Volume 100, Issue 33
February 14, 2011 mcgilldaily.com
Stiff for 100 years
Published by The Daily Publications Society, a student society of McGill University.
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Are you a creative person? Are you passionate about your spirituality?
WE WANT YOU TO PARTICIPATE IN THE MCGILL CHAPLAINCY’S “FAITH IN FILM” COMPETITION! Submit a short film of 10-30 minutes in length (deadline for submissions February 28th at noon) on faith and spirituality and you could win $500 worth of books from the bookstore OR $500 from Future Shop! Details available at: www.mcgill.ca/students/chaplaincy/faithinfilm/ or email to James Farr at email@example.com
Tuesday, February 15, 4 p.m. Lev Bukhman Room (3rd floor SSMU building)
The McGill Daily | Monday, February 14, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Newburgh deceived Ivies SSMU President speaks to The Daily Queen Arsem O'Malley and Maya Shoukri The McGill Daily
ichael Yaroshefsky, president of the Princeton University’s Undergraduate Student Government (USG), Johnny Bowman, former president of Harvard Undergraduate Council, and Jeff Gordon, president of the Yale College Council, have all challenged SSMU President Zach Newburgh’s claim that his involvement with networking site Jobbook was of a purely personal nature. “I was not representing the SSMU in an official capacity. And that should have been clear. And was made clear,” Newburgh said in an interview with The Daily, referencing his meetings with other universities student executives. Yaroshefsky disagreed, stating in an email to The Daily that he was under the impression that he would be speaking to Newburgh about student government. “I thought throughout the meeting that [Newburgh] was representing McGill – I even had the impression that Jean de Brabant was representing McGill too, given that we were supposed to be talking about student government and how they kept talking about the SSMU,” wrote Yaroshefsky. Yaroshefsky went on to express his discontent with Newburgh’s pretence for the meeting. “I came to the meeting ready to chat about student life on campus, as he claimed we would. In reality, he had other intentions, as he brought with him Jean de Brabant and both of them pitched Jobbook to me for the entire meeting. I realized he had used a bait-and-switch tactic to get me to meet him. He was using his involvement in student government as a fulcrum to gain leverage for this private endeavour – it was dishonest and distasteful,” he wrote. Johnny Bowman confirmed that Newburgh and de Brabant offered him personal shares, or shares for Harvard student government. “SSMU is the only [student association] that was offered a financial opportunity with Jobbook,” claimed Newburgh. However when pressed further, Newburgh clarified his statement, saying, “The choice that was presented [to other student society executives] was that one could allocate shares to wherever an individual wanted.” In an email Newburgh sent to Yaroshefsky and other members of Princeton’s Undergraduate Student Government following their meeting, Newburgh referred to Jobbook as a student initiative created at McGill University. Josh Redel, a U3 Software Engineering student, accompanied Newburgh and de Brabant to Harvard. “McGill was intended to be the leader,” said Redel.
Redel, who helped program the Jobbook site during the fall semester, was unaware that Newburgh had told Bowman they would be meeting to talk about student life. “That wasn’t my understanding,” said Redel. Newburgh also used his SSMU email account to arrange the meetings with other schools. He explained that he used his official email address because “the intention was to have a conversation about student life,” but admitted that “scheduling just didn’t end up permitting it” in some cases.
General Assembly struggles with quorum Rana Encol
The McGill Daily
Newburgh is the only student representative on McGill’s Board of Governors, and is currently in the process of negotiating SSMU’s lease and Memorandum of Agreement with McGill. He said that he is “pretty confident in saying that [his] relationship with the administration is going to be what it was beforehand, you know, a good one.” Doug Sweet, director of Media Relations for McGill, said that Deputy Provost Morton Mendelson “would be the Administration voice on this,” and that Mendelson has no comment on the matter. De Brabant refused to give an interview to The Daily, saying that he was “too upset” about the criticism Newburgh has received. “Jean de Brabant is one of the most pushy people I’ve ever met,” said Redel. “He’s a well-aged, extremely well-experienced gentleman who knows what he’s doing.” Redel was also disappointed with how Jobbook’s involvement with McGill has unfolded. “It’s unfortunate because everyone, from my perspective, their hearts were really in the right place…it was always something that was meant to be good for students,” said Redel. When asked how Newburgh personally pitched Jobbook to him, Redel replied that Newburgh asked: “Do you want to be part of something big?”
