Page 1

The McGill Daily NEW IN PRINT: Mondays & Thursdays EXCLUSIVE CONTENT ONLINE at Commentary. Compendium!. Culture. Features. Letters. Mind & Body. News. Sci + Tech. Sports.

The McGill Women’s Alumnae Association

is pleased to present

the 2010 Muriel V. Roscoe Lecturer:

30 30%



Kim Pate Executive Director The Elizabeth Fry Societies of Canada

who will speak on

“Why Womenare areCanada’s Canada’s fastest prison “Why Women fastestgrowing growing prison populationand and why why you population you should shouldcare” care”

Monday, February 8, 2010 6:00 p.m. Leacock 232 855 Sherbrooke Street West (access via McTavish and Dr. Penfield) Free Admission The talk will be followed by a wine and cheese reception For more information, please contact






A car breakdown, a couple, an intruder. A car breakdown, a couple, an intruder.




The McGill Daily, Thursday, February 4, 2010


La Francofête, c’est politique Provincial party reps debate postsecondary funding, taxes, and sovereignty Eric Andrew-Gee The McGill Daily


enior politicians from the youth branches of the Parti Québécois (PQ) and the Action démocratique Québec (ADQ) staged a debate in French on Monday as part of Francofête, the annual week-long celebration of francophone culture at McGill. The centre-right ADQ was represented by Andrew Noël Swidzinski, regional counselor from Montreal West, while the PQ’s youth president Alexandre Thériault-Marois stood in for the provincial separatist party. The two politicians disagreed over funding for postsecondary education. Although Thériault-Marois expressed grave concerns about the nearly $4-billion deficit faced by Quebec in the wake of last year’s recession, he said raising tuition would not be a viable way of raising government revenue. He cited worries that high tuition would force Quebeckers out of province or abroad to attend university or college. Swidzinski, on the other hand, argued that schools should be allowed to make their students pay for 30 per cent of the cost of their tuition. McGill Arts students already pay for more than 30 per cent, and thus would not be affected by the ADQ plan. In reference to the recent drastic increase in McGill’s MBA tuition, Swidzinski said, “Whether we charge $2,000 or $30,000, students will have a tendency to go abroad.”

Swidzinski also indicated the ADQ would also like to see a rise in public service fees – including Hydro-Québec. He said the increase in utilities fees would encourage moderate use of electricity and other services. Summarizing the ADQ position, which includes opposition to income tax hikes, Swidzinski quipped, “Tax spending, not income.” Thériault-Marois adamantly opposed new service fees, saying that they “were not the answer.” to fiscal woes. “Increased taxes on public services would be the least progressive tax we could have,” he added. An audience member had pointed out earlier that it is service taxes, not income taxes, that hit low-income people the hardest, as they pay little in income taxes to begin with. When Swidzinski cited Ireland as a success story of low-taxes and raised service fees, ThériaultMarois retorted that, “Ireland was good about three years ago.” The Irish economy, he continued, has contracted about 20 per cent since the financial crisis hit in 2008. Debate flared during a discussion of Quebec sovereignty. The ADQ defines itself as an autonomist party, which Swidzinski described as a desire for a “constitutionalized” nation of Quebec within Canada. The ADQ is opposed to Quebec separatism, and Swidzinski said his party does not want any more referendums of the kind led by the PQ in 1995 and 1980.

Swidzinski further accused the PQ of being disingenuous in its sovereignty negotiations with the federal government, suggesting that they did not make honest efforts to reach an agreement. “[The PQ] say, ‘If we fail in our negotiations with the federal government, we can say they didn’t give us what we want. Let’s separate,’” said Swidzinski. But according to ThériaultMarois, the ADQ misrepresented his party. The PQ’s policy is not to negotiate or “send a letter to Ottawa” with sovereignty proposals. He suggested a referendum be held to “prove that the people of Quebec are behind us.” Swidzinski retorted that this claim was questionable: “I don’t think the PQ really wants a referendum.” Thériault-Marois forcefully criticized the ADQ position. “To be autonomist is a type of rhetoric that has been used before.... Bourassa used it,” he said, referring to the former Liberal Premier of Quebec, who was in power during the 1970 October Crisis. The one aspect of “the national question” on which the politicians agreed was that Quebec should have a strong francophone identity. “We want Quebeckers to feel like Quebeckers.... We don’t want Little Italies all over Quebec,” ThériaultMarois said. “We want to create a community by integration.” Swidzinski said he completely agreed with the PQ stance. Both agreed further on the primacy of French in primary education.

Photos by Dominic Popowich | The McGill Daily

Top: Andrew Noël Swidzinski of Action démocratique Québec. Bottom: Alexandre Thériault-Marois of Parti Québécois.

Khadr to remain in Guantanámo Bay Supreme Court leaves Canadian’s fate in the hands of Harper government Humera Jabir The McGill Daily


mar Khadr, a Canadian citizen, will not be repatraited to Canada following a Supreme Court ruling that effectively absolves the government of any responsibility to seek his repatriation. The ruling overturned two lower court decisions that ordered the government to request Khadr’s repatriation. The Court denounced Canadian authorities’ role in Khadr’s interrogation at Guantanámo Bay as a breach of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, the Court did not request his return to Canada. The Court’s ruling said that the involvement of Canadian officials in Khadr’s interrogation “offends

the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects.” The justices also found that the request of repatriation was a remedy “sufficiently connected to the Charter breach,” but added that it was up to the federal government to determine how best to respond, because foreign affairs fall within its purview. Dimitri Soudas, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has said that the federal government’s policy on Khadr has not changed. He added that Khadr faces “serious charges” and that he should stand trial in the U.S. The government released a statement yesterday, however, that it will consider undisclosed alternatives that may compensate for the violation of Khadr’s rights. Khadr’s Canadian lawyer, Nathan Whitling, said he was disappointed

with the Supreme Court’s ruling, and that he did not expect any significant change in the government’s position. “We’ve been trying to [lobby the Canadian government] for roughly six plus years now, and, so you know, frankly I am getting a little tired of it,” Whitling said. Khadr is accused of having thrown the hand grenade that killed an American army medic in Afghanistan in July of 2002. Khadr, now 23, was 15 at the time of arrest, making him a minor under Canadian and international law. McGill law professor François Crépeau disagreed with the Court’s decision that Khadr’s case was a matter of foreign policy. “The Court did not have to dictate the foreign policy…. Here they agreed there was a rights violation and I think they should

have imposed a sanction. If there is a rights violation, it is within the Charter, and the Court has a right to enforce the Charter,” said Crépeau. “[Khadr’s case] shows that the Canadian government cannot go in and interrogate someone that has been tortured, subjected to inhumane and degrading torture. That is against the Charter. In that sense, a small part of Canadian foreign policy is [now] constrained by the Charter, which is new. It didn’t exist in international law,” Crépeau said. The Court’s ruling concludes years of litigation in Canada; Khadr’s legal battle in the U.S., however, is far from over. He will face a U.S. military commission in July, and his lawyers will now shift their focus to prepare for the trial in Guantanámo.

