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Volume 99, Issue 4

September 14, 2009

McGill THE


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The McGill Daily, Monday, September 14, 2009


Khadr case goes to Supreme Court Canadian detained for seven years in Guantánamo seeks repatriation Humera Jabir

The McGill Daily


fter six years in legal limbo at the United States’ detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the last remaining Canadian detainee – Omar Khadr – is one step closer to finally knowing his fate. The Supreme Court of Canada announced last week that it would hear Khadr’s case this coming November. Their decision comes after the Harper government appealed an original ruling by the Federal Court of Canada to repatriate Khadr. The Federal Court of Appeals upheld the initial ruling, prompting the government to take the case to the Supreme Court – Canada’s highest legal authority. Dennis Edney, Khadr’s Canadian attorney, condemned the government’s failure to provide his client with a fair trial – instead leaving him to languish in Guantánamo as he awaited an American military tribunal. “What the public should know is that any Canadian who is detained abroad should be afforded the basic protection given to every other Canadian citizen abroad – and should be allowed to have a fair trial,” said Edney. “Canada violated the Section Seven rights of a Canadian. That is something we have to stand up for, and the remedy is to request [Khadr’s] return.”

Khadr is charged with war crimes, and accused of having thrown the hand grenade that killed an American medic in Afghanistan. He was 15 years old at the time of arrest – a minor under Canadian and international law – and has been detained at the offshore U.S. prison since July 2002. While there is no international law exempting minors from standing trial for war crimes, it is nevertheless required that prisoners under the age of 18 be housed separately from adults, in an environment conducive to rehabilitation. Khadr was denied this right. At Guantánamo, he was also subjected to interrogation methods involving forced nudity, sexual humiliation, and waterboarding – a practice which simulates drowning. Last year, Khadr’s lawyers released an unsettling video showing a Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) agent interrogating Khadr at the prison. Khadr is shown sobbing, rocking back and forth, and crying for medical attention. “Omar Khadr is about the rule of law. Our government has not [recognized] Guantánamo Bay to be a place beyond the rule of law,” said Edney. “Our government has participated in the torture of Omar Khadr and has not apologized...and yet our government continues to make cynical comments to the Canadian public, and is less concerned with the rule of law and more with his family.” Khadr’s father was an active mem-

ber of al-Qaeda, a known associate of Osama bin Laden, and financier of the group’s activities. He moved the family to Afghanistan in 1988, when Khadr was two years old. Allain Cacchione, spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs, commented in an email to The Daily that the government made its decision to file the case at the Supreme Court after careful consideration of the legal merits of the Federal Court of Appeals’ ruling. The Justice Department has argued that Canada does not have an obligation to protect Canadians who are imprisoned abroad, and that repatriating Khadr would set a precedent unsubstantiated by any domestic or international law. NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Deward disagreed, commenting in an email to The Daily that while it is up to the court to judge the legal validity of the government’s arguments, the refusal to aid citizens stranded abroad has no moral validity for Canadians. “It is of great concern to every Canadian when the government goes to the Supreme Court to argue that it has no responsibility toward a citizen. A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian – and the government has a responsibility to stand up for Canadians when in trouble abroad,” Deward wrote. Activists such as Judith Rae, a University of Toronto law student and founding member of the Omar Khadr Project – an organization of Canadian law students

Sasha Plotnikova / The McGill Daily

and young lawyers advocating for Khadr’s repatriation – had hoped that President Obama’s announcement to close Guantánamo Bay last January would have resulted in Khadr’s prompt return. She found herself disappointed by the Harper government’s continued refusal to take action. “This government seems determined to ignore the rights of this young Canadian citizen, and prevent his rehabilitation, all in the

name of keeping up a ‘tough on crime’ image,” Rae said. “Omar Khadr is now one of very few people in Canadian history who’s had their case go to the Supreme Court of Canada – twice – and yet he’s still at Guantánamo. Our government is using our own tax dollars to fight to the bitter end against two court orders to repatriate – first the Federal Court, then the Federal Court of Appeal. For what?”

Senate query to challenge new course pack system New printing system results in delays up to three weeks Erin Hale

The McGill Daily


cGill students are not the only ones upset by course pack delays this year. Education professor Alenoush Saroyan has issued a query to the McGill Senate, which will convene on September 16, asking the University to publicly account for the delays, which are linked to their decision to internalize all course pack printing. The query also asks the administration to admit the move was a mistake, and not in the best interests of the faculty and students. According to a McGill bookstore employee, no course packs were available at the start of term, on September 1, and many were still missing by the end of the first week. Since then, course packs have trickled in, though some may not arrive until September 21 – less than two weeks before midterm season begins for undergrads.

In an email to The Daily, Alan Charade, director of Ancillary Services, said the delays were due to the late arrival of hardware and software. Since the delivery was a one-time operation, he does not anticipate the same problem to arise next term. But many faculty and staff remain upset by the unilateral manner in which the University implemented the change. Formerly, most course pack printing and copyright concerns were handled by Eastman Custom Publishing, which worked with McGill from 1992 until its contract ran out on July 31 of this year. Departments were notified of the switch from Eastman last spring in an email from Charade. It informed professors that the change was being made because of new provincial legislation, Bill 17, which requires public bodies like McGill to make an open call for bids when a contract runs out, and accept the lowest bidder. Charade maintained a similar

stance, stating that, “In the end, the decision was made to avoid the risks associated with a three-year cycle of public tender processes where we were always uncertain as to whom would win the contract. This would create risk in terms of quality and would create possible transition problems each and every time we enter a contract with a new

permitted to evaluate the bidders through a special selection committee – which would operate “without knowing the prices submitted” – and to deny any supplier who has received “an unsatisfactory performance report” from another public institution in the past two years. In spite of the logistical reasons for the change, many profes-

“In my 30 years here at McGill, this was the most unpleasant experience I have encountered” Professor Richard Schultz Chair, Department of Political Science

supplier.” Charade, however, omitted the fact that the University is not legally bound to accept the lowest bidder. According to a McGill website explaining the bill, the University is

sors remained frustrated at the University’s decision. “We were certainly not consulted, insofar as members of the faculty expressed an opinion. The opinion we expressed was pretty

uniformly in favour of keeping Eastman as an option,” said Political Science professor Jacob Levy. The chair of the political science department, Professor Richard Schultz, said that although members of the Faculty of Arts tried at different times since the spring to consult with the administration, they were never given definitive answers. “In my 30 years here at McGill, this was the most unpleasant experience I have encountered, because of the lack of respect shown by the administration to their academic colleagues on an academic matter,” said Schultz. Schultz also noted that though he expressed an interest in using the alternative printing system, called System B – which formerly allowed professors to have their course packs published independently – he was informed it was no longer possible. “I see this [change] as a money maker and a move to have monopoly power,” he said.

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The McGill Daily, Monday, September 14, 2009

New system to text students important alerts Courtney Graham The McGill Daily


n an effort to improve student safety on campus, McGill has implemented an Automated Notification System (ANS) that would add text messaging to the list of methods it uses to reach students in the event of an emergency. The project is a joint effort between McGill’s University Safety Services and the Project Management Office (PMO) – which deals with information technology (IT) services on campus, and is similar to those implemented at Concordia and the University of Alberta. Louise Savard, Director of University Safety, commented that the system would allow the University to effectively manage communications in an emergency, and that the system would “involve students in their own safety.” Students are not automatically registered for the service and may choose to opt-in. University Safety has launched a poster campaign encouraging students to submit their cell phone numbers on Minerva.

NEWS BRIEFS McGill appoints new Secretary General Principal Heather MonroeBlum announced in a mass email Thursday that Stephen Strople will be appointed to the position of Secretary-General for McGill University. “As Secretary-General, Mr. Strople will be responsible for coordinating and facilitating the effective operations of University governance, Administration, including both Senate and the Board of Governors,” MonroeBlum wrote. Strople will also oversee the Convocation ceremonies and will

According to Savard, the ANS has seen sizable enrollment from students over the past few weeks, with roughly 2,000 students enrolling during Frosh alone. However, some students and staff are worried that the system

would lose its impact if overused for minor emergencies or as another way to spam students – in addition to the email announcements they send on a weekly, if not daily, basis. While Communications professor Will Straw conceded that text

Kearsten Chau for The McGill Daily

be a key decision-maker in other events that are executed by the administration. “Strople is a person who is very familiar with these types of activities. He has had a long and successful career and was a very successful candidate in the competition,” said McGill Press Relations spokesperson Vaughan Dowie. There has been no full-time Secretary-General since July 16, 2009, when former SecretaryGeneral Johanne Pelletier resigned for personal reasons after three and a half years of service. McGill General-Counsel Maître Line Thibault assumed the position of Interim Secretary-General and will continue to serve in both positions until Strople’s tenure begins on November 1. After Pelletier’s resignation, the administration posted a listing for the position online in order to solicit applications. A shortlist of candidates went through

a competitive interview process, which resulted in the selection of Stephen Strople, based on his previous experience as University Secretary at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) and Academic Staff Relations Officer at York University. Strople’s position at UNB involved the provision of legal advice and counsel on behalf of the University, interpretation of policy, regulation and procedure, oversight of the records management program, and organization of the administration of student discipline. He will have similar responsibilities as the newest member of the McGill administration. There was no consultation with any student organizations during the headhunting and interview processes. Thibault was unavailable for comment.

Military choppers circle Montreal Thundering military helicopters were heard by downtown residents last Wednesday through Friday, as the Canadian forces conducted training missions in the city center. Two CH-146 Griffon helicopters buzzed over the Complexe Desjardins and hovered over it to practice entering high-rise buildings in an urban environment. Steven Dieter, spokesperson for the Canadian Forces, said, in French, to La Presse that the army was training to intervene in “all sorts of threats to Canadians’ security, like a bomb or any other kind of incident.” The exercises were conducted from 6 p.m. to midnight so as not to disturb people working downtown during the day.

— Ethan Feldman

Consume Reproduce Submit

messaging could improve communication between the administration and students, he was concerned the system could create a culture of fear and liability – what he views as an Americanization of Canadian culture. “[There is] this sense that the world is full of nutcases that will walk in with a gun and start shooting,” Straw said. Savard, though, has promised that McGill’s system will only be used when necessary. Straw speculated that another potential hang-up for many students might be that unlike phone books, cell phones are private and allow the owner to define their own space. Marlene Newton, Senior Advisor of IT Strategies, responded to the privacy concerns. Telecommunication companies that process and forward notifications to students will not have access to personal information, since there are no identifiers or names tied to registered numbers. “[Students] need to understand that their safety and security is important to us,” said Newton. “You are a mobile population.... We may not be able to reach you [otherwise].”

