The McGill Daily | Thursday, November 18, 2010 | mcgilldaily.com
Drinking games debated at council Councillors move to strike discussion from minutes, concerned about SSMU liquor license Maya Shoukri The McGill Daily
art of a report SSMUâ€™s Executive Committee released to Council last Thursday approved certain drinking games in Gerts, prompting extensive debate amongst councillors. The discussion was subsequently struck from Councilâ€™s minutes and several SSMU executives told reporters from The Daily not to report on the subject. Many councillors and executives were concerned that the committeeâ€™s decision about drinking games was illegal and could jeopardize SSMUâ€™s liquor license, which is being negotiated with the administration as part of SSMUâ€™s Memorandum of Agreement (MoA). Quebecâ€™s RĂŠgie des alcools regulations state that â€œdrinking games that encourage excessive consumption over a short period of time are prohibited.â€? Permit holders who violate this policy are fined for their first three offenses and can then be called before the RĂŠgie where, if the board finds they are not responsibly serving their patrons, they could lose their permit. SSMU President Zach Newburgh addressed this law in an interview with The Daily, claiming that it is ambiguous with regard to certain drinking games. â€œI would say thereâ€™s definitely a grey area in the law about what constitutes the rapid consumption of alcohol. For individuals who are having a good time, there should be a degree of lenience, and I think that this degree of lenience has certainly been applied to other bars across the city of Montreal. Why not Gerts as well?â€? he said. The report in question, which is signed by Newburgh and avail-
able to the public, stipulates that â€œThe executives approved that the following games shall be permitted in Gerts: power hour, card games, chanting and drinking, and quarters.â€? Newburgh clarified his reasoning for approving the games: â€œWe are not in any way promoting or permitting any kind of games that resemble beer pong, flip cup, or kingâ€™s cup, any of these that really would be blatant violations or at least be very questionable violations of this grey area in the law.â€? He continued, â€œUpon the request of an incredibly large number of students to play certain games in the bar, we chose that it may be appropriate for these games [in the report] to be played because itâ€™s very difficult to tell whether or not theyâ€™re drinking games.â€? Amara Possian, a councillor and Arts senator, described her surprise at the executive committeeâ€™s decision. She explained the potential legal implications if the report was passed. â€œIâ€™m not sure why the executive committee thought it was appropriate to bring this up at Council,â€? she said. â€œBy officially allowing drinking games in Gerts, SSMU would be jeopardizing their liquor permit. The fact that the executive openly stated, in Council, that they were allowing these specific drinking games because they didnâ€™t look like drinking games makes the situation much worse, because it makes it seem like they were trying to undermine the law.â€? In an email to The Daily, Arts representative Zach Margolis countered Possianâ€™s assessment. â€œNo one is trying to fly under the radar to avoid provincial laws,â€? he wrote. â€œThis was just something that was not fully thought through before being brought
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Victor Tangermann | The McGill Daily
Drinking games in bars are in a legal â€œgrey area.â€? forward. â€Ś Clearly SSMUâ€Ś[has] no intention of trying to circumvent Quebec law; as I understand it this was simply an attempt to ensure all of our rules are enforceable and to avoid any confusion by patrons of Gerts.â€? â€œAs no decision or change to our regulations was made, this does not impact our relationship with McGill
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or the Quebec RĂŠgie des alcools in any way,â€? he added. When it came time for Council to vote on accepting the executive committeeâ€™s report, a decision was made to divide the question, allowing for the section of the report pertaining to the approval of drinking games to be committed to the Operations Management
Committee and separated from the remainder of the report. The committee is composed of Management representative Matt Reid, VP Finance and Operations Nick Drew, SSMU General Manager Pauline Gervais, Possian, and Margolis. Possian spoke to The Daily about Councilâ€™s decision to move the discussion to a committee. â€œUltimately, this is somewhere where Council did its job very well. We caught the executivesâ€™ mistake, and by dividing the question and not passing the part of the executive committeeâ€™s report regarding drinking games, we stopped SSMU from jeopardizing its liquor permit,â€? she said. Despite the fact that Council did not pass anything regarding drinking games at Gerts, Drew emphasized the risky nature of making the debate about drinking games public. â€œIâ€™d just like to stress that this report [on the Executiveâ€™s approval of certain drinking games at Gerts] is a highly sensitive issue, because weâ€™re negotiating our lease with the administration,â€? Drew told Council Thursday. â€œIf they knew that we were thinking about allowing this, we might lose our alcohol permit. I just want to make sure [Council] is aware of the implications of making this information public and not confidential until our MoA is signed.â€? Newburgh admitted that it was inappropriate for the issue to have been discussed at Council. â€œUltimately this piece of information shouldâ€™ve been discussed and decided upon by the operations committee, rather than in the Legislative Council forum. Each of our operations should have the autonomy and independence to be able to work with and deal with such issues,â€? he said.
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The McGill Daily | Thursday, November 18, 2010 | mcgilldaily.com
Graduate students paying for study space Study carrels in Ferrier to cost $200 for the year Anna Norris The McGill Daily
cGill graduate students are now being charged for study space in the Ferrier Building. Principal Heather MunroeBlum was surprised when the issue was brought to her attention at the principal’s town hall last Tuesday. Emily Essert, PhD 5 in English, who informed Munroe-Blum of the issue, expressed her offense at the offer of study space for rent. “What I have found in my time here as a graduate student – which is vastly different from what I had expected arriving – is that we are a department of have and have-nots,” she said. She explained that for graduate students, “one of the more recent options has been paid study space, offered in Ferrier. Which, frankly, just isn’t appropriate.” Munroe-Blum was unaware that an offer of study space for rent was made to Arts graduate students in a November 8 email from Juliet Johnson, the Associate Dean of
Research and Graduate Studies for the Faculty of Arts. Graduate students are given the opportunity to apply for the spaces, which will cost $200 for January to August 2011. Johnson, however, said that the offer is an attempt to give Arts graduate students the study space which, as Essert pointed out, isn’t always readily available. “The controversy is actually a little bit surprising to me, because I made this decision specifically out of equity concerns,” said Johnson. “There are only twelve spaces, and there are over 800 graduate students in the Faculty of Arts. … There’s no space in Arts that is actually accessible to any needy graduate student. So I wanted to make sure that these spaces would be allocated on the basis of equity. So what I want in these spaces [are] people who are really going to use them every day – graduate students who really need the space.” The fee, said Johnson, is an attempt to ensure that the study space won’t be wasted, as well as to raise money for Arts graduate student travel awards. Johnson is also hoping
that, for the majority of the rentals, the student will not pay the fee. “There’s an option for the students to do it, because I wanted that option to be there, but the idea really is that the department or supervisor [pays the fee]. And that’s simply because if the space is free, then it’s not necessarily going to go to the people who really care about it. ... This tiny fee is, I think, going to be enough to keep people from taking spaces who really only want to use it a couple hours a week.” Essert, however, insists that a study space paid for by the department is little better than a space paid for by a student. “I still think that’s inappropriate,” she said, “because our department doesn’t have money for that either. The departments are also constantly saying, ‘We don’t have money for this, we don’t have money for that,’ so I don’t know where they would suddenly find extra money to pay for study space.” “All grad students deserve a place to work,” Essert said. “It’s not a privilege, it’s a necessity. You have got to have a place to store
Victor Tangermann | The McGill Daily
The Ferrier building, site of the space for rent. your books and you’ve got to have a quiet place to work in. That’s not some kind of special frill that peo-
ple can pay for, it’s a necessity. The idea of charging for a necessity like that just struck me as absurd.”
Payday for SSMU clubs Debating Union, Conservative McGill, SPHR to receive less than half of their request Queen Arsem-O’Malley The McGill Daily
he SSMU Funding Committee allocated over $14,000 to 16 different clubs in its latest report, as approved by Council last Thursday. According to the SSMU website, the Club Fund for 20102011 amounts to about $48,800. Some of the clubs applying for funds received less than half of their requested budget, including the McGill chapter of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR), the Ismaili Students’ Association, the Orthodox Christian Fellowship, Conservative McGill, and the McGill Debating Union. The Funding Committee allo-
Funding requested Funding received
cates money based on a club’s membership, level of activity, ability to generate revenue, and benefit that the group provides to the McGill community. In order to apply for funding, a group must be a full-status club of SSMU, and provide a detailed budget and budget defense to the Committee, which includes VP Finance and Operations Nick Drew, VP Clubs and Services Anushay Khan, and Clubs and Services Representatives Maggie Knight and Max Zidel. Groups can apply in the fall or winter semester. Councillors questioned in particular the committee’s decision about funding for the Debating Union. The group requested $13,500 and received $6,000, the largest amount
allocated to any single club in the report. Debating Union Treasurer Michael Stepner noted that the club will have “some tough choices in the semester ahead as we decide how best to spend the money we have,” as the Union “is currently the largest it has ever been, and grew significantly this year.” Conservative McGill requested $600 and received $145. SPHR received ten per cent of its requested $2,000. Justyn Teed, VP Finance for SPHR, said that the group was surprised at the amount, about $700 less than what SPHR received for the 2009-2010 academic year. “SPHR is one of the most active clubs on campus. We host a lot of events here at McGill, we’re very active in co-sponsoring events
does not fund club requests for refreshments unless it is part of the group’s mandate, as with a culture-based group. She further stated that if a club is dissatisfied with the committee’s decision, the group “can appeal and explain why [the amount received] wasn’t fair.” Money from the Campus Life Fund, Green Fund, and Ambassador Fund was also distributed, in addition to the Club Fund. Applications for funds other than the Club Fund have a rolling deadline. Rad Frosh, Urban Grooves Dance Project, and the Arab Students’ Association will have to wait for their funding as their applications were incomplete and therefore postponed for later discussion.