Whitling expressed concerned about the lack of due process in the military commission system. “The Charter doesn’t apply to those proceedings, and the U.S. prosecution takes to the view that the U.S. Constitution doesn’t even apply. His rights are limited to what is recognized by the Military Commissions Act, and they are very limited,” said Whitling. Crépeau said that the military commissions, though slightly improved, were still not normal criminal tribunals, and in that sense did not offer proper procedure for trying individuals. “This is a convoluted and protracted process and we don’t know how they are going to behave, especially with someone who was a minor, who I think, as many others do, was a child soldier,” said Crépeau.


Escalating violence against anti-mining campaigners On December 26, Dora Alicia Recinos Sorto became the third victim of a wave of violence against environmental campaigners in the Cabañas Region of El Salvador, where community members are protesting against the re-opening of a Gold Mine by Canadian company Pacific Rim. Recinos Sorto was eight months pregnant when she was shot dead, and her two-year-old son was also wounded in the attack. —Kate Wrigley,

U.S. resumes Haiti medical evacuations In Haiti, the U.S. military resumed medical evacuations of critically injured earthquake victims Monday after a five-day suspension over a cost dispute. The flights were halted last week after Florida state officials and the federal government argued over who would shoulder the costs. —

Suit points to U.S. guest worker program flaws U.S. immigration authorities worked closely with Signal International, a marine oil rig company in Mississippi, to discourage protests by temporary guest workers from India over their job conditions. They advised managers to send some workers back to India, according to new testimony in a federal lawsuit against Signal. —Julia Preston, The New York Times

Ontario college faculty set strike deadline Ontario’s college teachers have set a February 11 strike deadline. If the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, representing Ontario’s 9,000 college teachers, has not reached an agreement with Colleges Ontario by that date, the union’s leaders say they are ready to strike. —Danielle Webb, CUP Ontario Bureau Chief

CFS wants UPEI fees The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) is taking legal action against the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) Student Union over unpaid membership fees to the organization. There is still confusion over the results of a 1996 referendum held at UPEI to leave CFS. The union continued to pay membership fees until the 2004-2005 academic year. —Connor Simpson, The Cadre

The McGill Daily, Thursday, February 4, 2010

TRAC rejects contract Concordia’s TA and RA union goes to arbitration Noah Caldwell-Rafferty The McGill Daily


n ongoing labour dispute between the union of Teaching and Research Assistants at Concordia (TRAC) and the University’s administration will go to arbitration after union members unanimously rejected a proposed contract on January 21. The contract would have seen a 30 per cent pay cut for several union members, while others would have gained a $1 per hour wage increase. TRAC, which was established in 2006 as part of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), has never had a collective agreement with the University. “The main issue was the hourly rates set,” said TRAC President Bilal Abdul Kader. The overall severity of the salary cuts undoubtedly came as a shock to many members, hoping that after two years of negotiations with the University the union could have procured improved contracts for its TAs, rather than the contrary.

TAs at Concordia are placed in distinct levels of pay, based on their level of study, faculty, and responsibilities. “The next step is that we’re going to arbitration,” said Kader, adding that TRAC’s success in court “all depends on how the case is represented.” TRAC VP external Mohammed Sabr, who sat on the negotiating team, stated that the terms of the proposed contract were so weak because of the administration’s efforts to stymie the union’s progress in gaining a new contract. “Mainly they were not giving us enough dates to meet with them. Maybe one day a month or every two months. Like any employer, they want to save money,” Sabr said. He added that the proposal was voted down partly because of the pay cuts involved, but also because the proposal did not guarantee TRAC members a minimum number of hours per week. The union has also faced increasing tension with PSAC, whose regional executive vice president Jérôme Turcq sat on TRAC’s negotiating team.

“[PSAC] did not run the negotiation to its full capacity. They did not put enough of their energy into gaining better terms,” Sabr said. On Friday, TRAC announced that negotiations with the administration would freeze until its members meet for another general assembly, which will likely be held next week. But according to Sabr, PSAC has indicated that it may proceed with the negotiations without TRAC’s involvement. “We’re not happy with the whole status with them,” said Sabr. “The union should operate in the best interests of its members, and I don’t believe that PSAC [will necessarily do that].” Since both parties wrote the by-laws of TRAC, resolving this struggle has proven difficult. PSAC, according to a press release on TRAC’s web site, has contested the union’s by laws, which were established in 2007. Following TRAC’s decision to bring the labour dispute to arbitration, the Quebec Labour Relations Board appointed its secretary and general director, Jacques Doré, to oversee the case. – with files from Niko Block

QPIRG frustrated by opt-out campaign Organization rebukes Conservative McGill for undercutting its finances Niko Block The McGill Daily


campaign encouraging students to opt out of QPIRG’s student fee continued throughout January’s add-drop period. QPIRG staff and members say that the scheme is having a detrimental effect on the organization’s ability to operate freely. The campaign started last term, when Conservative McGill, the Liberal Party of Quebec at McGill, the McGill Hellenic Students’ Association, and three other groups started a Facebook group and web site encouraging students to opt out of the $3.75 per semester fee. QPIRG internal coordinator Anna Malla called the group’s accusations that QPIRG is anti-democratic “ridiculous.” “If people are actually interested in what we’re doing, then they should make an effort to participate in our democratic process which we believe in and which we have,” said Malla. She added that any student who has paid the opt-outable fee is welcome to attend the group’s annual general assembly, where they can elect QPIRG’s board of directors. The opt-out campaign’s web site accuses QPIRG of hosting working groups whose politics “appall the mainstream of McGill’s student body.” “We think that the majority of McGill students don’t want their money going to antidemocratic

things, specifically the anarchist ones,” said Conservative McGill president Jess Weiser. Weiser took aim especially at Tadamon!, one of QPIRG’s working groups, for its call for the federal government to remove the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah from its list of terrorist organizations. Weiser also criticized QPIRG’s support for the Chaotic Insurrection Ensemble, “an activist street band that organizes according to anarchist principles.” “It’s our feeling that there’s a widespread opposition to the types of activities that QPIRG does on campus, and we feel that a lot of the people that are in opposition to those things don’t even know that their money is going to them to begin with,” said Weiser. The opt-out campaign’s web site also criticizes QPIRG for attempts it made in the fall of 2008 to take the opt-out feature off of McGill’s web site. Malla stated that QPIRG was the first organization on campus to fight for students’ right to opt out of fees. She explained QPIRG is dissatisfied with the online opt-out process because it is a violation of QPIRG’s memorandum of understanding with McGill, and because it does not impel students to make an informed decision before opting out. “QPIRG believes in the democratic process that allows students to opt out. We believe in that process and we actually initiated that after QPIRG was founded,” said Malla.

