisted in organizing the launch event. Drabkin claims that Zheng’s marketing efforts made for a more successful launch this time around. The third version of the application launched in February, featuring some crucial changes. As Zheng explained, “Our mistake initially was that we made the product to only function if the AUS executive added the content when, in reality, there is a lot of content already available through so many different mediums, so we decided to integrate those existing feeds into the app.” Long-Term Goals and the App’s Potential for Impact Both Kreate Solutions and the AUS hope that the app will facilitate the development of a better informed student body. Furthermore, they hope that by improving access to information there will be improvements in


turnout rates for student elections -- a common problem across faculties at McGill. Zheng’s approach is as follows: “this is where the big picture is: once people are more informed they can form their own opinions, their participation will increase and students are going to be more active. Hopefully, if we pursue this project properly, we will be able to improve voter turnout which has always been a challenge,” Zheng detailed. “Targeting students and making them see elections as something that matters and affects them is crucial.” Certain features built into the app will make it easier to access and assess the type of information students find relevant and interesting. The app has two sections: one including the most recent information and updates while the other includes the most popular information based on the number of times it is accessed by app users. This is of key importance because, as Zheng explains, it is a more efficient and often more reliable way of gauging where interests in the student body lay, rather than using focus groups. He stated, “This way, any association can assess the information that is important to students and there is a measure for it. Then, with that [information] the associations can adjust their policies and content accordingly.” Continued Improvement Zheng and his team need feedback in order to make improvements and determine the effectiveness of the product. Their major concern is not with the number of downloads, but with the consistency of its users and the efficiency with which the app delivers information. The goal is to have 75 percent of app users checking the app daily by April. Drabkin and the AUS are also looking to criticism as a means to improve. This app is not a stagnant project; there is ongoing development and innovation in order to improve its functionality. As Drabkin stated, “The way I see this semester for the app is as a test phase for ways in which we can improve it in the summer.” Drabkin added that, “what I would really like to see is a revamping of the app to include uses for Frosh 2015.” “I am very optimistic for the future, for what it can hold and ways that we can constantly engage with students without flooding them with notifications and emails,” Drabkin concluded.




Harnessing The Power of the Musical Alphabet Jam for Justice and the quest against social injustice Jennifer Yoon, Opinion Editor


or Sean B. Cohen, “it’s what made sense.” In 2010, Sean and a few of his friends founded Jam for Justice, a Montreal-based organization combining social justice and music through benefit concerts for a variety of causes. It’s unclear what, if anything, served as a catalyst for Cohen to establish this organization. What is clear though is that, at that time, he was a young man filled with equal parts passion and disillusion. Just in his first year of CÉGEP, he was already “frustrated at everything.” After years of effort advocating for a medley of different social justice causes, he saw no tangible results. Through it all, music weaved in and out of his life, consoling his disillusionment, serving as a muchneeded constant and unfailing outlet. Music has always been therapeutic to him. Starting from age five, it never failed to surprise him in a pleasant way. For Sean, an hour in front of the piano was nothing less than therapy. It’s unsurprising that music became the heart of his passion. The closest thing to an epiphany he had was during his experience performing side-by-side with musicians in Cuba. He realized that music is something that transcends boundaries of languages, causes, and ends. There may be a million different causes to fight for, but the pain, vexation, and courage to fight against an injustice – whether it is homelessness in Montreal or persecution in Cuba – is a similar creature. Expressed through a musical alphabet, the expression of the emotional strife that underscores struggles for social justice worldwide is universal. Though it was founded first and foremost to support social justice through music, Jam for Justice gradually came to support music as a cause in and of itself. On its own, the promotion and preservation of music is a cause to fight for: a necessity for social development. Throughout our talk, Sean continually emphasized the importance of creating opportunities for musicians. Not only does



Jam for Justice exist to raise funds for worthy causes, it exists also to give exposure to budding musicians. “We don’t mind first time performers because we believe in potential.” Not only are musicians given opportunities to perform, they are also given an opportunity to support social development and well-being. To Cohen, musicians are untapped resources, and Jam for Justice helps to foster passion for different causes. Though organization may have been borne of frustrations from social justice causes, it has caught on another objective; Cohen and others followed this instinct, and pursued this alternate philosophy. The newest initiative of Jam for Justice is in line with such thinking: an album called Just Jammin’. It features 18 individual musical acts who came together, volunteered their time, and contributed music they wrote. All proceeds will go towards On Rock Community services, a community organization which works to provide various resources to the West Island community. To Cohen, the fact that this CD has brought together these individuals is a testament to his belief that music is a powerful way to bring people together. Innovation doesn’t always stem from eureka moments or profound epiphanies. Oftentimes, it’s a steady build-up of frustration, elucidation, failures, and transcendence. More often than not, the initiatives that change the landscape – like how Jam for Justice changed the landscape for musicians in Montreal – are flexible and organic. Innovation is a living, breathing thing. Giving such initiatives room to grow, to adapt and play out is often the best way to harness resources, along with the unique benefits they have to offer. Just Jammin’ can be ordered or downloaded using the discount code: bullandbear25.

march 2015


Condo Fees: The Price of

Convenience Revealing the true value of properties

Arash Nayerahmadi, Business Editor


ver wonder why a condo or townhouse is cheaper than a house in the same area? While you are right if you answered land value, property size differences, or shared expenses, you might have not considered one key factor: condo fees. These fees may seem almost inconsequential compared to the overall value of your property. You may also be wondering how significantly you should weigh condo fees in your decision to purchase a home in the near future. While the answer depends on what you desire from your home – investment or comfort – it is worth shedding light on a topic rarely discussed in residential real estate. Condominium fees are those charged by a condominium complex to cover maintenance, concierge services, contingencies, landscaping and amenities, amongst other expenses. The fee is often calculated as a dollar amount per square footage of the specific unit and tends to vary with respect to the quality or finish of the building, the amenities offered, and the age of the complex. Condominiums with a higher quality/finish, those with more amenities, and even older buildings will typically cost more per square feet and may have higher fees. This all reflects the costs that must be covered by the complex – older buildings need more repairs and thus have higher fees. There is a similar concept applied to townhouses that are managed centrally. It is important to note that the fees are not only charged to pay for current obligations, but also to be pooled and saved for future expenses. Windows will need to be replaced, elevators maintained and remodelled, and driveways re-paved. There are also unforeseen contin-


gencies that need to be accounted for such as damages to the structure of the building. If contingency funds are not large enough to cover the costs, then the fees are raised for all units. The idea of paying for current and future costs today may seem excessive to some, but to others it’s ordinary. The insight to be gleaned, however, is not about the rationale of the condo fee, but rather how it can affect your decision making. Most homes are purchased by placing some percentage of the value as a down payment and financing the rest via a mortgage. Properties are typically purchased with anywhere from five to one hundred percent down. With respect to a mortgage, your income plays a dominant factor in how much mortgage you can acquire. There are even regulations requiring you to meet certain ratios with respect to your adjusted income (income less other current financial obligations) and your mortgage payments. In some sense, this resembles a corporation’s debt covenants. Most home purchasers look at the absolute value of their target properties but ignore the effect of the condo fee on their purchasing power. A buyer will, for example, consider paying upwards of $2000 per month for a mortgage. Considering a rate of 3 percent compounded annually over 360 months, this amounts to a mortgage of about 475,000 dollars. Therefore, if the purchaser has 200,000 dollars available to place down, she can purchase a house or a condo valued at 675,000 dollars, at about 30 percent down payment. If the buyer were to purchase this condo, they will likely end up paying a condo fee based on the factors discussed above.


