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ARIA SUMMER 2010 ARTS RESEARCH INTERNSHIP AWARDS
FOR M C GILL UNDERGRADUATES $4,000 will be awarded to 35 Faculty of Arts undergraduate students to do summer research under the direct supervision of a faculty member.
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The Department of Sociology and the minor program in Canadian Ethnic and Racial Studies are pleased to present
Nathan Glazer Emeritus Professor of Education Harvard University Prof. Glazer is the co-author of the path-breaking sociological work Beyond the Melting Pot, and for over three decades, was co-editor of the influential policy journal, The Public Interest.
â€?US Race Relations in the Age of Obamaâ€? Wednesday, March 24, 4:00 - 6:00 pm 3644 Peel Street, McGill Faculty of Law Maxwell-Cohen Moot Court (Room 100)
â€?Public Intellectuals in the United States: Arguing the Worldâ€?
Annual General Meeting The Annual General Meeting of the Daily Publications Society (DPS), publisher of The McGill Daily and Le DĂŠlit, will take place on
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Thursday, March 25, 2:30 - 4:30 pm Leacock Building, Room 232 855 Sherbrooke Street West For more information, please contact Prof. Morton Weinfeld: firstname.lastname@example.org or Leslie Cheung: email@example.com The public is welcome. Admission is free. ConfĂŠrence publique. Lâ€™entrĂŠe est gratuite. This lecture is made possible by a grant from the Beatty Memorial Lectures Committee.
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The McGill Daily, Monday, March 8, 2010
Civil liberties under threat McGill hosts symposium on counter-terrorism and human rights Humera Jabir The McGill Daily
xtraordinary renditions, spurious security certificates, and overseas torture have raised new concerns about the status of human rights in an era of heightened anti-terrorism protections. At a symposium held at the Faculty of Law last Friday, leading policy-makers, lawyers, and academics addressed the need to critically revisit Canada’s national security policy and to return to fundamental principles of human rights. “People actually [have had] their lives ruined by a certificate which turns out be bogus in the end. This is a real problem. We have preventative arrests, jail for people who are not charged...let alone convicted.... These are things which were unimaginable in the Canadian fabric 20 years ago. They were just not possible,” said Simon Potter, a member of the Canadian Bar Association, and fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. “I don’t want to argue here whether these things are necessary.... My point is that necessary or not, they are dangerous and we have to be alert,” said Potter. Also present at the symposium was Maher Arar, arguably Canada’s best-known victim of outsourced torture. Wrongly labeled an Islamic extremist, Arar was deported to Syria by the American government in 2002 based on information provided by Canadian officials. Arar was held for over a year, and tortured during his detention. Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a formal apology five years later. Arar addressed the growing list of Canadians who have been victims of security intelligence failures. “Here in Canada we are
all aware now of at least five or six cases where there is either direct or indirect complicity of the Canadian government: Abdelrazik, El Matti, Almalki, Nureddin. One can only ask the question, what are the other cases we haven’t heard about?” said Arar, commenting on how the lives of these men have been “destroyed” by their experiences. “Taxpayers’ money was wasted going after the wrong people.... Would we have had a better return on our investments if our security agencies used standards existing for these cases, along with our solid legal system? Maybe it is time to revise our counter-terror strategy in light of what we have learned,” he said. Many of the panels focused on how Canada’s national security policy should be changed. Safia Lakhani, one of the symposium’s organizers, commented that the event was about looking forward and improving responses to the current security environment. “Security certificates [make this discussion] especially timely. They have been thrown out by the courts, upping the measures the government would take. It’s the same with national security policy.... It’s at a turning point, a crossroads, and what matters is where we are going with it,” Lakhani said. With Parliament back in session, speakers also discussed potential changes to security legislation in coming months. According to Craig Forcese, associate professor of public international law and national security law at the University of Ottawa, the government has promised to “modernize” judicial codes to fight terrorism, and laws on preventative detention are on the table. “There is the old adage about the democratic state that we always
Tom Beson (pseud) | The McGill Daily
Maher Arar calls for change in Canada’s national security policies. fight the instruments of chaos with one hand tied behind our back, and that is true and a necessary reality in a democratic state,” said Forcese. “It’s a question of balancing the legitimate objective of grappling with terrorism against the equally legitimate objective of preserving the rule of law and the democratic institutions we are habituated to.” Forcese emphasized that terrorism is a security reality that states must be equipped to address. He added though that many of the instruments currently available are insufficiently nuanced to deal with threats, and made the case for moderate preventative detention measures. “It is possible to arrive at situations
where the government has a real cogent and compelling fear of terrorism activity.... My view is that it is best to have a very modest system with checks and balances rather then putting the onus on law enforcement to protect us and then not give them the tools to do that, then driving them to contort those tools in manners that abuse process,” Forcese added. Julian Falconer, a lawyer who represented Maher Arar and Suaad Mohamud, a Canadian mother who was stranded in Kenya after her passport was rejected by Canadian officials, also commented on the need to achieve a balance between genuine security concerns and respect for civil liberties. “There was a time when someone
had a Canadian passport, it meant something. If you were a Canadian citizen and you were stranded abroad, the existence of that Canadian passport was your insurance that the Canadian government was expected to go to bat for you, and far more often than not they did,” said Falconer, citing Mohamud, Arar, and Omar Khadr as examples. Falconer also referred to recently prorogued legislation related to the international transfer of offenders, which deals with the treatment of individuals in custody abroad and their right to return to Canada. He expressed dismay that the amendments proposed by the government would further limit the rights of Canadians, and give the executive branch the discretion to deem someone unworthy of assistance.
PGSS Council approves CFS referendum Decision made almost unanimously in spite of legal warnings Laurin Liu The McGill Daily
he Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) Council passed a motion last Wednesday to proceed with a referendum on the Society’s membership in the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS). Hours before PGSS Council began, they received a letter from CFS chairperson Katherine GirouxBougard, condemning the motion. The motion states that the referendum would be held over a four-day period, from March 29 to April 1. It also says that the referendum would proceed even if the full Referendum Oversight Committee – consisting of two members of the PGSS and two members of CFS – fails to meet an agreement on the
referendum rules by March 10, 2010. The motion passed with only one objection and one abstention. Giroux-Bougard’s letter indicated “that any referendum held in contravention [of the federation’s bylaws] will not be recognized nor considered as binding by the Federation.” However, PGSS president Daniel Simeone claimed that because the Federation is already in a breach of contract due to its violations of its own bylaws, the conclusions of a PGSS referendum would be binding. “The federation is claiming that it can ignore the bylaws that it wants, and then enforce them later,” Simeone said. “In a breach of contact situation, you go forward in a way which is appropriate and democratic, and so
we are going forward with a referendum to sound out the opinions of the PGSS members on the issue. The conclusions of the referendum will be binding on the PGSS as a corporate body.” Furthermore, the letter states that “members of the Referendum Oversight Committee have been appointed by the Federation and the McGill PGSS.” However, it was revealed that the PGSS only received the names of those appointed by the CFS to the Referendum Oversight Committee in a letter dated March 4, months after the deadline for appointments as stated by the Federation’s bylaws. PGSS has been planning to hold a referendum concerning their membership in CFS since October, when the PGSS filed a petition to defederate from the federation.
The CFS letter is seen by some PGSS executives as the next in a series of intimidation and delay tactics that CFS is employing to prevent the referendum from going forward. “The fact that the CFS presumes that they can prevent Council from making decisions....and that delaying things and imposing procedural hardships on a school can prevent [a referendum from taking place] – I find that absolutely absurd, and quite insulting,” said Ladan Mahabadi, PGSS VP (External). Mahabadi also claims that, in its moves to hold a referendum, the PGSS has followed the CFS bylaws to the best of its abilities. PGSS Council passed a motion in December mandating the Society to proceed with the referendum process. The federation only responded
in late January, past the 90-day deadline established by its bylaws, without any mention of the dates of the referendum nor of its appointed members to the Referendum Oversight Committee. Due to what the PGSS considered to be CFS’s violations of its own bylaws, it filed procedures in the Quebec Superior Court to enforce a referendum. In a letter received shortly before the first court hearing, CFS required that the referendum be held over a period of two days, March 31 and April 1, and, according to Mahabadi, without consultation with the PGSS. “The PGSS views that any attempt to have a two-day polling period is clearly an attempt to ensure that quorum is not met, and is a stalling and delaying tactic,” Simeone said.
You are invited to QPIRG McGillʼs
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Thursday April 1st, 2010 at 5pm Thomson House basement, 3650 Rue McTavish Items to be presented... ...annual reports from the outgoing board, Staff members, Rad Frosh Coordinators, School Schmool editorial board, and Summer Stipend recipients ...a review by all of our working groups of what theyʼve accomplished in the last year
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The McGill Daily, Monday, March 8, 2010
Victory for LGBT rights groups after Immigration Minister Kenney removed content Eric Andrew-Gee The McGill Daily
fter a three-month battle between the federal immigration ministry and LGBT rights group Egale Canada, previously omitted references to LGBT rights legislation will return to the new citizenship guide. Helen Kennedy, executive director of Egale Canada, said she received the concession over the phone last week. “They said that they would make the changes in the first revision,” Kennedy said. Egale Canada has been lobbying the immigration ministry to replace the excised passages since last December. The ministry’s reversal comes in the wake of a Canadian Press story on March 2, which reported that federal immigration minister Jason Kenney had ordered the removal of all references to queer rights landmarks such as the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1969 and the legalization of equal marriage under Bill C-38 in 2005. Documents obtained under the Access to Information Act show that prominent members of the immigration ministry urged Kenney to keep the passages that had been in the first draft of the guide. Neil Yeates, the deputy minister for immigration, sent a memorandum to Kenney in August asking for the clauses to be reinserted. The
NEWS BRIEF Gerts in the black; unused funds for speakers The revised SSMU budget presented at Council on Thursday evening revealed that Gerts and the SSMU Operations Committee may break even this year. The Operations Committee ended last year with an $85,633 deficit. In the revised budget the deficit now stands at $6,410. The deficit for Gerts is down from $16,905 to $1,525 – though SSMU VP (Finance and Operations) Jose Diaz said the number is still inflated to include potential incidental costs in the spring. “Right now Gerts is in the black. It has been in the black as of January, but the reason it’s showing a deficit is because we are playing it safe,” Diaz explained. Diaz attributed the positive financial trend at SSMU to the success of mini-courses, which generated a profit of $25,000, and the renewed popularity of Gerts this year. “Sales are expected to end at over $200,000, which hasn’t been seen for quite some time. Four or
memorandum reads, “[I] recommend the re-insertion of the text boxes related to…the decriminalization of homosexual sex/recognition of same-sex marriage.” The 63-page document, published last November and available online, does not include any of the suggestions made by the ministry. The only reference to homosexuality appears in a caption to a photograph of Olympic gold-medal swimmer Mark Tewksbury, describing him as a prominent gay and lesbian rights activist. Kennedy says her first priority now is changing the online version, which, “could be changed very easily…with the click of a button.” She says the ministry have refused to do so because they do not want discrepancies between the electronic version and the printed version, 500,000 of which were produced at first printing. Kennedy expressed concern about the implications of Kenney’s decision to leave the version without reference to queer rights online. “This is confusion about a very important issue…about social justice in Canada,” Kennedy said. Before the Canadian Press report was published in media outlets across the country, the minister said the absence of queer rights content was an oversight. Kennedy met with Kenney in early December to discuss her concerns about the guide. She said the minister took no personal responsi-
five months have had records in terms of sales,” he said. Diaz linked this success to diversified events, from the Superbowl to co-hosted nights with CKUT featuring live bands. Gert’s has also hosted more faculty-specific events, for engineering, management, and law, and started to serve food – which Diaz said keeps patrons drinking for longer. Many of the budget departments currently run large deficits, but Diaz explained that these are considered subsidies for running SSMU operations, and are taken from SSMU’s annual intake of $1.5 million in student fees. With SSMU’s improved financial conditions, Diaz and the rest of the executives are looking for ways to use available funds. “SSMU’s a not for profit [organization], so we’re not supposed to have any budget at the end of the year. When we end up with surplus, we need to allocate it somewhere else,” Diaz explained. Earlier this year, Diaz created a Concerts and Conferences department to channel extra cash toward events like a Girl Talk concert at the end of this month. Diaz and VP (Internal) Alex Brown are currently looking into bringing a high-profile speaker to McGill before the end of the year – rumoured to be Salman Rushdie – and hosting a smaller concert. — Erin Hale
bility for the omissions at the time. “He told me that it was a mistake,” Kennedy said. “He assured me that he would fix the oversight.” Following the release of internal documents from his ministry, Kenney maintained that he had no role in the removal of the queer rights material. On March 3, the Canadian Press reported that Kenney responded to a question on the subject by saying, “I did not do such a thing. No, no, you are wrong.” Alykhan Velshi, the minister’s spokesman pointed out that, “the minister’s signature isn’t on any decision note or anywhere else,” in the documents obtained by the Canadian Press. Neither the minister nor his spokesman elaborated on their comments. This led to speculation among bloggers and journalists that someone else in Kenney’s office might have made the changes. However, in the House of Commons on March 4, just one day after denying any role in the cuts, the minister said he took, “full responsibility,” for the citizenship guide. Asked whether she thought the minister had been deliberately misleading in their meeting last year, Kennedy said, “I know what he told me and I know the Canadian Press story. You have to draw your own conclusions from that.” She said her organization was not focusing on whether or not Kenney had been truthful last December, but on try-
ing to “fix the problem.” Kenney has long opposed equal marriage rights, arguing against the Civil Marriage Act in the House of Commons when it was debated, and passed, in 2005. He holds that “homosexuals” should be able to marry, as long as it is to someone of the opposite sex, as he told a group of Punjabi journalists in Toronto while the debate over gay marriage was raging in Parliament. Tim McCaskell, a longtime gay rights activist and former member of the Toronto Board of Education who now works with recently arrived gay and HIV-positive immigrants in Toronto, says he believes Kenney’s editing of the citizenship guide reveals the minister’s own views and the views of his constituents. McCaskell noted the tradition of opposition to gay rights in Kenney’s party. “The Federal Tories have opposed…every piece of pro gay legislation as far back as you can go, including decriminalization in 1969.” The new information will be added to the guide when it undergoes a planned second printing later this year. The guide replaces a 1995 document published by the Liberal government of Jean Chretien. In an interview with TVOntario’s Steve Paikin in November 2009, Kenney called the previous guide “politically correct pabulum.” Immigrants taking the citizenship test will be tested on the content of the new document starting March 15.
