Volume 100, Issue 32
February 10, 2011 mcgilldaily.com
BE HEARD NOW
Unresolved for 100 years
Published by The Daily Publications Society, a student society of McGill University.
GA TODAY 6 PM ADAMS AUDITORIUM
Apartment Hunting Information Sessions
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Info sessions will cover the following topics: •
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When, Where and How to look for an apartment Apartment sizes, costs, resources
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Renewing and cancelling a lease
Weekly sessions Every Friday in February @ 2 p.m.
Location: R.V.C. (Roscoe Lounge) 3425 University Street Montreal H3A 2A8
Brought to you by McGill Off Campus Housing Of!ice www.mcgill.ca/offcampus
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The Daily Publications Society, publisher of The McGill Daily and Le Délit, is seeking candidates for
a student position on its Board of Directors.
Tuesday, Feb. 15
The position must be filled by a McGill student duly registered during the current Winter term and able to sit until April 30, 2011. Board members gather at least once a month to discuss the management of the newspapers, and make important administrative decisions.
4-5 p.m., Lev Bukhman Room
Candidates should send a 500-word letter of intention to firstname.lastname@example.org by February 10th. Contact us for more information.
The McGill Daily | Thursday, February 10, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
McGill engineers tackle sustainable energy Engineering Career Centre subsidized student networking trips to Calgary Farid Rener
The McGill Daily
ast September, Total E&P Canada Ltd (TEP), a division of the multinational oil company Total SA, gave a gift of $100,000 to the newly founded McGill Institute for Sustainability in Engineering and Design (ISEAD). ISEAD hasn’t officially launched, but has been sponsoring speakers and has provided a few undergraduate scholarships and fellowships. According to McGill Electrical and Computer Engineering professor Geza Joos, the newly appointed director of ISEAD, the institute will attempt to “make students sensitive to the whole issue of sustainability in engineering and design.” The gift was donated after JeanMichel Gires, CEO of TEP, gave an ISEAD-sponsored presentation in September titled “The Sustainability of the Tar Sands.” TEP has recently been the target of scrutiny by environmental groups including Sierra Club Canada after being approved to build Alberta’s ninth oil sands mine in Joslyn North. Andrew Kirk, associate dean of Research and Graduate Education in the Faculty of Engineering, said that the money will be used to “support graduate and undergraduate fellowships and scholarships for projects of ‘general sustainability.’” Kirk, the previous head of ISEAD, continued, saying, “The rest of money is going in to support the speaker series.” Alex Briggs, an activist with Climate Justice Montreal and U2 Mechanical Engineering student, reflected on Gires’s presentation. “The tar sands are the only thing that are sustainable to our society, because they are the only source of oil that is acceptable to the current world order. But that’s not the definition of sustainability that most people would identify with,” said
McGill’s Engineering Student Centre hosts the “Engineers in Action” series. Briggs. “Anything that makes people more self-sufficient loses Total business, so they have a conflict of interest in making the world a more sustainable place,” he added. When asked how Gires’s presentation fit into ISEAD’s sustainability mandate, Joos replied: “I don’t want to comment on Total’s commitment to sustainability, because it is not our purpose as an institute to make any comments either way.” Briggs defined a sustainable system as one “where all negative effects that your life imposes on the world are balanced by positive effects at the same time.” ISEAD, however, is keeping its definition of sustainability more fluid. “We will accept the notion of sustainability that is offered to us, to the extent that there is an effort made to make it ‘sustainable,’ not necessarily sustainable indefinitely, but more sustainable, less destructive,” Joos said. The institute will focus purely on the engineering and design aspects of sustainability, without providing
a forum for talking about the societal aspects of sustainability. “We are just focused on anything that is associated with engineering, urban planning, and architecture. We try to stay away from environmental issues that are covered by the McGill School of Environment, Law, Social Work, Psychology. These are essentially secondary issues,” said Joos. “The institute itself will not take a position related to First Nations, Hydro-Québec, dams, et cetera. Those are more environmental type issues, social justice type issues,” he added. As a new institute, ISEAD is still searching for a consistent mandate. Joos replaced Kirk as director on June 1, 2010. ISEAD is currently focusing on seven key research and teaching themes, including sustainable manufacturing, design and construction of the built environment, and greenhouse gas capture and storage. Joos explained one of the rationales behind researching greenhouse gas capturing. “It is one of the solutions to keep
Victor Tangermann | The McGill Daily
on using coal. ... At the moment, coal is by far the cheapest energy resource,” he said. Kirk differed with Joos on this research direction: “Just because someone is doing research on something, it doesn’t mean that it is necessarily a good idea. There is an argument against this, in that if we build carbon sequestration systems, are we just giving high carbon fuels just a bit longer to run?” Joos also confirmed that the research would not look at the effects of carbon capturing on the environment. “The research at the moment is how to do it using the minimum amount of energy, how to extract the carbon dioxide,” he said. Kirk questioned the commitment to making carbon fuels more sustainable, given rapidly depleting carbon fuel resources. “I’m afraid that if we look at the Chinese economy and the Indian economy and look at how much coal they have available to them, I’m pretty convinced all that coal is going to get burned at some point. I think we need technology
to capture it, unless we come up with a sufficiently low-cost form of energy. There isn’t really anything in the next ten years, as far as I see it, that’s going to cut it,” said Kirk. Gires first came to McGill in March, when he gave a similar presentation at the “Engineers in Action” speakers series, put on by McGill’s Engineering Student Centre. Engineering student services have a history of promoting oil and gas companies who operate in the tar sands. Last month, the Engineering Career Centre subsidized a group of students to visit Calgary to network with a number of these companies, including Imperial Oil, Shell, Syncrude, Suncor, and Total SA. Darlene Hnatchuck, industry liaison for the Engineering Career Centre and organizer of this subsidized trip – named “Energy Tour” – was asked whether she vetted the companies that were asking students to come work for them. “If we were to vet all of the companies, it would take us down a very slippery slope in terms of making decisions for adults,” she said. “So we don’t vet companies.” Hnatchuck added, “we don’t have one focus, we are not tied to any one particular industry, because it is important to get McGill Engineering graduates to all industries if we want them to make a difference.” The next speaker in the ISEAD speaker series is Pierre Duhaime, CEO of Montreal-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin, one of the ten largest engineering firms in the world. SNC-Lavalin has also recently been the subject of activist scrutiny, after engineering the G20 security fences in downtown Toronto, and providing 300 to 500 million bullets for the U.S. military after the “shock and awe” attacks on Iraq in 2004. Duhaime will be at McGill on February 14.
Misinterpreted GA resolution creates a stir Overreactions attributed to charged atmosphere surrounding SSMU politics Henry Gass
The McGill Daily
general feeling of concern and distrust lingered amongst SSMU councillors after the interpretation of a General Assembly (GA) resolution authored by SSMU VP Finance and Operations Nick Drew ignited concern early this week. The controversy around the “Resolution Regarding the Society’s Investments” was sparked after poor wording caused some councillors to misinterpret the resolution as a motion to allow the VP finance and operations to circumvent SSMU regulatory bodies and invest funds unilaterally. In actuality the resolution, moves to amend SSMU’s Lettre de patente – the by-laws recognized
by the provincial government – to include a clause stating that SSMU invests in corporations and the government. “It just outlines our activities, and this is one of them – that we own shares, that we can own shares – and this is something that our lawyer told us to do,” said Drew. “It doesn’t really change anything with our internal by-laws. Everything remains the same. It’s just to legitimize the investment portfolio,” he added. SSMU councillor Maggie Knight attributed the misinterpretation to a phrase in the resolution describing how the VP Finance and Operations would manage the SSMU investment portfolio “in consultation with the Comptroller and the Corporation’s investment advisers.”
The resolution makes no explicit mention of the Financial Ethics Review Committee (FERC) – the only committee that currently exists to review SSMU investments. From Knight’s perspective, the recent creation of a SSMU Board of Directors – which can technically override any decision SSMU Council makes – in addition to the censureship of SSMU President Zach Newburgh last week, contributed to the misunderstanding and the atmosphere of mistrust. “I first read the resolutions on Friday, so I’d been up all night at Council, and obviously there had been some trauma associated with issues of lack of trust and so on and so forth,” she said. “So in that context this motion does look like trying to get rid of oversight, and trying to make it possible for the VP
finance – in concert with whatever other executives he or she wants – to just make investments wherever they decide, without any oversight.” Drew said he plans to amend the resolution at the GA today to change the resolution’s wording to include FERC, and any other committees that may be formed in the future, as bodies the VP finance and operations consults with regards to the management of SSMU’s investment portfolio. “It just kind of adds clarity to [the by-laws]. I don’t want people confused that this is some kind of sketchy maneuver,” said Drew. “In no way is it intended to be.” Drew said SSMU’s lawyer informed him of the need to add the clause in their by-laws three weeks ago, and therefore Council did not have a chance to look at the
resolution closely before today’s GA. Knight cited the lack of consultation and notice as another cause of overreaction. “I don’t know the ‘why,’ so when you don’t know the intentions, and there’s this sort of general – paranoia is too strong a word – but a general defensiveness and lack of trust, then of course people are more alarmed by things,” she said. Knight cited the need for improved communications between Council and students as a way to avoid future misunderstandings of motions and SSMU legislation. “We need to be doing consultation. We need to be warning people of what’s happening so that people don’t freak out at things if the wording is alarming to them,” she continued.
The McGill Daily | Thursday, February 10, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
CRTC accused of nepotism Laurin Liu
The McGill Daily
ast Friday, Minister of Canadian Heritage James Moore announced that Athanasios “Tom” Pentefountas would replace Michel Arpin as the new vice-chair of broadcasting on the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). Pentefountas’s appointment has come under criticism, as he does not hold any of the qualifications listed in the job description for the position, including experience in the field of telecommunications. He is also friends with several high-ranking members in the Conservative party. The CRTC is an independent regulatory and supervisory body dealing with Canadian broadcasting and telecommunications systems. The CRTC states on its website that it aims to serve the Canadian public to ensure access to “highquality Canadian programming” and are mandated to “reflect Canadian creativity and talent, our bilingual nature, our multicultural diversity, and the special place of aboriginal peoples in our society.” The CRTC makes its policy decisions based on the 1991 Broadcasting Act and the 1993 Telecommunications Act, and is accountable to Parliament via the Minister of Canadian Heritage. Pentefountas is a criminal lawyer and a partner in the Montreal law firm Silver Sandiford. Most of his work has been predominantly in the public sphere with his involvement in the Montreal Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association. Pentefountas was also the president of conservative provincial political party Action démocratique du Québec (ADQ) between 2007 and 2008, and ran twice as a candidate. Pentefountas is acquainted with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s director of communications, Dimitri Soudas, and Conservative senator Leo Housakos. A press release distributed by Moore’s office on Friday did not mention Pentefountas’ prior political activity or any experience in the broadcasting industry. Groups such as Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, a nonpartisan national volunteer organization, criticized Pentefountas’ appointment. Jim Thompson, spokesperson for the group, said that “nobody would want to see a political agenda at work in deciding which companies [or] points of view get a broadcasting license and which don’t.” Moore also announced on Friday that Pierre Gingras, ADQ member and former MNA from the Blainville, Quebec electoral district, was appointed to the board of CBC/ Radio-Canada. “This particular government has
seen fit to exercise its legal right to give the CRTC direction, and, on occasion, to overturn its decisions, on a frequency that is extraordinary and I would say unprecedented,” said Thompson. “I would also point out that [CRTC Chairman Konrad von Finckenstein’s] appointment expires in less than a year, and it has been reported in other media publications that there is pressure on von Finckenstein to vacate his position early in order to permit someone that is more friendly to the government to be appointed to that position.” In early August 2010, a panel of individuals from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the Privy Council Office (PCO) and Heritage Canada interviewed eight shortlisted candidates for the Vice-Chair of Broadcasting position. Three of these candidates were current commissioners on the CRTC. Pentefountas was not among these candidates. Jean-Luc Benoît, spokesperson for Moore, told the Globe and Mail that Pentefountas went through a selection process conducted by the PCO and Department of Canadian Heritage. During Question Period in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Libby Davies, NDP MP for Vancouver East, said, “Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives raised hell about patronage every time a Liberal was appointed by [Liberal Prime Minister’s] Paul Martin or Jean Chrétien, but now that they are in power all the outrage is gone. Connected Conservatives are appointed left and right, mostly right, to the Senate, to the Immigration and Refugee Board, to the CRTC, and now to the CBC. … [Harper] was very clear when he said: This has got to stop, and when we become government, it will stop. … Why was Liberal patronage a bad thing but Conservative patronage a good thing?” In the same sitting Charlie Angus, NDP MP for Timmins-James Bay, accused the PMO of nepotism, asking, “How can [Harper] claim that Canadians whose only qualification is being a friend of the government are not in a conflict of interest situation?” The office of James Moore has rebuffed accusations that the appointment was politically motivated. A staff member from Moore’s office told The Daily that he would not be available for comment. Arpin’s five-year mandate as Vice-Chair of Broadcasting expired on August 31, 2010, and Moore informed Arpin, who has worked in the Canadian broadcasting industry for 47 years, that his mandate would not be renewed. In an interview with Le Devoir, Arpin said he was “disappointed” that the government did not consider the renewal of his mandate in spite of his interest in continuing the post. Since the end of Arpin’s mandate, he has agreed to join the Université de Montréal’s department of communication as a visiting professor.