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with other campuses and in the greater Montreal region, and we do an enormous amount of outreach work as well,” said Teed. “[The decrease in SSMU funding] is going to hurt our organization definitely. We’re going to have to either cut some of the initiatives we had planned or find alternative ways to get the funding we need,” added Teed. In late October, the Concordia Student Union released a $92,000 club budget. Concordia’s The Link reported that the Muslim Students’ Association received the largest sum, at $8,000, while the Concordia chapter of SPHR received $6,000. Knight explained that the discrepancies for some groups could be due to the fact that SSMU
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The McGill Daily | Thursday, November 18, 2010 | mcgilldaily.com
International students struggle to remain legal Immigration documents are difficult, complicated to renew Humera Jabir News Writer
or Meryl Draper, the process of applying to renew her study permit has proved to be quite the ordeal. Without proper documentation, Draper would have been unable to head home to the U.S. for Christmas this year, or would risk the possibility of being de-registered from McGill, and banned from Canada for the following year. International students in Quebec are required to renew their federal Study Permit every three years. In order to do so, they must first apply to Immigration Quebec to renew their Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ). Immigration Quebec advises students to apply three months before their permit expires, but delays and complications have left some McGill students waiting for over six months after submitting their applications. Draper applied for her CAQ last May, three months before her application expired. Five months later, she received notification that there was a problem with her application, and that it would take an additional
two months for her documents to be reviewed. “I was under the impression that I wouldn’t be able to go home for Christmas, which would have been devastating to me. … This measly little paper was holding me back,” Draper said. Without her CAQ, Draper was considered to be under “implied status,” meaning that she couldn’t leave the country, or Canadian immigration would de-register her from McGill and she would not be allowed to re-enter Canada. “It’s like being held hostage, and now you are intruding on my family time, family time that means so much to me. It is emotionally draining,” she said. Draper’s case only turned around when she approached Dean of Students Jane Everett for help. “[Everett] answered my email within five hours of receiving it. A week later I got a personal call from someone at Immigration saying they made a mistake, and that they were sending my permit,” said Draper. “I am assuming that getting a personal call from Immigration is unheard of…so I am sure that me getting the Dean involved had something to do with it. Talking to her was the first time
I had my faith restored in McGill administration. It’s the first time I thought someone gave a damn that I was able to leave the country,” said Draper. Draper is not the only student who has been delayed in having a permit renewed. Kristina Litvin, from Boston, Massachusetts, also submitted her application last May, three months before it was due to expire. Her application was sent to the wrong address three times. Uncertain of the status of her application, Litvin went to McGill’s new Service Point to find out whether or not she could leave the country to go home for Thanksgiving weekend. “According to Service Point, it wasn’t a problem. I just had to print out my statements saying I’d already applied. When I asked the same question to Canadian Immigration, they practically laughed at me,” said Litvin. “According to Immigration, leaving the country means I’d ‘voluntarily revoke my implied status’ and would only return into the country as a visitor. I would be banned from my classes. When asked what would happen if I kept going to classes, I was told that my degree would be suspended and I wouldn’t be allowed in the country for a full year
afterwards to finish it,” she added. Michael Kirwin, an advisor at International Student Services, commented on the delays. “I don’t want to bash Immigration Quebec, but I think they have been very inconsistent. Some people have gotten it early, some people don’t hear back until May, and it is going to their Montreal address when they are home. We get as frustrated as students do,” said Kirwin. “We don’t have the power to accelerate the processing,” he continued. “What we do do is that – if we find that a student file has been unfairly treated – we can try to help students contact people to find out what is going on.” Kirwin emphasized, however, that students waiting until the last minute and incomplete or incorrect applications cause the greatest number of complications. International students must demonstrate that they have the financial capacity to pay full tuition, as well as an additional $11,000 of liquid assets, documentation that takes time to compile. Immigration Quebec did not respond directly to The Daily’s questions about the inconsistencies in processing time experienced by
McGill students. Communications Advisor for the Quebec branch of Citizenship and Immigration Canada Julie Lafortune, however, recommended that students submit their documentation at least thirty days before the expiry of their permit, and assured that students whose permit expired before they received a response could continue to legally study in Canada until they received a decision. For students like Meryl Draper and Kristina Litvin, who submitted their applications well in advance of the thirty-day deadline, the bitterness of their experience remains. “What bothers me isn’t the process itself. Every country has their own codes and processes for immigration, and it’s never a walk in the park,” Draper said. “But it’s the complete lack of communication and knowledge, both internally, within the departments, and to the applicants. When you try to get help, the people whose job it is to help you just don’t know.” “McGill’s the exact same way. You’d think that an internal institution of 30,000 students would know a thing or two about the nineteen per cent of their students who are international, but they have no idea, and no one cares to find out.”
Montrealers demand a province wide code for healthy housing Students would stand to benefit Laura Pellicer The McGill Daily
pproximately one hundred protesters took to the streets outside of the Union des municipalités du Québec at 680 Sherbrooke Tuesday morning to demand provincial housing reforms. The Regroupement des comités logement et associations de locataires du Québec (RCLALQ) organized the protest to garner support for establishing a provincewide housing code. “We think it would be a demand that would be easy to achieve. What we need is the political will for a new housing code,” said one protester. According to a RCLALQ press release, there are currently 1,100 municipalities in Quebec that lack any kind of legislation pertaining to the health and maintenance of rental properties for tenants. The group recognizes that there are a number of effective housing codes in Quebec municipalities but argues that the lack of province-wide rules puts some Quebeckers at risk. France Edmond, a representative for the RCLALQ, expressed the
limitations of the current system in a written statement. “When people live in a municipality that is lacking health regulations, the tenants’ only recourse is the Régie du logement which is already grappling with a serious problem of delays,” said the statement in French. The Régie is a special tribunal that settles disputes between tenants and landlords. Jean-Pierre Leblanc, the Montreal spokesperson for the Régie du logement de Québec, spoke on the Régie’s role in establishing provincewide housing legislation. “Right now we work with the municipal regulations,” Leblanc explained in French, adding that he felt that the municipal legislation in Montreal is effective. “Even though there is no [provincial housing code] there is still the Régie du logement that will help direct tenants to the appropriate recourse for their complaints,” he said. McGill’s Off-Campus Housing office provides advising services for student tenants. Pamela, a representative from the office who asked that her last name not be given, listed “vermin, mould, and moisture” among a number of health-related housing problems that students
encounter. The office does not keep statistics on the number of students who report health and sanitation problems in their apartments. “We do have students in the office with this problem. Is it a lot? I wouldn’t be able to say that because there are also many students who do not report it. Either they don’t know their rights, or it’s okay for them to live in this condition,” Pamela said. There are a number of tenants’ rights organizations in Montreal, however these groups must still go through the Régie du Logement in order to file official complaints, which can be a lengthy process. “To go to the Régie if your problem is not serious [will take] you easily 18 months,” explained Pamela. Pamela believes a provincewide code would streamline the health-related housing complaints process. “I think it will be beneficial for both the tenants and the government. For the government it will [mean] less tenants filing against landlords for health problems. And for students, they will have better living conditions.”