(to News)

— Sam Neylon

What’s the haps

McGill solicits cell numbers for emergencies


Activities Night Monday, September 14 – Tuesday, September 15 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. Shatner Ballroom Activities Night is your one-stop to learn about the over 200 clubs and services available at McGill. You can visit booths to talk with club members, learn about their events, and sign up for various listservs. There’s bound to be a long line-up to enter the building, so we recommend you show up early. McGill Farmers' Market Tuesday, September 15 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Three Bares Park In its second year, the McGill Farmers’ Market is the place to find all things local. The market has a wide selection of organic fruits and vegetables, as well as jams, breads, spreads, and free-range meat. Locally made arts and crafts will also be on sale. Annual World Press Photo Exhibition September 4 – October 4 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. 2111 St.Laurent The Annual World Press Photo Exhibition is open in Montreal. The exhibition showcases the work of press photographers from around the world. The exhibit will tour 100 cities and 45 countries, presenting an eyewitness record of the year’s world events. Missing Justice: Taking Action on Violence Against Aboriginal Women Wednesday, September 16 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. 2001 St. Laurent The 2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy and Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women invite you to a community engagement workshop to raise awareness about the high rates of violence against women in aboriginal communities. The workshop will be facilitated by the Native Women’s Association and will discuss initiatives to get engaged and take action. RSVP with The Path to Immortality: Lecture on Spirituality Thursday, September 17, 7:30 p.m. Shatner, 433A The Spiritual Awareness Fellowship will be presenting a lecture by Arie Abravanel, astrologer and spiritual master. He will be presenting new spiritual techniques and practical steps to find your way on the spiritual path to a better life. The lecture will focus on teachings from Jesus, Buddha, and other Ascended Masters.

6 News

The McGill Daily, Monday, September 14, 2009

Landry for mandatory French in CEGEP Extension of Bill 101 would revoke English option for anglophones and allophones The McGill Daily


ormer Quebec Premier Bernard Landry is calling for legislation that would make French the mandatory language of instruction for all CEGEP students whose parents did not receive an English education in Canada. Landry, formerly the leader of the Parti Québécois, announced early this month that he believes that Bill 101 – Quebec’s central language law, which was passed in 1977 and applies to primary and secondary schools – should be extended to CEGEPs as well. Landry’s comments were made after La Presse published statistics showing that as of September 2008, allophones, whose first language is neither French nor English, made up 39.5 per cent of students enrolled in Montreal’s elementary and secondary public schools, while francophones accounted for 39 per cent. While Landry, currently a professor at Université du Québec à Montréal, stated that the right of

Quebec’s anglophone minority to English education is “sacred and preserved by legislation,” he argued that immigrants who have chosen to live in Quebec do not have the right to choose their language of instruction. Landry argued that mandatory French immersion at CEGEP would enable immigrants to find jobs and better integrate them into Quebecois society. “I think that Quebec’s history, Quebec’s politics, and Quebec’s tradition are more in use in [CEGEP du] Vieux Montreal than in Vanier or Dawson,” said Landry, referring to two of Montreal’s English CEGEPs. But Christopher Monette, Executive Secretary of the Dawson Student Union (DSU), insisted that as adults, CEGEP students have the right to choose their own language of instruction. “The thing is, once you’re in CEGEP, you’re an adult. I don’t think the government can tell a responsible adult what kind of education they should go for,” Monette said. Monette explained that Englishlanguage instruction in CEGEP is an

important option for francophones and allophones who want to improve their English. At present, francophones account for 15.8 per cent of the student body at Dawson College, Quebec’s largest English language CEGEP. Allophones and anglophones constitute 26 per cent and 58 per cent respectively. “We need to do a lot of work to protect our language, but this cannot involve taking away the rights of adults. They will end up learning French somehow,” Monette said. “If there are 10,000 students at Dawson College, it is because people want to go to an English-language institution.” A motivating factor behind Bill 101’s language of instruction clause was that immigrants were primarily gravitating toward English communities in Montreal. The clause continues to play a critical role in achieving Bill 101’s overarching goal of Francization and has effectively reduced the number of allophones opting for English-language CEGEPs from 80 per cent prior to the legislation to 50 per cent today. “It is not normal that [prior to Bill 101] immigrants were choosing

English schools,” said Landry. “It is not normal that even now, half of them go to English-speaking colleges. Do you know a country where ,adult or not, you have the right to choose the language of education?”

Sasha Plotnikova / The McGill Daily

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The McGill Daily, Monday, September 14, 2009


Re: “Engineering Frosh is sexist” | Commentary | September 10

[The women in engineering] showed me that there is no need to sacrifice our interests or values in order to succeed in “the straight man’s club.”

Letters No, Women’s Studies is sexist Re: “Engineering Frosh is sexist” | Commentary | September 10 As a recent (female) McGill Engineering graduate, I took a special interest in the Hyde Park on the topic of Engineering Frosh. I take exception to the notion that “the Faculty of Engineering introduces itself to its female students as a straight man’s club in which the way to acceptance requires a woman to sacrifice certain feminist values to the ways of the dominant group.” Throughout my time in Engineering, I was introduced to a large, tight-knit group of strong, intelligent, motivated women who would do credit to the notion of gender equality. They showed that there is no need to sacrifice our interests or values in order to succeed in the “straight man’s club.” As for the men in the faculty, at no time did I ever witness any of the misogyny that these Frosh songs supposedly encourage. I suppose the first-semester workload beat these tendencies out of them. The author’s opinion perpetuates the patently false idea that women are not welcome in the faculty. In fact, the faculty and its student associations have been making concerted efforts to reach out to girls who might be

Kristina Huss BEng Mining Engineering 2008; EUS President 2007-2008

swayed against enrolling by this exact opinion. Furthermore, the prejudice that engineering, as a male-dominated faculty, is automatically oppressive to women is insulting to all members of the faculty. Perhaps the author should turn her attention to exposing male oppression committed by the Women’s Studies department. Kristina Huss BEng Mining Engineering 2008 EUS President 2007-2008

Masculinity! HU-AH! Re: “Engineering Frosh is sexist” | Commentary | September 10 An excerpt from the sacred engineering song, Godiva’s Hymn: The modern engineer must be politically correct, No more motors lubricating, no more buildings rise erect, No more electrical capacitors whose plates are high and fair Instead of problem solving let’s just sit around and care. Engineering! Moosehead! Aggressive and Strong! HU-AH! Lucas Kruitwagen U2 Mechanical Engineering

The only important Thing there is Love Dearest One, My name is Helen Kumba, I am 26 years old girl in search of a man who understands love as trust and faith rather seeing it as a way of fun always but a matured man with sense of humor, so you should also consider trying a new thing by making a open avenue to meet and know new people as this may bring us a happy dream together. I am interested in having a relationship with you, I will also like to Know you the more, you can send an email to my email address ( so that I can send you more details about my self including my picture. I believe we can move from here. But bear in mind that Love has no colours barrier, no educational back ground barrier, no socio-economic barrier, religious, language, nationality or distance barrier, the only important Thing there is love. I am waiting for your mail and a brief information about you. I believe we can start from here. awaiting to hear from you soon so I can send pics for more introductions. Kisses,

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Re: “Engineering Frosh is sexist” | Commentary | September 10

Re: “Engineering Frosh is sexist” | Commentary | September 10

I would like to express my appreciation for the article entitled “Engineering Frosh is sexist.” The view that engineering should be a “Boys’ Club,” held by an everdiminishing number of chauvinist male engineers, has never received such attention, and certainly deserved the “boost” you have given it. I’m sure that any female student considering engineering as a vocation will appreciate the concise, all-encompassing review of the treatment of women in engineering at McGill you have provided. Your commentary will most certainly help to rectify the minority status of women in the Faculty of Engineering, and as a single, male engineer, I can’t thank you enough.

As one of these supposedly degraded women in engineering, what I find truly insulting and marginalizing is not some silly crude song with irrelevant gender pronouns (“A nickel-plated bathtub s/he wanted / a golden shower s/he got!”), but Sarah’s misguided notion that we are second-class citizens who have been helpless until she heroically stood up for our oppression.

Patrick Diez U3 Electrical Engineering

Don’t like what you’re reading? Love what you’re reading? Send your thoughts to from your McGill email address, and keep them to 300 words or less. The Daily does not print letters that are transphobic, homophobic, racist, sexist, classist, ageist, salacious, mendacious, libellous, in-your-facious or otherwise hateful.

Helen Kumba

Acacia Brovedani U4 Software Engineering Previous organizer of McGill Engineering Frosh Former VP Internal of ExCESS (Electrical, Computer and Software Engineering Student Society)


Engineering Frosh is not sexist William Farrell


s I’m sure Sarah Mortimer might have imagined (per haps she even intended it!), there has been quite an uproar over her September 10 article “Engineering Frosh is sexist.” Mortimer’s lack of journalistic etiquette is apparent: she made absolutely no attempt to contact an Engineering O-Week Organizer or even the Engineering Undergraduate Society prior to the publication of her sensationalistic article. As Vice President Internal of the Engineering Undergraduate Society and one of the organizers of Engineering O-Week 2009, I would like to address several of her accusations and assumptions, as well as some larger issues I believe to be at play in her article, although there’s more I would like to say than I have room for in this Hyde Park. The first point I would like to raise is in regard to her many assumptions

about women in engineering. After speaking with several female engineers, including froshies and executives of Promoting Opportunities for Women in Engineering (POWE), I was unsurprised to hear that they were very offended by Mortimer’s claims. Mortimer perpetuates the “victim status of women” by implying that women are being “oppressed” by these lyrics and are not tough enough to have a voice in this “strong, aggressive, male-dominated” field. I can certainly understand why they were so insulted by such insinuations. If Mortimer had done even the slightest amount of research into her preposterous claims, she would have soon discovered that the gender breakdown in engineering is much closer to 60 males to 40 females, and in Chemical Engineering, there is in fact a female majority! Civil Engineering is approximately at parity. Her accusations do nothing to encourage female participation in the field, but rather reinforce tired stereotypes.

