U of T prof, city councillors, and TTC chair host meeting on transit plan Page 3 The Debate: The ethics of animal testing Page 4
the newspaper The University of Toronto’s Independent Weekly
From bullying to bean salad Page 5
VOL XXXIV Issue 21 • March 1, 2012
Tempers flare at all-candidates’ debate Opposition supporters accuse student union of ‘dirty tricks’
Opposition supporters come out in full force.
Deadlock broken, maybe
CUPE3902 and U of T Administration reach tentative agreement Yukon Damov
In the early hours of last Saturday morning, CUPE 3902 and the University of Toronto reached a tentative agreement, averting a strike. This agreement has now been presented to the union’s unit-1 general membership—which includes teaching assistants, lab supervisors, invigilators, and course instructors—for ratification or rejection. By a count of 4-3, the union bargaining committee accepted to send the agreement to the rest of its membership. Two members of that committee, James Nugent and Ashleigh Ingle,
subsequently resigned. Nugent, now former CUPE3902 Chief Spokesperson, considered the decision “inadequate and premature.” The union has been without a contract since May, 2011. In November, its membership voted 91 per cent in favour of a strike mandate. With negotiations stalled, January 30, CUPE decided to set the strike date for midnight February 24, last Friday. Throughout negotiations, the union has emphasized three issues which have remained at the centre of contention even after the tentative agreement was signed. In a bulletin on CUPE3902 website entitled
“Unit-1 Bargaining Bulletin #16”, the current members of the bargaining team wrote, “Despite some disappointments, the agreement contains no concessions and includes real and significant gains. Granted, on some of our goals we did not achieve the desired results.” The University’s notoriously large class and tutorial sizes are, according to the union, as detrimental to TAs and course instructors as they are to students. The findings of a report released last year by Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, a provincial government agency, argue that large class sizes are
see page 2
Candidates in the student union election exchanged jabs last night in a series of heated debates that touched on many issues but centered on the question of whether or not to build a bar on campus. Despite intervention by the moderator and Director of Multi-Faith Centre Richard Chambers, the lively debate sometimes turned nasty. The unofficial opposition to the UTSU, running under the banner Students First, called for a review of student union finances, electoral reform, and— the centerpiece of their platform—the construction of an on-campus bar. Students First candidates argued that a bar would help to enliven school spirit and provide an ideal location for club fundraising. “A campus bar would not only be a place to drink but also a place to
socialize,” said Dylan Moore, the Student First candidate for VP Internal, to loud applause. However, spectators’ support for a campus bar was far from unanimous. Before Karthy Chin, Student First candidate for VP Equity, could finish explaining why a bar “is important to foster a sense of U of T identity,” a student in the audience interjected, “around alcohol, right?” Candidates on Team Unity, which includes two UTSU incumbents, described the bar as an unnecessary expense that would be of little use to non-drinkers. In the presidential candidates’ debate, Shaun Shepherd, the sitting VP External, questioned the need for another bar on a campus that is already home to three (Suds, the Grad Students’ Union Bar, and Sammy’s) and is surrounded by many more pubs.
see page 2
from ‘deadlock broken’
and class size in undergraduate tutorials. Nugent considers it to be too weak: though the union will occupy half the seats and cochair the group, it will make “a recommendation to the Provost who gets to cherry-pick what she would like to implement and when.” Furthermore, said Nugent, that the former Working Group’s proposals were not implemented leaves a sense of distrust that this Working Group will be effective. Bulletin 16states, “They [the Administration] do, however, finally recognize the problem and see CUPE 3902 as an equal in finding solutions.” Another key issue concerned their funding package. Part of a CUPE 3902 member’s salary is dedicated towards their work (teaching), for which they are expected to dedicate a certain number of hours. The other part of their salary they receive as fellowships for the new research
they provide to the university as graduate students. Increasingly, argued the union, their fellowship was being whittled down at the expense of teaching or research unrelated to their own research. This agreement includes a one-time offset of $150,000 to this package, as well as a decrease in the number of hours required to be dedicated to work. In not particularly strong language, Bulletin 16 describes the outcomes on this issue as “commitments to ending the chipping-away at our funding packages.” The third issue relates to upper-year doctoral students. They are guaranteed work for four or five years in the university as TAs and the like, but in the fifth and sixth years of their doctoral degree, the union argues that they are put in a binding position, unable
to find stable and guaranteed work. Until last year, the Doctoral Completion Grant (DCG) offered financial assistance to them. In this agreement, a $250,000 Doctoral Completion Award (DCA) has been offered for years two and three of the four-year agreement. Yet it remains a contentious issue. Some of the union’s bargaining committee take its outcome in the agreement as a significant victory. “This agreement, then, increases the number of years where our members have guaranteed work from 4 to 6 years,” says Bulletin 16. “We have never, incidentally, won increased subsequent appointments without a strike and even then, only one additional appointment was secured.” For Nugent, the DCA is not remunerative enough and,
most importantly, it is not a part of their collective bargaining agreement--it is not legally binding; it can be eliminated arbitrarily as the DCG was. In its concluding paragraphs, Bulletin 16 poses a question to its general membership: “The choice before the members is simple: do you believe that more can be achieved through a strike? … As a bargaining team, we’d like to make it clear that, despite claims to the contrary, we see no point in returning to negotiations if the membership votes ‘no’ to this agreement.” But, if the memorandum is rejected, there are still essentially two options for the union: strike or, if the Administration is willing, more negotiations.
