campus • community • CULTURE Sept./Oct. 2011
vol. 4, no. 1
Sippin’ coffee over tea since 2008
on the road again Fourth Annual Walk4Justice highlights Photo courtesy of Walk4Justice
Erin Cummings with files from Andy Crosby On June 21, 2011, a group of dedicated women, men and children stepped out into the streets of Vancouver and began a cross-country walk that will span over 4,000 km and take nearly three months to complete. This summer’s trek from Vancouver, Coast Salish territory, to Ottawa, Algonquin territory, marks the fourth annual Walk4Justice.
The Moccassin Mafia arrive at Minwaashin Lodge in Ottawa. L to R: Gladys Radek (W4J), Bernie Williams (W4J), Valerie Taliman (Three Sisters Media), Laura Holland (AWAN), Fay Blaney (AWAN)
“Our purpose is to raise awareness about the missing and murdered women across Canada,” says Walk4Justice co-founder Gladys Radek. “And we’re going to be asking Stephen Harper to either step up or step down.” The walk arrives in Ottawa on Sept. 19 as a part of the citywide 30 Days of Justice Campaign, organized by the Families of Sisters in Spirit and their allies. The 30 Days of Justice Campaign, which runs from Sept. 5 to Oct. 4, seeks to
CARLETON GIVES UP THE GOODS Alumni solicited by American company
We URGENTLY need your privacy
Photo: Erin Seatter
violence against women
raise awareness on issues of gendered and racialized violence. This year’s events include panel discussions, community gatherings, a social justice fair, a film night, and the annual Take Back the Night march. Walk4Justice is bringing several demands forward. “We’re asking for a national public inquiry into the deaths of so many women,” Radek told the Leveller. “Another thing we’re pushing for is our own Aboriginal Task Forces to investigate these cases because
we’re tired of the cops investigating themselves. They’re killing our people.” Radek says they’re also asking for the creation of a health and wellness centre for the families of missing and murdered women, especially children. Walk4Justice was cofounded in 2008 by Gladys Radek and Bernie Williams to raise awareness around the violence and injustice that disproportionately threatens the lives and well-being of Indigenous women in Canada. While
Indigenous women make up only 3 percent of the national population, they are five times more likely to die as a result of violence than non-Native women. Radek says, “When we walked the first time in Vancouver in 2008 there was 11 women that had gone missing or gone murdered, and this year there’s been 36 now. So there’s a problem here. Systemic racism and discrimination is one of the biggest.”
by Harris Connect have expressed concerns over the company’s communication and solicitation tactics. Rachel Ariey-Jouglard, a political science master’s graduate from Carleton University, says she has been contacted by Harris Connect at her parents’ house two or three times by phone, and has received three postcards. The communication strategy of the company, she says, is “very aggressive.” Ariey-Jouglard says she returned Harris Connect’s calls because her parents said the caller was using language like “urgent” and “final notice.” However, she was not aware that she was speaking to a private company. “They never said it was Harris Connect calling,” she says. It wasn’t until she received an e-mail from a Virginia-based company that she realized the phone calls had not been from Carleton’s alumni office. “Before I realized this, I had already shared my information,” says ArieyJouglard. According to ArieyJouglard, she had to call Harris Connect again to request that her information be retracted. She says the company
Carleton University has shared the personal information of alumni – including contact and career information – with a private American company. The university has partnered with Harris Connect to develop a print and electronic alumni directory. The Virginiabased company compiles constituent directories for organizations and profits through the revenue generated from directory sales. According to a public announcement released by Carleton University, “To help you stay in touch, we are preparing a new Carleton University Alumni Directory—a handy index of names and addresses from alumni around the world... Carleton University has engaged Harris Connect to coordinate this project.” Harris Connect includes the personal information of alumni in the directory. It also uses this information to collect content for the publication and to solicit alumni to purchase it. However, some Carleton alumni contacted
Continued on page 4
Continued on page 4
PAGE 10 Coming down the pipeline
PAGE 3 College Support staff strike Page 5 u of o antiharassment policy Page 6 Indigenous Sovereignty in canada Page 7 Elder Commanda, morning star Page 12 Theatre as collective imagination Page 14 les sansculottes Page 16 debating Dufferin development Page 17 winter soldier Page 19 It’s up to you, Aquarius www.leveller.ca
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.
Je suis une sans-culottes!
2 One who tells the truth, as in “I’m going to level with you.” 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 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
The Levellers Editorial Board
Mat Nelson Ajay Parasram Samantha Ponting
Fazeela Jiwa Tess Mc Manus
Photography Andy Crosby, JC Pinheiro, Steven McFadden, Darryl Reid, Erin Seatter Contributors Lana Bateman, Marc Benoit, Lequanne CollinsBacchus, Andy Crosby, Erin Cummings, Fazeela Jiwa, Adam Kostrich, Doug Nesbitt, Pandemic Theatre, Darryl Reid, Andrew Stevens, Taiva Tegler, Kevin Vianna, Stéfanie Clermont Governing Board
Kelti Cameron Kimalee Phillip Vincent St. Martin Ajay Parasram
Les Sans-Culottes Traduction
2 The Leveller vol 4, no 1, Sept/Oct 2011
Level the Playing Field: A Call for Sustainers The Leveller is a creature of the community: it’s written, edited, and distributed right here at home. Community-based media needs communityfunded support. Help sustain the Leveller with as little as $5 per month or make a one-time contribution. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for options on how to help level the playing field, one issue at a time.
Contact us submissions/inquiries email@example.com advertising/volunteering firstname.lastname@example.org Join us facebook The Leveller: Campus • Community • Culture twitter twitter.com/leveller_ottawa web leveller.ca
“Good Jobs Today, Good Jobs Tomorrow” Support staff strike for quality jobs at Ontario colleges Lana Bateman On Woodroffe Campus, a modest picket line has gathered at the front entrance of Algonquin College. After a contract settlement was not reached by the deadline, 8,000 college support staff from around the province walked off the job Sept. 1. On one side of the street, members of OPSEU Local CAAT 416, the local support staff union, wield signs stating their goal: “Good Jobs Today, Good Jobs Tomorrow.” In a statement on its website, Algonquin College claims, “There are no proposals by the colleges that would change job security or erode full-time positions. In fact, the number of full-time support staff across the college system has actually increased from 6,751 in 2008 to 6,936 in 2010.” Further details regarding negotiations have been minimal. The fact is, although the number of full-time staff has technically increased, the proportion of full-time staff has been going down as the proportion of parttime workers increases. The college does not state on its website whether the 185 new full-time hires are related to the establishment of new campuses and overall growth (which would be a one-time statistical anomaly and outside of everyday hiring), or how this number compares to the growth in part-time hires. “Well, that’s the whole problem. They won’t give us those statistics,” says John Hanson, vice president of OPSEU Local CAAT 416. “They won’t tell us how many part-time workers come and go in a given year. And really, 185 people is not a lot. With over 24 colleges and 100 campuses in the province, it’s really not a lot.” So what is the strike really about? “It’s not about money,” says Hanson. “I’m sure my members would all sign on for [a raise of] 2 percent and go back to work. It’s about the fact that three out of every eight jobs in the province is part-time, and 22 percent of those part-time jobs are in the colleges. A part-time employee might need two or three jobs to make ends meet; they get no benefits, very poor wages, and no job security. The college can lay them off at a moment’s notice, and that’s just not fair.” In essence, the unions are not striking just for money; they are striking for a better quality of employment. If hiring practices and employment policies continue to
move in the direction they’re going, it will become increasingly attractive for colleges and other businesses to depend on mostly part-time staff rather than shell out the vacations, pensions, and union rights to which fulltime employees are entitled. Future generations may well find full-time jobs and pensions few and far between. Only full-time employees at the college have the right to strike. Part-time workers have found themselves working overtime and performing tasks not included in their job description just to keep things operating smoothly. So why not give union representation to the parttime workers? “Actually, OPSEU had a part-time ratification vote almost three years ago,” says Hanson. “[The colleges] will not count the ballots. They were actually condemned by the United Nations for not counting the ballots. The whole thing [the fight to keep the ballot boxes sealed], as far as I’m concerned, is a total waste of money.” The Ontario provincial government amended the Colleges Collective Bargaining Act (CCBA) in 2008, allowing part-time community college teachers and support staff to organize into unions. In a subsequent organizing drive, part-time staff at Ontario colleges, in both support staff and teaching positions, began turning out enthusiastically in large numbers to vote on whether they wanted union representation. Soon afterwards, however, the colleges asked the Ontario Labour Relations Board to deny the part-timers’ application for a count outright. They wanted the ballot boxes permanently sealed, and have since been successful in blocking the counting of votes. The results are still being held up in judicial hearings by the colleges. It is estimated by Randy Robinson, a senior communications officer with OPSEU, that about $2 million of taxpayers’ money will have been spent on these hearings when they are finally resolved. Even though the International Labour Organization (ILO), an agency of the United Nations, publicly asked the province to open consultations with OPSEU in November 2010, the provincial government has refused to intervene and order a ballot count. At Algonquin College, many students seem to know little about the strike. The striking workers walk back and forth on the crosswalk, wielding their signs
Photo: Lana Bateman
and looking for honks of support from passing cars. As a picketer offers a flyer to an approaching student, she refuses the paper and passes by without comment. “I think it’s annoying,” states a student of the Personal Support Worker program at Algonquin. “Especially when I come to school and they’re blocking my way.” When asked what she thinks the strike is about, she replies, “They figure they don’t get paid enough? I don’t know. That’s usually what it’s about.” Other students seem to feel largely unaffected by the work stoppage. “I haven’t really looked into it much,” says a student currently in the Power Line Technician program at Algonquin. “But it hasn’t really affected me. I hope it ends soon.” With the 2008 Ottawa transit strike still fresh in people’s minds, attitudes toward on-strike workers, and indeed unions in general, tend to be less than sym-
pathetic. Many people on campus don’t seem to know much about the issues surrounding this strike. Yet the issues at stake affect all workers. A security guard, currently assigned to guarding the picketers at Algonquin College, reflects this sentiment well: “I look at my eight-year-old niece and that generation and I shudder to think of their future.” It’s natural to take certain basic workers’ rights for granted, but we all ought to remember that unions fought for basic gains such as minimum wage and weekends. If this attitude of ���it is the way it is” had been prevalent when unions were trying to implement child labour laws, we would be much worse off today. If we want basic workers’ benefits to be part of our future, we should become more aware of the issues. We hear about so many labour disputes and strikes that we often write them off as battles of union greed. But the truth is much more complicated.
Only full-time employees at the college have the right to strike. Part-time workers have found themselves working overtime and performing tasks not included in their job description just to keep things operating smoothly.