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The McGill Daily | Thursday, November 18, 2010 | mcgilldaily.com
Demolition to proceed under revised Turcot plan Niko Block | The McGill Daily
Niko Block The McGill Daily
he province has come under fire from environmentalists, urban planners and St. Henri residents alike since its $3-billion blueprint for the Turcot interchange was unveiled last week. A nearby residential building at 780 St. Remi will be expropriated and demolished as part of the plan; the only guaranteed public transit expansion will be a laneway in the centre of the VilleMarie expressway; and there will be no reduction in the vehicular capacity of the highway network. These are just a few of the critics’ complaints. Dozens of the 150-odd residents of the building slated for demolition aired their questions, comments, and grievances to a panel of representatives from the Ministère des transports du Québec (MTQ) held Tuesday in Verdun. The prevailing sentiment in the audience was that the province had not adequately considered alternatives that would have avoided the expropriation. “These $3 billion are extraordinary means,” said one man in French. “Why can’t you take that $3 billion to save these people’s homes?” Alain-Marc Dubé of the MTQ’s Turcot office responded that the building must be destroyed because
of the unique requirements of one of the highway ramps. The ramp must duck under a number of other overpasses before soaring upward to avoid the railroad tracks that run along the ground under the interchange. “It’s not that easy to understand,” said Dubé after the discussion. For architect Pierre Zovile, who has lived at 780 St. Remi for 12 years, the expropriation and environmental concerns surrounding the new Turcot are part and parcel of the same problem: the province refuses to reduce the expressway’s traffic capacity. “If you don’t reduce the volume of the Ville-Marie by fifty per cent, this whole thing with the Turcot will be a catastrophe,” he said. In 2007, the MTQ released its first plan for the interchange, which would have increased its traffic capacity from its current 290,000 vehicles per day to approximately 320,000. It also included virtually no plans for improved public transit along the east-west corridor and slated 780 St.-Remi and about sixty other nearby housing units for demolition. The immediate backlash led to a public consultation in June 2009 by the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE). Urban planning students, local residents, and concerned environmentalists submitted over 100 memoires [tes-
timonials] to the commission during the five-day hearings, and five months later the BAPE published its report calling upon the MTQ to revamp the project. Notably, the BAPE demanded that the final plan included no housing expropriations. But for Zovile, among many others present at Tuesday night’s forum, the new revised plan is barely distinguishable from the original. In recent months he has worked alongside urban planner Pierre Brisset, who released a comprehensive alternative design for the interchange called “Turcot 375” last March. According to Brisset, the MTQ’s public transit plan is almost identical to its 2007 scheme. “Compared with the new configuration, the footprint is exactly the same as the configuration of ramps [in the original plan],” he said. “All they did is simply foreshortened one ramp.” He also expects that the new public transit system – the bus lanes along the Ville-Marie expressway – will be extremely dysfunctional, since there will be no easy way for the buses to access commuter stops, and since they will have to travel at a maximum speed of just sixty kilometres per hour. Another major concern for Brisset is that the ramp in question will run only two feet away from some of the structures that were initially slated for demolition. “Their obsession with the curve
[of this ramp] is that it maintains the eight lanes of the Trans-Canada highway,” he said. “Standard connectors don’t need to have such a wide radius.” Turcot 375 calls for a tremendous expansion of public transportation networks throughout the city – most notably a light rail transit system – and would reduce the Turcot’s capacity to 180,000 vehicles per day. “I understand that people get scared when we talk about reducing the traffic volume,” said Zovile, but “there’s no way to escape mass transport.” He added that there is no feasible way for the city’s traffic infrastructure to accommodate the several thousand new cars that hit Montreal’s streets each year. Réal Grégoire, a spokesperson for the MTQ, defended the decision to maintain the Turcot’s current traffic volume. “We’re maintaining the traffic capacity because it’s important for the economy of this province,” he said. “We expect that any future growth in traffic volume we will transfer to public transit. … We hope [that] with reserved lanes the buses will be more popular for people from the West Island.” The new plan also delineates areas where east-west light rail transit could be installed, though the realization of those projects is contingent upon both the federal and municipal governments.
For Zovile, the bus lanes are not enough. Like many contemporary urban planners, climate change and rising oil prices are among Zovile’s foremost concerns for any long-lasting urban infrastructure projects. “$300 for a barrel of oil is the only thing that can really save us,” he said. But most urgently, he doesn’t want to see his apartment building bulldozed. Nor does Michel Charbonneau, who lives a few doors down from Zovile. Charbonneau has also lived in the building for over a decade, and is skeptical that he’ll get a decent deal out of the expropriation. As in all of the loft apartments in his building, his ceilings are 16 feet high, and the windows allow a huge amount of natural light into the space; his apartment is densely populated with plants. “Maybe it would make sense if I were already in a three-and-ahalf and it had cockroaches,” said Charbonneau, “but right now I’m the world’s biggest loser.” The government is only obligated to pay the displaced lessees the equivalent of three months rent at their new apartments, and an undefined additional sum based on the assessed quality of their apartments. It remains unclear how much money will be paid to the owner of the building. For his part, all Charbonneau expects is “three months rent and a boot in the butt.”
Above: Pierre Zovile addresses the panel of representatives of the Ministère des Transports du Québec (MTQ) on Tuesday night. Zovile and approximately 150 of the other residents of 780 St. Remi will lose their homes as a result of the MTQ’s new plan for the Turcot interchange. Left: 780 St. Remi rectangle is the highlighted in grey right of the letter “C”. The other highlighted buildings (below the letter “O”) were also slated for demolition in the MTQ’s original 2007 plans. Following the blueprint unveiled on November 9, however, it appears they will evade the wrecking ball.
Courtesy of Pierre Brisset
The McGill Daily | Thursday, November 18, 2010 | mcgilldaily.com
Mafia funeral, media circus
early a thousand people attended Monday’s funeral of reputed Mafia boss Nicolo Rizzuto in Montreal’s Little Italy. Rizzuto was shot last week in his home. Images of Rizzuto and his funeral have dominated the front pages of Montreal’s newspapers for the past week. Scores of press photographers and television crews covered the funeral, several Daily staffers among them. Rizzuto’s service was held in the same church, Notre Dame de la Défense, as the funeral of his grandson, Nick Jr., earlier this year. The church has been the site of several Mafia funerals over the years. Numerous private bodyguards, as well as the police, provided security for the event in what the Gazette reported as a “manoeuvre that looked coordinated and rehearsed.”
David Huehn | The McGill Daily
Max Dannenberg | The McGill Daily
— Michael Lee-Murphy
Robert Smith | The McGill Daily
David Huehn | The McGill Daily
David Huehn | The McGill Daily
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The McGill Daily | Thursday, November 18, 2010 | mcgilldaily.com
We are living in a Panopticon world Knowledge is power – power to control the narrative The gadfly Shaina Agbayani firstname.lastname@example.org
h, academia. At what should be my peak period of commitment to you, I betray you for suspicion that you take yourself too seriously – getting high on your own abstractions, trippin’ out on your belief in your theories’ political import. This, I declared aloud after reviewing the seminal feminist text Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourse, by C. T. Mohanty. While commendable for critiquing Western feminism’s penchant for typecasting non-Western women as victims requiring lofty Western mores and assistance, Mohanty’s penchant for stressing the “urgent” political magnitude of feminist theory irked me. “Urgent” indulgently mischaracterizes the political dimensions of feminist theory, often inaccessible for its protagonists – those to whom it is most practically relevant. My concern more broadly speaks to modernity’s insatiable desire to intellectualize, classify, patent everything into systems of knowledge – a tendency Foucault detects in The History of Sexuality. He observes the foregrounding of ritualized confession in modernity’s pursuit of knowledge – its production of “truth,” through science’s categorizing subjects to extract “knowledge” that is servile to order, rather than amenable to truth. I was really feeling Foucault, irked by our fixation on embedding “facts” about ineffable climactic experiences into knowledge systems.
Systems generated by the state to control histories about, among other things, sexuality. Histories those in power want to narrate. This disparity between government-imposed histories and those organic to a group of peoples was delved into by Yale political scientist James Scott in his September presentation at Concordia. In “The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia” (the title of his book on the same topic as well), Scott proposed that modern state-making is an avatar of internal colonialism. He proffered an alternative outlook on history from the peripheries of the stateless, indigenous peoples of Zomia (the upland region of Southeast Asia inhabited by disparate, nomadic ethnic groups), challenging us to re-define our narrow historical conceptions of civilization to realize that “civilization” is a narrative for control that benefits the coterie (1) who define civilization and declare it the shit; and (2) who in its name, usurps the history and land of the peoples they civilizes. He suggests that Zomians espouse oral histories and traditions rather than “intellectualized,” written ones to escape state control since under it, the evolution of peoples’ histories occurs on corporate, coercive terms. Classification makes this coercion easier. India has suddenly interested itself in and has increasingly categorized India’s predominantly indigenous Maoist groups (also called Naxalites) as “terrorists” since 2005, despite extensive indigenous histories of resistance that greatly predate Mao. This coincided with the discovery of lucrative min-
Stacey Wilson | The McGill Daily
ing sites in Maoists’ lands and the government’s ratification of treaties with mining corporations. Maoists, defending peoples and lands only now significant to India because they lay atop trillion-dollar bauxite mines, are justifiably seditious in order to defending their rights and land. Weeks after the ratification, tribal peoples’ militias were unleashed, burning hundreds of Maoist-defended villages. This violent, inexhaustible desire for knowledge, classification, control over everything – land, libido, nonWestern women, “terrorists”, intellec-
tual “property” – reflects the modernity forecast by Bentham in 1785 when he conceptualized the Panopticon – an Orwellian architecture wherein prisoners cannot tell when they are being watched, which Foucault indexes in Discipline and Punish as a metaphor for hyper-regulative austerity measures that compel individuals to acquiesce to institutions’ value systems. Our totalitarianesque affinity for researching and monitoring forges a Panopticon culture obsessed with knowing and classifying the “everything” most beneficial to those who extract and often least so for those
from whom it is extracted. But heck, this article is so a product of the privileged knowledge systems that omniscience-obsessed culture affords me. As my homeboy De Rrida rhymes, “We cannot utter a single destructive proposition which has not already slipped into the form, the logic, and the implicit postulations of precisely what it seeks to contest.” I am, inescapably, the offspring of (philosophy-minorbecause-a-major-would-mentallyunhinge-me) histories that, I realize, get me high on abstractions. Academia, let us reunite. !
“Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state” Jon Booth Hyde Park
he word apartheid is one of the most controversial parts of the Palestinian solidarity movement. Opponents of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign claim that the word apartheid is a slur used solely to delegitimize Israel. We in Tadamon!, however, believe this term is an accurate legal description of the Israeli state, and do not shrink from using an accurate term because it is controversial. Apartheid is an Afrikaans word, first used to describe the system of racial separation and oppression in white-ruled South Africa. In 1973, the International Convention on the Suppression of and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid created a more generally applicable definition, characterizing the crime of apartheid as “inhuman acts committed for the
purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.” We believe that Israel is an apartheid state because it commits inhuman acts to maintain the domination of Jewish Israelis over all other groups, actively oppressing Palestinians living in Israel and the Occupied Territories. Israeli apartheid, like the Palestinian population, is divided in two. There are discriminatory laws and actions targeting Palestinian citizens of Israel, and there is the militarily enforced apartheid of the West Bank. The ever-changing borders of “sovereign Israel” contain approximately 1.5 million non-Jewish Arabs. In theory, the Palestinian fifth of Israel’s population has full equality, but the reality is very different. Palestinians living in Israel suffer both from discriminatory laws and from the discriminatory application of sup-
posedly neutral laws. The Absentee Property Law of 1950, for example, has been instrumental in the theft of land from Palestinians over the last sixty years. It allows the Israeli government to claim land by declaring the owner “absentee,” a designation that is only applied to Palestinians (including those forced off their land by the Israeli army). A recent example of an openly discriminatory law: the Nationality and Entry into Israel Law of 2003, a supposedly temporary law which has been extended indefinitely since its passage, specifically forbids the spouses of Israeli Arabs from gaining residency in Israel if they are from the Occupied Territories, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, or Iraq. The list of discriminatory laws continues to expand, with the purpose of maintaining the domination of Jewish Israelis and oppression of Palestinian citizens. The situation in the West Bank is much worse. The West Bank is not a
contiguous area of Palestinian control, but consists of islands of Palestinians, living in a sea of Israeli-only highways, settlements, check points, and closed military zones. There are more than 120 illegal Jewish settlements throughout the West Bank. The settlers, unlike Palestinians in the West Bank, are Israeli citizens, and Israel has created a huge system of settler-only infrastructure to facilitate movement to Israel proper. Palestinians, on the other hand, have almost no freedom of movement, and even the shortest inter-city trip can take hours if one encounters a checkpoint, making normal life in the West Bank impossible. In addition to the brutal occupation, Israel also engages in environmental apartheid, notably with regard to water rights. Though Palestinians make up ninety per cent of the population of the West Bank, they only control 17 per cent of the water. The rest is used by settlers or piped into Israel proper. The West Bank’s water fills Israeli pools and
waters Israeli lawns, while Palestinians are forced to truck in clean water for drinking and irrigation. The oppression of Palestinians in the West Bank is systematic and horrific. Israel’s goal, with all of these laws and actions, is to maintain the domination of Jewish Israelis over all Palestinians. I am certainly not the first person to refer to Israel as an apartheid state. In 1961, Hendrik Verwoerd, then prime minister of South Africa who helped develop and implement apartheid policies in his country, said, “Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state.” The message now, as it was then, must be “End Apartheid!” Jon Booth, U2 Economics and History (Joint Honours) student, is a member of the Tadamon! collective. You can email him at email@example.com. For more information on this viewpoint, you can visit tadamon.ca.
Rue Frontenac New life in a dying industry By Lola Duffort
he fourth issue of Rue Frontenac’s print edition hit the stands this morning. Rue Frontenac is a free, weekly, French-language tabloid. Its content is all original, and will be entirely free of wire-content and advertisements. But Rue Frontenac is more than just the vanguard of independent journalism in Quebec right now – it’s part of a difficult, protracted, and as-yet unresolved fight for press room autonomy and fair labour practices. Frontenac began in January of 2009 when the Journal de Montréal locked out 253 of its workers following the failure of management and the union – the Syndicat des travailleurs de l’information du Journal de Montréal (STIJM) – to agree upon a new contract. The management of the Journal – a Quebecor Media publication and Montreal’s biggest French-language print daily – wanted to lay off 75 people, on top of slashing their salaries and benefits. This is Quebecor’s 13th lockout in a little over ten years, and each conflict has had some sort of compounding influence on the next. During the 15-month lockout at the Journal de Québec, which was finally resolved in July of 2008, its unionized journalists had started their own independent publication, Média Matin Québec, as a pressure tactic against their employer. The journalists at the STIJM decided to adopt this strategy – and Rue Frontenac was born. The STIJM named their newspaper after the street where the Journal is located, but also in keeping with their spirit of resistance. Pascal Filotto, secretary general of the STIJM and a Frontenac desk editor, explained the history behind the name. “Frontenac was the governor of New France when the British tried to invade in 1690. They parked in front of Quebec City, and there was a siege, and after a while [the Bristish commander] sent his envoy to demand that Quebec surrender. Frontenac said, ‘Tell your master we’ll answer him by the mouths of our cannons.’”
The publication’s logo is a cannon, and their slogan is “par la bouche de nos crayons!” – “from the mouths of our pens!” Unlike Média Matin Quebec, which was a print publication at the outset, Rue Frontenac had been exclusively online until four weeks ago, but has nonetheless established itself firmly in Montreal’s media landscape and garnered a reputation for investigative reporting. The website first made a name for itself in 2009 when it broke a scandal involving illicit campaign fundraising by municipal politician Benoît Labonté. The story led him to resign from his post at Vision Montréal – the main opposition party at city hall – and subsequently drop out of the Sainte-Marie city council elections. Jessica Nadeau, a Frontenac reporter who covers environmental news, spoke about having the freedom to pursue stories in an in-depth manner. Last summer, she wrote a series of stories about the shale gas wells that have been popping up along the St. Lawrence River – sometimes in very close proximity to residential areas. “And now shale gas is a pretty big story, I’d like to think I can take some credit for that,” she said.
ccording to André Forté, the union adviser for the Confédération des Syndicats nationaux (CSN), the STIJM’s parent union, it’s perfectly understandable for an employer to try and cut costs in a difficult financial situation – but the Journal isn’t having any money problems. Quebecor likes to invoke the difficult situation facing the print media today as a justification for its decisions to lock its workers out. In a recent press release, they reminded readers that their decisions about the Journal are being made in the “very difficult context of the print industry.” They aren’t lying about the “difficult context” of print media. Management at La Presse, the Journal’s rival publication, threatened to shut down last fall unless its union made some concessions. The Gazette, Montreal’s most popular English daily, switched to a smaller-sized paper last spring as a result of
financial difficulties. But La Presse’s management was forced to disclose its financial accounts during negotiations, and the Journal’s management has refused to do so. Forté points out that the Journal’s readership, according to Newspaper Audience Databank (NADbank) numbers, has actually gone up over the past year. And while Quebecor has seen a decline in revenue in its media division because of declining circulation and flatlining advertising sales, it has not released any numbers about the Journal’s financial situation. Also, the Quebecor empire as a whole is doing very well – it posted a 19 per cent rise in net income last Tuesday, which amounts to $82 million in profits this quarter alone. “They don’t need to save money…their new vision is to have one guy write one article for QMI [Quebecor’s news agency], and to reprint that in every Quebecor publication,” said Forté. This means no diversification of content, and very little in-depth coverage of any local news. “I mean, right now they want 17 journalists back. That’s less than any other newsroom in Montreal. It’s ridiculous for a paper the size of the Journal,” said Forté. Quebecor Media is one of Canada’s largest media conglomerates and its biggest newspaper publisher. Its subsidiaries include not only newspaper chains but a television network, internet and cable provider Videotron, publishing and printing companies, magazine distributors, and movie rental stores. The aspirations of Quebecor CEO PierreKarl Péladeau to own a prospective Quebec City hockey franchise, and to establish a right-wing news outlet called Sun TV News – often referred to as “Fox News North” – have worried those who see its potential political implications. “[Quebecor] controls forty per cent of the media in this province,” said Filotto. “It’s the biggest newspapers, the biggest TV stations, they’ve got massive clout and power. They could become a major player politically if they wanted to.”