Business Let’s assume this fee is about 1,000 dollars. For a home, this fee will have covered some landscaping and utilities, which we can value at about 200 dollars. Therefore, an alternative way of looking at the condo price is to add the excess 800 dollars to the value of the monthly mortgage payment ($2000 + $800 = $2800). As a result, with the same parameters as before, 2,800 dollars equates to a mortgage valued at about 665,000 dollars. To compare the purchase of a house or a condo with monthly payments of 2,800 dollars and a down payment of 200,000 dollars, we see that you could either purchase a house valued at 885,000 dollars or a condo valued at 675,000 dollars. The difference is over 200,000 dollars and represents the present value of the excess charges in the condo fees that would not be necessary for a house. The investment potential of a house is further emphasized by a general trend of higher growth in the value of houses and semi-detached buildings in the same area compared to condominiums. There is a criticism to the analysis above, suggesting that my numbers are overestimated. In theory, there are similar contingencies with respect to a home, such as the need to replace roofing, maintain landscaping, change

windows etc. I’m not suggesting that houses do not have future expenses; however, I argue that these expenses are less significant (i.e. don’t include elevators, large parking lots, etc.) and that you don’t explicitly have to save for them. In the process of paying off your mortgage, you are building equity that should also be further enhanced by the appreciation on the value of your property. That is, if unexpected costs arise in the future, you can usually draw on that equity to pay for it – often at attractive rates. Furthermore, avoiding the condo fee and purchasing a home with the same value as the condo will leave you with an extra 800 dollars a month that you can spend or invest how you choose. On the face of it, for the sake of investment, the condominium appears to be a sinking ship. But purchasing a home isn’t just about an investment; it’s about comfort, falling in love with a place, and finding a home that meets your requirements. Oftentimes, purchasing a home in a desired neighbourhood – close to work or good schools – is out of our financial reach. So, in the end, the point of this article is not to deter people from purchasing condos, but rather to raise awareness on the true cost, or rather the true comparable cost to the convenient condo investment.

A Boom in Broadcast Sports Let the games begin Daniel Banh, Business Writer


t’s been extensively reported in the news media. Everybody, from media commentators to industry insiders to financial analysts have been whispering it for years: traditional television is dying. As the mountain of evidence continues to grow the chorus of pessimistic voices is getting louder and louder: at a recent Comcast Corporation quarterly earnings conference call, the head of NBCUniversal, Steve Burke, assessed the situation bluntly. “I just think it’s unreasonable to assume that the ratings for [cable] are going to grow if you look over a five- or ten-year period.” For industry participants, this is


a far cry from the mid-2000’s when Bay Street and Wall Street analysts were celebrating the strong growth in television network earnings. Between the third quarters of both 2013 and 2014, the television industry lost over 2.2 million customers – a decline of nearly 4 percent, according to data from Nielsen. Even worse, top television networks nearly all suffered large year-over-year declines in viewership in the same period. Primetime ratings fell 14 percent across the NBCUniversal cable cluster, while the ratings of TNT and TBS, both owned by Time Warner, fell by 13 percent.

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Business Moreover, total advertising revenue, on which networks rely heavily, has stagnated over the past few years. New Tricks Amid the doom and gloom, the largest television networks are responding by shifting their focus to areas where they have a competitive advantage over other channels of distribution (read Netflix). In particular, there has been a surge in network interest in live sports programming. Case in point: the big four North American sports leagues – the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL – have all recently signed new broadcast deals worth significantly more than previous agreements. The NHL deal with Rogers Communications, worth CAD$5.2 billion CAD, is one of the largest media rights deals in Canadian history. MLB’s broadcast deals with Fox, TBS, and ESPN together represent a 100 percent increase in broadcast rights fees over the previous agreement. Even more impressive is the NBA broadcast deal, announced last fall, which will nearly triple the league’s annual television revenues come 2016. Deloitte estimates that the total value of global premium sports rights (i.e. the rights fees for the most popular sports leagues) will be USD$28 billion in 2015, a 12 percent increase on 2014. Given the boom in sports broadcasting rights, many commentators are questioning whether there is currently a sports rights ‘bubble’, and if so, when it will burst. Even amidst the fall in overall viewership, sports programming continues to attract large television audiences, with strong growth rates to boost. In an era where online video streaming has enjoyed considerable success at the expense of network television, the thrill and excitement of live sports has simply proven irreplaceable. 114 million U.S. viewers watched this year’s Super Bowl on television, shattering the record for the largest audience for a U.S. television program. In fact, this was the fourth time in five years that the Super Bowl has set a new viewership record. With the mass appeal of sporting events and the significant attachment consumers place on professional teams, it’s easy to see why the sports broadcasting market is a captive market. Thus, television networks that lock up the right to broadcast games over the long term are in a strong bargaining position when the time comes to nego-



tiate distribution fees with cable service providers. The best example of this is the Disney-owned ESPN network: estimates peg the amount that cable providers pay ESPN each month at USD $6.04 per subscriber. Meanwhile, the median price cable providers pay per channel amounts to around just USD $0.14 per subscriber according to research by SNL Kagan. Moreover, even as advertising dollars get scarcer for the television industry, live sports programming continues to be a magnet for advertisers. Together, these factors have led broadcasters to increasingly view live sports as a premium asset. However, this has not done much to quiet the commentators who think that there is currently a sports rights “bubble.” These critics point to the squeeze in profit margins at networks such as ESPN due to the recent broadcasting deals. In the quarter ending Dec. 27, 2014 (Q1 ’15), Disney’s operating income from its ESPN division declined 2 percent year-over-year. Disney’s chief financial officer, James A. Rasulo, told analysts that the decline was due to rising sports costs, adding that ESPN would see higher costs again in the second quarter. Moreover, deals such as the NASCAR broadcasting deal announced in mid-2013 lend greater credibility to the notion that the global wave of money flowing into broadcasting rights might be overdone. Even though NASCAR television ratings plummeted by 47 percent since NASCAR negotiated its previous TV deal in 2005, NASCAR was able to land a new deal in which its rights fees increased by 46 percent, from USD$560 million per year to USD$820 million per year. The deal, which primarily involved two emerging sports networks (Fox Sports 1 and NBC Sports Network) bidding for the contract, comes against the backdrop of increasing competition for live sports programming among broadcasters. However, given the length of these contracts and the cyclicality of distribution fee negotiations, it appears as if only time will tell if the spate of recent deals were prudent investments.