Andrea Figueroa, QPIRG’s external coordinator, stated that the opt-out campaign’s assertion that QPIRG’s working groups should appeal directly to students for funding is the product of a basic lack of understanding of QPIRG’s structure. “It’s the same way that SSMU councillors get elected and they pick what to fund and what they don’t, so they have the same process as QPIRG,” said Figueroa. Weiser later acknowledged that “not every single organization that they fund is radical.” “There are some initiatives they’ve supported that do have merit,” he added. “We feel that the groups that would garner support from a majority of campus would be able to fund themselves, and we’d be happy to help them in that effort.” The opt-out campaign’s web site initially included some factual errors, including the assertion that the McGill chapter of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights and Independent Jewish Voices are QPIRG working groups. It also claimed that QPIRG “supports and practices anti-Semitism” – a charge that QPIRG denounced as “offensive.” All of these errors were subsequently removed from the opt-out campaign’s web site. Weiser stood behind the content of the web site, but added that changes to it could have been made by others involved in the campaign. “There was nothing unfactual that we had to change,” he said.

Teach English Abroad TESOL/TESL Teacher Training Certification Courses • Intensive 60-Hour Program • Classroom Management Techniques • Detailed Lesson Planning • ESL Skills Development • Comprehensive Teaching Materials • Interactive Teaching Practicum • Internationally Recognized Certificate • Teacher Placement Service • Money-Back Guarantee Included • Thousands of Satisfied Students

OXFORD SEMINARS 1-800-269-6719/416-924-3240

Classifieds To place an ad, via email: phone: 514-398-6790 fax: 514-398-8318

Cost: McGill Students & Staff: $6,70/day; $6.20/day for 3 or more days. General public: $8.10/day; $6.95/day for 3 or more days. 150 character limit. There will be a $6.00 charge per contract for any characters over the limit. Prices include taxes. MINIMUM ORDER $40.50/ 5 ads.

Categories: Housing, Movers/Storage, Employment, Word Processing/Typing, Services Offered, For Sale, To Give Away, Wanted to Buy, Rides/Tickets, Lost & Found, Personal, Lessons/Courses, Notices, Volunteers, Musicians, etc. Lost & Found ads are free.

Housing 4 1/2 - MTL North, renovated, large rooms, very quiet and clean, close to buses, metro and all services, 15 mins. away from downtown (Pie-IX metro station), available immediately. $545. Call (450) 661-6110

Employment MASTER SCHOOL OF BARTENDING Bartending and table service courses Student rebate Job reference service • 514-849-2828 (online registration possible)

Have you had a


since childhood? McGill Vision Research is looking for study participants. Please call Dr. Simon Clavagnier at 514-934-1934 ext. 35307 or email mcgillvisionresearch@ for further information.

Lessons/Courses CANADA COLLEGE Any Language Course: 7.00$/hour TESOL Certification Recognized by TESL Canada. TOEFL iBT, GMAT, MCAT, TEFaQ, TEF preparation. Student’s visa, Visa renewal.

Miscellaneous Psychology professors and grad/ undergrad students. Can you help a psychology student, senior citizen, who was assaulted and robbed. All psychology texts were stolen. Donations of used/old undergrad and grad psychology books urgently needed. An old copy of DSM III will be deeply appreciated. Please call: 514-2772029. Thank you.


The McGill Daily, Thursday, February 4, 2010


In which I deconstruct the family jewels Dignity needs defending

Radically reread Lisa Miatello


his past summer, I found myself at a party and in a bit of a sticky situation. Here’s the story: As I was walking down the hallway, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a small chalkboard hanging on the wall. Taking a closer look, its title read, “House Rules.” Here we go, I thought bitterly. Scanning the rules quickly, my eyes fell upon Rule #3: “No fat chicks.” And to drive this point home, #3 was accompanied by Rule #5: “Remember, no fat chicks.” Disgusted, I didn’t think twice before furiously rubbing that shit out with my palm. Meanwhile, some dude (let’s call him Dude for the sake of simplicity) had seen what I had done and didn’t take too kindly to it. So Dude started talking smack. He told me that I have “no right” to erase their house rules, about this being private property, that we live in a free country, and that everyone’s entitled to their (bullshit)

opinions. Blah blah blah, enter ways to justify oppressive behaviour here. True to form, I started arguing with him. Our dispute rapidly descended into a series of verbal cheap shots aimed by Dude at yours truly. In a matter of minutes, I learned about his contempt for women, his aversion to fat people, and his distaste for lesbians. To add insult to injury, during his diatribe, he mocked me, mimicked me, and waved a pair of drumsticks in my face. It was straight up disrespect, and it infuriated me. This brief but heated interaction tapped into years and years of anger I had felt – still feel – toward our society’s homophobia, sexism, and fatphobia. Dude’s words and behaviour threw me back to the hordes of boys and men that I have known whose reactions toward women run the gamut from subtle disdain to sexual violence. I considered all the ways I had reacted to this sort of treatment in the

past. Submitting to this disrespect had meant accepting the idea that women are inferior, worthless, stupid, and weak. It had meant internalizing the devaluation that men like this had impressed on me. Talking back when disrespected had meant being called a crazy bitch, being dismissed, getting reprimanded and punished, or being ostracized. It’s only through laboured politicization that I have come to understand the roots of this sort of violence and the anger it generates. We grow up learning that entire groups of people are deemed less valuable and less human than others. It sucks, to the say the least. With this truism in tow, I’ve become more and more convinced that when all else is lost, all we have left is our dignity. For that reason, preserving it, defending it, and fighting for it has become central to my actions. So how did this altercation with Dude end? I grabbed hold of his drumsticks and kicked the douchebag in the nuts. If I could do it again, the only thing I would do differently would be to kick him harder. Militant feminist: 1. Patriarchy: 0.


ill D



Setting the record straight on the Bookstore fter reading “Haven Books: a cheap alternative” by Ben Paris (Commentary, January 11), my staff and I felt compelled to address the errors and misinformation throughout the article. We think that this misinformation serves to hurt both the McGill Bookstore and the community at large. First, the McGill Bookstore is fully owned and operated by McGill University. It was, at one point, run by Chapters/Indigo for a five-year period that ended in May 2003. Since that time, the Bookstore has been self-financed and is not subsidized by the University. Not only do we autonomously finance all operating expenses of the Bookstore, but regularly deliver year-end surpluses to the University. Over the last three years alone, $1,125,000 ($375,000 per annum) has been transferred to Student Life and Learning and has been used for student financial support. We also support students sig-



Lisa Miatello pens a column on this parchment every second week. Dignify her at radicallyreread@