WHAT’S THE HAPS
Queer rights back in citizen guide
Rethinking research Tuesday, March 9, 5- 6 p.m. CKUT, 90.3 FM We’ll hear from Demilitarize McGill members, professors who are concerned about the state of ethical research at McGill, and former students who were part of campaigns in the ‘80s that brought about the current policy that is under review by the Senate. Cinema Politica Tuesday, March 9, 8 p.m. Leacock 219 This week Cinema Politica will screen The End of the Line – the first major feature documentary film revealing the impact of overfishing on our oceans. In the film we see firsthand the effects of our global love affair with fish as food. It examines the imminent extinction of bluefin tuna, brought on by increasing Western demand for sushi; the impact on marine life resulting in huge overpopulation of jellyfish; and the profound implications of a future world with no fish that would bring certain mass starvation. Between Oppression and Empowerment Wednesday, March 10, 7 p.m. Concordia, D.B. Clarke Theatre, 1455 Maisonneuve O. This Israeli Apartheid Week event features Dr. Jamal Zahalka, whose lecture will explore how apartheid operates within the state of Israel through the systemic racism and exclusion of its indigenous Palestinian citizens. He will discuss Palestinian evictions and house demolitions, the attack on Palestinian political organizing, the lack of access to land, water and other basic social services, and a two-tiered education system. FAC Nuit Blance Thursday, March 11, 10 p.m. – 3 a.m. Shatner Come check out the musicians, dancers, poets, crafts, installations, cheap beer, interactive art, workshops, movies, and art bazaar. For further information, look for the event on Facebook.
McGill hosts Israeli Apartheid Week Photo by Mar Armstrong Montreal kicked off its Israeli Apartheid W eek on Thursday with a panel discussion on boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel. The controversial national event will be held at different venues around the city, and include film screenings and discussion groups. – Erin Hale
Other Inconvenient Truths Friday, March 14, 6:30 p.m. De Sève Cinema, 1400 Maisonneuve O. Panel on environmental justice features Gord Hill, indigenous activist and writer; Sharmeen Khan, environmental and antiracist activist; Poya Saffari, farmer and activist; and Catherine St-Arnaud-Babin, queer feminist activist and ex-squatter.
FACULTY OF ARTS
COME WRITE FOR US
Moyse Travelling Scholarship Applications are now being accepted for the Moyse Travelling Scholarship. One scholarship for distinction will be awarded to a student in the Faculty of Arts. The scholarship is intended to support a year of advanced study, preferably in a British or European university, but not to the exclusion of other institutions approved by the Faculty of Arts. Value: $10,000 Application instructions and full details of the scholarship are available in ARTS 110
NEWS MON 4:00 SHATNER CAF
CULTURE TUE 5:30 SHATNER B-24
DEADLINE: Thursday, APRIL 1st, 2010
The McGill Daily, Monday, March 8, 2010
Unreasonable accommodation Banning the niqab harms more than just Muslim women
Binary is for computers Quinn Albaugh
ast year, Quebec’s Ministry of Immigration approved the expulsion of a permanent resident from a French language course at CEGEP St. Laurent for her refusal to attend class without her niqab, a garment that covers all of a person’s body except their eyes. The woman was unwilling to unveil herself in the class because men were present. Last week, the CBC reported that Quebec’s human rights board, the Commission des droits de la personne et de la jeunesse, is reviewing a complaint from the student, a Muslim woman originally from Egypt (“Niqab-wearing woman pursues Quebec college,” March 2, 2010). In Canada, we often discuss Muslim women’s dress in terms of religious freedom, framing it as a part of the debate over secularism, immigration, and multiculturalism, or – particularly in Quebec – “reasonable accommodations.” And sure enough, the school’s excuse
for expelling her was that the woman’s insistence on wearing the niqab was “unreasonable.” According to the administration, the clothing interfered with the student’s ability to communicate by not allowing the teacher to see her lip movements, which they say is necessary in language-learning classes. What I find “unreasonable” is forcing someone to choose between their identity and their education. Ironically, if she never learns French, she’ll never integrate into Quebec society – and she’s unlikely to accept French if she has to choose between that language and her identity. I’ve followed this issue in both Quebec and France for years and have noticed that these frames tend to portray the struggles of Muslim women, who may also be immigrants or people of colour, as unconnected to those of other marginalized groups – as unique cases. But how society treats people
who wear the niqab has implications for other groups – particularly people with disabilities, trans people, and the queer community as a whole. Who decides what’s reasonable? Cis employers, when they determine that it’s “reasonable” for trans people to use the bathroom for their assigned sex, regardless of gender presentation, or that it’s “reasonable” to have trans people use separate bathrooms from other employees. The sighted, when they decide what’s reasonable for the visually impaired. The able-bodied, when they decide for those who cannot walk. People without mental illness, when they decide for the mentally ill. The dominant groups decide what’s reasonable for groups with much less political and social power. The people actually affected have little say. The queer movement also has a stake in whether the niqab becomes outlawed. If the state bans the niqab from the public sphere, it provides a precedent for banning various other kinds of dress, including gender-variant clothing. Such a move would also undermine nondiscrimination laws based on gender expression because the niqab clearly expresses gender (though, of course, it conveys more than just that aspect of identity). Queer people should have these protections to live their lives with a bit more freedom from bigotry. Banning the niqab is another
Sally Lin | The McGill Daily
Who gets to decide what’s reasonable? means of enforcing conformity – the exact opposite of what the queer movement seeks to achieve. Some may note that this case also included requests from the student wearing the niqab to be separated from male students. That’s a more complicated issue. But the administrators didn’t expel her because she wanted to segregate herself from male students – they expelled her
for wearing the niqab. On that, the school is simply wrong – and other marginalized groups should support this student’s complaint, even if they wind up with strange bedfellows. Quinn Albaugh writes in this space every week. Tell them what you been thinkin’: email@example.com.
The Statement of Principles examined Heteronormativity, misrepresentation, and morals
Public editor Mike Prebil
spent part of my last column talking smack about sex writing in The Daily, but in the same February 8 issue “The cybersexual revolution” (Features) was also published, which kind of nailed it. “One of the perceived dangers of the Internet is that we cannot classify and stereotype the ‘dangerous’ and marked bodies of those who are raced, classed, or gendered as deviant or criminals,” writes Julie Alsop. The article specifically addresses sex work on the Internet. A promising commercial domain, potentially much safer than street-walking, the web nonetheless facilitates sexual harassment and child pornography, among other things, and so presents a slew of new problems to vulnerable communities.
These crimes could be legitimately called “deviant,” since for you, me, and most everyone we know, they are morally unacceptable – completely contrary to “normative” behaviour. Because of the possibility of these abhorrent (though, the author notes, age-old) crimes, the net demands regulation of some sort. In establishing these governing rules, however, the authorities effect the simultaneous imposition – the “remapping” – of “hegemonic structures” onto the new realm. Prostitution and queer sexuality – in “virtual space” as well as in real life – thus represent areas of struggle for Daily authors, against patriarchal control of the body on the one hand and heteronormativity on the other.
The Daily sees these struggles as products of an uneven distribution of power, and, affirming the “inherently political” character of all events in its Statement of Principles (SoP), resolves to “depict and analyze power relations accurately in it coverage.” Thus the Statement guides Daily authors with regard to what they choose to write about, but it does not advise authors on how they should represent a perceived conflict or oppressor. Since a topic’s “marginality” is the only criterion for judging an article according to the SoP, an article’s adherence to the SoP does not guarantee its accurate, constructive representation of a given conflict, which to me is a more significant indicator of an article’s “success.”
e don’t always have to be nice. The type of writing mandated by the SoP is not strictly neutral, and so authors are right to quickly implicate parties responsible for what they (the authors) see as abuses of social and economic power. We should, however, be aware of the weight of the language with which we frame our arguments. Misrepresentation of the “other side” of a debate spells
the end of anything like a diplomatic solution to practical problems, as evidenced, I’d say, everywhere from the Copenhagen climate summit of last December, where people argued themselves into dangerous inaction, to the current health care reform stalemate in the U.S., and even to SSMU’s Choose Life debate. “We need to stop militarizing our minds and words,” writes “Louis” in the comment section of “It isn’t apartheid” (Editorial, March 3), quoting Daily columnist Sana Saeed. Again, we don’t have to pull punches (or nut-kicks, I guess), but we should hesitate to use the paper to declare ideological war on anything – even obvious “evils” like patriarchy or heteronormativity.
n a world-class twist of Daily theatrics this week, conservative scapegoat Ricky Kreitner appealed to The Daily’s need for a “consistent moral compass” in a web comment posted to “The Daily’s silence on Iran” (Commentary, February 18). While this will probably just give most Daily readers another reason to suspect him one of those conservative conspiracies (he’s already been called an “Israelophile”), it
raises the important question of why morality is stereotypically conservative in the first place, and if morality itself is perhaps not such a bad thing. The Daily’s preferential coverage of Gaza over Iran inspired Kreitner’s article in protest, but since the ongoing human suffering at the hands of the Israeli authorities is a longstanding moral concern of the paper, it seems The Daily’s choice was not really inconsistent. Kreitner is right though that coverage of Gaza would be enhanced by better coverage of Iran and the rest of the Middle East, an arguably more “mainstream” topic. Richer, larger, or more notorious countries – China and Japan, Pakistan and India, Iraq and Afghanistan, Germany and France, the U.S. and the U.K. – are more common sights in the Globe and Mail, but this should not be taken to mean that these places are not also home to “communities marginalized on the basis of the criteria mentioned in section 2.2.” Reader, are you going to look up that section? Send Mike your thoughts on the Statement of Principles, et cetera, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The McGill Daily, Monday, March 8, 2010
Electoral dysfunction SSMU impotent to effect change beyond campus
Little bitter Riva Gold
how me a SSMU candidate who stands for nothing and I’ll give them my vote. Like most undergrads, my years at McGill have left me incredibly weary of student politics, as well as students in general, and worried about the future of Canadian society. I don’t know why we think student governments should facilitate or endorse pronouncements on Israel, abortion, or Canadian foreign policy. Whenever a student government allows any political statement to be made on its students’ behalf, it starts a new cycle of harmful, ineffective, and unrepresentative policies. As usual, I can’t tell the difference between any of the current candidates for president. Each makes entirely vague or else constitutionally-required promises like “We’ll build community together” (Are we missing a community?), “We’ll increase accessibility” (What does this mean?), and “We’ll simultaneously stop global warming and lower tuition” (No really, it just takes better organization, apparently). What I do know, however, is that whoever gets elected has absolutely no right to endorse or allow official “political positions” to be made in my name. There seems to be a mantra going around that as students, we must use student government to be “politically active and socially conscious,” thus taking collective stances on divisive and heated political topics. I think this fundamentally misrepresents the purpose and the capacities of our student leadership. My Canadian government should
synthesize and represent collective preferences about foreign policy and human rights. My student government should synthesize and represent collective preferences about Frosh, club funding, and maybe snacks and napping on campus. When we abuse structures like General Assemblies to make “communal political statements” condemning this, that, or the other, we undermine ourselves in two important ways. On the one hand, we waste important resources that could actually go toward improving student life, achieve nothing, and lose a whole lot of credibility. On the other, we polarize the student body and increase antagonism between groups on campus. For more information about the Choose Life and Israel debates, simply look to any old issue of The Daily or Tribune, or stab yourself in the toe. As countless people have argued, the views voted on in General Assemblies and even referenda are hardly ever representative of the majority of the student body. Most students are too busy with say, class, on Wednesday afternoons to devote a day to touchy and public political debate. It’s not as though there were an absence of non-SSMU channels for students to express themselves politically. McGill already has two student newspapers entirely devoted to publishing fringe political views that are, at best, irritating to the average student. We have clubs on campus that affiliate with specific political goals, from Conservative
Sally Lin | The McGill Daily
SSMU needs to take on issues its own size. McGill to Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights. These are better outlets for our political opinions, because we can opt into them, and none claim to represent us without our unanimous consent. Even positions and statements claiming to represent wholly shared or universally agreeable student interests tend to be dubious. Take the motion on “defending student’s right to body sovereignty” in this week’s vote. Now, to the extent that anyone’s bodily integrity is actually in danger, Canadian law will protect them. It’s not as though SSMU can save you where the Charter cannot. What it does mean, however, is that SSMU will probably employ this
ambiguous motion as a justification to ban clubs like Choose Life, or otherwise pretend they have a new mandate for political action. It’s time to ask how making political statements could possibly make us politically responsible. Let’s face it: a student government has absolutely no clout in the world of Realpolitik. I don’t know what students are thinking when they claim to be promoting peace by passing resolutions for or against Israel. Even if the statements were right, what would they achieve? Does no one see the absurdity in saying “Hey ‘Apartheid state,’ just so you know, the McGill Students’ Society doesn’t like you. You better
do something about your policies?” Student governments should stop wasting resources on issues that they have no influence over and which alienate the moderate majority. I want a government that raises money for student clubs and events, not posters and pretension. Without reform, SSMU has about as much political legitimacy as the current Afghan government. At least Hamid Karzai knows his own limits. Riva Gold publishes her fringe views that are at best irritating to the average student, once a week in this space. Tell her of your ED issues: email@example.com.