he winter 2011 General Assembly (GA) hovered around quorum in the Adams Auditorium Thursday evening, but successfully bound SSMU to investigate the campus bike ban and approved an update to the society’s investment bylaws. Jonathan Glencross, a student who has worked extensively on campus green projects, argued that the spirit of the bike motion should reflect a collaborative attitude with administrators. The motion ultimately passed with an amendment that charged SSMU to conduct meaningful consultation with the administration on whether biking is indeed a “valuable asset.” The investments motion also passed with amendments to mention consultation with the Financial Ethics Review Committee (FERC) and SSMU Legislative Council. Students debated a motion condemning the unilateral appointment of McKinsey and Co. consultants offering pro bono work to the university. Whereas clauses in the motion described past controversial recommendations McKinsey had made. Brendan Steven, founder of the Prince Arthur Herald, agreed with the motion’s criticism of the unilateral decision-making process, but felt that “the guns here are targeted at the wrong thing” and that students “shouldn’t base a condemnation on consultation on three or four examples.” Arts Senator Tyler Lawson noted the urgency of the motion in light of austerity measures McKinsey has recommended for other schools. “McKinsey was directly involved in the independent review of higher education in England – they produced a report right before the government there introduced austerity measures and tripled tuition,” he said. “In the spirit of the GA, we have an opportunity now to take a strong stance as a group, as students, in the name of student power,” he said. The motion passed, but without quorum – at which point the GA devolves into a “consultative forum.” Resolutions passed by this body are non-binding. As a consultative forum, students also mandated SSMU to defend groups such as TVMcGill and the McGill First Aid Service that the administration asked to disassociate from the University. It proposes that SSMU bar the University from using the society clubs and services on any publication or promotional material if “the University is unwilling to negotiate.”
—With files from Henry Gass
See GENERAL ASSEMBLY, 5
Confidentiality agreements Former VP Finance and Operations Jose Diaz said that SSMU executives are approached “very, very often,” particularly the president and VP Finance and Operations. Diaz explained that in his experience, executives would investigate the legitimacy of an offer before agreeing to meet. If a meeting occurred, the executive would then report back to the Executive Committee and Legislative Council. Newburgh explained his failure to consult the Executive Committee as a stipulation of his confidentiality agreement with de Brabant. Diaz pointed out that Board of Governors meetings are also confidential, but that the president can disclose that they attend these meetings. Yaroshefsky, Bowman, and Gordon verified that they did not sign confidentiality agreements before hearing Newburgh and de Brabant’s pitch. Newburgh met with them in October, several months before his own confidentiality agreement expired. Asked to explain this discrepancy, Newburgh admitted he didn’t remember whether other schools were required to sign confidentiality agreements, and called de Brabant for clarification during his interview with The Daily. Over the phone, de Brabant explained that the patent application for Jobbook had been submitted by the weekend of October 22, when the pair met with Harvard representatives. Newburgh also stated that he didn’t remember the date that his personal confidentiality agreement ended, insisting “when I had the opportunity to present it to the Executive Committee, I did.” The Executive Committee was informed on January 19, though VP Finance and Operations Nick Drew and General Manager Pauline Gervais were informed via email on January 13 and 17, respectively. However, Drew stated that upon receiving Newburgh’s email disclosing his potential conflict of interest, he was confused about what action to take. “I didn’t know much about how the Conflict of Interest Policy worked, so I didn’t really know how to think of it,” he said. Redel revealed that in December,
Victor Tangermann | The McGill Daily
Newburgh, pictured here speaking at the GA last Thursday. Jobbook employed three other McGill students to promote the site, but declined to give their names. Redel said the other students “brought up the concern about conflict of interest with SSMU.” “They were not allowed to discuss the product before it was disclosed,” said Redel. Redel said he did not personally sign a contract – regarding confidentiality or shares – even though he joined the company months before the other McGill students.