here to stay. Pedagogy must adopt to these conditions, says the report, and some teachers have found innovations. For the union, class sizes remain problematic for the quality of teaching and learning available at U of T. As it is, large tutorials require TAs to do what the union claims to be “extra work” for which they are not paid. CUPE’s original demand was to cap tutorial sizes. If a tutorial had more than twenty students, the TA would be compensated for the “extra work” required. No tutorial would have more than 50 students, and labs would simply require one instructor for 25 students. The memorandum includes a provision to tackle this issue, but not as strongly as the union had hoped. If ratified, the union and the administration will create a working group to assess the relationship between pedagogy
March 1, 2012
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CUPE rally outside of Convocation Hall. from ‘all-candidates debate’
Shepherd often found himself on the defensive as Brent Schmidt, the Students First presidential candidate, accused the UTSU of underhanded political tactics. Referring to last year’s election, in which Students First was disqualified for nominations infractions, Schmidt said, “It is an honor to be at a debate we can actually participate in.” Schmidt also accused the incumbent VP Internal Corey Scott—seeking re-election this year—of “gross misrepresentation of facts” related to the costs of building a campus bar. Rohail Tanoli, the only inde-
pendent in the all-candidates’ debate, repeatedly sought the middle ground between Shepherd and Schmidt. “I’m a moderate,” he said, “My ideas are my own. I don’t fall on either side. I fall in the middle.” Although Tonali is Muslim and does not drink, he supported the proposal for a campus bar because of its potential benefit to student life and club fundraising. Tanoli concluded by criticizing the divisive atmosphere of the debate room. “There doesn’t have to be them or us. There doesn’t have to be a side. There can be all of us. That’s what we should aim for.”
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Councillors defend transit plan at town hall meeting ‘Plans were made, not by politicians, but by transit experts,’ says Councillor Josh Matlow Alan Jones Emotions ran high at Tuesday’s town hall meeting aimed at addressing Toronto’s rapid transit plans. The meeting, hosted by TTC Chair Karen Stintz and centrist Councillor Josh Matlow, was intended to provide an evidence-based argument for the transit plan approved by council on February 8. “I came into office believing that we always needed to make evidence-based decisions,” Councillor Matlow stated at the beginning of the meeting. “The plan that council approved only a little more than two weeks ago is actually a very fiscally responsible – some might even say conservative – plan that uses every dollar wisely.” Recruited to support the Council-approved transit plan was University of Toronto urban geography professor Andre Sorenson, who is also a Research Associate at the
university’s Cities Centre, an urban planning research institute. Sorenson discussed both subway and light rail transit (LRT) technology and explained that the projected population densities along Eglinton and Sheppard Avenues are insufficient to warrant the building of a new subway. “It is important to realize that Eglinton, even by 2031 is only expected to be [carrying] about 12 000 people per hour. So that LRT technology will still have a lot of excess capacity 20 years from now.” The plan approved by Council would place the Eglinton Crosstown LRT line at surface level east of Laird Ave. It would also allow funds for the building of an LRT along Finch Ave. from Finch Station to Humber College. The Council decided to wait for a report on transit along Sheppard Avenue from an expert panel before making a decision to extend the Sheppard line. The Council is expected to hear back from
the expert panel on March 15. Rob Ford’s plan, which was rejected by Council, would have scrapped the Finch LRT and put the Eglinton LRT completely underground at the additional cost of approximately $2 billion. Ford also supported an extension of the current Sheppard subway, although it is unclear where the city would find the funding for such an extension. Anna Pace, Director of Strategic Partnerships at the TTC, was also present at the meeting to provide information about how the LRT would function. “Anna has offered, despite recent events, to publicly state some facts and evidence to residents,” joked Matlow, referring to the TTC Board’s decision to fire General Manager Gary Webster for refusing to support the Mayor’s transit plan. Ford’s allies make up a slim 5-4 membership on the TTC Board. After the session there was a round of questions, both from Toronto residents in sup-
Stintz steers voters towards council’s track for the TTC. port of the Council-approved plan and from those strongly against it. The meeting, housed at the North Toronto Memorial Community Centre, was standing room only, as interest in Toronto’s public transit has skyrocketed since Stintz decided to push against the Mayor’s plan in January. “When we first thought of this meeting, it was actually a couple months ago,” Stintz explained in her introductory address. “It was just after the Christmas break, and we thought it was going to be just a status update, and events as they unfolded turned
this into somewhat of a different meeting.” The meeting was punctuated with frequent interjections from those in support of the Mayor’s position on building new subways, but were quickly hushed by the rest of the audience. “These plans were made, not by politicians, but by transit experts,” said Matlow, in response to a question about transit planning late in the meeting. At the end, Matlow reiterated his ultimate reasons for supporting the Council-approved plan: “[they] made planning decisions rather than political decisions.”