Update: Late Sunday night (Sept. 18), the Union struck a tentative agreement with the College Employers Council. The details of the agreement will not be released to workers pending a vote to ratify the contract changes. Workers are expected to be back at work Tuesday, Sept. 20.
vol 4, no 1, Sept/Oct 2011 The Leveller 3
Fourth Annual Walk4Justice Continued from page 1
Radek and Williams began the initiative as a response to personal losses of loved ones to violence. On Sept. 21, 2005, Radek’s niece, Tamara Lynn Chipman, disappeared near Prince Rupert, BC, along Highway 16, now widely known as Canada’s “Highway of Tears.” While searching for Chipman in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side (DTES), Radek met Williams, a front line worker and advocate for women living on the streets of one of Canada’s poorest postal codes. Williams had also suffered the loss of her own mother and two sisters as a result of violence in the DTES. Together Williams and Radek began to document the number of missing or murdered women in Canada, speaking to family members across the country who have lost loved ones to violence. “We’ll be providing a list of almost 4,200 names
of missing and murdered women over the past few decades,” says Radek. The majority of these cases concern Indigenous women. A similar database was also compiled through the Sisters in Spirit initiative, under the direction of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. It lists the names of nearly 600 Indigenous women who have gone missing or have been murdered across Canada. This work has been carried out in spite of federal funding cuts to the Sisters in Spirit initiative by the Harper government in October 2010. The government has come under fire from equality-seeking women’s groups since first coming to office in 2006, when it closed 75 percent of Status of Women Canada offices. Radek says that “all the women’s programs across the country are being cut.” She told the Leveller, “Right now we feel there is a war against women in this country.” Further, in July 2011, Barry Penner, former at-
Alumni sold out by Carleton
torney general of BC, refused to fund the legal counsel of 13 groups granted participation in the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry. Kent Roach of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law commented on the decision in a letter sent on Sept. 7 to BC interim Attorney General Shirley Bond: “The refusal of funding in this case is also especially egregious because the groups granted standing represent some of the most disadvantaged women in Canada, including Aboriginal women, women living in poverty, women with drug addictions, and women engaged in prostitution.” The letter continues, “They are women who are regularly, and in the facts at issue in the inquiry, repeatedly, preyed upon, violated and murdered. To render them voiceless when it is their lives and safety which are the subject of the inquiry, is unprincipled, as well as legally unsound.”
Continued from page 1
What’s on Tap?
with a US company given that under the PATRIOT Act, or other legislation, the [United States] government could access this information. I was surprised that Carleton would give my information to any company.” Jessica Squires, who holds a doctorate in history from Carleton University, is also concerned that her personal information is subject to the PATRIOT Act. Squires says she contacted the university with her concerns and spoke to a representative. “Basically what I learned is yes, the information is subject to the PATRIOT Act, but they consider that to be a low risk because the act has never been applied against the company in the past.” “It’s great that you can choose not to have your information shared in the directory, but it doesn’t address the root of the problem,” she says. Carleton University’s public announcement states, “Harris Connect is a trusted partner of Carleton
Karaoke Tuesdays @ 9pm Trivia Night Wednesdays @ 8pm Open ‘Mike’ Night
is proudly owned and operated by the Graduate Students’ Association
first Friday of the month @ 8pm
(6th floor University Centre)
...here to serve and represent you
graduate students, visit us for: get involved!
grants & awards
cheapest printing on campus!
community. education. campaigns
PROVINCIAL ELECTION DAY IS OCTOBER 6 FIVE THINGS YOU CAN DO: 1
SIGN UP at take-it-over.ca: get updates on commitments parties make, and receive a reminder to vote on October 6.
REGISTER TO VOTE. Go to elections.on.ca for registration forms and instructions.
SPREAD THE WORD: share materials and tips that are at take-itover.ca and let your friends know about the 2011 Ontario Election.
TALK TO YOUR CANDIDATES: attend candidates’ debates and ask candidates about their commitment to post-secondary education.
VOTE: on October 6, vote for affordable, high-quality, public postsecondary education.
4 The Leveller vol 4, no 1, Sept/Oct 2011
FACT: 57, 000: number of graduate students in Ontario 3, 000: number of Ontario Graduate Scholarships 95% of graduate students cannot access an Ontario Graduate
Ontario Graduate Scholarships (OGS) are the primary form of provincial student financial assistance available to graduate students. Despite seeing a 50 per cent increase in OGS last year, the McGuinty Government has failed to address the huge gap in access for graduate students. Many graduate students lack funding and struggle to pay the highest fees in the country while conducting important research. On October 6, vote for more grants. Take it over!
University of ottawa
It’s About Time U of O to adopt first anti-harassment and discrimination policy Taiva Tegler A policy that will formalize the right of students to file complaints regarding harassment and discrimination is set to become official at the University of Ottawa. The policy, known as 67a, also applies to employees, contractors, visitors, and volunteers who claim they are the subject of any form of sexual or workplace harassment, or overt or systematic discrimination. A current lack of ratified human rights policy and procedures at the university means that cases of harassment and discrimination are often not promptly addressed within the frameworks required by law. This leaves the university at risk of being liable for failing to provide and maintain what it describes in the draft policy as “a learning and work environment that promotes the understanding and respect for dignity of the person as part of the university community and one that is free from harassment and discrimination.”
Currently, the University of Ottawa faces several student human rights complaints sent before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO). In April 2011, the student-led Student Appeal Centre organized a press conference to disclose HRTO-related complaints. Following the event, the university publicly declared its intention to adopt human rights policy and procedures by June 2011. The university has a duty under the Ontario Human Rights Code and other legislation to maintain a campus free from harassment and discrimination, but this obligation is not yet met in official administrative university policy and procedures. Bill 168 states that “an employer shall prepare a policy with respect to workplace violence,” and “prepare a policy with respect to workplace harassment.” The university’s pronouncement caused uproar not only among student groups but campus unions as well. Students and employees were concerned that
their feedback had not been incorporated into the draft policy and procedures, and staff members had not been officially consulted by the university administration. During a senate meeting, student senator Hazel Gashoka put forward a motion that the consultation be broadened and extended. The motion was granted. Consultations with stakeholders were held during the summer months of 2011 and then extended into the fall, in light of the fact that union members and students are mostly off-campus during the summer. Mireille Gervais, director and senior appeal officer of the Student Appeal Centre, notes that “the consultation process has been rather rushed but also effective. [I] spoke to a representative from the University of Guelph who informed me that it took them nine years to negotiate and adopt their human rights policy.” Gervais also stated that the university has been extremely reluctant for years to adopt this policy and has
Based on her experience working against systemic discrimination on campus, Gervais insists that before speaking of strong policies and procedures, the administration needs to acknowledge that discrimination and harassment do occur on the campus.
only started seriously engaging with community members during the summer of 2011. “If the goal truly is to adopt a policy of quality, we need to take all the time necessary to come to a common understanding. My impression is that the university is rushing the adoption of the policy and procedures because of the many cases currently brought before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario by students. That being said, the meetings with the administration have been productive and all comments and recommendations appear to have been taken seriously.” Based on her experience working against systemic discrimination on campus, Gervais insists that before speaking of strong policies and procedures, the administration needs to acknowledge that discrimination and harassment do occur on the campus. She told the Leveller that “in most meetings with the administration I see generalized denial that there is a problem, or even worse,
the inability to accept that it has occurred in specific cases, despite the evidence brought forward. Imagine how the policy and procedures will be interpreted and used when such a mentality prevails.” The 2009 report of the Task Force on Campus Racism, published by the Canadian Federation of Students, explains that campus human rights offices usually provide a place where faculty, staff, and students can report and seek assistance with discrimination on campus. According to the report, while most college and university campuses in Ontario have offices that address discrimination, harassment, and human rights issues, a primary problem identified by students is that these human rights offices are either inaccessible or ineffective. Currently, students at the University of Ottawa are left without a mechanism in place to guarantee that human rights-related complaint management will be equitable and transparent. Above all, procedural fair-
ness to all community members should be upheld. Gervais asserts that “as much as the policy and procedures are needed in our legalistic world, we need to remember that the problem of discrimination and harassment will never be solved through policy making only.” The university has reaffirmed its intention to adopt the policy and procedures as soon as possible, while student associations and unions are seeking broader consultation with their members in order to challenge systemic violence, harassment and discrimination on campus. This policy will be presented at the Senate, yet ultimately passed by the Board of Governors, which deals with non-academic matters. The board has but two student representatives, one elected from the undergraduate population, and one from the graduate student body, who together represent approximately 36,000 students.
Let me level with you.
You could have bought this space. Contact email@example.com for more information.
vol 4, no 1, Sept/Oct 2011 The Leveller 5
Indigenous Sovereignty Coast to Coast to Coast Andy Crosby On unceded and unsurrendered territory from coast to coast to coast, Indigenous nations continue a long struggle to uphold their treaty rights and to protect their lands from the ongoing effects of colonization. With the proposed Keystone XL pipeline slated to snake dangerously through stolen land and the long Walk4Justice to Ottawa by dedicated women determined to put an end to violence, this contribution aims at highlighting another trail of resistance and victory.
Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) Passes Landmark Water Declaration After initially blocking a mining company’s access to land near Big Trout Lake in 2007, the KI First Nation in northern Ontario has established an elaborate set of consultation protocols and passed a water declaration to protect 13,025 square kilometres of their traditional territory. The declaration and protocols will guide the community’s dealings with both the federal and provincial government, as well as with private interests: “We declare all waters that flow into and out of Big Trout Lake, and lands whose waters flow into those lakes, rivers, and wetlands, to be completely protected through our continued care under KI’s authority, laws and protocols...No industrial uses, or other uses which disrupt, poison, or otherwise harm our relationship to these lands and waters will be permitted.”
Diamond Drilling Resisted at Dry Bones Bay In N’Dilo, Northwest Territories, Dene elders and community members convened in mid-Sept. to discuss and condemn the proposed drilling for diamonds on their traditional territory at Dry Bones Bay. The Bay area is home to sacred hunting and burial grounds. The Vancouver-based diamond exploration company Encore Renaissance Resources, is denouncing the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board’s decision to revisit a seven-year old environmental assessment, and has threatened to take legal action. At the hearing, former Chief Fred Sangris asserted that “When we say no, it means no.” The community has vowed to protect the land at all costs.
Vancouver Island Communities Reject Resort Development Project In early Sept., large crowds gathered at three days of public hearings in Sooke, BC to voice opposition to a resort development project on the boundary of Juan de Fuca Park on Vancouver Island’s west coast. The proposed project would have seen 257 cabins and other buildings erected on over 236 hectares of the Pacheedaht First Nation’s traditional territory. Members of the community travelled to Sooke to participate in the hearings and denounce the project that has met fierce opposition over the past year.
Fracking Operations Lead to Blockade and Arrests on Blood Land Three women from the Kainai Blood Tribe of the Blackfoot Confederacy have been arrested after setting up a blockade in southern Alberta. Members of the community are protesting hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations already underway on their territory with plans to drill 200 wells. Fracking is a destructive method of extracting natural gas, whereby gallons of water are mixed with sand and toxic chemicals and pumped at high pressure into a well. The women, who never left the reserve, were charged with trespassing and intimidation. They released a statement before their arrest: “The women are part of the Kainai Earth Watch and have been active advocates to stop the fracking due to the major threat to human health, wildlife, livestock and the irreversible damage to the land and water on the Blood Reserve and surrounding areas.”
6 The Leveller vol 4, no 1, Sept/Oct 2011
New Brunswick First Nations Sign Historic Agreement Chiefs of the 15 First Nations in New Brunswick met with leaders of federal and provincial governments at Eel River Bar to sign what has been described as an historic agreement. The aim of the Mi’kmaq Wolastoqiyik/New Brunswick/Canada Umbrella Agreement is to “guide tripartite discussions with the aim of concluding a Framework Agreement on inter-governmental relationships and Aboriginal and Treaty rights and the self-government of the Mi’gmaq [Mi’kmaq] and Wolastoqiyik in New Brunswick.” The Agreement was met with a cautioned optimism emanating from the historical relationship of governments dishonouring their promises.
Map: Lara Bateman
Grassy Narrows Wins Hard-Earned Victory in Court The Grassy Narrows First Nation located north of Kenora in northwestern Ontario established a blockade in 2002 to prevent logging on their traditional territory. After successfully driving the last lumber company, AbitibiBowater, away in 2008, the community has recently won a landmark court case reaffirming their traditional rights to the land enshrined in Treaty 3. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled that the government does not have the right to violate treaty rights by authorizing development including mining and logging. This victory comes in the wake of a colonial legacy of residential schools, forced relocation, hydro-dam flooding, mercury poisoning, clear-cutting, and mining.