An equally offensive claim that Mortimer makes is that these women engineers are ignorant of their own oppression. She even says in her article that the women she spoke to enjoyed the songs and were in no way offended by them. Clearly, it takes a Cultural Studies student to enlighten these engineering women to the misogyny they have been subjected to without prior knowledge! I wonder if it had occurred to her that women engineers understand the song’s true intent – not malice towards women but rather comedy through innuendo and unity through song. She also seems to take an enormous leap of logic by declaring that this song is about rape, when there is absolutely no indication that it depicts anything but consensual relationships. This is not to mention the myriad verses where the pronouns are often switched or are in fact written about men walking into the store. As a matter of fact, I would hardly expect any sane per-

son to go out and carry out one of the actions described in these verses upon hearing the song – such a person would clearly be psychologically disturbed. The larger societal issue I would like to address is the suffocating political correctness prevalent here in the university setting. Too many people read too much into otherwise harmless activities and make issues where there were none before. Instead of worrying about silly things like songs, jokes, and the spelling of words with the letters M, A , and N in them, why not focus on getting along, accepting people for who they are and what they believe? There is no need to bastardize the English language and stifle the free exchange of ideas (and jokes!) to redress some perceived injustice. Furthermore, it does a disservice to women everywhere, not just in engineering, to imply that they cannot decide for themselves what is offensive to them. Ultimately, what Mortimer has done is to judge an entire faculty

on the basis of a single song, even though that song is sung at every faculty Frosh. It would be as if I judged every “writer” on the basis of Sarah’s opinion piece – an even less flattering proposition. She arbitrarily singled out engineering just because we happened to be the Frosh to pass her by as she was scrounging for a pseudo-issue to write about. I’m sure that if she actually took the time to talk to us scary engineers, or even to get to know us, she would find out that we don’t bite… unless you’re into that, of course. Misogyny and misandry aside though, one last thing she did really disappointed me – she left out some of the best verses!

William Farrell is a U3 Civil Engineering student. He’s also Vice President Internal of EUS and one of the organizers of this year’s Engineering Frosh, but the views expressed. Write him at william.

8 Commentary

The McGill Daily, Monday, September 14, 2009


Montreal deserves a fair shake from the province David Searle


his year, November 1 is not just the day that comes after Halloween, but also the date of Montreal’s municipal elections. Every four years and only during this period, municipal politics take a democratic turn in this city. Politicians suddenly become accountable and are interested by what the public has to say. Unfortunately, though, the magic “C” word of 2008, change, is not coming to Montreal any time soon. Successive administrations have failed to correct the city’s crumbling infrastructure, inject dynamism into the local economy, or adopt more honest administrative practices. And the next administration won’t be any different. Why is it impossible to bring change to Montreal? Some blame it on the city’s administrative structure, described as inefficient and lacking proper accountability. Others decry a Montreal tendency towards immobilisme, used to describe popular grassroots movements that seek to block many controversial projects. Still others talk of uninspired candidates who seek office and bring only more mediocrity to city politics. This might all be true, but the biggest source of Montreal’s stagnation lies in its dependence on the provincial gov-



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ernment. Under the Canadian Constitution, municipal affairs fall under the jurisdiction of the provincial government, and as a result, Montreal is left at the mercy of the jealous capitale nationale, Quebec City. Consecutive provincial governments of different allegiances have left the city out to dry, doling out tax points to outlying regions. Indeed, due to a strong reluctance to redraw riding maps according to population size, city residents are under-represented in the National Assembly. According to riding numbers released by the Quebec Director General of Elections, voters in Gaspé have approximately 1.5 votes for every voter in WestmountSaint-Louis, McGill University’s provincial riding, and the proportion is almost four-to-one if you compare the riding with that of the Îles-dela-Madeleine. As a result, the provincial government routinely ignores Montreal, the motor of Quebec’s economy. Numerous are the announcements emanating from Quebec City describing infrastructure work on highways or subsidies for regional development, with Hydro-Québec providing some of the cheapest electricity in the world. In contrast, measures that would help boost Montreal’s competitiveness on the world stage as a knowledge hub, such as investing in post-secondary

education, are not even debated. Instead, the city is often vilified for its pretensions and its future is rarely discussed in provincial elections. Suffering from underfunding and general stigmatization, it comes as no surprise that there is a lack of innovation in city politics. How can Montreal take on new challenges such as urban sprawl without the proper resources? There is no doubt why municipal politics fail to attract star candidates, or even honest candidates, when the city is facing ever-growing deficits. How can a new mayor fix Montreal’s problems with a broken mould? Suffering from a political and fiscal imbalance, Montreal’s leaders need to reframe the current election. Seeking greater independence from the provincial government by recuperating tax-points needs to be at the top of all the candidates’ to-do lists.

David Searle is a U2 Political Science and History student. Declare your independence to him at david.

Alkesiina Chapman / The McGill Daily

Municipal election candidates should seek greater freedom for the city

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10 Science+Technology

Is research ever value-free? Considering the ethical implications of the scientific pursuit Nikki Bozinoff

The McGill Daily


hough many students at last fall’s General Assembly voted in favour of condemning military research on campus, others spoke out to oppose the motion. In an article covering the event, The Daily quoted U3 Engineering student Adam Cytrynbaum, who argued that military-funded research was not necessarily objectionable. “Military research is done to better the people of Canada and the United States,” Cytrynbaum said. “Research is independent of what it is used for.” The notion articulated by Cytrynbaum – that technology is independent of its end use – is one that is often repeated, albeit in varied forms. Joe Schwarcz, McGill chemistry professor and director of the Office for Science and Society, has a similar opinion with regard to chemicals: “They are inanimate; they don’t make decisions. People make decisions,” he said in an interview. “The same chemical that can be used for mankind’s benefit can be used for mankind’s detriment.” Robert Proctor, history of science professor at Stanford University and author of Value-free Science? finds, however, that there is not always a clear-cut distinction between the design of a given technology and its inevitable application. “Part of the truth is that anything may be used or abused, but in very complex systems; oftentimes products are very end-specific…. How do you abuse a cruise missile? How do you abuse an atom bomb? Well, an atom bomb can only be used one way,” Proctor said. But what about breaking it down to a chemical level and the substances used to

make that bomb? According to Schwarcz, “You can use the ingredients in a nuclear reaction to produce an atom bomb or to produce a power station and generate electricity. [The effect] all depends on how you use it.” In his book, Proctor disagrees. “This supposed neutrality describes only the simplest technologies, the most abstract principles. The seven simple machines, perhaps, or the rules of arithmetic, may be neutral in this sense. But an abstract truth often conceals a concrete lie,” he writes. “‘Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.’ Yet is it surprising that a society that surrounds itself with guns will use them?” Use and abuse debates may sound inconsequential at first, but the ethical implications are great. For one thing, if it is true that research itself is neither good nor bad and that only the application of technology matters, scientists can be absolved of responsibility for how their research is used. On the other hand, if intent is built into technologies, then researchers themselves are directly responsible for the consequences. Science and/or activism The concept of neutral technology stems from the fact that science is widely represented as a purely objective discipline, where students are taught that the truth can only be discovered through impartial hypotheses and an unbiased attitude. For this reason, many scientists fear the intrusion of partisanship in any scientific pursuit. McGill professor David Green has extensive experience in conservation biology, a field populated by both activists and scientists. He is the director of the Redpath Museum and

former Chair of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). According to Green, COSEWIC – an organization that has a mandate to give an impartial assessment of how species are doing – owes its success to its impartiality. “I’ve come to realize that although the scientists on COSEWIC all think in terms of probability values and values of p and assessment lines and graphs and equations… when we send that off to government ministers and managers, the thing that carries the weight is that everyone on COSEWIC agrees with it. It has got that weight of consensual opinion behind the assessment, and that’s what makes sense to politicians,” Green said. Although he agreed that science is imbued in social and cultural values, Green argued that there is something to be said for preserving objective science. “There’s the question of integrity and believability that must be maintained,” Green said. “Reputation takes a long time to accumulate; it doesn’t take very long to destroy. We want science to be trusted in society; if science isn’t trustworthy in society, then there are lots of other people who would love to stand up and say, ‘Well trust us instead.’” Proctor, however, maintains that it is possible for scientists to wear their politics on their sleeve and still be taken seriously. “Advocates are often the most ‘objective,’ meaning often the most probing, most impassioned, most able to ferret out the truth,” he said. “That’s part of the myth of value-free science – this idea that if you just

Ben Peck / The McGill Daily

sit back and observe, you will land upon great truths. Generally speaking, you will not. The great search requires engagement, commitment, passion, including passion for the truth.” Research as a social process Researchers make choices about what research takes place, but they in turn are influenced by the social and cultural priorities that fund their work. Green points to the idea of natural selection, discovered at the same time by both Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin, as evidence of social influence. “It is not just a product of their work out in the field; I mean, why were they out in the field anyway except that it was a socially and culturally acceptable thing to do at the time?” Green said. Proctor agreed, adding that society also has the power to determine what research should and should not take place. “I think we all have a stake in what kinds of research get done. Research priorities are expressions of social priorities,” he said. “And what a society thinks is important will shape what kind of science gets done.”

Fate of military research regulations still up in the air Vicky Tobianah

The McGill Daily


Both photos courtesy of The McGill Daily archives

cGill University’s research policy will be updated this fall, a move that has student activists concerned about ethical regulation of future military research on campus. Initially set to appear before Senate in May 2009, review of the new research policy was postponed. Although draft polices are not made publicly available until after the Senate review, the most recent research policy draft distributed to SSMU for consultation has removed the clauses that pertain to the review of military research. The existing Regulations on Research Policy was updated in 1988 in response to a six-day student protest against the development of fuel-air explosive research conducted

by McGill professors, who had received grants from the U.S. Air Force and the Canadian Department of Defense. Recent controversy surrounds research on thermobaric weapons – another type of explosive energy weapon. As recently as 2002, David Frost, professor of Mechanical Engineering at McGill, published research aimed at making these explosives more “effective.” Though not directly funded by the military, the work was done in collaboration with military researchers. Alexandre Vidal is a U3 Environment student and representative of Demilitarize McGill, a student group that describes themselves as “opposed to research contributing to the development of thermobaric weapons by the U.S. military.” He admits that at this point, the new policy could go either way. “This could erase the clauses about military research policies at McGill, or it could

mean that they will be improved to ensure public transparency and ethical evaluation of research that is funded by, or done in collaboration with, researchers from military agencies,” Vidal said. Vidal did, however, express concern with the most recent policy draft, which has no references to harmful research in its preamble. “This is why we proposed amendments to the new research policy,” Vidal said. The man in charge of the review, Associate Provost of Policies and Procedures William Foster, did not comment on the draft policies, suggesting instead that questions regarding the policy be directed to those groups involved in the consultation process. Foster did, however, meet with Demilitarize McGill to hear their concerns about the draft. Vidal said, “[Foster] was open to consider any concern that Demilitarize McGill may have, and said that he will forward our pro-

Roman Knystautas and John H. Lee, professors in McGill’s department of Mechanical Engineering, conduct research on fuel-air explosives (FAE) for the U.S. Air Force.

