campus • community • CULTURE April 2011
vol. 3, no. 5
Paying with a cheque since 2011
The Union Is Coming!
Food workers at Carleton take step towards certification by David Tough The corporate food provider for Carleton University has signed a card-check neutrality agreement, paving the way for the unionization of on-campus food service workers. Aramark employees have been signing cards to unionize with Hospitality and Services Trade Union (HSTU) Local 261 and indicate that the union is on its way. “Majority has been reached. They’re just waiting for more cards to have more power,” says Shane Price, who worked at Aramark’s A&W outlet in the Carleton Unicentre food court until late March. The card-check neutrality agreement allows HSTU Local 261 to submit the union authorization cards to a third party for verification and file for recognition of the union, bypassing the certification vote required by legislation. Workers “were excited about” the card-check neutrality, says Price. “It felt almost like winning before you won, knowing you can win once you have enough cards.”
“When they have a strong union, they’ll be able to get better wages, job seniority, and more of a say in the workplace.” The details of the cardcheck neutrality agreement between Aramark and the union – including which workers are covered by the agreement, the conditions under which signatures can be collected, and the concessions made by both parties – remain secret. Stuart Ryan, business agent for CUPE 4600, explains that card-check neutrality is significant in protecting workers from an intimidation campaign. “Card-check neutrality means that the employer will not instigate a campaign against the unionization drive. [Workers] should not fear persecution from the employer for signing a union card.” For decades, successive Ontario governments supported the card-based system of certification, where having more than 55% of cards signed in favour of unionization sufficiently indicated the desire of workers to have a union and allowed for auto-
Photo by pax
matic certification. The Ontario Federation of Labour explains that “the card majority system of membership evidence provided an accurate picture of the wishes of employees because it protected them to a great extent from intimidation, harassment and reprisal from antiunion employers.” Now a majority of employees must vote in favour of unionization before a union can be certified, even after a majority of workers have signed union authoriza-
tion cards. This stipulation is a legacy of Bill 7, passed by the Progressive Conservative government of Mike Harris in 1995. Wayne Fraser, the director of the United Steelworkers, described Bill 7 at the time as “the most regressive, anti-union and anti-worker labour legislation in Ontario history.” This anti-union legislation allows employers to run intimidation campaigns leading up to the vote with the intent of weakening employee
resolve. “Mandatory representation votes ignore the realities of the workplace. In order to be democratic, a vote must take place in a setting that is free from coercion and intimidation,” Fraser added. “The suggestion that mandatory certification votes are democratic reveals a wilful blindness to the overwhelming power and control exerted by employers in the workplace.”
continued on page 6
Settler “victims” Unsettled Anti-Native reactionaries’ Ottawa event disrupted by Andy Crosby Demonstrators gathered at Library and Archives Canada on Mar. 22 to oppose an anti-Native event on the Six Nations land reclamation in Caledonia. “Casting the white residents of Caledonia as the true victims of police and government ineptness is anti-historical, short-sighted, and can too easily be construed as antiNative,” remarks Elke Dring, an Ottawa resident from Caledonia. The conservative Free Thinking Film Society and the International Free Press Society hosted the event, which focused on what speakers described as a two-tiered justice system that favours Natives over non-Natives. The poster for the event professed that “extremist factions [are] seeking to destroy cherished Ca-
nadian values for their own selfish ends.” Opponents gathered to distribute pamphlets and two people gained access to the auditorium. They heckled the speakers, disrupted the proceedings, and were eventually ejected from the building with the rest of the demonstrators by Ottawa police. The competing narratives emanate from the five-year conflict surrounding the settler town of Caledonia. The grievances of some non-Natives centre around their claim of “Native lawlessness” and focus narrowly on the days of tension in 2006. On the other hand, the struggles of Six Nations to retain control of their land are based on historic treaties and international law. Wes Elliot, Six Nations negotiator, clarified the importance of treaties to the current dispute at the Aboriginal
Unplanned in westboro
PAGE 3 “Homeless” kids raise money Page 5 Denouncing Police violence Page 7 Omar Khadr’s lawyer speaks
Policy Forum in Calgary in May 2010. “When European contact came, two wampum belts or treaties were agreed upon, the Two Row and the Silver Convenant Chain. They became the law of the land. Today, they are still the law of the land. They govern the conduct between our nations. In Caledonia, both treaties have been violated. This basic understanding of the treaties, honouring them and then abiding by them, is the formula for peace.” The treaties are supplemented by the Nanfan Treaty of 1701 and the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which is enshrined in the 1982 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and reaffirmed in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. continued on page 6
Page 11 response to group of 21 Page 12 Anatomy of a backlash Page 14 Tough on tough Page 15 german eating
photo by Andy Crosby
Lev • el• ler noun 1 Historical: During the English Civil War (c. 1649), one who favoured the abolition of all rank and privilege. Originally an insult, but later embraced by radical anti-Royalists. 2 One who tells the truth, as in “I’m going to level with you.”
I’m a Leveller!
3 An instrument that knocks down things that are standing up or digs up things that are buried or hidden.
The Leveller is a publication covering campus and off-campus news, current events, and culture in Ottawa and elsewhere. It is intended to provide readers with a lively portrait of their university and community and of the events that give it meaning. It is also intended to be a forum for provocative editorializing and lively debate on issues of concern to students, staff, and faculty as well as Ottawa residents. The Leveller leans left, meaning that it challenges power and privilege and sides with people over private property. It is also democratic, meaning that it favours open discussion over silencing and secrecy. Within these very general boundaries, The Leveller is primarily interested in being interesting, in saying something worth saying and worth reading about. It doesn’t mind getting a few things wrong if it gets that part right. The Leveller has a very small staff, and is mainly the work of a small group of volunteers. To become a more permanent enterprise and a more truly democratic and representative paper, it will require more volunteers to write, edit, and produce it, to take pictures, and to dig up stories. The Leveller needs you. It needs you to read it, talk about it, discuss it with your friends, agree with it, disagree with it, write a letter, write a story (or send in a story idea), join in the producing of it, or just denounce it. Ultimately it needs you—or someone like you—to edit it, to guide it towards maturity, to give it financial security and someplace warm and safe to live.
The thousand monkeys on their thousand typewriters sometimes make mistakes too. The feature “Egyptonomics” mistakenly asserted that the figures from the Coalition Against the Arms Trade represented Canadian military aid, when in fact they represented estimated Canadian military exports. The comment piece “Reassessing Our Approach” erroneously said that Carleton University had banned Israeli Apartheid Week in 2009. In fact it had banned the poster promoting the events.
The Leveller is an ambitious little rag. It wants to be simultaneously irreverent and important, to demand responsibility from others while it shakes it off itself, to be a fun-house mirror we can laugh at ourselves in and a map we can use to find ourselves and our city. It wants to be your coolest, most in-the-know friend and your social conscience at the same time. It has its work cut out for it. The Leveller is published every month or so. It is free. The Leveller and its editors have no phone or office, but can be contacted with letters of love or hate at
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Contributors Kathleen Black, Greg Boyle, Matt Casey, Ian Cox, Andy Crosby, Rashmi Luther, Jai Parasram, Doug Nesbitt Governing Board
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Business students experience a slice of homelessness to raise funds for homeless youth outreach by Matt Casey with files from Andy Crosby For five days in March, four students in the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University braved the elements as part of the fundraiser Five Days for the Homeless, with the goal of raising $10,000 for Operation Come Home and Rideau Street Youth Enterprises. Both organizations work to help homeless youth through a variety of age-dependent services. The students camped outside the Unicentre from Sunday night to Friday afternoon, panhandling to raise money and collect food. As part of the challenge, they had to rely on the charity of other students to keep themselves fed. By the time they packed up and headed home for a long-awaited shower, the group had raised just over $7,000 – somewhat short of their fundraising goal. Lauren Gouchie was still proud, and said the amount
they had raised was “a lot for five days of just sitting here. I think we’re all really proud of that accomplishment.... I’m very happy and I’m very proud of us.” Mark Featherstonhaugh, one of the other team members, told the CBC on the first day of the event that passersby had ignored the group’s efforts to a surprising degree. Gouchie agreed that they had been somewhat disappointed by the number of people who ignored them but, considering they were confronting the same people each day, was “surprised by the strong support.” But even the best intentions sometimes encounter opposition. Some have said that the Five Days for the Homeless campaign is a poor substitute for the challenges faced by actual homeless youth. The students are without shelter only temporarily, and campus security would sooner protect them than throw them out.
“We acknowledge what we’re doing. We’ve had friends who just dropped off food. We have the luxury of having a sleeping bag and staying on campus. The idea is to simulate it in a safe environment and start discussion flowing,” Gouchie said. Andrew Nellis, spokesperson for the Ottawa Panhandlers’ Union, expressed support for the students, but also cautioned against comparing their experiences to the actual conditions faced by homeless youth in the city. “I think it is important that people understand that what you get from an experience like this is a very, very, very tiny part of the overall experience that a real homeless person experiences, particularly a homeless youth. At the end of the five days they [the students] get to go home. The experience is very different when you are trapped on the street,” he said. “One thing that you’ll
notice is that [when you are homeless] you become invisible to everyone except the police and security and to them you become super visible. I don’t think anyone was threatening them [the students] with violence during those five days. The security on campus may have had a very different reaction to them if they had actually been homeless.” Street youth in Ottawa are especially prone to experiencing harassment, violence, and arrest at the hands of the police, a reality Nellis attributes to the Business Improvement Areas (BIAs). “The BIAs are the ones who pressure police to get rid of panhandlers. We know this from talking to the police ourselves. The police are given instructions to deal with any complaints from business, regardless of whether any law has been broken,” he said. A piece missing from the Five Days for the Homeless campaign is how youth
end up in the street in the first place. Nellis explained that the Homelessness Task Force, formed in the aftermath of the Homeless Action Camp that occupied the lawn of City Hall in 2004, issued a report that investigated this question. “We went into the community and interviewed around 100 homeless people and asked them a set of questions about their experiences and how they ended up on the street and so on. [We found] that more than 70 per cent of the people that we talked to come from Children’s Aid [Society] or group homes,” he explained. “What that tells us is that homelessness is very strongly connected to a lack of networks. If you come from Children’s Aid [Society] or a group home, you don’t have that social network and the first time you end up in crisis you’re on the street. And once you’re on the street, it is very, very difficult to get off.”
Frats have no eros for feminist panel A panel intended to discuss gender segregation and sororities and fraternities erupted into a heated debate on rape culture in Greek letter societies. “Feminist Fraternity and Sorority Chat,” held at Carleton University on Mar. 9 during Greek Week, was met with hostile disruptions and remarks from some members of Carleton’s Greek letter organizations. The audience was respectful during the presentations of three panel speakers: Lauren Joseph, assistant professor at Penn State University; MacAndrew Clarke, public affairs councillor for the Carleton University Students’ Association; and Margot Challborn, spokesperson for the Coalition for a Carleton Sexual Assault Centre.