Algonquins of Barriere Lake (ABL) Take Government to Court North of Ottawa, the ABL have been locked in a decades-long struggle to protect their land, language, and traditional way of life. Opposition to clear-cutting in the 1980s led to the signing of the historic Trilateral Agreement between the community, Quebec, and Canada in 1991. Over the past 20 years, the agreement has been dishonoured and attempts have been made to politically destabilize the community and undermine their traditional government, most recently through the imposition of Section 74 of the Indian Act. The ABL have since taken legal action to obtain sensitive documents supporting their fight to protect their land rights and to launch a constitutional challenge to the imposition of Section 74.
Algonquins Oppose Quebec Mining Act Algonquins in Quebec are seeking to mitigate the inevitable conflict that will arise through the Quebec Mining Act and its proposed Bill 14 modification. The Eagle Village and Wolf Lake First Nations south of Val d’Or sent a letter to Premier Jean Charest in opposition to the government granting several companies exploration and mining rights, which has lead to 2,442 mineral claims over 1,412 square kilometres, on their traditional territories in recent years. They claim that the amendment vaguely acknowledges the need for Aboriginal consultation and are demanding meaningful inclusions in the process. They have vowed to defend their land.
Celebrating Grandfather Commanda, the Morning Star “Though he has passed on, his legacy continues to create positive connections between those who wish to work toward a more peaceful and sustainable world.”
Erin Cummings A few nights ago my neighbour and I climbed up onto his roof. We fondly reminisced under the stars about the recently departed William Commanda, his contribution to our world, and the beauty of his vigil and funeral service. My neighbour grew up in Kitigan Zibi, a First Nations community 130 kilometres north of Gatineau, during the time that Commanda served as chief. He had warm memories to share. Yet, Commanda’s profound impact on those who knew him personally is just a small grain of sand in the larger picture of his lifelong work toward a peaceful, just, and sustainable
world. Named Ojigkwanong, or Morning Star, Commanda lived a life dedicated to learning and teaching. Described as a man who was humorous, kind, intelligent, dignified, and open, Commanda lived the changes he wished to see. In the early morning hours of Aug. 3, 2011, he passed away at age 97 in his home on the Kitigan Zibi Anishnabeg First Nation territory near Maniwaki, Quebec. Grandfather Commanda, as he was known by many friends, colleagues, and students, was born at Kitigan Zibi on November 11, 1913. Throughout his life Commanda wore many different hats, working as a guide, trapper, woodsman, and master craftsman
of birch bark canoes. In 1951, he was elected chief of Kitigan Zibi, a position he would hold until 1970. As a trusted leader in his community, Commanda was given the honour of holding three sacred Wampum Belts – The Seven Fires Prophecy Belt, the Welcoming Belt, and the Jay Treaty Belt, which enshrine historic agreements intended to form a foundation for relationships based on mutual respect and autonomy between the Anishnabeg Nation and European newcomers. Throughout his life, and particularly in his later years, Commanda worked tirelessly in his community, at the national level, and in international forums to promote practices of environmental stewardship, peace, justice, and the bridging of divides between peoples of different cultures and perspectives. A respected spokesperson and spiritual leader, Commanda organized numerous conferences and actions to promote environmental and human rights, restorative justice, peace, and healing. Commanda was the subject of Lucie Ouimet’s documentary film Encounter with an Algonquin Seer, and the au-
thor of three books, entitled Learning from a Kindergarten Dropout, volumes I and II, and Passionate Waters-Butterfly Kisses. He regularly held public sweat lodges at his home as a means for opening channels of communication, understanding, and healing between indigenous and non-Native Canadians. Commanda played a key role in creating the National Indigenous Centre on the Ottawa River’s Victoria Island and helped develop the Sacred Chaudière Site, which features an indigenous healing centre and peacebuilding conference centre. Commanda founded the international organization Circle of All Nations in 1969. He invited people across the world to participate in annual conferences focused on fostering peace and mutual respect across boundaries of nation, culture, language, gender, age and race. Though not fully realized before his passing, Commanda was also an integral part of the lobby to protect the Ottawa River as a designated heritage river. In recognition of Commanda’s lifetime of important and constructive work,
Photo: Steven McFadden
he received many accolades: he was named the honorary chair of the Ottawa Heritage River Designation Committee; he was awarded an honourary doctorate degree from the University of Ottawa; he held a key to the City of Ottawa; he was an officer of the Order of Canada; and he was a recipient of the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award. The three-day vigil at Kitigan Zibi that marked Commanda’s passing was widely attended by leaders and representatives of First Nations, Métis and Inuit organizations, federal and provincial politicians, foreign diplomats, environmental activists, artists, musicians, writers, filmmakers, and colleagues from across North America, Europe and South America.
It is fitting that Commanda’s funeral on Aug. 5, 2011 also marked the beginning of the 42nd annual Circle of All Nations gathering. Though he has passed on, his legacy continues to create positive connections between those who wish to work toward a more peaceful and sustainable world. On that starlit rooftop, as our night came to a close, my neighbour asked me to promise that we would throw a party in honour of our ancestors, and for Grandfather Commanda. He asked that we remove the railings that separate our front porches and stretch a board of wood between the two, joining our homes. It was a lovely metaphor for Commanda’s life work – taking down the fences that separate us, laying bridges across divides, and most importantly, celebrating life.
vol 4, no 1, Sept/Oct 2011 The Leveller 7
Your Community. Your Narrative. Your Opportunity. Develop new skills, learn more about issues you care about, be supported in your efforts while supporting the efforts of others, and be an active part of the community you live in. If you’re interested in working with others – with us! – to build a healthier, more vibrant and just community, this is your opportunity. Help get the word out through writing, photography, drawing/ cartooning, and/or through all the ‘behind the scenes’ work that is part of producing the Leveller.
Call for Contributors We are looking for people like you to write critical and inspiring articles about issues and events important to residents of Ottawa and surrounding communities. Story themes and ideas may include: • City Council and municipal governance • Unions and the labour movement • Development and/or gentrification • Art, film, food, music • Indigenous sovereignty • Gender and women’s issues • Food politics • Canadian politics • Environmental politics • International issues • Alternative culture/counter-culture • Campus politics
8 The Leveller vol 4, no 1, Sept/Oct 2011
Want to write an article but not quite sure of an idea? Come to one of our monthly story meetings (advertised through facebook.com/leveller.ottawa). For more information or to submit a pitch or an article, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
God Save Our Queen’s Union members refuse university’s plan to cut labour costs Doug Nesbitt and Andrew Stevens “The goals and priorities outlined here should be understood as ones involving not only me but also the Provost and Vice-Principals...While I ultimately am accountable for all of these, I will have varying degrees of direct involvement in them, with key responsibility for some being delegated to my colleagues. In short, what are here presented for brevity as ‘my’ goals should be considered as cascading down through the senior administration.” So states a June 25, 2011 letter from Queen’s University Principal Daniel Woolf to Board of Trustees Chair William Young. The leaked document outlines “the annual goals and priorities for the senior administrative team…for 2011-12.” The ad-
ministration’s first priority was to “negotiate successful labour group agreements.” Doing so entailed drawing up new contracts with the Queen’s University Faculty Association (QUFA) union and the library technicians, trades, custodial and food service workers of three Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) locals at Queen’s University. But what constitutes successful contract negotiation for the Queen’s administration does not necessarily jive with union members. Negotiations with both unions were tense throughout the summer. The administration broke off negotiations with CUPE by filing a no board report with the Ministry of Labour on July 12, setting July 29 as the earliest legal strike or lockout date. On July 29 they did the same with QUFA, setting
Aug. 15 as the earliest legal start date of a faculty strike or lockout. A no board report is issued when negotiations have reached a stalemate, and a party would like to establish the date after which a strike or lockout can legally occur. Either a union or an employer may file a no board report. With QUFA and CUPE securing 78 percent and 98 percent strike mandates from their respective memberships, labour disruption appeared likely. The administration resumed negotiations with CUPE and an agreement was reached on Aug. 6, two days before CUPE’s scheduled strike date, which the union had pushed back by nearly two weeks in order to facilitate bargaining. The faculty struck an agreement with the administration on Aug.
15, the day the strike was due to start. Queen’s students were able to breathe a collective sigh of relief. The major obstacle in both negotiations was the restructuring of the Queen’s Pension Plan (QPP). The QPP had been weakened due to losses on stock market investments in recent years. While the academic and blue collar union members accepted the need to reform the pension plan, they refused to accept the administration’s proposed solution of increasing contributions while reducing pension benefits. These proposals were advanced in negotiations a year after Principal Woolf unilaterally suspended pension reform discussions between the administration and concerned unions. The restructuring of the QPP was seen as a key goal of the senior administration’s strategy, as outlined in the leaked letter quoted above. Woolf stated that he sought to “recalibrate labour relations here in the longer term” and anticipated “the fall of 2011/winter 2012 could prove to be a time of major labour disruption at the university.” If there was any doubt as to the administration’s intentions following the no board reports, Woolf made it clear in his letter that the administration was considering pushing the unions into picket
lines if necessary to secure its financial goals: “I appreciate the Board’s understanding that these disruptions, should they occur, will be unpleasant and potentially reputation-damaging in the short term, but they may be a necessary step in order to achieve success in salary restraint and pension reform.” As the letter makes clear, cutting labour costs is a major part of the administration’s goal of restructuring the university’s finances. This approach to cutting costs has driven the battle over pension reform at Queen’s. The peculiarities of Queen’s appear to set it apart from other universities in Ontario – its claimed “Ivy League North” status, its paternal and parochial culture of “tradition,” and the upper-class composition of its undergraduate student body – yet similar if not identical strategic goals are underpinning the ratcheting up of labour tensions on university campuses across the province. This is especially the case following the economic meltdown of 2008, which in Queen’s case devastated the university’s pension plan. Students rarely consider the pensions of their instructors. A weakened pension plan, however, would keep senior faculty working late into their careers and reduce the number of available jobs for aspiring academics. These concerns are
compounded by the relative decline of funding given to post-secondary institutions by provincial and federal governments since the early 1990s. As a result, there has been a noticeable shift towards the commericalization and corporatization of universities across Ontario. Students experience this shift not just in the presence of additional Coke machines on campus, but also in an unprecedented hikes in tuition fees. Educational concerns have taken a backseat to fiscal concerns in universities’ decision-making. In many cases a university’s board of governors or trustees consist mainly of unelected representatives of various mid-sized or largescale corporations, public relations companies, or private sector legal firms. With the economy unstable again and with provincial and federal governments moving towards programs of fiscal restraint and austerity, universities will continue to endure major financial stress not unlike that experienced during the Mike Harris government of the mid-1990s. Those who work and learn at universities will bear the brunt of these financial pressures through labour disruptions and ever-increasing tuition fees. Such is the vision of Principal Woolf and, likely, his counterparts across Ontario’s university system.
CRITICAL THINKING MATTERS TO WORKING PEOPLE.