Business ‘

A New Wave of M&A Deals is Coming… And It’s Not From Where you Expected How the insurance industry is consolidating


Tony Nguyen, Business Writer


istorically, the Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) and Healthcare sectors have been the poster children for mergers and acquisitions (M&A). This assumption still continues to hold strong: the past year was particularly strong for M&A in these industries with mega deals like Comcast buying Time Warner, or Actavis acquiring Allergan. This trend is not expected to fade anytime soon. Analysts expect further surges in M&A activity in 2015, particularly in the healthcare, technology, and energy sectors. However, another industry is quietly experiencing a massive wave of deals. The insurance sector -- more spe-


cifically: reinsurance, which provides insurance to insurers, helping them pay in cases of extremely large claims -has recently taken significant steps towards consolidation. Although these deals have been of a much smaller scale and value compared to some of the more publicized tech and healthcare M&A’s, the sheer volume of deals emerging in the reinsurance industry makes them noteworthy. In the last four months alone the sector has seen four global billion-dollar deals, with the most recent being the acquisition of Brit Insurance for £1.22 billion (2.3 billion CAD) by Canadian firm Fairfax. Although this one acquisition alone is not groundbreaking many see it as only the

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Business start of a major consolidation between reinsurers around the globe. The main drivers behind this intense M&A activity are a combination of increased competition and subdued demand for reinsurance. However, these forces have eaten into the profit margins of reinsurers. The traditionally lucrative sector of reinsurance has in recent years attracted an increased number of competitors, ranging from new reinsurers, to alternative capital providers, such as pension and hedge funds searching for yield by providing coverage through “catastrophe bonds” (securities which are linked to the likelihood of certain events occurring and only require the holder to payout if they do occur to help insurers pay claims). With the market becoming increasingly crowded, insurance premiums have been driven down to the lowest level in almost a decade. The problem is further exacerbated by the recent lack of significant catastrophes, which has quelled the demand for both insurance and reinsurance. As a result, there has been pressure on reinsurers to find alternative ways for growth and to remain competitive, especially among the smaller players. With excess capital and the sector being highly fragmented, M&A seems to be the ideal path for many firms. The first major deal was completed in November 2014, with Bermudian based RenaissanceRe acquiring Platinum Underwriters for $1.9 billion. This has since sparked even larger M&A deals between reinsurers, with XL Group’s purchase of Catlin for $4.2 billion and the $11 billion merger of Axis and PartnerRe towards the end of January creating the world’s sixth largest reinsurer. All of these deals have effectively had one goal: to increase the firm’s size so they can be better positioned to compete with much larger competitors such as Munich Re and Berkshire Hathaway’s GenRe. And this is just the beginning. According to the major rating agencies in the insur-



ance industry such as Fitch, S&P and A.M Best, consolidation activity in 2015 will only increase further as reinsurers fight for market share. The pressure is especially strong on the numerous small reinsurers in London and Bermuda, the two main insurance hubs of the world. As Stephen Catlin, the CEO of recently acquired Catlin Group, puts it: “anyone who has got a market value of less than $5 billion, wherever they are in the world are going to be scratching their heads as what to do next. If you think the market is going to consolidate, there is nothing that is going to stop it, so why wouldn’t you be on the front foot and choose your partner?” So far, it seems the market agrees. Stocks of many small reinsurance companies like Amlin, Aspen and Lancashire -- companies that have been pegged potential A&M targets -- have rallied significantly in the past month, as investors speculate increased M&A activity. However, some have called for caution with the recent M&A frenzy. Although S&P expects increased consolidation, it has issued warnings that scale alone might not be enough to protect certain reinsurers from market pressures. It goes even further to say that careless M&A could further deteriorate the situation of merging reinsurers if synergies are not created and inefficiencies arise. This view has also been backed by certain reinsurers. Paul Gregory, Chief Underwriting Officer of Lancashire Group, recently expressed that “relevance and scale should not be confused.” He added that “what people need to understand is that our customers, when they think about who’s relevant, they don’t just think about market cap.” All in all, although typically not considered as exciting as healthcare or tech, recent events in the insurance/ reinsurance industry have added a bit of excitement. With many reinsurers under pressure to consolidate and many major deals already completed, this industry is one to watch for 2015.



DISCOUNTED SHOPPING FOR PRIVATE EQUITY FIRMS? Financial buyers attempt to clean out the shopping aisle that is the oil industry Natalya Hibbert, Business Editor


old on Black Friday shoppers, I think the real deals are coming from the oil industry this year. As we all know, the oil industry has taken a huge hit. Oil prices are currently $49.50, and have been falling since the summer of 2014. Consumers welcome this with open arms, especially Americans who are still struggling with little-to-no monetary inflation, and barely any wage inflation. Overseas, OPEC is still struggling to keep its market position by maintaining supply in an attempt to spur the recent boom in North American shale production. But, have we all neglected to think about who is benefitting the most from these discounts? An entire industry in distress may seem disappointing for us as the American economy is in limbo and the EU is struggling to exit a recession, but what does this look like for financial buyers? Instead of seeing shambles, private equity (PE) firms and financial buyers are seeing money signs. Blackstone Group LP, the world’s largest alternative asset manager, recently announced that it is raising its first energy-focused credit fund. Evidently, private equity firms see the oil meltdown as an investment opportunity. Blackstone’s action reveals that the firm believes that these oil companies are undervalued, and that their worth will rise in the near future. Most oil companies are hit hard by weak Balance Sheets – a result of of huge capital costs and lowered sales, causing earnings to take a beating. Even companies that sell everything from sand, to drilling rigs, to temporary housing, have been hurt. In other words, for private equity firms it’s time to pounce! Blackstone’s move is not surprising, especially considering other firms such as the New York based Warburg Pincus, who launched a $4 billion energy fund in October, have already introduced new funds. What is not only essential, but also unique for private equity firms, is that they are well positioned to capitalize on these opportunities. In fact, they have wads of cash stashed for this purpose. These firms are thinking in the long term: they can raise huge amounts of capital if need be and then work on improving cash generation to provide a hefty return to their investors. GSO Capital Partners LP, Blackstone’s credit investment arm, has quickly raised approximately $500 million to $1 billion through its existing investors by investing in