However, during the discussion, some audience members “became very loud and aggressive” and banged on tables, according to co-organizer Layla Cameron, a third-year journalism and human rights student. “These behaviours just reinforced the stereotypes held about Greek letter organizations,” said coorganizer Bethany Thompson-Chase, a second-year women and gender studies student. Cameron and Thompson-Chase organized the event as part of a women’s studies course in Activism, Feminism and Social Justice. Professor Donna Johnson and the course’s teaching assistants provided support. While recognizing the benefits of Greek letter organizations, the organizers said they sought to explore the issues that arise in these organizations and
to propose alternatives. A siblinghood collective, an alternative to the current sorority and fraternity structures, “would be founded on feminist principles of equality, education and mentoring, and solidarity,” according to Thompson-Chase. During the event, tensions escalated after Cameron read a letter by a member of the University of South Carolina’s Kappa Sigma fraternity, which also has a chapter at Carleton University. The letter stated that women were inferior to men and labelled them “targets.” It outlined a glossary of terms to describe men and women and their body parts, categorized women by race and attractiveness, and identified which “sorostitutes” are “more inclined to put out.” Cameron wanted to use the letter’s misogynistic language and promo-
tion of sexual violence to highlight elements of rape culture prevalent on campuses. Some Carleton fraternity members demanded an immediate apology, stating the discussion projected a negative image of them. They argued that many fraternities and sororities engage in campaigns to end violence against women. Thompson-Chase attributes much of the audience’s aggressive behaviour to a certain mob mentality. “It felt as though it was us against the Greek organizations,” she said, when the intent was to engage in “a collective critique of institutions” that “promote exclusion and elitism.” Comments posted on the Facebook event page were generally critical of the discussion panel, and some personally threatened Cameron. A comment piece writ-
Cartier Explores Algonquin Land Already dealing with dishonoured agreements, forest clear-cutting, and a governing body imposed by the federal government, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake (ABL) have now discovered the mining industry poking around their traditional territory. Val D’or-based Cartier Resources has claimed ownership of ABL land and begun line cutting in preparation for mineral exploration. The Rivière Doré Project was greenlighted by the imposed Indian Act Band Council without the consent of the community and in violation of the 1991 Trilateral Agreement. Mining workers left the site after the ABL pledged to maintain a presence and stop all further development.
Nuclear Waste in Indigenous Territory First Nations communities, along with numerous NGOs, are opposing a Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission decision to allow Bruce Power to transport radioactive material from Owen Sound through Georgian Bay, the Great Lakes, and St. Lawrence Seaway to Sweden for recycling. There are 106 First Nations communities around these bodies of water, which provide drinking water for 40 million people. The decision contradicts Canada’s endorsement of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the country’s fiduciary responsibility in consulting with and accommodating Indigenous peoples. Anishinaabe women and their allies are calling on non-Natives to work in a spirit of solidarity to stop the nuclear waste shipment.
Asylum Seekers Torch Prison
Organizers face sexist attacks online by Samantha Ponting and Lequanne CollinsBacchus
ten by the two organizers received several derogatory, anti-woman responses on the Charlatan website. One post stated, “I hope a guy walks in on you in the shower at the gym, and they [sic] he can tell you how he feels he is being discriminated against for not being allowed in the women’s washroom. I guarantee you will be hypocritically angry.” The post was a response to Cameron’s proposal for a siblinghood collective. Someone else wrote online, “Makes me shake my head knowing we gave women the right to vote.” Another online comment referred to the organizers as “femi-nazis.” Nearly 100 people attended the event. The room reached full capacity, and people had to be turned away at the door. Several fraternities and sororities had mobilized their members to attend.
At the overcrowded Australian offshore detention centre on Christmas Island on Mar. 17, over 200 detainees appropriated police riot gear and burned down sections of the prison in a demand for status and freedom. Over 100 police used a variety of non-lethal munitions including tear gas to quell the demonstrations. The riots help to shed light on the precarious conditions that refugees face in their countries of origin; their often perilous journeys over open seas as they seek asylum in places such as Canada, Europe, and Australia; and their subsequent criminalization, imprisonment, and long processing times upon arrival.
Stamping Out the Radicals China’s top-ranked Peking University is seeking to erase “radical thought” among its students with a new trial screening and consultation program that will target China’s highest academic achievers. The program also covers nine other categories: academic difficulties, psychological fragility, poverty, registration changes, eccentricity, Internet addiction, job difficulties, serious illnesses, and discipline violations. Some students have warned the new program would eradicate uniqueness, but at least ten have volunteered under the category of “academic difficulties.” An anonymous grad student told China Daily that the program may undermine Peking University’s reputation as a space for free thought. Peking University students were a major source of the historic May Fourth movement, when over 3,000 students occupied Tiananmen Square and were brutally crushed by the state.
vol 3, no 5, April 2011 The Leveller 3
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Denouncing Violence and Impunity in Policing by Erin Seatter with files from Andy Crosby Police violence is a systemic issue and not a series of isolated incidents, according to the Mar. 18 opening panel of the Forum on Police Violence, Incarceration, and Alternatives. “On a daily basis police harass, they profile, they abuse people, they injure, they assault, they intimidate, they kill. This is police impunity. This is something that people live day to day," argued community organizer Jaggi Singh. Subsequent speakers described in detail three separate cases of police violence in Canada and the resultant deaths of Anas Bennis, Gladys Tolley, and Ben Matson. They illustrated the issues faced by families of the victims, including difficulties in accessing information on the cases, the near impossibility of getting an independent inquiry called, and the lack of available options. They also noted discrepancies in police reports and the problem of having another police force investigate incidents of police violence, so that the police are effectively investigating themselves. Samir Shaheen-Hussain discussed the 2005 death of Anas Bennis, a practising Muslim who was shot by Montreal police after morning prayers in the working-class neighbourhood of Côte-des-Neiges. Police were in the area because of a fraud investigation that had no relation to Bennis. They claim Bennis attacked an officer with a kitchen knife and that the shooting was in self-
defence. It remains unclear why Bennis would have had a knife or been provoked to use it. The crown prosecutor decided that no criminal charges would be laid against the officer, based on an investigation by the Quebec City Police. Bennis’ family and a coalition of supporters have spent years fighting for a coroner’s inquiry, which may finally occur this spring. It was announced in 2008 but stalled due to police opposition. “So long as justice doesn’t respect people, injustice prevails, and as long as injustice prevails, people must fight against it,” concluded Shaheen-Hussain. Bridget Tolley of the Kitigan Zibi First Nation explained how her mother Gladys died in 2001 after being struck by a Quebec police cruiser on a highway in the reserve. Although an agreement gave authority over the highway to the Kitigan Zibi police force, the Sûreté du Québec maintained control of the scene. The subsequent police investigation was led by the brother of the officer who had hit Gladys Tolley. With the help of a lawyer who cost almost a thousand dollars, Bridget Tolley managed to obtain the coroner’s report. It revealed that the coroner had not even seen the body, and yet had indicated that negligence and alcohol on the part of Tolley’s mother had led to her death. Tolley’s request to the Quebec government for an inquiry was rejected. According to Tolley, the police look out for themselves and do not serve
photo by Andy Crosby
all members of the public equally. “We are paying them to protect their families, not ours,” she said. Julie Matson detailed how her father Ben Matson was beaten to death by a group of police officers in downtown Vancouver in 2002. Ben Matson was in a bar with friends when he was told that someone was moving his parked motorcycle. He went outside and engaged in a verbal argument with an off-duty RCMP officer, who was attempting to park a car. A call was then made to 911, claiming that a member of the Hell’s Angels had a knife. The situation was eventually defused and Ben Matson returned to the bar. The police then arrived and entered the bar with Tasers in hand. Matson exited out the back and was chased by police, who then kicked him repeatedly. Within hours,
photo by Andy Crosby
he died in handcuffs. Ashanti Alston, a former Black Panther Party member and political prisoner, noted that for marginalized communities “police violence is a constant; it’s a regular. It’s not an exception to the rule; it’s the rule. And it’s the rule for those of us who are locked in the
bottom of society because of who we are, whether it’s because we’re of African descent, we’re indigenous, or poor white folk.” The event raised questions about reasons for reliance on the police, as well as the abolition of the police force and the establishment of community
self-regulation as a longterm goal. Leading up to the forum, rallies were held on Mar. 15, the International Day Against Police Brutality, in several Canadian cities. In Ottawa, over 100 marched from the Human Rights Monument to the police station on Elgin Street.
vol 3, no 5, April 2011 The Leveller 5
Union still coming
Anti-Native event disrupted
Women’s Caucus for Indian Parliament
continued from page 1
continued from page 1
In India, female MPs proposed the establishment of a Women’s Caucus in the Lok Sabha (lower house) and Rajya Sabha (upper house) across party lines to ensure the passage of women-relevant bills. MP Brinda Kirat of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) told the Hindu, “I suggested that a women’s caucus be formed with representatives of all parties, because despite political differences, women MPs are together on a number of women’s issues.” Currently four contentious bills are being discussed: Prohibition of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Bill 2010, amendment to the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act 1986, Prevention of Crimes in the Name of ‘Honour’ and Tradition Bill 2010, and the Domestic Workers Welfare and Social Security Act 2010.
The Coalition That Won’t Stop The Coalition for a Carleton Sexual Assault Centre celebrated the one-year anniversary of its independent support line on Mar. 22. Days later graduate students voted in favour of a $1 levy per semester for fulltime students to go towards the creation of a sexual assault support centre on campus. In a 2008 referendum asking if students supported the creation of a student-run sexual assault centre, more than 80% of ballots cast were in favour.
The card-check neutrality agreement between Aramark and HSTU Local 261, an affiliate of the international union UNITE HERE, comes after a visible student campaign in support of food service workers’ right to unionize. Aramark may also have decided to grant card-check neutrality because of the impending expiration of its contract with Carleton in 2013. The corporation has also faced concurrent unionization pressures at other locations, including Georgetown University in Washington, DC. At Loyola University in Chicago – where Aramark agreed to remain neutral as the result of a successful campaign led by students, professors, and workers – food service workers recently won a union. The unionization drive of Aramark workers at Car-
Sexual Assault at the Borders The Jamaican government will investigate the “finger rape” of one of its nationals at the hands of Barbados immigration officials. Shanique Myrie was subjected to two body cavity searches and verbal abuse by a female immigration official, including slurs about Jamaican people, while trying to enter Barbados on her Jamaican passport. This was Myrie’s first trip abroad. Jamaican Foreign Minister Ken Baugh told the Observer he will seek to work with his counterparts in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago on the regional mistreatment of Jamaican nationals, but made no reference to the sexual nature of the assault. Barbados has denied Myrie was searched, but her story has been corroborated by the Jamaican honourary consul to Barbados, Marlon Gordon.
Six Nations are fighting to regain portions of the original 955,000-acre Haldimand Tract granted to them by the British Crown in 1784. The deed granted them six miles on either side of the Grand River, which winds from northwest of Toronto to Lake Erie. Since then, 95 per cent of the territory has been eroded through settlement and confiscations by the federal and provincial governments. On Feb. 28, 2006, Six Nations youth, with the support of community elders, set up a small camp at the entrance of the Douglas Creek Estates to prevent further subdivision construction. The reclaimed Kanonhstaton, or “protected place,” is on the outskirts of the Six Nations reserve and Caledonia. The reclamation remained low-key until Henco Industries obtained a court injunction and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) increased surveillance.