Postal workers were legislated back to work, losing the right to free collective bargaining, after Canada Post and Conservative politicians claimed that the labour dispute was costing “hundreds of millions of dollars.” But the nancial reports show this was a lie. That’s why critical thinking about what you see and hear in the news really matters. A message from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers www.leveller.ca
vol 4, no 1, Sept/Oct 2011 The Leveller 9
PHASE 1 PHAS Hardistyy to Hardist Steele City, City, Wood River and Pakota Pakota
CANADIAN HARDISTY CRUDE OIL RESERVES CALGARY
REGINA WINNIPEG HELENA
AMERICAN CRUDE OIL RESERVES
PHASE 4 PHAS Steele City itityy ttoo Hardisty Hardis Ha Hardi LINCOLN
STEELE CITY PHASSSE 2 Steel el ele le Cit City t to Cushhhing Cus ing
TTOPEKA O JEFFERSON CITY
AMERICAN CRUDE OIL RESERVES PHAASE PH AASSE 3 Cush Cu ushing us hing to Hus Hu ust sttton on andd Port an Port Ar Arthur thur
PORT ARTHUR HOUSTON
Coming Down the Pipeline Governments and corporations misrepresent the facts on oil sands Adam Kostrich Proposed extensions to the existing network of trans-continental oil pipelines has raised public concern in Canada and the US over the potential environmental impact. But for the most part governments and mainstream media outlets have ignored public opposition to the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, which would facilitate a direct link between Alberta’s oil sands and refineries in the Texas Gulf coast. Major pipelines already exist between Canada and the US; the function of the Keystone XL would be to pave the way for extensive investment in the future development of Alberta’s oil sands. The Harper government supports the construction of the Keystone XL and other pipelines on the grounds that oil sands development will bolster American energy security and provide a boost to the North American economy in the form of job creation.
All individuals engaging in civil disobedience at the Parliament buildings on Sept. 26 run the risk of arrest, but it is unlikely that individuals will be detained for an extended period of time unless they have a previous outstanding criminal conviction. More information about the legal aspect of the protest can be found at
Remind Me Again: What Are the Oil Sands? The oil sands (also commonly referred to as the tar sands) consist of sand, water, clay, and bitumen, which is a highly viscous variety of petroleum. The thick and heavy nature of bitumen does not allow it to flow as readily as crude oil, so it must be positioned via technological processes before being extracted. Bitumen is thus financially and environmentally more expensive to extract and refine than crude oil. There are two approaches to determining the relative ecological cost of extracting bitumen. The oil industry prefers to quote the “well-to-wheels” approach, which takes into account the greenhouse gas emissions generated in the production and consumption of a barrel of oil. This approach shows that products from the oil sands produce approximately 10 percent more greenhouse gases than conventional sources of oil. However, the majority of emissions are generated during the process of extracting, refining, and transporting the oil. Environmentalists therefore prefer a “well-totank” comparison, which does not take consumption into account. Such a measurement indicates that oil sands products generate 130 percent more greenhouse gases than crude oil produced in the US.
No Environmental Impact? On Aug. 26 the US State Department released a statement indicating that if built the Keystone XL would have “no significant impact” on the environment. The statement is carefully constructed to emphasize the relatively clean nature of transporting oil via pipeline versus other methods of transportation. The statement makes no reference to the environmental consequences of extensive investment in the Alberta oil sands down the road. In reality, there are a number of pressing environmental concerns. Increased oil sands production has been referred to as a tipping point for climate change by a number of renowned climatologists, given that the Alberta oil sands represent the second-largest carbon deposit on the planet, and only about three percent of the oil sands have been developed thus far. The Keystone XL’s proposed path would cross over the Ogallala Aquifer, which over two million Americans depend on for drinking water and approximately one-third of American farmers rely on for irrigation purposes. In addition, expanded oil sands production would result in further destruction of the Canadian boreal forest and would pollute a number of culturally and ecologically sensitive areas, even if the pipeline does not leak. Residents of communities surrounding and downstream of the oil sands, for example, have experienced a proliferation of cancer and respiratory illness as the oil sands have been developed over the past decade.
ottawaaction.ca/content/legal. Participation in the protest aside, the solidarity, skills, and time of volunteers are needed as well. Skilled cooks are required to prepare food on Sept. 25, the day of participant training. Those interested should e-mail email@example.com. Anyone interested in volunteering accommodation for protest-
ers should e-mail details to firstname.lastname@example.org. To volunteer your support in other areas – photography, social networking, and marshalling participants on the day of the protest – email your support to a t z a ra s @ g re e n p e a c e. o rg . Additional information can be found at ottawaaction.ca.
Jobs, Energy Independence, and the Asia Threat The Canadian government and TransCanada have marketed increased oil sands production as a way to create 1.2 million jobs in Canada and strengthen the trade partnership between Canada and the US. The American government and media alike have championed pipeline construction projects as a means by which the US can import oil from an established ally and reduce its dependence on energy imports from “hostile,” oil-rich nations such as Venezuela and Iran. The Wall Street Journal published a piece in July 2011 entitled “Jobs in the Pipeline,” which prized job creation and American energy security above all other concerns. The article quoted the well-to-wheels approach in calculating relative greenhouse gas emissions and stated that the Keystone XL alone would create up to 600,000 American jobs, without setting out a timeline for job creation. In dismissing opposition on environmental grounds the article raised the question, “Why do jobs always lose?” These oft-cited job creation figures – 1.2 million in Canada and 600,000 in the US – are grossly inflated. They are based upon projections derived from uninhibited oil sands development and unrestricted pipeline construction until 2035. The Canadian Energy Research Institute estimates that the effects of the Keystone XL alone would create approximately 200,000 jobs in Canada and 80,000 jobs in the US over the next 25 years. Therefore, the impact of the Keystone XL on the North American economy would not be as immediate or significant as advertised. Both TransCanada and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird have announced intentions to build a Northern Gateway pipeline from the oil sands to the Pacific coast, with the aim of selling energy to Asian markets. The implication is that increased investment in the oil sands will take place whether the Keystone XL is built or not, and that American interests stand to either benefit from the Keystone XL or suffer if the project is not endorsed by President Obama.
Standing Up to the OilGovernment Alliance Opponents of the Keystone XL, the Northern Gateway pipeline, and similar projects ask some important questions. Must energy security and job creation come from fossil fuel industries instead of alternative energy industries? Should we be placing more money (and thus more political power) in the hands of the oil industry? Can we afford to allow our elected officials to misrepresent the interests and ignore the voices of their constituents? The answer of North American Indigenous peoples, activists, climatologists, and youth seems to be a resounding “no.” Opposition to the Keystone XL in particular resulted in a peaceful protest in front of the White House from Aug. 20 to Sept. 3. Protesters called for President Obama to live up to his 2008 election promise of reducing America’s dependence on fossil fuels and foreign energy imports. Over two weeks of non-violent protest, 1,252 individuals were arrested. To coincide with the demonstrations in Washington, a protest also took place last month against the Northern Gateway pipeline in Burnaby, BC. The Northern Gateway is part of the broader pipeline initiative, but is slated to be built by Enbridge instead of TransCanada. The Yinka Dene Alliance, representing five First Nations whose territory covers a quarter of the Northern Gateway’s proposed route, publicly rejected a 10 percent equity stake from Enbridge in December of last year, saying that Enbridge’s money and promises “are no good to us.” A sit-in against the pipelines is scheduled to take place at the Centre Block of Parliament in Ottawa on Monday, Sept. 26. Organizers have encouraged participants to attend training sessions the day before, and to volunteer transportation and accommodation for participants. It is hoped that sustained efforts at peaceful civil disobedience by everyday individuals and environmental activists will prove effective at forcing the Canadian government to withdraw its support of the oil sands industry.
Tea Time for Ontario? It is an interesting time in North American politics. A 2010 Harris Decima poll reported that nearly 19 percent of Canadian voters would join an Americanstyle Tea Party movement if given the opportunity. And since then, federal and provincial elections have seen a Tea Party-style approach – characterized by an unhealthy distaste for evidence-based policy – used by Canada’s right. In Canada, we saw the rise of the right federally in the latest election, but with it, the rise of the New Democratic Party (NDP) and its mustachioed leader, the late Jack Layton. And now, as Ontarians gear up to head to the polls (or not), we are left wondering what threat Tim Hudak and his gaggle of “Progressive” Conservatives pose to the current Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty, especially amid a surge of public sympathy for the more leftist and social democratic NDP. South of the border, Republican Tea Partiers have been on the move in advance of a national election. In the US, this farright movement has been picking on and embarrassing the Democratic president with great efficiency. They recently staged a widely-televised debate with all the nationalist bells and whistles in the Sept. 12th shadow of the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Arms over hearts with computer-projected American flags cheesily waving in the simulated wind, the Republican right geared up for their democratic insurrection against the cabal of “leftists” led by Barack Obama in a bid to reclaim the White House next year. Hudak may not have the budget or celebrity status of the American right, but some of his ideas can be just as wacky. We may not have to look to the US to find Tea Partiers when we’ve got Hudak and his luxury campaign bus taking tea time on the road all over Ontario (Hudak’s bus replaces his previous Tory-blue RV called the “change-a-bago,” which
was covered with Conservative logos and pictures of Hudak’s face). The common thread linking Hudak’s provincial election campaign and the deceitful rhetoric frequently spewed by Tea Partiers is their flagrant contempt for reality. In the Tea Party category, take the example of Arizona Senator Jon Kyl, who in April of this year, had no qualms claiming that “over 90 percent” of the budget of the organization Planned Parenthood is devoted to abortion. In truth, this organization spent no state money on abortion and less than three percent of its resources towards abortion services. Kyl’s explanation was instructive: “That was not intended to be a factual statement,” his office later explained in a ridiculous retraction. According to economist Jim Stanford, Hudak also has a problem with factual statements. The cutely named Tory provincial election manifesto, changebook, is undeniably full of pretty graphics, but what is fundamentally lacking, Stanford argues, is even a basic understanding of statistics and objectively presented research. Stanford’s “Behind the Numbers” report, published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives in Sept., outlines how each of the 13 graphs used in the Tory plan are misleading at best and manipulative at worst. According to Stanford, “The changebook’s graphs reflect a consistent willingness to bend the statistical truth, and a disrespect for normal standards of honesty and transparency in written work. From a group that aims to govern the province, this pattern is deeply concerning.” As Stanford demonstrates, the document inappropriately scales graphs and contains citations to data sets and evidence that do not exist. At times, axes are improperly labelled. “In fact, not one of the 13 graphs conforms to the standards of presentation that are normally required of statistical presentations
in academic and professional practice. In at least three cases, the data presented in the graphs is actually false.” The changebook’s “pattern of systematic dishonesty,” as Stanford calls it, cannot be ascribed to mere sloppiness. Rather, the authors’ inclusion of inaccurate data and dishonest statistical presentations appears to be part of a conscious attempt to exaggerate certain political points and deliberately mislead the reader. This ideological smokescreen is meant to disguise what is, in reality, an underlying political agenda centred on austerity, which is intent on slashing social programs and attacking the working conditions of public sector employees. Certainly, the economic crisis of 2008-09 drastically increased public debt around the world, as governments (provincial, federal or otherwise) intervened to take on the bad debts of private companies and financial institutions. But the Hudak Tories are presenting cuts to public services as the only way of eliminating government debts, even though they are equally committed to ongoing corporate tax cuts and, in the context of falling crime rates, increased public spending on toughon-crime measures. As journalist Michael Den Tandt recently blogged, Hudak’s platform “is larded with the usual vows to ‘eliminate red tape.’ How many times have we heard this? Every political neophyte storms the gates spinning visions of thousands of whiteshirted minions in offices somewhere, wasting public money.” At the same time, “the Conservatives would use public money to have convicts, presumably in striped jailhouse outfits or Guantanamo orange, paraded along the boulevards, picking up trash and cutting grass.” But how much does it matter that Hudak’s plan is based on shoddy research? Fact-based evidence has never been a
deterrent to right-wing policy. When our illustrious Prime Minister Stephen Harper scrapped the mandatory long-form census, he essentially ensured that demographic research in Canada was no longer possible. Remarkably, in response to Statistics Canada’s finding last July that crime rates are currently at the same level in Canada as they were in 1973, Harper’s Justice Minister Rob Nicholson was quoted in an email as saying, “We do not use statistics as an excuse not to get tough on criminals.” It’s hard to prove that the pesky meddling judiciary or unreasonable activists might have an empirical point when you can no longer depend on demographic statistics. As the Canadian Press noted last year, critics have pointed out that a voluntary long-form census will over-represent middleclass white people to the detriment of social policy that affects marginalized communities. Invoking Tea Party-like rhetoric, Harper endorsed scrapping the long-form census, arguing that it constituted an “invasion of privacy.” In truth, what was lost by making the census voluntary was the reliability of the data itself, which can no longer be said to accurately represent the broader Canadian population. Given this anti-fact trend in North American politics, should we be surprised that Hudak and his gang are not deterred by that vexatious little thing called reality? Some commentators say Hudak doesn’t stand a chance, that his platform has been discredited, that Tea Party politics won’t appeal to Canadians. We hope that’s true, but if evidence and accuracy rarely influence votes, progressive Ontarians have much to fear in the lead-up to the provincial election. As the far less harmful Canadian rock band The Tea Party proclaimed in their 1997 song “Temptation,” “We exist in a world where the fear of illusion is real.”