debt securities in the energy sector. This fund leads the pack, which was entirely raised after oil prices fell by more than 50 percent. Apollo Global Management LLC in January also announced that it was raising a fund for less liquid products in the energy business. However, this story is not new. While oil was booming and energy’s need for capital soared to meet the huge boom in demand, PE firms took swift action. They jumped at the opportunity to provide capital while they sat on the sidelines during the acquisition boom. According to Dealogic, in the past four years, buyout firms have made acquisitions of U.S. oil and gas companies with an enterprise value of more than $48 billion compared to $33 billion in the previous year. But, as demand and oil prices drop, these buyout firms are now facing substantial losses instead of the huge returns. For example, KKR, another American PE firm, is looking at billions of dollars of losses from their $7.2 billion investment in Samson – an oil and gas exploration and production company in Oklahoma. Others have managed to come out unscathed and were even able to realize a long-awaited return for their investors. Apollo invested in Texas’ Athlon Energy in 2010, and received $2.6 billion in total proceeds when it sold its business to Encana – a Canadian producer and transporter of oil and natural gas liquids -- last year. Most of these firms, however, are taking a different approach. Instead of lending to firms in the oil business, they are investing in liquid energy credit markets. This is mainly because investing in a credit product with a high yield-to-maturity that matures in ten years – while oil prices recover in two or three years – equates to a return as high as 25 percent over that three-year timeframe. Last December, PE firms in Canada followed this same trend: buyout firms were purchasing left and right in the Canadian oil industry. M&A was also on the rise; about $63 billion was deployed in December, which is about four times the value of deals in 2013. Analysts believe that this trend will continue as the discount in oil prices persists. Overall, it seems that these half-off deals are a lot better than what any Black Friday shoppers saved this past winter season, and I don’t foresee any change until 2016.

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We'll Run It to the Ground! The civil war runs on in Ukraine, destroying the country’s economy along with Russia’s IMAGE VIA PROFI-FOREX

Sébastien Grégoire, Business Writer


015 is off to a grim start for Ukrainians. The current crisis in Ukraine, entering its second year, is considered by many as the most destabilizing event of 2014 and of the beginning of 2015. The death toll already exceeded 5,000 in January alone and continues to rise. Like in any war torn country Ukraine’s economy has also been badly affected. Ukrainians’ quality of life fell drastically in 2014, will continue to deteriorate in 2015, and isn’t expected to recover for several years after a possible conflict resolution. Ukraine’s GDP shrunk by approximately 10 percent in 2014. A similar result is expected in 2015, although the magnitude remains uncertain – while estimates vary the overall conclusions are the same: Ukrainians can expect further economic decline. Moreover, inflation has reached 30 percent, in part because of the explosion of gas prices. At the beginning of February, the country’s central bank raised interest rates from 14 percent to 19.5 percent, a decision that caused a drastic plunge in the value of the hryvnia and increased the cost of imports. According to The Economist, the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine account for 16 percent of GDP, 95 percent of its coal production and the great majority of the nation’s exports. Their capture by the rebels has made the situation much more difficult for President Petro Poroshenko’s government. Feeling the ever growing toll of war on civilians he stresses the importance of reaching a peace agreement with the rebels, but is not fond of the idea of negotiating with the Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In order to refinance its debts and avoid default Ukraine badly needs financial assistance from the IMF. The institution has promised an $18 billion bailout over the next 4 years and hopes to amass a rescue package of $40 billion in a matter of months. However, in return, the government of Ukraine must endorse a wide set of reforms to improve its economy and balance its budget. This may prove to be easier said than done as the country’s government is known for its widespread corruption and inefficiency. In fact, according to Transparency International, Ukraine is ranked 142nd out of 175 countries surveyed on corruption.


To increase its revenues, Naftogaz, the state gas company, must raise its prices to its heavily subsidized customers. Already raised by 56 percent in 2014, according to Forbes, oil prices are expected to increase five- or six-


Business fold. Furthermore, the government must cut its public spending by 4.8 percent of GDP over the next five years. Lastly, Ukraine has been asked to improve the nation’s energy efficiency in order to reduce dependence on imported Russian natural gas. These reforms are critical at a moment when the credit rating agency, Moody’s, rated Ukraine’s bond as junk, and its chances of default are extremely high. Another lurking danger is the upcoming payment of debt held to Russia’s Central Bank. Because of an early-repayment provision in a bond contract between the government of Ukraine and the Central Bank of Russia, Ukraine will have to repay its debt before the normal deadline if its debt-to-GDP ratio exceeds 60 percent. According to many sources, including The Economist’s Intelligence Unit, this ratio is expected to reach 62 percent by the end of 2015. Ultimately, Ukraine is facing a dire situation. Add to that the plight of Russia who, although not battered by war on its own territory, is being cornered by the West. Economic sanctions by Canada, the United States, Germany, the UK, Australia, and many others, have shot down GDP growth to zero percent for 2014 and 2015 -a dire reality given that prior to the conflict five percent had been forecasted. This discrepancy is explained by the fact that, according to the Wall Street Journal, half the


financial capital on which the Russian economy operates comes from foreign investment. As if that weren’t enough, the fall in oil prices caused by the upsurge of American production has affected Russian competitiveness. In a matter of days during the end of 2014, the rouble plunged and the Central Bank’s interest rates spiked to 17 percent, causing high inflation. Western countries have even threatened to cut Russia out of the SWIFT banking system, a transaction platform for more than 9,000 financial institutions around the world. In response, President Putin has said that this would constitute a “formal declaration of war.” Compounded, these factors explain why the value of Russia’s bond was rated junk by Standard and Poor’s, the most widely-respected rating agency. All the same, there is hope that Ukraine will be able to receive substantial funds from the IMF to avoid a default that would aggravate the crisis. Although this would surely help it in the long run, recovery is still a long while away. To restore its economy, regain competitiveness and cut energy dependence from Russia, the crisis-stricken country must prioritize increasing foreign direct investment, as only this can assure its prosperity and stability in the long run.

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The Viral Apparel The internet discovers a garment with a glitch. Chaos ensues.