On Apr. 20, 2006, 150 heavily armed OPP officers raided the camp and arrested 16 people, but local warriors and community members successfully repulsed the attack. From there, the tensions and conflict escalated as Six Nations expanded the camp’s perimeter and set up checkpoints on Highway 6 until May 24. The Ontario government has since purchased the land from Henco Industries and over five years later, the reclamation camp still stands. Although a formal decision has not yet been made, the land is expected to be transferred over to Six Nations. Since the standoffs and incidents of violence between Six Nations, their non-Native opponents, and police in 2006, anti-Native activists have continued to agitate by planting Canadian flags on the reclamation site and provoking Six Nations and their allies. On Feb. 27, an anti-Native group held a “truth and reconciliation” rally, where they tried
to erect an “apology monument” at the reclamation site. The group continues to allege that “race-based policing” has discriminated against non-Natives and demand apologies from Six Nations, the OPP, and the Ontario government. “Their objectives are to get the police to crack down on any kind of indigenous protest, to put Natives ‘back in their place,’ and also to discredit the entire negotiation process. They claim that there are no valid land claims at all. They are doing this work on our side of the wampum and we’re trying to counter them,” said Tom Keefer, a Six Nations solidarity activist. Six Nations and allies continue to counter anti-Native efforts, shedding light on the racism inherent in the group’s demands, slogans, and posturing. Meanwhile, anti-Native organizers around Caledonia have refused to distance themselves from known white supremacists who have promoted and attended their rallies.
THE CANADIAN UNION OF PUBLIC EMPLOYEES LOCAL 4600
Police Investigating Themselves The Fijian Police Force is running its own investigation after two police officers allegedly assaulted 7 children. The assault happened at an elementary school in Vanua Levu on Mar. 22. The officers have been taken to Labassa Police Station, where they will remain confined until the investigation is over, police spokesman Atunaisa Sokomuri says. The children have been examined by physicians and their medical reports are currently with the Fijian Police. Inspector Sokomuri told the Fiji Times, “The [police] commissioner has clearly stated that he will not tolerate police officers who abuse their powers. The officers thought they were too smart when they entered the school and assaulted the students.”
leton University went public in the spring of 2010, amid concerns over the circulation of intimidating letters from the employer that suggested workers would be fired for attempting to unionize. A student support campaign quickly formed. Many students, faculty, and workers have since expressed consistent support for food service workers’ right to unionize, by wearing stickers, signing a petition, and writing letters. Campus United, the coalition of campus unions and student associations, called on Carleton President Roseann Runte to ensure that Aramark remain neutral throughout the union drive. Ryan notes that even after a successful union drive, there is still work to be done. “There’s the next step of course, which is very difficult, which is getting a first [collective] agreement, so solidarity from other people is still needed.”
REPRESENTING TEACHING ASSISTANTS AND CONTRACT INSTRUCTORS AT CARLETON Were CUPE 4600, representing approximately 2000 Teaching Assistants and Contract Instructors at Carleton University. Were here to advocate for our members. But we work for all of you … because our working conditions are your learning conditions. Together with you, we share a commitment to the highest ideals of postsecondary education — academic freedom, quality and equality. Together with you, we can work to create a Carleton that lives up to these ideals, ensuring you receive the best possible University experience. We are dedicated to providing you with the knowledge and skills you need to flourish. To learn more about us, and our vision for post-secondary education, check out our website, Twitter page, Facebook group or just stop by our office in the university centre. Remember, were here for you!
6 The Leveller vol 3, no 5, April 2011
For more information, drop by 511A Unicentre, Carleton University Phone 613 520 7482 Email presCUPE4600@gmail.com Visit 4600.CUPE.ca www.leveller.ca
“You Don’t Like the Truth” Omar Khadr’s Canadian Lawyer Speaks at U of O by Mat Nelson Dennis Edney, the Canadian lawyer for Omar Khadr, gave a powerful talk on Mar. 21 at the University of Ottawa, where he presented the case that Khadr has been pushed through a sham legal system devoid of any real justice. The event was sponsored by Amnesty International UO and a number of other campus groups, including the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa. Edney, who was appointed as a foreign attorney consultant by the US Pentagon, is well known for his participation in the legal defence of Omar Khadr at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Edney has argued his case in several US and Canadian courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada and the United States Supreme Court. Omar Khadr is accused of mortally wounding Sergeant First Class Christopher Speer during a 2002 firefight in Afghanistan when he was only 15 years old. Accused of five “war crime” charges, including murder, he has since been imprisoned in Guantanamo for nearly eight years. His defence lawyers describe him as a “child soldier,” who deserves protections as an innocent youth forced by his father Ahmed to participate in the war. Edney recently entered a guilty plea on behalf of Khadr, who was sentenced to an additional eight years in prison – not
including time served – on Oct. 25, 2010. Under the plea deal, Khadr will spend another year in solitary confinement at Guantanamo, after which he could possibly be returned to Canada. However, Canadian authorities deny that he will be repatriated as part of the agreement. Khadr continues to be caged in a windowless, concrete cell, always shackled to the floor, with fluorescent lights on 24 hours a day. His cell is also purposely kept cold, a technique that is commonly used along with excess lighting to induce sleep deprivation. The evening began with a screening of You Don’t Like the Truth: 4 Days Inside Guantanamo, a documentary film about Khadr based on seven hours of surveillance camera footage recently declassified by the Canadian courts. The film, directed by Patricio Henriquez and Luc Côté, was the winner of the Special Jury Award at the Amsterdam International Documentary Festival. The festival’s jury called it “an important story. Its effective use of evidence, opinion and testimony, creates a provocative and moving story that reaches into the dark hole of our consciousness.” It also received the Grand Prix du jury Étudiant at the Festival des Droits de la Personne de Paris 2011, was a Genie Awards Finalist for Best Canadian Documentary, as well as a Jutra Awards
Finalist for Best Quebec Documentary. You Don’t Like the Truth tells the story of Khadr’s detention at Guantanamo Bay after his capture by American forces in 2002. Specifically, it follows his forced interrogation by an unnamed CSIS agent and his CIA liaison, and the various ways he was exploited by the US and Canada for the purposes of intelligence. At the beginning of the film, Khadr is hopeful, but it soon becomes clear that his questioners want little more than for him to confess – even if this means lying – to Speer’s killing. The title of the film is a direct quote from Khadr, who consistently proclaims his innocence and maintains that his earlier confessions were obtained under torture. Upon realizing the CSIS agent is not there to help him, Khadr appears to lose hope, and when left alone in the interrogation room, he begins to cry for his mother, pull at his hair, and moan repeatedly, “kill me.” According to Gar Pardy, a former director general of Canadian Consular Affairs, “These interviews are basically a continuation of his torture.” The documentary includes numerous interviews with Canadian officials, Khadr’s laywers, past cellmates, psychiatrists, and former US soldier Damien Corsetti, who interrogated Khadr at the Bagram Airfield detention facility in Afghanistan.
Based on his actions at Bagram, Corsetti was charged with dereliction of duty, maltreatment, assault, and performing an indecent act with another person, but was later found not guilty of all charges by a military jury in 2006. Nicknamed the “Monster” and the “King of Torture” at Bagram, Corsetti even had a tattoo across his stomach of the Italian word for monster. In the film, he regretfully admits that his actions with respect to Khadr were an “outrage to human dignity.” “I became that monster,” he recounts. Michelle Shephard, a Toronto Star reporter and author of Guantanamo’s Child: The Untold Story of Omar Khadr, makes the case in the film that photographic evidence proves that Khadr was so wounded in the firefight that he could not have thrown the grenade that killed Speer. Pictures show Khadr’s face down in rubble with gaping bullet holes and shrapnel wounds in his back and shoulder. After the film screening, Edney recounted many of his experiences as Khadr’s Canadian lawyer. He explained how despite his numerous successes in civilian courts, he was unable to escape the “legal black hole” that is the military tribunal process. “Guantanamo Bay is a place without rules,” he said. However, most of Edney’s scorn was directed specifically at the federal government of Prime
Minister Stephen Harper, which according to a January 2010 Supreme Court ruling, has been complicit in the torture and human rights violations suffered by Khadr. “I’ve never before met anybody who has been so abused and so abandoned,” said Edney. “What greater betrayal can there be of Canadian values?” Edney is adamant in his belief that Khadr would not have received a fair trial, which is the ultimate rationale behind his decision to persuade Khadr to take the plea deal – even
though he has never admitted to being a terrorist. The talk ended with a passionate plea to the youth in the audience. For Edney, the notion of universal human rights is not some grand ideal, but something that can be achieved in actual practice. “In my view, the story of Omar reflects the failure of civil institutions to act on his behalf,” he said. “But you are the leaders of the future. You will have to decide what values this country will live by... and you won’t do it by sitting in armchairs.”
“I’ve never before met anybody who has been so abused and so abandoned,” said Edney. “What greater betrayal can there be of Canadian values?”
Goldcorp’s Marlin Mine by Kathleen Black Several Guatemalans who had protested the human rights abuses of Vancouver-based mining company Goldcorp were stopped en route home, forced to exit the bus that was carrying them, and beaten on Feb. 28, 2011. The non-violent protesters had just spoken out against the Guatemalan government’s failure to comply with a May 2010 order from the InterAmerican Commission of Human Rights. The order called for the suspension of operations at Goldcorp’s Marlin mine, located in the municipality of San Miguel Ixtahuacán.
An estimated 200 protesters had formed a blockade on the road leading to the mine, preventing employees of Montana Exploradora de Guatemala, S.A. – a wholly owned subsidiary of Goldcorp – from getting to work. Ninety-five percent of San Miguel Ixtahuacán community members are Mayan-Mam. They claim that the Guatemalan government did not properly consult them before approving the mine, which it is legally bound to do by the International Labour Organization Convention No. 169, signed in 1996. Community members complain that the mine pollutes their source of
water, causing health problems for their animals, children, and source of income, which is often agriculture. The subsidiary has been at the centre of human rights infractions that affect the indigenous MayanMam communities of San Miguel Ixtahuacán for the past six years. When the Marlin mine was being built in 2005, some people protested, saying they had not been properly consulted by the company or the government. They formed a 40-day blockade on the bridge leading to the construction site and were met by heavily armed police officers. One person was killed, and
another 12 were injured. “I bought this plot of land to live on, not to sell it,’’ Deodora Hernandez (known as Dona Maria) explains. The Mayan-Mam grandmother refused to sell her land to the company, and on July 7, 2010, was shot by two men who allegedly used to work for Goldcorp’s Montana Exploradora. The attack left Dona Maria with a serious injury to her eye, which had to be replaced by a prosthetic. Rights Action, a human rights NGO based in Canada and the US, explains on its website that “neighboring men - similarily poor, Mayan Mam campesinos who have jobs in the mine
hate her; they ostracize her. A number of them publicly wished that she had died, after the shooting.’’ In June 2010, one month before Dona Maria was shot in the eye, community activist Carmen Mejía received numerous death threats. Amnesty International Canada has stated that “the attempt on Deodora’s life is part of a pattern of violent attacks against opponents of Canadian mining projects across Central America, and underscores how seriously we must take the threats made against Carmen Mejía.’’ Montana Exploradora employs 1,900 workers in an area where over 70 per cent of the population
lives in extreme poverty. The company prides itself on offering fair wages to its employees, who in return go to great measures to defend it. The 38,000 people of San Miguel Ixtahuacán who are not employed by the company seldom see any benefits. According to Goldcorp’s 2009 annual report, the Guatemalan government and communities surrounding the Marlin mine received a shared 1.6% of the mine’s annual revenue in royalties and community development programs. This figure is staggeringly low compared to the average of 9 per centfor mines operating in Canada.
vol 3, no 5, April 2011 The Leveller 7
PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT AREA
PROPOSED GREEN SPACE
BORO CLoCKWIse FroM toP: overhead vIeW oF the ProPosed deveLoPMent sIte; no tresPassInG on the GroUnds; the Convent In QUestIon; deveLoPMent ProPosaL. Photos by KathLeen bLaCK. overhead IMaGe FroM GooGLe MaPs.