Province stops public funding of OxyContin, aims to deter opioid abuse
‘Doctors should prescribe these drugs less readily,’ says U of T Professor David Juurlink Cara Sabatini In an effort to curb high rates of narcotic use, the Ontario Ministry of Health has removed OxyContin from the list of publicly funded drugs. As of Wednesday, March 1, the pharmaceutical company that produces OxyContin, the brand of oxycodone typically prescribed to relieve moderate to severe pain, will stop distributing the drug in its current form to the Canadian market. Ontario-based company Purdue Pharma will introduce OxyNEO as a replacement for the currently available formulation in an attempt to inhibit abuse of the narcotic. While the dosage and ingredients of the two drugs in the opioid family are the same, the new formulation is harder to crush into powder or turn into liquid, which prevents people
from achieving the intense euphoric feeling derived from snorting or injecting oxycodone. According to a report published early this year the official publication of the College of Family Doctors by U of T Professor David Juurlink and his colleagues the mortality rate among patients prescribed opioids, such as oxycodone, for non-cancer pain is roughly 5 times higher than in patients who are not prescribed this type of narcotic. Though Ontario, along with Saskatchawan and the Atlantic provinces, has announced that both OxyContin and OxyNEO will no longer be funded publicly, after February 28, doctors may deem patients eligible for the latter through the Exceptional Access Program. While the provincial government’s decision may pro-
hibit certain illegitimate uses of the specific brand of oxycodone, deterring narcotic use may not be that simple, due to the highly addictive nature and accessibility of the drugs in the opioid family. “Crushers will have other alternatives, as there are other drugs on the market,” said Juurlink, who is also the head of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. Juurlink explained that a dramatic decrease in legitimate or illegitimate narcotic use and consequently, a mass withdrawal from the drug, is unlikely. According to the province’s 2010 report on Narcotics Strategy, Ontario has the highest rate of narcotics use in Canada, and the number of oxycodone prescriptions has risen by 900 per cent over the last two dec-
ades. Juurlink attributes the steep increase in oxycodone use to a number of reasons, but cites the liberal prescription of the drug by doctors to be a significant factor. “The chemical in oxycodone isn’t inherently more prone to abuse than other opioids, but doctors have become comfortable in prescribing it in very high doses.” As pharmaceutical companies are not legally allowed to market the health claims of their products directly to consumers in Canada, they must appeal to physicians to support and prescribe them as they see fit. Despite the lack of comprehensive data to support the safety of prescribing opioids as painkillers, Juurlink explained, the rewarding response to this type of drug in the way of pain relief is appealing to doctors who aim to
reduce or eliminate their patients’ severe discomfort. Juurlink sees the solution to high rates of narcotic use in a concerted effort between doctors, pharmaceutical companies and the government. He cited the database used by B.C. since 1995 that monitors each prescription doctors issue, which deters prescription fraud and prevents against potentially harmful interactions between medications. “The provinces should be making it a huge priority to track who is getting what, when, where, and from whom.” The Ontario Narcotics Strategy proposed the development of a database to monitor prescriptions in August 2011, but the province has yet to confirm its development. OxyContin will be available in Ontario until April 2 of this year or until supplies last.