David Strutz


he in | T

nificantly in other ways. For example, we currently employ approximately 60 McGill students, and do so in a work environment that is sensitive to student schedules and academic work loads. Second, the mark-up charged on textbooks is not “huge.” Bookstores do not set textbook prices – publishers do. Our profit on the sale of each textbook is not 40 per cent, but substantially lower at an average of 23 per cent. That is, on a $100 book, the publisher receives $77, and the Bookstore, $23. Furthermore, a portion of this $23 is used to cover the day-to-day expenses involved in operating a bookstore; for example, shipping charges on received merchandise, salaries and benefits, and mortgage payments. Third, we offer students the opportunity to sell their used textbooks back to the bookstore year-round not only to meet our needs but also on behalf of some 20 other Canadian campuses. Although our cash-upfront buyback model differs from the one offered at Haven Books, students

should be aware that the option to both sell and buy used textbooks exists here as well. Students are free to choose the option that best suits their needs. Finally, the restriction on advertising by Haven Books is related to a restriction on the use of University resources (such as email) to promote a commercial endeavour. However, nothing prevents Haven Books from buying ads in The Daily, the McGill Tribune, or other media. The McGill Bookstore is in a competitive market, and students will decide where to buy their new and used books. However, it is important for students to know the facts: the McGill Bookstore is here to support the academic mission of the University, is committed to serving student needs, and contributes to student financial support by transferring surpluses to Student Life and Learning. David Strutz is the Associate Director (Retail & Parking) of Ancillary Services. Write him at

Stay classy, pro-choice crowd Dear campus activists who’ve opposed Choose Life this year: The kids behind Choose Life are in the minority here. They are small in numbers and, as events on campus have shown in recent months, there’s a strong consensus against their tactics and the way they do business. Even people who are generally opposed to abortion wrote into The Daily saying that Choose Life and their affiliates give the prolife movement a bad name, and are, on the whole, kind of tacky. Don’t encourage them. Given their numbers and the scale of their actions, without all the hype, the wind would have gone out of their sails a long time ago. Which is why I find this GA motion to categorically ban any pro-life group from SSMU particularly distressing. The wording of the motion defines groups with a pro-life ideology as inherently oppressive, a leap of logic that ploughs over any differentiation between all the people out there who aren’t too keen on the idea of abortion: “The SSMU further resolves to condemn any group, student association, or organiza-

tion whose goals and methods compromise the safety and health of any person or engage in acts of discrimination such as but not limited to pro-life groups.” You are only giving the people behind Choose Life ammunition and legitimizing their claim to being oppressed by the Left. This idea is central to the way they’re framing themselves as conservative underdogs being put down by an intolerant pro-abortion majority. You glorify Choose Life by providing them with the epic, forceful opposition their self-image requires. Meet their actions with disregard and disinterest instead of indignation, and this self-image won’t hold water. If you think their tactics are beneath your dignity, do not dignify them. The best way to oppose people you violently disagree with is to put them in their place. You can achieve this, first, by staying classy and keeping your place firmly in the moral high ground. Proposing censorship has you losing it pretty fast. Please don’t let this lapse pass into policy. —Braden Goyette

8 Features

Frightening the life out of th Laura Anderson investigates why North Americans ignore science at their own peril


ecember’s United Nations conference on climate change in Copenhagen brought together delegates representing 110 nations with only one issue on the agenda: cutting carbon emissions. With ever-mounting scientific evidence proving the severity of global warming and that humans are causing it, the existence and origins of climate change can no longer be credibly disputed. Considering the stakes of this issue, the outcome of the Copenhagen conference was a disappointing one: an entirely nonbinding agreement forged by only five states without significant reductions targets that leaves many details undecided. This vague agreement leaves developing countries – which arguably stand to lose the most from the consequences of climate change – particularly vulnerable. When it came to deciding on emissions targets, the unfortunate reality was that climate change is just not a priority issue for many nations. However, there are numerous public opinion findings that suggest that climate change inertia is not exclusively due to bureaucratic considerations and obstacles particular to governments and politicians. It seems that despite ever-increasing public awareness of the issue, climate change ranks low on citizens’ priority lists.

International inertia

Prime minister Stephen Harper has repeatedly expressed that Canada will be acting in tandem with the United States regarding climate legislation – a decision that leaves the nation’s progress dependent on decisions from outside leadership. American public opinion will consequently

have significant effects north of the border. Findings from the acclaimed Pew Research Center, based in Washington, D.C., confirm that on average, Americans don’t feel very strongly about global warming. This is especially troubling considering that the U.S. has historically been the largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Public opinion polls over the past 20 years have consistently shown that about 35 to 40 per cent of the American public worry about global warming “a great deal” and only about one-third consider the issue to be “a serious personal threat.” When asked about the most urgent problems facing the country, very few responded that global warming was among the topmost concerns. Remarkably, public opinion has remained fairly stable regarding the issue throughout the past two decades, despite fluctuations in government attitudes and media coverage. As scientific evidence becomes increasingly concrete, this rigid skepticism is puzzling. Though there may be a debate about the existence of global warming taking place on the Internet and in the right wing press, there is not a parallel debate in credible scientific journals. These statistics are derived from the American public, but the Canadian experience is not far off. Findings from the Environics Research Group suggest that the Canadian public’s concern about climate change is at an all-time low, although to a less severe extent than was found in the U.S. Environics analysts assert that public interest in climate change has not been sufficient to place significant political

pressure on the federal government and, by extension, on international agreements.

Mind games

In “Apocalypse Fatigue,” Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger assert that the the decline of public confidence in the existence of global warming in the face of peak media coverage and scientific evidence is a psychological phenomenon. Nordhaus and Shellenberger explain that a source of the public’s weak commitment is climate change’s inherent qualities. The threat of climate change is a relatively distant one, in terms of both time and space, making it difficult to visualize and to comprehend in a meaningful way. Perhaps more importantly, the steps needed to combat climate change can often be viewed as counter to the Western way of life. “The dominant climate change solutions run up against established ideologies and identities,” Nordhaus and Shellenberger say. For many, the change in lifestyle necessary to reduce one’s carbon footprint translates into an attack on a culture defined in many ways by consumption, perceived exceptionalism, and privilege. Some argue that a concern for climate change is often pushed aside for issues more resonant with the public’s daily life. Presently, as the world deals with the aftermath of the most severe recession in decades, individuals will likely prioritize economic concerns over environmental ones, pushing concerns of climate change further down the priority list. For many, problems such as unemployment are much easier to conceptualize than an increase in the planet’s temperature. It may be in every-

one’s best interest to work toward carbon neutrality, but when these interests are framed as a potential hindrance to economic growth, action becomes difficult. In The Denial Justification, Sharon Tregaskis explains that while we may not refute evidence, we want to divert out attention. “Our inaction, in part, boils down to how we think. We, and our leaders, are easily distracted by closer issues – war, terrorism, disease, race relations, economic distress.” Nordhaus and Shellenberger apply a concept from social psychology, system justification theory, to explain public ambivalence toward climate change. The basic idea – built upon earlier work on ego- and groupjustification theories – is that many people possess a “psychological need to maintain a positive view of the existing social order, whatever it may be. This need manifests itself, not surprisingly, in the strong tendency to perceive existing social relations as fair, legitimate, and desirable, even in contexts in which those relations substantively disadvantage the person involved.” John Jost, a prominent political psychologist at New York University, applies system justification to the ideological divide that plagues climate change issues. He explains that the combination of a low sense of imminent threat and system justification combine to make an individual resist any education and persuasive techniques that run counter to the set of ideals the individual identifies with. Often, addressing climate change has been framed in terms of economic sacrifice and lifestyle changes that most people are reluctant to accept. Jost writes: “There are psychological obstacles to creating real, last-

The McGill Daily, Thursday, February 4, 2010

he climate change movement

Whitney Mallett | The McGill Daily

ing change…in addition to all of the scientific, technical, economic, and political obstacles.” He continues: “Denial is far easier and more convenient than supporting a carbon tax, paying for high-efficiency technology, or giving up cheap goods shipped through elaborate, fuel-guzzling supply chains.”