“Arms over hearts with computer-projected American flags cheesily waving in the simulated wind, the Republican right geared up for their democratic insurrection against the cabal of ‘leftists’ led by Barack Obama in a bid to reclaim the White House next year.”
Send us your letters.
“The common thread linking Hudak’s provincial election campaign and the deceitful rhetoric frequently spewed by Tea Partiers is their flagrant contempt for reality.”
12 The Leveller vol 4, no 1, Sept/Oct 2011
Funding Political Art: Theatre as Collective Imagination Pandemic Theatre Collective One week prior to the Aug. 4 opening of the 2011 Summerworks Theatre Festival, Canada’s largest juried festival featuring predominantly Canadian plays, Heritage Canada retracted its funding. Summerworks’ artistic producer Michael Rubenfeld blogged, “After a tremendously productive five year partnership with Heritage Canada, the Festival has just received notice that this partnership is not going to be renewed for the 2011 season.” Funding from Heritage Canada amounted to approximately 20 percent of the festival’s budget. It is worth recalling the federal government’s visceral reaction to the 2010 Summerworks season. Last year saw the premiere of Homegrown, a play by Catherine Frid. The play became a major media focus because it is partially based on interviews with Shareef Abdelhaleem, one of the men accused in the so-called “Toronto 18” plot. The men allegedly intended to detonate bombs in downtown Toronto and, according to the Toronto Star, “storm Parliament Hill.” At the time, Andrew MacDougall, spokesperson for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, commented on Summerworks’ inclusion of Homegrown in the festival: “We are extremely disappointed that public money is being used to fund plays that glorify terrorism. Had the plot hatched by the Toronto 18 succeeded, thousands of innocent Canadians would have died.” Had the prime minister or his spokesperson seen the play, they would have been hard pressed to find evidence of any glorification of terrorism. At its most controversial, Homegrown portrays Abdelhaleem as a regretful and confused youth with a special attachment to his cats (at the very least, Harper and Abdelhaleem have the latter in common). It would seem, then, that the Harper government’s main objection to the play was simply the notion of conversing with a man accused of terrorism. While there is no explicit link between the Heritage Canada decision to discontinue funding to Summerworks and the Harper government, it is not surprising that suspicions of indirect censorship remain. It is an unfortunate reality that many artists in Canada
Pandemic Theatre collective member Jiv Parasram playing “Stéphan Harpére” in “The Cage” at the 2011 Toronto Fringe Festival.
rely heavily on government funding to survive. As a result, pulling funding can be tantamount to muzzling political art. As a small but growing collective, such indirect censorship very much concerns us at the Pandemic Theatre, an independent arts collective based in Toronto. Our mandate focuses our work on theatrical productions and performances that explore socio-political themes. Since our beginnings in 2009 we have existed without the support of any federal, provincial, or municipal funding, tackling issues related to Guantanamo Bay, social stigma against the mentally ill, and the Israel– Palestine conflict. For our collective, the idea that government funding could be cut because of controversial content was particularly troubling. If the Summerworks festival, with over twenty years of history, could be so easily dismissed for its content, what chance do small groups have of attracting public funds if they refuse to adhere to an “acceptable” political stance? In our opinion, the budget cut was an act aimed at discouraging the creation of politically-engaged art. In order to keep our
work accessible to the audiences we hope to reach, we must keep our ticket prices low. Quite simply, this means that only rarely, if ever, does anyone get paid. Along with other groups and organizations, Pandemic tried to help raise funds to make up for the funding gap left by Heritage Canada. At our fundraiser “Say Something!” award-winning Canadian playwright Guillermo Verdecchia asked some important questions about funding and political art: How do you ask a government to fund a project that aims to criticize its practices? What is political art? How is it defined? What makes some art political, and others not? After all, isn’t all art defined by its time? Although we may be naive in our ideals, we as a collective cannot provide an answer to the first question besides offering our hope that, in a democratic society, a responsible government should be interested in considering the views of its citizens, and encouraging dialogue through artists, academics, journalists and activists, all of whom shape the cultural and aesthetic morality of society. As to the question of what constitutes political art, Michael Orlando
of the Theatre Lab group has observed, “It is no longer good enough for us to simply reflect our times, we must use our voices, our creativity and our platforms to influence the public, to change the outcomes of elections and the course of our histories.” We agree with this view – though would venture further in suggesting that political art does in fact reflect our times. It just so happens that what is reflected by political art is a reality that is underrepresented in other forms of media. On the streets, in journals, and in the other venues of expression are the opinions, arguments, and voices of what is viewed as a sub-culture of criticism and dissent. However, we as “political artists” do not believe that this is a sub-culture. On the contrary, it is a dominant culture that simply lacks proportionate representation. We are often told that people don’t pay to go to the theatre to watch you act; they pay to have you help them imagine. In this respect, funding for the arts is simply an investment in collective imagination, where the aim is to imagine a better society. A society that is, we hope, forming all around us.
Photo: Fazeela Jiwa
“It is an unfortunate reality that many artists in Canada rely heavily on government funding to survive. As a result, pulling funding can be tantamount to muzzling political art.”
vol 4, no 1, Sept/Oct 2011 The Leveller 13
WALK4JUSTICE REPREND LA ROUTE Une quatrième marche commémorative Walk4Justice souligne la violence faite aux femmes
Photo: Andy Crosby
Les Sans-culottes étaient les révolutionnaires radicaux pendant la Révolution française (vers 1789). Leur nom émanait des pantalons qu’ils portaient au lieu de la culotte courte et des bas, portés par les nobles et les bourgeois.
Traduction par Stéfanie Clermont
Le Leveller étend ses branches!
Nous acceptons actuellement des articles en français pour la prochaine édition du Leveller. Ces articles feront partie d’un cahier spécial. Envoyez vos articles à email@example.com, et aidez-nous à diversifier notre contenu! Si vous avez de l’expérience dans la révision de textes en français, contactez-nous!
14 The Leveller vol 4, no 1, Sept/Oct 2011
Erin Cummings Le 21 juin 2011, un groupe d’individus dévoués se sont rassemblés dans les rues de Vancouver pour entreprendre une marche de plus de 4000 km et de près de trois mois. L’expédition estivale allant de Vancouver, territoire Salish, jusqu’à Ottawa, territoire algonquin, marque la quatrième «marche pour la justice» (Walk4Justice), un évènement annuel. «Notre objectif est de sensibiliser la population à travers le Canada à la situation des femmes disparues et assassinées,» dit Gladys Radek, co-fondatrice de Walk4Justice. «Et nous allons demandé à Stephen Harper de prendre l’initiative ou de démissionner.» Les marcheurs-euses arriveront à Ottawa le 19 septembre dans le cadre des 30 jours de justice, une série d’évènements tenus à Ottawa et organisés par le groupe Families of Sisters in Spirit et leurs alliés. Les 30 jours de justice ont lieu du 5 septembre au 4 octobre et visent à éduquer le public au sujet des dimensions genrées et racialisées de la violence. Parmi les évènements de cette année : des tables rondes, des discussions, des rassemblements, une foire sur le thème de la justice sociale, une soirée cinéma et l’évènement annuel «La rue, la nuit, les femmes sans peur». Walk4Justice met de l’avant plusieurs demandes. «Nous demandons une enquête publique nationale sur les décès de tant de femmes,» a dit Radek au Leveller. «Nous faisons aussi pression en faveur de nos propres groupes de travail autochtones afin d’enquêter sur ces cas parce que nous sommes fatigués des policiers qui font leurs enquêtes eux-mêmes. Ils tuent notre peuple.» Radek dit qu’ils demandent aussi la création d’un centre de santé et de bien-être pour les familles des femmes disparues ou assassinées, surtout pour les enfants. Walk4Justice a vu le jour en 2008. Radek et Williams ont créé l’organisme pour sensibiliser le public à la violence et à l’injustice qui menacent la vie
des femmes autochtones du Canada. Celles-ci représentent 3 percent de la population du Canada mais comptent cinq fois plus de risques de décès à la suite de violences que les femmes canadiennes d’autres origines. «Lorsque nous avons marché pour la première fois, en 2008 à Vancouver, 11 femmes avaient disparues ou avait été assassinées, et cette année il y en a eu 36 jusqu’à présent. Alors il y a un problème quelque part,» dit Radek. «Le racisme et la discrimination systémiques sont l’un des plus importants.» Radek et Williams ont fondé Walk4Justice après avoir elles-mêmes perdu des êtres chers victimes de la violence. Le 21 septembre 2005, la nièce de Radek, Tamara Lynn Chipman, est disparue près de Prince Rubert, en Colombie-Britannique, quelque part sur l’autoroute 16, qui porte aujourd’hui le nom de «l’autoroute des larmes». Radek s’est aventurée dans le quartier de Vancouver que l’on nomme Downtown Eastside à la recherche de Chipman; c’est là que Radek a rencontré Bernie Williams, une activiste luttant pour les droits des femmes sans domicile fixe vivant dans les rues du quartier le plus pauvre du Canada (hormis les réserves autochtones). Williams a elle-même perdu sa mère et deux sœurs, elles aussi victimes d’actes de violence dans le Downtown Eastside. Ensemble, Williams et Radek ont commencé à tenir le compte des femmes disparues ou assassinées au Canada. En parlant à des gens de partout au pays qui ont perdu des membres de leurs familles, elles ont compilé plus de 3 000 cas de femmes disparues ou assassinées, la majorité d’entre elles étant autochtones. «Nous fournirons une liste de près de 4 200 noms de femmes disparues ou assassinées depuis les quelques dernières décennies,» dit Radek. Une banque de données semblable a été créée par la campagne Sisters in Spirits sous la direction de
l’Association des femmes autochtones du Canada (AFAC); elle donne le noms de près de 600 femmes autochtones disparues ou assassinées au Canada. Ce travail a été accompli malgré les coupures budgétaires subies par la campagne Sisters in Spirits, coupures annoncées en octobre 2010 par le gouvernement Harper. Ce dernier a été vivement critiqué par des groupes luttant pour l’égalité des femmes depuis son arrivée au pouvoir en 2006, année où 75 percent des bureaux de Condition féminine Canada ont été fermés. Radek dit que «tous les programmes pour femmes à travers le payés se font couper.» Elle a dit au Leveller, «En ce moment, nous avons l’impression qu’il y a une guerre contrer les femmes dans ce pays.» De plus, en juillet 2011, treize groupes de la Colombie-Britannique sélectionnés pour participer à la Commission d’enquête sur les femmes disparues se sont vus refuser le financement du gouvernement provincial par l’ancien procureur général de la C.-B., Barry Penner. Le 7 septembre, Kent Roach de la faculté de droit de l’Université de Toronto a envoyé une lettre au procureur général par intérim de la Colombie-Britannique pour commenter la décision: «Le refus de verser des fonds est d’une mauvaise foi flagrante, car les groupes ayant obtenu qualité pour agir représentent les femmes les plus démunies du Canada : des groupes de femmes autochtones, vivant sous le seuil de la pauvreté, aux prises avec une dépendance à la drogue et se livrant à la prostitution.» «Ces femmes sont régulièrement, et dans les cas répertoriés dans l’enquête, ont été à répétition, la cible de prédateurs qui les ont violées et assassinées», poursuit Kent Roach dans sa lettre. «Le fait de leur retirer leur droit de parole alors que leur sécurité et leur vie sont en jeu est juridiquement mal fondé et représente un manque de principe.»