1977-83 Gerald Bull and members of the High Altitude Research Program (HARP) develop their first test projectile at McGill, the “Martlet 1.” HARP was a project of the U.S. Air Force and the Canadian Department of Defence.


McGill amends the Regulations on Research Policy and adds sections 10 and 11 to address research funded by military agencies.


Former McGill students occupy the office of the Vice-Principal (Research) to protest the FAE research. Six days later, they are removed by the police.


posed amendments to the Research Policy Committee.” SSMU is working closely with Demilitarize McGill to ensure students’ concerns are properly represented. Rebecca Dooley, SSMU VP University Affairs, and the 12 other undergraduate student senators will be voicing any student concerns on the floor of the Senate. Since the policy is still under consultation and has yet to be presented to the Senate, “[It is] difficult to say whether major concern is necessary,” Dooley said. She added that as with any policy changes at McGill, the new policy will be inspected closely. “There is ample opportunity for students to voice any concerns they may have,” Dooley said. Demilitarize McGill will continue to seek ethical research on campus and is working with members of the administration who are responsible for the decision-making.


David Frost pub lishes a paper titled “Explosive Dispersal of Solid Particles” in col laboration with Fan Zhang and S. Murray, two military researchers.


e l.

The McGill Daily, Monday, September 14, 2009


On physics, 4.0s, and undergrad souls One professor discusses why the grading system is detrimental to scientific learning

McGill Daily: Why As, rather than Bs or Cs, or making the course pass/fail? Denis Rancourt: Well, I suspected that the students would all perform excellently, at their optimum, and the grade that corresponds to excellent or outstanding is A+. And that was confirmed. What I observed is that the students did extremely well in that way.... It’s a student-centered grade, so it’s based on their own personal progress, and evolution, commitment, participation, and so on, in the course. So from that perspective, this was the correct grade that needed to be attributed. MD: You didn’t have any problems with students who didn’t evolve throughout the course? DR: On the first day of class I explained what my outlook was, what my pedagogical method was, and how under this method one expects normally, almost always except for unusual anomalies, that this is how it goes.... I did have to intervene one time, with two students in one course. And that intervention was successful. MD: Were these students who had a problem with your method, specifically? Or were they students who just didn’t want to do the work? DR: Well, every student-professor interaction, relationship, and conflict is matter what you do, if you are changing something out of what the students become accustomed to. They know that they can put all their effort into the final exam and that will be good enough. All students have developed, I would say, a survival strategy, an optimization-of-thegrade strategy. MD: One takes advantage of the system, rather than [focusing on] learning. DR: Yes. So when you take that away, and say, “Actually, rank-ordering and comparing one student to the next compared to an external standard, that’s not what’s going to happen in this class,” immediately there is resistance to that.... What’s interesting about this technique with regards to physics, is that this discussion in itself helps to develop you as a physicist and as a scientist, because you have to examine the origin, the basis of your personal motivation.... There’s all this challenging going on that’s as important as the technical side of the discipline. MD: Well, it’s interesting that so many of these kids grow up reading Feynman [quan-

Frost presents “Detonations in Heterogeneous Explosives” to a U.S. National Research Council committee.



tum physicist, lock-picker, bongo-drum-player, and Nobel Laureate, who once compared physics to sex]...and then you get to university and it’s a whole different ball game. People aren’t rushing to the bookstore to do this in their free time. DR: Right. There is a disconnect between the ideal – where you’re pursuing your curiosities, and the subject, it has meaning for you, and connects to things in your life – there’s a real disconnect between that and the system, how it’s just a standardized walk where you’re being evaluated, graded, punished, rewarded, and they’re basically shaping you into a professional physicist and one that will be malleable enough that you’ll be able to work for employers. MD: And that’s stifling to innovation, and to producing new ideas. DR: Oh absolutely. It’s the opposite of encouraging independent thought. MD: [When you were in university] did you end up getting good grades and a high grade point average (GPA) regardless of the fact that you didn’t necessarily buy into the system? DR: Well, I am sort of a special case, because when I was going through the system, I made the classic deal with the devil, which was: This is what you need to get into graduate school, to get a good job. MD: So you applied yourself to school, and for studying for finals? DR: I applied myself to getting good grades, yes. But I honestly believe I was harming myself in doing that. If I had to do it over again, I would not do it that way. MD: What do you recommend people, or undergrads in particular, do if they’re stuck in the normal pedagogy? DR: Well, I think that’s a decision that is for each individual to make.... Students who want to resist the present system, what I recommend, is that you do resist it, that you do speak out in class, that you do challenge the orthodoxy, that you do give yourself a space where discussion can occur, and that you support each other, because there is going to be backlash.... I’m highly regarded as a scientist, and when I look at the things that I’ve achieved, it wasn’t in a classroom because I had to do an assignment.... It was because I was able to create a space for myself where I could think about these things, where I could find solutions and invent...and

The McGill Daily reports McGill’s involvement in the field of thermobaric weapons.


The U.S. Air Force references Frost’s paper in its technology contract solicitation titled “Methods to Direct and Focus Blast.”

Joshua Freedman for The McGill Daily

Starting to feel like science courses consist solely of regurgitating 13 weeks’ worth of lecture slides? Think there might be more to learning kinematics than losing two nights of sleep before the final exam? Denis Rancourt does. In the fall term of 2008, Rancourt, a tenured physics professor at the University of Ottawa, gave each and every student in his fourth year physics class the highest grade possible: an A+. On March 31, 2009, Rancourt was fired. With over 23 years of experience teaching, he has appeared in full-page U of O ads in The Globe and Mail; his “Science in Society” course, which filled the largest auditorium available, was attended by students and community members alike. Rancourt claims that his marking scheme was neither arbitrary nor grounds for dismissal, but rather a step toward liberating students from the grades that prevent them from truly engaging with the material.

that gave outstanding results. MD: If the GPA doesn’t tell the whole story, how do you get to know students to decide which ones, as a professor, you’re going to work with, or which ones you’re going to accept to your program? DR: Well, if you mean as a professor... then I think that the absolute best way is to hire the student as a summer research undergrad student first, and then to see how we work together.... I learned early on in my career that you cannot trust the grade point average when it comes to choosing grad students. MD: Not whatsoever? DR: Not whatsoever. If someone has a high GPA all it tells me is that either they have a lot of facility in the technical things that were requested of them, or it means they are particularly obedient.... It’s very frightening. I’ve had several grad students in my career that had low GPAs, that just barely got into grad school, but I knew them, and I trusted their ability, and they excelled as researchers.... In terms of corporations hiring physicists, it’s up to them.... The university should not be responsible for providing a rank order. Our primary task, as expressed in mission statements and so on, is education.... Standardized testing should be done by someone else for different purposes. As soon as you say to a professor, “We need you to optimize the learning environment and give us rank ordering so we can distinguish the future employees we want and don’t want” means that the pedagogue in the classroom has to make a huge compromise. It’s damaging. MD: Because it’s as though the professors are screening for good employees. DR: But the grading tool is not an appropriate tool for doing that. So you’re not even doing it well, and you’re completely compromising the education dimension of it. Everything becomes centered on grades.... It means that the students are spending their time and energy trying to read your mind, trying to find out what’s an elegant solution.... Especially in the upper-level courses, the exam questions should be open-

March 2009

A policy on conducting ethical research is proposed to replace the Regulations on Research policy.


ended, I think. Mine always are. In an openended question, the process, the method you end up using – all that is part of the creative process.... You shouldn’t rank order people because they chose different methods, because some people, in your view, made different decisions in how to attack the problem. MD: It must be a lot of fun reading your students’ exams.... When you present openended questions, do you get a big variety of solutions? DR: Absolutely. When I started doing this, I was thrilled to see the difference in the see this incredible variety. You got to see how the person was thinking. MD: What do you think about the idea that so many [students of other disciplines] say that science is boring and difficult? Do you think that your pedagogy could get more kids interested in science? DR: Oh, there is absolutely no doubt. I have proof of that. We developed this course, “Science in Society”.... They had to give it in the largest auditorium on campus, and we were filling the room with students of all disciplines, all ages, community members, you name it. It was very exciting. MD: Any other optimistic words for this new pedagogy? DR: In my experience, it’s day and night. It’s the difference between being depressed, cramming for things, and being alive, taking things in, in order to make them part of your experience. It’s the difference between light and death. MD: Are we moving toward the light side of things? DR: Oh, absolutely not. Society is not moving in the direction of sanity. It’s very unfortunate, but that’s the way it is. If anything, we’re moving in the opposite direction. The degree of indoctrination, the degree of sanitizing everything is being pushed to the extreme. MD: Well that’s a little depressing. DR: It’s not depressing. It’s reality. — Compiled by Shannon Palus

New research policy is slated for approval at Senate on May 20, 2009.

April 2009

SSMU representative successfully lobbies to postpone the discussion until the fall, when students and student press can be present.