Victoria Paskannaya, Web Editor


’was the night before my last midterm, before I officially headed off into my hard-earned reading week. Imagine: I was fully prepared for the exam, and ready for a good night of sleep. I let go of all the stresses of lectures bygone, feeling an epiphany that not even a divine interruption could interrupt. Then, I decided to take a quick peek for vines and tweets. Such was the mistake of my semester. There, I saw it. Short, neat, not really my style. Most importantly, though, it was unmistakably black and blue. Yet, people were vining, retweeting, and arguing vigorously. Apparently, even Taylor Swift made news that night after taking a firm stance on the blue-and-black colors. Buzzfeed explained the mystery behind real colors. Business Insider posted the second article with an interview of the girls who uploaded the picture. I looked at the photo again. It was gold and white now. “Hmmmkay,” I thought, “probably everyone sees it differently because of the optical illusions that human eyes are not prone to.” I texted a couple of my friends quickly, and they saw different colors too. That’s it, I wanted to go to bed and stay sane for the midterm more than I wanted to explore the mystery behind the photo everyone discussed. Apparently, the rest of the world picked up the trend while I was sleeping. The morning after, Facebook was exploding. There were people arguing and calling out names. We saw many annoyed with the color argument itself. Calm down, people! First, a point of view which differs from your own is not equated to an obligation for you to put all your persuasion skills and insulting jokes into the conversation. It is okay to have a different opinion. Besides, there are issues that are more worth your attention on your news feeds. Next time an emergency

happens, and you have to spread an important message, people will assume you repost another “color dilemma” or some other generic viral trend. If you’re actually craving for a genuine answer, then heated arguments and a lack of constructive conversations will definitely somehow generate a sophisticated answer – just kidding. Surely, there were at least three PhD papers started that night to give an elaborate answer to the question of the week: explain the colour mystery. Take a deep breath, put the hammer, the axe, and the hatchet away. Let your cousins and friends self-destruct if you must, with their fiery messages. Here is a chamomile tea recipe for you, my friend. For those of you who decided to hate the trend before everyone starts to hate it: hey, fellow hipsters! That said, know you’ve done the counterintuitive: you’ve just helped it become even more viral. Honestly, the fact that you were not the first person to repost the image among your friends and ask, “which colours do you see?” does not mean you are now responsible for starting the hate trend. On the contrary, join me in my little nice bunker free of social media and tech devices! Being an information systems (also known as IT) student, I enjoy my stress-free time a lot. Thank you for your attention. Hopefully, you get this message: the search for truth is not a one-off question; it’s eternal. Such truths can’t be ascertained through a tsunami of attention overnight. All the same, the fact that a question may be shallow, does not make the discussion pointless: respectful discussion, in and of itself, is a virtue if it does not sour into a vice. Lesson learned? It is white and gold. The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Bull & Bear.



Quebec: To Preserve the French Language, Stick with Canada

Making the case against Quebec sovereignty in the interest of preserving the French language

Michael Law, Opinion Writer


e are only mere months away from the next Canadian federal election, scheduled for October 2015. Age-old debates will reignite in the near future, and controversial issues such as the Keystone Pipeline and marijuana legalization will surely be on the table. That said, as was proven during the last election held four years ago, quite possibly anything can happen. And, if there’s one party that knows that, it’s certainly the Bloc Québécois. In 2011, the federal party, positioned as the representatives of Quebec’s interests, met their Waterloo and won only a handful of seats – four, to be precise. Under the leadership of Gilles Duceppe, the party essentially floundered, and was left powerless to what emerged as a consequential shift in the province’s voting pattern, as voters abandoned the Bloc in favor of a federalist alternative. Historically, the Bloc and its provincial parallel, the Parti Québécois, have tokenized themselves as proudly separatist and as defenders of the French language in North America. Their talking points include: the long history of Anglo, linguistic imperialism in Quebec (particularly in Montreal); the need for greater autonomy and self-determination for the Quebecois; and the preservation of the French language within this last, continental, sovereign stronghold against the total invasion of the Anglos. However, my point of contention is that while there are still areas where French deserves greater representation, if they stay with the Confederation, the French language and North American Francophones will accrue much more benefits than they would had la belle province become the “Country of Quebec.” When Pauline Marois dissolved the provincial government and called a general election last year, she definitely did not expect her party to lose control of the cabinet and for the Liberals to form a majority government. Although it was a shocking embarrassment for her to lose in her


own riding, the results only mirrored the outcome of the 2011 federal election where a disillusioned Quebec opted for promises of economic prosperity and revitalization. Indeed, the notion of self-determination and longing for sovereignty are romantic for Quebec. The two historic referendums in 1980 and 1995, while both unsuccessful, demonstrated a substantial will in the region to form a country. The prospect of losing one’s cultural heritage and Francophone lineage due to demographic collapse amid the constant bombardment of globalized English media is terrifying.

The two historic referendums in 1980 and 1995, while both unsuccessful, demonstrated a substantial will in the region to form a country. Montreal, the largest city in Quebec and the second largest in Canada, is the economic powerhouse of la belle province. However, while it has been nearly four decades since the adoption of Bill 101, the landmark legislation that defined Quebec as a Francophone society and man-

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Opinion dated French language rights, English has still not been legislated out of existence on the Island of Montreal. Rather, there is a unique and thriving bilingualism. In the 2011 census, it was reported that 53.9 percent of the people in Montreal can speak both French and English, with 66.1 percent responding that they spoke French at home. Among young Anglophones and allophones, the rate of bilingualism and multilingualism is even higher, with 79 percent of Anglophones and 67 percent of allophones between the ages of 15 and 24 reported as being bilingual or multilingual. Incontrovertibly, knowing more than one language is a valuable asset, and bilingualism has replaced Anglo-centrism as the way of life in Montreal. Indeed, the old fear that the young generation in Quebec would speak English has been realized, but with a bilingual twist. And, in a globalizing world where the legacy of British imperialism has entrenched English as the global language of business, this will not change in the near future – regardless of Quebecois politics. In particular, against the backdrop of a rising China, young, Western elites have increasingly been looking to the East for employment prospects, and Mandarin is becoming just as – if not, more so – attractive a second language as French. Furthermore, citing a report by l’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, while the use of the French language is growing internationally, particularly in Africa, its biggest problems lie in penetrating the lucrative realms of the internet, the world of scientific publications, and international business – challenges that are expected to remain paramount in the coming years. That said, it’s important to note that these difficulties are faced by la Francophonie as a whole, therefore Quebec alone cannot weather the storm of a changing global structure. All the same, by staying with Canada, a country that stretches across six time zones and is performing quite well economically, Quebec already has at its disposal a set of legal instruments to maintain official bilingualism in the Confederation. This often overlooked detail has been crucial in ensuring the continual existence of French both within and outside Quebec: mandating a bilingual federal and legal framework; forcing students in British Columbia and other provinces to complete at least ten years of French classes; and placing obligations on private actors to provide access to goods and services in French. A bilingual Canada is a great shield for Quebec. There exists a bilingual bonus for many federal and provincial employees, and many high-paying and high-ranking bureaucratic positions are necessarily bilingual. Therefore, these circumstances create a substantial incentive for prospective Anglo applicants to be able to work in French and vice versa. Official bilingualism has even forced Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a Toronto-born, Evangelical Christian who grew up in Alberta, to conduct debates and address the nation bilingually – even though his French is markedly horrid. Constitutional bilingualism has also