hen the conflict first started, Quebecor’s deal to the union included layoffs primarily of employees in the accounting and classifieds department – as well as fewer rights for new hires, and the employer’s right to reassign employees to produce online or multimedia content. Quebecor, on the whole, sought to revise over 200 articles in the union’s contract. Almost two years later, the union is willing to concede to some of Quebecor’s original demands. They refuse, however, to concede to the new demands Quebecor has since put on the table – demands that include the layoffs of roughly eighty per cent of the original personnel, and a non-concurrence clause that would have prevented those fired by Quebecor from working for a competitor (such as La Presse or Le Devoir) for up to six months after their contract’s termination. The non-concurrence clause would have shut down Rue Frontenac – both the website and the print edition. Quebecor’s latest offer, which the union rejected by a resounding vote of nearly ninety per cent, not only galvanized the STIJM and the CSN into declaring a boycott campaign against the Journal, but it has also garnered their cause quite a bit of political and public sympathy. Several politicians and unions across the province have come out in support of the boycott against the Journal. The rejection of Quebecor’s last offer roughly coincided with the publication of Rue Frontenac’s first print edition. Ad space was sold out days in advance, thanks mostly to union ads. “Usually it would be unusual for a union to declare [a] boycott, but the amount of public sympathy we got after Quebecor’s latest offer came out convinced us it might be effective,” said Filotto. The boycott has monopolized most of the STIJM’s time since it was launched. STIJM representatives, such as Filotto, are either spending their time mobilizing unions across the region or trying to catch the public’s attention. On November 10, for example, STIJM members went to the Bell Centre before the hockey game to distribute copies
The McGill Daily | Thursday, November 18, 2010 | mcgilldaily.com
Olivia Messer | The McGill Daily
Olivia Messer | The McGill Daily
of Rue Frontenac and to collect signatures for the new CSN petition. The petition authorizes the CSN to notify businesses advertising in the Journal of the signatories’ disapproval of their marketing choices and also asks the provincial government to push for the modernization of anti-scab laws. The CSN has also organized a march for December 4, which will start at the Parc La Fontaine at noon and end at the Journal’s offices. On top of it all, the union is looking for an update to Quebec’s anti-scab law. Despite locking out virtually its entire newsroom, the Journal continues to publish. According to the Quebec Labour Code, which stipulates that a company can’t hire replacement workers during a strike or lockout, they shouldn’t be able to do this. The Journal has been getting around the Labour Code by publishing wire content from their news agency QMI, which was established a short time before the lockout began. Aside from a few columnists, who weren’t part of the STIJM and stayed on after the lockout, most of the content in the Journal is now funneled in from the news agency. The Journal has been able to fill its pages without technically breaking the law. Representatives of the STIJM and the CSN were in Quebec City last month, presenting the National Assembly with a petition, signed by some 24,000 people, demanding that the anti-scab law be amended to suit the modern labour environment. The assembly unanimously passed a motion proposed by Amir Khadir, the MNA for Mercier, to study how the law should be updated. Filotto worries, however, that the law won’t see an update before the conflict’s conclusion.
hings at the Journal haven’t always been this bad. The magazine L’actualité recently ran an article written by Paule Beaugrand-Champagne, who was editor in chief at the Journal from 1998 to 2001. It was titled “Requiem for the Journal de Montréal.” In it, she highlights the stark differences between Pierre Péladeau, who founded the Journal de Montréal, and his son, Pierre-Karl
Péladeau, who has been the head of Quebecor since his father’s death 12 years ago. “Pierre Karl,” she wrote in French, “is in the process of destroying his father’s favorite achievement, [the Journal], which is the origin of the very empire he now leads like a czar.” Under “Monsieur P.” as Pierre Péladeau was affectionately called by his employees, labour and management maintained a healthy relationship. “Monsieur P” had started the Journal during La Presse’s 1964 strike, and wanted wholeheartedly to avoid labour disputes within his own publication. He generally conceded to most union demands, and over the years the STIJM had acquired for its members one of the best contracts in the business – in all of North America, according to Beaugrand-Champagne. But Pierre-Karl’s ascent to his father’s throne has marked radical departure from the old way of doing business. Beaugrand-Champagne points not only to deteriorating labour relations between management and the unions, but to the rise of corporate influence in the newsroom. Quebecor is well known for using “convergence” tactics as a successful corporate strategy, which involves different divisions (or subsidiaries) in the company working together to Quebecor’s general benefit. For example, smart phones on the company’s new wireless network have access to Quebecor TV channels. However, in the context of the newsroom, this can have worrisome implications. The Journal, along with other Quebecor publications, is being increasingly used as promotional fodder for the rest of the company’s products. The change came slowly at first, according to Beaugrand-Champagne – in the form of “suggested” stories – but quickly became less subtle. Especially in the entertainment sections, reporters have been encouraged to hype up shows such as Star Académie, a reality show featured on the television network TVA, a subsidiary of the Quebecor empire. Having worked at the Journal nearly ten years, Filotto has seen the full scope of this shift in corporate attitude.“Most of us weren’t
hired by Pierre-Karl, we were hired under the previous administration, and there wasn’t this much corporate influence in the newsroom. Péladeau was the owner, but as far as the newsroom was concerned, it was live and let live. There wasn’t that many editorials, there was no moralizing. You see more of that now.” Lyne Robitaille, the Journal’s editor in chief, recently did an interview with 98.5 FM’s Paul Arcand on his morning radio show Puisqu’il faut se lever. She was asked exactly how many people the Journal wanted back, and specifically, how many locked-out journalists were expected to see the inside of the Journal’s offices again. She explained that the Journal’s business model had evolved in recent years, and that those who would be brought back to work would be those capable of adapting to this “new model.” “We no longer talk about journalists now,” she said in French, “we are talking about producers of multimedia content.” Nadeau, who has been working as a journalist for nearly ten years, was unsettled by Robitaille’s statement. “That shocked me. Because I’m a journalist. I am not a producer of content. I studied in journalism. I have a code of ethics. I have a career. I’m paid – and I’m paid a good salary, to think, to analyze, to [be] able to turn in stories. But above all, at base, I’m here to think. If you tell me that I’m no longer a journalist, that I’m just a ‘producer of content’, well, then I can understand why you’d want to pay me $17 an hour. Because what’s a producer of content? It’s someone that rewrites press releases. But that’s not my job.” The Quebec Press Council, the non-profit, non-governmental organization devoted to upholding the media’s responsibility to provide quality reporting, is responsible for reviewing complaints filed by the public about ethics and standards in print and broadcast media across Quebec. When it released unfavourable rulings about incidents in Quebecor publications earlier this year, Quebecor responded by pulling out of the Press Council entirely. It then threatened to sue the Press Council should it continue to review content produced by
Quebecor Media outlets. The STIJM’s previous contract included several stipulations designed to keep corporate influence out of the newsroom, stipulations which Quebecor would like to see omitted in whatever deal is eventually reached.
any at Rue Frontenac would like to see their publication become a permanent fixture. As it stands, Quebecor only wants 17 journalists, four photographers, and a handful of office workers to return. Many at Rue Frontenac see the publication they’ve started as a possibility for employment once the conflict is ended and a number of inevitable layoffs are rolled out. Several couldn’t imagine going back to the Journal under the conditions established at the Journal. “With Rue Frontenac, we’re rediscovering the freedom we once had at the Journal,” said Patrick Gauthier, a desk editor at Rue Frontenac. However, while those at Rue Frontenac would certainly want to see their publication become its own private entity, independent of the union, upon the conflict’s resolution, they still aren’t sure about Frontenac’s viability. As it stands, Rue Frontenac is able to pay for most of the costs incurred by its operation – except for salaries. The STIJM pays all of its members 76 per cent of the salary they received while working at the Journal out of a strike fund. Rue Frontenac makes its money from advertisements online and in print, as well as through donations. They will either need to start charging for their product, or develop a stable source of revenue from a steady stream of advertisers – or both – if the tabloid is going to survive in the long run. Rue Frontenac is available at news stands across the city, including one at the Basha on the corner of Sherbrooke and University. And it’s the darling of Quebec’s non-Quebecor media world. The paper has a lot going for it, and it has proved resilient beyond any reasonable expectation – for now, at least.
The McGill Daily | Thursday, November 18, 2010 | mcgilldaily.com
The cultural conglomerate Joseph Henry reports on the proposed merger of four language and culture departments
cting on enduring motivations, the Faculty of Arts has recently embarked on a process of amalgamating four language and culture departments: German, Hispanic, Italian, and Slavic and Russian Studies. The plans are currently being deliberated by a confidential working group led by Associate Dean Suzanne Morton, and while many are excited about more interdisciplinarity, several faculty members and students have raised serious opposition to the plan. The new focus on a possible merger breaks a long-running attitude of “benign neglect” on the part of the administration, as Morton put it. “What’s happened over the past few years is departments lost positions,” offered German Studies chair Karin Bauer. “[People retired], left, and they were not replaced. So now we have some very small departments.” The department of Russian and Slavic Studies presently has two permanent faculty members, Italian Studies three, German Studies four, and Hispanic Studies six. According to the chair of Italian Studies Lucienne Kroha, the current situation is one “the administration has helped to create.” Yet according to Morton, “[It] doesn’t make sense to have a department of three. Is that really serving students’ interests? Are there ways in which [we] can actually think about doing things differently or cooperatively? I think it’s an attempt to bring vitality and an opportunity to add resources.”