Suspension of disbelief The Daily’s Hannah Freeman exposes whitewashing in the film industry


Sasha Plotnikova / The McGill Daily

ohn Wayne, as Genghis Khan in 1956’s The Conqueror. Mickey Rooney, in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. David Carradine, as Kwai Chang Caine in the hit seventies television series Kung Fu. It’s no secret that since Hollywood started putting images on film, white people have dominated mainstream movie screens – frequently by throwing on some make-up and playing the roles of Asian characters, most often in disastrously caricatured and offensive ways. It’s also pretty apparent that equality of representation has been slow in coming: see 2007’s Grindhouse, where Nicholas Cage cameos as evil criminal genius Dr. Fu Manchu, just the latest in a long line of white actors to take the already-racist part. But where “yellowface” has at least trailed off from its heyday, the problem of white characters co-opting non-white roles continues in full force: recently we’ve seen a spate of big-budget movie adaptations that have actively erased or are currently erasing the heroes of colour of the original sources. Between 2008’s 21, recent casting for movies like Akira, Prince of Persia, and the Twilight saga (which has cast nonNative actors to play characters of the Quileute tribe), and director M. Night Shyamalan’s upcoming movie The Last Airbender, an adaptation of critically-acclaimed cartoon Avatar, roles for non-white lead characters have consistently gone to white actors, wasting strong opportunities to introduce more diversity into movie theatres. What was once blatant yellowface has transitioned into a slightly more subtle form of racist casting techniques: whitewashing original sources and their characters and culture to make adaptations with white actors. In the process, the rhetoric of movie and television production companies has changed in a generally unsuccessful attempt to address modern concerns about the removal of people of colour and their stories from popular media. An unbelievably backward relic of old Hollywood, discrimination in movie casting perpetuates inequities in representation. Kevin Spacey’s 2008 film 21 is a textbook example of modern whitewashing. Based on Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions, a book by Ben Mezrich that details (and embellishes) the real-life exploits of a team of mostly-MIT students that won an enormous sum of money in casinos by counting cards and just-barely-legal blackjack techniques, 21 was a kind of love affair between heist film and math. Involving flashy casinos, a great deal of intricate planning, and a little bit of subterfuge, it was a story certainly ripe for movie adaptation. However, in the process of transitioning from real-life to movie screen, the roles of the majority Asian-American group – including characters based on key players like John Chang, Jeff Ma, and Mike Aponte – were given to white actors, including Spacey himself (who also served as a producer), Kate Bosworth, and relative newcomer Jim Sturgess. While Aaron Yoo and Liza Lapira’s roles ended up as largely bit parts, the (also entirely invented) romance between Bosworth and Sturgess and the tension

between Sturgess and mentor Spacey took centre stage. The motivation behind this elimination of non-white leads does not appear to be active hatred of Asian Americans, but rather concerns about marketability that mask beliefs in widespread racism. The Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) reported on their web site: “After the ‘white-washing’ issue was raised on Entertainment Weekly’s web site, [21] producer Dana Brunetti wrote: “Believe me, I would have LOVED to cast Asians in the lead roles, but the truth is, we didn’t have access to any bankable Asian-American actors that we wanted.” This argument seems flawed: while Stacey and Bosworth are fairly well-known, Jim Sturgess’s IMDB resumé seems to boast mostly a few TV spots and the lead as Jude in the flop Across the Universe. The decision to cast the relatively unknown Sturgess rather than, say, John Cho (who excelled in this summer’s hit Star Trek and the Harold and Kumar films) or television stars Daniel Dae Kim (Lost), Masi Oka or James Kyson Lee (Heroes), or any of a multitude of other stars seems to undermine Brunetti’s claim that there were no bankable Asian-American actors available. 21 even already had Aaron Yoo, who starred in American Pastime and had a large role in 2007’s Disturbia, who was clearly available, and who could have excelled as a lead rather than a supporting role as sidekick. Furthermore, with the majority of mainstream movies featuring white leads, and actual nonwhite roles in adaptations given to white stars, there’s little opportunity for a smaller-name Asian-American actors to become “bankable.” While successes like Pixar’s Up, with its chubby Asian-American hero, and mostly-Asian cast films like Better Luck Tomorrow and Memoirs of a Geisha should significantly dispel myths about the marketability of movies with Asian leads, they clearly persist in casting rooms, leading to further whitewashing. Though significant discussion has also arisen over whether it would, in fact, be better to cast an AsianAmerican actor of one nationality to play a character of a different nationality (a Chinese-American actor to play a Japanese or Korean character, for example), the substitution of more white characters seems like a disastrous solution. he persistence of whitewashing becomes even more apparent when an original fictional source offers up such a strong, careful representation of non-white characters and cultures. Avatar: the Last Airbender was a U.S.-created Nickelodeon show, originally aimed at six to 11-year-old kids, whose fan base grew wider as it proved both original and respectful of the cultures it depicted. Its four central protagonists, Aang, Sokka, Katara, and Toph Bei Fong, must restore balance to the four nations of the world by defeating the imperialistic Fire Nation. For three seasons, as they travelled, they revealed a world that white creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko filled with elements drawn from ancient Asian, rather than European, influences. In one episode, for example, the heroes encounter and briefly live in a society where the residents wear traditional, accurately-drawn


The McGill Daily, Monday, September 14, 2009

Korean hanboks. Though, problematically, Avatar used white voice actors for all of the main roles, except Filipino-American actor Dante Basco as Zuko and the late JapaneseAmerican actor Mako as Uncle Iroh, the television show’s content and representations were highly praised. Employing Edwin Zane, former vice president of MANAA, as a cultural consultant, Avatar and its creators took careful steps to ensure a respectful and diverse representation of its various cultures and societies. As Derek Kirk Kim, Korean-American author of Eisner-winning graphic novel Same Difference and Other Stories, wrote on his blog (, “Everything from the costume designs, to the written language, to the landscapes, to martial arts, to philosophy, to spirituality, to eating utensils! – it’s all an evocative, but thinly veiled, re-imagining of ancient Asia.” Instead of including fake, generic “Asian-looking” gibberish, Avatar’s creators worked with Professor Siu-Leung Lee to include classical Chinese calligraphy; instead of vague punches and kicks cribbed from popular movies, they worked with martial arts consultant Sifu Kisu to give each nation a real-world style of Chinese martial arts, including Ba Gua, Hung Ga, Northern Shaolin, Tai Chi, and Chu Gar Southern Praying Mantis style. With a particular emphasis on Shaolin/Tibetan Buddhist and Siberian Yupik/Inuit ethnic peoples and culture, Avatar created heroes of colour in a world unquestionably non-European. Hailed by critics and receiving multiple Emmy nominations, Avatar was a success in both mainstream and commercial popularity and cultural verisimilitude. Many of Avatar’s longtime fans, therefore, were thrilled at the prospect of a live-action movie, under the name The Last Airbender, to be directed by M. Night Shyamalan of The Sixth Sense and Signs. As details leaked regarding casting for the four main leads, however, an immediate outcry arose: why were Aang, Sokka, Katara, and Zuko – nearly all the major roles, and all marked as characters of colour by their features, hair styles, clothing, and surroundings – to be played by four Caucasian actors? Kim described why he found these casting decisions particularly painful: “The Last Airbender has the potential to be something like Star Wars – something with lasting value that could give new heroes to your average household in America. And to have something for Asian-American kids, and ethnic kids in general, to look up to. To let them know heroes can also look like them and speak fluent English like them. I think it could give immeasurable confidence and pride to these under-represented kids.” Instead, The Last Airbender will reinforce what Guy Aoki, Founding President of MANAA, characterized in a second open let-

ter to Paramount as a “glass ceiling blocking off Asian-American actors from playing lead protagonists. earing these casting rumours, many fans of the series, as well as MANAA and the East West Players, a prominent Asian-American theatre organization, began to decry the whitewashing, calling out Paramount for this decision. A letter-writing and protest campaign sprung up quickly, marshaled by fans who organized around web communities like and – the latter of which has gone on to protest other negative representations, like the hate crime scene in recent film The Goods. Commentary on the casting was generally insightful; as fans pointed out, not only will The Last Airbender be an opportunity lost for non-white heroes, it will actively reinforce racist divisions. One fan, who blogs under the name anna and watched the show with her three Asian-American nephews, explained on her blog at, “My nephews will either have to succumb to it or untangle it later in life but they are already being cued to believe, to know that non-white people/PoC [people of colour] have no place as active protagonists in mainstream culture, cultural content, or society. They are being taught that culture, society, and the audience really means white culture, white society, and white audience.” While her nephews and other non-white audience members are generally expected, in their average trip to the movie theatre, to be able to identify with white heroes, Paramount appears to believe that an insufficient portion of their audience would be able to relate to non-white leads, rationalizing their whitewashing of the central characters for what appear to be profitability concerns. anna continued, distinguishing a genuine attempt at cultural adaptation from The Last Airbender’s problematic attitude: “The difference is the filmmaker/writer/content maker’s relationship with the source; whether it is one of respect and genuine exploration of cultural themes…or whether the remade content is completely severed from the original source, context, and meaning removed, whitewashed and the ‘cool’ bits left as an exotic husk to become a product of white cultural homogenization.” he Last Airbender will feature three more white leads, stripping the original source of its potential to introduce diversity into mainstream movie theaters. With so few roles


already written for non-white actors, filling these opportunities with more white actors is a significant loss. After fans wrote in to Paramount saying as much, Jesse McCartney, the white actor playing central villain Zuko of the Fire Nation, dropped out citing scheduling problems and was replaced by Dev Patel of Slumdog Millionaire. The other main villains of the destructive Fire Nation were then cast as other non-white actors, including Cliff Curtis, of New Zealand Maori descent, and Indian-born actor and Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi. However, the new casting ensured that the movie would feature three white leads, uniting the world and saving the Earth Nation (which Paramount explains in a

“It’s one of those things where I pull my hair up, shave the sides, and I definitely need a tan”