The changing nature of gay Alana Westwood The Uniter (CUP)
INNIPEG — When an out homosexual character on a prime-time sitcom exclaims, “Can you have him paint us something a little less gay?”, it sounds like being gay isn’t entirely about sexual orientation. “Gay” is an ambiguous term these days. In fact, some have renounced it altogether. Academic, poet, and drag queen Sky Gilbert has quit being gay. He has since declared himself an ESP (effeminate sexual person, pronounced “espie”). He claims that being gay has become too mainstream and therefore meaningless. In a recent Globe and Mail article, Gilbert
stated that “when being gay is the same as being straight, there’s no need for gay anything.... Gay culture as we know it will eventually disappear.” Gilbert bemoans the loss of genderplay (the manipulation of one’s expression of gender) in gay culture, which he equates with the loss of the culture itself. But is genderplay part of sexual orientation, or is it a separate culture that happens to overlap? And when it comes to the important questions – particularly questions of equality – should genderplay figure in the discussion at all? Genderplay has been historically tied to LGBT communities. Think “gay” and one image is of pride parades featuring equal amounts of skin and androgyny. Ask the wider
population for synonyms of gay and you may hear “dyke,” “fairy,” “butch,” and other derogatory slurs. However, this vernacular speaks to aesthetics rather than sexual orientation. These stereotypes are harmful and illogical. They equate a certain appearance with a certain sexual orientation – which is not a necessary relationship. Unfortunately, the inflammatory rhetoric goes both ways. Adam Lambert of American Idol fame has been lampooned by some LGBT groups for his flamboyance. This too confuses the issue. Lambert isn’t representing his sexual orientation with his makeup; he is representing a culture that engages in genderplay – a culture distinct from gay culture, since gender-bending is enjoyed by many
straight people. In fact, for the gay community to appropriate genderplay as their own is an act of exclusivity – seemingly the antithesis of the inclusiveness they promote. How does this fit into the LGBT rights movement? The representation of gay people in popular culture is increasingly positive. There are lesbian and bisexual characters all over primetime television (Bones, Grey’s Anatomy, and House, just to name a few shows). These characters bear two things in common: an aesthetic quality that doesn’t involve genderplay and enormous audiences. It is these “normal” gay characters, marching into the living rooms of the straight world, who are the new ambassadors of equality. The straight majority may still balk at
genderplay, but in much of North America, being gay is increasingly accepted. That’s not to say gender roles don’t need revision; they certainly do. But if it means more recognition and less discrimination, perhaps mainstream gay isn’t so bad. Confusing genderplay and sexual orientation, or trying to promote both on the same agenda, only poses additional barriers. It isn’t until equality has truly been realized that we can fight for Sky Gilbert’s right to wear tights and have no one bat an eyelash. Alana Westwood writes for the Uniter, at the University of Winnipeg. This article originally appeared in the Canadian University Press (CUP).
The McGill Daily, Monday, March 8, 2010
Locking the doors of the Knesset Ben Foldy
ithout professing an opinion on whether Israeli society is or is not an “apartheid” society, I need to clarify some of the claims Amelia Schonbek made in her abstention about the place of Arab citizens in Israeli society (“No, it isn’t,” Editorial, March 4). “Israeli Arabs” can be said to enjoy the same “full civil rights” as any other citizen as they are not legally discriminated against – although that assertion obscures the reality of Israeli Arab participation in the state. Most Israelis would admit that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) serve as a foundation of Israeli identity. Israeli Arabs are discouraged from serving in the IDF and those that do join are prevented from serving in elite units. The logical response is that most Arabs probably wouldn’t want to serve in an institution that, rightly or wrongly, has killed a large number of Arabs. Regardless, it’s a structural obstacle to Arab civic and economic participation, and it also deprives Arabs of access to important aspects of Israeli identity. Some might answer with the story of the young Arab woman who got into the Search and Rescue team a few years back due to a filing error, and was allowed to stay. But beyond such admit-
tedly accidental anomalies, relative exclusion from the IDF serves to marginalize Israeli Arabs politically, socially, and economically. In a country where military service is used in hiring decisions, housing allocation, and political careers, it is perhaps unsurprising that Arabs are disproportionately poor and underemployed. These problems are compounded by the fact that Arabs are disadvantaged in terms of access to the Israeli welfare state. Despite making up roughly 20 per cent of the population, they receive no comparable amount of welfare spending and have a disproportionately limited access to land. An Israeli study found that the government spent an average of $1,100 per year on Jewish students, and only $192 per year on Arab students. One might imagine that Israeli Arabs – economically and socially disadvantaged as they are – could mobilize to take advantage of their political rights as citizens, as 20 per cent of the population could be a game-changing bloc for any coalition. Furthermore, coalition inclusion would allow Arabs to take part in the horse-trading that results in control of important welfare portfolios, as demonstrated by the cooperation between non-Zionist and Zionist religious parties for a number of years. But political inclusion seems unlikely. Israel has had 18 govern-
ments in its 61 years, and none of the coalitions have included an Israeli Arab party. There has been a disturbing amount of talk from both the Zionist “left” and “right,” suggesting that Arab citizens of Israel should emigrate to a to-bedetermined Palestinian state in the West Bank or packed-to-capacity Gaza. In the lead-up to the last election, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) voted to bar participation by Israeli Arab political parties in the upcoming election. The Supreme Court invalidated the decision – but it’s still a sign of the times in “the Middle East’s only democracy.” Maybe Israeli Arabs have “full civil rights.” They are nevertheless not in an enviable position. They are not only disproportionately impoverished and economically marginalized, but are also systemically prevented from accessing the levers of power through which their situation could be ameliorated. I refuse to make any parallels to regimes contemporary or historical – or even to make a normative statement regarding the situation – but I do feel that the reality of Israel for Israeli Arabs is much more complicated than Schonbek would have it appear. Ben Foldy is a U3 History & Political Science (Joint Honours) student. He prefers “human-rights loving” to “self-hating Jew”: benjamin.foldy@ mail.mcgill.ca.
Sally Lin | The McGill Daily
Israeli policies lock Israeli Arabs out of the political process.
howdy, cowpokes! commentary has now got a “google group!” to join, send us an “electronic mail”:
firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: google group. let’s wrassle me up some contributors!
see you soon!
The counterfactual approach to peace Curtis Smith
’m no expert on the IsraeliPalestinian situation, but one thing I do notice about the discussion between the two often unnecessarily diametrically opposed camps is that it ignores one essential question: what would you do if you were in the other side’s shoes? Counterfactuals can make people’s eyes roll, but it’s a useful exercise because every single actor in the Middle East operates within a narrative and framework that justifies their actions. Trying to understand the grievances and mentality of the other side is a jarring experience because it pushes us outside of our own narrative that helps make our opinions so resolute. What would you do if you were a Palestinian? If you saw your people’s history as the story of being squeezed off your ancestral homeland? Of facing a powerful, industrialized country with one of the world’s most advanced militaries and backed almost unconditionally by the world’s superpower? A country that maintains a policy of expanding into your territory, land that the international community long ago assured you was yours? What would you do if you were an Israeli Jew, surrounded by a set of hostile countries? If you saw your people’s
history as the story of centuries of persecution, including the world’s failure to come to your defence in your most dire hour of need in the ’40s? Even beyond that, for both sides, absent of the historical injuries, what would you do if you feared for your children’s safety or their ability to grow up and be what they wanted in their homeland? Israelis and Palestinians have a myriad of answers for these questions, even within their own communities. But I think the exercise helps place the difficult decisions that both sides make in a useful context; Israelis and Palestinians are simply doing what they think is best in a given situation. I think it’s a bit presumptuous for anyone without a direct connection to the conflict – I certainly don’t have one – to say that they would act any differently than Israelis or Palestinians have, were they in their situation. Further, this approach makes it self-evident that demonizing rhetoric on both sides doesn’t do a damn bit of good. If each side thinks it has legitimate grievances, there isn’t a chance in hell they’re going to be swayed by anyone else, particularly if they feel that the discourse is alienated from their fundamental, day-to-day concerns. And if everyone else doesn’t seem to be sympathetic to what concerns them, then they are more likely
to rally around each other and look out for number one at all costs. Once everyone has dug in, the inequalities of the current situation are perpetuated, and that’s not good for anyone. It’s certainly tricky because criticisms of the actions of each side are an essential part of any debate. But we have to be honest with ourselves: Israelis and Palestinians will be the ones who eventually sort this mess out for themselves. The discourse in North America, already abstracted from the on-the-ground realities in terms of geography, risks becoming irrelevant if it isn’t acutely sensitive to the collective psyches of each nation in the conflict. There are reasons why many Israelis felt it necessary to support the invasion of Gaza, and many Palestinians feel it necessary to support groups like Hamas. To be ignorant of these realities and vilify groups of people is not constructive. Maybe it’s an insignificantly small step, but I think that debate that recognizes the understandable anxieties on both sides can help build the mutual trust that is absolutely necessary for reconciliation, but almost entirely absent in a world of Qassam rockets and settlement expansion. Curtis Smith is a U2 Political Science student. Write him: curtis.smith@ mail.mcgill.ca.
Michael Thibault | The Ubessey
Hundreds of housing activists took to the streets with the slogan “No more empty talk. No more empty lots,” demanding long-term solutions, not shelters.
Housing movement intensifies Andrew Bates, Canadian University Press Western Bureau Chief, reports on protests amid the Olympics, their sense of community, democratic spirit, and national implications VANCOUVER (CUP) — This past month, Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside has become very visible as the heart of the city’s dynamic and divisive housing movement. While featured in the 2010 Convergence protests that brought together a wide range of social groups, the housing movement has taken a prominent position as a social issue within the city in recent weeks. On February 15, a rally made up of homeless people and their supporters went from Pigeon Park to an empty lot on East Hastings. The area was originally rented by the Vancouver Organizing Committee from Concord Pacific to use as a parking lot for some of the vehicles in its fleet. It has since been turned into a tent village where residents have come together to form a community.
The Daily | SSMU Elections 2010
PRESIDENT STEFAN LINK
tefan Link has done an admirable job of asking different people on campus what they’d like to see improved. He casts himself as a man of the people, coming in and revamping everything based on what students actually want – what he’s heard from people “face-toface, in person.” His priorities do reflect a variety of student interests that have been thematic in recent years – expanded access to services, a student-run food initiative, sustainability programs, transparency from the administration on its budget, and military research on campus. All laudable goals, in the abstract. Link has a can-do attitude and bountiful optimism. But his solutions and ideas for next year often betray his inexperience with issues that have long been facing SSMU, or with the potential negative consequences of attractive promises. We’re concerned that he’s repeating things he’s heard that people want, without personally having a stake in them or knowing all the pros and cons. A 24-hour library, for instance, has potential downsides, for students and staff. McGill’s library system is currently understaffed and experiencing epic managerial and organizational growing pains – the current hours and shelving needs
ach Newburgh (U3 Middle East Studies) was the speaker for both SSMU and the Engineering Undergraduate Society this year, and served as president of Hillel Montreal. As speaker, his responsibilities included organizing and chairing Council meetings, as well as helping to advertise and run the General Assembly (GA). As president of Hillel Montreal, he helped organize events and create the organization’s constitution. Newburgh’s platform consists of “building community together,” “giv[ing] green a chance,” and further integrating athletics and Greek life into SSMU. His Facebook campaign page mentions his plans for renegotiating the SSMU-McGill Memorandum of Agreement, the contract that stipulates the formal agreement between the Society and the administration. The page also outlines his plans for dealing with negotiations regarding SSMU’s lease of Shatner, which is due to expire this year. For both projects, he’s pledged to find a solution that will serve students the best at the lowest cost. He also hopes to work with the
University to improve the access of SSMU clubs and services to the McGill name and logo, as well as to negotiate lower residence costs in an effort to fight rising tuition. Specific pet projects include the creation of a SSMU resolution encyclopedia, so policies can be tracked more effectively from year to year, as well as a café hour when students can meet with the executive to discuss their concerns. His green plans include an expansion of the Plate Club, and more composting. Newburgh’s platform is weaker and more rhetoric-intensive than expected for someone with experience at SSMU. But Newburgh’s experience could help him hit the ground running as SSMU president. This year he helped moderate tense council meetings concerning Choose Life, and chaired the five-hour winter General Assembly, though he has been accused of partiality by Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights – McGill. At Thursday’s debates, Newburgh said he would remain impartial on controversial issues next year if elected.
should be dealt with before expanding the operating hours. Besides that, students already have 24-hour access when they need it most, during finals, and 24-hour access study facilities exist elsewhere on campus all term. Having libraries open all day and all night will also create artificial pressure to be at the library all of the time, feeding into the unhealthy culture that can develop around school. Beyond that, night shift work has documented negative health impacts, and if there’s not a real need for it, more library staff shouldn’t be forced to work nights. Link’s idea of holding the GA in the gym is a great vote of confidence in student enthusiasm for the democratic process, but he doesn’t address plans to get enough students out to those GAs in numbers that would justify such a large venue. Link wants to prioritize bread-andbutter student issues over discussion of international issues (see him sweeping a contentious international debate off the table in one stroke in his campaign video), but also “solve world problems like global warming.” His goals are wide-ranging and promise to appeal to a number of demographics, but it’s unclear how he plans to deliver.
arah Woolf's slogan is “experience matters” – and the truth of that shines through in her understanding of the president's role in SSMU, the structure of her platform, and the goals she's outlined for next year. Woolf and SSMU go way back, since she first ran unsuccessfully for VP (External) of First Year Council in 2007. At the end of that year, she won the race for Arts representative to SSMU for 2008-2009. As 2009-2010's Arts senator, she’s sat on the External Affairs and Student Equity Committees, and has been active in trying to resolve Choose Life's conflicts with the Equity Policy, among other things. A lot of her goals revolve around finding ways to work constructively with the admin, and are informed by a practical understanding of the specific challenges SSMU will face next year. Woolf sees SSMU as having a double role: representation and services. Her platform balances goals on both these fronts, as well as ideas for building ties
between SSMU and the surrounding community. Opposing upcoming tuition increases, renegotiating SSMU's Memorandum of Agreement with the University as it goes up for renewal next year, and fighting for student representation on McGill administrative bodies rank among her top representation priorities. She wants to build upon efforts taken this year to establish TaCEQ, the new provincial lobbying organization. On the services front, she wants more student space – more meeting space, napping space, and student-run food services, among other things. Practical sustainability ideas include reducing energy use in the Shatner building and expanding the Plate Club. Her track record suggests she'll be able to get things done and push student interests, to work with administration, and power through bureaucratic hurdles without putting long-term goals on the back burner.