Executive pay In his interview with TVMcGill, Newburgh claimed that “[executives’] entire lives aren’t paid for by the Society,” and that “the same goes for individuals who have one, two, three, four jobs that they need to have in order to sustain themselves.” He also said that “other executives are in the same boat,” but did not specify further. Diaz questioned Newburgh’s claim about finances. He explained that the executives’ pay was increased from last year’s, and that the amount is enough to cover both international tuition – the highest student tuition fee – and living expenses. Newburgh pays Canadian tuition rates. “The reason SSMU executives get stipends is so that they have the means to dedicate all their time to SSMU,” Diaz added.
Fallout with the University
Winter 2011 Referendum Period The Winter 2011 referendum campaign period will run from March 1-7 and the polling period will run from March 4-10. To view the referendum questions, go to www.electionsmcgill.ca Students may form Yes or No Campaign Committees for any of the questions. If you want to form a Committee, email Elections McGill at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible. If you have any questions, please contact Elections McGill at email@example.com
The McGill Daily | Monday, February 14, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Private Quebec companies apply to sponsor metro line STM offers exclusive advertising contracts to increase revenue Emily Meikle
The McGill Daily
ebruary 7 marked the deadline for Quebec companies to submit proposals to sponsor a Montreal metro line, the latest stage in Société de transport de Montréal (STM)’s new advertising strategy announced in November 2010. The plain involves companies entering into ten year exclusive advertising contracts on the metro line of their choice. Received proposals will be evaluated by a committee of Transgesco, a wholly owned yet independent subsidiary of the STM that manages its commercial revenue. Since announcing the strategy, STM has since faced heavy criticism from Projet Montréal, a municipal party committed to sustainable urban development as outlined on their website. In a statement released last November Richard Bergeron, leader of Projet and Jeanne-Mance councillor, equated STM’s new advertising strategy to “selling the metro’s soul” with advertisements that “defaced” metro stations. “The STM has reached a new low in its commercialization of public space by pursuing corporate sponsorship of metro lines,” Bergeron said in the statement. The STM claimed that the ads would be controlled and tasteful, with specific sizes and areas designated for
advertising. Dominic Perri, Transgesco president, member of the STM’s Board of Directors and councillor of SaintLéonard borough, told The Daily. “We know how much advertising there will be and where it will be,” he said. “Projet Montreal wants to lower taxes, build tramways... they want to do this and they want to spend... Look, we’re not in Disneyland. Let’s face it; you cannot give more services with less money. It is impossible.” According to STM regulations, prospective companies must display an interest in environmental sustainability and support public transportation in order to qualify to sponsor a metro line. Perri said selection will depend on the “quality of the partner,” not just money. “We don’t want to deal with a company that has no environmental policy or doesn’t care about public transportation,” said Perri. “We’re forming a partnership. We’re not selling it. We’re not asking them to post ads there and that’s the end of the story – no! We work together.” Advertising amounts to only 2 per cent of STM’s total annual revenue. According to Marianne Rouette, a spokesperson for the STM, to increase its revenue the STM aims to raise the percentage of funding it recieves from advertising. With this new plan a company would be required to pay a fixed annual fee, with rights to the highly coveted orange line costing a minimum of $6 million per year.
“We have to increase our commercial revenue,” Rouette said. “We are very low compared to the other transit societies in the world.” Perri said revenues from the partnerships between the STM and private companies will go toward improving public transportation. He pointed to the announcement of bus stops as an example of the types of services the STM would be able to provide with more revenue. “We want to facilitate the lives of the citizens so they say ‘I’m going to take the bus or the metro to go to work.’ In doing so, we have less pollution. That’s the whole objective,” Perri said. Projet Montréal remains sceptical of Transgesco’s motives and voiced concerns about the secrecy surrounding their financial records. “Transgesco was created to get around the bidding process and hide projects from the public eye,” Bergeron said in Projet’s press release. “If the STM goes ahead with its plan, most of the profits will never even reach public coffers.” “The money will not get back to the passengers. It will be returned in terms of the service,” Perri said. He explained that profits generated by Transgesco are transferred to the STM at the end of the year. To Bergeron, the issue is beyond services provided. For him the issue signifies a larger tendency: “We must stop sacrificing Montreal’s heritage for money.”