Une vague de lois antiavortement traverse les États-Unis Stéfanie Clermont Depuis le début de l’année 2011, 19 États américains ont adopté un total de quatrevingts lois antiavortement. Un record! Le dernier record de ce genre remonte à 2005 : 34 lois en une année. Cinq États (Oklahoma, Kansas, Indiana, Idaho et Alabama) ont adopté des lois interdisant l’avortement après 20 semaines de gestation. Trois États (Nebraska, Dakota du Nord et Kansas) ont adopté des lois qui obligent les mineures à obtenir le consentement d’un parent pour se faire avorter. Cinq autres États (l’Indiana, le Kansas, le Dakota du Nord, le Dakota du Sud et le Texas) ont adopté des lois rendant obligatoires des thérapies et des périodes d’attente avant l’avortement. Dans le cas de l’Indiana et du Texas, il est maintenant obligatoire d’informer une femme qui cherche à se faire avorter que le fœtus qu’elle porte est une personne. Au Dakota du Sud, il est obligatoire pour une femme qui désire se faire avorter d’attendre 72 heures après avoir pris un rendez-vous et de consulter un centre de « crise de grossesse »; de tels centres ont la réputation de décourager l’avortement, allant même jusqu’à montrer des vêtements de bébé aux femmes qui viennent se renseigner sur les options qui s’offrent à elles. Ces centres offrent également de l’information erronée sur les risques liés à l’avortement (avançant par exemple que l’avortement peut causer l’infertilité et le cancer du sein, ce que démentent des recherches scientifiques). Outre les lois adoptées, de nombreux autres projets de loi antiavortement ont vu le jour; certains ont été rejetés, d’autres sont en vue d’être examinés. Certains de ces projets de loi contredisent des décisions de la Cour suprême des États-Unis, notamment la décision historique Roe c. Wade, qui a établi un précédent sur l’avortement aux États-Unis. Depuis Roe c. Wade, l’avortement est légal jusqu’à la viabilité (jusqu’à ce que le fœtus puisse survivre à l’extérieur de l’utérus, soit environ la 24e semaine). Dans 15 États, des projets de loi suggèrent des restrictions à l’avortement après 20 semaines de gestation. L’un des projets de loi les plus scandaleux de l’année, le « Heart Beat Bill » (projet de loi Battement de cœur), a vu le jour en Ohio. Ce projet rendrait l’avortement illégal dès qu’un battement de cœur est perceptible chez le fœtus (cela peut arriver dès la sixième semaine alors que, par-
fois, la femme ne sait même pas qu’elle est enceinte). Ce projet de loi, approuvé par la Chambre des représentants par un vote de 54 contre 44 à la fin juin 2011, se retrouvera devant le Sénat. Pour discuter de cette réalité et la comparer à la situation canadienne, nous nous sommes entretenus avec Joyce Arthur, directrice générale de la Coalition pour le droit à l’avortement au Canada. La CDAC est le seul groupe pro-choix du Canada à prendre ouvertement position politiquement. Joyce Arthur explique la vague de lois antiavortement qui traverse les États-Unis ainsi : « Les républicains ont pris le contrôle de la Chambre des représentants lors des élections de mi-mandat en novembre 2010 et ont également gagné des sièges au Sénat. Il a donc été plus difficile pour les démocrates d’établir des majorités contre les projets de loi antichoix. [Les républicains] ont mené leur campagne électorale en parlant d’emplois mais, maintenant qu’ils ont accédé au pouvoir, ils passent beaucoup de leur temps à restreindre ou à criminaliser l’avortement et à retirer leur financement à Planned Parenthood, qui fournit des services de santé de base à des millions de femmes qui n’ont pas d’assurance maladie. On a qualifié cette vague de lois antiavortement de “guerre faite aux femmes” – et c’est exactement ce que c’est. » Au Canada, la situation est bien différente. « Il serait en fait très difficile de faire passer des restrictions à l’avortement au Canada parce qu’elles violeraient la Charte des droits de la personne et le droit des femmes à l’égalité », note Joyce Arthur. Aux ÉtatsUnis, de tels textes n’existent pas. Le Equal Rights Amendment, visant à assurer que le droit des femmes à l’égalité ne puisse être compromis par aucune loi, a été déposé dès les années 1920 mais n’a jamais été adopté; il est redéposé à chaque nouvelle législature depuis 1982, sans succès. « Les Canadiennes ont probablement accès à de meilleurs services que partout ailleurs dans le monde, explique Joyce Arthur, ce qui ne veut pas dire qu’il n’y a pas d’amélioration possible. Les problèmes majeurs au Canada sont le manque d’accès aux services pour celles qui habitent à l’extérieur des grandes villes, la stigmatisation qui nuit aux médecins autant qu’aux femmes, ainsi que la menace constante que représente le mouvement antichoix. » L’idéologie antichoix a une certaine influence au sein du gouvernement canadien.
Entre 1987 et aujourd’hui, 43 projets de loi ont tenté de réduire le droit et l’accès à l’avortement au Canada; aucun ne s’est concrétisé. Le mouvement anti-choix ne manque pas d’idées pour retirer le droit et l’accès à l’avortement; certaines de ses tactiques évoquent celles utilisées aux États-Unis : retrait du financement gouvernemental aux organismes qui fournissent des services d’avortement, interdiction de l’avortement après une période de gestation de 20 semaines, etc. De plus, le gouvernement actuel est proche de ce mouvement. Le parti au pouvoir compte un nombre assez important de députés antichoix (voir la liste des députés dressée par la CDAC http://www.arcc-cdac. ca/fr/action/liste-deputesanti-choix-mai-11.html) et quand l’Ordre du Canada a été remis au Dr Morgentaler (le médecin qui a offert des avortements illégaux pendants des années avant d’être traîné en cour, jeté en prison et qui, finalement, a été à l’origine de la décriminalisation de l’avortement au Canada), le porte-parole du premier ministre Harper, Dimitri Soudas, a immédiatement souligné que le gouvernement n’avait rien à voir avec cette nomination. La situation canadienne n’est pas uniforme. Il n’y a pas de services d’avortement à l’Île-du-Prince-Édouard et au Nunavut. Au NouveauBrunswick, il existe un seul centre et la province refuse de le financer. Ce refus va à l’encontre de la loi qui définit l’avortement comme un service de santé et, de ce fait, comme un service devant être financé par les provinces au Canada. Selon Joyce Arthur, « la principale influence des États-Unis sur le Canada en matière d’avortement a été d’“exporter” de ce côté de la frontière des extrémistes américains qui ciblent nos médecins ». James Kopp, un Américain associé au groupe terroriste catholique The Lambs of Christ (« les agneaux du Christ »), a été déclaré coupable du meurtre du docteur américain Barnett Slepian et de la tentative de meurtre du Dr Hugh Short, d’Ancaster en Ontario. Il est soupçonné d’autres attaques contre des médecins canadiens. Notre situation n’est peutêtre pas identique à celle des femmes états-uniennes mais le combat pour le droit et l’accès à l’avortement sera plus efficace si les femmes canadiennes et états-uniennes unissent leur force. Et ce combat est urgent : « Si les femmes n’ont pas la capacité de choisir si, quand et à quelle fréquence elles veulent des enfants, elles ne peuvent pas
être vraiment égales aux hommes », déclare Joyce Arthur. « Sous un système patriarcal, les femmes ont pour rôle de fournir des enfants à un homme. L’avortement est controversé parce que la femme ose détruire la propriété et l’héritage de l’homme. » En conclusion de cet entretien, Joyce offre ce message: « Nous devons parler de nos propres avortements pour réduire la stigmatisation reliée à l’avortement. Nous devons organiser des campagnes contre l’empiétement des groupes antichoix et réfuter leur propagande. Nous devons veiller à ce que nos députés soient tenus responsables. Nous devons soutenir les groupes pro-choix en faisait du bénévolat et des dons, en organisant ou en participant à des activités prochoix.»
«Si les femmes n’ont pas la capacité de choisir si, quand et à quelle fréquence elles veulent des enfants, elles ne peuvent pas être vraiment égales aux hommes.»
Photo: Andy Crosby
Photo: Andy Crosby
vol 4, no 1, Sept/Oct 2011 The Leveller 15
Debating Development in Dufferin County A proposed mega-quarry threatens agricultural area in Southern Ontario
Photos: Darryl Reid
“Fresh water, frequently described as the ‘oil of the twenty-first century,’ remains as much a global issue as a regional issue.”
Marc Benoit Prior to the arrival of European settlers, the land we now call Ontario was known to the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) societies as Skanadario, which means “beautiful water.” The name was selected because the region’s fertility, health, and beauty are enriched by the thousands of lakes and waterways that surround it. Over time, however, the communities surrounding Canada’s largest metropolis have placed a strain on the natural environment of southern Ontario, spurring many water-related controversies. One such controversy is the proposed construction of a mega-quarry in Dufferin county, located about 100 kilometres north of Toronto. This development would be the largest for the agricultural area, known for its drinking water, rural scenery, and vast supply of potatoes. As Melissa Graham of Socialist Worker reports, “The pit would cover over 2,300 acres and sink 61 metres into the ground. The company would then pump 600 million litres of groundwater out of the hole each day to mine an estimated 1 billion tonnes of crushed rock material used to make concrete.” According to Ted Metz, a representative of the North Dufferin Agricultural and Community Taskforce (NDACT), locals understand
Canada’s resource wealth in the context of ethical principles that need to accompany the region’s development and use of resources. The limestone mega-quarry threatens to compromise the supply of arable farming land, which helps sustain the immediate community as well as Toronto, Hamilton, Burlington, and other municipalities in the region. As Metz told the Leveller, “This area supplies 50 percent of potatoes consumed in Toronto yearly plus additional crops. I have read reports that indicate Ontario has lost over 45 percent of its arable farmland in the last 50 years, which I think is serious.” Concerns don’t stop at food supply, which is a growing concern in a world facing the challenges of hunger and climate change. Fresh water, frequently described as the “oil of the twenty-first century,” remains as much a global issue as a regional issue. In particular, the proposed quarry jeopardizes the source for two major rivers, their tributaries, and the aquifers supplying many cities in southern Ontario. Members of Dufferin community have vehemently opposed the quarry development. Once an organization submits its proposal to the government, there is a 45 day period that allows for objections from the community. The company forwarding
16 The Leveller vol 4, no 1, Sept/Oct 2011
the proposal, in this case the Nova Scotia Highlands Company, is then given two years to satisfy these complaints. Metz notes that over 2,051 objections to the proposed quarry were submitted to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR), as well as an additional 3,000 after the Ministry allowed for an online extension. Around 200 farmers, Indigenous leaders, and environmental and community activists also protested the construction of the megaquarry outside the OMNR in Toronto this July. Demonstrations were staged in Hamilton and Toronto as well. As Graham recounts, the protesters carried placards that read, “Stop the Mega-Quarry,” “Protect our Farmland,” and “Protect our Water.” Despite these objections and protests, the Ontario government is not obligated to perform an environmental assessment. Although NDACT claims to have had difficulty getting the province to address its concerns, it has found an ear with Conservative MP David Tilson, who is currently urging the Canadian government to perform an assessment of its own. Apart from its massive scale and environmental impact, the quarry illustrates a growing trend in investments, and with it, the neoliberal distribution of the benefits accrued through mining. As world
markets become less stable, investors look for reliable places to invest - the rising price of gold over the summer illustrates this trend. Investments in resource exploration generally offer more confidence in the predictability of dividends compared with more volatile industries like housing or currency, the investment in which has played a role in the global financial problems of today. Amid these developments and their negative impact on the environment, it is not clear that local communities are reaping proportional benefits. As Metz notes, there are nearly 6,000 mines in Ontario and the price received per tonne is considerably lower in Canada relative to other markets. “The revenue for aggregate [mining] is 11 cents per tonne. In Great Britain the revenue is about $3.50,” he said. A similar sentiment has led many community members to question exactly who benefits from the extraction of Ontario’s natural resources. When agricultural zones and waterways are sacrificed to generate economic benefits that migrate outside of the afflicted communities, it is clear that the people of Ontario lose. When weighing the economic bottom line against the value of “beautiful water,” it is worth remembering that Skanadario may be worth protecting in its own right.