Feds transfer $275 million to Quebec students FEUQ worried misallocation of funds could hurt students Zach Lewsen
The McGill Daily
n February 4, Christian Paradis, minister of Natural Resources and Conservative MP for MéganticL’Érable, and Josée Verner, minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Conservative MP for LouisSt-Laurent, officially announced that the federal government will transfer $275 million to the Quebec government to compensate for its spending on the student loans program in the 20092010 school year. In the government press release, Verner said that the “ announcement clearly demonstrates that our government and our provinces are working together in the spirit of co-operation to achieve concrete results for youth in the Greater Quebec region.” Currently, the Quebec Student Financial Assistance Program and student aid programs in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories operate independently from the Canada Student Loans Program used by all other provinces. For Quebec and the Territories, the federal government provides alternative payments for their student aid programs. Friday’s announcement represents an increase of $150 million to these payments compared to the 20082009 school year. Payments of $1.6 million to Nunavut and $2 million to the Northwest Territories indicate
Photo by Victor Tangermannn
an increase of over 100 per cent. These recent increases to alternative payments correspond to ten per cent increases in student loans for provinces involved in the Canada Student Loans Program. The allocation of these funds for post-secondary education ultimately fall within the purview of the Quebec government. A spokesperson for Line Beauchamp, minister for Education, Leisure, and Sports (MELS) in Quebec stated that “it is up to the finance ministry to decide where the funds are sent.” This allocation scheme has left many Quebec post-secondary organizations concerned that the funding may not reach students. These groups include the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ) and the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec (FECQ). FEUQ president, Léo BureauBlouin, applauded the federal government for increasing funding for loans and bursaries, but expressed reservations. “We believe that students will never receive the entirety of the transferred [funds]…[Quebec Finance Minister] Monsieur Bachand said that the whole amount will not be given to Quebec students and we think it is only acceptable that the finance ministry use all these amounts to improve the loans and bursaries program because the needs are chronic...thus we want action taken now,” he said.
Bureau-Blouin was referring to an article published December 3, 2010 in the Journal de Québec. The article explained that the cheque from Ottawa will be in the hands of the Quebec Finance minister, who, according to Esther Chouinard, a spokesperson speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Finance and MELS, “could decide to allocate a portion of that money for other purposes.” Bureau-Blouin elaborated on the pressing needs facing Quebec students. “Tuition fees have been increasing for three years now... for example with the McGill MBA; we’re talking about a $40,000 Master’s degree... The Quebec government may announce another tuition increase that could bring our tuition fees to the national average,” he said. “The costs are increasing each year while the [funding towards] loans and bursaries programs is not being increased.” Bernard Drainville, spokesperson for Intergovernmental affairs, indicated that federal transfers for post-secondary education are still far below former levels of investment. “Before the cuts of…the Chrétien government in the early 1990s, Quebec would get $800 million more every year. Unfortunately, while Charest said the government would make this issue a priority in 2005, he got nothing, and, worse, now he has totally given up on this issue as yet the issue of funding universities is a major challenge,” Drainville said in a Quebec government press release.
On- Campus Eye
On Monday over a dozen McGill students rallied in solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of Egyptians who continue to demonstrate for the end of President Hosni Mubarak’s thirty-year rule over their country. “Tanks have been moving closer to the demonstrations [in Egypt],” wrote the McGill Chapter of Amnesty International, who organized the rally, in flyers distributed at the event. “We must not allow the people of Egypt to be silenced, forgotten, or left behind.” – Henry Gass
The McGill Daily | Thursday, February 10, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Students polled on GA S
everal weeks ago, SSMU released a survey to the McGill student body asking their thoughts on the effectiveness of the General Assembly (GA). The results were posted on the SSMU website February 3. Only 84 students responded to the survey, the majority of whom were from the Faculty of Arts. Dallas Bentley, SSMU communications and publications manager, said SSMU has yet to formally organize the data. “I haven’t received any indication that a summary is the in works, but I’d imagine some type of synthesis would be created at some point,” said Bentley. The survey asked students if they had
ever attended a GA and, if yes, to give a description of their experience. The survey also asked students about the strengths and weaknesses of the GA, how well the GA fulfills its purpose, and the necessity of GA reform. Responses varied. One student replied that the purpose of the GA was to “waste my time” and that they “[didn’t] even care enough to fill out the rest” of the survey. Another student wrote that, “although chaotic, I felt that it was an important place to hear my fellow students’ perspectives and become directly involved in student politics.” Of the 84 respondents, only 35 had ever attended a GA. —Compiled by Henry Gass and Quinn Albaugh
“The General Assembly, if anything, deters most students from coming out and bringing policies to the table.” Management, U3+
“I’ve never been to it myself, but I’ve heard people complaining about it more than I’ve heard people complimenting it.” Arts, U2
U3 and above
Breakdown of respondants, by faculty and year
“It’s shit. Only people that want their own shit passed go to vote and then they bounce. It’s really a waste of everyone’s time.” Education, U3+
40 “When is it? I don’t know what it is or how it benefits me to attend.”
Arts & Science, U1 “Nothing makes me loathe my colleagues more than attending a GA.”
Arts & Sci.
The McGill Daily | Thursday, February 10, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
English school board considers Grade 12 Students looking to stay in Quebec for university could have alternative to CEGEP Andra Cernavskis The McGill Daily
he Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) – the largest English school board in Quebec – is considering the option of extending Grade 12 to Montreal students. Last September the LBPSB began offering Grade 12 to international students, mostly from Asia. Traditionally, a student in Quebec takes five years of high school, then a two year program at a CEGEP, after which they qualify to apply to a three-year university program. Over the past few years, graduates from English high schools have found it increasingly difficult to get into English CEGEPs because of the rising number of applicants and subsequent overcrowding in the schools. We are addressing an immediate need,” said Marcus Tabachnick, LBPSB chair. “They don’t really have a place to go,” he added, speaking of students who find themselves stranded when they do not get into an English CEGEP. According to Tabachnick, the program will be modeled on the curriculum of several Ontario school boards so that the LBPSB will not have to invent a curriculum.The program will also be selffinanced through either the gov-
ernment, by a tuition fee, or by a combination of the two. “We will not redirect funds from our Kindergarten-Secondary [Five] grants to cover the costs of this program,” Tabachnick explained. Currently the Quebec school system dictates that Quebec students must complete CEGEP before applying to university. However, Tabachnick hopes that Quebec universities will agree to accept Quebec Grade 12 students, just as they accept Grade 12 students from other provinces once the program is up and running. “I am not sure it would be right or fair to deny the same to Quebec students, as long as the course of study being offered is of university-entrance calibre,” said Tabachnick. Sabrina Nicholson, a U1 Education student who attended Dawson College in Montreal for CEGEP, was skeptical about the Grade 12 option. “High school was a joke. It was really easy, but CEGEP was so hard. I had so much reading to do and so much homework, and it was a really big switch. But to think if I went from Grade 12 to university, it would have been too much,” said Nicholson. “CEGEP is a good middle ground between high school and university.” The LBPSB has yet to develop or write an exact proposal for the Grade 12 program. However,
Victor Tangermann | The McGill Daily
Schools like this one may have an extra year added to their curriculum in the future. there has been a lot of interest from the local community since the program’s public announcement last week, according to Robert Mills, the director general for the LBPSB. “It’s a collaborative effort
here,” he said. “Everybody has been really supportive in making [Grade 12] available to international students and now making it available to local students,” confirmed Tabachnick. He added that the program
went public a little before the board was ready. Regardless, he is hopeful that the LBPSB will make an official announcement about the program in four to five weeks. —With files from Erin Hudson
Maclean’s facing mounting criticism Canadian university students mobilize against November “Too Asian?” article Scaachi Koul
The Ryerson Free Press (Ryerson University)
oronto, ON (CUP) — Criticism continues three months after Maclean’s published a controversial article claiming that white students find it difficult to get into preferred schools because Canadian universities are overpopulated by Asian students. Brad Lee, a Toronto-based activist who spent twenty years as a journalist with the Toronto Star, got involved by creating a Facebook page entitled “‘Too Asian’? TALK BACK.” “I’m against the way they portrayed my community,” Lee said. “It fails to recognize the diversity within our community. I’m a fourthgeneration Chinese-Canadian. I’m Canadian through and through. What the fuck am I even doing in this conversation?” The article was published in Maclean’s annual university rankings issue November 10, 2010. It
argued that for white students, going to a university highly populated by Asian students means higher levels of competition and “requires a sacrifice of time and freedom [white students are] not willing to make.” The magazine has since changed the online title of the piece from “Too Asian?” to “The enrolment controversy.” However it has yet to issue a public apologize for the article. Lee believes that the article is but another link to Canada’s silent but dark history of racism. “There’s a veneer of multiculturalism and diversity,” he said. “Racism and discrimination is very much a part of Canada’s past.” Following widespread criticism from student unions, readers and politicians, Toronto’s city council voted to request an apology from the magazine on December 16. Toronto was the third city to make such a request, following Victoria and Vancouver. Florence Li, project coordinator at the Toronto chapter of
the Chinese Canadian National Council, helped start a youth coalition against Maclean’s after the “Too Asian?” article was published. “When I read it, I couldn’t believe that something like this could be printed,” she said. Li helped organize the first meeting of the youth coalition in November through email and Facebook. Around 100 people showed up to the event. “I have no doubt that there are some people that might think the same way,” said Li about the racial stereotypes articulated by students in the article. “For a national magazine to be asking that question is different from a few students thinking that classes are too competitive now.” Though the article claimed that a predominantly Asian population in universities is a problem that most schools avoid discussing, universities across the country are holding rallies against Maclean’s. Students atRyerson University
held a rally titled: “‘Too Asian? Talk Back: Calling Media to Account” in January to discuss the media’s responsibility in perpetuating stereotypes. Universities like McMaster, the University of Toronto, the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia have also held organized talks. The University of Victoria’s students’ society also passed a motion in late November to ban sale of the magazine if an apology was not issued. Lee doesn’t have faith that Maclean’s will apologize any time soon. “Maclean’s has issued a clarification and I don’t think they’re going to go any further than that,” he said. “I would like them to apologize, but I don’t think they’re going to.” However, Li doesn’t believe the apology, is the main issue. “Even if we don’t get it, we still consider this a victory,” she said. “The general idea is to raise awareness about this issue.”