Montreal celebrates Mubarak’s resignation Niko Block and Emma Quail The McGill Daily
throng of about one hundred Montrealers gathered in front of the Egyptian consulate Friday afternoon to celebrate the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak earlier that day. Mass protests have taken place in Cairo and throughout the rest of Egypt since January 25 – ten days after a similarly widespread protest movement led to the resignation of Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. “Today is an incredible day,” said Mostafa Henaway, a member of the local Palestine solidarity group Tadamon! “Nobody expected this so soon after yesterday’s speech by Mubarak. … The mood is euphoric. This was something that was considered impossible.” Mubarak has sat in the president’s office since 1981. Discontent has been mounting in recent years as a result of rising food prices and unemployment rates among the under-thirty demographic. Approximately half of the country lives below the poverty line. Ehab Latoyef, a member of the Canadian Arab Federation, was among those attending Friday’s rally.
“There was a lot of discontent in Egypt for many years whether financial, respect for human rights, dignity, employment, prices – all that was accumulating,” he said. “But for it all to come to closure in two weeks like that was unexpected for everybody.” Latoyef added that in his opinion the recent release of U.S. diplomatic cables through WikiLeaks, as well as the Palestine Papers, has galvanized the demonstrations. Documents revealing Egypt’s complicity with Israel’s 2009 attack on the Gaza Strip, killing 1,400 Palestinians, are now available to the public as result of these sources. Mubarak’s executive powers were handed over to the military Friday morning. Despite the military’s close connection with the U.S., their handling of the uprising has thus far been sensible, Latoyef said. “The army is acting in a respectable manner today, and it is not showing any signs of greed to power. Of course, on the other hand, when you taste power, you want to keep it. That’s human nature,” he said. “What’s needed now is to put the army in check all the time – not to make it feel that it has the right
Projet Montréal’s satirical mock-up of the future Montreal metro.
General Assembly Continued from page 3
to make decisions. It’s just a caretaker,” he added. Latoyef noted, as many others have, that there is no obvious successor to the current provisional government, nor does Egypt have any well-organized political parties at the moment. “It’s a problem, but I think it’s also a safeguard – meaning that the fact that there is no one dominant party in Egypt at this point is part of the road to a healthy growth in the Egyptian democratic process,” he said. Henaway commented on the broader impact the Egyptian revolution will have on the Arab world. “Tomorrow in Algeria there is a national day of action; we see ongoing demonstrations in Jordan, Yemen, and all over the Arab world. A movement is really, really burgeoning at this moment and I think is taking everybody by surprise.” Dina, who grew up in Cairo, also attended the demonstration. “Me and my husband left Egypt and came here because we [didn’t] find a good job, and there is no security there – a lot of problems in Egypt,” she said. “I’m so happy he’s gone, because a lot of people are suffering from poverty and a lot of people don’t have an opportunity to have work.”
Speaker of Council Cathal Rooney-Cespedes explained that the resolution regarding SSMU improvement was struck from the agenda as it involved direct financial decision-making, an inappropriate topic for the GA. It will be pushed to the next Council agenda.
Executive Committee Report The auditorium erupted with questions aimed at SSMU President Zach Newburgh’s own presidential portfolio after VP Clubs and Services, Anushay Khan, announced that she would be working with Newburgh and a third-party researcher to restructure her portfolio. Sebastian Ronderos-Morgan, VP External in 2009-2010, asked Newburgh if he would be “clarifying the structure of his own portfolio,” and whether executives could hold part-time jobs, as Newburgh had claimed in a TVMcGill interview from the previous day. Newburgh replied that he “would be more than happy to do so,” and further stated that each executive was working on individual job descriptions that will be
approved at next legislative council. Councillor Maggie Knight asked Newburgh to personally clarify why councillors had to refrain from discussing the incamera council session in which Newburgh revealed his involvement with startup networking website jobbook.com. Newburgh responded that the confidential session was technically a trial, and therefore only the accused is allowed to disclose information. Although some rules can be suspended regarding confidential sessions, those protecting “the rights of the accused” cannot be overturned. Alex McKenzie, U1 Arts and Daily staffer, asked whether Newburgh, as the accused, would be releasing any information about what happened in council. “The GA is not the time or place to deal with this particular matter … right now we need to move forward,” replied Newburgh. Although he delivered his own report, VP University Affairs Joshua Abaki was notably absent for a portion of the Executive Committee’s report to the Assembly.