CiTy AT Odds WiTh WesTbORO CiTiZeNs OveR CONveNT deveLOPmeNT by Greg boyle
Since mid-2009, a parcel of land and historic convent building sold by In 1910 Les Soeurs de La Visitation took over the property. This cloistered Les Soeurs de la Visitation (Sisters of the Visitation) to developer Ashcroft order of nuns added the existing convent building onto the Gothic Revival Homes has been a site of contention for residents of Westboro’s Kitchis-
home originally built by Skead.
sippi ward, the City of Ottawa, and Ashcroft Homes.
Despite their isolated existence inside the convent walls, the sisters wel-
The property has a rich history. In the 1870s it was owned by pre-confed- comed the community to worship in their beautiful chapel, and it was eration politician James Skead, who built a nearby mill that supported
actually used as a church for a time when the nearby St. George’s parish
the village of Hintonburg. He later sold the property to communications
was founded in 1923.
pioneer George Holland, who worked with Thomas Edison to distribute The nuns have also maintained a large garden since they took over the motion picture technology in Canada.
The Ashcroft Proposal In a development proposal submitted in 2009, Ashcroft stated that it could integrate the original building, built in 1864, and two wings of the convent into its plans for a series of 4- and 9-storey buildings that will include residential space, whether condominiums or retirement apartments for seniors on higher levels, and retail space. This proposed development has upset local residents and community groups, who expected development to occur, but hoped it would occur responsibly. The unique history and architecture of the property have led to a debate over the heritage value of the building and the development itself. Gary Ludington, chair of the Westboro Community Association (WCA), states, “They [Ashcroft] had an opportunity to create something that will have heritage value in 100 years. Instead we are getting run-of-the-mill condos that will have little value in 100 years.”
Official Plan Ignored The debate over the property’s heritage value is only one facet of the problem. Ashcroft’s development plan has ignored the Community Development Plan, also called the secondary plan, that was drafted for the neighbourhood. The plan was drafted by the City in collaboration with community associations and various stakeholders from the neighbourhood. Ashcroft’s current revised proposal calls for 12-storey condos and mixed-use development. However, the Community Development Plan states that any development on the convent property along Richmond Road should not exceed 6 storeys and that any other buildings cannot exceed 4 storeys. “By ignoring those heights,” says Lorne Cutler, president of the Hampton-Iona Community Group (HICG), “the density is much greater than it would have been otherwise.” “Where I think the whole thing went off the rails is when city staff refused to enforce their own secondary plan the way it was written,” he explains. “They chose to interpret it in a way that gave the developer everything they asked for.” The increased density that would result from the development also worries many residents, who believe that rapidly growing Westboro has begun to show signs of strain. According to local citizen Pat MacDonald, “Develop-
property. ment is good. It’s brought a lot of life to this area.” “But there are plenty of downsides too… We don’t go down Richmond [Road] anymore” for instance. MacDonald says many residents are using Byron Avenue instead, furthering traffic problems in the once quiet community.
Democratic Process Subverted The City’s lack of transparency in consultations and unwillingness to compromise on the issue have divided the community. Many residents want to preserve as much of the property as possible as parkland. Last fall, City Council voted to act on residents’ behalf to purchase the land if it could come up with the money. But the City has done seemingly little to come up with the funds needed to satisfy the demands of the residents, and in some instances it has ignored reasonable alternatives. During the debates over Lansdowne, Council claimed the increase in tax revenue would pay for the development and land acquisition costs. The City did not pursue this avenue with the convent land, which was not taxed as religious land but will generate tax revenue once tenants move in. With this new tax revenue the City could purchase part of the land to preserve as green space. The City says it would cost each Kitchissippi taxpayer an extra $97 per year for 10 years to buy the chunk of the land, which is unreasonable for many citizens. On Feb. 25, the office of Katherine Hobbs, councillor for Kitchissippi, told citizens and community associations about proposed meetings on the levy, saying they would be heard by Council on Mar. 10, and not Mar. 31 as originally planned. On Mar. 6 they were advised that Councillor Hobbs would be proposing a no-levy motion on Mar. 10 and that all emails and phone calls supporting a levy received before Mar. 1 would not be counted. Then at Council on Mar. 10, Barrhaven Councillor Jan Harder moved a motion to not accept a suggestion by Council to purchase a portion of land, but to take cash from the developer in lieu. This timeline left less than one week for the community to discuss and decide on the levy.
In an open letter to the community, Councillor Hobbs claimed to have “conducted exhaustive outreach throughout Kitchissippi and the overwhelming sentiment is that residents do not want to pay for this parcel of land.” She said she was “particularly mindful that a levy would have the greatest impact on those who could least afford it, such as seniors.” In response to this issue, Cutler said, “If they had chosen to live within the guidelines of the secondary plan, then the new motion to acquire the land would never have happened.” He added that “the City could have looked at a contingency to have it heard on Apr. 14, to allow it to be heard by committee and allow citizens to present. There was no will around that table and if the mayor had pushed for it, I’m sure it would have happened.” Ludington went further in his criticism of the City, stating, “This whole process authored by Councillor Hobbs subverted a democratic process that in no way allowed the entire community to be heard.”
Future Challenges In a final act against the development as it currently stands, the WCA and the HICG, along with one private citizen, will challenge the development plan at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). The challenge is based on Ashcroft’s proposal to develop buildings over the height permitted by the Community Design Plan. Ashcroft also has an active challenge filed with the OMB against the City of Ottawa. This challenge is a technical one that deals with delays in the approval that went beyond the legally allowed 120 days for the City to respond to the proposal. Ashcroft submitted its development proposal in March 2010 and has not yet been approved or denied by the City. As of Mar. 21, the Built Heritage Advisory Committee has recommended that the entire property, including the building, be designated a heritage site. This would mean that Ashcroft Homes would need approval from Council for each structure it plans to build, making any development very difficult to pursue. The recommendations will be put to a vote before council on Mar. 31, leaving the development and the fate of the property in the hands of City Council.
adds yet another Orleans Citizens were surprised in January when developer Minto Group to clear-cut land around Quarry Glen before the City gave permission to do so. development problem to the began A stop work order was placed on the company, but the land was mostly cleared before rapidly growing list of battles that work was halted. are heating up across the city Kanata West Citizens and Algonquin First Nations groups have clashed for months with the City and Urbandale Homes over the development of the environmentally and culturally sensitive Beaver Pond Forest. The forest has since been cleared to make way for blasting that will occur this spring.
Golden Triangle The Oblate Fathers and the Sisters of the Sacred Heart own around 12 hectares of property between Main Street and the Rideau River, near Saint Paul University, and intend to sell it in the near future. The Old Ottawa East Community Association has expressed concern about the direction of growth in the area, especially along the Main Street corridor and on the Oblate lands.
Levelling Out There is a convention in journalism that editorials don’t contain new information. We try to respect this convention, but will allow ourselves a fairly capacious exception: we’re allowed to have new information in an editorial if the news is about the Leveller. This is a particularly capacious exception in our case because we’re an eventful bunch, with a self-conscious (not to say narcissistic) tendency to think that events within the Leveller resonate in the world outside it. Big changes are afoot at the Leveller, with some old friends leaving and some new friends coming aboard. Things are happening that have never happened before. A lot of this activity is the result of the first anniversary of the levy, which graduate students voted to support this time last year. (We at the Leveller tend to be political economists, so any explanation that is primarily about how money changed a situation comes naturally to us.) In March 2010, Carleton graduate students voted to support a levy of $1.50 per semester for the Leveller. You might remember that we had some trouble accessing the levy, because the university administration withheld the levy funds it had collected for students groups to try to pressure
For a paper like the Leveller, while it’s important that it be rigorous and well written, it’s equally important that it be democratic, that it belong to as many volunteers as want to contribute to it, and that it not be the private project of its founders.
the student union to surrender power to the university. But we’ve come out the other side of the levy fees debacle, and now we have money in the bank for the first time ever. We are out of debt to ourselves, and are for the first time, with this issue, no longer dependent on the money or credit of volunteers to print the paper. We still rely entirely on volunteer labour to write and edit the Leveller, and we have a volunteer board to oversee business activities, but the dayto-day function of the paper is now carried out by paid staff. To a large extent, the paper has been depersonalized: it no longer relies on specific people to invest extravagant and unsustainable personal resources in its functioning. This is a fundamental shift for the paper. The Leveller started very informally as a personal project, and operated entirely on the basis of extravagant commitments on behalf of specific people. The paper arose out of a conversation between Doug Nesbitt and David Tough at Trent University in 2008. Remarking on the different political cultures of Carleton and Trent, they agreed that a politically engaged paper like Trent’s paper Arthur, which Tough had edited, would be really explosive in Carleton’s more polarized political culture. The idea began to emerge as a reality a year later when CUPE 4600 was stumbling through a contract negotiation and Nesbitt and Tough decided the need for an explosive paper was dire and immediate. Nesbitt recruited Ashley Hunkin, and Tough recruited Daniel Tubb, who then recruited Erin Seatter. Informality was the order of those early days. Story meetings happened at Mike’s Place, Carleton’s graduate student pub. Production was done on laptops in people’s living rooms – as it still is. It’s no exaggeration to say that the paper grew early on through people’s pathological desire to add more responsibilities to their already busy political lives. At this stage, the paper had no formal existence; it was essentially a parasite that attached itself to the editors’ bank accounts and credit cards. For various personal, political, and professional reasons, most of the editors didn’t return the following September. Seatter and Tubb re-launched the paper with Sam Heaton and Devi Mohabir. The new recruits brought much needed business smarts, and the first steps were taken to establishing the Leveller as a real thing. The group received
10 The Leveller vol 3, no 5, April 2011
funding as a CUSA club and got a bank account. The club funding brought up again the question of a levy. Here again there was debate: money would be nice, but what if we didn’t get it – how would that look? Also, would a levy put pressure on us to be less political? In the end, we went for it, and we got it. Then almost everyone left: Heaton became absorbed in CUSA, Mohabir graduated and moved to Toronto, and Tubb moved to Colombia. Over the summer, Seatter and Tough hired Andy Crosby to be our first ever staff member, and contracted Brendon Mroz (another Arthur veteran) to do production. Seatter recruited Sam Ponting and Mat Nelson to the editorial board, and Tough re-joined as well. With the levy funding added to our ad revenue, we resolved to never again use editors’ credit cards to print the paper, but in the end – largely because of the Carleton administration’s bumbling despotism on the fees issue – we couldn’t make good on that resolution until the issue that you are currently reading. Now there are more changes. Seatter finished school a year ago, and, though we managed to keep her here for a little while, she has decided to move to Vancouver. Tough is finishing school soon, and is looking into doing something else, whether teaching or journalism, somewhere else. New people will join the board, but that’s a secret. But the point is that, for the first time, no one involved in the founding year will be involved directly with the Leveller when it launches again in the fall. It’s a debatable point, or at least we’ve debated, whether it’s a good thing for people who’ve been involved for a while to make room for others. Certainly organizations function smoothly if the people involved have skills, experience, and institutional memory. But organizations that over-rely on certain people’s particular skills and knowledge become undemocratic. For a paper like the Leveller, while it’s important that it be rigorous and well written, it’s equally important that it be democratic, that it belong to as many volunteers as want to contribute to it, and that it not be the private project of its founders. Anyway, whether good or bad, the depersonalization of the Leveller is happening. So if you always wanted to get involved but either couldn’t stand certain people or just assumed we all had it under control, now is your moment.