Knowing more than one language is a valuable asset, and bilingualism has replaced Anglocentrism as the way of life in Montreal. been implemented in Crown Corporations such as the Bank of Canada, the International Development Research Centre, and Telefilm Canada. It has painted a new bureaucratic environment where French is both desirable and necessary in English Canada, a fact that would surely be undermined were Quebec to become a foreign, sovereign country – thus depriving Canada of 86 percent of its French-speaking population. All the same, the allure of a sovereign Quebec for les gens du pays remains undeniable. The memories of Anglo-domination in Quebec are deeply engraved in the older generations, and they have every right to resent their old oppressors. Still, the key to progress may lie in how the younger generations, like those in Paris, Berlin, Hong Kong, Stockholm, Jakarta and other global metropolises, embrace and appreciate bilingualism while maintaining the dominance of French, German, Cantonese, Swedish, etc., as the languages of everyday life and of cultural identity. Already, this openness to bilingualism has already manifested itself through the voting patterns in the last federal and provincial elections, and will likely continue to be the case for many young, urban Quebeckers feel as comfortable with their Quebecois identity as they do with their Canadian one. For Quebec to hold onto a grudge while its bilingual youth expand their horizons and enjoy opportunities across Canada and the globe would be counterproductive to the preservation (and promotion) of both the French language itself and of economic development. Above all, isn’t it satisfying to see Harper and his ministers struggle to speak French while Mulcair slays both the English and French debates? Of course there are kinks to work out, compromises to be reached, and other groups such as Aboriginal Peoples to be considered and involved in the future decision making processes, but is that not exactly the point of federalism? The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Bull & Bear.



French in Quebec: Promotion vs. Protection Exploring the linguistic distinction between a marker of cultural identity and a language of business

Chukwubuikem Nnebe, Executive Editor


he French language, sovereignty, and the economy. When it comes to politics in Quebec, many a political platform can be essentialized to this sacred trifecta of interests. While the question of Quebec’s potential separation from Canada is one that – although not dead per se – has certainly fallen into a deep slumber, the topic simply cannot be broached in isolation. The ideals of sovereignty that continue to fuel the demagogy of politicians, like Pierre-Karl Péladeau (PKP), are worthless if you fail to consider the presumed implications of such a reality on both the role of the French language in Quebec

Rather than trying to protect French at all costs as the only language of work and business, the best way to get people to actually want to speak French is to get them to want to become a true part of la belle province. 26


society as well as the economic health of la belle province. Though PKP, currently the frontrunner in the Parti Québécois’ (PQ) leadership race, may have proven successful in rousing dormant, nationalist sentiments by focusing on utopian sovereignty first – and its intricate and messy details later – the economy is always the most effective way of bringing things back to earth. Therefore, while the péquistes may have seemingly set their eyes on a transparent focus on sovereignty as the key to victory come 2018, in the context of today’s reality, there are far more pressing issues at hand. And, it just so happens that that reality is one of economic decline in the crown jewel to the Country of Quebec: Montreal. In a recent article of the same name, the Montreal Gazette aptly – and bluntly – awarded our previously-bustling metropolis with a new title reflective of its current economic woes: Stagnation City. As a thorough introduction to Montreal’s on-going fall from grace, the piece goes on to name a number of direct causes that have afflicted the city, such as the oft-discussed realities of “widespread corruption, failed governance, inadequate fiscal power, [and] low private investment.” However, amid all of these conjectures, one in particular really stuck out for me: the loss of human capital. In my opinion, this erosion of the city’s knowledge base, a phenomenon colloquially referred to as “brain drain,” is so salient precisely because it is something that we, as students in what is arguably the province’s top aca-

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Opinion demic institution, will impact directly as we graduate from McGill. Essentially, in our specific case, this brain drain manifests itself through the proclivity for young adults to move to Montreal solely to receive their post-secondary education, only to suddenly depart once their three-to-

In the wake of the short-lived PQ victory in 2013, 42 percent of Anglo-Quebeckers revealed they had contemplated leaving the province. four years are up. Sound like a familiar story? Now, where does the French language play into mix? Well, what seems to be Quebec’s quasi-obsession with its language and those very laws intended to “protect” it have historically contributed to the establishment of an environment hostile to English and non-French speakers alike. In fact, in the wake of the short-lived PQ victory in 2013, 42 percent of Anglo-Quebeckers revealed they had contemplated leaving the province. During that most recent “scare,” the Marois government proposed Bill 14: a piece of legislation that would have required any and all enterprises with 26-49 employees to conduct everyday business in French – among other amendments. Although the péquistes may have considered that to be quite the reasonable demand, for many Anglophones and allophones, the main message conveyed through this legislation was that the protection of the French language was a priority that would be attained at any cost necessary – especially English. And, therein lies what I believe to be the main flaw behind this historical approach to sovereignty: the idea that protecting French must come to the detriment of English. Naturally, I would be a fool to assume that Quebec could ever benefit economically from a further alienation of the Anglophone community and of the role of English in the daily operations of Quebecois businesses. Rather, for sovereignty to ever make any economic sense, the French language has to be promoted as a marker of cultural identity, rather than imposed through its protection as the language of business. You see, especially considering Quebec’s unique status as “a nation within a united Canada,” the French language is a cultural demarcator of the province’s distinct identity.

In essence, to speak French is fundamentally part of what being a Quebecker is. And, that is exactly how the language should be promoted. Rather than trying to protect French at all costs as the only language of work and business, the best way to get people to actually want to speak French is to get them to want to become a true part of la belle province. According to research collected by Impératif français, a cultural organization dedicated to promoting the province’s official language, Anglo-Quebeckers feel more at home in Quebec and with its people when they have mastered and can fully appreciate the French language. Though that’s not exactly rocket science, it still certainly goes to show that Quebecois nationalism would be far better served through the promotion – rather than imposition – of the French language. I mean, it only makes sense that people would be more likely to feel they belong to a distinct nation if they are drawn to actively choose to speak its language.


Thus, though I am certainly not a separatist by any measure, I can nevertheless see some value in the PQ’s more straightforward approach to discussing what has always been – and is likely to always be – their ultimate end goal: sovereignty. Unlike during the leadup to their calamitous defeat in the 2014 elections, I honestly believe both the PQ and the state of the French language in Quebec stand to gain from a frank and forthright discussion about the merits of separation. One can only hope that such a frank debate would include the voices of all those who call Quebec home, as only then will the distinction between promoting the French language and protecting it at all costs be crucially acknowledged. The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Bull & Bear.