“When I read it, I couldn’t believe that something like this could be printed.” Florence Li Project Coordinator at the Toronto chapter of the Chinese Canadian Council
The McGill Daily | Thursday, February 10, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
The case for medicare International students should be able to buy into Quebec’s provincial health plan Quinn Albaugh Hyde Park
anadians, in general, believe in medicare. In a 2008 poll conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of the Dominion Institute and Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the public considered the Canadian health care system one of the top ten defining national characteristics of Canada, along with the maple leaf, hockey, and peacekeeping. Observing this faith in medicare, I can’t help but ask – if it’s so good, why don’t international students have access to it? Medicare works because it focuses on two major goals: equity and cost control. Medicare achieves equity by providing the same basic plan to everyone who enrolls, and cost control by creating one governmental agency that pays for everyone’s health care, since when there’s only one buyer but many sellers, the buyer tends to control the prices. However, in Canada, health coverage for international students does not meet these goals, since they typically must obtain their insurance from a private monopoly designated by their university. Quebec makes for a good example of this. When international students come to Quebec, the provincial government requires that they have some form of health insurance that is valid in Quebec. Students from France, Denmark, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, and Sweden can obtain Quebec medicare due to bilateral agreements. However, all other international students must buy private insurance,
and each university establishes one company as a monopoly for this service. Many Quebec universities, including Université Laval, Université de Montréal, Université de Sherbrooke, and the entire Université du Québec system are part of a consortium that grants a monopoly on international student health insurance to Desjardins Securité financière. Bizarrely, different mem-
bers of the consortium appear to charge different rates for the same plan. For example, UQAM’s web site lists the cost of one year of health insurance as $1,265, while UdeM’s, lists the costs as only $720. McGill and Concordia are not members. Instead, they have contracts with Blue Cross. Again, even though the two plans (and even the
insurance claim forms) are largely the same, international students pay different rates at each school – $750 for Concordia, but only $591 for McGill. Bishop’s University uses Expert Travel Financial Security (ETFS), which charges $787.20. These private insurance plans
hormones since at least September 2010, even though RAMQ covers hormones. International students also face some additional disadvantages due to having private rather than public insurance coverage. RAMQ will cover prescription drugs at the pharmacy, while private plans require submitting a formal claim – and waiting weeks for reimbursement. Furthermore, since international students
Stacey Wilson | The McGill Daily
generally mimic the public plan as set out by la Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ), with some differences. For example, Blue Cross has been denying trans people prescription drug coverage for
cannot obtain a health card, many of them lack any form of Canadian government-issued ID, which can sometimes cause complications even when doing something simple, like picking up a package from the post office. These issues only disappear once an international student graduates, decides to stay in Quebec,
applies for a post-graduate work permit from Immigration Canada, submits another application to RAMQ, and then waits three months for RAMQ to start providing coverage. All these different rules clearly undermine the principles of equity and cost control. Why should an international student at UQAM pay over twice as much as an international student at McGill? And why should an international student, as compared with a Quebec student, have a different set of benefits? And why bother having multiple bureaucracies when one alone can do the job more efficiently? The solution is for the Quebec government to allow international students to buy into medicare. International students would have to pay a premium to RAMQ, particularly since their families have not been paying taxes to fund the public health care system. These premiums would also provide additional revenue for RAMQ and likely decrease per capita health costs, since students tend to be in their late teens or twenties – typically healthier age groups than the population at large. SSMU, PGSS, and the McGill administration should lobby the Quebec government to expand access of Quebec medicare to international students, for the good of both international students and Quebec society as a whole.
Quinn Albaugh is a B.A. candidate in Political Science (Honours). They can be reached at quinn.albaugh@ mail.mcgill.ca.
The student media deserves answers Erin Hale
ach is just a hard-working capitalist under attack from crazy campus radi-
cals.” “Zach is NOT my roommate, but he shouldn’t step down either.” “Zach is corrupt – but I can only tell you seventy per cent of the story or my sources will go fucking ape shit!” The above are all various reactions in the campus media and blogosphere to the news that SSMU President Zach Newburgh has been lobbying on behalf of Jobbook – a new social networking and job search site. If you haven’t been following the story, Newburgh was nearly asked to step down, and ultimately censured because members of SSMU Council and the executive (who have not been identified) were concerned Newburgh
had a conflict of interest: he never told SSMU of his involvement, received shares in the company for his trouble, and travelled to England, California, and other parts of the U.S. to promote the site – perhaps even presenting himself as the president of SSMU. This information wasn’t revealed until months later, when there was a possibility SSMU could also buy shares and his confidentiality agreement ran out. This might sound straightforward, except for the fact that a majority of information in stories both in The Daily and the Tribune was either leaked or anonymous. This is because the entire marathon spent discussing the pros and cons of Newburgh’s involvement with Jobbook occurred in camera – or in confidential session. It appears a lot of councillors are afraid they will be sued for libel – because if they break the confidentiality agreement they could get kicked out of SSMU and lose access
to their legal defense fund. I’m sure this is all very personally distressing, but some of them appear to have been kind enough to actually speak with The Daily and the Tribune. But that does not absolve SSMU from the responsibility that students still deserve to know what happened – beyond what was slipped to the media. Whatever your opinion is of Zach’s conduct, it’s still one of the biggest stories to come out of SSMU in years. It’s also on its way to being one of the most mishandled, given the level of secrecy and fear under which it has proceeded. A major part of the democratic process is informing constituents of why decisions were made and how – to the last boring millisecond of deliberation (the reason C-SPAN exists!). Not allowing students to read the minutes of the meeting itself, and leaving them to quibble over what may or may not have happened has created a fresh
imbalance of information (re: power) at SSMU. There’s a small group of people who know exactly what happened; a ring of student journalists, friends, and bloggers that may have some idea but lack the paper trail to write about it; and everybody else. And who is this protecting? All this covert “deep-throating” is also aggravating because members of the campus media are basically being discredited for doing their job, and it places the burden on them to prove the story, as opposed to those councillors who tried to get Newburgh out of office. Anonymous sources and unattributed information look inherently sensationalist, especially when they concern a case of potential corruption. If you read a few of the online comments responding The Daily’s editorial, you’d think the paper made the whole thing up. What this means is that councillors can’t
risk their own names, but they can risk the by-line of a news writer or an editorial board – who can still get sued for libel. The limited information is also dangerous because it gives bloggers or commentary writers just enough to run with and make unsubstantiated – yet seemingly credible – claims. This story could easily disappear, but it’s kind of disturbing to think someone may have represented our student union without our consent. If you care, write to your student councillors urging them to release information from the session. This can be achieved through a 200-signature petition to force the question onto the agenda of the next Council session, or by getting an individual councillor to bring it up. Erin Hale is a U3 Philosophy student and a former Daily editor. Write her at email@example.com
The McGill Daily | Thursday, February 10, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
We are at war
Resistance to policing and violence is self-defence All we want, baby, is everything Sam Neylon and Al Blair
he events unfolding in Egypt are splashed across screens. There is tension, yes, there is resistance, yes, and there is rage. Perhaps most important to what we’re talking about here, there is self-defence against a state that has violently oppressed the Egyptian people for so many years, and against the systems that have perpetuated their oppression. Again and again we are told that Egypt needs to have an “orderly transition,” that the grievances of the street need to be siphoned off and filtered into representative democratic bodies. It is stated that for the country to function properly there need to be policing and security forces in place to protect its people – to provide security. But security for whom? And at what cost? Security fulfills two main functions. First, it protects, perpetuates, and extends profitable flows of goods and services (capital), and second, it keeps people under control. This is achieved by a securityindustrial complex: police, intelligence agencies, border control agencies, correctional services, prisons, detention centers, private security companies, surveillance technologies, data collection agencies – all of which intersect with other institutions such as immigra-
tion services and health care systems. Borders, for instance, manage flows of capital and people. Security facilitates trade, and allows some to move more easily than others. For most, borders are walls. Databases such as terrorist watch-lists gather information as a means of control. Racial and social profiling constructs and criminalizes certain identities that are deemed potential threats to the security of white supremacy and elite domination. Criminalization is the process through which behaviours or thoughts deemed dangerous or threatening are controlled and repressed. Note that in the legal context, threats to property are as reprehensible as threats to people – begging its own level of analysis. But let us recognize that as long as the cameras are watching in our hallways and our schools, as long as police are patrolling our streets, and the very notion of “having status” exists, we are all potential threats to security, and therefore potential criminals. And so, the state launches initiatives such as its anti-gang policing campaigns, the American “War on Drugs,” or the Canadian “War on Crime.” These campaigns and their “security” objectives justify this violent intrusion into our lives. What is especially compelling about these initiatives is the language of warfare that surrounds them: the state is under attack, so it must protect itself and fight back with all its might. Surveillance and criminalization are tactics of war – war against dissenters, terrorists. And
Al Blair | The McGill Daily
indeed, people die in this war. Whether it be by crossing borders, protesting, or simply playing in a park – people get killed. This happens in Egypt, but it also happens here in Canada. The 2008 shooting of Fredy Villanueva in Montreal Nord occurred in the context of one such “high-intensity” policing initiative called “Project Eclipse.” Surveillance, policing, criminalization and prisons: these form the violent condition from
which we all suffer. Like prisoners in a cell, our actions are being monitored, our identities are being controlled. This imposition of control, in the absence of consent, is inherently violent. It is an attack, a tactic of war. Within this framework, resistance becomes an act of selfdefence, a fight for survival. Protests and clashes with police may be “violent,” but they are inherently self-defensive. Violent actions and responses
to police and state genocide are always repressed, criminalized and dismissed by mainstream media. But if we begin to view violent community responses to police brutality, for example, as acts of self-defence, they gain legitimacy. We should be fighting back and taking control of security: developing strategies to end violence within our communities, but also combatting the abusive forces that cause us harm in the first place. !
Opting out is not conscientious objection Hey. A response to the “Right to choose” Jonah Campbell Hyde Park
n response to Eleanor Vaughan’s piece “Right To Choose” (Commentary, February 3), I have to say that I find couching one’s decision to opt out of funding QPIRG in the language of reproductive rights and Vietnam War dissidence both absurd and repugnant. Vaughan admits that “paying $3.75 a semester is not the same as going to war,” but this admission does not seem to interfere with her willingness to suggest a comparison between supporting a group devoted to anti-oppressive community activism, and supporting the sacrifice and wholesale slaughter of thousands of people in a meaningless war, or the leg-
acy of denying women reproductive control. So I am curious, if the author admits that these are different situations, on what basis is she invoking this language? Does it not occur to her that this might trivialize and disrespect the people she is comparing herself to – for the sake of a compelling but misleading analogy? Honestly, I’m baffled. Is Vaughan really comfortable saying that her experience deciding to file a negligible amount of online paperwork in order not to support a campus organization is in some way comparable to that of someone who had to choose between participating in a war they believed was unjust or facing imprisonment as a consequence? Or that this is in some way equivalent to deciding to abandon one’s
home, renounce one’s citizenship, and flee the country clandestinely? Or that her decision to opt out was met with resistance that resembled that against women who had to turn to illegal, often dangerous, medical procedures because no legal provision was made respecting their choice? Seriously? I can’t take issue per se with claiming that one has a right to opt out, if one honestly disagrees with the type of work QPIRG does (although I would like to think that such a person has informed themselves about the nature of this work before making this decision). This right already exists. You didn’t have to fight for it. You’re not going to go to jail for it. You’re not going to be expelled, or have your citizenship revoked for it. Your principled $3.75 is not the
moral equivalent of reproductive choice. So let’s just say I’m shocked. And that I cannot believe that anyone who takes seriously reproductive rights or conscientious objection could make an argument like this. A “conscientious objector,” by the way, is someone who specifically refuses to bear arms for religious or ethical reasons, not anyone who makes a decision as an act of conscience. The “opt-out as symbolic conscientious objection” analogy is thus not merely offensive and self-aggrandizing, but a plainly false analogy. Just FYI. Jonah Campbell is a first-year M.A. student in the Social Studies of Medicine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Conscience of a president
A failure of duty The difference between personal gain and benefit to the Society as a whole Sebastian Ronderos-Morgan Hyde Park
t’s crucial to remember that the students forming the leadership of student associations, like SSMU, have enormous influence and power at their disposal. Despite the check of Council and committees, executives are empowered to seek out contracts with businesses to further Society activities. For many companies, executives serve as the gatekeepers to markets of tens of thousands of young people with huge future economic potential. These companies are all too aware of how easy executives can be swayed through charm and flattery. This is why it is so critical for students to expect the highest levels of accountability from their elected Society executives, particularly the president. Fortunately, the Society has developed rules and policies to guide the conduct of executives and other Society decision-makers, to ensure that the decisions they make are accountable first and foremost to the student body, and not to private interests. After all, student associations are not traditional corporations: their bottom line is not profit – their bottom line is the student experience and quality of service. In particular, SSMU has a Conflict of Interest Policy, and other financial management policies, that govern the kind of conduct that executives, and the society as a whole, must follow. These codes of conduct underline the importance of objective and ethical decision-making in all matters of Society business. The first sentence of the Conflict of Interest Policy states that “the Students’ Society of McGill University has a responsibility to engage in respectful, ethical, and objective decisionmaking practices.” Furthermore, the same policy calls on decisionmakers in the Society to fully dis-
close any possible conflicts of interest that may arise before further actions are taken: “In all cases, it is the responsibility of the individual to acknowledge their concern about a potential conflict of interest they may have before entering into a financial transaction or debate directly related to the making of a decision.” On both counts, SSMU President Zach Newburgh failed in his duty. Not only did he compromise his ability to objectively make decisions by working for jobbook. com, a company that had business interests in SSMU, he also intentionally avoided disclosing this conflict of interest to some of his co-executives, and to the Legislative Council. The most distressing part of Newburgh’s actions is not that he necessarily profited from his business relations with jobbook.com. Rather, it’s that he made a conscious decision to use his title as the president and spokesperson of all McGill undergrads for the benefit of a private company, possibly for personal gain, and not in the interests of students. Newburgh defended his actions by saying that “it was in the best interests of students,” but it’s hard to believe how the interest of students was truly his priority when jobbook.com, and not students, stood to make big money from the work he did for them. It’s clear that Newburgh failed to distinguish between his commitment to the Students’ Society he represents, and his commitment to his own interests, and a private one at that. This lapse in judgment is not unforgivable, but it does undermine the legitimacy and integrity of his mandate. Having said all this, it is only reasonable for the student body to expect public admission of fault and a resignation. Sebastian Ronderos-Morgan is a U3 Political Science student and former VP External of SSMU (2009-2010). He can be reached at sebastian. email@example.com.