The Daily | SSMU Elections 2010
rip Yang has spent more time reporting on student politics than doing any politicking himself. But his experience as a writer and editor for the McGill Tribune has clued him in to some contentious issues on campus: he’s braved Board of Governors meetings, attended SSMU Council, and he’s savvy to the administration’s antagonistic relationship with the Muslim Students’ Association. And he’s kept busy since leaving the Tribune’s editorial board earlier this year: he’s the president of the computer task force and involved with the Science Undergraduate Society. Yang wants to reform the General Assembly (GA), that once-a-semester event where students vote on SSMU policies and initiatives. Mainly, he’s concerned the GA has become a stage for competing interest groups rather than a forum for average students’ viewpoints. His solution? Abandon regularly scheduled GAs, call them only when students demand them, and spread the process out over a few days – a fivehour long debating, voting, and reforming gauntlet simply isn’t plausible, Yang explained. GAs can be a struggle to sit through, but abandoning regularlyscheduled GAs might be a hasty decision. In the past year, they’ve passed palatable motions that transcended divisions between interest groups on campus. We have GAs to thank for the ban on bottled water in the Shatner building. And if the problem is that GAs are too focused on contentious issues, calling them only when students demand them might mean we only speak up
when we’re pissed off. Yang seems to have a firm grasp of the president’s role as the Society’s representative to the administration and the student body. He’s opposed to tuition increases, and he intends to let the Senate and Board know it. He’s also opposed to Bill 38, the piece of legislation that would require 60 per cent of the board’s members to come from outside the University. He’s eager to reach out to the faculties under-represented at SSMU events, but he’s pragmatic: he says he’d start with outreach to the largest faculties and work his way to the smaller ones over time. Above all, Yang sees the president as the cool head and steady hand of the Society. He wants any communication with the administration to be cordial, not contrarian – he called this year’s executive’s letter to the admin regarding Choose Life “childish” and “antagonizing.” If Yang is elected, we hope cordiality doesn’t imply submissiveness. Yang’s grip on sustainability is shaky. Discussing campus wide initiatives, he focused strongly on the use of recycled paper and expanding the plate club, but not much else. If Yang is lacking ideas, he seems eager to seek them from others: pointing to Ivan Neilson and former VP (External) Max Silverman, Yang pledged to seek input on all issues from the students most informed on the inner workings of SSMU. He’s pro-napping and so are we. He firmly believes that the couches in Shatner should be cleaned regularly, so students can keep things hygienic when diving facefirst into the upholstery.
The Daily | SSMU Elections 2010
V.P. EXTERNAL AFFAIRS TEDI ANGONI
he SSMU VP (External) is responsible for pretty much anything outside the University gates, from McGill students’ relationship with the Milton-Parc community to their role on the national stage. Though an exam prevented him from attending last Thursday’s executive debate, Tedi Angoni told The Daily about his local, provincial, and national ideas for SSMU. A U2 Engineering student, Angoni is the current VP (External) of the Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS). He pointed to both his office and field of study as key reasons that he is qualified to sit on the SSMU executive. Most SSMU execs come from the faculties of Arts or Science – the two largest at McGill – a situation that Angoni sees as problematic. He believes that as an engineering student he can bring a new perspective to SSMU, and integrate the 4,000 odd engineers into student life. As VP (External) of the EUS, Angoni said his job is “similar to the work the VP (Ex) at SSMU does, but at a different level.” Though he hasn’t had much experience with SSMU beyond being a Frosh leader and reading the reports the engineering Reps to SSMU
bring him, Angoni has strong feelings about the role SSMU should continue to play in the student movement in Quebec and federally. With regard to the local community, he praised the smooth relations between Frosh and the local community this past year, and proposed hockey games as a way to bring together students and community members. Angoni was enthusiastic about SSMU’s role in creating the Table de concertation etudiante du Quebec (TaCEQ) and leaving the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ). He recognized the deficiency of the Canadian Federation of Students, and called for SSMU to lead in the creation of a new national student lobby group, though he gave few details. To strengthen TaCEQ, Angoni said he will rely on his contacts at other Quebec universities. “I already have connections in all the universities since they all have engineering,” he explained. “All those guys are my friends, and one of the advantages that I have on that side is that I know how other schools perceive McGill. I can ask my friends what would attract people to leave FEUQ, to see that they’re not responding to our needs anymore, and join TaCEQ.”
ric Jinsan is a first-year Science student from Vancouver. As president of Science Undergraduate Society first-year council, he has organized the production and sale of notes for Science undergrads throughout the year. He also has organizing experience through assisting in Haiti fundraisers earlier this year. Jinsan hopes to bring his West Coast insights to a Montreal setting, and says that SSMU has to “step up their game” in terms of combating student apathy on campus. He contends that despite his relative lack of experience, he is up the the task of representing McGill’s undergraduates to external bodies. Passionate about public transportation, Jinsan’s platform is centred around the implementation of a student transit pass system that would entail a nonopt-outable fee to go toward purchasing an eight month unlimited pass on Montreal’s STM – similar to systems in place at UBC and the University of
Calgary. “It’s a win-win situation for students, the community, and the school,” he says. Other elements of Jinsan’s platform include tuition stabilization via private-sector bursaries and increased work opportunities. When asked about SSMU’s relationship with TaCEQ, he showed only a basic familiarity with the issues of external representation and provincial negotiations. Jinsan also seemed unfamiliar with the politics surrounding the recent implementation of the self-funded tuition model in McGill’s MBA program, an issue SSMU’s current VP (External) Sebastian Ronderos-Morgan has addressed aggressively. Improving relations with the Milton-Parc community, another of Ronderos-Morgan’s pet projects, seems distant and amorphous to Jinsan. He has had little contact with current SSMU execs and shows only a basic understanding of the VP (External)’s portfolio.
ducation is what Myriam Zaidi is all about. She’s got a strong stance on accessibility, a passion for education-related issues, and the experience and know-how to back up what she’s saying. Currently completing her second year on the External Affairs Committee, she was also elected last semester as an Arts rep to SSMU Council, and has worked closely with the two most recent VP Externals. Zaidi’s experience in student politics reaches back to before her time at McGill – as VP (External) and then President of her CEGEP student union, this completely bilingual candidate worked extensively with Quebec student lobby organizations ASSÉ and FEUQ. Having already been involved with newly-established student lobby group TaCEQ this year, Zaidi wants to increase the group’s visibility, both on campus and at a national level. Getting McGill students and councillors aware of what TaCEQ does is a key part of her vision, but now that it’s on its feet, she’d like to help it become more proactive in the fight against foreseeable tuition increases. Zaidi is also passionately aware of the current issues involving the Milton-Parc neighbourhood. While pleased with everything that’s been accomplished this year, she wants to firmly establish the Community Action and Relations Endeavour (CARE)
program in order to facilitate much-needed communication. Also on her agenda are more Milton-Parc activities that cater to both students and neighbourhood residents. Overarching plans include improving SSMU’s leadership in the debate on accessibility to education through conducting research on alternatives to tuition hikes, and setting up workshops that actively invite discussion. Increasing SSMU’s solidarity with universities outside Quebec, she hopes, will also help develop better student aid programs across Canada, similar to the strides made in Quebec. Zaidi is also keen on making the External position more accessible to fellow SSMU councillors. Goals include increasing attendance at student lobby group meetings and congresses, inspiring more input, and making the position less exclusive. Born and raised in Montreal, Zaidi has a strong grasp of Quebec provincial politics – the politicians, the parties, and how it all works – and has been actively involved in what’s been happening in the student movement for the past five years. Not only that, she seems especially qualified in her ability to communicate these issues to the student body, proving to be an accessible, approachable candidate for such a politically-focused executive position.
U3 Microbiology and Immunology student, Joshua Abaki has had a lot of experience with student bureaucracy. He insists that he knows how to navigate these networks, to “break down barriers”, and push student interests. Abaki is currently one of the Science councillors on SSMU Council, has served in the past as the VP Education of the McGill African Student Society, on First Year Interest Groups (FIGS), as an active peer advisor, and stretching back a few years he was a TA in BC and the president of his high school in Kenya. His platform coincides in a lot of ways with this bureaucratic experience. He talks about fighting for longer opening hours for libraries on the Library Improvement Fund Committee, and for improved advising at the Presidential Affairs Committee. Along with continuing these inititatives, he wants more work-study positions, and to build on the successful
establishment of the Sustainability Fund – hoping to integrate it into student courses. For him, a lot of the work is aiding this integration between students and resources, be they for the sustainability fund or IT services. In his relationship with the University, he stresses the importance of a student-centered university. He argues that the admin, on Senate and elsewhere, have worked with students for a long time, and have to be convinced to take student interests seriously. By getting student voices and signatures behind projects, Abaki hopes to get more from the admin than “lip-service” on things like advising. Following this, he spoke very specifically about how the research policy needs to have clauses that make the process very clear, believes that students are strongly in support of this, and that the admin and Senate need to listen to these demands.
The Daily | SSMU Elections 2010
V.P. UNIVERSITY AFFAIRS
t Thursday’s debates, candidates were tossing around promises of 24-hour library service like a beach ball at a Phish concert. Matthew Crawford was the first candidate to ask why we should be rushing to expand the service hours of a library system that’s in shambles: books are unshelved, librarians are overworked, and the hours are already lengthy. Crawford is the president of the Socialist society and a former John Abbott College student politician, and his platform is nothing if not ambitious: he’ll fight tuition increases and chronic post-secondary underfunding, support the retrofitting of Shatner, introduce classes on sustainability, and combat student apathy. Crawford’s opening statements at Thursday’s debates were a near-exhaustive list of promises, including more academic aid, ensuring students can record Senate proceedings, and tearing down the self-funded model for the MBA program. He cited a study indicating that McGill students feel they are among the hardest working university students, but lack adequate support from professors
and teaching assistants. Crawford wants more funding, and in order to get it he insists that students stand together as a “legion” – presenting a united front to demand that the administration listen up. Whether or not he’s aware of all the means at his disposal to form this legion is questionable. McGill Senate is a key part of the University Affair’s portfolio, and a chance to interact with administrators and make students’ demands known – debates over military research and tuition hikes have played out there in recent months. But discussion of the governing body was sparse during the early phases of Thursday’s UA debates. Crawford may be more aware of the Senate’s role in the UA portfolio than he let on on Thursday, though – he mentions it several times on his Facebook page. Crawford remains something of a mystery. He never responded to The Daily’s repeated requests for an interview, and (at press time on Friday) his only Twitter update announces the beginning of his campaign – last Tuesday.
fter the controversy surrounding Arts Senator Nick Wolf’s resignation earlier this term, David Lipsitz, a U3 student, came forward to fill his seat. He is now running for SSMU VP University Affairs, a position whose responsibilities include working with the University Senate, Board of Governors, and toplevel administrators. In addition to serving on the Senate, Lipsitz also chairs SSMU’s External Affairs committee and sits on the Arts Undergraduate Society Council in his role as senator. He outlined a platform that consists of three key issues that he hopes to implement in the next year if elected to the SSMU executive: accessible education, sustainability, and prioritizing the undergraduate experience. With regard to the first, Lipsitz hopes to stop fee increases – citing in particular the upcoming defreeze of the ancillary fee cap, and pointing to how “Quebec society in general seems to value free education.” Much of his proposal for more sustainability focuses on food issues. These include promoting widespread availability of locally-grown products on campus, as well as extending composting – recently implemented in residences – to all food outlets on campus. Lipsitz believes that as the bulk of the student body is made up of undergraduates, steps must be taken to
“prioritize the undergraduate experience.” To achieve this, he advocates easier access to exchanges and semesters abroad, the simplification of transferring credits, and increased opportunities for students to take independent courses. After sitting in the Senate for the last few months, Lipsitz says that he sees the role of the VP University Affairs as facilitating discussion between various bodies on campus. To this end, he plans to balance strong stances on student issues with a less confrontational approach to dealing with the administration. One of the strong stances Lipsitz plans on taking involves fighting for a more transparent research policy, particularly with regard to military research and corporate funding. He called the University’s shift from demanding “best practices” to “acceptable” ones a “step backwards,” and praises student senators for putting an end to anonymous funding of research. Though he describes his French as “not bad,” Lipsitz said that “we do have to remember that McGill’s primary language is English.” He believes that first year courses in French – recommended by the Francophone Commissioner last month – might be financially unviable and potentially unpopular, but says they might provide a new educational opportunity.
The Daily | SSMU Elections 2010
V.P. INTERNAL TOM FABIAN
rom his spot on the varsity volleyball team, Tom Fabian has gotten involved as president of Varsity Council and the athletics councillor on SSMU Council. Fabian wants to carry the energy from “Red Thunder,” the highly successful program he spearheaded from Varsity Council, to the VP (Internal) position. The Red Thunder campaign shows Fabian’s gifts at making something rather vague – “school spirit” – into a roaring, concrete reality. The program involved having students buy fan apparel for admittance into games, and then organizing these fans into a big cheering section. For Fabian, this notion of spirit is central – it should energize the executive, at events like a “meet the executives” barbecue, and
ounding off her second year majoring in humanistics studies, VP (Internal) candidate Marta Gruntmane is looking to spend her next year at McGill taking charge of all events SSMU, with a focus on increased accessibility and attendance. A newcomer to the world of university politics, Gruntmane has had no experience working with SSMU as of yet. Still, she’s done her share of event planning as a house rep at Douglas Hall last year, and current member of her sorority’s risk management team. At the top of Gruntmane’s platform is Frosh – essentially, getting more students to come out, and making sure the events don’t simply revolve around alcohol. Concerned
with the way Frosh and Frosh participants have mistreated surrounding communities in the past, Gruntmane hopes to incorporate outreach into the week’s events while fostering respectful attitudes within the student body. Plans would also include further greening of Frosh, with the exclusive use of reusable plastic mugs, and collaboration with the university’s Plate Club. In addition to a continued commitment to sustainability, Gruntmane’s platform includes accessibility to SSMU. “Meet the Execs” barbecues, motion-writing workshops, and more face-toface communication are on her list of ways to maintain student involvement in SSMU politics and promote support for General Assemblies.
spill out to the students at McGill. Not only does Fabian want to bring the energy of Red Thunder into bigger and more events, he wants to specifically bring more visibility to athletics at McGill – making them a larger part of the McGill experience. He “loves sports,” and hopes to organize more sportsrelated events at Gerts like viewing the Superbowl and March Madness. Apart from his extensive promotional and organizational experience, he seems to have ambition, but hasn’t expressed much vision for things like sustainability at Frosh. His spirit, amiability, and competence could be harnessed to achieve these goals, but specific ideas are important for managing the chaos of Frosh.