Scaring away support

The body of research present on the psychology of global warming would suggest that efforts to educate and inform the public might have a counter-intuitive effect. “Apocalyptic threats, when their impacts are relatively far off in the future, difficult to imagine or visualize, and emanate from everyday activities…are not easily acknowledged and are unlikely to become priority concerns for most people,” Nordhaus and Shellenberger explain. They suggest that the practical result of greater well-meaning attention from activists and an increased media spotlight may be a further polarization of the issue, often serving to push politically conservative, and even moderate individuals, away from the cause. By this logic, increasingly dire prognoses meant to motivate the public to take action have the opposite effect. In some cases, they could lead people to climate skeptics, who question the scientific validity of global warming. Attempts to make the problem a material reality by invoking images of melting icecaps and drowning nations may be overwhelming. Such tactics could make people reject the idea of climate change altogether, rather than change their behaviour. A survey by American Environics revealed that the public increasingly perceives the

threat of global warming to be exaggerated, giving robustness to the claim that dire and apocalyptic warnings invoked by proponents of change may be causing a rise in the existence of public skepticism. Nordhaus and Shellenberger address this point: “Having been told that climate science demands that we fundamentally change our way of life, many Americans have, not surprisingly, concluded that the problem is not with their lifestyles but with what they’ve been told about the science.”

Deadly defense mechanism

Ernest Becker, a cultural anthropologist, sociologist, and psychiatrist, as well as the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Denial of Death, claims that “the essence of normality is the refusal of reality.” Harkening back to Freudian theories that assert that repression is a natural selfprotection mechanism, Becker claimed that a fear of death drives us to protect ourselves from experiences that remind us of our own mortality. It would follow, then, that the human response to being confronted by apocalyptic images is a buffering of one’s worldview – and subsequently a rejection of the people and ideas that pose a threat to it. This hypothesis is called the Terror Management Theory (TMT). The irony of this mechanism is that by suppressing messages of mortality, people may actually expose themselves to greater physical danger. Despite its counterintuitive nature, TMT has purportedly been supported by more than 3,000 empirical studies that have aimed to test its predictions within both Western and non-Western societies. Becker connected the denial of death

to “a broad suite of behaviours enacted in defense of a cultural world view, placing his [or her] ideas within the context of Western society’s increasingly distant relationship to nature and rejection of death as an integral part of life.” In light of these assertions, it is worth taking note of the recent onslaught of apocalyptic images in popular entertainment. One example: the 2009 blockbuster 2012, which depicts a series of catastrophic natural disasters devastating the earth as a result of the rapid heating of the earth’s core. It is not a stretch to view these images as analogous to many of the worst-case scenario depictions of the effects of global warming. Although the effects of apocalyptic images in entertainment on public opinion are unclear, Becker’s TMT would imply that exposure to such images increases denial and inaction when it comes to climate change. An analysis of Becker’s work, “The People Paradox: Self-Esteem Striving, Immortality Ideologies, and Human Response to Climate Change,” carried out by biologist Janis L. Dickinson, connects it directly to the issue of climate change, suggesting that people’s natural response to the climate crisis may be an unproductive one. She claims that individuals “may actually increase consumption as well as raise antagonism toward environmentalists and scientists. The message, after all, presents a lethal threat to the central immortality project of Western society: perpetual economic growth, supported by an ideology of entitlement and exceptionalism.”

Inciting change

Addressing the problem is a difficult one. After Copenhagen, it is clear that even policy proposals that rest on a sound scien-

tific basis may be insufficient to overcome opposition. Internationally, pressure to move forward with a credible commitment is likely to increase as time goes on, as evidence of climate change makes itself more immediately felt. The question that remains is how long it will take before this pressure takes effect, and whether at this point an effective solution will still be reachable. However, many theorists are offering solutions to the public’s apparent apathy. Nordhaus and Shellenberger conclude that despite waning public interest in climate change, citizens are still prepared to support “reasonable efforts to reduce carbon emissions,” if the issue is framed the right way. Finding a means to integrate environmentalism into the existing worldviews of individuals, rather than setting up climate change as antagonistic to those ideals, could lead to a more effective outcome. A key consideration to keep in mind is that public attitudes matter: a committed public has the potential to encourage governments to come up with solutions. Calls for change are by no means scarce, and clearly a base of individuals solidly committed to change already exists. The protests that filled the streets of Copenhagen during the climate conference are just one example of a growing sense of urgency. Although it is likely that climate change will ultimately be mitigated through shifts in policy and technology, further investigation into the psychological issues that underlie public opinion will be important in designing effective strategies for education and advocacy. By reconfiguring the strategies used to promote advocacy, public opinion could serve as a powerful tool to push for change.



The McGill Daily, Thursday, February 4, 2010


Logjammin’ at Mac campus Lumber-jacks of all trades converge in the West Island Top: In the pole climb, competitors must scale a 30-foot tree trunk as fast as possible. Bottom: Lumber-jacks compete in the swede saw, where team members take turns sawing off “cookies” of a piece of timber.

Niko Block The McGill Daily


n Saturday, nearly 200 lumber-jacks and -jills endured -20ºC temperatures and an 8 a.m. start-time to compete in events like the chainsaw, pole climb, pulp throw, super swede, and the water boil. The events were a part of Macdonald Campus’ 50th Annual Intercollegiate Woodsmen Competition. Originally scheduled to be held at Mac’s Morgan Arboretum, the competition was moved to Mac’s lower campus due to a blizzard. “My hands blistered from the cold while I was doing the axe toss this morning,” said Taifa Brown, a University of New Brunswick (UNB) forestry student. “The bus was quite a few hours late, we hit a huge snowstorm, and then the bus broke down today – but this is worth it.” Competitors cheered and mingled, warming their hands over a barrel fire, drops of snot dangling from their noses and freezing in their moustaches. “It was pretty darn cold this morning but it’s warmed up a bit in the afternoon,” said Jacob Gill, a member of the Sir Sanford Fleming College team (SSFC). “A lot of the people on our team are in either forestry or arboriculture, which basically means forest management and getting to know your trees.” “Timber sports are pretty popular there,” said Gill, who also works in