Voting Without Faith The upcoming federal election presents Canadians over 18 with a choice of candidates in their constituencies, most of them representing parties hoping to form a power block in the House of Commons. More fundamentally, the election presents a choice of whether to vote or not – a choice most people make without much thought, but which for some is an acute political controversy. The dominant view, as voiced by the major parties, the big news media, and most scholars in political science, is that voting is the most important thing we can do politically. It’s an almost sacred expression of our core political ideals and the only legitimate way to achieve meaningful political change. Another view, propounded by a section of the activist left, is that voting is a sham. It’s a perversion of what real democracy looks like, and its only purpose is to lend desperate legitimacy to the disgusting inequalities of wealth and power that are such an embarrassment to our society. Given a choice between these two positions, the Leveller would no doubt choose the second: we do not believe that other forms of political action (such as strikes, protests, direct action) are suspect, and we are suspicious of arguments that suggest that the current world is democratic, given that wealth and power are so grotesquely concentrated. But in fact both positions are a problem, in that they unnecessarily fetishize the voting process, weighing it down with unhelpful metaphysical significance. A more pragmatic conception of voting – one that’s most likely held implicitly by the vast majority of voters – gets us closer to a place where we can make an honest decision about the value of voting. The fetishization of voting is fundamentally ahistorical, given that voting is a recent addition to representative liberalism. Parliaments existed long before voting did. Parliaments were gatherings of wealthy and powerful men, chosen by the king or by the aristocracy, to consent to taxation on behalf of their communities. Eventually the positions were contested, these contests became organized along factional or party lines, and what we would recognize as liberal democracy developed. Property restrictions, which allowed only wealthy males to vote, were weakened slowly under fierce pressure. It is a cliché to say that people died so that we could have the right to vote. It’s also true, though universal adult
suffrage wasn’t won by defeating the Nazis. It was won by workers who demanded a say in how capitalism worked, politically and economically, many of whom died in the struggle. Participating in elections in a representative democracy is not a full-time activity. Election periods last a few weeks, elections themselves a day, and voting takes only a few minutes; this happens roughly every four years for each level of government. Any way you slice it, even if you add in having a basic awareness of who the local contenders are, it’s not an overwhelming commitment. It is true that, in most cases, our franchise is essentially meaningless. We vote in ridings where the winner is a foregone conclusion, or we vote for parties – sometimes as the best in a bad bunch – that will never win, and even when the worst people don’t get elected, the next worst are bad enough. These are excellent reasons not to vote, and they’re the reasons, in fact, that a growing number of people – especially young people – don’t vote. They represent a pragmatic calculation of the importance and effectiveness of voting. In some cases, though, we are presented with a meaningful option. In constituencies where a few votes will make difference between rival parties with vastly different conceptions of liberal democracy, it is probably worth taking the plunge and voting for the one you like better. At the best of times we are offered the chance to vote for a candidate who has demonstrated a solid commitment to fighting against torture and greed, and who is asking for the privilege of being able to continue to do so, with your support and with your tax money, and who stands at least a chance of winning. To argue against voting in such circumstances is churlish. It reflects an intransigent insistence on making too much of the process, as if those who plead for your suffrage actually want your soul. If you don’t feel that voting is worth a fraction of your time and effort, then don’t vote. If you feel this is true for others as well, by all means shout it out. But if we want to be realistic about what elections are we shouldn’t simply invert the conventional morality that makes voting compulsory. Far better to adopt a practice of voting without making too much of it, without seeing your participation in liberal democracy as some kind of confession of faith. Voting only takes a second. You can be as ruthless as you want for the rest of your life.
Thanks for the Beaver Pond Forest articles in the Leveller and congratulations on your good work. When the natural landscape of a “significant and protected area” such as the Beaver Pond Forest in the South March Highlands is clear-cut and dynamited for housing and roads, what does that say about the value we as a society place on any important natural space? I feel that it raises serious concerns about the various levels of government that pay lip service to the environment but are shown at least in this case to be unable or unwilling to act with conviction. Ottawa City Council, the National Capital Commission, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, the Ontario Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and the Federal Ministry of the Environment have all been exposed as powerless to prevent large-scale destruction in Ottawa’s most biodiverse and last remaining wilderness sanctuary, in spite of the “protection” afforded to it under Ottawa’s Official Plan. Government officials at all levels claim the responsibility is not theirs, despite the concerns that local residents have for sustaining the environment, the presence of endangered species of wildlife, the archaeological potential of the site, and the eloquent expressions of Algonquin communities. Regardless of how people feel about urban sprawl and the necessity for suburban housing, the South March Highlands forest fiasco has demonstrated that the processes we have relied on to ensure the “protection” of the environment are deeply flawed. Have we resigned ourselves to the status quo or will the voices of reason demand from our leaders genuine stewardship of endangered ecosystems through a transparent process that ensures positive results? The destruction of this natural treasure should stand as a lesson to us all to be more vigilant and strive harder to preserve that which has so far been spared. For updates on the community campaign to protect the remaining South March Highlands from development, please see ottawasgreatforest.com or southmarchhighlands.ca and the links available from those sites. Jim Montgomery Ottawa
Response to the Gang of 21 On Feb. 28, 2011, 21 Carleton students signed and circulated a factually flawed and bordering-on-slanderous communiqué to select members of the Carleton community. Titled “An Open Letter to the Carleton Community,” it presents a distorted and onesided version of the events that transpired at the Feb. 17, 2011 Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA) Council meeting and is not reflective of what actually happened. I am a faculty member and was present, along with other colleagues, at the protest outside the meeting, where CUSA executives pre-empted a motion put forward by Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) to endorse divestment from Israeli apartheid. The SAIA motion was replaced by a watered-down motion drafted by CUSA, which condemned university investment in companies linked to illegal occupations. Because we are being accused in the “open letter” of having “incited the chaos,” I want to correct some of the misinformation contained in the letter and respond to the accusation. I want to begin by challenging the false representation of the letter as being “open,” in that it was actually circulated to a carefully selected group of recipients, largely comprising Carleton’s senior administration and its Board of Governors. Therefore, the letter’s starting premise is itself bogus, signalling suspicions about the accuracy of its remaining contents. For instance the letter’s assertion that we faculty “incited the chaos” is completely unfounded, grossly outrageous, and bordering on libellous. As well, it is a prime example of shameful behaviour in that the signatories did not even include the “accused” faculty members among the letter’s recipients. Consequently, I have to question why they are so quick to judge us. Is it because they lack the fortitude and courage to confront us directly with their absurd accusations? Is it because they have no concrete evidence to support their false claims? Perhaps the signatories felt the need to attack and hurl accusations because they are genuinely threatened by democratic expression, especially when it challenges their ideological position. Perhaps they seriously believe that they and their
supporters are the only ones who should have the right to organize, demonstrate, and influence political decision making. This might explain why they would erroneously perceive competing demands for human rights, dignity, and self-determination to be “threatening behaviour.” It would also appear that the letter’s signatories, that is, the gang of 21, are threatened by any passionate expressions, which are otherwise a normal part of most demonstrations and protests. These include chanting, singing, clapping, banging, cheering, booing, and carrying placards with slogans. Indeed, not only are these normal in demonstrations, they are also normal occurrences in most sporting events, including university basketball. Are these deemed by this gang of 21 to be threatening environments as well? I would now like to focus directly on my involvement in the Feb. 17 event and clarify my own actions and experiences. To begin, I did write a letter to CUSA Council in support of SAIA’s original motion and included the following three demands: (1) immediately divest from four companies involved in the production of weapons of war and complicit in violations of human rights and the occupation of Palestinian territories (BAE Systems, Motorola, Northrop Grumman, and Tesco); (2) develop and implement a socially responsible investment policy using a transparent and consultative process involving all the different stakeholder groups; and (3) refrain from investing in other companies directly or indirectly involved in violations of international law. My support for this motion emanates from having witnessed firsthand some of the devastating consequences of Israel’s 2008-09 bombardment of Gaza as a member of a Code Pink delegation in May-June 2009. In my letter, I wrote about having experienced the prison-like environment where refugees of the 1948 Nakba and their children and grandchildren are still contained. I also noted that I had visited schools, mosques, hospitals, homes, factories, police stations, farmlands, and businesses that were bombed and left in rubbles. I also identified having met with grief-stricken men, women, and children who had lost loved ones and/or sustained life-changing in-
juries, such as loss of limbs, sight, and hearing, as well as body burns from the bombs, including white phosphorous. These were no accidents of war, or unfortunate collateral damage, because it was known that Gaza is a small strip of land within which the civilian population is densely packed. As well, its borders are continually being delimited and heavily scrutinized by security forces, including soldiers on land, warships in the ocean, and unmanned drones in the air. In this environment, daily life is lived as if in a prison, with little movement, little opportunities for work, limited access to food and medicine, and decaying infrastructure such as water and sanitary systems. Having witnessed these types of injustices firsthand and seen their impact on people’s physical and psychological make-up, particularly the children’s, I made a conscious decision that to remain silent and do nothing would be akin to giving consent and being an accomplice to these atrocities. This I could not do because it would be morally repugnant. It would also be a violation of my personal and professional principles and ethics, and of the history of my active engagement in human rights, gender, and race equity movements, including struggles against anti-Semitism at local, provincial, national, and international levels. In taking this position, I expressed that I refuse to be paralyzed by the fear that I might be seen as hostile to Israel. Perhaps it is this refusal to cower in fear that is being interpreted by the gang of 21 as an act of inciting chaos. If that is the case, it is an expression of their own insecurities. In addition to my letter to CUSA Council, I also participated in the protest outside the CUSA Council meeting on Feb. 17. I was among the 350 SAIA supporters wanting to hear the discussions at the meeting. A few weeks earlier I had also written to the CUSA president informing him of my interest and asking for a pass to enter and make a presentation. Other faculty members (retired and current) and graduate students had made similar requests. A few days before the Council meeting, I received an email saying that the room was not able “to accommodate a large number of guests” and that priority would be
given to CUSA members. A few days prior to the Council meeting, there was also another surprise as it was learned that the CUSA executive was going to introduce a hastily drafted alternate motion. The timing of this development, along with the motives behind it, seemed highly suspicious. I also participated in the demonstration through the tunnels from the University Centre to outside the room in Dunton Tower where the meeting was held. There were about 350 students, faculty, and other supporters of the SAIA motion packed into the small space outside the door. There were also some opponents of the divestment campaign. Both groups were well organized and engaged in chanting loudly to express their positions. There was drumming and singing, as well as pounding on the doors and walls. This is to be expected when democratic processes are undermined and when secrecy and seclusion are chosen instead of transparency and accountability. Does this constitute a threatening “mob” when all parties are engaged in an exercise of democracy? Is this type of expression and demands not what we are applauding and supporting in nations such as Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya? The CUSA executive knew in advance that many students, faculty, and others were interested in attending the Council meeting. Indeed, they had received over 2,000 letters in support of SAIA’s divestment campaign. Despite this, the room that was selected for the meeting was woefully inadequate. Congestion outside the door should have been anticipated. Perhaps questions should be raised of CUSA executive members to hold them accountable for their lack of foresight, as well as their motives in introducing an alternate motion. Does the combination of these actions and involvements constitute having “incited the chaos”? Why is it that writing letters and participating in demonstrations in support of one’s beliefs and principles is regarded as threatening and intimidating? What does this say about the state of democracy on Carleton’s campus? Perhaps we should be worried. Rashmi Luther is a member of Faculty for Palestine (F4P).