The Daily | SSMU Elections 2010
nushay Khan has spent the last year as interest group coordinator working with clubs and SSMU executives. She points to her experience working on SSMU’s bylaws and making life easier for clubs. She sees the VP (Clubs and Services) position as a chance to be a representative and spokesperson for all clubs on campus. A central element of Khan’s platform is helping clubs draw up solid budgets, and she is familiar with the monetary realities of running a club. “If you don’t have money, you ain’t gonna function,” said Zaidi. She plans to institute budget writing workshops as part of the VP Clubs & Services portfolio. Khan is friendly and forthcoming, and has a history of interaction with the various clubs at SSMU. She has a well-developed institu-
tional memory, and she hopes to continue projects started this year by VP Sarah Olle. It’s clear too that Khan’s Pakistani heritage is important to her. “I come from a culture that is all about people and conversation and food and celebration,” she says. When asked how she would handle controversial events on campus, she replied that she intends to use her interpersonal skills to mediate between conflicting parties. “Miscommunication breeds politics, breeds issues. I see it where I come from, I see it at SSMU, and I don’t like it.” Khan would like to “spice” up the clubs lounge and make club space more hospitable. Emphasizing the importance of using space wisely in the Shatner building, she advocates the benefits of making the building welcoming to students.
ick Drew is a U3 Management student with a triple major in accounting, strategy, and international business. He currently sits on SSMU Council as a Management Undergraduate Society representative, and is on the clubs and services committee as well as the operations committee, which oversees Gerts, Haven Books, and mini courses. Drew’s platform focuses on streamlining SSMU financial operations, while making them more transparent to students. He also hopes to work with the Financial Ethics Research Committee on a number of issues related to SSMU ethical investment. As the acclaimed VP (FOPS), Drew has a number of challenges already laid out for him next year: he will have to renegotiate six new leases – including SSMU’s lease on the Shatner
building, the cafeteria occupants, and The Daily Publications Society. Drew also hopes to continue this year’s success of Gerts by hiring a professional marketing consultant to help the pub compete with nearby bars on St. Laurent. Drew’s platform is relatively vague. He has academic experience with finance, and the advantage of having sat on Council for a year, but his quietness as councillor means his level of political acumen is unclear. However, his level of experience is comparable to that of current VP (FOPS) Jose Diaz when he took over the position last year. Drew will also not be burdened by Haven Books, which will close later this spring. Hopefully Diaz will pass on some of his vision – which was critical in bringing Gerts back from the dead – to his successor.
The Daily | SSMU Elections 2010
PRESIDENT YEAR& PROGRAM
Zach Sarah Woolf Newburgh
RELEVANT McGILL EXPERIENCE
U2 Middle East Studies and Islamic Studies
U2 Women’s Studies and Political Science
U3 Economics and Psychology
Confident about his bilingualism.
Bilingual campaign promotions online.
Strong comprehension, taking French this summer.
Very little French comprehension; says he will take classes over the summer. Le Délit calls his French “puzzling.” Said it’s imperative that things are advertised billingually.
Student services – 24-hour libraries and a student-run food co-op. He also promises “governance workshops to increase the efficiency of the executive council.” Wants to improve transparency of the administration’s budget, the workings of Senate and the Board of Governors (BOG), and military research on campus. Other platform points: “lobbying the government to decrease tuition, an inclusive general assembly.”
Platform centred around creating community and school spirit. Emphasizes supporting athletics and cultivating Greek life on campus. He also wants to increase accessibility to SSMU and support sustainability initiatives like the Plate Club and Gorilla Composting. Wants tailgate parties.
Sees the president playing a political role, not just a bureaucratic one. Opposing upcoming tuition increases, renegotiating SSMU’s Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the University as it goes up for renewal next year, and fighting for student representation on McGill administrative bodies rank among her top priorities. On the services front, she wants more student space – more meeting space, napping space, student-run food services, and an expanded Plate Club, among other things. Wants to build up TaCEQ, the new provincial lobbying organization.
His top priorities include bridging faculty divides with more campus-wide events, making GAs more efficient, and fundraising “to raise money in advance of relief requirement.” Projected projects include a pan-faculty dodgeball game and a campus message board.
’09-’10 President of McGill Society of Physics Students. Says his knowledge of martial arts will inform his leadership style (judo-chopping his way through tough problems).
’09-’10 President of Hillel Montreal, ’09-’10 Speaker of EUS Council.
Sits on AUS Council as Senator.
Reporter for the McGill Tribune for four years.
’09-’10 Speaker of SSMU Council. Says he “worked to increase the accessibility of our students’ society by spearheading the creation of SSMU’s Guide to Robert’s Rules of Order, as well as SSMU’s Guide to Writing Legislation.”
’09-’10 Arts Senator, Senate caucus representative to Council. ’08-’09 Arts representativeato SSMU, ’07-’08 First year representative to Council. Currently sits on External Affairs Committee and Student Equity Committee.
Wants GAs to be held in the gym, but doesn't talk about how to get that many people out to them. "Organized and structured online room bookings.” "Transparency regarding the administration, the Senate, military research, and the Board of Governors." Was not familiar with QPIRG during the debates.
Works with Concordia University, Dawson College, Marianopolis College, and John Abbott College as president of Hillel Montreal. Sees SSMU's role as fighting tuition hikes and creating community. Many ideas rely on creating opportunities for students in sustainabilityrelated fields to apply their skills on campus.
Has been very involved in formation of TaCEQ.
Wants GAs to go televised.
Trip Zach Yang Newburgh
U3 Physiology and Physics
Zach Zach Newburgh Newburgh
U2 Electrical Engineering
U3 Humanistic Studies and IDS
First language is French.
Understands some French; said he will hire an interpreter out of pocket.
Fully bilingual Montrealer.
SSMU’s role in TaCEQ; working to create a new national organization.
Create an unlimited transit pass at McGill.
Focus on accessible education by making TaCEQ more proactive on tuition.
VP (External), McGill Engineering Undergraduate Society.
President of Freshman Undergraduate Student Society.
Arts rep to SSMU Council.
’08-’09/’09-’10 member of External Affairs committee. ’09-’10 rep to SSMU Council.
Says he has many contacts with other universities.
Says his agenda will help students with financial difficulties.
Refounded the SSMU mobilization committee; VP External of her CEGEP.
U3 Microbiology and Immunology
U1 Political English
U2 political science
RELEVANT McGILL EXPERIENCE
VP UNIVERSITY AFFAIRS YEAR& PROGRAM
Crawford did not respond to The Daily’s request for an interview.
Says he can read okay, but has difficulty with “rapid fire Quebecois chatter.”
More hours at the library, better advising, clear research policy.
Fighting student apathy and tuition hikes.
Keep tuition at the top of the agenda, prioritize undergraduate students.
Former VP (Education) of the McGill African Students Society.
President of the McGill Socialist Society.
Sat on the McGill Senate for several months.
RELEVANT McGILL EXPERIENCE
’09-’10 Science rep to SSMU
Abaki says he’s here on financial aid and understands financial barriers.
Carries around a copy of Mao’s red book.
Currently sits on several committees, including Library Improvement Fund.
Thinks it’s important at McGill.
The Daily | SSMU Elections 2010
The Daily | SSMU Elections 2010
RELEVANT McGILL EXPERIENCE
VP FINANCE & OPERATIONS YEAR& PROGRAM
U4 Kinesiology and Physical Education
U1 Humanistic Studies, with minors in Political Science and History
Fluent in English, French, and Hungarian.
A little. She’s taking French courses at McGill.
Focused on organizing more parties, and a spectacular Rrosh, as well as supporting athletics.
Wants to support many of the student life initiatives already in place, like movies on campus and the Plate Club. Interested in making Frosh more accessible and sustainable.
Former Varsity Council president, co-created Red Thunder, a varsity sports fan club.
’08-’09 H House rep at Douglas Hall.
Has experience with event planning and promotions through McGill Athletics; ’09-’10 Athletics rep to SSMU Council.
Has played varsity volleyball for four years, which he cites as leadership and team building experience.
Event planning in high school: prom for 400 people and Model UN.
Nick Drew U3 Finance, Strategy, and International Business
VP CLUBS & SERVICES YEAR& PROGRAM
Yes, from Montreal.
BILINGUALISM Streamline the budget to be transparent; negotiate lease agreements expiring next year; work with the Financial Ethics Review Committee to ensure ethical investing.
Didn’t speak about his External experience, but he comes in with similar SSMU experience as current VP (FOPS) Jose Diaz when he started last year.
RELEVANT McGILL EXPERIENCE
Management Undergraduate Society rep to SSMU this year; sat on the clubs and services committee and the operations committee.
U2 Sociology, Communications and Marketing
No French, but speaks Hindi, Punjabi, and Urdu.
Helping clubs develop strong budgets, and effective communication. VP Clubs and Services
RELEVANT McGILL EXPERIENCE
Wants to hire a marketing consultant to help Gerts compete with St. Laurent bars.
Having worked closely with clubs this year, Khan has a wide understanding of the various groups on campus ’09-’10 SSMU Interest Group Coordinator, the position current VP Clubs & Services Sarah Olle held in the 2008-2009 year. Proud of her Pakistani heritage, and wants to bring international perspective to student politics.
The Daily | SSMU Elections 2010
The Daily’s SSMU Endorsements President
The Daily hasn’t strongly endorsed a SSMU presidential candidate since 2007. We’re pleased to say that we’d be ecstatic to call Sarah Woolf, with her years of relevant experience, our SSMU president for next year. Woolf was the most well-spoken during the presidential debate, and is best equipped to deal with the unique challenges SSMU will face next September. She is also the candidate we trust most to represent student interests when SSMU revisits the terms of its relationship with the University. And since the education minister has made it clear that major tuition increases are on the way, we’ll need someone with political savvy and well-established priorities to keep the Board of Governors in check. With two years of experience on Senate, and three as a SSMU councillor, we’re confident that Woolf will be able to lead her fellow representatives and keep Council and Senate caucus on track. She also has a strong grasp of the role of the SSMU president and her platform is made up of practical and achievable steps toward addressing larger problems. We were also impressed with the way she enforced SSMU’s equity policy in an unbiased way as the Choose Life debate raged earlier this year. And after seeing her talk down police officers, we believe that she’s got the moxie to support her claims.
Our endorsement for the University Affairs spot goes to David Lipsitz, whose experience with the SSMU External Affairs committee and AUS makes him well qualified to represent students to the University community. The UA position requires a competent leader who can unite the SSMU Senate caucus around pressing issues, stay up on the multitude of student representatives on University committees, and keep student needs on the minds of administrators. Lipsitz aims to have the undergraduate experience at the top of McGill’s white paper – a trait that makes him a good fit for this portfolio, along with his willingness to take tough stances on selected issues. He’s demonstrated a keen awareness of the realities of University governance, as well as the UA portfolio, that we haven’t seen in other candidates. We’re also pleased that Lipsitz, who filled a vacant Senate seat in early February, has at least some experience under his belt as a student senator. After all, ensuring strong Senate representation is one of the most important aspects of the UA job. Overall, we’re pleased with Lipsitz’s experience, knowledge, and proven ability to lead and represent students. We hope he’ll learn even more as he fills out the duration of his Senate term, and prepares for the year ahead.
VP University Affairs
We’re breathing a huge sigh of relief knowing that someone like Myriam Zaidi is in the running for VP (External). Strongly opposed to tuition hikes, hindrances to accessible education, and the self-funded tuition model, she’s got the advantage of experience to prove she knows what she’s talking about, and how to get things done. VP Sebastian Ronderos-Morgan made some important strides this year getting TaCEQ off the ground and laying the foundations for CARE, and Zaidi has been there every step of the way. She’s up to speed, actively involved, and won’t need to cram on Quebec politics at the end of the summer – she’s been living and breathing them for years. To keep TaCEQ going, we need someone who has already established ties with the organization, and Zaidi is the candidate who can ensure a smooth transition into next year. Another advantage over the other candidates is her fluency in both French and English, crucial for strengthening SSMU’s ties with students, lobby groups, and politicians. While we’re confident that Zaidi is more than qualified for the job, we would like to see her incorporate a couple of the other candidates’ ideas into her platform, like looking into a campaign for a non-opt-outable fee that goes toward an unlimited transit pass for students and increasing engineering students’ involvement with SSMU. If Zaidi can push for these ideas as well, she will prove herself to be a well-rounded candidate.
ere’s our humble take on the candidates for VP (Internal): We’re torn. Tom Fabian would bring a lot of event-planning experience to his position, and we have no doubt that he’ll be able to throw a successful, old-school, raging party of a Frosh. We are concerned that he might focus on doing only that, and devote less time to finding ways to make Frosh more accessible and sustainable. Marta Gruntmane has expressed interest in working to make Frosh more sustainable and accessible, but we’re concerned that she might lack the experience to push improvements through. She brings some interesting smaller-scale ideas to the position that would be nice to see, like canned food drives for community outreach.
The Daily | SSMU Elections 2010
The Daily’s SSMU Endorsements
VP Clubs & Services
hile Anushay Khan is un-opposed for the position of VP (Clubs & Services), The Daily strongly endorses her campaign. Khan served as interest group coordinator under current VP Sarah Olle, and has shown a high level of familiarity with the portfolio. She has also been consistently enthusiastic about her duties as coordinator. Khan will take on a lot of responsibility, including handling the immense club budget and the handling of controversial issues such as Choose Life and the Israel/Palestine debate. Olle has said that Khan has a lot to learn about the politics surrounding opt-outs and student space, but is confident that she will do so. On a personal level, Khan’s friendliness and open-minded nature will serve her well in dealing with the many clubs and services under her purview.
VP Finance & Operations
he Daily endorses Nick Drew primarily based on his academic background and practical experience as a SSMU councillor. His platform is fairly weak, though that may be due to the fact that he is an acclaimed candidate. Drew is aware of some of the challenges he will face, like renegotiating the Shatner building’s lease with McGill – however he could not comment in depth on this. He also said that he hopes to work with the Financial Ethics Review Committee to ensure SSMU has ethical investments, but again, he could not explain the details of what he hopes to achieve. Gerts has done well this year, and as long as Drew can follow his predecessor’s formula, the trend should continue. He did have the good idea to hire a professional marketing consultant for the bar, rather than leaving advertising to its manager. Drew has not given much of an indication as to whether or not he will be a strong VP, but he will have a competent teacher in the current VP (FOPS). We can only hope that he takes good notes.