Zach Newburgh should resign his office Ivan Neilson Hyde Park
espite my complete disengagement from all matters SSMU-related, I feel compelled by recent events to discuss the unspoken code of ethics by which all executives of the Society are bound. In addition, I would like to clarify why the SSMU Constitution requires the president (and no other officer) “to ensure the long-term integrity of the Society,” and why they in particular ought to be held to a higher standard. Those familiar with SSMU’s organizational chart already know that the vice-presidents do not report directly to the president; the Executive Committee as a whole is responsible for managing SSMU’s day-to-day affairs. Nevertheless, the president is the leader of this committee, and is responsible for presenting its decisions to Council. Other responsibilities include serving as chief officer, coordinating relations between the Society and the McGill administration, and enforcing the Society’s constitution and bylaws. While these tasks represent only a fraction of the president’s workload, they are arguably some of the most important. In order to properly fulfill these responsibilities, the president must have the confidence of all stakeholders involved: SSMU’s staff, the University, and above all, the students. In order to earn this trust, the president has a tremendous personal duty to uphold only the highest moral and ethical standards. Despite the aforementioned division of power, the president is, for
better or for worse, the face of the Society. A lack of confidence in SSMU’s leadership (or its figurehead) limits its effectiveness, and, by extension, its ability to lobby on behalf of undergraduate students. Currently, SSMU represents its members in a number of University forums, most notably the Board of Governors and the Senate. Over the past several years, senators and governors alike have become increasingly suspicious of student politicians, and openly questioned whether these “students” speak for the average undergraduate taking five classes per semester. The president is also directly involved in all negotiations between SSMU (the Corporation) and McGill University, discussing such pivotal contracts as SSMU’s memorandum of agreement and the lease of the University Centre. Senior administrators must feel comfortable that they are dealing with the students’ elected voice – one McGill student speaking on behalf of 20,000. This is why SSMU executives – especially the SSMU president – must maintain high ethical standards in the work s/he does on behalf of students. Officers of the Society are paid a living wage – after tuition and fees are taken out, executives live on a typical student budget. Perks are limited, the hours are long, and officers are often the subject of heavy criticism. In short, the life of an executive is far from easy. A true SSMU executive is not driven by the paycheque or the glory, but rather by the desire to improve the quality of student life for their peers. Nevertheless, opportunities to profit personally from holding such an office are virtually unlimited. Companies all over the country
salivate at the prospect of direct access to the untapped market of 18 to 23 year-olds that is McGill. Offers from companies promoting “new and exciting” services for students are nothing new; very rarely are they anything more than a scheme to exploit the student market. In contrast, SSMU’s exclusive contract with Les Brasseurs du Nord (Boréale) provides a tangible benefit to students, and all compensation is shared communally. While the contents of these negotiations are confidential, the process itself is very public. Students should always be aware of what is being negotiated on their behalf. The purpose of this piece is not to suggest the sky is falling. In fact, I think claims of an impending “SSMUpocalypse” are entirely overblown. The reality is that SSMU (the Corporation), is in excellent hands. It is stewarded by an incredibly capable staff committed to the Society’s continued success. It boasts some of the strictest financial controls, and is in a much better position than it was just six years ago. Regardless of internal turmoil, core services will continue to function. What I would like to relate is the following: abusing the office of the president is inexcusable. If Council believes that an elected officer has failed to uphold the ethical standards I have described, it should not hesitate to remedy the problem. As I have already explained, the consequences of inaction are far more severe. Ivan Neilson received his B.A. in Economics and Finance in 2010, and was SSMU president in 20092010. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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WHO WILL WIN THE WEB WAR? David Proctor
The Peak (Simon Fraser University)
URNABY, B.C. (CUP) – It lasted only a week and a half, but the furor that spread throughout social media frequented by Canadian users was difficult to miss. The once-obscure jargon of usage-based billing became commonplace as articles predicted Canada’s collapse into an online ghetto. Outraged internet users plotted ways to fix the damage that had been done, with solutions including online petitions, Facebook status campaigns, class-action lawsuits, and mass rallies in the streets. Ten days later, however, the outrage transformed into celebration in response to a government message originally distributed through the Prime Minister’s Twitter account.
Tuesday, January 25 The mass outrage started on January 25, after a long-awaited decision by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), an arm’s-length government body responsible for regulating Canada’s broadcast and telecommunications systems, including internet service providers (ISPs). Under the system set up by the CRTC in the 1990s, the four major Canadian ISPs, owning the vast majority of Canadian internet infrastructure, are required to lease use of their networks to smaller, independent ISPs. In large part, this arrangement was intended to ensure that there would be a sufficient amount of competition in the ISP market, since an oligopoly of only four companies would easily be able to organize into a cartel and drive up prices. The major ISPs – Bell, Rogers, Shaw, and Telus – have been wanting for years to implement usage-based billing, in which heavy internet users are charged a greater figure for the greater level of network resources that they use. However, in order to do so, they
would need the independent ISPs to adopt a similar scheme. If the big four priced their services in this manner, the independents could easily undercut them by offering unlimited internet for a similar or lower price. Accordingly, the major ISPs petitioned the CRTC to allow them to charge the independents in a usage-based model, allowing them to set a minimum price for all ISPs operating on their infrastructure. Independent ISPs were alarmed by this proposition; many based their business model on providing cheaper internet access than the major telecoms. They asked the CRTC to require the major ISPs to offer them a fifty per cent discount on their billing rates compared to what they charge their direct customers. Such a scheme would allow the smaller internet providers more flexibility in their pricing. On January 25, the ruling was finally returned: Independent ISPs would get a discount, but it would be much smaller than requested – only 15 per cent. The changes were to take effect on March 1.
Nine days of outrage Backlash against the decision was swift and strong. Thousands of posts protesting the arrangement appeared on forums, message boards, and social networking sites. All over the internet, Canadian users began planning ways to voice their displeasure and co-ordinate their efforts to get the decision overturned. One of the central campaigns in this effort was the “Stop The Meter” online petition, created by openmedia.ca, which had 41,000 signatures when the CRTC decision was announced. By February 3, that figure had grown to over 350,000. “The independent internet service providers were created to be a check on [the four major ISPs] so that the pricing structures would even out in favor of the consumer,” explained openmedia.ca communications manager Lindsey Pinto.
Following the CRTC decision, however, major ISPs will be “able to impose this internet metering on their independent competitors, which basically means that these independent competitors no longer provide a check on that market, and that these big four telecommunications companies are able to say how much the internet is going to cost.” This ability to unilaterally set the price of internet access in Canada was not the only motivation that the big four had for establishing such a scheme. “We have internet service providers that also own content,” Pinto pointed out. “For example, Shaw owns Global, and Bell is in the process of acquiring CTV. There are [online] services like YouTube that allow people to create that same kind of televisual content. So in addition to wanting to generate greater revenues from the internet, they’re also protecting their television interests and their content interests from competitors.” A particularly striking example of this is the case of Netflix, an American company that has recently begun to offer unlimited on-demand streaming of movies and TV shows to Canadian customers. This service competes with both the big four’s television holdings and their own on-demand video services. Because Netflix streams its videos over the internet, a usage-based billing scheme would allow an ISP to charge users for the bandwidth used to watch a Netflix movie, driving the price of such content up substantially. Most usage-based billing schemes charge consumers a flat rate for a certain amount of bandwidth per month and add an extra fee for each gigabyte by which users exceed that cap. Much of the online outrage was directed toward perceived price gouging in this arrangement, but some was pointed at usage caps that were perceived as being too low. Bell’s new basic internet package would offer 25 gigabytes of bandwidth per month – enough to stream only 8.3 two-hour HD movies from Netflix, without allowing for any other internet usage of any kind.
The McGill Daily | Thursday, February 10, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Nicole Stradiotto | The McGill Daily
Primarily, however, public scorn was directed at the inflated pricing of bandwidth exceeding the cap: The same Bell plan prices extra bandwidth at $2 per gigabyte. “The comparison that we’ve been hearing a lot from public policy advisors, et cetera, is that it costs [ISPs] between $0.01 and $0.15 per gigabyte, and that they’re charging overages of $1 to $4,” explained Pinto. The absurdity of this inflation was highlighted in an image that began circulating on the internet early last week. The creator of the image had calculated that if one were to purchase a 160 gigabyte solid-state hard drive – roughly $300, or $1.88 per gigabyte – fill it with useful data, and spend $10 on next-day shipping to send it from one part of Canada to another in 24 hours, they would pay $1.94 per gigabyte to have effectively sent themselves that data at just over 15 megabytes per second – a common speed for Canadian internet connections. In other words, it would be cheaper to purchase an expensive hard drive, expressmail it to yourself, and then throw it away than it would be to pay Bell’s fees for the same amount of bandwidth. One of the industry’s primary arguments in favour of the new arrangement is that government intervention in the operation of such companies represents an unjustifiable compromise of the normal operation of the free market. “That is the opposite of what’s happening,” Pinto said. “By allowing big ISPs to control how smaller ISPs offer their customers prices and other metrics, we’re basically stifling that competition, and we’re eliminating the check that was once there.” The major companies have also defended the practice of high-priced, usage-based billing as necessary to allow for maintenance and expansion of Canada’s internet infrastructure, but Pinto again differs, stating, “That doesn’t have much to do with usage. It indicates a general need for more revenue rather than a need to introduce a particular system of pricing.” She added that telecommunications com-
panies are “incentivized and partially publicly subsidized to lay down the lines.” Indeed, although modern internet infrastructure is now available relatively cheaply to the major ISPs, they have been slow to implement it, leaving Canadian users to use outdated technology, as countries like Japan and Norway are able to offer internet users 100 megabyte per second connections at rates cheaper than those in Canada. “We are now 23rd out of the 25 OECD countries in terms of broadband speed and affordability,” Pinto said. “We’re falling behind the rest of the world. It’s not great.”