Leaders, Statesmen, and Dictators: Can We Tell Them Apart? You have to be truly naïve if you believe that what’s been happening in the Middle East of late is a sudden yearning for democracy and an awakening of the masses after living under oppressive regimes for decades. The focus today is on Libya and its leader, Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi, the North African dictator who seized power in 1969 and is now known as the world’s number one sponsor of international terrorism. Isn’t this the same Gaddafi who was cuddling with Western leaders at the 2009 G8 summit in L’Aquila, Italy? The dictator-turned-worldstatesman was there as head of the African Union by invitation of the G8 leaders. And yes, he shook hands with President Obama. The leaders of the free world – who now scream for Gaddafi to listen to the voices of the masses – were all too willing to embrace him, ignoring the voices of the very masses in L’Aquila trying to tell the G8 leaders, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, that a leopard cannot change its spots, despite having lots of money and oil. Gaddafi was not a statesman in L’Aquila and he is not one today. He remains the same man he’s always been – a dictator, a suppressor of human rights, and a sponsor of global terrorism. The G8 leaders not only ignored the masses, but their love affair with Gaddafi grew more intense. At the official G8 dinner, Silvio Berlusconi, Italian prime minister and host of the evening, breached protocol and invited Gaddafi to sit next to him, with Obama sitting pretty on the other side. The transformation of Gaddaffi from terrorist to statesman had started much earlier, with the Libyan leader buying acceptance into the world’s top political circles. It’s rare to become an angel overnight after a lifetime of iron-fist rule. But G8 leaders made sure Gaddafi did. And their actions undressed the freedom-loving Western leaders and exposed them as hypocrites. The leaders who anointed him as one of the world’s greatest statesmen are the same ones screaming to have his head on a platter today. The architect of the Dec. 21, 1988, bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people, had his sins forgiven through his clever use of cheque book
diplomacy. World leaders cleansed him and made him a statesman for denouncing Al-Qaeda, knowing that the groups he supported were as sinister and dangerous – perhaps more so – than Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden. He was the hand in their glove. All of a sudden Gaddafi became a man who could be trusted, as world leaders rushed to cut deals with Tripoli. But nothing had really changed. Gaddaffi is and was the same tyrant the world had always denounced, but he was a “friendly” one for the West. Just like Hosni Mubarak next door. Those who are now going after Gaddafi – especially Stephen Harper, who was quick to be first in line to send the armed forces on a “humanitarian” intervention – are trying to conceal their hypocrisy in semantics, conveniently forgetting the love affair that was so intense just two years ago. And they are defending their actions by insisting Gaddafi has reneged promises for democratic reform. It’s more likely that Gaddafi has become reluctant to pull out his cheque book. But oil is still a commodity worth fighting for. Anyone who believed Gaddafi could have become a friendly statesman by promising to be nice must also believe in the Tooth Fairy and expect the Easter Bunny to lay eggs. Gaddafi seduced the West’s world leaders, and in doing so he exposed their hypocrisy. When this chapter of world history is written, it will likely show Gaddafi falling in much the same way as all the friendsturned-foes of the West, like Saddam Hussein, who was a great American ally when he was killing Iranians. It is amazing how times change. Today politics have come full circle. Gaddafi has moved from dictator to statesman and to dictator again. And the march against Gaddafi is following the now familiar script of imperial geopolitics. And the question that lingers is not whether Gaddafi is good or evil. We all know the answer to that. The question we must all ask is what credibility our leaders have when they shift allegiances for geopolitical expediency. This is a dangerous political game. Jai Parasram is a Carleton alumnus (MJ 1988).
vol 3, no 5, April 2011 The Leveller 11
Anatomy of a Backlash Queen’s versus Carleton by Doug Nesbitt Over the past half century, Canadian campuses have undergone periodic waves of political polarization. One of the most significant episodes in English Canada surrounds the 1995 federal budget cuts and the subsequent Canada-wide student strike and organizational fracturing of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), which resulted in the emergence of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations. An earlier, even more destructive contest took place in the late 1960s when the Canadian Union of Students collapsed following a five-year battle between the New Left and an ad hoc alliance of the Tories, Liberals, and the nowdefunct Social Credit. These episodes, which transformed student governments focused on non-political social activities into advocacy-oriented student unions, are no doubt rooted in wider social and political conditions. Nonetheless, their expressions on campus are often framed around two dynamics that were set in motion by the advent of a permanent activistoriented student left following the early 1960s. The first dynamic is the eternal dilemma of the student left – how to engage with student unions when building a political project or campaign. This dilemma only makes sense when we consider the other dynamic of student politics – the backlash. Student unions are critical to the project of the student left because they are the only legitimate avenue for democratic student
representation, with unparalleled resources reinforced by provincial and national coordination. However, student unions often exert a conservatizing influence on the student left, especially on progressive student union representatives. This is precisely because their democratic structures make them the most identifiable targets of a backlash. While plenty of ink has been spilled by the student left in developing a coherent critique of student unions, few have attempted to analyze the backlash. By comparing a backlash now underway at Queen’s University with two Carleton backlashes – the Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA) denial of funding to the anti-choice Lifeline group in December 2006 and the Shinerama debacle of December 2008 where CUSA’s initial decision to cancel a fundraiser for cystic fibrosis brought national attention – we can begin to sketch out a general understanding of this phenomenon.
The Backlash in Motion In mid-March, Nick Day, the elected head of the Alma Mater Society, the student union that represents undergraduate and graduate students, wrote an open letter to Michael Ignatieff challenging his statements about Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW). Ignatieff’s unsubstantiated and false allegations – that IAW promotes ignorance and intolerance and incites anti-Semitic abuse against Israeli and Jewish students – are a profound threat to academic freedom. Day’s response, published
at Rabble.ca, was structured around these allegations and concluded by challenging Ignatieff to attend IAW in Toronto. Within 24 hours of the letter’s publication, an undergraduate petition recommending Day’s impeachment garnered over 2,000 signatures, automatically forcing the student union to hold a referendum. The backlash was reinforced within this 24-hour period by a ridiculously hyperbolic and uninformed online article by Jonathan Kay in the National Post and similarly uninformed online commentary in Maclean’s. The campaign against Day, framed as “Reclaim Your Voice,” mounted a series of claims for impeachment, none of which was ever penned in the impeachment petition. While never claiming that his views were those of Queen’s students, Day was accused of “misrepresenting” students, “abusing his position” for personal gain, and making “unacceptable” comments about Ignatieff’s complicity in genocide. Day’s enemies also cited his 2010 Remembrance Day speech, in which he challenged his audience to act upon the freedoms ostensibly defended by veterans in order to combat injustice in the present world. Reports also emerged that petitioners gathered signatures by claiming Day was anti-Semitic. These ugly aspects of the backlash, including death threats against Day, were legitimized by Queen’s University Principal Daniel Woolf, who claimed to speak on behalf
of the entire university when calling Day’s letter “inappropriate.” A number of graduate students responded to the backlash by launching a petition, framing Day’s challenge to Ignatieff as a defence of academic freedom against the attempt to silence Israeli Apartheid Week on false grounds. The petition also condemned Woolf’s comments as an attack on Day’s freedom of speech. Within days, this petition had garnered over a thousand signatures, including hundreds of Queen’s students and significant support from faculty at Queen’s. This campaign fed into a successful motion at the graduate student Annual General Meeting on Mar. 22 to endorse the academic freedom petition, while defeating motions for an impeachment referendum and a recommendation for Day’s immediate dismissal. However, in the undergraduate referendum, 72 per cent voted in favour of recommending impeachment. The division between undergraduate and graduate students has forced Principal Woolf to concede that there is in fact no clear mechanism to remove Day.
Dissecting the Backlash As the situation at Queen’s remains deadlocked, those familiar with the backlash at Carleton concerning the denial of funding to the Lifeline group will recognize some recurring patterns. In each case, opposition was mobilized within hours. The petitions for the impeachment of elected student leaders at Queen’s
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and at Carleton were similar in that they were devoid of argument. The former petition at Queen’s offered no written reason for impeachment. The latter petition at Carleton simply asked students whether or not they supported free speech. All these backlashes were able to draw upon rapid connections with the mainstream media. In each case, two sources – the National Post and Maclean’s – led the way before other media provided less intense, sustained coverage. As for actors, the Queen’s backlash was a combined effort by campus Tories and Liberals and the student club Israel on Campus. A leading figure of the campaign is Kevin Wiener, a former student and campus Tory. In the Carleton backlashes, Tories also played a leading role. Nick Bergamini was the “ordinary student” who turned the legitimate Shinerama backlash into a right-wing campaign. Garnett Genuis, another Campus Conservative, was behind the CUSA and Lifeline “free speech” petition. These connections should come as no surprise. In March 2009, an Ontario Progressive Conservative Campus Association meeting was secretly recorded and posted on Wikileaks. The recordings exposed how the Tories strategized to drive the CFS off campus, and target PIRG and even campus radio levies. As the Leveller reported at the time, Bergamini was originally scheduled to speak at the meeting. One person who did attend was Wiener.
Diffusing the Backlash We can conclude that the backlash relies upon the rapid issuing of misleading claims, with no substantial political content, and securing the appearance of legitimacy through heavily editorialized and highly selective reporting in Maclean’s and the Post. The campaigns remain focused upon undermining the progressive reform-oriented institutions of CFS, OPIRG, and campus radio; grassroots campaigns, notably Palestine solidarity; and prominent leftist activists. The backlash emerges from the political spaces that too often exist between the student left, student unions, and student body as a whole. When the student left, and especially elected progressive student union representatives, carry out a polarizing action with an insufficient or uninformed base of support, the backlash can take off. As the boycott, divestment, sanctions campaign at Carleton has shown, and the graduate-led defence of Day confirms, Palestine solidarity work has established a sufficient base of support to either keep a backlash at bay, or at least tentatively neutralize it. It appears that the most effective inoculation against the Tory-led backlash is a longterm strategy of base building, requiring hard, persistent educational and campaign work – not the Pyrrhic radical acts of a small minority. If left politics is about anything, it is about openness and engagement, not obfuscation and ignorance. Leave the latter to the Tories.
No Democracy Without People’s Power! LET’S BOYCOTT THE ELECTIONS! Each of the four big parties – Conservatives, Liberals, NDP, and Bloc Quebecois – has begun their campaign to seduce voters. We are proposing a radically different campaign: we call on all those left out of the parliamentary charade, whether they are exploited workers
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and students, single mothers, migrants, or indigenous peoples across Canada, to participate to the 2011 Boycott Elections Campaign.