March 1, 2012 U of T School of Dentistry had been conducting research on live monkeys until earlier this month when scientists euthanized the primates in order to analyze their brains. Currently, U of T has no intention to conduct further research on live non-human primates.
No more monkey business? Motion: Research on primates should cease for both practical and ethical reasons
Mnrupe Virk To cease all medical research on non-human primates is both impractical and detrimental to the progress of scientific knowledge. Research on primates has proven vital to medical developments. For example, treatments for macular degeneration, the most common cause of blindness in the developed world, were perfected through research on primates, as were treatments for Parkinsonâ€™s disease. In addition, much of the research produced by experimentation on primates is used in veterinary medicine, bettering the lives of other animals. In vivo testing, which refers to testing on a whole, living organism, is often crucial in determining the utility and toxicity of medical treatments. This is because ex vivo methods, or experiments that take place outside of an organism,
Animal research has been a polarizing issue for many years, with strong arguments and even stronger emotions on both sides. Animal rights activists are often the loudest and most aggressive voice in the debate, and have thus alienated themselves from wider public support as a result of their tactics. However, these aggressive tactics are wholly justified by their cause: that animal testing is inefficient, inaccurate and unethical. Despite the similarities between people and primates, our closest cousin in the animal kingdom, the results of experimentation on primates does not always translate to remedies for human afflictions. For example, monkeys exposed to the HIV virus present different symptoms and conditions than humans. This has huge implications for the types of medications developed from the data obtained through animal testing. For example, the Thalomide tragedy of the 1960s and 1970s comes to mind. Thalomide, a drug prescribed to pregnant women experiencing morning sickness, was safely tested on animals for years before distribution. However in humans, the drug caused debilitating and irreversible birth defects. By focusing medical research on primates and other animals, researchers are actually hindering progress towards successful treatments and cures for human ailments. The practice of primate testing is inherently unethical due to the fact that it involves non-consenting animals: animals cannot agree to be kept in captivity and subjected to tests. Tests performed on nonhuman primates, who are deeply intelligent and sentient beings, often subject the a n i mals t o intensified levels of stress. Not only does this highlight
the troubling ethical implications of animal testing, but intensified stress also has the potential to skew the results from the tests conducted. It is nearly impossible to claim that all animal testing is conducted according to ethical standards. The Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC), an independent non-profit body established to regulate animal testing, is exempt from many public disclosure laws and thus lacks transparency and accountability to animal welfare. Further, this group is comprised of many members with a vested interest in continuing animal research and therefore cannot regulate animal testing from a truly independent and unbiased standpoint. To argue that the costs of animal testing justify the benefits is to misunderstand the scientific process completely. There is no guarantee that the results of an experiment will be worth it in the long-run. The most ethical and efficient route therefore would be to work together and focus more attention towards viable alternatives to animal testing.
Jan E. Goodall
do not test certain essential variables present in living beings and thus cannot always provide reliable results. Further, because Canadian law requires that pharmaceuticals undergo a process of human clinical trials before distribution, the usage of an appropriate animal model during the development of the medication itself helps refine the process of clinical testing. The argument that data obtained from testing on primates is not reflective of human results fails to take into account the realities of biology. Primates and humans belong to the same mammal class; while there are certainly differences in biochemistry and gene expression, there is an overall similarity between the structure and mechanisms of physiological systems. Due to these similarities, there are over 100 known human diseases that have a naturally occurring counterpart - including same
mechanisms and prognosis - in non-human animals. Taking the known differences into account, scientists are able to translate results from primate subjects to human application. Lastly, it is possible to experiment on animals without being cruel. In modern scientific institutions, the use of animal subjects in experimentation is a strictly regulated process. All experimental designs involving live subjects undergo an ethical review process before implementation. In Canada, the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC), an independent non-profit organization, regularly conducts audits on institutions that practice animal research. In the absence of alternatives, testing on primates is a necessary component of medical research. The immense longterm benefits of this testing, such as the betterment of both human and animal health, far outweigh the short-term costs.