The end of the controversy? With the spectre of an election looming large before the federal political parties, it is not surprising that the NDP and Liberals seized the opportunity to align themselves with the tide of populist outrage that followed the CRTC’s January 25 announcement. Both the Liberals and the NDP have added pages to their party websites coaching users on ways to assist in the effort to get the CRTC ruling overturned. Seven days after the decision was published, however, something surprising happened. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s official Twitter account was updated with a post: “We’re very concerned about CRTC’s decision on usage-based billing and its impact on consumers. I’ve asked for a review of the decision.” Two days later, Minister of Industry Tony Clement confirmed what many Canadians had been hoping for. He stated via Twitter that he would ask the CRTC to review their decision, and that if they did not overturn it on their own, the Conservative government would do it for them. The online message boards that had been teeming with outrage over usage-based billing only hours before quickly shifted to an atmosphere of guarded celebration. “I think it is an excellent step in the right direction,” said Pinto, but she also tempered
her enthusiasm. “We’re not sure exactly what this means. We know that the Harper government is going to ask the CRTC to overrule a decision related to internet metering, but we’re not sure if that’s going to relate to the structure of what usage-based billing is going to look like, or whether that’s going to overturn internet metering and bandwidth caps in their entirety. “This is the government going to the CRTC and going, ‘You have to make a favourable decision on this or else we’re going to overturn it.’ What constitutes a favourable decision for the government is up in the air.” The following day, CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science, and Technology with a defiant attitude that surprised many observers. He stated that the CRTC would delay the implementation of usage-based billing for two months, giving independent ISPs until at least May 1 before their pricing structures would be altered. He also stated that “I would like to reiterate the commission’s view that usage-based billing is a legitimate principle for pricing internet services...the vast majority of internet users should not be asked to subsidize a small minority of heavy users. For us, it is a question of fundamental fairness.” The specifics of the government’s plans remain unclear; accordingly, those fighting against usage-based billing are encouraging the public to persist in their efforts. A public letter from Michael Ignatieff has exhorted Canadians to sign the openmedia.ca petition and spread the word on social media. Additionally, openmedia.ca is encouraging participation in a national day of action later this month. Although the anti-usage-based billing movement has scored a major victory, a historically unsympathetic government and a defiant CRTC seem to present a threat that will last into the future. The story that will change the face of the internet in Canada has reached a dramatic climax, but it is far from over.
The McGill Daily | Thursday, February 10, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Re: “Zach Newburgh must resign” | Editorial | February 7
We elect a president to represent us; this grants him or her a certain freedom to take actions to promote the best interests of the Society, independent of consultation with others. Zachary Margolis U3 Environment Arts Rep to SSMU
It’s time to honourably resign An open letter to Zach Newburgh Dear Zach Newburgh, I was a student politician at Dalhousie University, serving as the Union’s vice-president internal. I learned to watch out for “the capitalists.” I’m no Leninist, but when you have large pools of public dollars (OPM – Other People’s Money), you get vultures who prey on inexperienced executives who do not fully understand the nature of their obligations toward the organization they represent. After four years of law school, I can tell you the EXACT nature of the obligations you have – they are fiduciary in nature. You owe a duty of loyalty and due care to the union. You owe this duty 24/7, and your sole mission in life should be to serve the students of McGill University. If you made any business dealings stemming from your position as a student politician, you have breached a cardinal rule! All dealings should have been involving the benefit of the student society, and not you personally. ANY outside income from alternate sources is simply dirty money. Your involvement with Jobbook is so clearly a gross violation of the duty you bore toward SSMU. You should not be making ANY income outside of your salary from SSMU, and if you are not barred from doing that by policy, you certainly are ethically. This entrepreneur/capitalist/ what-have-you took advantage of you at an early stage in your career and blackened your name. Trust me as a former executive, you do not need future prospective employers reading a bunch of bad stuff about you from old McGill newspaper clippings on Google. It is time for you to act honourably and quit your post as president of SSMU. The organization will be better off without you, and it is due penance for what was clearly a violation of your duty to serve the students of McGill. Kind regards, Philip Duguay U4 Law Former vice-president (internal), Dalhousie Student Union This letter first appeared in an email to Zach Newburgh.
Stop appropriating radical discourse for an Conservative agenda Re: “Right to choose” | Commentary | February 3 To Eleanor Vaughn, Your use of the argument “right to choose” is at once: 1) offensive: it trivializes the essential right for women to bodily sovereignty and access to abortion, the denial of which results in the deaths of thousands of women worldwide every year due to unsafe abortions; 2) ironic: freedom of choice has historically been fought for by those same “radicals” you condemn, and systemically denied by the conservative forces you endorse; and 3) irrelevant: since the right for students to “opt-out” has never been threatened. In fact, QPIRG was the one to first instigate the “opt-out” option for its fees in the nineties and maintains the right of students to get informed about its services, events, and working groups, and to decide whether to opt-in or not. And I mean really get informed, and not just accept unfounded accusations such as yours that “QPIRG uses its funding to support external activism for radical causes.” One of QPIRG’s “radical causes” (as you put it) is to “oppose all forms of discrimination on the basis of: class, gender, race, sexual orientation, and dis/ability.” Do you really think these issues are “external” to McGill? You are right that supporting the Chaotic Insurrection Ensemble, which sings chants for equality and the end to oppression, is quite different from hosting a wine and cheese. That’s because QPIRG and its working groups, such as the CIE, are actively struggling for social and environmental justice. These struggles are unfortunately terribly under-funded in our society, and do not receive the same political or financial support as groups working under a Conservative agenda. $150,000 may seem like a lot at first, but it is barely enough to sustain all the incredible work QPIRG does on campus and in the community each year. Jessica Blair B.A. 2010, Women’s Studies Board member, QPIRG-McGill
The Daily received more letters than it could print this issue. The rest will appear in our next issue. Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org from your McGill email address, and keep them to 300 words. The Daily does not print letters that are sexist, bigoted, or otherwise hateful.
Resignation is not in SSMU’s best interest Re: “Zach Newburgh must resign” | Editorial | February 7 Dear Zach Newburgh, I’m going to tread a fine line here, as I at least plan on respecting the procedures of Council and on keeping confidential information discussed in confidential session, something that some other representatives have obviously failed to do. Anything I write here is based on facts that have been discussed in the media, and I will avoid reference to anything that transpired at Council on Thursday night and Friday morning. In short, the editorial “Zach Newburgh must resign” is not just wrong, but flat out dishonest, attempting to manipulate readers into believing the worst about Newburgh. The editorial suggests that Newburgh should have discussed with Council issues on which he had signed a confidentiality clause. Essentially The Daily believes that the by-laws and constitution of SSMU somehow supersede Quebec law, and that the president should have opened himself up to the threat of legal action in order to make students feel better. We elect a president to represent us; this grants him or her a certain freedom to take actions to promote the best interests of the Society, independent of consultation with others. And let’s be clear here, I find it difficult to comprehend the idea that anyone honestly thinks Newburgh was purposefully acting in a way to cause harm to SSMU. Everyone makes mistakes, and Newburgh has openly admitted that he made a decision that in hindsight was not ideal. This is not, however, a reason to seek to remove someone who has, at least in my opinion, worked tirelessly and to the best of his abilities to fulfill his mandate. Newburgh has done a lot of good things over the past months, and it would be a shame to allow one mistake to mar his entire body of work. The president is responsible to members of SSMU and it is the job of Council to keep him accountable; in keeping with that role, Council has censured him. Before embarking on some further campaign to remove Newburgh from office, one should consider what is truly in the best interests of students. Zachary Margolis U3 Environment Arts Rep to SSMU
In defence of QPIRG
Is consent too legalistic?
An open letter
Re: “Consent is fucking sexy” | Letters | February 3
As opt-out season comes into full swing, KANATA, McGill’s Indigenous Studies community, wishes to speak out in support of QPIRG. As a working group, KANATA receives crucial support from QPIRG, giving us the ability to pursue our goal of the establishment of an Indigenous Studies community at McGill. Our group advocates for a minor program in Indigenous Studies. Most importantly, KANATA strives for the creation of a space and a medium through which relations between Native and non-Native persons can come together and build relationships of understanding, dialogue, and mutual respect on-campus, and with ripple effects off-campus. At the centre of KANATA is the development and production of a student-led annual interdisciplinary academic journal. This publication enables students to discuss and explore ways in which knowledge can be manifested and applied in the world outside of the classroom. Though we hold a variety of fundraisers throughout the year (such as our famous chai tea and grilled cheese sales and well-attended open-mics), the support we receive from QPIRG is vital. With financial and web support from QPIRG, KANATA has developed a website which allows us to not only print our journal, but also make it available online. This has allowed the Indigenous Studies dialogue of McGill to be distributed and read across Canada and beyond. As QPIRG working groups exist as autonomous organizations, KANATA is able to blossom and grow as we see fit. QPIRG allows KANATA to follow a direction that best suits our mandate. In supporting QPIRG, you are supporting the work of KANATA and other equally worthwhile organizations doing valuable, concrete work in the McGill and Montreal community such as Campus Crops, Climate Justice Montreal, Greening McGill, Montreal Media Co-Op, Barrière Lake Solidarity, Qteam, and many more. We at KANATA ask that you continue to allow QPIRG, with its broad education and research mandate, assist us and the other QPIRG working groups in carrying out research and advocacy that is making a difference on our campus and beyond. Derrick Lovell U2 Canadian Studies Vice President, KANATA This letter was received January 26
To Al Blair, It is difficult to come across as unironically appreciative of criticism these days (and especially, I find, in this paper!), but your thoughtful letter was very much appreciated. You’re right when you say that “if you really respected your lover you would not hesitate to ask,” and your clever inversion casts my previous comment in a light I find pretty distasteful, which it ought to be! However, I remain concerned about how deeply the discourse of consent is rooted in legalistic discourse. Take, for instance, the rape allegations pending in Sweden against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. To read the case briefs, one very much gets the sense that the plaintiffs regretted the sex with Assange, and concocted narratives of ungiven consent in which Assange is heavily implicated. Sweden’s strict rape laws are the essential enablers of what seems (but might not in fact be) a case of vindictive revenge on their part. Consent is of course a necessary condition for good sex, and communication is essential in any relationship and particularly in romantic relationships. I just wonder and remain concerned about how much absolutely needs to be communicated, and to what extent that communication can or ought to be controlled, legislated and directed towards subordinate ends. Thanks again for your wonderful letter, Matthew Powes U1 Arts
The McGill Daily | Thursday, February 10, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Organizing against legal invasion
Professor Adrienne Hurley explores the U.S. military’s impact on Guam, in a V-Day discussion event Shaina Agbayani
The McGill Daily
hat does the word ‘bikini’ evoke for you? ...A bikini-clad woman invigorated by solar radiation, or Bikini Islanders cancerridden from nuclear radiation... This was the site in the Marshall Islands for the testing of 25 nuclear bombs between 1946 and 1958… By drawing attention to a sexualized and supposedly depoliticized female body, the bikini distracts from the colonial and highly political origins of the name... both a celebration and a forgetting of the nuclear power that strategically and materially marginalizes and erases the living history of the Pacific Islanders.” —Teresia K. Teaiwa in Militarized Currents: Toward a Decolonized Future in Asia and the Pacific
As part of a series of events hosted by V-Day McGill this week, professor Adrienne Hurley of the East Asian Studies department read this excerpt to introduce her discussion on Monday, “Collective Responses to State Violence”. The discussion’s theme of state violence was grounded in a dialogue concerning another island nestled in the Pacific: Guam, which is just 2,200 kilometres west of the Bikini Atoll. Under U.S. control since American forces repelled the
Japanese military during World War II, Guam is one of the 16 remaining non-self-governing territories in the world, according to the United Nations. The destruction and irradiation of Bikini Atoll, due to its selection as the American military’s nuclear laboratory, prompted the forced relocation of its Indigenous peoples, who were moved to another nearby island that has proven unsuitable for a decent standard of living. Inhabitants unsuccessfully sought reparations for their plight by appealing the U.S. Supreme Court in 2009. Similarly, Guam is in the process of a significant demographic shift orchestrated under the purview of American military, one that will negatively impact its population. As a result of the wholesale relocation of American marine bases from Okinawa to Guam by 2014 – a move that will spur a 45 per cent increase in the island’s population of 180,000 – the island is slated to become a nucleus of American military force. Eight thousand Marines and their dependents will arrive, along with workers, who will construct the infrastructure required to support this population boom. Currently, the indigenous Chamorros make up less than forty per cent of the population of Guam, where the U.S. Department of Defence already occupies a little over thirty per cent of land. As Hurley noted, this, of course, means that the island’s
inhabitants will have access to less land to feed themselves. The Federal Environment Protection Agency cautions that “significant and adverse environmental and social impact” will result from the influx. In addition to the adverse environmental impacts of overcrowding, and the resulting stress on the land and the agriculture industry, the cultural impact will prove substantial: Marines have proposed the establishment of a firing range on cemeteries and on the sacred cultural sites of Pagat. The Chamorros’ protestations are regarded as negligible in resettlement negotiations between Japan and the U.S., leaving them with minimal channels for recourse. Therefore, as Hurley voiced, simply raising the currently lacking international awareness is valuable in strengthening the movement to counter this neocolonial “build-up” of the American population at the expense of the Chamorro community. Yet organizing a collective response is a complex task. As stated by Chamorro psychologist Patricia L. G. Taimanglo, it is important to address the continued history of losses by opening indigenous forums for educating the islanders on the incipient changes. Within what Hurley dubbed “the official discourse,” mass resettlement is promoted to the Chamorros as a positive variable for supporting Guam’s economic growth, while neglecting the inevitable dimen-
Rosie Dobson for the The McGill Daily
sions of cultural disintegration. Therefore, as Taimanglo affirms, generating an exchange of critical dialogue within Chamorros communities on the causes and impacts of Guam’s reconfiguration should be prioritized. Most importantly, Taimanglo
notes, supporting Chamorro agency through the practice of remembering is invaluable for reconciling with the attack on their cultural tapestry. For more information, visit decolonizeguam.blogspot.com
Exploring the decadent ways of making truffles Dine with Dash Thomas Dashwood email@example.com
owe the groundwork of this column to Jamie Oliver and his Christmas truffle recipe. After watching him make a simple truffle ganache (the meltingly rich truffle filling) and then lay it out for his friends to roll into their own confections, including crushed nuts and cocoa, I could think of only three things. First, I thought of how perfect this would be for Valentine’s Day – another artificial reason to gorge on chocolate, but this time without the tacky wrapping. Second, my mind went crazy with all of the different flavour combinations. Lastly, I thought of how messy these could get if you ate them in bed. Darn.