Differing perspectives Some voices are optimistic toward potential benefits. “German Studies was the department that from the start really felt positive about the possibilities that merger might offer,” Bauer said. “The exciting part of a merger is to think of new programs for students, to develop new opportunities, new ways of teaching, new ways of research.” Menemsha MacBain, an undergraduate representative to Morton’s working group, noted that a possibility “in which [she’s] particularly interested” is the opportunity for “interdepartmental” team-taught courses. However, not everyone shares similar outlooks. The Hispanic Studies department in particular has presented the most unified departmental opposition to the merger, citing budgetary failures and an incompatibility between the other departments and research in Latin American culture studies – a popular area of study in the department. As Hispanic Studies graduate Sophie Bégin described, amalga-
Victor Tangermann | The McGill Daily
Based in Sherbrooke 688, Hispanic, German, Italian, and Russian and Slavic Studies departments would merge under a new plan. mation would constitute a regressive move. The department serves as a reference point for hispanic studies in Canada, Bégin explained. “Bringing down this department for [pragmatic] issues would bring down hispanic studies in Canada.” Cuts to funding have also contributed to Hispanic Studies’ decision to refuse the amalgamation plan. “The proposal was too underfunded to accept in its form,” explained Amanda Holmes, the department’s chair. Students across departments have also noticed the risks of such consolidation. “If it leads to a department that is productive in its active criticism of studying countries based on nationalism, that would be cool,” offered German and East Asian Studies undergraduate student Carol Fraser. “However, if it leads to a diminishing of specialty and a dilution of language-learning, that would be a huge loss for McGill.” Alessandro Giardino, the graduate representative to the working group and Italian Studies language instructor, echoed a similar sentiment: “We are afraid that the merger might be an attempt to cut out a certain specificity that comes with the language and the culture.”
Common ground Despite their different attitudes, all four departments are concerned about ramifications the proposed merger could have on language instruction funding, a problem already aggravated in previous years. “The cuts to our language teaching had a significant impact on our ability to respond to student demand,” Bauer said. Kroha identified “a significant reduction in language instruction” within the administration’s proposal for amalgamation. Holmes noted that with the plan’s cuts, “we wouldn’t have the same language teaching capacity.”
The effects of decreased language instruction seem to create their own cyclical consequences. Kroha noted that a reduction in language instruction leads to a reduction in potential program students, and thus smaller departments in general. A number of spots in language courses must then be reserved for Arts students who could potentially become majors. Also, as Bauer noted, some Management and Music programs require German language instruction. “They will not be able to graduate if they can’t take German courses,” she said. Some have also found the administration’s lack of sufficient support for language antithetical to McGill’s concern with its international reputation. “For a university that wants to be international, that wants to be research-intensive, that wants to [do] cutting-edge research, it’s somehow unthinkable [that] you can’t study the language you need to fulfill your program requirements, or to do your research,” explained Bauer.
Graduate students Decreases in language instruction would also mean fewer graduate students teaching among the four departments, a demographic perhaps most at odds with the merger. According to Kroha, less teaching opportunities (and the wages that go along with them) would mean a lack of competitive edge in an institution that already gives graduate students low funding opportunities. In a drafted statement, German graduate student Nina Gerschack wrote “compromising our ability to teach seriously affects our ability to effectively secure teaching positions once we finish our degrees.” Morton again located the lack of graduate support in a wider context: “We would all like more resources
to get the very best graduate students. So I don’t think in any way that’s unique to language.” But the current proposal would also add four new tenure-track positions for the combined department and potentially faculty lecturers for language instruction. Bauer noted that the interdisciplinary possibilities of new tenure-track faculty “can help make this unit more coherent in the sense that you can hire people who already maybe cross some boundaries.” “We haven’t decided,” Morton said, “but the belief [is] that perhaps that is a way to actually improve the quality of language teaching,” suggesting an improvement over graduate student instruction. Speaking about German Studies, MacBain said that, “We love our grad students dearly, but I’ve asked around about this, and the phrases I most often hear used to describe their teaching skills are ‘mixed bag’ and ‘hit or miss.’” In contrast, Gerschack cited the “demand for additional sections” and “feedback from undergraduates” as evidence to the contrary. Similarly, Holmes mentioned the positive feedback from course evaluations in Spanish graduate instruction.
Local issue, global pattern The merging or abolition of small departments has become widespread among institutions around the world. “We are not being terribly innovative in this; we are really following the pattern,” Morton said. Middlesex University in London intends to close their philosophy department, as part of the United Kingdom’s enormous cuts in teaching expenses. Similarly, several language, theatre, and classics programs at the State University of New York (SUNY) Albany may be cancelled. Closer to McGill, over the course
of the summer, the University of Toronto Faculty of Arts And Science aimed to conglomerate East Asian Studies, Germanic Languages and Literatures, Italian Studies, Slavic Languages and Literatures, Spanish and Portuguese, and the Centre for Comparative Literature into a new “School of Languages and Literatures.” Thomas Keirstead, chair of East Asian Studies at the University of Toronto, identified a global trend towards viewing such departmental amalgamations into such “economies of scale.” The faculty’s plan was met with a rapidly mobilized academic response from professors and students, including the creation of town hall meetings, a website archiving all information related to the merger, and a plan for outreach across the university. Ultimately, the faculty reversed its decision and retained the departments. In comparison, McGill’s move toward amalgamation has been unadvertised, save in emails on certain listservs to find student representatives for the working group. As Fraser wrote in a petition to Dean of Arts Christopher P. Manfredi she circulated in German classes, “…to my current knowledge there has been no explicit notification to students in my department, either by emails, announcements, or postering.” However, there is still ample time for discussion. According to Morton, a report will be sent to the Dean by November 30. The Arts chair meeting will happen after, “at which point it will eventually be brought to Faculty. At that point there’s some public discussion,” Morton said. As Keirstad said, “There’s something to be said that elite institutions devote themselves to fields whether they’re popular fields of inquiry or not. …Part of being a world-class institutions is supporting minority fields of inquiry.”
The McGill Daily | Thursday, November 18, 2010 | mcgilldaily.com
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next to McGill University. Available apartments all included, 1, 2 or 3 bedrooms. Close to groceries, drugstores and subway stations. Indoor swimming pool available.
The tempting and simple versatility of the crumble Victor Tangermann | The McGill Daily
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hen I say “bottomless pit of a stomach,” it may cause you to think of a ravenous teenage boy going through yet another growth spurt. However, I think of my tall, skinny roommate who can put away pre-
dinner, dinner, and dessert with space left over to do it all again. It is not uncommon for me to come home in the evening to find her sliding a crumble into the oven, only to devour the entire thing and inevitably lick the dish clean by
midnight. But this has only made me realize that before our metabolisms start sputtering out and sluggishly trying to keep up with our middle-aged carelessness about eating, we should make crumbles and eat the entire thing.
Crumble General method: A traditional crumble (or crisp) involves two components: a bottom layer of fruit, sometimes sweetened and flavoured, and a crispy topping strewn over the top. Exact amounts of fruit are unimportant, but use the equivalent of about six apples (see below for more specifics). Once the topping is made (see below) put the fruit in a baking dish and scatter the topping over it. Cook at 375°F for about forty minutes (longer if you like the topping to be more browned).
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Makes: About six large portions.
Fruit suggestions: t t t t t t
All apples cut in chunks and toss with two tablespoons of sugar and any or all of the following: cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, or orange zest. My favourite: big chunks of pear mixed with Chinese five-spice (a mixture of cinnamon, star anise, cloves, fennel, and Szechuan pepper), or ground-up chai tea (you can just cut open two tea bags and grind it in a bowl with the bottom of a wooden spoon). Frozen berries (about three quarters of a regular bag) tossed with two tablespoons of sugar and one and a half tablespoons of flour or cornstarch. Mix with apples or pears for varied texture. Strawberry, banana, and mango, all cut in very large chunks, mixed with just a sprinkle of sugar. You can also use peaches, plums, nectarines, or any kind of berry. Squash or rhubarb can also be used, but both need to be boiled for about ten minutes beforehand. Combinations rarely fail. To flavour, you could also use brown sugar, citrus zest and juice, vanilla, liqueurs, or ground teas.
Toppings: For each topping the technique is the same: break whatever type of fat you are using, as seen in the recipes below (try to keep it cold, so leave it in the refrigerator until using), into small chunks and rub with the flour and sugar until it is like coarse bread crumbs. Try not to melt the fat too much with the heat of your hands. t Traditional: My mother recalls this recipe with the phrase “half fat to flour,” but I would suggest a slightly different ratio: one and a half cups of flour, half a cup of butter, and a quarter cup of sugar. t North American “Crisp”: Replace half a cup of the flour in the traditional recipe with one cup of oats. t Vegan: Use any margarine you like. The texture will be less crumbly, but it should still work well. If you freeze the margarine first and grate it into the flour, mixing very little to prevent melting, you will achieve a crumblier topping. You could also use half vegetable shortening with half margarine. t Gluten-free: Use rice flour (non-glutinous and not sweet rice flour) in the traditional recipe. Brown or white will work. t Chopped, ground, or sliced nuts can be added to any of the above.