provincial parks outside of Lindsay, Ontario. “There’s not a whole lot to do in a town like Lindsay. Honestly, in a town of 17,000 there’s not too many sports, so this is probably one of the bigger sports at our school.” SSFC’s coach, Philip Dunwoody, looked on as one of their competitors completed the 30-foot pole climb in about five seconds. “I do tree care, so climbing trees is part of it,” said Dunwoody. He went on to explain that cutting the limbs off of dead trees is part of his job and that his experience in timber sports was useful when he started working in arboriculture. “It’s one thing to use a chainsaw on the ground, but it’s another thing to use it 30 feet up in the air.” The event lacked almost any of the roughneck chauvinism typically ascribed to lumber-jacks. There was a lot of yelling – occasionally the earnest battlecry of a curler, (“haaaard!”), but usually a friendlier, “You got it, man! Yeah, alright!” “Everybody really pulls together. Whether you’re on the guys’ team or the girls’ team, everybody’s willing to help all the time,” said Brown. Dartmouth student Serena Nelson agreed. “Everyone is equal here, and it’s awesome…. We don’t do this so much as a competition; we do it because it’s fun,” she said. The event hosted 14 men’s teams, eight women’s, and four Jack-andJills’. It finished with McGill took first place in the Jack-and-Jill competition, while SSFC and UNB won first place in the women’s and men’s competitions, respectively.

Photos by Niko Block | The McGill Daily


The McGill Daily, Thursday, February 4, 2010


I get knocked down, and I get up again Kady Paterson The McGill Daily


very year in Canada there are over 63,000 sports-related head injuries in high school sports alone. Across all of Canadian organized sport, the figure rises to 1.6 million, with some estimates as high as 3.8 million. A great deal of these injuries could be prevented. High school and college athletes in particular face pressure that forces them back into their games sooner than is medically recommended. This pressure is often the result of coaches who push their star athletes to compete when they shouldn’t. At a minor league hockey forum hosted by the Toronto Star last week, Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke illustrated a mind set that prevails in much of organized sport: “You play a contact sport, there’s going to be injuries. It’s that simple.” From an early age, athletes are taught to toughen up, and “playthrough-the-pain” becomes a mantra. The image of the resilient athlete is one of the things that leads to the all-too-common phenomenon of playing while injured. When asked about deciding to allow an injured player back in the game, McGill Redmen basketball coach Craig Norman relied on concepts of toughness. “Some kids have higher thresholds for pain than others, and sometimes that determines it,” he said. Star player Matt Thornhill spent most of January wearing a face mask because of a broken nose. “I couldn’t miss games just because of a broken nose – it was something I just had to play through.” Canadian Interuniversity Sport, the league in which McGill teams play, has no official policy on playing while injured. The choice of

Upcoming McGill Varsity Home Games Ice Hockey

whether or not an athlete is healthy enough to play falls to the school. Here at McGill, this decision rests with coaches, players, and is heavily influenced by the medical staff. McGill’s policy dictates that varsity players receive a full physical at the beginning of each season, as well as periodic check ups. At the first sign of injury, players report to the team physician in the case of a varsity team, or the sports clinic for club teams. Part of being a college varsity coach is preparing athletes for potential futures at more elite levels of sport. This preoccupation often results in players seeing game time sooner than they should. Key players like Thornhill can end up facing the difficult choice of playing while injured or losing their spot on the roster. When asked if he faces more pressure to play while injured because of his skill level, Thornhill affirmed that he did. “When you get hurt, you want to come back and play, so the pressure is kind of mutual,” he said. While this pressure can come from parents, fans, and the players themselves, the main source is often coaches. Norman explained: “If the kid is of major importance to your success, then you work with the medicine people and are a bit more aggressive in your rehab, and they come back a little earlier than someone else.” This attitude is often pushed to dangerous extremes in college sports. The expectation of injuries should not excuse coaches from playing athletes in a way that will risk their health in the long term. Those who are meant to protect players should, and should stop looking to push players for “their own good.” Encouraging students to stay active and live healthy lives is important, but when the encouragement becomes coercion, we need to draw a line.

Lukas Thienhaus | The McGill Daily

College athletes who get injured, stay injured

“We talkin’ about practice” -Allen Iverson

Redmen v. UQTR – Feb 8, 7 p.m. @McConnell Arena Last Red Thunder game of year

Basketball Marlets v. UQÀM – Feb 6, 6 p.m. @Love Competition Hall Redmen v. UQÀM – Feb 6, 8 p.m. @Love Competition Hall

Volleyball Marlets v. Montréal – Feb 5, 6 p.m. @Love Competition Hall Redmen v. Montréal – Feb 5, 8 p.m. @ Love Competition Hall

Write for Sports Meetings every Thursday, 5:30, Shatner B-24


The McGill Daily, Thursday, February, 4, 2010



Are there virtues to the Victorian revival? David Whiteside on the modern relevance of the pre-Raphaelites


CULTURE BRIEFS To dance, to seek, to find, and not to yield The title of the latest dance piece by Montreal-based choreographer Dominique Porte – Ulysse, nous et les sirènes – suggests recognizable and relatable themes: the universal trope of the individual’s journey, as well as the worldly temptations that he or she encounters therein. Porte, though, is reluctant to interpret the piece’s elements as direct translations of the Homeric plot. On the one hand, she conceded the universality of her inspiration. “We are all Ulysse [with] a desire to go somewhere else,” she says. But she described The Odyssey as functioning primarily as a “tangible refer-

ence” for her work, not a blueprint. This approach has allowed Porte to maintain the autonomy and originality of her chosen medium(s): using a mixed-media approach of lighting, song, and dance, Ulysse can palpably expand beyond the linguistic constraints that may otherwise inhibit written expressions. The piece features four dancers – Marc Boivin, Heather Mah, Victoria May, and Porte – as well as two singers – Isabelle Ligot and Nadine Medawar, whose haunting lulls are eerily reminiscent of the sirens themselves. But whether the viewer conceives of the sirens as being the three female dancers or the two singers, the particular magic of this piece lies elsewhere – in the disorientating effect of the dancers’ movements as they vacillate suddenly between slow and quick chops, fluid and angular rotations, while consistently maintaining a fierce bodily control that speaks to each dancer’s intensive

he Musée des Beaux Arts recently hosted “J.W. Waterhouse: ‘Le jardin des sortilege,’” the largest exhibition to date of the paintings of John William Waterhouse, a 19th-century English painter associated with the Pre-Raphaelite movement. The timing of the show is certainly apropos: as the exhibition materials point out, Waterhouse’s St. Cecilia recently sold for the highest amount ever for a Victorian painting, and Waterhouse is not the only Victorian receiving accolades these days. Sherlock Holmes is visiting the box office again, A.S Byatt’s Possession was adapted into a film just a few years ago (plot: two Victorian lit scholars fall in love), and museums all over the world have a new-found affection for the Pre-Raphaelites and their Victorian brethren. So why this Victorian revival? Writing in the UK’s Daily Mail about a year ago, Jeremy Paxman wondered “why the Dickens we despise Victorian art.” Its realist, graphic nature and populist subject matter, he says, made Victorian art “the cinema of its day.” Although I shudder to think that Hollywood might be our culture’s artistic legacy, Paxman’s is an apt Sally Lin | The McGill Daily analysis.