Bean there, done that (got the Pink T-Shirt)
Canada celebrates anti-bullying campaign Talia Gordon This leap year, Wednesday February 29 marked the fifth annual Pink Shirt Day – Bullying Stops Here! anti-bullying campaign. Not to be confused with Valentine’s Day, the fight to end breast cancer, or the Pride Parade, the day was originally started by a couple of guys at a Nova Scotia high school in reaction to a bullying incident over a colourful clothing choice. Their antidote to bullying? The school-wide distribution of pink tank tops, which is how the campaign got its colour scheme and its name. Cute, right? More than just cute, this kind of anti-bullying publicity campaign is also well timed, and well placed in our Canadian sociocultural milieu. Only a few months ago, a number of highly publicized teen suicides yanked the spotlight away from run-of-themill, put-some-hairon-your chest struggles with teen angst and focused it on the devastating realities of bullying across the nation. And although Christie Blatchford’s rather poorly executed piece on the new generation of sissy boys populating the streets of Toronto suggested
that the best way to stop a bully is to take him or her out for a “short pounding after school,” the fight against bullying only seems to be getting more difficult. I’ll admit that I’m a little skeptical about the true power of this kind of campaign – simply putting on a pink shirt a recovered bully does not make, nor does being forced to repeat, “I commit to a bully-free life,” the campaign slogan. Beyond the fact that it certainly takes more than a day of ‘awareness’ to put a stop to the kind of malice and pathology that drives bullies and their
Shirt Day website makes it seem a bit more like a business opportunity for CKNW radio and associated media outlets than a social action campaign. At the risk of making a Blatchford, I also can’t help but wonder if all of the efforts put into anti-bullying campaigns of this nature and magnitude are really the right way to go in the fight against bullying. Awareness is all well and good, but you can bet your bottom dollar that the players in the game of bullying – the bully and the bullied, as well a s
the ‘innocent’ bystanders, are acutely aware of the power games and social dynamics that send kids home crying, or worse. So who is all of this awareness directed at? And how effective are the delivery methods? I tend to think that grandiose events like Pink Shirt Day often ignore the complexities of the issues they aim to address; school-wide assemblies and international lipdub action (such as the Pink Project, which involved pink-t-shirted students from Metro Vancouver and New York dancing to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” as a message of accept-
ance) m a y unintentionally minimize or al-
dirty work, a visit to the Pink
Non Sequitur: Three-Bean, W Here’s what you need: 1 can of black beans 1 can of dark red kidney beans (are there really colour gradients for red kidney beans?) 1 can of chick peas (also known as garbanzo beans for stuffy no-nonsense by the books-ers) 1 can of whole kernel corn (and for the love of the good lord, try and find said whole kernel corn canned in salt + water, rather than salt + water and sugar, or salt + water and anything ending in “-ide”) 1 red/yellow/orange pepper - 1 bundle of green onions (also known as scallions by the same kinds of people who call chick peas garbanzo beans) 1 cup of wild rice 1 bushel of cilantro As much feta cheese as you see fit to add (it’s your bean salad after all, isn’t it?) Lemon juice White vinegar Olive Oil Salt and Pepper
together obscure much of the on-the-ground bullying and social aggression that happens day-to-day. Which is not to say that anti-bullying messages are altogether useless, or necessarily ill-expressed/ill-received. Certainly, attitudinal changes and paradigm shifts take time, effort and action - if bullying hadn’t been thrust into our recent purview, Blatchford’s absurdly romantic notion of the Disney-esque triumph of good over evil through a culture of bully-pounding (as though a good thrashing is going to stop someone from sending destructive anonymous hate messages via Twitter) would be right on point. It’s not, of course - and nor should it be. That said, bullying can be seen as a troubling expression of the darker side of human nature, anywhere from schadenfreude to the infliction of a calculated and insidious erosion of selfidentity and self-worth. Bullying, in its most ancient and most modern forms, is still around because however much we may dream of a world where bad guys don’t exist, the reality is, they do. So, rather than idealistically market the erasure of bullying through the one-time donning of pink-coloured goggles, let’s instead equip kids with the tools to resist it.