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The McGill Daily | Thursday, November 18, 2010 | mcgilldaily.com
Edna Chan for The McGill Daily
!∀#∃%&∋&()∗∀(+∃%∀,−&#) Montreal has become a multilingual city, but its literary scene is still catching up Tim Beeler The McGill Daily
n October 29, the DHC/ ART Foundation for Contemporary Art put on a unique spoken word event at the Musée des beaux-arts. The evening entitled “Early Warning Systems,” was billed as a bilingual homage to American artist Jenny Holtzer and showcased six Montreal poets. On the bill were three readings in English and three in French, presented in alternating order, with no translations or visual aids. What made the event so special was the manner in which it presented itself – as a political statement and an experiment in bilingualism. Crowded on a Friday night, this showcase of young talent bodes well for the future of the literary scene in Montreal, with its evergrowing linguistic diversity. Carmine Starino, one of the three anglophone poets and the coordinator of the event, made it clear that the billing was entirely intentional. “I’ts so hard to take your own language for granted in a city where a variety of languages are spoken fully and without anxiety,” he said over the phone. When asked about the lack of translations he replied, “That was part of the experiment – if you get it fine,
if you don’t, you don’t. The feeling was that – not that any one of us articulated it – we had a sense of maturity about the city, about our sense of self. We didn’t feel like we had to spoon-feed everything to the audience – it was billed as a bilingual event. Also, the idea was that the poets would be able to work in their own language without...translation.” It seems that writers other than Starino share a similar sentiment about bilingualism in Montreal. Sean Michaels, novelist and cofounder of the Montreal-based music and microfiction blog Said the Gramophone, told me about his experience as an anglophone in the literary scene. “I’m grateful for this city, and for the richness of Québécois culture. I think if you live in Montreal, you should make an effort to understand at least a little of both French and English. I write in English, but try to read French books as well, and see French theatre.” In spite of the success of “Early Warning Systems,” others were more pessimistic about the anglophone literary scene becoming more bilingual. “I don’t know how that would happen,” Starino told me. “It’s such a work to put together any event and then, on top of that, to have to budget in a quota of bilingualism is just that
much more difficult. I guess they should do it only if they feel it necessary.” What few bilingual events there are in Montreal tend to present languages side-by-side, with little or no attempt to make the content accessible to monolingual members of the audience. This is not to say that such events do not exist. Starino mentioned attending an integrated festival in Rome that successfully incorporated writers from around the world. “They had this huge screen in the back that ran simultaneous translations as the authors read. … I thought it was fantastic,” he reflected. However, here in Montreal, different languages remain decidedly separate in literary events – even when they appear at the same festival. Blue Metropolis, Montreal’s multilingual literature festival, features writers and speakers in a wide range of languages in a way that mimics the distribution of communities in the city. “We rarely translate, preferring to bring in the public that speaks and understands the languages of our events. That, so far as I am aware, makes us unique in the world,” wrote Linda Leith, the festival’s artistic director, in an email to The Daily. When asked about the future of multilingual events in the city, she
replied, simply, “I think there is room for events of many different kinds. A lot depends on the writers and the language(s) they work in; also of course on audiences.” While it seems redundant to say that the future of a multilingual literature scene would be dependent on the languages of those who are a part of it, such an observation does put particular emphasis on the potential Montreal has to foster such a community. Michaels wrote to me in his reply that, “Yes, I think [Montreal]’s in a fairly unique position. But I don’t think this is acted upon. Mostly, I guess, due to the anglo/franco scenes’ relative indifference to each other – but also because fluent bilingualism is rarer than you might imagine.” Starino made a similar comment: “I don’t know if we would be a role model for other multilingual literature scenes – I think we’re a role model for the rest of the country...I think we’re a glimpse into the future for literary scene in other cities. As immigrants pour into other Canadian cities, the writing and the sense of otherness is going to change. Canada is still very much a monolingual country – I know we’re officially bilingual, but it’s true. We’re the only city in Canada where the citizens are forced to
live around so many different soundscapes.” Starino’s comment speaks to another problem in Montreal’s literary scene. Even as the anglophone and francophone scenes show sparks of conversation and integration, many other languages remain marginalized. Blue Metropolis remains unique in its effort to integrate writing in languages like German, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese, and Italian, though all of these are spoken in Montreal. As an anglophone, sitting in the auditorium made me think only of my own inability to understand the poets who were speaking in another language – not about the lack of translations or visual ques. Indeed, the maturity that Starino mentioned came through in full form. This gives rise to another interesting idea: Is it the tensions between Montreal’s different linguistic groups that make Montreal’s literary community so vibrant? Starino seemed to share the sentiment: “I think as a writer living in Montreal, its just hard not to write without the sound of French in your ear or the sound of any other language, whether we want to or not – the force is in the city to make us more bilingual, to absorb other sounds other acoustics into our work. … We are already part of the experiment.”
The McGill Daily | Thursday, November 18, 2010 | mcgilldaily.com
Behind the scenes The hidden world of McGill’s hardworking theatre tech crew Ben Fried Culture Writer
he latest production by the English department’s Drama and Theatre program was unveiled last night at Moyse Hall. The play is Measure for Measure, and the shrunken of soul (or the most fed-up of fifth-years) might consider Shakespeare’s themes of hypocrisy, repression, and dubious sibling love rather well suited to English studies at McGill. If so, then the department’s twiceyearly productions, and genuine collaborations between supervising professors and committed students should be a rebuke to such cynicism. The most visible aspect of Measure’s multimedia staging, however, is also the least publicized. The technical arrangement of sets, lights, sound, and props is the assigned class work of the littleknown course “Stage, Scenery, and Lighting.” Its students are responsible for mounting every show, and its confines offer a training and meeting ground for many of the technicians underpinning the McGill student theatre community. The course has been taught for the past 15 years by Keith Roche. A graduate of the National Theatre School and the owner of his own production company, Roche describes the year-long course as part “boot camp” and part “practical exam.” Students arrive without any required experience, work on their production skills in Moyse Hall’s cavernous workshop, and then, in four weeks, build a show. The first semester’s class is designed along the lines of a vaccination – sudden exposure and quick adaptation – while the second leans more toward student responsibility. There are few equivalent courses at McGill. Alongside Catherine Bradley’s “Costuming for the Theatre” (also geared toward the biannual shows) and Myrna Wyatt Selkirk’s courses in acting and directing, Roche’s class represents one of the very few arenas for practical experience and professional development in the Drama and Theatre program. “Our goal,” he says, “is to give the students as much experience as possible and, at the same time, to change the way technicians are viewed. The work is not just fun, it’s a job.” In the case of Measure for Measure, the job has been as seri-
ous and time-consuming as any other. The technical side of theatre begins with the director’s concept, a fairly complex one for professor and Measure for Measure director Patrick Neilson, involving a building in renovation and two sets of projections. The set is first developed with scale drawings, modelled by a cardboard maquette, and then built in the workshop before being disassembled, moved on stage, and put back together. Light and sound designs take shape simultaneously. Aside from their regular class time and homework, students put in an extra ten hours a week and, during the days prior to opening, attend rehearsals from six in the evening until midnight. Jordana Globerman, a veteran of last year’s class and the assistant set designer this time around, points out that “the demands are very intense for this class, but that is what is needed for productions of this calibre to come about.” Money also helps. Roche receives up to $1,500 from the English department per show, but any surplus needs must be met through bake sales, Moyse Hall rentals, and general scrounging. As Roche says, “We beg, borrow, and steal.” He often buys mis-tinted paint at half-price and tries to avoid delivery charges. At other student theatres, budgets are even tighter. Shows at Players’ Theatre and Tuesday Night Café Theatre (TNC) work with about $700 apiece. Even so, all of McGill’s theatre groups are on fairly good terms and often share equipment and personnel. Moreover, in tech, as with acting, half the fun comes from improvisation. Peter Farrell, joint technical director of TNC along with Eric Chad (currently Roche’s student), recalls once stealing a door frame from a Leacock construction site. On another occasion, he bought an electric hand-cleaner from Home Depot, used it for 24 hours, and then returned it. Moments of similar backstage inspiration, Farrell says, are known in the business as “techgasms.” If you’re anything like me, theatre holds for you both the allure and the fear of performance. I slipped sideways into tech through shyness, but that is not the most common route. Technicians and designers are artists in their own right, mixing science and self-expression, and their work gives as much life to the
stage as the director’s vision or the actor’s presence. “Some people in tech don’t even like theatre,” Farrell tells me, but most, like Globerman, find backstage a place “to be creative visually, work with your hands, and learn from and collaborate with many other creative and talented people.” Different hopes burn for the future of McGill’s student theatre. Roche would like Drama and Theatre to develop into a full-fledged professional school, along the lines of the Music Faculty, while Farrell and Chad want to see a greater investment in McGillSTAGE, the five-year-old collaborative venture between theatre groups. Josh Teichman, technical director at Players’, student labourer on Measure for Measure, and professional technician since the age of 14 (hired because the boss thought his name was “Techman”) simply desires “publicity for the theatres themselves and more people to work the shows.” To get involved in the backstage work of student theatre, email a group’s tech coordinator or sidle up to a show’s director. Those in search of multiple techgasms should register for “Stage, Scenery, and Lighting 2.”