Remembering Winter Soldier “Watching Winter Soldier is like watching a room full of ghosts trying desperately to fit back into the bodies they once inhabited, while mourning the fact they never will.” Scott Camil, from Winter Soldier
Darryl Reid For three days in the winter of 1971, more than 100 Vietnam veterans, civilian contractors, and scholars gathered in the conference room of a Detroit hotel. The purpose of what would become known as the Winter Soldier Investigation (WSI) was to gather first-hand accounts of atrocities inflicted by Western troops during the conflict in Vietnam. Held from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2, the hearings were sponsored by the group Vietnam Veterans Against the War. In order to shed light on unknown atrocities committed in Vietnam, the organizers hoped to capitalize on recent investigations into the My Lai massacre of hundreds of unarmed Vietnamese citizens. The Fulbright Hearings had involved testimony and debate from several members of the US Congress, as well as representatives from sev-
eral pro-war and anti-war organizations. Also present at the investigation was a collective of amateur and professional filmmakers who filmed the proceedings and edited them into the featurelength film Winter Soldier. The group, which called itself Winterfilm, used grainy high contrast black and white film borrowed from friends and photo labs. Much of the film had passed its expiry date, producing an almost amateurish effect, as well as an incongruence between shots. As a result, the film looks like bad news footage from the late fifties or early sixties, shot with a straightforward style and little flair. The film is more like a panel discussion than a documentary. While this may sound less than appealing, Winter Soldier is actually one of the most harrowing and fascinating documentaries about America’s involvement in
the Vietnam conflict that this humble critic has seen in a long time. At its core, the film is about a group of broken men trying to find some kind of solace despite the events that broke them. Watching them discuss incidents they had witnessed and perpetrated made me feel as if I was intruding on a sacred ritual not meant for my eyes or ears. On the other hand, I was enraged by the lies that are routinely foisted on the public in the name of national security by the horror the military machine inflicted on the citizens of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. I was enraged by the rape, murder, torture, and mutilation, and by the indiscriminate razing of villages and other vicious activities that are lost in the statistics of war. I’ve always been troubled by how even the most rabid anti-war film will denounce war as unjust and immoral yet hold up
and actively defend the military-industrial complex. Many of these films, which often receive financing from the military, portray the institution as good and wise, and the atrocities committed by its members as anomalies perpetrated by a few bad apples. The men who participated in the WSI movingly (and repeatedly) explain how the military dehumanized them and acclimatized them to hate and violence long before they ever met their enemies. They describe how the military used institutionalized racism to dehumanize their enemies and in many cases their fellow soldiers. One man, for instance, recounts how medivacs were prioritized for white soldiers first and then all other soldiers. Others explain the military’s obsession with body counts, the drive for results, and the simple fact that every man, woman, and child in Vietnam was considered a pos-
sible member of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and thus an enemy combatant: “If they are alive they are possible NVA. If they are dead they are positively NVA.” We in the West want to believe that this kind of violence is rare, the work of a few psychopaths. We don’t want to believe that it is common, encouraged, and institutionalized. The very purpose of the military is to create and use killers, yet we are unwilling as a society to confront that truth. Instead we punish a few “bad apples” when crimes are committed, and then hope the whole scandal just goes away. This is not to suggest that all soldiers are racist murderers, but that we have created a system that is broken and in need of fixing. As Thomas Paine observed, “A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.”
Watching Winter Soldier is like watching a room full of ghosts trying desperately to fit back into the bodies they once inhabited, while mourning the fact they never will. The film is a monument to those men who risked their lives and souls in the jungles of Vietnam and then came home and risked their freedom and reputations trying to show us the reality of what they had done and seen. Watching men admit to rape and murder or to throwing prisoners out of a helicopter is an uncomfortable viewing experience, and this film delves into a very murky moral soup. But then again, real life just isn’t as black and white as the film used to make this movie. After almost 32 years, Winter Soldier is now available on DVD, which includes some interesting special features (check out the mini-doc on Scott Camil). You can also pick it up for rent at Invisible Cinema on Lisgar Street.
vol 4, no 1, Sept/Oct 2011 The Leveller 17
Individuality Versus Assimilation in Today’s Fashion Kevin Vianna As big clothing corporations and designers mass market their products, individuality in the fashion industry seems scarce. However, there are a few artists in our own backyard who are looking to change the scene. Many graphic artists are trying to find a new niche for their work, and they’re turning to fashion to hone their practice. The fashion industry is constantly changing, and with an influx of talent from up-and-coming entrepreneurs, the everyday fashion fan can now create a truly individualized sense of style - if they know where to buy their clothing. Most artists sell their products using the Internet and other social media, like Facebook. This, for many, is the only way they can market their work. In Ottawa, some artists sell their clothing at art and music shows, or at venues such as the Fall Down Gallery. The gallery, which opened in May, displays local custom-printed clothing as one of its many cultural attractions. Check out the Fall Down house brand for some stylin’ designs. Because it’s hard to dress originally while wearing clothes that are mass produced, it comes as no surprise that buyers are enticed by the work of local graphic artists. Some customers particularly appreciate the unique processes that these designers go through to create their work. Artists such as Milton, Ontario’s Dilan Manahan,
the creative mind behind the clothing line NinetySix, who prints each article of clothing from his own home. In order to create his line, Manahan uses a six-colour silkscreen press. This allows him the ability to print his designs onto clothing. According to Manahan, “Everything is made within the family. I cover designing, and my dad handles all printing. It’s very honest, careful, and genuine.” This can create a sense of gratification for the consumer. If a garment you owned couldn’t be replicated on a mass scale, wouldn’t you feel better wearing it? Original clothing lines, as artistic manifestations, are influenced by each artist’s individual experiences. Manahan says his designs are shaped by his family, friends, and others’ reception of his work. He also draws inspiration from visual aesthetic experiences besides graphic design, like film. In particular, Manahan is influenced by the work of directors Ingmar Bergman and David Lynch. When people know that the clothing they wear shows a story, they appreciate it all the more. Many budding fashion industry workers enjoy what smaller designers are bringing to the table. Samantha Tablada, a fashion communication student studying at Ryerson University, says, “I feel a social obligation to be unique, displayed through my distinguished fashion sense. However, with the similarities in today’s major
retail stores, it is increasingly difficult to find great pieces for my wardrobe.” If those studying and working in the fashion industry find it challenging to inject individuality, how can the average consumer expect to be anything more than a follower of social trends? Tablada applauds small fashion labels for their “refreshing original ideas, from brilliant, youthful minds.” Whereas many major fashion labels look at the fiscal bottom line when creating clothing to sell, new and artistically motivated small fahion designers aspire to create work they feel proud of. Manahan thinks the message his clothes send is simple: “Always do what you love.” Lesser-known artists such as Manahan are thriving because they fill a niche in the cultural industry. JC Pinheiro, a photographer based in the Toronto area, states, “There will always be a place for obscure fashion in photography. It gives the photographer more flexibility in their approach to capturing its essence and breaking the traditional boundaries of fashion photography.” Without new entrepreneurs pushing the envelope to redefine fashionable, individuality would be lost among the automatons of our society. We have the right to go against social and economic norms. As an extension of art, fashion is a means by which we can express alternative ideas. What would you like to say?
Photo: JC Pinheiro
Hey, remember me?
That’s how advertising works. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
18 The Leveller vol 4, no 1, Sept/Oct 2011
Gazing into the Lives of Others
Life in a Day exposes a unifying humanity Lequanne Collins-Bacchus What do you love? What do you fear? What’s in your pocket? Amateur filmmakers from 192 countries answered these questions via video while marking YouTube’s 5th anniversary on July 24, 2010. Some love their pets, others refrigerators. Some fear their deaths, others carry guns. Some carry anti-evil eye protectors and others carry syringes, the keys to a Lamborghini or nothing at all in their pockets. In Life in a Day, director Kevin McDonald and producers Ridley and Tony Scott distill 4,500 hours of footage – shot in 60 different frame rates – into a 90-minute, time capsule-esque cinematic experience. An intimate, voyeuristic gaze into the lives of others, we find that humanity shares many similarities. We watch people sleeping, waking, eating, peeing, washing, crying, loving, dying, and living. Not only does the film string short clips
into montages of similar activities around the world, it also reveals the harsh realities we face everyday, highlighting differences as characters share their fears, possessions, and answers to the aforementioned questions. To make the project truly global, the directors bought £40,000 (approximately $61,000) worth of cameras to send to developing countries, enabling ordinary people across the globe to offer us a glimpse into the world as they experience unmediated by film crews. We witness countless sliceof-life gems: an an American couple’s struggles with their son after his mother’s cancer operation; a young Spanish boy cleaning shoes for a living; a Korean cyclist who has spent seven years visiting over 190 countries; a challenging scene in which a man stun-gunning a cow and slices its throat; a young criminal shoplifting unashamedly and doing parkour around the city; and the hilarious renewal of wedding vows. Like life, there
are some dull moments but each scene retains a sense of intrigue, even when we share the experience of reading a laundry list with a man. Given YouTube’s reputation as a hub of juvenile, trivial, mind-numbing videos, this documentary underscores how easy it is to forget the Internet’s potential for the expression and sharing of ideas and experiences. It was this potential that inspired the creation of Life in a Day and eventually made it a reality, demonstrating how we can also use the Internet to share extraordinary moments with everyone on the planet. While we all lead very different lives, the film exposes a unifying humanity. By facilitating thought-provoking links between ideas and places, the editing of the documentary aligns itself with the ebb and flow of life. Life in a Day has no actors, scripts, special effects, professional cameras or lighting crews to create this visual experience; only the raw narrative of life. And that in itself is enough to inspire.
dimwitted sidekicks, futile quests, and unrequited love.