WE WANT TO Expose the emptiness of the political bourgeois programs and oppose them with a program of people’s demands; Reveal how undemocratic bourgeois elections are and call for real political action, which is to defend, fight, and organize for a people’s democracy. You are all invited to join as individuals or groups to participate in the 2011 Elections Boycott Campaign: * Circulate the official poster of the campaign,
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available in English and French * Join campaign teams to distribute information about the boycott in cities across Canada, through statements, flyers or the biweekly and bilingual newspaper PARTISAN, which will develop the perspectives and discussions about the society and democracy we want and will fight for! * Visit and contact us at boycott2011.ca
vol 3, no 5, April 2011 The Leveller 13
Tough on Tough by David Tough Leveller editor interviews local musician by David Tough Ottawa singer-songwriter Dave Tough was born on the same day and has the same parents as Leveller editorial board member David Tough; both are graduate students at Carleton University and neither one is a twin. This eerie coincidence is a pretty tantalizing angle for a news article, but we’ve resisted it – until now. With David Tough’s departure from the editorial board comes this startlingly frank interview. David Tough: You played at Raw Sugar on Saturday? Dave Tough: Yes, I did. It was a fundraiser for the Royal Ottawa. I’ve played there three times now, I think. The two other times I was playing with my band. Tough: It’s a nice place. I do my marking there. They have sandwiches! Tough: Yes, they do. Tough: You mentioned your band. Tell me about that. That’s a new thing, right? Tough: Yes, it is. I’ve never been great at being a band leader. It’s a lot of work organizing everyone, especially compared to just showing up with a guitar, which is the alternative in my case. In bands I’ve always enjoyed being a very influential lieutenant. But I had a whole bunch of material that I wasn’t satisfied with as solo acoustic songs, so I took the plunge. Tough: Are you recording with the band? You are notoriously slow with albums. Tough: Notoriously? Well,
Do you think your pattern of not releasing things for years after they’re recorded is a subconscious act of artistic self-sabotage?
photo by mark craighead
we have recorded some demos, and they went well, but it’s partly a question of money. I do want to record the current batch of songs, though, because I’m really happy with the writing and the arrangements sound great. Tough: What are the songs about? Is this all the sex stuff? Tough: There’s sex in them. What they’re about, a bit more broadly, is the myth of authentic self-expression in songs. So sex is part of that, love is part of that, but what it’s really about is the idea that the character we present in songs, the “me,” is actually a kind of monstrous fiction, more horny, more pathetic, more infatuated, more indignant, than we really are.
Anyway, no, I don’t always write with a concept in mind. The unreleased album is full of love songs, but it’s more musically linked than lyrically. I wanted to make an ambitious album, where each track had whatever it needed – a pedal steel guitar, a string section, electronic noise. I thought of it as my Revolver. It sounds great, but it took ages and cost a lot of money and it never got finished. We’re working on it now, though. Here’s hoping. Tough: Do you think your pattern of not releasing things for years after they’re recorded is a subconscious act of artistic self-sabotage? Tough: No. I don’t. Hey, weren’t you writing a book a few years ago? About university governance? A notoriously unpublished book?
Tough: Whoa, dorky. Do you always write with this kind of concept in mind? I’m thinking of Lost Things, and the notoriously unreleased album.
Tough: You recorded Lost Things in 1998 and you released it in 2006. That’s a really long, weird delay.
Tough: Notoriously unreleased? Hey, it’s an old story: I ran out of money.
Tough: Yeah, I guess it was. I don’t know. Things came up. I guess I partly wasn’t
14 The Leveller vol 3, no 5, April 2011
sure where I stood in terms of the material anymore. Tough: It’s a nice collection of songs. A little rough around the edges, but I like it because it’s so stark. It’s not a casual listen. It’s like you’re stepping into someone’s home and getting to know them in all their frailty. Tough: I think that’s why I had trouble releasing it. It was a portrait of a particular time in my life and I wasn’t there anymore. I had already moved on. It was only when I got a few chapters beyond it, if you will, that I could see that stuff as being a part of me again. Tough: This sounds a lot like the theme of your newest songs: the myth of authentic self-presentation. Is that how you got interested in that theme, by being so slow putting your music out that it always had this kind of ironic distance? Tough: I don’t know, maybe. But my early, early stuff, before Lost Things, was extremely self-conscious, full of fourth-wall
photo by steve mccullough
type stuff where I refer to parts of the song, slip out of character, that kind of thing. So in a sense my new songs are a return to that, but more subtle, so you can enjoy the love or the sex while being aware that it’s a bit of pose. Tough: It’s true, people actually enjoy your songs, despite the heavy conceptual baggage you tend to load them down with. If you get the unreleased album out, does that mean you’ll start work on a new album? And does that mean we’ll get to hear it in, like, 2020? Tough: Oh hey, how’s the novel coming? Tough: The novel was a very short-lived idea. You pretty much stole all my good jokes to use in songs on your so-called ambitious album. And the only reason we’re even having this conversation is because of the Leveller, which stands as clear evidence that I, unlike you, can come up with an idea, find people to work with, and make it happen.
Tough: Are you kidding me? Your “idea” was to re-launch the Trent University paper, Arthur, from ten years ago at Carleton. And everyone’s all like, “Wow, how did you think of that?” You’re lucky that other people took it over and made it into something new, something interesting, or it’d just be embarrassing. Tough: “Something interesting?” This from the guy who’s written a thousand songs about some guy drinking himself silly to justify making terrible life decisions and forget about “the one that got away”? Tough: It’s called a theme, dumbass. Tough: Why are we fighting? Tough: Cause you’re a bitter little toad. Tough: I look forward to hearing the new album, or the notoriously unreleased album. But I’m not holding my breath. Tough: That’s too bad. I was hoping you would.
Unbutton the Lederhosen Lindenhof offers a pleasant German(esque) dining experience by Ian Cox There’s a little spot on Preston Street called the Lindenhof. Although it bills itself as a European restaurant, the menu is heavily skewed towards German cuisine. “Lindenhof” alludes to the historic site of Old Zurich in Switzerland of the same name. The first time I went to Lindenhof, I was with my friend Lisa. It was a Wednesday night and no one was there except us. Some amazing German pop-traditional fusion music was playing in the background. We admired the decor. The tables were rather diner-like, which gave the place a North American pub feel, but the chairs were wooden, painted with black lacquer, and worn away by age. There were trappings of European descent that had found their way to the walls of the Lindenhof and the bar – the true signature piece for any pub. Even if a place has been upgraded to more of an eatery than a public house, it’s mandatory to have a bar with character. I inquired about the tagessuppe or soup of the day, and it turned out to be a beef-based hearty lentil soup with some generic root vegetables. Lisa and I debated whether to get a bowl. But lo and behold, soup or salad came with dinner. We opted for the soup and it turned out to be quite good. It had been slow cooked and no added thickeners were used. (I wish I could explain how to determine if a soup has been thickened, but I’m afraid that skill is acquired after working in the trade for a while; ergo it requires one part intuition and an equal part acumen.) As for dinner, since this was my first real trip to a German-esque restaurant, I decided to cover the basics and went for the schnitzel and bratwurst platter ($20), which comes with braised red cabbage,
HOROSCOPES by Medium Large ARIES (March 21–April 20) There’s a federal election coming up, and it’s time to make the issues you care about known: more prison TV shows, mandatory jail time for children who don’t pay their taxes, and advanced fighter jets to help us fight the spread of bike polo. One word of caution: your plan to pie yourself during a local all-candidates’ debate may not have the strategic impact you think it will. TAURUS (April 21–May 20) Pluto is moving into your sign, Taurus, and do you know what that means? It means you need to get my Cake Boss season 1 DVDs back to me ASAP. You’ve had them for a month. Seriously, dude. Things could go badly for you if you don’t. I’m a freaking astrologer.
photo by Jason Benovoy
sauerkraut, homefries, and of course one schnitzel and one bratwurst. Lisa decided to go for the jäger schnitzel ($18 for pork, $21 for chicken or veal), an unbreaded version of schnitzel smothered with a demiglace of mushroom and sautéed onion. Demi-glace is a thickened or reduced brown sauce similar to a runny, sticky gravy. It is based on espagnole, one of the four original mother sauces established by the legendary chef Antonin Carême. It’s also one of my favourite things in the world. Before I die, I will swim in a pool of lukewarm demi-glace. My schnitzel was a boneless chop, lightly breaded and deep-fried. The bratwurst was a very lean, smoked ground pork, grilled to perfection (It may have been steamed first, but hard to tell.). It was served with deep-fried, coined medi-
um-sized potatoes, tossed in a mixture of - what tasted like - paprika, onion, or garlic powder, and some other spices reminiscent of the flavouring that goes into barbecue chips. The highlight was a mixture of fried diced onions and bacon, which I saved until the end because I knew that it would be my favourite part. I was not mistaken. On the side was a chunkier version of sauerkraut that I had not been exposed to before, grilled on the same surface as a pork dish (perhaps the bratwurst), with a mildly pickled flavour mixed with the de-glaced pork scraps. The sauerkraut was warm and soft (without becoming mushy). While enjoying the kraut, I found tasty little pork treats throughout – a welcome addition to the feast. The braised cabbage was also nice. It was
soft, like the kraut, but “cleaner” in that it was not subject to any deglacing. Lisa’s jäger schnitzel also pleased the palette. The demi-glace was rich, without being too thick, and the mushrooms were chunky slices cooked long enough to let the juice escape without turning them rubbery. The onions were sauteed almost to the point of disintegration and caramelized sufficiently to allow for the hearty brown colour and characteristic flavour to seep into the sauce. The meal was served with a mound of whipped potatoes, velvety and the perfect complement to the meal, with equal notes of garlic, butter, and what seemed to be a light cream to smooth out the texture. All in all, a great starch for the dish. Lindenhof is located 268 Preston St.