Truffles Ganache: Heat 250ml (one small container) of heavy cream (35 per cent fat) on medium heat until steaming slightly, but not bubbling. Meanwhile, chop about 250g of decent chocolate – about seventy per cent cocoa solid, and not chocolate chips or baking chocolate. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Before the cream boils, add a tablespoon of butter and a pinch of salt, let it melt, and then add to the chocolate. Stir the chocolate with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, adding the liquor or flavourings of your choice until smooth and shiny. Pour into a bowl and cool in the fridge for at least three hours. When ready to make the truffles, take about one tablespoon of the ganache either with a spoon, or you can roll it into a ball with your hands. Dip and roll in the coatings of your choice and eat straight away. You can also coat them all ahead of time and store in the fridge, taking them out ten minutes before you want to eat them.
Liquors (add two tablespoons): dark rum, Grand Marnier, whisky, Bailey’s, Kahlua, Tia Maria, Frangelico, brandy, kirsch, crème de menthe, crème de cacao, red wine. Flavourings (use one teaspoon): rose or orange blossom water, espresso; or extracts such as vanilla, orange, almond, mint or coconut. Coatings: melted chocolate; cocoa powder; icing sugar; crushed rice krispies, cornflakes, or cookies; chopped or ground nuts – hazelnuts, almond, walnuts, peanuts, pistachio, pecan, brazil nuts; a sprinkle of sea salt; crushed toffee candies or mints; cinnamon sugar – use three parts granulated sugar to one part ground cinnamon; icing sugar mixed with grated orange zest (for milk and dark chocolate) or lemon or lime zest (for white chocolate); crushed chocolate covered coffee beans; shredded coconut (toasted or not); sprinkles; dried lavender flowers; or rose petals.
The McGill Daily | Thursday, February 10, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Students resist Bill 101 coming to CEGEPs
Parti Québécois proposal would see francophones, immigrants required to attend French-language colleges Jacob Serebrin
CUP Quebec Bureau Chief
ontreal (CUP) — Forbidding graduates of Quebec’s French-language schools from attending English-language CEGEPs would only prevent students who already speak French from learning English, says the students’ union at Dawson College. Last weekend, the Parti Québécois called for Bill 101, the law regulating language in the province, to be extended to CEGEPs. Currently, students and their siblings are allowed to attend primary or secondary school in the English system if they moved from somewhere else in Canada and had been primarily educated in English before moving, or if their parents had been primarily educated in English in Canada. But according to Michaël Lessard, treasurer of Dawson’s stu-
dents’ union and a graduate of the French-language school system, preventing students like him from attending English CEGEPs would only prevent students from the French school system from improving their English. The calls by Quebec’s largest opposition party come after the release of a study conducted by the Institute for Research on French in the Americas (IRFA) in mid-January. Commissioned by the Centrale des syndicats du Québéc, the union representing most teachers in the province, the study explored the reasons why an increasing number of francophone and allophones on the island of Montreal are attending English-language CEGEPs. Most students who attended Englishlanguage CEGEPs after graduating from French high schools, the study claimed, believe it will lead to better jobs. Francophones and allophones make up 49 per cent of
the students at English-language CEGEPs. For many francophone students, attending an Englishlanguage CEGEP is an opportunity to improve their language skills. “I wanted to improve my English,” said Caroline-Ariane Bernier, a law student at McGill who attended a French-language high school but an English-language CEGEP. “I wanted to work in international law and I knew that speaking English would be very useful.” According to Bernier, around half her Francophone public high school class attended English CEGEPs “because English is the international language.” Lessard has a similar story: “The main reason I went to Dawson was to learn English.” According to Lessard, English is necessary to work in “anything that touches politics or law or business or academics,” especially when those fields that involve
interacting with people from outside Quebec. “That’s why I don’t understand the arguments, even from the nationalist point of view: you want Quebec to be able to talk with the rest of Canada or America.” Lessard said that studying in English also gives bilingual students the ability to choose a university based on its programs, rather than on language. But for some students who come from the French system it’s not about learning a new language, it’s about studying in a language they know better. “I was just more comfortable speaking English,” said Nina Li, currently a McGill student. “I spoke English at home and with friends.” Li, who described being allowed to study in English as “freeing,” said she wasn’t thinking about future employment when she decided to go to an English CEGEP, just about getting into an English university. According to the IRFA study,
forty per cent of allophone students go to English-language CEGEPs and the majority say they’re more fluent in English. For the Parti Québécois, this is part of the reason why Bill 101 should be extended, in order to better help immigrants integrate into francophone society “An important number of the new members of the new communities are going to the CEGEPs in English, and after that they are integrating to the English communities,” party leader Pauline Marois told the CBC. For Li, it’s also about choice. “At that age, you’re 17 or 18, you’re becoming an adult, you should definitely be able to choose.” At least for the moment, the extension of Bill 101 isn’t on the table. Christine St-Pierre, the minister responsible for the Charter of the French Language, has described the calls to expand the law to CEGEPs as “radical.”
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The McGill Daily | Thursday, February 10, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Welcome to the pleasuredome Patrons party on a different wavelength at Stereo afterhours club
Ian Murphy for The McGill Daily
Davide Mastracci The McGill Daily
he taxi door closed as the drugs took hold. The girls were young, overwhelmed by the raw pleasure of the first peak of MDMA. Pupils dilated, senses maxed, brains flooded with serotonin. It was close to 4 a.m., and the streets of Montreal were nearly empty. Most had left the clubs, heading home to be ravished by strangers. Yet in the confines of the taxi, the trip had just commenced. “Stereo,” the taxi driver said, “the party is just beginning...” Located at 856 Ste. Catherine E., bordering on the Village, Stereo is an international icon. Rated as the fourteenth best club in the world last year by the prestigious DJMag, Stereo shines amidst the dim glow of subpar clubs throughout North America. As a strictly afterhours club, Stereo opens at 1 a.m. every Saturday and Sunday, and caters primarily to a scene of clubbers who aren’t appeased by what the ten – three scene can offer. Afterhours clubbing does not present itself as an extension of “regular” clubbing, but rather as an entirely new, rewarding experience. “Regular” clubbing is built around the sale of alcohol, as for many clubs, success depends upon how thirsty their patrons are. At
Stereo, no alcohol is served. One of the major benefits of this are the extended hours it affords the club, liberating Stereo from the oppressive hours of liquor licenses. Mike Rein, co-owner of Stereo along with Tommy Piscardeli, stresses the benefits prohibition brings in terms of music. “We’ve stayed open until 5 p.m. before,” he stated. “If the people are here, and the DJ is having fun, let’s do it.” This allows for the handpicked international DJs to perform “ten hour sets if they want to,” Piscardeli claimed. Music is clearly vital to the success of Stereo and the afterhours scene in general. Tommy pointed out that, “In alcohol clubs, music just becomes the background. Here, all you have is music; all you have is a dance floor. There is no VIP. You’re not judged on how much money you have like in a club. People are here for the music. They’re not sitting in a booth showing off with their bottles.” The lack of alcohol also plays a major role in shaping the mood of the crowd. A far cry from the often violent attitudes found in alcoholfuelled clubs, there is no aggression at Stereo at all. According to Rein, there has not been a fight at the club in 11 years. While alcohol plays no major role in the scene, drugs certainly do. Longtime patron Bruno explained, “The first time I went to Stereo and saw the dance floor, I was mesmerized. The
lights, the deep resonating sound, the newest and best EDM [electronic dance music], and the crowd. They were all dancing, intensely, probably fuelled by drugs. I know I was, and the people I talked to as well. Cocaine, MDMA, speed – the party drugs. You could see their influence, they were all there. But everybody was friendly, I always felt safe, and I’ve never had to worry about the usual idiots that terrorize clubs.” It would seem as if the drug crowd is safer than the alcohol crowd. Regardless of the prevalence of drugs, it would be illogical to assume all patrons of Stereo use them. The club itself takes all necessary precautions against drugs, with strict security pat downs upon entrance, and bouncers proficient in first aid. Furthermore, unlike many afterhours venues, Stereo has had no issues with law enforcement. Rein explained that, “We have a great standing relationship with the local police department. We have an open door policy with them. They can come and look around whenever they want.” The preconception that afterhours clubs are sketchy, or even illegal, is valid in some cases, but Stereo’s relationship with the authorities is one that most afterhours clubs cannot claim. Another major difference between most clubs and Stereo stems from the elegance of the club itself. “There’s not many clubs that can say
“turn on our lights” in the daytime and the club looks great. You can do that at Stereo,” said Piscardeli. Following a disastrous fire that shut the club down in 2009, Stereo was completely redesigned, and is now deceptively luxurious. From the outside, its mysterious black doors blend in with the neighbourhood, but once opened they reveal a world of fantasy. The dance floor is made of exotic hardwood. The mesmerizing collection of new and unreleased EDM tracks emanates from large speakers with high polish finishes. The club itself is constructed within a building, and this double layer of insulation helps to contain sound. The dance floor floats five feet above the bottom of the building, producing a bass you feel instead of hear. If you need a break from dancing, you can relax in the two beautiful lounge areas, adorned with multiple leather couches. “We took what people always complained about Stereo, and fixed it,” Piscardeli said. Essentially, the club is comfortable enough to allow for the long hours spent within it. Some patrons even take to calling Stereo home. They treat the club with respect: by the end of a night at Stereo, the floors remain clean, barring the exception of the odd tiny baggie with remnants of cocaine snuck through the security screenings. The plague of sticky alcohol coated floors littered with cups, napkins, and whatever
else clubbers leave behind does not infect Stereo. Evidently, something about Stereo makes it stand out. Rein reflected on the popularity of the club, claiming, “We’ve had sold out nights where you’re waiting outside for three or four hours in the snow. I remember last New Years, there was a guy who had about three inches of snow built up on his hood because he hadn’t moved in three hours and was waiting patiently. When I saw that I looked and said ‘You! Get inside! You’ve been way too patient, you’ve got three inches of snow on your head, let’s go inside.’” For the loyal patrons of Stereo, it is more than just a club. Tatyana, an occasional Stereo patron, observed, “It’s a whole new scene that I didn’t even think existed. The drugs, the sex, and the music. It’s just so different. I think if you’re somebody who likes to experiment and likes to try new things and is open minded, this would be a positive experience.” Yet passion for the establishment extends beyond the patrons. Piscardeli said, “What I’ve always loved about Stereo is that it’s an escape. It’s an escape from everyday life, work, problems. Leave it at the door. You come in, don’t worry about anything. Enjoy yourself.” Stereo is seen as a “pleasure dome” where, in Rein’s words, you can “turn your reality into fantasy for ten hours.”