Alex McKenzie | The McGill Daily
Some of the theatre’s most important roles stay out of the spotlight.
2010 mellon lectures Thursday 18 November at 6 pm
Maristella Casciato Senior Mellon Fellow Professor of Architectural History, School of Architecture “Aldo Rossi” at Cesena, University of Bologna
Introducing Pierre Jeanneret — architect, designer, educator — in Chandigarh in English
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Canadian Centre for Architecture 1920, rue Baile, Montréal
Info: 514 939 7001 ext.1408 www.cca.qc.ca/mellonlectures Paul Desmarais Theatre. Admission is free but seating is limited.
The CCA gratefully acknowledges the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The McGill Daily | Thursday, November 18, 2010 | mcgilldaily.com
Heartbreak motel TNC’s production of Suburban Motel is all over the map Eric Andrew-Gee The McGill Daily
n the small round stage fenced in by rings of pokey little chairs, dimly lit and sparsely decorated, Tuesday Night Cafe’s (TNC) Suburban Motel: Problem Child & Criminal Genius is all fireworks. We get a roaring drunk hotel manager; an excon prone to throwing tantrums about what he sees on daytime talk shows; a histrionic, red-faced female thug who hurls abuse like Joe Pesci in Goodfellas; and a greasy small-time crook who talks with the speed and precision of a careening bob-sled. Student director Johanu Botha culled his wild, sometimes jarring, “double feature” from a string of six short plays, collectively called Suburban Motel by the Canadian playright George F. Walker. Both parts of the double feature take place in the same motel room, and orbit around the motel’s manager Phillie (Cory Lipman). The first, Problem Child, seems unclear as to what it wants to be. The story of RJ (Adam Finchler) and his alcoholic partner Denise (Rachael Benjamin) trying to get their baby back from a priggish social worker is utterly sincere to the point of hyper-realism. Denise, for example, with her perfect valley girl cadences, is played with eerie accuracy by Benjamin. Anyone who has seen a very depressed and very drunk person clamoring for attention will cringe at Benjamin’s performance. Parts of the play, in fact, are almost aggressively unlyrical,
gritty to a fault. Some of the time it doesn’t feel like Benjamin, for example, is acting at all: she delivers lines in the mushy, mundane way people speak on a daily basis. This was a deliberate aesthetic. But realism doesn’t have to preclude performance, as it sometimes seems to do in the play. On the other hand, the play flies into the realm of the absurd too often for a work so rooted in the soot and sorrow of post-industrial hardship. At one point, Denise forgets that RJ’s mother is dead. It’s a detail that is just slightly, but noticeably off. This dissonance can be effective. Using a boring suburban setting as a straight man for lunacy is an age-old formula – think of the plain normalcy and throughthe-roof hijinks of Joel and Ethan Cohen’s Fargo. But when Botha told me in the lobby of the Islamic Studies building before the play that he had chosen the grimmest and funniest of Walker’s six shorttakes, he might have added that he chose to stuff both tones into each play. The second play of the doublefeature, Criminal Genius, suffers from the same odd mixture of madcap and quiet misery. A father-son combo of cheap crooks – Rolly (Teis Jorgensen) and Stevie (Marko Djurdjic) – fail at their assigned task of burning down a building owned by a local crime boss. They are incessantly scolded for their failure by their bulldoggish arsonist in-chief, Shirley (Tara Richter Smith). Like Problem Child, Criminal Genius ends with a completely ludicrous and not-tobe-divulged fit of violence.
If in Problem Child RJ laments the world’s lack of justice, Rolly’s gripe here is plain bad luck: the play unfolds as a comedy of errors, as the hapless criminals stumble into worse and worse predicaments. Shirley has some great lines of raw sarcasm and vitriol (mostly aimed at her foil Rolly) and in both plays, Phillie is brilliant as a motel manager ever engaged in a selfimposed game of Edward FortyHands (Lipman’s use of the set’s doorframes to prop up his drunk body is almost balletic). There may even be too much humour, or too much attempted humour, in Criminal Genius. Sometimes, as the excellent cast one-up’s each other with ever louder and more outrageous outbursts, the significance of what the actors are saying gets drowned out. Suburban Motel suffers from a kind of schizophrenia: it is at once a brooding, heavy-breathing drama and, before you know it, floats off into dizzy, violent farce. Which is not to say the play falls apart: both of its split personalities are charming in their way. The cast is uniformly talented, and Finchler and Smith give especially smart performances. But they’re battling their material: the sincere and the absurd sit so uneasily, one beside the other, in the play. No amount of skill on the actors’ or director’s part can reconcile this fact. Suburban Motel is playing at TNC Theatre November 17 to 20 and November 24 to 27. For ticket reservations email tnctheatre@gmail. com. See the full version of this article at mcgilldaily.com.
Courtesy of Adam Scotti for Leacocks
Tara Richter Smith gets trigger-happy in TNC’s Criminal Genius.
Ek het die antwoord South African band Die Antwoord reappropriates Zef culture Alexis Nigro Culture Writer
ast month, Montreal’s Metropolis theatre hosted South African Zef-raverap music trio, Die Antwoord. The group presents an intelligent musical satire of a South African subculture known as Zef. Unfortunately, many of Die Antwoord’s North American fans are unaware of this aspect of the band’s art. Die Antwoord is comprised of Warkins Tudor Jones (Ninja), Anica (Yolandi Vi$$er), and the elusive DJ Hi-Tek. Their pseudonyms are not just stage names, but whole personas that the trio stick to in every public appearance. Beginning as a YouTube sensation, Die Antword hails from the notoriously poor Cape Flats
suburbs of Cape Town. Originally available through an open source, their album $O$ has been distributed by Interscope Records since this past summer, launching the band’s international promotional tour. In terms of sound, Die Antwoord combines Europop vocals with punchline-filled rap performed in both Afrikaans and English. It is, whatever the description will lead one to believe, quite catchy. Ninja’s rhymes are entertaining and smooth; Vi$$er’s vocals range from pixie to harpy; and Hi-Tek rounds out the sound with simple beats and booming base. A mixture of nineties synth and Afrikaans rap treading somewhere between Weird Al and Eminem, Die Antwoord’s sound is unconventional but totally palatable. Prior to his Ninja character, Jones was a locally famous come-
dian known for self-loathing jokes about Zef culture – the same culture his band now parodies. The best translation of Zef from Afrikaans is perhaps hick or common, but the term is a bit more nuanced. “Zef” is derived from the apartheid era Ford Zephyr, an inexpensive car available to white South African mine workers and farmers. In modern South Africa, Zef connotes poor Afrikaners from the Cape who wear last decade’s Puma catalogue, drive 1980’s GMs, drink cheap lager, and loudly enjoy electronic music on their lawn. In essence, Zef refers to South Africa’s “white trash.” Though Die Antwoord is mainly known for satirizing Zef culture, the band also uses it as a way to reclaim Afrikaner identity in post-apartheid South Africa. By poking fun at the culture in which they were raised, Die Antwoord rejects the stigma
that has been placed on working class Afrikaners since the end of apartheid. Outside of South Africa, however, this message often goes unnoticed. Die Antwoord’s latest single, “Evil Boy,” for example, draws in international audiences through the video’s outrageous phallic imagery, though the message of the song goes deeper. “Evil Boy” not only mocks circumcision in Xhosa and Catholic culture, but also takes a shot at South African President, Jacob Zuma – who was accused of raping an HIV positive woman without a condom. The chorus goes as follows: Yooo! Evil Boy!/Why is your incanca (trans: penis in Xhosa) so big?/All the better to love you with!/No glove, no love!/If you don’t believe me/Take your dirty hands off my umthondo wisizwe! (trans: spear of the nation or people in Zulu).
“No Glove, no Love” is the post-Mandela HIV awareness slogan. Umthondo Wisizwe was the African National Congress militia under apartheid that had Zuma among its ranks. The whole chorus is a direct and pun-filled reference to Zuma’s 2005 rape charge. Die Antwoord also lampooned recently-deceased white supremacist, Eugene Terre’Blanche, in their song “Super Evil,” and joked about Afrikaner stereotypes in their single “Wat Pomp”. Even if you don’t get the topical humour and political message of Die Antwoord’s music, it’s worth a listen. A few Wikipedia searches will provide you with enough context to understand the band’s references. Just remember that the woman on stage rocking a mullet and gold spandex is as witty and informative to South Africans as Jon Stewart is to Americans.
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The McGill Daily | Thursday, November 18, 2010 | mcgilldaily.com
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myself behind my bedroom wall, so I couldn’t see her standing up so uptight and prim near him. He sat like a man made out
of wax, his hands almost melting into the linen of his pants. He didn’t seem to move; she fluttered around his grim twelve-o’clock face. I went back to my articles, this week two girls were smashed against a wall at their elementary school when an old woman stepped on the wrong pedal. Better than last week’s toy recall. Then she laughed especially hard, and the screwtop off the wine bottle fell on the floor. —Joseph Henry Télésphore Sansouci | The McGill Daily