GEMINI (May 21–June 21) I hate to break it to you, Gemini, but your theory that the members of Carleton’s Board of Governors are a group of rich executives with ties to numerous corporations and shady groups like the Bilderberg and the Club of Rome is just nonsense. Face facts: they are shape-shifting lizard people, carrying out a secret plan to jack up tuition so no one can afford to attend university, thus decreasing the number of people with the skills humanity will need to resist the coming reptile invasion. Lucky Number: 533 CANCER (June 22–July 22) If you’re reading this before April 22, don’t get that tattoo. If you’re reading this after April 22, ignore that last sentence. Your full-colour neck tattoo of Zizek riding a dragon looks totally bitchin’. LEO (July 23–Aug. 22) Direct action gets the goods. So does buying tickets in advance. Unfortunately, Leo, the only option left open to you to get into the upcoming Chomsky lecture is to crawl through the air ducts. VIRGO (Aug. 23–Sept. 22) A specter is haunting your apartment – the specter of salmonella. Time to clean your fridge. Lucky number: 17 LIBRA (Sept. 23–Oct. 23) Just talking, you know … hypothetically and all, but you’ve got this … uh … this
friend, a TA let’s say, who lost the only copy of a student’s final paper. On a completely unrelated topic, Panama has no extradition treaty with Canada. Lucky number: the last two digits of pi SCORPIO (Oct. 24–Nov. 22) Getting over grief and sorrow can be the hardest thing to do, particularly when someone has suffered a major loss like you have, Scorpio. But this month is your opportunity to face the harsh reality: they will never, ever make new episodes of Firefly. SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 23–Dec. 21) Nietzsche’s famous dictum that “love is a battlefield” holds especially true for you this month. Unlike Ol’ Freddy, you don’t need to rub cocaine in your eyes to deal with the pain, but it is time to update your OK Cupid profile. Maybe downplay the LARPing thing a little. And fewer photos of you with your full-scale replica bat’leth couldn’t hurt. CAPRICORN (Dec. 22–Jan. 20) This month, keep in mind that kindness can open doors that might otherwise stay locked. Try to empathize with others, particularly neighbours, siblings, and co-workers. But not bankers, freelance vivisectionists, cops, or people who play bike polo. They’re all jerks. Tonight, whatever you do, don’t have the waffles. AQUARIUS (Jan. 21–Feb. 19) The person sitting immediately to your left is a cop. No! Don’t look at them. Just be cool, all right? You’ll be okay if you do exactly as I tell you. Casually say you need to go put more change in the parking meter. Once out of the room, immediately burn all your clothes, discard your cell phone in the nearest baby stroller, move to Cuba, and open a ficus carica greenhouse business called Bay of Figs. Lucky number: 26 PISCES (Feb. 20–March 20) This month, what you want to do is exactly what you need to do. And if what you want to do is stockpile firearms and build barricades in the street I would just like to point out to my parole officer that I am in no way counselling or encouraging any specific behaviour. It’s all in the stars, baby! Lucky number: 68
vol 3, no 5, April 2011 The Leveller 15
Listings WED MARCH 30
FRI APRIL 1
WORKSHOP: Eating Dirt Cheap A Workshop on Freeganism. UCU Clubs Room, U of O. 1-2pm.
CONFERENCE: Hegel and Negativity/Negativity and Hegel. Arts Hall 509, U of O. 7:30pm. Runs until April 3rd.
WORKSHOP: Seed Bomb and Permaculture. UCU Clubs Room, U of O. 3-6pm.
MEETING: Ecology Ottawa. 2 Nicolas St., Rm 430. 5:30-7:30 pm. FILM: Breathtaking. Ottawa Public Library, Room 1A/1B. 7pm.
MUSIC: Jazz Ensemble Concert. Alumni Auditorium, U of O. 8pm.
FILM: Homotopia! Soirée Cinéma. Agora, UCU, U of O. 10pm.
FILM: La reine malade - Reel Food Film Festival. 120 Metcalfe, Ottawa Public Library. 6:30-8:30pm.
SPACE OUT: Stargazing. Free star party. Canada Science and Technology Museum. 8pm.
tues APRIL 5
SING: Weekly environmental choir rehearsals with Just Voices. Bronson Centre 222. 7-9pm.
SHOW: Feestock, SFUO. SITE Cafeteria, U of O. 9pm.
WORKSHOP: How to Start a Community Garden. Beaverbrook Community Centre. 7-9pm. COMEDY: Ottawa Comic Jam. Shanghai Restaurant. 7-10pm.
THURS MARCH 31 SHOW: Stevie Starr. Observatory, Algonquin College. 1-2:30pm. EXHIBITION: Across the Mediterranean: 1400 years of History. Arts Bldg (ground flr), U of O. 4pm. TALK: Demanding change in the Middle East and North Africa. DMS 12102, U of O. 4:30-6pm. WORKSHOP: Bike Co-op Orientation and Tune-up Workshop. Rm A105, 200 Lees. 6-8pm. TALK: Dr. Dale Corbett on stroke recovery. Fenn Lounge, Residence Commons, Carleton U. 6pm. WORKSHOP: Strategies for Healthy Ornamental Plants. Alta Vista Public Library. 6:30pm. FILM: Stand Together. Reel Sex Film Festival/Divergence Movie Night. Loeb B149, Carleton U. 6:30pm.
SAT APRIL 2 RETREAT: Permaculture, Poetry & Revolution. All weekend. Rockland. FUNDRAISER: Team ODNG for Children’s Wish Foundation. 2202 Thurston Dr.)10am-4pm.
CULTURE: Celebration of Cultures. Marketplace Food Court. Algonquin College. All Day. FUNDRAISER: Gifts for a Wish. Silent Auction. Algonquin College. 10am-4pm. Wednesday too. TALK: Global Energy Challenges and the Implications for the EU’s Common Energy Policies. 150 Metcalfe St., Rm 1900. 3-4:30pm. TALK: “Stuffed and Starved” with Raj Patel. Alumni Auditorium, UCU, U of O. 7-10pm.
CONFERENCE: The Politics of Possibility: Pushing the Boundaries of Feminist Political Economy. Dunton 2203, Carleton U. 1-5pm. DISCUSSION: Explore Science through a Science Cafe. Wild Oat Cafe, 817 Bank St. 6:30-7:30pm. MUSIC: Carleton Classical Music Showcase. Kailash Mital Theatre. 7:30-9pm. ART: Unravelling a bit of the universe. Club SAW. 7:30-9pm. TRIVIA: Mike’s Place (2nd flr UC), Carleton U. 7pm.
thurs APRIL 7 ART: Ottawa Alleyways. CUBE Gallery. 6-9:30pm. STORIES: Story Swap, hosted by Ottawa Story Tellers. Rm 156, 395 Wellington St. 7-9pm.
sat APRIL 9
sat APRIL 16
SALE: Church Rummage Sale. St. Andrew’s Church. 82 Kent St. 10am-1pm.
DEFENSE: Women’s Self Defence - RAD course. TBD. 9am-6pm.
DEMONSTRATION: Enough! Day of Action Against War. Human Rights Monument. 1pm. INFO SESSION: Water Watch, Water Wise. 200 Crichton St. 3-5pm.
JUSTICE : Fundraising Dinner in Support of Hassan Diab. Mosaic Carling Buffet. 4:30-8:30pm. GALA: 2011 Ottawa Gala. 2 Rideau St. 8pm.
tues APRIL 19
PROM: 4th Annual PROMdemonium. National Arts Centre. 9pm.
TALK: Hell Hath No Fury. LAC, 395 Wellington St. 7:30-9:30pm.
sun APRIL 10
wed APRIL 20
DEMONSTRATION: SlutWalk Ottawa. Minto Park’s Women’s Monument. 1:30pm.
WORKSHOP: You and Your Aging Relatives - Aging Process and Fall Prevention. Nepean Centrepointe Branch Library. 7pm.
mon APRIL 11 FILM: Festival. Festival. Algonquin College. All Day.
thurs APRIL 21
TALK: What’s Up With The Weather! Pembroke’s Festival Hall. 7pm.
tues APRIL 12
MUSIC: Free Earth Day Celebration Concert. Museum of Nature. 7pm.
fri APRIL 8
MUSIC: Johnny Clegg. Centrepointe Theatre. 7pm.
Conference: Italian Futurism. LAC, 395 Wellington St. 7-10pm.
TALK: Fisheries: One of the Foundations of Greek Empire-building. LAC, 395 Wellington. 7:30-9pm.
BOOTH: CPAWS-OV booth at the Cottage Show. Lansdowne Park. All Weekend.
JAZZ: Salif Keita. DominionChalmers United Church. 8pm.
fri APRIL 22
AUCTION: Growing Hope. Trinity United Church. 7-11pm.
KARAOKE: Mike’s Place, (2nd flr UniCentre), Carleton U. 7pm.
wed APRIL 13
MUSIC: Gregorian Chants for Meditation. Canadian Martyrs Church. 100 Main St. 7pm.
MUSIC: Carleton Jazz Showcase. Kailash Mital Theatre, Carleton U. 7:30-9pm.
FILM: The Best of the Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival. Can Museum of Nature, 8pm.
TALK: The Andrew Brook Distinguished Lecture Series. Kailash Mital Theatre, Southam Hall, Carleton U. 1-2:30pm.
MUSIC: Shad. $10 student. Algonquin SA. Ritual Nightclub. 9pm.
wed APRIL 6
TALK: Democracy & the Public University - A conversation with Noam Chomsky. Kailash Mital Theatre, Southam Hall, Carleton U. 4-5:30pm.
FILM FESTIVAL: DiverCiné. LAC, 395 Wellington St. All Day.
CRAFTS: Ottawa Artisans Guild Spring Craft Sale. Lester B Pearson High School, 2072 Jasmine Cr. 10am-4pm. Sunday too. WORKSHOP: Agricultural Biodiversity in Ottawa + Eastern Ontario. Westboro Masonic Hall Community Space. 12:30-4:30pm.
sun APRIL 3 TAI CHI: Free Introduction. PranaShanti Yoga Centre. 2-3:30pm.
FILM: Cinema Politica - You Don’t Like the Truth: 4 Days Inside of Guantanamo. Tory Bldg 208, Carleton U. 7pm.
mon APRIL 4
MUSIC: Rustbuckit. Mike’s Place, Carleton U. 8pm.
RADIO: The UnderWhere? Radio Show. CHUO 89.1FM. 4-5pm. Every Monday.
YOGA: Free Workshop. A121, Algonquin College. 2:30-4:30pm.
MUSIC: Pandamonium 2011. Ottawa Civic Centre. Travie McCoy and special guests. 7pm.
TALK: Teaching and Learning in a Networked Era. EDC, 410 Dunton Tower. 8:30am-4:30pm. LUNCH: Carleton Celebration of Women in Science and Engineering. Porter Hall, 2nd fr UC, Carleton U. 10am-3pm. TALK: Human Rights and Environmental Disruptions Lecture Series. FTX 550, U of O. 11-noon. YOGA: Free Monthly Yoga Session for Grads. Frontenac Residence Multipurpose Room, Carleton U. 12:30-1:30pm.
is making a magazine and we want your ideas! With the support of the PROMdemonium Fund, the Leveller will be publishing a special summer magazine and we are seeking pitches for articles and artwork!
The magazine is looking for independent journalists, aspiring writers, and photographers and cartoonists to provide in-depth coverage of underreported political, community, and cultural issues.
Contact us submissions/inquiries
TALK: Contemporary Trends in North American Muslim Women’s Activism. Simard Bldg, Rm 125, U of O. 4-7pm. MEETING: GSA Council. Senate Rm (6th flr Robertson Hall). 5-7pm. MUSIC: Don Ross and Brook Miller. Kailash Mital Theatre, Southam, Carleton U. 7:30pm. OPEN MIC: Mike’s Place (2nd flr UC), Carleton U. 7pm.
DIVERSITY: Day of Pink. Algonquin College. All Day.
TALK: One Week Job. Ottawa Public Library. 7pm
thurs APRIL 14 AUCTION: OCHRPs 2nd Annual - Philippine Human Rights Auction. 330 Kent St. 6-10:30pm
fri APRIL 15 BOOKFAIR: Toronto Anarchist Bookfair 2011. Steelworkers Hall. All Weekend.
thurs APRIL 28 BOWLING: Canadians for Choice Bowl-a-thon! West Park Bowling Centre. 7-10pm.
fri APRIL 29 SHOW: Animation Show. SA Observatory, Algonquin C. 1-6pm.
sat APRIL 30 DISCUSSION: Community Consulta - May Day Eve. PSAC building. 10:30am-4:30pm. FUNDRAISER DINNER: Human Rights in the Congo. RichelieuVanier Community Centre. 6pm.