The Waterhouse exhibit directly illustrates the cinematic quality that lies behind our current Victoriana craze. Plenty of Victorian art leveled valuable social criticism (think Dickens). But that’s not the art we love right now. Sherlock Holmes? He’s a great period piece, but only worth a screenplay because he’s got a few good stories under his belt. So too does Waterhouse. He paints competently at best, but he illustrates brilliantly. Waterhouse is a storyteller, dishing out straight-up Victorian narrative. Whether of history or legend, occult ceremonies or dancing dryads, his paintings are snapshots of larger narratives. Take Consulting the Oracle, painted in 1882. A beautiful young lady bends toward a Teraph, the prophetic embalmed head of Hebrew tradition, while a circle of female onlookers awaits. The “middle eastern” setting is a pastiche of stereotypes: Egyptian friezes adorn the walls, and a vaguely North African city is glimpsed through the window. This is Victorian eclecticism at its utmost: Waterhouse references any visual tradition that serves the needs of the narrative in question. What matters is the existence of a setting and plot: somewhere in the Middle East, Hebrew women consult an oracle – and presto, a painting! Consulting the Oracle reminded me immediately of Delacroix’s Women of Algiers, painted 48 years earlier. It is a similar scene – a circle of North African women in their private apartments – and no less Orientalizing than Waterhouse’s image. Delacroix, unconcerned

training and expertise. Just when the viewer expects that the dancers may collide into one another, each dancer swiftly veers in another direction; the rhythmic harmony is restored following each crescendo of frenetic sounds and gestures. —Preanka Hai

writing and recording his compositions on his own. Wanting to add something to his music, he looked to his friends. “A couple years ago I recruited some musician friends to make a full band and play shows,” Daher, a McGill Music student, explains. “I wanted to fill out the sound [on previously recorded tracks].” Four friends later, Ismism was born. The band now includes Alex LeBlanc on bass, Nicolas Godmaire on guitar, Maude Locat on keys, and Harry Knazan on vibraphone, guitar, and aux. Daher is in charge of drums and compositions. The five-piece was able to add more instrumental elements to supplement Matt’s pre-existing electronic sound. The instrumentals add an organic element to the music that is experimental, raw, and lo-fi. With the additional members, Daher’s old pieces, self–described as rigid in composition, took on an element of

Ulysse, nous et les sirènes plays at La Cinquième Salle at Place Des Arts (175 Ste. Catherine O.) from February 3 to 6. For more information visit

Isms, and isms, and all we are saying.... This Saturday, Montreal-based band Ismism is set to release their first EP. Ismism plays experimental music that founder Matt Daher describes as “electro-acoustic post rock.” Originally, Daher had been

with narrative, lingers on the particular lighting of the scene, the women’s dress, and the skin of the maidservant passing by. The image is more aesthetically cohesive, but, more importantly, carries more depth of meaning. Without a narrative to distract him, a viewer can marvel at the Algerian women’s costumes, speculate as to their morals, or wonder what these women’s rights and privileges would have been (an idea Lalla Essaydi has explored brilliantly in her series of photographs inspired by Women of Algiers, Les Femmes du Maroc). What matters is that one can get more than just a story out of the image; one can and must think critically and subjectively to appreciate the painting. And therein lies the crux of the matter. The Pre-Raphaelites rejected all art generated by the academic training methods of the 19th century. What they forgot was that if you’re going to reject the Romantic manifesto because you don’t like the way the Romantics were trained, you have to replace it with a new one. Because their artistic philosophy was so fluid, the Pre-Raphaelites’ art tends to be aesthetically rich but ultimately shallow. Burne-Jones, Millais, Waterhouse, and the others, all brilliant illustrators, deserve their place in art history. Their art is beautiful, it tells stories, it provokes murmurs of delight. But does it really have anything to say to us? When all that society wants is a pretty picture, I think we should be concerned.

the impromptu. The songs on the EP were the five that were most “transformed” by the additional members, and vary from being whispery, mellow, and melodic to loud and chaotic, with distortion screaming from the bass and guitar. All the pieces incorporate heavy orchestration, with songs evolving out of a simple beat through instrumental entrances and changing dynamics. While the band has been influenced by the likes of Tortoise, Brian Eno, Four Tet, Tim Hecker, and Bibio, Ismism’s blend of electro-acoustic elements and post rock gives their music a distinctive sound. “You can expect a wide ranging [musical] experience,” says Daher, when asked about Saturday’s set at O Patro Vys (356 Mont-Royal E.). Ismism will not disappoint those looking to support the local Montreal music scene by hearing something new. —Thomas Kim


The McGill Daily, Thursday, February 4, 2010

Everything is derivative

The missing princess

Writer Kenneth Goldsmith talks about technology, language, and the unreadable text

Black Theatre Workshop produces play for girls who don’t look like Snow White Manisha Aggarwal-Schifellite Culture Writer


Courtesy of the Concordia University English Department

Goldsmith has rejected the term “poet,” preferring to be called a visual artist.


riters don’t need to write anything anymore, they just need to manage the language that already exists,” said Kenneth Goldsmith, English professor at the University of Pennsylvania, in a recent interview with Goldsmith, who spoke at Concordia University last Friday, claims that we have entered a new era in creative writing – one in which the creative process takes precedence over content. His new book, Uncreative Writing, discusses this concept in more detail, but Goldsmith didn’t come to Concordia to sell copies; in fact, he came to talk about how we’re moving away from books into an era of reproduction and copying – re-blogging and altering. Goldsmith, who has written ten books of “poetry,” has rejected the term “poet.” He prefers to be called a “visual artist” – perhaps because he has, for example, written entire works comprised of re-arranged newspaper lines. He once took it upon himself to retype an entire issue of the New York Times – resulting in a 900-page document. He says it was about presenting it in a completely different way. In Goldsmith’s “Uncreative Writing” class at the University of Pennsylvania, his students are required to purchase an essay from an online writing service and present it as if it is their own.

They are also encouraged to bring their laptops to class. He wants them to “be connected” because “they’re smarter when they have the Internet.... Somehow, they always know the answer.” While these may be impractical, hyperbolic examples, they’re in the same vein as Goldsmith’s actual philosophy. After his talk, he sat down with The Daily to answer a few questions. McGill Daily: People have recently begun using the term “Google readers” to describe the way in which our generation is less and less willing to read large amounts of text – we get our information from blogs and three-word answers on Google. How does this correspond with your philosophy? Kenneth Goldsmith: I think we are in the midst of a great change in the way that we receive language and the way that we write language. What you’re saying is nothing new – the newspaper headline, Morse code, the telegram – these were similar ways in which language evolved and became truncated. MD: Is this development just another rebellion against past literary norms? Many similar movements have been proposed before – modernism, post-modernism, post-post-modernism. Is this the next “step” in this succession or has there been a kind of over-arching phenomenon that’s really separate from all of those shifts?