Sex Ed: College Edition Reader discretion is advised for this educational column on sexual health Jeannie Richardson, Lifestyle Writer Hello JR, I am a 21 year old, cisgendered female. I have had 5 sexual partners, most of whom were long-term boyfriends, but I have never enjoyed sex. Most of the men I have been with have been considerate and loving, but I don’t feel anything when we have sex. I feel aroused when kissing, but once the clothes come off, there is nothing. I know that many women my age have difficulties orgasming, but none of my friends seem to have this problem. Besides, this is more than not being able to orgasm: I rarely even enjoy sex. Is there something wrong with me? Sincerely, Sad About Sex Dear SAS, Though you may be able to solve these problems easily, your letter also leads me to believe that you may be suffering from sexual dysfunction. Sexual dysfunction is characterized by a “difficulty in experiencing pleasure, desire, arousal, or orgasm.” This can be caused by either physiological or psychological factors, ranging from fatigue, to anxiety, to a change in medication. Though it may seem severe, researchers at Yale School of Medicine have found that 42.8 percent of women suffer from some sort of sexual dysfunction. Thankfully, most cases are treatable. First, I would recommend that you figure out what your sexual preferences are, so you can properly explain them to your partner. Relationships don’t have to be about sex, but if you are engaging in any type of sexual activity with your partner, communication is key. Dissatisfaction in the bedroom can lead to dissatisfaction in other areas of your relationship. Second, before you get intimate with your partner, consider buying a lubricant. Much of the discomfort sometimes felt during sex is simply because of lack of lubrication. Then, remember to take things slow. Foreplay is crucial, but rushing it can be almost as bad as omitting it altogether. Continue the communication and tell your partner whatever you do or do not like. Finally, if you are still having the same issues, consider going to a counselor with or without your boyfriend. There are some hormonal treatments for sexual dysfunction, but that would require diagnosis and treatment by a doctor. The most likely causes are anxiety or stress, which can have a harsh impact on sexual activity for both men and women. Sincerely, JR



Hello JR, I am a straight, cisgendered female and have been dating my boyfriend for about four months. Recently, he has expressed his interest in trying anal. I’m intrigued by the idea, but also nervous, as I’ve heard some horror stories about things going wrong or about it being very painful. What can I do to ensure that we both enjoy ourselves and avoid potential problems? Sincerely, Angsty About Anal Dear AAA, Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that the first time you try won’t be a little uncomfortable or painful for both of you. Pardon the pun, but it’s a bit of a rite of passage. However, I can suggest ways to help you and your boyfriend have the best time possible. As with all sexual experiences, the best thing you can do is relax. Tensing up will make any sort of penetration uncomfortable for both you and your partner. That being said, this is not the sort of thing you want to rush into. On your own, or with your boyfriend, you should begin using fingers and/or small toys to get used to the feeling and decide if you like it or not. If you do decide to do the deed, use lubricant. For anal sex, most people recommend using silicone based lubes, but it’s advised you test it out on your skin beforehand to make sure you’re not allergic. Water based lubes are cheaper than silicone, but they tend to dry up easier. And if you want to be on the safe side, there’s nothing wrong with buying both! Finally, I think we’ve all heard a horror story or two. However, whether any of these are true or not is up in the air – and also not something I’d like to investigate. So, I would simply suggest being prudent. For example, experimenting after indulging at Quesada’s probably is not the best idea. If you’re worried, you could try washing down a spinach and kale salad with some prune juice the day before, and doing a little “cleansing.” Sincerely, JR

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L'Gros Luxe: A Review If you’re looking for a restaurant that’s innovative, affordable, and delicious, look no further


Tessa Battistin, Lifestyle Writer


ccording to Urbanspoon, L’Gros Luxe serves “Canadian pub food” and “cocktails.” In reality it serves so much more. The restaurant has two locations: one in the Plateau at 3807 Rue Saint-André, and another in the Mile End, at 105 Rue Bernard Ouest. If you become a total L’Gros Luxe fanatic like myself, you will learn to love both locations, or even pick a favorite. Personally, I like the Plateau location, because I find it more intimate. It comes pint sized, covered in vintage wallpaper and filled with potted plants. The Plateau location features two large balcony windows that offer a beautiful view to patrons seated in the booths. As this smaller location gets crowded quickly, I recommend that parties of four or more try the Mile End location. At Rue Bernard Ouest, L’Gros Luxe is situated on the corner of an apartment block, and contains many rooms that are all decorated to feel as if you are in your own living room – that is, if your living room was fashionably decorated, populated by hipsters, and featured gourmet food. Despite their differences in size, both L’Gros Luxe locations feature cozy vintage furniture and a glossy bar that offers tasty food and innovative drinks. If you follow their Instagram account, @lgrosluxe, you can see a snap of their famous “L’Gros Caesar,” which comes complete with a mini grilled cheese and a mini burger both served on skewers that are stuck inside the drink’s mason jar. Besides this eye-catching offering, L’Gros Luxe has deli-

cious cocktails of all types. If you’re feeling adventurous, try out “Les Filles Du Roi”, a cocktail featuring brandy, Godiva chocolate, cocoa cream, and hot milk. The bar also has classic fan favourites like mojitos, sangria, and a variety of beers on-tap. The best part about L’Gros Luxe is their inexpensive prices. The drinks are reasonably priced, ranging from $10 to $12, but their food is phenomenally cheap in comparison. If you’re a hardcore L’Gros Luxe fan, you must be mourning the loss of their avocado fries, which were dropped from the menu in December. Their new menu, however, is just as impressive, with a variety of pub-foodie twists. I recommend starting with the Fried Enoki Mushrooms: an appetizer I had never before encountered. These breaded and fried stringy mushrooms are seasoned with tasty homemade sriracha mayo. As a main dish, I highly recommend the pulled pork sandwich. For only $8, this sandwich is a divine mixture of roasted squash, pickled veggies, arugula, and tender pulled pork served on a warm ciabatta bun. For dessert, the Deep-Fried Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough is a decadent must-have, and total taste-bud overload. The next time you are looking for a tongue-tingling foodie exploration, are on a date, or are simply hoping to treat yourself, L’Gros Luxe is the place for you! Serving Canadian comfort food with a unique twist of the gourmand, L’Gros Luxe is highly recommended.



From Brainiac to

$ Billionaire $ How the world’s richest turned potential into power

Meghan Collie, Lifestyle Writer


ccording to Forbes’ 2014 list of world billionaires, the three richest people in the world are: Bill Gates, Carlos Slim Helu and Amancio Ortega. Collectively, this triumvirate of wealth and power are worth more than $212 billion. While the latter two names may not ring any bells, all three have one notable quality in common: innovation. They each saw a tree where there was only dirt, and decided to expand that vision into a vast forest. Their foresights have had a big influence: annually creating jobs, sustaining the economy, and constantly changing the entrepreneurial landscape. Their success has been so great that it’d only be wise to take note of how they got to where they are today.