TAURUS (April 21-May 20) This month, Taurus,
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22) I know you’ve been
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 23Dec. 21) This month you
playing a lot of Deus Ex this month, Virgo, and I hope you’ve received the important life lesson the universe is sending you via your Xbox: there are many paths we can take to reach our goals, but eventually we all have to turn off our cloaking device and shoot the robot guard in the face with a plasma rifle.
will die in a food riot… Oops! Sorry, Sagittarius! Don’t worry, you won’t die in a food riot this month. I read the stars wrong. That’s actually your horoscope for Sept. 2018.
try prioritizing your time more. For example, that YouTube photomontage set to music that you spent so much time editing is really great, but you’re preaching to the choir. It’s already common knowledge that the Large Hadron Collider was funded by the Bilderberg so Dick Cheney could press a button causing decaying leptoquarks to tunnel back in time and destroy the World Trade Center.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 23) Yes, Libra, you’re on the right track: a little brown nosing, if handled subtly, can really pay off for you this month. A good place to start is taking up a hobby or joining a club that your superiors enjoy. Your current plan, however, to distribute cookies in the quad while wearing a T-shirt with a smiling picture of President Runte above the Club of Rome quote, “The real enemy then, is humanity itself,” may be ill advised.
SCORPIO (Oct. 24-Nov. 22) I’ve got good news and bad news, Scorpio. The good news is this month will bring you a great deal of romance! The bad news is that it isn’t so much romance that’s coming your way as it is Romance, the 16th-century early modern European literary style. Expect the month ahead to be full of knights, dismal fog-shrouded hills, loyal but
CAPRICORN 22-Jan. 20)
Seriously, Capricorn. Every single other person on this campus has figured out how to line up at Rooster’s. Get it together.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 21Feb. 19) “By any means necessary” is your motto this month. There is one injustice at the heart of everything that is wrong in the world today, and this is your chance to take a stand. That’s right Aquarius, it’s up to you to do whatever it takes to stop the remake of Kathryn Bigelow’s 1991 classic Point Break.
PISCES (Feb. 20-March 20) Peaches might be a little out of your price range right now, Pisces, but don’t worry. Things will get better. Or, more likely, increasingly destructive climate change combined with a collapsing global economy will mean that soon no one will get to eat peaches at all, ever again.
ARIES (March 21-April 20) At least you don’t live in Lennox & Addington.
GEMINI (May 21-June 21) You’ve got what it takes to see a difficult task through this month, so don’t doubt yourself. It will probably require a few all-nighters, but you’ve got the necessary skills to stay focused. In the end, I think you’ll agree that watching all twelve seasons of Murder She Wrote, plus the four made-for-TV movies and spin-off series The Law & Harry McGraw, was totally worth it.
CANCER (June 22-July 22) It’s not beige, Cancer. It’s ecru.
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22) Sometimes it’s best to just let sleeping dogs lie. So if you happen to find three large screws in the pocket of a jacket you haven’t worn since you helped assemble the Bluesfest stage, I wouldn’t mention it to anyone.
Present this coupon with a purchase of $20 or more (pre-tax)
Back to School
FREE Corn Pen Limit 1 coupon /customer while supplies last. Expires November 30, 2011.
Shop Online: ArbourShop.com www.leveller.ca
vol 4, no 1, Sept/Oct 2011 The Leveller 19
Listings tues Sept 20 DOW’S LAKE CLEANUP: Canada Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS).
TALK: International Student Dialogue - Dealing with the authority - Carrefour francophone, Rm 026 Jock-Turcot UC, University of Ottawa. 11:30am.
WORKSHOP: Healthy Relationships - Sexual Assault Support Centre. Womyn’s Centre, 308 UC, Carleton University. 1pm.
RADIO: The Third Wave - CHUO 89.1 FM. 4-5pm.
RALLY: Take Back the Night. Minto Park. 6pm.
WED sept 21
QSA DRAG SHOW: The Observatory, Algonquin College. 8pm.
MUSIC: Gregorian Chant and Choral Music Classes. Rm 201, Dominican University College, 96 Empress Ave. 3pm.
GATHERING: Paddle for Peace Equinox Celebration. United Nations International Day of Peace for Grandfather William Commanda’s Twelfth Annual Peace Event. Victoria Island. FESTIVAL: The Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF). FESTIVAL: 5th Annual Ottawa Peace Festival. Runs until Oct. 2. Schedule posted at: http://www. departmentofpeace.ca. WORKSHOP: Tools for Change - Outreach and Recruitment. OPIRG-Ottawa. 6pm. PANEL: Families of Sisters in Spirit - Why Missing? Vol. 2. Carleton University. 1pm. WORKSHOP: Pink Triangle Services - TransAction. GSA Lounge, 6th Floor UC, Carleton University. 7pm. FILM: The Vanishing of the Bees.Café Alternatif, University of Ottawa. 7pm.
THURS Sept 22 EVENT: International Car-Free Day - University of Ottawa, Parking Lot K. 9am-3pm. CREATIVITY: Poster Making Womyn’s Centre, Rm 308 UC, Carleton University. 10am5pm. WELCOME: CUPE 2626 autumn event. Morisset Terrace, University of Ottawa. 11am-2pm. STUDY: Feminist Study Space. 143 Séraphin-Marion, Rm 205, University of Ottawa. 11am-4pm.
FRI sept 23 ART: Decolonize Me Exhibit. Features six contemporary Aboriginal artists whose works challenge, interrogate and reveal Canada’s long history of colonization in daring and innovative ways. Runs until November 20. Ottawa Art Gallery. TALK: ”Fulfilling the Promise of Feminization? The First Year of the UK Conservative Coalition Government.” Loeb Bldg., Rm A602, Carleton University. 2:30pm. FILM: From the Back of the Room: Women in Punk. Mayfair. 9pm.
SAT sept 24 MUD LAKE CLEANUP: Come help CPAWS OV (Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society) in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup!
mon sept 26 OTTAWA ACTION: Protest Against Tarsands Development. Parliament Hill, Ottawa. WORKSHOP: How to get your groove back - Post Childbirth. Venus Envy. 320 Lisgar St. 6:30pm. WORKSHOP: Indigenous People and Resistance to Police Violence and Prisons. Somerset West Community Health Centre. 7pm. PUBLIC MEETING: Grounds For Appeal - presented by the Friends of Lansdowne. Lansdowne Park, Civic Centre Assembly Rm A. 7:30pm.
tues sept 27 DEBATE: All-Candidates Debate Ontario Provincial Election Carleton University (TBA). 1pm. PANEL: Migration, Theory and Politics. Rm A602 Loeb Bldg, Carleton University. 2:30pm.
COURSE: RAD Women’s Self Defence. Carleton University. 9am.
RADIO: The Third Wave CHUO 89.1 FM. 4-5pm.
FUNDRAISER: Scotiabank AIDS Walk for Life. Marion Dewar Plaza, City Hall. 5pm.
WORKSHOP: Getting the Word Out Using Social Media. Location TBA, Algonquin College. 6:30pm. COURSE: Activism: Building A Better World - OCDSB general interest class @ Glebe Collegiate Insitute. 7pm.
TALK: Living our Environmental Challenge. Knox Presbyterian Church, 120 Lisgar St. 7pm.
sun sept 25 CANOE: Paddles Up! With Ottawa Riverkeeper. Victoria Island. 11:30am-4pm.
Canadian Boat to Gaza Benefit Concert Sunday, October 2nd, 2011 7pm Alumni Auditorium 85 University Private University of Ottawa Campus $20.00/$10.00 or donation at the door For Tickets go to Octopus books: 116 Third Ave, Ottawa Email email@example.com (U of O) or firstname.lastname@example.org (Carleton U) for tickets on campus Sponsored by: Independent Jewish Voices, Young Communist League, Carleton GSA, CUPE 4600, Students Against Israeli Apartheid - Carleton, OPIRG-Carleton Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights -U of Ottawa, Communist Party of Canada (Rosa Luxemburg Club), CULE CPC - Carleton, Exile Infoshop, Common Cause, No War Paix
TALK: Ed Broadbent: Democratic Development Abroad. First Unitarian Church, 30 Cleary Ave. 7:30pm.
DOCUMENTARY: Beats Rhymes & Life: A Tribe Called Quest. Bytowne Cinema. 9pm.
wed sept 28 MARKET: Free Store: Items up for grabs! - UC Couch Lounge, University of Ottawa. 9am4pm. TALK: Les Cafés Féministes Unwrapped: A History of the Condom. Rm 390, Lamoureux. University of Ottawa. 12pm. TALK: Shaun Atleo. Carleton University Art Gallery. 5pm. SING: Just Voices weekly environmental choir rehearsals. Bronson Centre 222. 7-9pm. FILM: Survival, Strength, Sisterhood: Power of Women in the Downtown Eastside. SAW Gallery, 67 Nicolas St. 7pm.
FILM: Politics of the Heart - Raw Sugar Café. 8pm.
FILM: Tony. Cinema Politica. TBA.
mon oct 3
thurs oct 13
PANEL: 30 Days of Justice. Panel with family members on the disappearance and murders of Aboriginal Women in Canada. University of Ottawa. 6pm.
FORUM: World Food Day. St. Paul’s University. 6pm.
tues oct 4 VIGIL: Sisters in Spirit Vigil (across Canada). Location TBA. RADIO: The Third Wave CHUO 89.1 FM. 4-5pm.
wed oct 5 COURSE: Basic Website Design for Beginners - Ottawa Public Library, Main Branch. 6pm.
FILM: One World Film Festival. Library & Archives Canada, 395 Wellington St. 6:30pm.
fri oct 14 TALK: The History of Lebreton Flats: A Bifocal View. Ottawa City Hall. 7pm.
sat oct 15 FESTIVAL: The Kiwanis Music Festival. Harold Shenkman Hall. 7:30pm.
sun oct 16
FILM: Dive! Cinema Politica. TBA.
SING: Just Voices weekly environmental choir rehearsals. Bronson Centre 222. 7-9pm.
thurs sept 29
thurs oct 6
WORLD FOOD DAY
FILM: Powerful: Energy for Everyone. Followed by discussion with film-maker David Chernushenko. Ashbury College, 362 Mariposa Avenue. 7pm.
ART: The Walk of Arts 2011. University of Ottawa, Pathway in front of 90 U.
MON oct 17
sat Oct 1 TALK: Slave Memories and Black Identity: the Pinheiral Case. Rm A602 Loeb Bldg, Carleton University. 2pm.
fri oct 7 TALK: Israeli journalist Amira Hass. Montpetit Hall, Room 203, University of Ottawa. 7:30pm.
ONTARIO PROVINCIAL ELECTION
WORKSHOP: PCDPSD - Legal Issues that Affect you in the Workplace. Rm 241 Lamoureux Hall, University of Ottawa. 3pm.
TUES oct 18
SHOWCASE: Speak! III - The Gladstone, Ottawa. 7pm.
SPOKEN WORD: When Brothers Speak Ottawa. Univeristy of Ottawa Alumni Auditorium. 8:30pm.
FUN: Pumpkin Carving Competition. Pathway in front of 90 U, University of Ottawa. 12pm.
sun Oct 2
tues oct 11
THURS oct 20
ART: Dialogue - Inuit Artists. Carleton University Art Gallery. 2pm.
RADIO: The Third Wave CHUO 89.1 FM. 4-5pm.
FILM: Our Daily Bread. Reel Food Film Festival 2011. Ottawa Public Library, Main Branch. 7pm.
MUSIC: Canada Boat to Gaza Benefit Concert Featuring David Rovics - Alumni Auditorium, Ottawa University. 7pm.
wed oct 12 SING: Just Voices weekly environmental choir rehearsals. Bronson Centre 222. 7-9pm.
WRITE: Ottawa International Writers Festival, Fall Edition. Mayfair Theatre and Southminster United Church. 6 Days.