Jackson Rathbone Hollywood actor letter in response to MANAA to be comprised of “Asian, East Asian, and African characters”) in order to defeat the evil and Fire Nation, as represented by and comprised of only non-white main characters. Aoki explained, “Re-casting the sole villainous lead with an actor of colour is a concession that results in three heroic nations going to war against an evil nation of colour.” The dynamic here is possibly even more troubling than four white leads: pitting a coalition of brave white heroes against non-white villains presents as an obvious case of the menacing non-white Evil Other, while the trope of white characters swooping in to redeem a nation of nonwhite characters with virtually no agency or autonomy is a tired, colonialist one. embers of the production cast and crew have demonstrated a cluelessness that indicates a general lack of concern for these issues. The casting sheet shows that the four main protagonists – all non-white in the television show – were described to potential actors as “Caucasian or any other ethnicity.” Not only is this casting description distinctly slanted toward Caucasian actors (compare with “All ethnicities” – which technically means the same group of people but has a very different actual meaning), it reinforces “Caucasian” as the default, the normal, the ideal. Lisa Zhu, having attended an extras casting call, reported in the Daily Pennsylvanian that casting director Deedee Rickets advised prospective extras “to dress in traditional cultural ethnic attire.… If you’re Korean, wear a kimono” – confusing kimonos



and hanboks, essentially melding two distinct cultures together – and said, “It doesn’t mean you’re at a disadvantage if you didn’t come in a big African thing. But guys, even if you came with a scarf today, put it over your head so you’ll look like a Ukrainian villager or whatever.” Further, when asked to comment on the whitewashing controversy by, Twilight actor Jackson Rathbone, playing Sokka, said “I think it’s one of those things where I pull my hair up, shave the sides, and I definitely need a tan.… It’s one of those things where, hopefully, the audience will suspend disbelief a little bit.”  Even the accurate calligraphy of the show will reportedly be cut; Lee stated on San Francisco’s 94.1 KPFA radio in July that he would not be working on the movie production as a cultural consultant, and said that the Chinese calligraphy would be replaced with gibberish – as if the two are indistinguishable or in any way equal. Cliff Curtis, playing evil Fire Nation leader Ozai, also spoke to Sci Fi Wire about his movie costume: “It’s sort of like a cross between Roman and kind of Greek, [a] gold, Roman and Greek military/samurai military [uniform]. It’s really, really beautiful.” Replacing the Fire Nation’s costumes on the television show, which incorporate traditional Chinese elements, with costumes of European ancestry – no matter how beautiful – loses sight of the thoroughly ancient Asian setting that made Avatar almost unique in U.S.-created television. Having largely stripped the original universe of its non-white heroic characters, its non-white writing and language, and its non-white clothing and costumes, The Last Airbender has already been indisputably whitewashed. anna recalled, in a blog post in response to the initial casting news, “During our early Christmas dinner this weekend, the oldest of the nephews, who is 13, brought up the subject of the incredibly white child actors that had been picked for the film version. The three of them were confused and disappointed but unable to articulate exactly why. Then the youngest, all of 7 years old, asked me whether this meant that he couldn’t be Aang when he played Avatar with his friends from now on.” The erasure of non-white characters from big-budget adaptations is not a passive problem or a victimless mistake: it is an active decision by major production companies that, considering how many movies the average North American sees in a year, significantly frames the way we think. Paramount should not be financially rewarded for apparently attempting to ensure that the only heroes we see are white ones. The Last Airbender is still in production. For more information on the continuing protests, updates can be found at and racebending. com.


The McGill Daily, Monday, September 14, 2009


Giving hegemony a red card Anarchist soccer club takes sports beyond winning and losing

The McGill Daily


ednesday nights in the northeast corner of Parc Notre Dame de Grace, wedged between Cote St. Antoine and Girouard just north of the dog run, Alex Megelas waits patiently on a tuft of grass for followers (read: enthusiasts) of what he has termed his Anarchist Soccer Club. Through a particularly non-hierarchical version of soccer, the club aims to combat “the discriminatory practices that are often part of organized sports...such as sexism, homophobia, and machismo.” Essentially, the Anarchist Soccer Club eradicates the hierarchy that normally exists in organized sports by stripping the game of its traditional rules. This means no score-keeping, no boundaries, no team captains, and no hands (Psych! Handballs are totally allowed!). Anything and everything is allowed, except for aggressive behaviour and bad-attitudes – which Megelas explains you are able to “call people out on.” Teams are picked using a number system (1, 2, 1, 2) and tend to be very flexible. Players sub in for people who aren’t on their “team,” and because rest/socializing/ Gatorade breaks are frequent, teams tend to morph and be modified as the night goes on.

Though it may seem all fun-andgames, the Anarchist Soccer Club is righteously attributed to a specific set of values. By utilizing the highly connotative term “anarchist,” the club has politicized the sport of soccer, in reaction to the discrimination they see in sports, and the divisive sentiments that organized sports can foster (i.e. “I love this team because it is mine; I hate this team because it is not mine”). With this in mind, people join the club because it is a space where they know they will feel safe and understood. Most importantly, it is a space where they can truly enjoy themselves and the game of soccer without having to worry about inequity. “I come because it’s fun and the people are friendly,” says Ovidiu, a 17-year-old from NDG who has been playing with the club for only two weeks. “It’s more fun than playing with people who are serious, and it’s better than having to pay money for a team.” Ovidiu’s group included two other local teenage boys and an eight-year-old, the younger brother of one of Ovidiu’s friends. Part of the openness of the program includes accepting all age groups. On Wednesday nights, it’s perfectly normal to see a 15-year-old playing with – never against – a 50-yearold. Some participants don’t even

like soccer. According to Layla AbdelRahim, a self-proclaimed anarchist, organized sports are restrictive and thus violent, limiting the body’s potential to enjoy other sorts of pleasure. AbdelRahim appreciates the Anarchist Soccer Club’s relaxed, congenial ethos, while whole-heartedly embracing the program’s implicit disorder. She goes to let her young daughter run around and to build relationships with people she describes as “exploding with good energy and chaos.” The question is: Do sports have the unbounded potential to bring disparate groups together in harmony? Megelas and his crew think not. The World Cup is a spectacle; the Olympics are a capitalist commodity. International sporting events aren’t capable of bridging significant gaps. But within the local community, the Anarchist Soccer Club is proof that peace, love, and understanding can be as integral to the game of soccer as that little black-and-white orb. You’ve heard it before, people: “It’s not about winning or losing - it’s about having fun.”

Justin K. Wong for The McGill Daily

Anna Leocha

Moxie in Montreal Elbows and hips fly on the local roller derby track Alexis Montgomery Sports Writer


had barely heard of roller derby until I found myself sitting in a small, rustic café on St. Laurent last Thursday, surrounded by vintage clothes and women dressed in eccentric garb. As the petite woman sitting across from me eagerly explained the rules of roller derby and the lifestyle that goes with playing it, I became enthralled with the sense of community that’s developed around the sport. Roller derby was originally invented in the United States as a contact sport on an oval track, in which two teams each send out five players who skate around the course. There are three “blockers,” who act as defense; both of the other two players, the “pivot” and the “jammer,” aim to score. Once the back of the pack reaches the starting line, jammers take off and the first “jam” begins; during

the next two minutes, they attempt to score points by passing the rest of the players on the track. After passing the pack the first time, jammers earn a point by legally passing an opposing blocker or pivot. The first jammer to pass all blockers and pivots wins the title of lead jammer, giving them the power to end the jam before the two minutes are finished. To prevent an opponent from scoring, players are allowed to block the opposing jammer from the neck down, with a few exceptions – rules dictate that players are not allowed to use their elbows or to hit a player from behind. Though the sport dates back to 1922, it got an overhaul in the thirties when promoter Leo Selzer took out a copyright on the term “Roller Derby” and, along with sportswriter Damon Runyon, transformed it from a more straightforward race that mainly tested players’ endurance into a spectator sport. Though the current Montreal Roller Derby League got its start as recently as

2006, roller derby has existed in Montreal going back at least to the sixties, when there was a team called the Montreal Fleur de Lys. An article in a June 1967 edition of the Leader Mail led with a photo of jostling players, captioned “Pardon me, ma’am! Elbows and hips are all part of the immensely popular and rough Roller Derby – even if they are ladies!” TV viewers in the region could look forward to regular roller derby matches with Canadian and American teams, broadcasted in French every Thursday and in English every Saturday. The Montreal Roller Derby League was founded as a non-profit organization by Georgia W. Tush, and became the first non-U.S. member of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) in January 2009. In order to become a part of the WFTDA, certain standards must be followed. Potential members are required to submit letters of recommendation from two other teams, statistics about the number

of games they’ve played, and other paperwork. Last week the Montreal Roller Derby Travel Team held a fundraiser at Cagibi with a clothing swap, bingo, and a bake sale in order to send the team to Tennessee for a competition. The roller derby team routinely tours throughout the U. S. and Canada, and had recently returned from a match in New Hampshire. One of the event’s organizers, who currently sits on the Montreal Derby Team Board of Directors, explained that roller derby is not simply a sport, but part of a lifestyle. Players must join a committee in order to play; this involves volunteering within the roller derby world, raising money through fundraising events, and generally giving your time to the roller derby community. The players who comprise the scene in Montreal are a diverse bunch, from mothers in their forties to 20-something university students. Known for its sub-cultural character, roller derby is a show-

manship sport – players regularly show attitude on the track with funky attire and names such as Thora Lee Loaded and Sparkle N’ Maim. On the Montreal Roller Derby League’s web site, the biographies of the teams are humourous and playful. It’s refreshing to experience a league that focuses on enjoying its sport, having fun, and interacting positively with the community. And the community is supportive in kind: over 800 Montrealers showed up to the championship game. The league even had to turn spectators away due to the large numbers of people who wanted to observe this underground phenomenon. When asked what impact roller derby has had on her life, a board of directors member jokingly replies, “My boyfriend thinks he has 17 girlfriends.” She laughs, and adds, “I’ve made the best friendships and gotten into the best shape with three to four workouts a week, playing what I love.”