nge Pepper and Feta Salad a r O ild Rice, and take yourself one step closer to toxic shock
And, here’s what to do: 1. First things first: start cooking your wild rice. It will usually tell you how to do this on the package (unless you go to a bulk market or a quaint local organic joint which dispenses grains in reusable cloth sacks), but generally use 3-4 cups of water per cup of rice, and a tiny pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil FIRST, then add the salt and rice. Bring back to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium, and maintain a low boil. Cook for about 45 minutes - you want your kernels to remain intact for optimum texture (chewiness) and flavour (rice). 2. While your rice is doing its thing, you can, in a very leisurely manner, complete the rest of the preparation. If you put on a movie, drink a bottle of wine, and give yourself a concussion, you’ll probably still finish prepping before your rice is done. Move very slowly. 3. Open your cans of kidney beans (the dark red ones!), black beans, chick peas, and whole kernel corn. Make sure to rinse these bad boy legumes in a colander to get any canning residue off (or don’t,
syndrome or mercury poisoning). Once rinsed, put in a bowl. 4. Chop up your pepper-of-any-colour-butgreen, and your green onions. Add to bean bowl. 5. Contemplate the universe. 6. Chop up your feta into little cubes. Build feta igloo. Add to bean bowl. 7. In a separate, smaller bowl, combine lemon juice, white vinegar, olive oil and salt ‘n’ peppa. Using a fork, do your best job at emulsifying. Ha! Emulsifying. Who am I kidding. Whip your dressing ingredients around until they look united (enough). You can add other spices or dried herbs at this step too, if you’d like. I like to keep it simple, personally. 8. Once your rice is cooked (finally!), rinse it quickly in cold water, then add it to the bean bowl. Stir everything in (you don’t want a layered bean salad) and you’re done. 9. WAIT! I lied. You’re not done. Chop up your cilantro not very finely, and mix that in too. Now, you’re done. So, so done. 10. Put on your pink shirt, even though it’s no longer Wednesday. Prepare for earth-shattering flatulence. Direct at bullies.
March 1, 2012
The Books are Alive!!! Vanessa Purdy You are probably prejudiced. But hey, so is everyone -- and we might not even know how or why. The only way to find out, according to the Living Library Project, is to “meet our prejudice” face-to-face in the form of borrowing “books” -human books. On March 7, Hart House will provide the opportunity for University of Toronto students and the wider Toronto community to participate in an interactive ‘human library.’ I’m not talking about anthropodermic bibliopegy; rather, one-on-one, half-hour conversations with peers and people you may never encounter outside of this setting. If you’ve ever been curious about the experience of being an immigrant, a same-sex parent, a world traveller or a possibly blacklisted environmental activist, the Living Library Project could be the event for you.
Facilitated by the worldwide Living Library Librarians (founded in 2000 by the Stop the Violence movement in Denmark), this project aims to provide an opportunity for students to have a more intimate educational experience. Certainly, University of Toronto is one of the most diverse academic institutions in the country. However, many students face challenges beyond the demands of the academic world. Often, individuals struggle to feel safe and comfortable within an institution and society that may not be as accepting, accessible or accommodating as it may appear or claim to be. It can be difficult to have one’s voice heard--whether in a class of a thousand students, or on a crowded Toronto streetcar. Sam Saad, Hart House’s Programme Coordinator of Education & Engagement, sees the Living Library as directed at promoting community cohesiveness, and reducing
prejudice. “It’s a fantastic initiative; and its really unique in creating a learning experience where both participants and the books can delve deeper into themselves and explore their prejudices,” said Saad. “And its fun!” he added. With more than twenty “books” to choose from, including former mayor of Toronto and current Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission Barbara Hall, and adult film producer and pansexual nightclub co-owner Todd Klink, it’s almost impossible to not find someone with an interesting story. And it goes without saying that a person is a better conversational companion than a book. As Saad put it, “People can talk back...a conversation can go anywhere; whereas with a book, you’re stuck on the rails so to speak. Unless it’s a Choose Your Own Adventure.” While there won’t be any
Put the Book Back on the Shelf with the Living Library
tangible archival component to the project (aside from a short exit survey), the hope is that the effect of the experience on both “book” and “borrower” will be lasting, and will lead to the critical exploration of pre-conceived notions on gender, class, race, and more. Continuing in the Hart House tradition of providing a co-curricular education of sorts, Saad says the event will enable a “horizontal and vertical learning experience,” allowing participants to both broaden their horizons and deepen their understanding. Whether or not the Living
Library amounts to anything more than the sum of its participants seems to be largely up to those who attend. Saad is very positive about the potential: “It can and it will effect change,” he said. “I sincerely hope it will be a vibrant learning opportunity that will foster positive change in people’s actions, behaviours, attitudes and perspectives.” The Living Library Project takes place in the Hart House Great Hall from Noon-3pm on Wednesday March 7th. Free. To place a hold ona book, visit harthouse.ca
In the fracture of a family
Soulpepper’s production of a Eugene O’Neill classic hits home Suzanna Balabuch & Yukon Damov If you play in the dark muck of your past for a while, wallowing in its pain and savouring its questions, with a precisely intelligent mind you might just find material to write a beautiful play. It seems that Eugene O’Neil used a similar process for writing Long Day’s Journey Into Night, as it shows a family—almost transparently his own—struggling with the history that binds them together and threatens to tear them apart. The Tyrones, comprised of mother Mary, father James, and sons Jamie and Edmund, are seemingly a typical early twentieth century American family. In the first scene, they eat together at structured meal-times, the parents are tender towards each other, the sons laugh together (perhaps at their father), and they all