The McGill Daily, Monday, March 8, 2010
Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside “I’ve been here since ’92, and I’ve been on the streets for about six years now,” said Ashley, an aboriginal man who sat guarding the entrance to the tent city. “This is about my third tent city that I’ve been fighting for.” According to Eric Castavet, a tent city organizer, residents hope the tent village will attract the attention of the federal government. “We camp here to show the government that before a condo, we need houses,” he said. “Look at that condo. You can rent that for [over a thousand] bucks a month, but welfare gives us $375.” In Vancouver, attempts have been made to increase shelter space. Seven Homeless Emergency Action Team (HEAT) shelters have been established, but they’ll be in jeopardy when their federal funding ends in April. According to Castavet, shelters are not homes, and they won’t solve the problem. “You share a toilet with 60 to 70 people. You share the same shower. Can you imagine [being] the last one to take a shower?” he said. “We’re not looking for shelter. We’re looking for one-bedroom, two-bedroom apartments.” Many members of the tent village point out that housing is necessary to become self-sufficient. “Three-quarters of the homeless people here, they could go for work, but they have no place to get ready for work,” said Castavet, who had hoped to find a steady job in Vancouver after leaving his home in Manitoba. “We have [busy] traffic until 4:30 in the morning, so you have one hour of sleep. You have no clothes to change. We cannot have a shower. So how are we supposed to find a job?” Castavet said that they have seen about an equal amount of support and criticism from passersby regarding their tent city protest. “Some of them...[honk their] horn at us: ‘Hey, good for you guys,’” he said. “Others look at us like we are cockroaches on the street. Most of them, they stop by, they walk in, they look at it, and they walk out.” The tent city has made it possible to get their message about housing out in a positive way, according to Garvin Snyder, who moved to Vancouver from Ottawa eight years ago and now lives in single-resident occupancy housing on East Hastings. “VANOC was going to get us a protest playpen,” he said, referring to the Olympic “free speech zone” concept. “This might as well be it. We’re near so many services.” Snyder said he was the first person to spray paint the Olympic Countdown Clock outside of the Vancouver Art Gallery, a form of protest he says is only possible in Canada.
“If I was in any other country in the world, I never would have been able to tag the clock and walk free,” he said. However, Snyder emphasized that it’s important to exercise those rights. “This is a true democracy. It costs nothing to get your message out,” he said, gesturing at his red tent — one of hundreds that were provided by Pivot Legal Society — and a larger tent set up as a private space he dubbed “Downtown Eastside House.” Many members of the community feel they have been empowered by the tent city. “The people are getting nurtured, we don’t have to go to bed with an empty stomach, and they’re happy,” said Stella August, an aboriginal resident working with Power to Women. “To me, that’s freedom for these people.” Castavet believes the tent city has helped bring people together. “The community is so strong that nobody can go through us,” he said. “We are bricks together. Cement.” The Tyee reported that Vancouver city councillor Kerry Jang, part of the Vision Vancouver party, said last week that his party won’t support the tent city because of concerns over health and safety. However, members of the tent village have said that they have been careful not to allow drugs or alcohol. Although police have been monitoring their camp, they have not had altercations so far.
Seeing red Outside Sochi House, known any other time of year as the Telus World of Science, a coalition of groups led by Pivot Legal Society deployed red tents at a different demonstration on February 19. The group, who aren’t homeless but describe themselves as supporters and concerned citizens, held a sleepover in solidarity at the park there. “I was looking for something to do during the Olympics that would be positive toward getting a national housing campaign,” said Megan McKinney, a political consultant. “This is a solidarity movement with the tent city.” McKinney was brought into the event through friends, who were organizers. “I worked in the Downtown Eastside, and things just keep getting worse every year,” she said. “[Vancouver] is an incredibly unaffordable city, and that just gets worse and worse.” The red tent campaign has had a few critics. Jang has suggested that some activist groups have said to him the red tent campaign is a PR stunt and that the Pivot groups are “exploiting homeless people for their own gain.” Am Johal is the chair of the Impact on Communities Coalition (ICC), an Olympics
watchdog group and partner organization in the red tent campaign. He explained that the red tents were selected not just to provide shelter but to make homelessness more visible, and said he hopes Olympic attention will help strengthen the national housing movement. Johal believes it’s important that housing reform advocates “utilize this opportunity to grow a movement that goes beyond the Games” and hopes that “we’ll engage with housing advocates across the country.” “It’s really aimed at getting the federal government to reestablish a national housing program,” he said.
An island of activists in a sea of tourists On February 20, tent city members, red tent campaign supporters, and activists met in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Flanked on all sides by crowds of tourists, participants and media stood out clearly, if only for their lack of Games-related merchandise. The rally mixed politicians with the homeless, as speakers and a few city residents stepped up to the microphone, telling their stories and singing songs. Speakers at the event included Wendy Pedersen of the Carnegie Community Action Project, David Dennis of the Frank Paul Society, Stella August of the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, and New Democratic MP Libby Davies (Vancouver East) among others. They focused on the federal government’s lack of involvement in housing projects. “You look at all the projects, the billiondollar projects that the federal government poured into this city,” said Dennis, “and they’re the only government that is not participating or putting any money toward homelessness, and that’s a crying shame.” Pederson agreed. “The Olympics, according to a well-known real estate developer in our city, Bob Rennie, [is] a $6-billion marketing campaign for Vancouver,” she said. “We do not agree with turning Vancouver into a rich resort city. We need affordable housing, and the only way we’re going to be able to do it is to get big dollars from the federal government.” David Cadman, a Vancouver city councillor, said, “We knew it would be an embarrassment if the world came here and saw the Downtown Eastside with so many homeless people.” He was noncommittal about whether the City might answer calls to purchase the tent city land and turn it into social housing. “We’re unlikely to be stampeded into purchasing certain pieces of property that might cause an inflation of price,” he said. “We’re very strategic – we go in quietly, usually, and acquire.”
Spare some change? Many of the activists hope that a national housing policy is developed, following a solution proposed by David Hulchanski of the University of Toronto, which calls for all levels of government to devote one per cent of their budgets to housing. Johal said that he feels public response to the housing movement and the red tent campaign has been positive due to their clear goals. “We’re getting a lot of support,” said Johal. “I think that a lot of times with activism people lose sight of what they are supporting, and what is great about this campaign is that we’re really specific about what we’re pushing for.” Davies had authored a bill for a national housing strategy, Bill C-304, which passed its second reading before Parliament was prorogued in December. The House of Commons will decide whether or not to restore it, among other bills, when Parliament reconvenes this month. If adopted, the bill would require that the federal government put forward an affordable housing strategy, so housing costs do not “compromise an individual’s ability to meet other basic needs, including food, clothing, and access to education.” The bill would also require financial assistance to be provided in cases where individuals are unable to afford housing and ensure that social housing provides adequate and specific facilities for those in need. In addition, the bill includes a provision for shelters to be made available in the event of disasters and crises. Meanwhile, the tent city grows, with over 100 tents already and more added daily. VANOC’s lease on the lot expires in five weeks, at which point control of the land will revert to real estate developer Concord Pacific. Snyder is planning to stay at least those five weeks, or until he is asked to leave. “Somebody would know,” he said. “We’d know anyways. Put your socks and underwear on, we’ve got to move.” Beatrice Star, from the Power to Women movement, echoed the organizers of the red tent campaign when she said that the movement must go on after the Games. “If we leave early and just let this go, then we didn’t accomplish anything,” According to Castavet, it is important to stand ground. “We try to fight for our rights, and we lose all the time,” he said. “So this is why today, we wake up, and stand up for everybody.” —with files from Trevor Record and Michael Thibault, The Ubyssey
Summer Arts at UVM
WE ANIMALS: MCGILL SYMPOSIUM & EXHIBIT ON ANIMAL LAW Switzerland Leading the Way: A Presentation by the World’s Only Public Animal Welfare Lawyer, Dr. Antoine F. Goetschel March 9, 2010; 5:30-7:00 pm; Room 100 (Moot Court); McGill Faculty of Law; 3644 Peel St.
Perspectives On Animal Law: A Panel of Experts from Switzerland, Canada and the U.S.
Study in beautiful Vermont this summer. With UVM’s intensive training courses in Musical Theatre, West African Drumming, Argentine Tango, Latin Jazz, Photography and Sculpture, you can immerse yourself in the arts, while living a short walk from downtown Burlington’s cultural attractions! Learn from renowned faculty, including Circle in the Square’s Bill Reed, respected percussionist Jeremy Cohen, acclaimed artist Corin Hewitt, celebrated composer Arturo O’Farrill and professional dancer Elizabeth Seyler. Undergrads, grads, and post-bacs welcome!
Reasons for you to Think Summer U
Register today and take advantage of the 15% Summer ’10 Tuition Savings at uvm.edu/summer/mcgill.
� Online classes � Transferable credits � Four summer sessions � Housing available � Special interest programs � Graduate on time � Smaller class sizes
March 10, 2010; 6:00-7:45 pm; Room 100 (Moot Court); McGill Faculty of Law; 3644 Peel St. For more details on the exhibit and other symposium events, please visit: WWW.SALDF.CA
Catch up. Get ahead. Save 15%.
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I want a perfect body. I want a perfect soul. I want you to notice When I’m not around. You’re so f*%@kin’ special.
Be an editor.
INTERNATIONAL STUDENT SERVICES INCOME TAX INFORMATION SESSIONS for International Students Tuesday, March 16, 2010
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Strathcona Anatomy & Dentistry Building, Room: M-1 No registration required.
Candidates must be staff to apply, but there’s still time to get involved.
Interested? Email me.
10:00 am – 12:00 pm OR 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
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Representatives will be on hand to help you learn how to fill out each form. INCOME TAX IS COMPLEX. Plan to be there for the WHOLE PRESENTATION! Also Learn How To:
Hey beautiful. Thanks for picking up a Daily. Stay classy.
• Calculate your taxable income • Apply for tax credits (childcare expenses, tuition, etc.) • Determine your residency status for income tax purposes (the 183 day rule) • Apply for G.S.T. Rebate (Goods and Service Tax)
The McGill Daily, Monday, March 8, 2010
From order to chaos and back again Making sense of entropy and the concept of time
Plus or minus sigma Shannon Palus
ast Monday, I sat in a lecture hall in Otto Maass and wrote a thermodynamics midterm. In PHYS 232, the concept of entropy is represented by a specific equation, and as I reached the fourth question, I realized that somewhere between my class notes and reading week, I had forgotten it. I was sure I’d lost that piece of knowledge – what had once been imprinted so neatly on my conscious brain had become dislodged, shoved to some unknown corner. Every process increases the entropy of the universe; every process brings the system and its surroundings from a state of lower entropy to one of higher entropy. That is: things get messier as time goes on. Entropy, unlike momentum, unlike mass, and unlike energy, is not conserved. Burn a cord of wood in a campfire, and all of the pieces go somewhere: into the brittle charcoal remains that are left at the end of the evening, into the little flecks of almost-dust that are carried away by the wind, or into vapour, for the last drops of moisture hiding in the corners of the cells of the tree.
If you could collect it all, every little piece dispersed by the wind or left scattered in the fire pit, every molecule dislodged by a reaction, it would weigh just as much as it did when it started: this is conservation of mass, and you cannot destroy mass. But it would be hard to find every little piece – impossible, in fact. And this is entropy. A pine tree goes from a neat tall tree made of cell upon cell, forming ring upon ring, to cords of firewood bundled for purchase, to the ashes in a fire pit and plumes of dust scattered and stirred by wind. Things get less orderly. Last June, on day two of the Second Annual World Science Festival in New York City, I sat in the 92YTribeca over cocktails and under dim lighting, and listened to Cal Tech physicist Sean Carroll lecture on his own views about entropy. Carroll explained that the laws of physics do not care about past and future, the way that people mark their calendars to go bowling next Friday instead of last night. But then where does this “arrow of time” come from? Carroll explained that entropy can act as this arrow, since the entropy of the universe only ever increases. “You
Sally Lin | The McGill Daily
can mix things together very easily. You cannot un-mix them.” Just as a messy room can be cleaned up at the expense of an afternoon and a few hundred calories, the entropy of a part of the universe can be reduced; from chaos can come order. On a small scale, at least. At the expense of the larger whole becoming messier, systems can be made orderly. Carroll points out that the universe started out at a low-entropy state: a neat and tiny package of forces and mat-
ter not yet formed. If entropy is to increase, how did the universe start out in this low-entropy state? Carroll offers this as an argument for a multiverse: if our universe is part of a larger system, if it is just one corner in one room, it could have started out organized – at the expense of the larger multiverse’s own order. I looked from the blank space on the exam booklet page to the provided sheet of equations that had nothing to do with the exam material for almost 10 whole minutes,
checked under all four laws of thermodynamics that I had memorized, bit my fingernails, and upturned every set of variables I had so neatly stored. And at the expense of all that, I was able to write the three variables in the right order, neatly at the top of the page. Shannon Palus writes every other week. Expend some time to order your thoughts and send her an email: email@example.com.
The universe at the end of all things Far-distant astronomy will be unable to observe phenomena we know today Matt Kay The McGill Daily
he future of the universe is not as hazy as it once was. Solar evolution in our own little system informs us of Earth’s distant future, and observations demonstrate that our own majestic spiral galaxy will one day collide and merge with the Andromeda galaxy, but the evolution and final chapter of the universe has, until the last decade or so, remained a mystery. Lawrence Krauss, renowned physicist, cosmologist, and public intellectual, tenderly frames the cosmic future as “miserable.” In his talk last Monday titled “Life, the Universe and Nothing: A Cosmic Mystery Story,” Krauss gave the packed lecture hall the best, current answer to where the universe is headed – somewhere “lonely, ignorant, and dominant.”