The McGill Daily, Monday, September 14, 2009


Life at the speed of light

Priam Poulton-McGraw reviews the CCA’s exhibit on the culture of speed

Center for Architecture (CCA), makes the claim that “ecological and geopolitical constraints are forcing humanity at an accelerating pace towards a world devoid of speed.” The Speed Limits exhibition at the CCA is a “critical reflection” that examines the legacy of speed and its centrality to modernity in terms of circulation and transit, construction and the built environment, efficiency and productivity, measurement and representation, and the effects of speed’s demands on the human body. While the exhibit spans the time period from the publication of the Futurist Manifesto to the present, the most dramatic sections focus on the development of the “cult of speed” in the first half of the twentieth century. The section on productivity, for instance, maps the material influence of discourse and strategies of efficiency on the domestic space of the kitchen, and the changing design of office spaces in response to information technology and increased volume of communica-

It has been suggested that we are now witnessing the end of the age of speed

tion. Making use of photographs and corporately produced “informational” films from the past, Speed Limits traces the changes in office environments and architecture, from the simple office desk to enormous walls of vertical filing systems accessed by electric lifts, and ends with the futuristic computer databases of the fifties and sixties. Unfortunately, as with other parts of the exhibit, such as the section on speed in construction and the built environment, this section stops prematurely rather than examining developments in office design through to the present day. In the “domestic” sphere, the effects of the Scientific Management Movement and Taylorism are traced through kitchen design innovations that resulted in a “fusion of home and factory” by the time of the 1950s. One film produced by the Handy Jam Organization and the U.S. Steel Company boasts the possibility of integrating a “sewing and mending center” and a “management center” into the kitchen space so as to

increase the efficiency of domestic work and effectively manage space to keep the rest of the family from “cluttering the workspace.” Potentially a place to drive home a critique about the most literal effects of speed on human existence, the last section of the exhibit, on the impacts of speed on bodies and minds, unfortunately falls short of either capturing or expanding upon the complex issues and debates around this topic. While those who criticize the culture of speed talk about loss of attention and contemplation, other theorists defend cultural changes on the grounds of the relativity of our perception of speed. In his book The Global Village, Marshall McLuhan writes, “what may emerge as the most important insight of the twenty-first century is that man was not designed to live at the speed of light.” Theorists who disagree often point to the malleability of human cognition – for instance, an increase of multi-tasking and divided or partial attention as, at worst, a neutral practice of adaptation to chang-

ing media and the demands of the urban environment. The exhibit’s attempts to explore contemporary examples of speed and the body include video games, video installations, and information about artificial stimulants like caffeine and energy drinks that we use to keep our bodies up to the pace of modern life. Unfortunately, this approach comes across as more of a shallow survey of what have become clichés of our hyperactive culture. The CCA has a well-earned reputation for its focus on innovative architectural practices, and socially and politically progressive thinking – especially in areas of sustainable design and reinterpretation of urban space. However, despite sparking some interesting suggestions, Speed Limits doesn’t completely deliver on its promised rethinking and perhaps recuperation of the concept of speed into new, more sustainable possibilities. Speed Limits runs through November 8 at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (1920 Baile).

Speed Limits Exhibitions, 2009 View of the installation at the CCA. © CCA, Montréal for The McGill Daily


n 1909, members of the Italian movement soon to be known internationally as Futurism published a revolutionary manifesto that read like a declaration of war. In it, they proclaimed their break with the aesthetic principles and social values that they felt anchored culture and artistic tradition to outmoded values of beauty, contemplation, and stillness. Singing their love of energy, danger, violence, revolt, and the radically new, they embraced machinery, industry, and the triumph of technology over nature, and sought to make speed the highest principle and driving force of their social and artistic movement. Wrote F.T. Marinetti, “the world’s magnificence has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed.” After a century of turbulent acceleration that has fulfilled – and perhaps even surpassed – the hungers of the Futurists’ imagination, it has been suggested that we are now witnessing the end of the age of speed. Mirko Zardini, Director and Chief Curator of the Canadian


The McGill Daily, Monday, September 14, 2009

Dancing around the issue Preanka Hai

Culture Writer


hen it comes to dance, I consider myself a classicist. Clean lines, strict form, and torso control attract my attention, which is why dancer Carmen Ruiz’s in-development piece À la limite drew my interest. As part of an ongoing residency at Montréal, arts interculturels (MAI), Ruiz, a Colombian-born dancer, has choreographed a piece that, while exhibiting her rigorous training in dance, also strays considerably from what one might deem “classical.” Drawing from her own Colombian heritage as well as a host of other influences – including Afro-Caribbean culture and her experiences as a Canadian immigrant – À la limite is a dramatic solo work. Except for music and the presence of a projection that alternately displayed swaying leaves and human arms, the stage was bare; the audience could not help but focus their attention on the dancer. As the piece opened, Ruiz was crouched on the ground in an almost contorted state. I was struck by her resemblance to the Salvador Dali painting, “Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man.” The painting is one of Dali’s more ubiquitous creations, in which a man is battling to “hatch” from an egg-shaped earth while an indiffer-

ent mother and a frightened child look on. Because I was somewhat jarred by the extremely interpretive nature of the piece itself, this painting became a point of entry through which I could understand it. The similarities between the two were inescapable. Dali’s man is being born into a modern world of political chaos, and the subtitle of Ruiz’s work is “If art is political can it also be poetic?” Moreover, much like the man in Dali’s painting, Ruiz’s face remained obscured for the first five minutes of À la limite. Both Dali and Ruiz deprive their audiences of viewing the face of their subject, as though Dali’s man becomes the everyman and Ruiz becomes the everywoman. Neither artist’s political experiences need to be matched to a face, because their experiences are universal. If you find this art-cum-politics analogy seemingly trite, you are probably correct. After all, how many times have we discussed or heard about art as a tool for the dissemination of a political message? Yet, for me at least, the subject is inexhaustible, especially if one considers the scope and variety of political circumstances and issues with which individuals grapple. For Ruiz personally, the political context of her work deals with displaced and trafficked women in the geographical regions that influenced the piece itself – Colombia and the

Caribbean. If Ruiz’s political theme is geographical dislocation, then her personal expression of the topic was apt – not only because of her own immigrant experiences but also because dance, as a movementcentred artistic medium, is the perfect reflection of politically-motivated movement. Though there were instances in À la limite during which I was struggling to understand what was going on, there were also sudden moments of striking clarity. Most memorably, at one point, Ruiz’s violent and uncontrollable movements suggested the act of rape. Her body language was direct and deliberate, and her pained gaze toward the audience was difficult to meet. What proved especially enlightening for me was the discussion that followed the 25-minute piece. As part of Concordia University’s School of Extended Learning, MAI collaborated with the University of the Streets Café to organize a public and informal conversation between Ruiz and her audience. The dialogue was conducted in what was described as “Montreal-style bilingual,” with quite a bit of Spanish thrown in. A moderator facilitated any language barriers. When I asked Ruiz whether she believed that the international influences in her work strengthen her political message, she replied affirmatively. According to Ruiz, they give the piece a historical context and provide a story for

Sally Lin / The McGill Daily

Carmen Ruiz’s work in progress addresses politics through movement

the audience. She repeatedly discussed À la limite as “being a part of who [she] was,” and that perhaps in the future she would choreograph work based solely on form. For now, though, it appears that Ruiz’s work as a dancer is inextricably linked to both the politics that have shaped her life and the cultures that bore her. It was interesting and quite cool that spectators were allowed a window into Ruiz’s artistic process. During the dialogue, there was no need to laud the artist, although one certainly could. Instead, the audience could probe, question, and challenge the artist. Ultimately, there were only a few grand pronouncements or artistic hang-ups

that came to light during the discussion. It was more about honest back-and-forth conversation. If contemporary dance is a new discipline to you, the experience of the University of the Streets Café project itself is valuable and authentic. After immersing myself in Ruiz’s world, I left MAI – on the periphery of the McGill Ghetto – and was, for a moment, startled to see familiar sights. What I had seen at MAI felt miles away.

The completed version of À la limite will be presented at MAI (3680 Jeanne Mance) upon the conclusion of Carmen Ruiz’s residency, in March 2010.

Baby Everything is in the linens fluttering wings on the clothesline – in a backyard with brittle grass. Body and a segment of time falling like shorts on a precarious ass crack.

CULTURE BRIEFS Haunted Femininity Paige McLachlan, Zoe Sharpe, and Arden Wray are three fine arts students at Concordia University whose first show together, Haunt, opens Tuesday. The exhibition aims to reconsider the way the feminine identity occupies domestic space. Though each artist will present individual pieces of photography or text, the entire gallery will function as an instal-

lation showcasing fragments of highly feminized domesticity, from lace curtains on windows to cat-scratched, floral-printed furniture. The point is not to reinforce stereotypes, but to highlight and thereby undermine what Wray refers to as “hyper-femininity.” She explains that the conventionally feminine way she dresses, an aesthetic centred on floral and pink, became a point of ridicule from people she hardly knew. She was called “girly,” which suggested, to Wray, weakness and belittlement. The artists’ recourse, through their work in Haunt, is to rearticulate “soft” beauty as a façade superimposed on the

subject’s quiet distress at being judged solely based on appearance. While young artists’ expositions are sometimes unpolished or heavy-handed – not that this is the case with Haunt – they often manage to promise something original. This show may very well fit in that tradition; the freshness of perspective and the raw undertones beautifully highlight the way these artists address their concerns about femininity.

A small thing waited on the fence buried its pronoun somewhere inside the folds of an oversized General Motors T-shirt. A smack here – a smack there – it never hurt to be harsh. The tractor and the hives grow closer to each other, the surface, and/or choked away. When we walk through blocks of harsh summer sun we find bodies left over from dinner. A leopard once with green glass

—Mikael Rubin eyes next to a zebra. Haunt is at the VAV Gallery (1395 René Levesque O.) from September 14-25.

We work through it and grow dining tables in the woods – cut them down from the vines and collect them

Turn your swag on - write for culture* Meetings - Tuesday 5:30, Shatner B-24 *Getting money: not guaranteed.

with the fire and the wood, we survive. —Mahak Jain




The McGill Daily, Monday, September 14, 2009

Shoe show Joseph Henry

Culture Writer


f Aldo wants to open a new location to tap the tourist market in the Old Port, local performance artists may have beaten them to it. The performance duo’s latest piece brought them out of their cabaret drag shows and into Montreal’s civic sphere, courtesy of the Les Escales Improbables borderless art festival. Their third installation, boutiqueARCADE, was a store with nothing for sale. Housed in a container in the Old Port, the boys’ mercantile venture stocked an array of stylized shoes, while clerks – or as 2boys call them, “collaborators” – stood ready to assist the occasional bewildered spectator. Within each shoebox was a collection of clues and mementos – bringing to mind the work of avant-garde sculptor Joseph Cornell – all of which pointed to secret facets of the city. “It isn’t St. Henri or the Main. It’s more a larger location,” says member Stephen Dawson. “There’s a little bit of deception because we’re presenting this as

a kind of boutique, and yet when people come in there really isn’t much to buy,” said Aaron Pollard, the other boy of the duo. boutiqueARCADE deviates from Dawson and Pollard’s usual cabaret performances – dark, campy spectacles that bring Robert Wilson, Bette Davis, and opera together in a maelstrom of queer-psyche probing. Pollard – who was out of a job and in need of an artistic support network – joined Dawson, a graduate of the National Theatre School, back in 2002, in an artistic marriage of convenience. Together they perfected their routine with their cabaret acts, Pollard focusing on the technological aspects of the production while Dawson, with his drag alter-ego Gigi L’Amour, handled the majority of the performance, consistently selling out shows. The move from an internalized diva piece to a civic project seems to be a natural extension for 2boys. “What we do is highly theatrical; there’s a comedic element to it, there’s social critique, there’s kind, I hope, of a visual richness to it, and a landscape that’s more of a fantasy landscape than a kind of mechani-