KG: I think that modernism set up the conditions for the receivership of an unreadable text. But the great divide comes not with post-modernism, which I think is an illusion. but with the digital era. Suddenly we’re in a brand-new paradigm – as big a paradigm shift as modernism – and it has nothing to do with post-modernism, which is an illusion, it has to do with embedded technology that has changed our way of thinking and our way of living. MD: With the rise of social networking sites, people have the license to kind of adapt who they are online, effectively making “copies” of themselves based upon things they’ve taken from other sources that they think represent them. Does this phenomenon relate to what you’re talking about? KG: Absolutely. What is identity? Identity is completely under assault. You cannot say that you’re the person you think you are today. There’s been a great degree of constructive and creative play with identity on these sites. Why should I be restricted to writing my most sincere and most deep thoughts? I can use your thoughts or I don’t even have to be myself…. Why would we want to maintain our sense of authenticity in a time when we’re constantly morphing – constantly changing our identities online. I believe the staple autobiography is a dishonest representation of the self. —compiled by Tim Beeler

aced with the cliché of the fairytale princess image, Black Theatre Workshop (BTW) decided to do away with it completely in their latest production, The Nutmeg Princess. Created by Richardo KeensDouglas and written by Amah Harris, the play will be performed as part of BTW’s Black History Month school tours throughout Montreal’s English school system this. One of the driving forces behind The Nutmeg Princess was Keens-Douglas’s desire to create a non-traditional princess character. According to the Grenada-born playwright and actor, the idea for the play came to him after a little girl at a storytelling session asked him why there were no black princesses who looked like her. Inspired by traditional African and West Indian storytelling styles, he created The Nutmeg Princess to prove that “little black girls everywhere could see themselves represented in a story.” The BTW’s production freely subverted numerous theatre conventions, including the titular main character, and their use of large puppets accompanying the actors to breathe life into the mythical and elusive Nutmeg Princess. The production stars Tamara Brown, Mike Payette, and Warona Setshwaelo, and is directed by Liz Valdez. Set on the Caribbean “Isle of Spice,” the play tells the tale of the Nutmeg Princess, a magical figure who only appears when the island’s nutmeg is ready to pick. Interestingly, the Nutmeg Princess herself is not shown in the play. This is a key element of the story, says Tamara Brown. “You don’t know who the princess is. She could be someone’s mother. She could be anyone. She is a princess of the Earth.”

Moving away from a traditional image of the princess was part of Valdez’s approach to this adaptation of the play, Brown explains. “It’s about seeing beyond appearances,” she says. At the heart of it, Brown says, The Nutmeg Princess “is about sharing a story,” not issuing a manifesto. The play promotes goodness, kindness, and treating others with respect. When The Nutmeg Princess appears, she tells her audience to “follow your dreams, and if you believe in yourselves, all things are possible.” In this sense, Brown says, The Nutmeg Princess does not follow the pattern of other Black History Month productions. Instead, the play offers its audience a chance to experience a unique blend of traditional storytelling and contemporary theatre. The play’s theme of cultural representation is maintained through the use of an all-Black cast without promoting a political message. The universal messages of respect and self-confidence presented in the play will undoubtedly appeal to its young audience. Simultaneously, the image of a black princess and the cultural setting of the Caribbean Isle of Spice will certainly resonate with children who have felt underrepresented in traditional fables and fairytales. As Brown points out, a production like The Nutmeg Princess does not need to promote an explicitly political message in order to make an impact. “Kids are not stupid,” Brown says. “They’ll figure it out.” Overall, The Nutmeg Princess exemplifies the balance between representation and entertainment in a way that will appeal to children and adults alike. Brown anticipates that the BTW will soon be able to expand its school tours into January and March, in the hopes that audiences will be able to experience their productions outside the confines of Black History Month.

ArtMusicTheatreDancePoetry MoviesAnimationBurlesque ComedyArchitecture

Culture Tuesdays, 5:30, Shatner B-24


The McGill Daily, Thursday, February 4, 2010


Lies, half-truths, and what the hell is this section anyway

U.S. homo ban may be “relaxed” Only gayest now kicked out of armed forces, world safer Télésphore Sansouci


he Pentagon announced this week that its awesome and effective “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy may possibly be “relaxed” perhaps. Giovanni Nohomo, a Pentagon spokesman, clarified: “Under these new rules, instead of being ratted out by co-workers

and spouses [Ed. note: who the fuck outs their spouse?], it’d just be a senior commanding officer that could get you kicked out. “It’s great to be at the mercy of one person who doesn’t need evidence to make you lose your job.” Another change: under the proposed changes, only the flagrantly gay would be kicked out. Which makes a lot of sense, since there are degrees of homosexuality.

Under the new policy, higherups must make the decision regarding gay expulsion. In reference to a potential gay, Admiral Butch said: “Oh, puh-LEASE. Have you seen his shoes?” When pressed on what exactly constitutes “flagrant homosexuality,” Nohomo pointed this reporter to the video for “In the Navy” by the Village People. Stormin’ Corman Nornett, a spe-

cialist in dialogic interactions, commented: “I think this will lead to a drastic increase in the use of 69 on military premises.” Norman Cornett. NORMAN NORMAN Norman CORNETT norman CORNETT coRNETT noRMAN norMAN corneTttTttttTttttt NORMAAAAAAAAN!!!!!!! NOR MAN NOR

How often do you talk about fæces? I’m conducting a survey. Send your daily fæcalmatter discussion rate as well as your nationality (American, Canadian, or other) to

Text: Sam Neylon / Illustration: Sally Lin | The McGill Daily

I am incredibly fucking lonely

Circa 100-word story

Sally Lin | The McGill Daily

Daniel Hawkins for The McGill Daily

This comic originally appeared at

Why don’t you come for a visit? I’m so lonely – these days. Shatner basement, B-24.

Two girls stumble with their arms intertwined like braided sweet breads over sidewalks slicked with coarse dark ice. Their small heads touch, decorated with crowns of snowy pollen, as palm to ear they trade secrets in the tongue of “God’s children.” With their voices lowered to soft, yet audibly wet whispers, the excitement of privacy pushes saliva through their braces and missing teeth. Gobs of spit now squatting

at the corners of their mouths pose a suggestive beauty to the street, while modesty compels each girl, in a frantic gesture, to transpose these excretions onto a mitten, onto a sleeve. With the first hurried forearm, shame embeds itself into the scene; traces of naked beauty expelled into vagrancy. Realizing that this ending was a tragic one, the poet-stranger walks on. —Sarah Mortimer


Kim Pate Commentary. Compendium!. Culture. Features. Letters. Mind & Body. News. Sci + Tech. Sports. SPLINTERGROUP “Why Women are Canada...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you