But to make sense of this prediction, Krauss emphasized a need to look at the historical gains astrophysics has made to arrive at its grim projection. “The answer to the question means little unless you know why the question matters,” he said. The early 20th-century view of the cosmos was quite limited compared to our contemporary understanding. The Milky Way galaxy was thought to be the only galaxy, an “island” galaxy that inhabited an unchanging and static universe. After 1925, however, thanks to considerable discoveries and contributions from the astronomer Edwin Hubble, the universe was found to be not static at all, but expanding, and home to innumerable other galaxies. In the late ’90s, Hubble turned out to be partially wrong: galaxies were moving away from each other, but rather than doing so at a constant speed, they were accelerating.
This phenomenon was soon attributed to the still mysterious dark energy – energy inferred from its effects on the accelerating galaxies. “Empty space is, as quantum mechanics shows us, not as empty as we once thought,” Krauss said. Measurements of the universe’s geometry show we live in a flat universe, meaning that expansion is infinite. “The galaxies and objects that are farthest away are travelling faster than the speed of light,” explained Krauss. Though supposedly impossible, it has some unsettling consequences. Light will be unable to catch up with expanding space. The longer we observe the universe, the less we are going to see as more and more galaxies disappear from view, and eventually, in about one trillion years, objects in the universe that lie outside our galaxy will no longer be visible. The same will hold true for any observer in any other galaxy
and, as Krauss demonstrated, the effect will be universal in the fullest sense of the word. Astronomers using the scientific method, in any galaxy, hundreds of billions of years from now will construct a cosmic view very similar to that of early 20th-century scientists: an “island” galaxy, in an unchanging, static universe. Future astronomers will have no idea that the universe is expanding, and therefore no clues to infer the Big Bang. Evidence for the Big Bang, such as cosmic radiation, will be stretched to undetectable wavelengths. Dark matter and dark energy will remain undiscovered, as their effects will be concealed. “Good science, falsifiable science, will lead to false science,” Krauss explained. Universal expansion, he also noted, raises important questions about access to knowledge we may have already lost. Since we live 13.7billion years after the Big Bang,
enlightening clues regarding the Universe may have disappeared with time, just as clues concerning the beginnings of our Universe are slowly vanishing. Before any depression could set in among the audience – if events hundreds of billions of years from now can even be a cause for concern – Krauss made sure to point out that we live in a very special time. Homo sapiens exist at a time when dark energy, dark matter, the Big Bang, and the expansion of the universe can all be detected and studied. We’ve been given a very small, but remarkably crucial window of opportunity to observe some of the most fundamental aspects of our universe. Dark energy, in particular, helps us understand our evolving universe and where it is heading – an exciting prospect. “Dark energy means we don’t really understand anything,” Krauss said. “There’s still a lot left to do.”
Sally Lin | The McGill Daily
The McGill Daily, Monday, March 8, 2010
The McGill Daily, Monday, March 8, 2010
BURLY , AND BEAUTIFUL
A step inside the world of Montreal’s bears Susannah Feinstein Culture Writer
ears are roaming around downtown Montreal. Really. It wouldn’t be unusual to find a variety of these furry guys wandering out of the Beaudry metro station at 12 a.m. on a Saturday, clad in leather or wearing suits and ties, or perhaps a T-shirt and jeans. But don’t worry – they won’t claw your eyes out. I should probably start by saying that the term “bear” refers not only to massive, four-legged animals with brute strength (and, to some, of cuddly cuteness), but also to a gay subculture whose members have distinctive characteristics in both appearance and personality, and whose origins date back to ‘80s San Francisco. In the late ‘80s, Bear Magazine, a publication out of the San Francisco area, popularized the image of the muscular, blue-collar bearded man and drew a fan base not only from the gay community of rural America but also gay communities abroad. Noting the success of Bear Magazine, Rick Redewell opened the “Lone Star Salon,” a now-famous bar where the bear identity developed among gay men who preferred rock music and motorcycles to the flamboyancy of late-’80s mainstream gay culture. In a matter of years, the image of the hyper-masculine gay man had spread internationally. This representation has been subjected to considerable modifications over the years. At the most basic level of terminology, a “bear” is a heavyset man with abundant facial hair. But to limit the description to physical characteristics alone would be to unfairly shortchange this idiosyncratic group of people, whose members form many varieties and subsets of the community. These
may include designations like the age-specific “cub” or “daddy bear,” which refer, respectively, to the youngest and oldest bears, Asian “Panda bears,” white-haired “polar bears,” “muscle bears,” who are especially lean, and “leather bears,” who have a particular fascination with leather apparel. There are also the less-obviously named “otters,” hairy bears with an athletic build, and “wolves,” who are more or less otters with a more intimidating nature. And let’s not forget “goldilocks,” a woman who prefers the company of bears. Although mastering bear nomenclature is a difficult task in itself, the complexity of bear culture cannot be reduced to easy labels; identity relies on much more than outward appearance. To learn more about bear culture and values, as well as what a bear-oriented activity would entail, I arranged to meet with Martin Brisson and Yves Aubertin, two members of Bearevent Montreal’s board of directors, at a Second Cup about two blocks from the Papineau metro. Bearevent or, for francophones, Événours, is a nonprofit organization that caters to Montreal bears and friends of the bear community. Arriving early, I ordered a coffee and proceeded to people watch, an activity I cleverly concealed by pretending to read the bibliography of my Russian literature course pack. While I had done a little online research on bears prior to the interview, I still had no idea what Brisson or Aubertin might look like. Could they be the two big guys behind me? To my left, there was a thinner guy with a beard…might Martin Brisson be an “otter”? I eventually discovered that the two had been waiting for me upstairs. Brisson greeted me first, and brought me over to the table where Aubertin was sitting. We shook hands, exchanged pleasant-
ries, and began to talk. The two first presented the basics of the bear community. As Brisson explained it, a bear is a “hairy, fat guy,” pointing for example to Aubertin, who laughed lightheartedly in agreement. When asked to distinguish bear values from the rest of the gay community, Martin replied, “We’re friendlier, less judgmental, and more true to ourselves.” Aubertin added, “Also warm, cuddly, and less artificial.” A man at the next table voiced his own opinion: “They’re less self-conscious. And more fun.” According to Brisson and Aubertin, bears have been present in Montreal for about 20 years, with significant growth within the last 10 to 15 years, a development that is largely due to the Internet, which has been an invaluable resource in the spreading of bear culture. Bears can find each other online in bearoriented chat rooms and fan sites. On these web pages bears learn of local bear-friendly bars, clubs, and activities. I had found Brisson, for instance, by simply Googling “bears in Montreal” and clicking on the Bearevent page. For offline bear-related fun, Bearevent seems to be a party catalyst for the Montreal area, organizing a number of fantastically peculiar events. On March 26, for example, the fifth annual “bear fashion show” will provide a showcase for both bizarre and practical attire. One of the main attractions this year? “There will be a man on the runway wearing a size 40,” replied Brisson. Another standout activity is Bear Noel, during which bears (or virtually anyone) can come meet “Santa,” a bear dressed as Santa Claus, and take pictures sitting on his lap. At the conclusion of the interview, I asked where I might find a bear bar that would be welcoming to a small girl on a spying mis-
sion. Brisson suggested Bar le Stud, offered to accompany me, and even arranged an interview with the manager, Mario. This must have been the legendary bear friendliness at work. On Sunday at about 6:30, Brisson, Mario and I met at Bar le Stud. As I walked in, men of all sizes and ages turned to stare at me – my presence appeared to make the customers uncomfortable, but nevertheless I headed to the back to meet with Goudreau. At first glance, Mario doesn’t fit the typical image of a bear, being a tall but moderately sized and cleanshaven man. But he’s been working at Bar le Stud for over a decade, because the bear image and the community’s lack of inhibition appeals to him. Mario provided a brief overview of bears around the globe. He claims to be able to identify the nationality of a bear at first glance. French bears are “fat, maybe the fattest,” and there is quite a bit of diversity in the American bear scene, with a prevailing “muscle bear image.” Germany is viewed as the “leather bear” capital of the world, and home to the trendsetters of the bear community at large. I asked Mario a bit about the bar, which plays a variety of music, from alternative rock to house, has a karaoke night, and is now in its fifteenth year. Bar le Stud mostly sees a crowd of bears and bear-lovers between the ages of 35-55, but not much of the younger crowd. I looked out at the dance floor – an overweight man in leather shorts and no shirt was dancing with a man in sweatpants and a Nike t-shirt. Next to them, three men, sporting suits and ties, danced in a sort of conga line. In Mario’s opinion, there are a number of reasons why the younger members of the gay community, ranging from 18 to 30 years old, have yet to embrace the
bear lifestyle in Montreal. He proposed that being a bear requires self-knowledge and freedom from inhibitions that the younger set is too naïve and inexperienced to have developed, and that for the time being, they would prefer to go to clubs like Unity, which place more emphasis on dressing well and offer the traditional club experience. Situated on Ste. Catherine east of Papineau, Bar le Stud is nestled at the geographical centre of Montreal’s gay culture. Montreal’s gay village is one of the largest in North America, and walking through the village, a tourist might feel that they have entered another world unto itself. Because of its massive size, there are bars and clubs to suit all needs. While this may have a segregating effect among disparate gay subgroups, it is a particular asset to bear newcomers and visitors who may have difficulty identifying with what they perceive to be the superficiality of stereotyped gay identities. Though many bears are comfortable with the rest of the gay community, the bears I talked to spoke of the mainstream gay community with some distaste, and seemed to prefer to surround themselves exclusively with other bears. It is understandable that the hyper-masculinity and defined preferences of bear culture may be intimidating to younger people going through processes of selfdiscovery. In a society in which body type has the capacity to define a person, however, the bear community provides an environment where being heavier or hairier becomes an embraced aspect of one’s image, and an empowering source of confidence and freedom. For the first time in many bears’ lives, people are able to see past outward appearances and treat them as individuals.
The McGill Daily, Monday, March 8, 2010
Sound surroundings “Ghost Acoustics” explores our relationship with the background noise of our lives Sara Fegelman Culture Writer
e generally don’t attribute any significance to the sounds that surround us in our daily lives. If we do happen to pay them any attention, they are often dismissed as “background noise,” “noise pollution,” or the like. But for the members of artist collective AKVK, they are “ghost acoustics.” On display at Concordia’s Faculty of Fine Arts (FOFA) Gallery until March 21, “Ghost Acoustics” is a perpetual work-in-progress by Concordia graduate and post-graduate students Steve Bates, Joshua Bonnetta, and Douglas Moffat. By exploring the spatial and temporal transience of sound, the artists delve into the domain of acoustic art. The result evokes R. Murray Schafer’s soundscapes, addressing our embedded nature in our surrounding acoustic ecologies. “Ghost Acoustics” transforms FOFA’s classic gallery layout. There are a limited number of physical artifacts in the space, which provide an ideal ground for the customary perusal and interpretation of gallery work without the constrictions of a standard gallery setting. Vinyl Kiosk displays a “reworked” LP, damaged by the artists to manipulate the sound of the grooves. Their intervention subverts the intention of the original music contained on the
disc, suggesting the tangible notion of “site specific sound.” For another installation, “soundFIELD (coyote),” the gallery floor is covered in a tangle of thick black wires. The wires connect empty glass jars containing semi-functional speakers, a few of which emit garbled sounds whose source is left to speculation. The exhibit also includes two small viewing rooms, labelled “Departure Points,” where the artists explore the relationships between sight and sound. In one of the rooms, a film plays a continuous loop of vanishing images, reminding the viewer of the impermanence of both aural and visual stimuli on the senses. The minimal explanation provided for each display emphasizes the theme of sound’s immateriality and transience, and similarly implies the exhibition’s “work-in-progress” dynamic. Necessarily, however, it also leaves some questions unanswered. To complement and clarify the installations in the physical gallery space, AKVK developed a series of workshops, films, and performances. In an email Bates said these are intended “to enlarge the conversations we have with each other, to bring others into it, and to complicate the idea of the finished work of the artist.” Explaining the function of the workshops, Bates referenced the concept of a “brief” in architecture school, “where you’re given a challenge, a scenario that you have
to respond to in a creative way.” The first workshop, “Thrift Store Radio,” took place on February 24 as part of Montreal’s Nuit Blanche festival, with participants using “records sourced from thrift stores as the material to make radio programs.” The night also included a performance by AKVK in collaboration with Montreal artists Charles Stankievich and Kathy Kennedy. The second workshop, on March 5, recycled the title of “soundFIELD (coyote),” and sought to demonstrate “the appropriation of a mongrel sound system to explore different acoustic spaces in the city.” Though acoustic art is an unfamiliar medium for many, “Ghost Acoustics” demonstrates that sound resonates as both a transcending and unifying factor in our relationship to art and the world at large. Bates emphasizes, “I don’t think sound is any more critical or important than any of the other senses…. To experience our show, it obviously involves sound, but we made an installation film, there are sculptural elements, and if you touch the glass vitrine we’ve turned into a speaker, there’s touch. Which, in the end, is really what sound is.”
McGill Daily Culture 2010-2011 Elections Applications due March 21 firstname.lastname@example.org Classifieds To place an ad, via email: email@example.com • phone: 514-398-6790 • fax: 514-398-8318 in person: 3480 McTavish St., Suite B-26, Montreal QC H3A 1X9 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. Lost & Found ads are free. Other categories include: 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.
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“Ghost Acoustics” will be on display at FOFA (1455 Maisonneuve O.) until March 21. For more information about the exhibit and film screenings, visit fofagallery.concordia.ca/ ehtml/01exhibitions.htm.