The McGill Daily | Thursday, February 10, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
V for vagina After ten years, V-Day McGill continues to promote dialogue with the Monologues Jessica Lukawiecki The McGill Daily
ombining activism, theatre, and the word vagina, V-Day McGill – the chapter of the international organization whose main aim is to fight genderbased violence – is mounting their annual production of the Vagina Monologues for the tenth year running. V-Day McGill was founded in late 2002 by Queer McGill, and has since collected over $130,000 for V-Day, and for Montreal anti-violence organizations. While V-Day’s uninhibited use of the word vagina succeeds in capturing many people’s attention, it also distracts from the real cause that exists behind the show. The comedic yet provocative Vagina Monologues is being performed this weekend to celebrate female sexuality in all its complexity and cast, crew, and members are as excited and dedicated to their cause as ever. In 1996 a little known yet provocatively titled piece, the Vagina Monologues, first made an appearance in New York City at the Off-Broadway Westside Theatre. Created by Eve Ensler, the production was comprised of a number of monologues performed by several different women, on topics varying from love, masturbation, and orgasm, to mutilation and rape. The pieces explored many of the taboo topics that surround the feminine ‘mystique’, and the vagina in particular. Ensler compiled the pieces from over 200 interviews with
women of varying backgrounds on their memories and life experiences. Today, the pieces are celebrated worldwide, each year raising money, criticism, and awareness for the issues they deal with. Inspired by the Vagina Monologues, V-Day was created in 1998. It is a global movement founded by Ensler to fight violence against women and girls, in all its forms. V-Day’s work can now be seen in countries worldwide, with campaigns as far reaching as the Congo, and outreach work in the form of scholarships, theatre performances, and education programs. In an interview with The Daily, Claire Hughes – who directs V-Day McGill’s production of Vagina Monologues – described how she has seen V-Day become more positively received since she started her involvement with the group five years ago. She was first drawn to V-Day McGill as a way to pursue her love of theatre and feminism, when the movement was still considered, as Hughes puts it, “fringy.” Although she has seen acceptance grow over the years, she still recognizes that many people are holding on to some of the same stereotypes that have been pervasive in the past. “Because a lot of people have certain associations with gender-based violence, when they think about it they see one particular kind of face, and don’t understand that it’s all over the world and happens in so many different contexts – social, political, economic – it really crosses all barriers,” she explained. Although many are skeptical
at first, it seems that all it takes is some knowledge about the cause for understanding to grow. CEGEP student Tamara Sevunts, who stars in this year’s Vagina Monologues, said that when she first tells others what she is involved in, “a lot of people seem embarrassed, but as soon as they get to know more about the show they get really excited.” Sevunts also reflected on how being a part of the V-Day movement has affected her. “It’s cheesy, but it’s helped me to open up. Since we’ve had workshops on gender-based violence, it’s sensitized me to those issues. I was aware that they were happening, but I never knew what an impact they had.” She explained that despite her not being an official member of V-Day McGill, she was welcomed into the Vagina Monologues cast with open arms. After all, this was Ensler’s intention – to promote acceptance and activism for everyone and anyone. This year, V-Day McGill is donating the proceeds of the production to three charities – Head and Hands, the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal, and Shield of Athena. V-Day’s slogan –“V stands for Victory, Valentine, and Vagina” – explains the cause behind the words. Take a night to be provoked, entertained and deeply moved, and perhaps discover what “V” means for you. The Vagina Monologues is being shown this Thursday, February 10 to Saturday, February 12 at 7 p.m. in Leacock 132. Victor Tangermann | The McGill Daily
BLACK HISTORY MONTH
Beyond appearances, not race Black Like Me a powerful launch to Blue Sunshine’s Black History Month line-up Anqi Zhang
The McGill Daily
n 1959, John Howard Griffin medically darkened his skin to live and experience society in the American Deep South as a black man. He recorded his experiences and thoughts in a series of articles for the magazine Sepia, and his 188-page journal served as the backbone for his 1961 book Black Like Me. Three years later, director Carl Lerner adapted Griffin’s story to film, which screened at the Blue Sunshine film center last Saturday as part of Montreal’s Black History Month. Kier-La Janisse, one of the owners of Blue Sunshine, introduced the film, emphasizing the differences between the book and
movie. She stated that in the film, “[the main character] would get angry when he was treated badly, when in reality, that would not have been tolerated.” It is hard to imagine such a project as Griffin’s being undertaken today, because contemporary opinion holds that such outward racism in society no longer exist. North American society likes to believe that black-white relations have corrected themselves since the 1960s, and that racism is a thing of the past. Indeed, today racism is regarded as socially unacceptable, and there are certainly implements in place to defend against overt acts of racial prejudice. But racism is pervasive: in slurs, in the criminal justice system, in the job market. While the limits placed on black people due to their race have decreased over the years,
other evidence of racism still exists in North America. “Austin...is still split geographically between the parts of town where the whites...and the blacks live,” said Dave Bertrand, coowner of Blue Sunshine, when asked about the relevance of this film to contemporary society. In the Deep South, especially Atlanta, he noted, “Racism...is hard, prevalent, and real.” The difference now is that there aren’t many individuals who, like Griffin, feel the need to tackle the root of this prejudice, to report on it, and to actively pursue a better world. Griffin famously said, after his journey through the Deep South, “Now I know what it feels like to be black.” As many black people he met pointed out, Griffin did not – could not – understand that life and all of its nuances after only a few weeks, but his effort to
understand the black experience was bold in an era when racial discrimination was so thoroughly embedded in American society. No longer do we live in a world where race relations are under such scrutiny as to propel a journalist to undertake this task. Today’s world is one in which subtler forms of racism are overshadowed by more visible conflicts, such as the Niqab issue in Quebec, or IsraelPalestine relations. Consequently, in North America we celebrate Black History in February as if the battle for racial equality has already been won. Black Like Me offers a valuable reminder of the extreme racism of recent decades, and the importance of maintaining a critical attitude toward patterns of discrimination on any level. The film describes a
range of encounters, from the violent to the frightening to the kind, that illustrate the many forms of racism that Griffin experienced. The relevance of this film lies primarily in this ability to highlight the scale on which racism can take place, evoking disgust and frustration in the viewer. The rest of Blue Sunshine’s lineup for Black History Month promises to provide a broader image of black culture in America. Such events include screenings of Nina Simone’s live show from 1976, and the 1972 cult thriller Stigma. These showings, though lighter in content, complement and complete the image of Civil Rights-era black experience. Attending is perhaps a way in which we, like Griffin, can pursue greater cultural understanding.
The McGill Daily | Thursday, February 10, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
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The Illusionist proves the traditional approach to animation is still going strong, with a twist
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Housing Fabien Maltais-Bayda The McGill Daily
inema is filled with heartwarming underdog tales. These films however, with their obvious plot points and hardfought moral victories, often end up feeling disingenuous, or at least a little hollow. Sylvain Chometâ€™s latest animated offering, The Illusionist, based on a screenplay by Jacques Tati, is an exception to this tiresome trend. The movie tells the story of an aging magician who travels from theatre to theatre performing, only to find his oldworld sleight of hand constantly upstaged by flashier exhibitionists, ranging from sleazy jazz singers to attention-seeking pop stars. Along the way he meets a young girl who becomes his friend and companion, their relationship evolving throughout their journey. The filmâ€™s theme of art being eclipsed by modernity is not only heartbreakingly sincere, but in many ways illustrates the challenges faced by its creator, as well as by the fate of animation itself. In 2003, Chometâ€™s first featurelength animated film, The Triplets of Belleville, was nominated for the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. It lost, and Finding Nemo took home the award instead. While Finding Nemo was certainly entertaining, it did not carry the artistry, subtlety, or titillating eccentricity of The Triplets of Belleville. With The Illusionist, Chomet has garnered another Oscar nomination â€“ although the actual award may elude him once again, with animation heavyweight Pixarâ€™s blockbuster Toy Story 3 also in the competition. That Chometâ€™s work is underappreciated is likely due to its uniqueness, and its disregard for the current norms of animated film. One of Chometâ€™s signatures is that his films largely rely on handdrawn animation. In an industry where increasingly technological techniques dominate, this goes distinctly against
the grain. In comparison to a film like Avatar, whose over-the-top, cutting edge graphics epitomize current trends in animation, The Illusionistâ€™s hand drawn aesthetic can seem quaint. But this is part of the movieâ€™s charm. Chometâ€™s aesthetic evokes a certain nostalgia, a sentiment which the story itself reinforces. The earnestness of hand-drawn characters, reminiscent of classic childhood favourites, may not be as obviously exciting as a new digitally-animated species, but it is infinitely more emotionally engaging. In an even more obvious departure from the norm, Chomet avoids dialogue. With the exception of occasional interjections, The Illusionist is almost entirely free of speech â€“ the story told primarily through gestures and images. While some may find this peculiar at first, it takes very little time to accommodate to this gentler and more nuanced form of storytelling. Without the boisterousness of words, watching the film becomes even more engrossing, as the audience is forced to pay closer attention to Chometâ€™s stylistic rendering of people and places. Chomet took the same approach to dialogue in The Triplets of Belleville, meaning that the French original needed no adaptation to be enjoyed by an anglophone audience. The smattering of dialogue in The Illusionist furthers linguistic harmony, featuring a mix of French, English, and Scots Gaelic, without hampering comprehension. The lack of speech also makes room for a sublime
soundtrack, while emphasizing the presence of every day sounds. One of Chometâ€™s strong suits as a director is undoubtedly his ability to choose storylines that complement his aesthetic, as is the case with his adaptation of Tatiâ€™s screenplay. The Illusionistâ€™s prominent travel narrative provides the opportunity to showcase the beautifully-rendered scenery typical of Chometâ€™s work. From rolling hills, to a quaint Scottish village, to the crowded confusion of Edinburgh, the scenery that unravels as the magician and his young friend journey from one place to the next is astounding in its intricately-drawn simplicity. The Illusionist also provides Chomet with a wide variety of characters to play with. The world of a downtrodden musician is filled with gargantuan opera divas, drunken Scotsmen, and all manner of curious entertainment personas. The myriad idiosyncratic characters are realized with amazing, and often hilarious efficacy in Chometâ€™s aesthetic style, so well suited to the bizarre and the absurd. No one does a suicidal clown or a disproportionately tiny man quite like Chomet, and this film is full of them. Even with its many eccentricities, the film is much more reserved than the critically acclaimed carnival of absurdity that is The Triplets of Belleville. While the characters were endearing, and the mood of lonesomeness and unavoidable change effectively expressed, the story felt less fleshed out than it could have been. To an extent, however, this can be forgiven, as the somewhat facile nature of the plot parallels the general ethereality of the world Chomet is trying to portray. The Illusionist isnâ€™t a typical animation, and you likely wonâ€™t emerge from the theatre exhilarated, and shouting that youâ€™d rather die than not live on Pandora. It is, however, a beautiful, nuanced, and nostalgic film, and may just be the most enjoyable experience now on offer in cinemas, not to mention the quietest.