join in the parlour for nothing besides each other’s company and conversation. But even in this opening scene, not far beneath the surface, lay the seeds of future discontent. If the opening of the play is characterized by a sense of love, with suspicion streaming through its cracks, then for the rest of the play, the characters’ attitudes may be summed up by what Edmund says later of his mother: “It’s as if, in spite of loving us, she hated us.” Delicate Mary (played by Nancy Palk) is the centre of the Tyrone family, and her family’s doting on her transforms into suspicion as the reason for the family’s constant questioning of her is revealed. Palk more than once exhibits the subtleties of her character with unadulterated emotion at her growing uneasiness. Just as the Tyrone men dote on Mary, they also worry about Edmund (played by Gregory
Gregory Prest and Evan Buliung give startiling performances in Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Prest), the youngest son, who is recently stricken with consumption; a disease that ended the life of his mother’s beloved father, which makes it harder for Mary to live in the real world. Prest is convincing as a gravely ill young man dissatisfied with his lot in life, and the relationship he is able to craft between his character and that of Palk’s is one of the finer points of the production. The set of Long Day’s Journey Into Night was also a memorable component, with an unusual design that featured slightly transparent walls. This decision lent an open feel to the staging of the production, and when partnered with
the washed-out hues of the set, it was able to translate the drabness of the summer home which Mary found to be no home at all. Soulpepper does very well with a difficult script: it is long, and requires from its actors great stamina and an emotional strength capable of constantly battling, of trading shouted, cutting remarks and treading on delicate territory. Ultimately, Soulpepper’s production is successful. The audience could not help but be drawn into the Tyrones’ parlour as witnesses to their betrayals and deceit, their hatred and their love. But the question became,
having involved oneself so intimately in that world and finding sympathy with the characters, whether Long Day’s Journey is a play worth the emotional turmoil it evokes in the viewer. Do we want to join a world mostly bleak, nearly defined by a lack of tenderness and hope? Does it redeem itself in some way--does its small truths and vividness justify itself? One viewer would say yes; the other, hesitantly, yes. In spite of hating it, we loved it. Long Day’s Journey into Night will be playing at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts until March 31st. For more information, visit soulpepper.ca.
A Theroux-ly Rudd-iculous comedy that doesn’t Wain
David Wain’s Wanderlust puts the com (of romcom) in communes Dan Christensen Promotion for Wanderlust makes it easy to write off the film as a half-baked fish-outof-water story. A couple of uptight New Yorkers turn up at a ‘60s-style commune and have trouble relating. Is this just Jennifer Aniston making fun of hippies for 90 minutes? Indeed not! But an easy mistake to make if you aren’t familiar with the director’s abilities. Comedian David Wain, best known for his membership in The State (a legendary MTV sketch comedy group from the early nineties), stays true to his goofy and absurdist voice in his fourth feature, and first since the 2008 film Role Models. Wain reunites with Paul Rudd, who possesses a bottomless well of charisma, as well as razor-sharp comic instincts— probably the best combination thereof in Hollywood today. He and Aniston pair as an apparently well-adjusted couple (George and Linda) approaching middle-age and making a valiant effort to make ends
meet living in Manhattan. In quick succession, we watch the two of them warily purchase and move into a cramped studio apartment, Linda have her documentary rejected by HBO, George get fired from his high-rise job, and the two of them sell and move out of their cramped studio apartment. So they set out to Atlanta so George can take a job at his obnoxious blow-hard older brother’s porta-potty business. Played by co-writer Ken Marino, another alum of The State, he does a pitch-perfect job of representing everything detestable about the modern, civilized, upwardly mobile lifestyle. After an exhausting road trip of weeping, sleeping, Doobie Brothers sing-alongs, and blame games, in search of latenight lodgings they happen upon an idyllic “intentional community” (read: commune), and decide to stay a while. Alan Alda appears as the commune’s vaguely senile cofounder; Joe Lo Truglio (our third former member of The
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from—you guessed it—The State!). As expected, the story is no great achievement. But as opposed to a comedy of errors or a committed satire where the plot is utterly essential to the success of the humour, here the series of events acts simply as a means to string together funny moments and ideas, like many of the finest and most memorable comedy films— The Jerk, Airplane!, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail all come to mind. Wanderlust doubtlessly doesn’t climb as high as those classics, and perhaps it does try a little hard to be sweet, but when the comedy hits, it really
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State) as Wayne, a nudist amateur wine-maker and aspiring novelist; and Justin Theroux, another charmer with a formidable sense of humour, plays the community’s unofficial spiritual leader Seth. Okay, the filmmakers may hammer the granola-eating stereotypes a little hard, but they manage it without being insulting, deriving the lion’s share of the humour from George and Linda’s adjustment issues, so it’s difficult to hold it against them. The wealth of comedy talent involved in this project is truly astounding, including cameos from Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter (alumni
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hits. Specifically, Seth’s constant emasculating of George in a thinly veiled attempt to sleep with his wife, thanks to Theroux’s perfect smarminess and the excessive fawning of the surrounding characters, never seems to get old. Rudd’s two heavily ad-libbed streams of dirty-talk—in desperate attempt to reestablish his character’s manhood— are probably the hardest I’ve laughed in a theatre in the last year. In the end it may be a renter, but any chance to check out Wain’s unique comedy brand you should take, and this may be the best opportunity yet.