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Precious melodies Silly Kissers release their first vinyl on Arbutus Records Marlee Rubel Culture Writer
aving released their first two records on their own, Montreal synth-pop band Silly Kissers shook hands with Arbutus records and pressed their very first vinyl release, Precious Necklace, this past February. Better known for their music’s danceability than their lyrics or trail-blazing, the band only expanded their presence beyond MySpace last year. Though they still rely on an iPod to fill in the parts they can’t play live, Silly Kissers have grown into more than capable stage performers. And it has served them well: following a string of recent high-profile performances – including M for Montreal, the Vice Party, and Musique Plus – Spin Magazine crowned them as one of five up-and-coming Montreal
bands. Perhaps propelled by their heightened profile, Precious Necklace sets the bar on a whole other planet, where their spacey melodies can escape the weighted gravity of the Montreal indie scene and soar to new heights. While I can’t promise a life changing or spiritual experience, their infectious new album is sure to take over your mental soundtrack. An earnest blend of old and new, Precious Necklace’s pony tail and leg warmer-inspired melodies cruise down a darker road, casting a slightly melancholy cloud over the synthetic pep of their last album. Best consumed in short bursts, their sugary pop sound practically necessitates dancing and oversized, neon glasses. Through their use of an iPod as an instrumental aid – a sixth band member, of sorts – Silly Kissers have positioned themselves at the
front of the new wave of synthpop. The exaggerated pop harmonies and lovesick lyrics are produced pre-show, opening up the gates of recorded music to uninitiates, levelling out the playing field, and giving Silly Kissers a standing chance in the Montreal music scene. Though a few more laps around the track will do wonders for their sound, their energy will fill you up and leave you bouncing alongside the rest of the satisfied ears in the crowded audience. Silly Kissers provide modest hope for anyone with musical ambitions and a laptop, while still maintaining their momentum as a Montreal gem. Whether you’ve got steam to burn or a heart to warm, it’s worth checking them out on March 6 at The Friendship Cove, playing alongside Makeout Videotape, Homosexual Cops, High Rise 11, and Rat Tail.
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The McGill Daily, Monday, March 8, 2010
The XX factor Montreal artist-run studio seeks to open cyberspace to women Sheehan Moore The McGill Daily
hen Paulina AbarcaCantin talks about how busy she’s been lately, there is no trace of the mopey, latewinter woe felt all over campus. In fact, Abarca-Cantin is positively glowing as she describes “some of the most exciting months ever” for Studio XX, the Plateau-Mont-Royal art space she has directed since 2007. Studio XX was founded in 1996 by four friends – cybertheorist Sheryl Hamilton, filmmaker Patricia Kearns, sound artist Kathy Kennedy, and Concordia media professor Kim Sawchuck – to serve a mandate unique in Canada and probably the world. They envisioned the studio as a bilingual feminist digital art centre which would highlight “the territories, perspectives, and creative actions of women in cyberspace,” while demystifying and deconstructing digital technologies through critical examination, according to the XX web site. The studio is “a space for women, in particular, to feel comfortable with technology – to get their hands dirty,” Abarca-Cantin explained. Studio XX shares a building at 4001 Berri with several other artistic initiatives, and its set-up is what you might imagine a digital art studio to look like: workrooms lined with Macs and audiovisual equipment; wood-floored exhibition spaces; a small but functional theatre. But the studio’s creative ambition far exceeds its physical boundaries. Between artist presentations, projects, and public workshops for women on everything from 3D modelling to web programming, the team behind XX are constantly on the move, evolving almost as fast as the technology that plays such a central role in the studio. Abarca-Cantin maintains the importance of making a space like this available for women, citing the
varying needs of different genders. “It’s a bit like math,” she says. “We learn in different ways.” She perceives social obstacles between women and technology, too, and in particular points to elderly women who, on entering a computer store, may “be told by salespeople, ‘Oh, you need this [product] for safety.’ But [these women] can make a huge impact on the market.” Discrimination can start at home, too. “Families aren’t as comfortable paying the $10,000 tab every year for their daughter to go and study game design and 3D animation and be a gamer,” Abarca-Cantin noted. The studio’s most regular features are their Salons Femmes br@ nchées, monthly show-and-tells that bring together new-media artists and enthusiasts from Montreal and beyond to present their work, in the process engaging each other and their audience in discussing new technologies. Recent salons have featured photographers, choreographers, and graphic artists who, by incorporating these technologies into their projects, have created intensely personal art with a level of interactivity previously unachievable. Last month’s “Celldance” presentation, for instance, demonstrated the potential for camera choreography to complement human dancers. In addition to these salons, Studio XX has partnered with the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) in creating the First Person Digital project, aimed at developing emerging female talent. The studio received over 60 submissions for the project, to be narrowed down in the coming weeks to the six best proposals. These teams will collaborate over the next few months with Studio XX and the NFB, building partnerships with artists and tech experts to develop new approaches to multimedia storytelling. Their final products will be presented in November at the studio’s biannual HTMlles exposition, along with pieces from Digital Ludology – XX’s
video game art project – and works that Abarca-Cantin calls “some of the best and most exciting” released over the last two years. Quebec artist audrey samson was living in Rotterdam, the Netherlands when she first heard about Studio XX from a friend. “If you go back to Montreal, you should check this place out,” he told her. “It’s right up your alley.” Now samson is wrapping up a two-month residency with XX and preparing to present her latest work, “threads/,” this Friday at Compagnie F. samson’s position is one of three eight-week residencies available at Studio XX, which include full studio access, work space, a modest stipend, workshop participation, and tech support valued at $1,125. Previous artist-in-residence Magali Babin describes “a sense of trust between [her] and the studio” that quickly developed during her residency. samson has reaped benefits from her time at the studio, too. “There are always people working here, and you can always ask them questions and see what they’re working on,” she said. It also means access to presentations and exhibits she might “never be able to see otherwise.” Her “threads/” project is a digital art installation with two interfaces, one physical and one virtual. In the gallery space, it takes the shape of an antique sewing machine table, complete with the original pedal. But where the machine would normally sit rests a computer keyboard, whose buttons control sewing machine sounds that are piped through the piece’s speakers. The pedal then acts as a crossfader which, when moved up and down, interweaves the sounds of the sewing machine with recordings of women discussing their relationship with technology. Online, the physical controls of samson’s installation are replaced by clickable images pulled from a Google search for “women and technology.”
Jessie Marchessault | The McGill Daily
Studio XX helps develop emerging talent in the digital art world. samson had already completed a large portion of “threads/” when she came to the studio, but over these two months she has been able to “totally, entirely change it.” In part, this means women can now record their stories directly into the piece from the gallery space. More drastically, though, samson has completely reprogrammed her piece. “The whole back end used to be built with proprietary software,” she said, but she’s used her time at XX to rewrite “threads/” using FLOSS – free/libre open source software – which encourages collaborative public development of the source code and makes licenses liberally available. Championing the use of FLOSS is one of Studio XX’s core objectives, and it’s also something samson believes in personally. “Ideologically speaking, it’s important to own the tools you’re working with,” she said. FLOSS has its practical implications for samson as well. Buying new software licenses for every new computer gets expensive, and for workshop students, “Telling people they have to buy $800 software to take your class...that’s not very accessible.” Accessibility and opportunity are ideals at the heart of Studio XX, which samson describes as a place
“for women to come learn, but also to gain exposure and to work.” samson is more hesitant than Abarca-Cantin to talk about specific hurdles facing women. She shies away from words like “barriers,” preferring to avoid terminology that may portray women as victims. There are “many types of learning,” samson says. She likes the idea of women-only classes, where she has found students “to be generally more receptive to technical knowledge” than in co-ed environments. Both women seem to agree on the importance of “providing opportunities for women...in an area (new media/technology) where women are by far the minority,” as samson put it in an email. This is the sentiment that has kept Studio XX running strong since its creation 14 years ago – two years before Google even existed – that guided it through the dot-com bust and the rise of social networking, and that will now pull the studio into the future as its artists continue to create innovative art incorporating the latest technologies – technologies Abarca-Cantin predicts will include Apple’s new iPad. “Oh, we’d love to play around with one of those!” To find out more about Studio XX’s programming, visit studioxx.org.
Call for Candidates The Daily Publications Society, publisher of The McGill Daily and Le Délit, is seeking candidates for
student positions on its Board of Directors. The position must be filled by McGill students duly registered during the upcoming Fall term and able to sit until April 30, 2011. Board members gather at least once a month to discuss the management of the newspapers, and make important administrative decisions. Candidates should send a 500-word letter of intention to email@example.com by March 15th. Contact us for more information.
Referendum endorsements Re: Body sovereignty in SSMU Constitution – Yes, with reservations This motion asks students to modify the preamble of the SSMU Constitution to include respect for bodily sovereignty in addition to human dignity, without discrimination. While this motion is somewhat vague, we support it because SSMU’s official recognition of bodily sovereignty could be a step forward for the respect of trans students at McGill, as well as the right to medical privacy. However, if approved by students, this motion should not be used as a way to categorically ban either pro-life or pro-choice groups.
Re: Creation of Student Life Fund – Yes
This motion asks for the creation of a new fund to channel any surpluses from SSMU clubs and services, as well as the Club Fund, at the end of the year. The Daily supports this motion because the new Student Life Fund would allow funds to remain available for future student projects, rather than getting allocated to the Capital Expenditure Reserve Fund for investment.
Re: McGill Tribune as an independent organizations – Yes
This motion calls for the creation of a $3 non-opt-outable fee to fund the independence of the McGill Tribune from SSMU. The Daily strongly supports this motion because a no vote would lead to the dissolution of an important campus publication that helps foster to a plurality of voices on campus.
Re: Policies on matters external to the Society – No
This motion asks for a quorum of 500, a vote of 2/3, and a simple majority to pass resolutions on matters external to SSMU at the General Assemblies. While it is true external policy should be representative of the study body, this motion effectively silences all debate on external issues. The presence of 500 students at the last GA was unprecedented and primarily the result of two highly controversial motions. With the kind of barrier the current motion proposes, if students wanted to discuss other important external issues from lobbying to solidarity campaigns with other unions, they will likely be unable to get a motion on the floor for discussion. And walk-outs will be made that much easier: such a high quorum will be impossible to maintain. This question would place the burden of advertising the GA on a few individual students, rather than SSMU, or would lead to the inclusion of controversial and unrelated clauses into motions just to draw a crowd of 500. It’s true that the GA needs reform, but this is not the way to do it.
Re: WUSC Refugee Scholarship Fund – Yes
This motion asks that if there are no students eligible for refugee funding one year, the funds be reallocated to students from developing countries. While The Daily supports this motion, we’re certain there are refugees who want to come to McGill – if the University is having trouble finding them, maybe they should look harder.
Re: Environment Fee – Yes
This motion renews the $1.25 opt-outable SSMU Environment Fee. The Daily supports this motion and the renewal of this fee because it is used for important projects at SSMU, including the McGill Farmers’ Market, the Plate Club, Campus Groups, Gorilla Composting, SUS Green Week, the Unchartered Waters Conference, and other important projects.
Re: Funding the TaCEQ – Yes
This motion asks for permission to lobby the provincial government to provide funding for the Table de Concertation Étudiante du Québec (TaCEQ) – the new provincial lobby group that SSMU co-founded. The Daily supports this motion because it will help TaCEQ get off the ground and begin to lobby for students, a vital mission with big tuition hikes looming.
Re: Constitution Section III – Yes
This motion asks to remove a description of the Constitutional Review Committee, the Financial Ethics Research Committee, and the Nominating Committee from the SSMU constitution, because it is not in line with the current practices of the committees. The descriptions will instead be relegated to the bylaws. This motion will help committees run more smoothly.
Re: QPIRG-McGill – Yes
This motion would give QPIRG-McGill the freedom to change its bylaws through its annual general meeting (AGM), rather than by a McGill referendum, like any other non-profit. All students who pay their opt-outable fee can attend an AGM. The Daily supports this motion because only QPIRG’s members should dictate the group’s bylaws.
Re: TV McGill funding – Yes
This motion asks for a $0.50 opt-outable fee to fund TV McGill. The Daily strongly supports this motion because it will help finance a club that provides many opportunities for students interested in television and film at McGill – an important asset at a school with limited resources for televisual production. We hope this fee levy will help TV McGill increase accessibility by defraying some of the cost of joining.
The McGill Daily, Monday, March 8, 2010
The McGill Daily, Monday, March 8, 2010
Lies, half-truths, and springtime shits
Results of feces poll
Daniel Hawkins for The McGill Daily
This comic originally appeared on yourcorpuschristi.blogspot.com.
Costantinos Tsimiklis for The McGill Daily
This comic originally appeared on therightdose.smackjeeves.com.
Télésphore Sansouci | The McGill Daily
Spring has sprung The Crossword Fairies 1
1. Above 5. Musical endings 10. Big blowout 14. Cleanse 15. Bouquet 16. A chorus line 17. Born and raised 18. Iraqi currency 19. Plane, e.g. 20. Wanted 23. Food from heaven 24. Charges 25. Highlight 28. Sots’ spots 30. The MacKinnons, e.g. 31. “Silly” birds 33. Doctrine: Suffix 36. ... and waste makes want 40. Lamb’s mother 41. Hotel employee 42. “Ah, me!” 43. Characteristic carrier 44. Those who put things out to dry? 46. Bad lighting? 49. Flavorful 51. Unwelcome passengers 57. Versifier Pound 58. Belief 59. Soothing plant 60. Binge 61. Third largest great lake 62. Level, in the Queen’s English 63. Aug. follower
64. Portents 65. To break or chip stone
37. Not odds 38. Male Homo sapiens 39. Arthur? 43. Child’s racing vehicle 44. Cook protectors 45. Son of a son 46. Aids and __ 47. Sailing ship with less decks 48. Deep-six 49. About 1.3 cubic yards 50. Annex 52. Bounce back, in a way 53. Jack-in-the-pulpit, e.g. 54. Distinctive flair 55. Civil rights activist Parks 56. Ooze
Down 1. Sin City’s Jessica 2. Camper’s purchase 3. [see other side] 4. Obstacle, with “im” 5. Having cadence 6. Heavenly hunter 7. Fashion’s Karan 8. Indian nurse 9. Dress of 8-down 10. Anticlimax 11. 59-across, plural 12. Brown ermine 13. Clutches 21. Jail, slangily 22. Turn in? Solution to “Joyeuse St-Valentin!” 25. Advil T O M B L E M M A F target A V O I D O E M I R 26. Cat’s scratcher P E N N E C D I R E 27. Beer buy S T V A L E N T I N E S 28. Borscht T I L T H G L vegetable R A G E C A S H E S 29. Biblical A N T E I M A G O beast F O U R T H D I M E N S 31. Battering H O L D S E E N D wind A R D E S T R 32. ___ out T O P U P P O I L U a living A C C O M P L I S H M E 33. ___ of L I T R E N C H I N Wight O N A I R T E R N S 34. Asterisk 35. Mare’s-nest S E G O P E N C E S
E R O D E
S A R A N
S L A Y S
M I S O
R O A N
S N U G
N A I L
T A R O
S N O W
Published on Jan 7, 2011
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