Bill Gates Net worth: $76 B Source of wealth: Techonology

Good ol’ Gates has been providing McGill students with PCs since basically the dawn of time. But seriously, this Harvard dropout began programming in 1968, and it was love at first sight. He quickly recognized the potential in PCs, and subsequently ditched his degree to start Microsoft. His vision was of “a computer on every desktop and in every home.” Like how many great ideas start, everyone initially thought he was crazy. However, it was a passionate belief in this vision that made his idea a reality. Today, well over 1 billion computers are in use at any given moment. Not only did Gates’ entrepreneurship shift the global social, cultural and technological landscapes, but his pursuit also strengthened pillars such as medicine, international aid, and the study of space. While it may seem as though Microsoft is currently struggling with competition, notably Apple, many will argue that no technological company in the world can match its business record. Earning approximately $20


billion annually, Microsoft has left old mega-companies like Dell and Compaq in the dust. Profits aside, Gates did not stop there: he and his wife Melinda established the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000. By 2002, the Foundation had provided approximately 20,000 students with the means to afford college over the next two decades, as part of the $1 billion effort called the Gates Millennium Scholars. Additionally, the Foundation installed 47,000 computers in 11,000 libraries in all American states. In 2012, Bill and Melinda jointly declared this current epoch as the “Decade of Vaccines,” and promised to provide $10 billion until 2020 to help research, develop and deliver vaccines to developing countries. As if that wasn’t enough, Gates donated $5.5 billion towards the eradication of polio by the year 2018. Thanks to such efforts, as of today, only three countries remain affected by the disease. While it may seem like the above summary of Gates’ timeline is random or ill-structured, that was exactly the point for Gates all along. Through his innovative streak, Gates recognizes the holes that need to be filled and makes strides to attain those objectives, all before anyone else takes a single step. Although the latter part of his life has been dedicated to helping the world’s poor, the point remains that he sees value in multiple platforms. Be it through the various offerings in the Microsoft Office Suite or through the many humanitarian efforts of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, this pluralistic approach to innovation is what got Gates to where he is today: the richest person alive.


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Carlos Slim Helu Net worth: $72 B Source of wealth: Telecom

Carlos could easily snag any nickname regarding creativity, originality or anything selfmade. He built America Movil from the ground up, and has secured the title of the second richest person in the world. Basically, anytime you use a phone in Latin America, the odds are that you can thank this Mexican business magnate for that pristine call quality. For a brief time, his operations in 18 countries across the Americas made him richer than Gates. Taught basic business practices by his father, Slim was buying shares at the ripe age of twelve. He obtained a degree in civil engineering at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, then promptly began a career as a trader. This escalated into the formation of his own brokerage firm, which expanded by investing in other individual businesses. By the late 1980s, Slim bought the telecommunications company Telmex. His new ownership combined with his existing stake in Telcel (a mobile phone company) made Slim the main handler of Mexico’s phone and mobile lines. Long story short, Slim owns so many companies he says he actually has lost count – but it’s estimated to be somewhere around 200. To sum his success up into a few words, what is important to him is: a simple organizational structure, combined with a focus on growth. A focus on growth definitely requires innovation. Like Gates, Slim fills the market gaps that he discovers before anyone else even notices their existence. He maximizes his penchant for innovation by always looking ahead, to where he could go and where he would like to go. Not only this, but he is also a “Yes!” man, who takes on as much as possible. Although these businessman-like qualities were instilled in him at a very young age, it’s his perseverance that got him to where he is today. Slim is supposedly the perfect balance between modest and aggressive. He reportedly lives a rather thrifty lifestyle. He has a mansion in Mexico City, but he rarely uses any of his wealth on himself. He is one of the world’s most influential philanthropists, frequently teaming up with Bill and Melinda Gates. Despite his giving nature, he protects what’s his as if his life depended on it. Could this balance be the key to his success?


Amancio Ortega Net worth: $64 B Source of wealth: Retail

Originally from Spain, this 78-year-old billionaire was the founding chairman of Inditex, the fashion retail group most famous for the brand Zara. His interest in both business success and fashion can be seen

in his early teens. At the age of fourteen, Ortega became a shop hand for a local shirt-maker in A Coruña, Spain. In 1972, he started a company that sold quilted bathrobes, made in sewing cooperatives filled with thousands of local women. At this time, Ortega was already providing jobs and stimulating the economy at an exponential rate. In 1975, Ortega opened the first Zara; today, the brand has over 2,000 stores across the globe and a value of $10.1 billion as of November 2014. The parent group Inditex, which includes Zara, Massimo Dutti, Oysho, Zara Home, and Kiddy’s Class, provides employment to more than 92,000 people globally.


As with the previous entrepreneurs, when founding Inditex, Ortega recognized his own potential in the fashion industry and was cognizant of the fact that, at that time, there was nothing that resembled what he had to offer. His innovative approach to fashion and his “Yes!” man attitude allowed him to step down from his position as the chairman of Inditex in 2011, while still retaining 60 percent of its shares. Although not holding any official job title, this businessman at heart turned to real estate to continue to build his empire. His real estate portfolio is valued at an estimated $5 billion, much of which he cleverly acquired during the financial downturn. He owns 26 buildings globally, housing major companies such as Google. Another notable quality of this billionaire is his modesty and his desire for privacy. He does not flaunt his wealth, and he is anything but flamboyant with his successes. The first photograph of him ever published was in 1999, and it is reported that he goes to the same coffee shop everyday. He supposedly used to eat lunch with his employees in the cafeteria when he worked at Inditex, and does not endorse any of his brands regularly. Also, he has only ever granted interviews to three journalists. Although it’s obvious that the three richest people in the world were blessed with natural talent, what is most striking about their careers is that they themselves cultivated the essential skills that were conducive to their wealth. While they all benefitted from having the right ideas at the right time, none of these entrepreneurs loudly flaunt their successes, nor do they complain about all of the blood, sweat and tears they had to put in to get to where they are today. Innovation and perseverance rewarded them with more money than they probably ever imagined, and a piece of their genuine character shines through when they share much of their wealth with the rest of the world.





Our guide to your next opinionated conversation


:) Drinking all the things to celebrate the end of your midterms It’s your liver’s problem now.

Your Reading Week Netflix binge We all did terrible things to season three of House of Cards. No shame.

Lying to your parents No Mom, school is going great, I’m really happy with my midterm marks…

-4 Celsius I went to bed in Montreal and woke up in a tropical paradise.

Not Everyone coming back from break tanner than you We already know you had more fun than me, no need to show off.

GRADUATING Enough said.

:( Your Midterm Marks I don’t want to talk about it. The wounds are still too fresh.

Not knowing whether or not to wear your winter coat The first world is hard.

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