At his best, actor Paul Rudd...
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the campus comment
March 1, 2012
the newspaper asked: It’s UTSU election time! What would your ideal candidate have as a priority to make U of T a better place for students?
KERIANN Human Biology, 3rd year “The candidate should be someone who has the real mentality of a U of T student, someone who really understands what it’s like and pays attention to the little details that matter to us. Campus should be more convenient, especially considering commuter students and the cost of things on campus.”
ASHLEY Literature Bridging Program “Whether you’re full-time or part-time, we should all be treated the same way seeing as we are all paying to be here. Also, I think UTSU should do something to make shops and food places open longer on campus.”
JACQELINE Literature Bridging Program, 2nd year “They don’t do enough for U of T part-time students. For example, discounted metro passes are not available to parttime students.”
MIKE Life Sciences, 1st year “The Union should be more personal on a student-to-student basis and more connected to the student population. UTSU should also encourage the arts on campus and perhaps brighten up our campus visually.”
KAYLA Equity Studies, 3rd year “I want a candidate who doesn’t just presume to know what I need, and someone who doesn’t use the term ‘ordinary student’ because we are all far from being ordinary.”
DANIELLE Harvest Noon employee, 2nd year “More engaging interaction between students and the UTSU staff. They always just talk in front of class and you never see them again. I also think they should emphasize more funding for research.”
New beginnings: What comes next after you realize you might be queer
WearAbouts Bodi Bold brings you U of T’s stylish side
Whether thrifted or found in basements, these students know how to pull off the oversize shoulder coat. One man’s junk is another (wo)man’s treasure.
I’m starting to get the feeling I might be lesbian or bisexual. I am dying to experiment and find out, but I have no idea how I would find someone similarly... oriented. I don’t want to tell my friends. What should I do? Signed, Craving and Confused
I hope this helps, and I wish you the best of luck! Sincerely, Suzie Want to ask Suzie a question? Email Suzie at email@example.com, or submit (anonymously, of course!) at www.thenewspaper.ca, in the blue box on the lower left.
Dear Craving, You should know that the uncertainty you are feeling is totally normal, and I applaud you for reaching out in order to make informed decisions in this new part of your life. Before I could take a crack at answering your question, I got in touch with the friendly folks at LGBTOUT (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transpeoples of the University of Toronto). They were so helpful and forthcoming with advice, that my first piece of advice to you would be to stop by their office and chat whenever you have a problem or question like this one. They could not be more welcoming. LGBTOUT gave some pretty practical pointers, like going out in the village, or attending a queer night at one of the straight bars (there is one at Big Primpin this Friday, for instance). Looking online on queer-friendly sites like OkCupid and Plenty of Fish is also a good idea, and can help you ease into the queer dating scene. Whatever you do, Craving, please stay safe at all times. Here’s a particularly good nugget of information provided to your favourite advice columnist by the people at LGBTOUT. “What you’re going through is perfectly okay. Lots of people feel the same way whether it be for a little while or their whole lives. Follow your gut and consensually hook up with as many partners of any sex/gender that you please. Eat to your heart’s content. Pun very much intended. You may or may not end up identifying as ‘lesbian’ or ‘bisexual’ or any other queer identity but this doesn’t matter. You don’t have to.” who >> Glynis, 2nd year Aboriginal studies student what >> Dad’s old coat paired with a circle scarf where >> UC Courtyard
who >> Carla, editor-in-chief of The Gargoyle what >> Vintage plaid men’s coat from Kensington Market’s Exile where >> Outside the Gargoyle office