next to McGill University. Available apartments all included, 1, 2 or 3 bedrooms. Close to groceries, drugstores and subway stations. Indoor swimming pool available. For more information please call:
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Lessons/Courses CANADA COLLEGE www.collegecanada.com Any Language Course: 7.00$/hour TESOL Certification Recognized by TESL Canada. TOEFL iBT, GMAT, MCAT, TEFaQ, TEF preparation. Studentâ€™s visa, Visa renewal. 514-868-6262 firstname.lastname@example.org 1118 Sainte-Catherine West, #404, Montreal, QC
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The McGill Daily | Thursday, February 10, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
MACM screening beautifully disrupts time, space, and national identity Alex Borkowski Culture Writer
t’s a challenge to even describe the experience of watching Kevin Schmidt’s Epic Journey. The film, currently playing at the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal (MACM), is essentially a recording of the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy as it is played on a large screen set up on a boat travelling at night down the Fraser River in British Columbia. In a talk with the artist hosted by MACM, Schmidt admitted that his impulse to make the film certainly has its roots in his personal love of the series, but also from a desire to explore the kind of engagement with an alternate universe for an extended duration of time that The Lord of the Rings demands. In what he describes as a “stupidly literal” approach to this experience, Schmidt has created his own epic in parallel to that of the Hollywood movies as he attempts to film the journey of the projection of the 11-hour saga in a single take. Although he may not quite succeed in his ambitious endeavour (due to technical malfunctions, the film was shot over the course of two nights rather than one), Schmidt has produced a breathtaking piece of cinematic art. The lights from the industrial landscape along the banks of the Fraser and the glow
of the screen are reflected upon the rippling waters of the river, producing a stunning spectacle of moving colours and flickering light. The film’s dramatic soundtrack also combines with the sounds of waves to create a new score, distorting the boundaries between the realms of fiction and reality. Schmidt’s project simultaneously encompasses the temporal dimensions and physical spaces of the fictional film and the material landscape, with the two seeming at times to work in concert with one another, and at others in contrast. As the viewer tries to absorb the numerous elements at work within a single frame, their focus becomes split and they are constantly caught between the numerous visual spectacles. The ensuing sense of disorientation is Schmidt’s intention, as the film aims to investigate the manner in which we consume visual imagery. It captures what Schmidt described as a “schizophrenic experience... you are never sure where you are or what you are supposed to look at.” For Schmidt, this idea of a schizophrenic encounter also correlates to the viewer’s relationship with depictions of the landscape itself. As a genre of visual art, landscape occupies a tenuous position as both a presentation of an actual geographic location, and a representation that has been modified and idealized according to an artis-
Naomi Endicott | The McGill Daily
tic intension. Schmidt described the general understanding of the landscape as a mental construction, and yet “there seems to be this truth to it... [the landscape] at once sucks you in and calls for critical distance.” In Canada in particular, these oppositional impulses within the landscape genre are extremely significant, as landscape paintings have become icons of national identity. The paintings of Tom Thompson, Emily Carr, and the Group of Seven, aimed to give a
fledgling nation a distinct and unified self-image. Our nation’s art has become characterized by a conception of a wild and untouched North that embodies a quintessential Canadian-ness. Schmidt’s choice of the Fraser River becomes significant when considered in this context. Fundamentally, he believes, the function of art is to “make uncomfortable modes of viewing” and destabilize the way we consume visual imagery. Thus the confusion of time, space and spectacle in Epic Journey can be understood
as a means of disassembling the primary signifier of national identity. Whether looked to as an object of contemplation for the complexities of the mythology of Canadian identity, or as an artistic epic in its own right, Epic Journey is a stunning piece that is not to be missed.
ing, partly due to how society’s construction of blackness is one that is heavily dominated by the media. For the most part, the title of “culture columnist” in the mainstream has been reserved for the Leah McLaren type: women who write flippant, semi-entertaining articles on things like sex, friends, work, books, film, art, et cetera, and whose articles are precisely what come to mind when you think of the term “fluff.” In journalism, women dominate, and at the same time are exiled to, this type of culture and life writing. The “hard” stuff is saved for the politics and business sections – and for men. But
why can’t culture columnists hit harder? Why can’t culture, politics, pop culture, and issues of racism, feminism, and representation be addressed in a single column simultaneously? This column will attempt to do just that. Using my own experiences as a jumping-off point, I hope to start a critical conversation on campus about issues of race, gender, and representation. My main focus will be on how blackness is constructed in the media and the effects this has on one’s own identity formation. Consequently, my own personal struggles with race and identity as someone of mixed race will feature prominently in this col-
umn, alongside more abstract meditations on racial issues within society. Culture is power. But accessing power isn’t simply about claiming a space in culture. It’s not only about consumption or creation. It’s also about digging deeper to the culture that you consume or create, and recognizing the ways in which it can, and sometimes does, oppress you. By critically engaging with the culture around us, this column aims to reclaim and redistribute that power.
Kevin Schmidt’s Epic Journey is at the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal, 185 Ste. Catherine O, until March 13. Entry $6 for students, free on Wednesdays from 5 to 9 p.m.
Powering up discussion Mixed like me Tiana Reid
’m not responding to ‘black’ anymore,” I jeered one fuzzy weekend night in the even fuzzier basement of my friend’s Montreal apartment. I was frustrated with people – my friends even – and their inability to show understanding for the identity crisis that I live almost daily, and what’s more, their readiness to exoticize my existence, as sometimes the only woman of colour in a whitedominated crowd. I didn’t mean that I wasn’t black.
Of course I didn’t. Or maybe I did. I don’t know. One thing I do know is that my dad is black and my mom is white. And, like Victor Vazquez of the Brooklyn-based rap group Das Racist said in a New York Times interview with Deborah Solomon, “I don’t know if I am neither or both.” A few weeks ago, I called a community worker to interview him about Black History Month. Within minutes of our conversation he asked, “Are you black?” I answered truthfully. Yes. Half, if you want to be technical. “You don’t sound black,” he stated matter-of-factly. Judgments about how “black” someone’s self is or isn’t are thrown around like it’s noth-
This is the introduction to Tiana Reid’s blog. Find further posts every Wednesday at mcgilldaily. com/blogs
We love you. Love us back. Come to our information session and get involved. Tuesday, February 15, Lev Bukhman, 4 p.m. Then come to our meeting afterwards at 5 p.m. in the office to get pitchezzzz.
The McGill Daily | Thursday, February 10, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
volume 100 number 32
editorial 3480 McTavish St., Rm. B-24 Montreal, QC H3A 1X9 phone 514.398.6784 fax 514.398.8318 mcgilldaily.com coordinating editor
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GA voting recommendations Resolution regarding the society’s investments This motion is procedural, meant to bring SSMU (as a corporation) into compliance with Quebec law by explicitly stating its corporate investments code. Some have reservations about the absence of checks and balances in the motion, and the degree of power it grants the VP Finance and Operations. However, SSMU does already have certain checks and balances built into its investment policy, and The Daily supports this motion as long as the Society adheres to its mandates regarding the Financial Ethics Review Committee (FERC) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). These shortcomings need to be addressed with amendments at the GA.
Vote: YES, with amendments.
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Naomi Endicott culture editors
Sarah Mortimer Fabien Maltais-Bayda science+technology editor
Joseph Henry sports editor
Resolution regarding biking on campus This motion would mandate that SSMU investigate the dangers associated with bikes on campus that led to the ban on bikes (and supposedly on all vehicles) in the fall, a decision made with no meaningful regard for student consultation or feedback – even after the Town Hall meeting held about the ban in the fall by Associate VP (University Services) Jim Nicell. It also asks that SSMU executives and councillors lobby the Administration to allow biking on campus, and to devise alternatives to the old framework if biking is indeed dangerous, like establishing a bike path.
Resolution regarding the improvement of the SSMU
This motion would seek out students to research and write a report that would make recommendations for how to “improve the efficiency of SSMU” through institutional reform. The resolution leaves the question open for a contract with a third party consulting firm at a future date, and it asks that this be ready by fall 2011. Though this is the right spirit, it is unclear what standards would be used to evaluate SSMU, how these evaluators would be chosen, and what would actually happen as a result of such a report.
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Sheehan Moore Joan Moses copy editor
Vote: Sure… whatever.
Tom Acker cover design
Victor Tangermann le délit
Mai Anh Tran-Ho firstname.lastname@example.org Contributors
Shaina Agbayani, Alex Borkowski, Andra Cernavskis, Thomas Dashwood, Rosie Dobson, Scaachi Koul (CUP), Zach Lewsen, Laurin Liu, Jessica Lukawiecki, Davide Mastracci, Alex Mckenzie, Ian Murphy, David Proctor (CUP), Tiana Reid, Farid Rener, Jacob Serebrin (CUP), Nicole Stradiotto, Stacey Wilson, Anqi Zhang
Resolution regarding the appointment of McKinsey and Co. as McGill’s consultant firm This motion resolves that SSMU opposes the appointment of McKinsey as an external consulting firm to help with McGill’s Strategic Reframing Initiative (SRI). McKinsey is known for its poor reputation, recently having been involved in the policies enacted in the U.K. that have led to austerity measures in education. It further mandates that SSMU question the appointment of a director at McKinsey – Claude Généreux – to the Board of Governors, and to, in the future, ask that any such decision involve the input of SSMU members and the McGill community.
Vote: YES. Resolution regarding the use of the McGill name by clubs, services, and independent student groups of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU)
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This motion is in response to the recent actions taken by the administration toward the use of the McGill name by student clubs and organizations, such as TVMcGill and McGill First Aid. It asks that SSMU work to stop the admin from forcefully removing its name from the students that make up McGill, as well as defend groups who are being asked to disassociate from the University, in part through the removal of “McGill” from their name. It further mandates that, in the case of a refusal to negotiate by the administration, SSMU prevent the University from using its own images, name, or clubs and organizations in advertising and other promotional material.
Vote: FUCK YES. All illustrations by Olivia Messer | The McGill Daily
The McGill Daily | Thursday, February 10, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Lies, half-truths, and real Conservative values
You’d think all the tech experts in Ferrier could get their shit together
uck the motherfucking Ferrier Computer Lab. Fuck how hard it is to log on and how half the computers are off when you’re in a rush. Fuck how it makes you click through all this shit every time you go on Firefox. Fuck how you have to install Word every time you use it. Fuck how difficult it is to print things and fuck how unhelpful the staff is. You’d think they could figure this shit out.
How fucking hard is it to properly stock a vending machine?
developed an incredible system to force myself to read pages and pages of boring-as-sand textbooks in one sitting. My technique uses positive reinforcement and is based on B.F. Skinner’s theory of operant conditioning. Essentially, I buy a pack of starbursts, jolly ranchers, or any candy that comes in bite-sized and relatively long-lasting denominations. Chocolate will make you too thirsty, M&Ms are too small, and skittles are the worst candy ever invented. Seriously, taste the rainbow? More like taste the leprechaun’s ass. Anyway, I then mark the top corner of every three or four pages with a star and as I’m reading, I positively-reinforce myself by eating a candy each time I get to a page with a star on it. Best system ever. So yesterday I went to the library vending machine to buy my candy, but the snacks were arranged all wrong. Instead of each type of candy having its own row, they were all mixed up. The only pack of starburst was sitting behind a crunchie bar. I had to pay $1.50 for a crunchie bar I didn’t even want in order to get to my starburst. I mean I could always return the undesired candy to the cash but still, Fuck that! Each candy gets it’s own row! Get it right McGill! Jeez! Also, please stock the vending machines with Jolly Ranchers.
Give me my plates back! I want to eat cake!
uck the Plate Club for deciding arbitrarily – without notifying students – that they were going to stop giving plates to people who go to Midnight Kitchen. How am I supposed to predict that the ONE DAY I take my tupperware home, and the ONE DAY I decide at the last minute to go grab some lunch on the cheap at MK, I can’t even get a fucking plate to eat on? I love the Plate Club, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like this is something that should have been subject to a transition period before they just wholesale shut me down. Not cool, PC, not cool. I feel saddened by your betrayal of my sustainable lunch time needs.
Fuck This! is an occasional rant column that relies on your frustration to survive. Please send your rants and diatribes to firstname.lastname@example.org. You gotta let it out somewhere!
Bryanne Leeming for The McGill Daily
“Just Checkin’ In” Anonymous Psychology Major c. 2010 Blue Pen on Bathroom Stall 7.6 cm x 3.8 cm McLennan Floor 5, Stall 2. Montreal, QC
Zach Newburgh is censured by SSMU Council
He had entered into a contract with Jobbook – a conflict of interest
Newburgh has not yet resigned his post
Plate club switches to only serving SSMU caf
GA reform committee is created by Council
GA is tonight, at 6 p.m.!!!!
Some of you probably won’t go
The QPIRG opt‐out campaign is finally over
The SSMUpocalypse is getting a bit crazy
LAST WEEK’S TOTAL
No one wants to hear about just our quality of life: compendium@ mcgilldaily.com.
The angle of the QUOTE OF LAST WEEK writing immediately “I would like to congratulate the students strikes the viewer as at McGill University for founding The modern and innova Prince Arthur Herald. All Canadians, tive, before they even including myself, can be proud of the tilt their head to read principles this paper seeks to promote. the question, “How These include: a dedication to the is everyone doing free market system that has provided today?” The piece Canadian society with wealth, prosperity is approachable and and opportunity for all; the belief in inviting, as reading the limitation of state regulation to it requires the view only the most fundamentally necessary er to hold their head aspects of Canadian life; the freedom of in a curious, inno speech and expression, particularly in cent position. It asks Canadian political life; along with a belief the audience to take in a strong and viable national defence a refreshing look at to secure the safety of Canadians.” their life, literally —Rob Anders, Conservative MP for Calgary West (Alberta) with a new way of This was part of a statement submitted to looking. Parliamentary record on February 2, 2011.
Published on Feb 10, 2011