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Whitney Mallett / The McGill Daily

Artists open temporary boutique in the Old Port to sell nothing cal reproduction of reality,” says Pollard. Indeed, boutiqueARCADE conserved those performative aspects, as several shoeboxes functioned as “miniature theatres” with videos and even participatory objects. The visual aesthetic, meanwhile, lay in the footwear: the team picked out their own pairs of shoes to represent various aspects of the city such as l’Eglise [the Church]. “[The shoes] are all ridiculous,” Pollard said. “Some of them you would never be able to wear.” Dawson has assumed all manners of feminine and gay archetypes in their work: the campy diva, the helpless victim, and even the treacherous mother. Much as attempt to explore the queer identity, so do they explore Montreal’s identity via the scattered memories captured in the exhibition’s videos, and their experiences living in the city. But they are artists more than they are guidebooks. Aside from the fictional environment of the art piece, “it’s the other narrative that takes place, which is extremely personal; it’s random.... It’s wandering in a city,” says Dawson. The kind of social conscious-

ness surrounding boutiqueARCADE expands’s audience beyond cabaret spectators. The duo was interested in the dynamic that performing in the Old Port would provide, where they would be “surrounded by people who are from the 450, from outside the urban area of Montreal altogether, and people who aren’t necessarily as culturally literate,” said Pollard. Therein lay the goal of Les Escales Improbables: to provide a wide spectrum of artistic media to a

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wide spectrum of visitors, and to popularize the avant-garde for those outside both the cultural and municipal proper. The shoe store was a prototype for various other cities, and plan to expand the installation to more locations. “It’s about valorizing a place for what’s there rather than say, what isn’t there or could be there or what you might find somewhere else,” comments Pollard, “and really revelling in that place.”


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The McGill Daily, Monday, September 14, 2009

Lies, half-truths, and New England


Circa 100-word story

Sally Lin / The McGill Daily

Sometime after the mainland slides out of view, there’s a stretch of the ocean you pass through on the island ferry where you think you’ll never get to any land again. I remember thinking this as a child making the crossing with my brother and our father; countless times we stood on that boat – it is and always was the only way to get

to the island. Still now (though I rarely travel to the mainland), anytime I make the crossing there’s a small moment when my mind calls up my childhood self and I wonder if the boat will bring me to shore, or if it will continue its gentle rocking back and forth through the grey of the ocean forever. — Amelia Schonbek

Anotha’ haad crosswuhd E. Mungall and C. Stanton Across 1. Anti Submarine Detection Investigation Committee 6. Aces, sometimes 10. Empirical evidence 14. “The Nutcracker” lead 15. Clin d’oeil, en anglais 16. Bad day for Caesar 17. Venus has three 19. Trans-Siberian Railroad city 20. Plane, e.g. 21. Bully 22. Opposite of plagiarize 23. South American three-toed swine 25. Worst place to be jilted 26. Ship seeking Colchis 30. Risky 32. Oil source 35. Popular cover by Destiny’s Child 39. $9 a pack 40. None, in Moliere 41. Perception 43. Not still 44. Idiom 46. To arrow as load is to bullet 47. Attack ad, maybe 50. Entanglement 53. Warner Bros. creation 54. What “it” plays

55. Take back 60. Resources Information Standards Committee 61. Like the Dickensian Christmas character 63. Canal or lake 64. Tablet 65. Won’t screw to save its species 66. Sebaceous cysts 67. Killed, by a mobster 68. Contemptuous look Down 1. Land that a yoke of oxen can plow in one day 2. Bohemian, e.g. 3. Spike Lee’s 1988 School ___ 4. “Pumping ___” 5. Shift+6 6. Hooter 7. Vitamin B3 8. Back 9. Bias 10. Among Tiberius, Hadrian, and Caesar 11. Divulge 12. Old or New, without the “ment” 13. Question poser

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BLACK HOLES, NEW WORLDS AND THE UNIVERSE: A three-part public lecture series in honour of the International Year of Astronomy.

First in the series is “Origins and Aliens: The Search for Other Earths” by Professor Sara Seager of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. September 21, 2009, 6 p.m., Leacock 132. For thousands of years people have wondered, “Are we Alone”? With over 350 planets discovered to orbit nearby stars, the existence of “exoplanets” is firmly established. Astronomers are now able to routinely measure planetary sizes, masses, and atmospheres for a subset of hot, big exoplanets. The race to find “habitable” exoplanets is on with the realization that big Earths orbiting small stars can be both discovered and characterized with existing technology. Professor Seager will present highlights of recent exoplanet discoveries and discuss when we might find another Earth and what kinds of signs of life we are looking for.



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The McGill Daily, Monday, September 14, 2009 EDITORIAL

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Stephen Davis, Stephanie Dufresne, Max Halparin (, Thomas Kulcsar, Daniel Mayer, Alison Withers

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This week, the Supreme Court of Canada agreed to hear Omar Khadr’s case, hopefully for the last time. In August, the federal government was ordered by the Federal Court of Canada to actively seek the repatriation of Khadr, who is a Canadian citizen. Stephen Harper quickly appealed this decision, as his government is confident that the American military tribunal trying Khadr is capable of delivering a sound judgment in the matter, despite the facts of Khadr’s case. Harper must ensure that Khadr is repatriated from Guantánamo Bay and given a fair trial in Canada. As a former child soldier, Khadr is entitled to rehabilitation, not the inhumane treatment he has been subjected to at Guantánamo. Toronto-born Omar Khadr was 15 in 2002 when he was captured by American forces following a firefight in a small Afghan village. It has been alleged that Khadr threw a grenade that killed an American serviceman. While the case rests on the increasingly shaky premise that Khadr, as the last Taliban fighter standing, was the only one who could have thrown the grenade, documents declassified in 2008 reveal that at least one other Taliban fighter was left alive following the battle. Post-battle reports stated that the combatant who had thrown the grenade was killed in the fighting, but these reports were later altered, casting doubt on their veracity. In any case, he was so seriously wounded that his ability to fight would have been more or less compromised. Khadr was immediately transported to a detention facility in Bagram, Afghanistan. There, he was interrogated – often while confined to a stretcher – by United States military officials with a track record of prisoner abuse, including one officer who has since been court martialled for his role in the death of a detainee. Khadr was then transferred to Guantánamo Bay where, he was immediately segregated from the rest of the teenage detainees. While these other prisoners were granted access to English and math lessons, the Canadian was classified as a “high value detainee” (HVD), given his family’s close relationship with Osama bin Laden – his father, Ahmed Said Khadr, was an al-Qaeda financier and fighter. The HVD classification meant that, unlike other teenage detainees, Khadr faced the highest levels of interrogation. In one instance, Khadr’s lawyers claim he was bound for such a prolonged period of time that he urinated on himself and on the floor. Interrogators then used Khadr’s body to clean up the mess. What’s more, the Canadian government had been informed by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service that the torture was taking place. Despite these reports, the Harper government remains indifferent to Khadr’s situation. Regardless of his association with al-Qaeda, Khadr, like all Canadians, deserves due process of law. The evidence against him has been obtained under torture, and is therefore invalid in a legitimate court of law. What’s more, his lawyers were prevented from seeing him for four years. And yet the Harper government has considered these trials legitimate for six long years – tacitly implying that Khadr remains guilty until proven innocent. Khadr’s trial has been mishandled so egregiously that any guise of justice has long since been destroyed. Peter Brownback, the American military judge who oversaw Khadr’s trial, contradicted international law by declaring that Khadr was not a child soldier – despite the fact that he was under 18 at the time of arrest and there is no evidence that he freely chose to join al-Qaeda. Brought to Afghanistan at the age of two, Khadr was raised by a father who instructed his children to pray for his martyrdom and viewed suicide bombing as a righteous act. Vulnerable to indoctrination from a young age, Khadr should have been better protected by the government – not left to languish in an offshore detention camp. It’s time the Harper government listened to the courts and gave up on its stubborn opposition to Khadr’s repatriation. Even if he has committed a crime, he has lost his youth serving seven years of hard time in Guantánamo’s prisons. He deserves a fair trial in Canada and a chance at rehabilitation. There can be no excuses: Canada’s complicity in this unlawful detention has persisted for far too long, and must end with the immediate repatriation of Omar Khadr.


After 25 years on the bench, The Daily is back in the game Near as we can tell, The McGill Daily published its last sports section in 1984. Since then, we’ve been preoccupied with cultural, social, and political events going on at McGill and around the world. But last year, some of our editors began to wonder whether the ’84 editorial board’s decision might have been a little hasty. It quickly became obvious that we lacked any good reason for omitting sports coverage from The Daily – it seemed like sports might be wrapped up with all those cultural, social, and political issues we’re so committed to covering. So we’re giving it a shot. We spoke with our staffers, sought out some unique stories, and came up with The Daily’s first sports section in 25 years. While we recognize the value of traditional sports writing, we’re hoping to take a more unorthodox approach. Our Statement of Principles signals our commitment to covering stories that affect marginalized communities – those groups whose voices often go unheard in the mainstream media. Our

sports section will operate under the same mandate: we plan on chasing down those stories that involve issues of race, gender, socioeconomic class, and any other slew of sticky issues that are often neglected in other publications. And while our SOP means that we never shy away from critical analysis of issues, this doesn’t mean that the section’s bound to be negative – we’re dying to investigate the potential for sports to be subversive and empowering. And of course, as your campus paper, we can’t wait to cover sports at McGill, especially those teams that might not get the attention or the support they deserve. But we can’t do it alone. We need you to write sports stories, read sports stories, and tell us what you think. We need to know whether we’re striking out or hitting grand slams. After all, we’re not all experts: many of us are chronically uncoordinated and in poor shape. We want sports to be as strong as our other sections, and we hope you’ll lend a hand. So step up to the plate – it’s the top of a new inning in Daily history.

Sasha Plotnikova / The McGill Daily

Repatriate Omar Khadr

volume 99 number 4



Original French Version with English Subtitles






Speed Limits 10-11 Culture 15 September 14, 2009 THE Volume 99, Issue 4 Fumbling since 1911


Speed Limits 10-11 Culture 15 September 14, 2009 THE Volume 99, Issue 4 Fumbling since 1911