CULTURE SAID WHAT ABOUT YOUR MOTHER? firstname.lastname@example.org
The McGill Daily | Monday, February 14, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Critics crack down on “tough-on-crime” Truth and Sentencing Act projected to cost in excess of $5 billion Mari Galloway
The McGill Daily
he Conservative government’s legislative push to “get tough-on-crime” is drawing increasingly widespread attacks from critics who call it misguided and a waste of billions of dollars. In an open letter published last Sunday, more than 500 physicians, scientists, and researchers from across the country condemned the recent Bill S-10, calling it overly costly, will do little to reduce drug use or the crime rate, and may cause more health and social problems. Bill S-10 is a piece of legislation meant to target organized crime, but it would also introduce mandatory minimum sentences for minor drug possession. It is just one of several government bills that aim to change the Criminal Code of Canada and introduce tougher sentencing.
Consequences of tougher sentencing “We will see more people in for longer periods of time with fewer opportunities for them to get out, earn their release, and be in the community contributing,” said Kim Pate, executive director of Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, referring to mandatory minimum sentences. Liberal MP and public safety critic Mark Holland also spoke of the ineffectiveness of tougher sentencing. “The problem is not only that it
is egregiously expensive, it actually diminishes the amount of money in a general sense for rehabilitation and programming,” he said. “It actually drives up the recidivism rate so you actually have less safe communities. In the ultimate irony ,you spend billions and billions of dollars to create a less safe country.” “The rhetoric is that it will affect the crime rate,” said Pate. “[But] if that was a remedy for creating safer communities, then presumably the United States should be the safest place in the world to live.” According to Statistics Canada, police-reported crime in Canada has continued to decline in both volume and severity for over a decade. In 2009 Statistics Canada reported that the Crime Severity Index (CSI), measuring the severity of policereported crime, declined 4 per cent in 2009 and stood 22 per cent lower than in 1999. Statistics for 2010 have yet to be published. Justin Piché, a Carleton University Ph.D. candidate who researches the Canadian justice system, said, “In the context of a fiscal crisis and decades worth of declining police-reported crime rates, to me it makes little sense to be pursuing a prison expansion agenda at this time. … It is the most costly way to address the complex conflicts and harms in our communities that we call crime.”
Projected Costs According to a June 2010 report
released by the Parliamentary Budget Office, the cost of just one bill, the Truth and Sentencing Act – which limits credit given to prisoners for time spent in custody before and during trial – is expected to exceed $5 billion. According to the report, it will also require the building of about 4,189 federal jail cells at a cost of $1.8 billion over the next five years. This greatly exceeds government estimates, which projected the act would cost only $2 billion over the next five years. When asked about the significant differences in projected costs, Parliament Budget Officer Kevin Page explained, “[The government] said they could reduce the cost by looking at double bunking. We assumed that we would maintain capacity rates at the different prisons at roughly the same rates when we did our calculations.” The process of double bunking – which according to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews’s CBC statement “is not a big deal” – violates prison standards set by the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. It is also reported to lead to increased incidents of institutional violence. In June 2010, Howard Sapers, the correctional investigator appointed by the government to review the Correctional Service of Canada’s polices, published a report revealing that double bunking in Canadian penitentia-
ries has increased by 50 per cent in the past five years. The report revealed that exemptions to UN prison standards are also made in “segregation cells,” where two inmates must share space designed for one for up to 23 hours a day. “Given high rates of mental illness, drug addiction, violence and criminal gang membership, it is difficult to see how double-bunking can be viewed as a correctionally appropriate or sustainable solution to crowding pressures in either the short or medium terms,” Sapers’s report stated.
Effects on the mentally ill According to Sapers’s report, “the prevalence and rate of mental illness in the offender population far exceeds that of general society. We estimate at least one-in-four new admissions to federal [correctional institutions] present some form of mental health illness.” An internal Correctional Service of Canada report, obtained by Postmedia News, stated that to handle increasing inmate populations CSC will hire more than 3,000 employees, only 35 of whom will be health professionals. “People who suffer from mental illness are people who desperately need other forms of help, but unfortunately the police have nowhere else to put them,” said Holland. “They wait for the negative interaction with the community, or for them
to break a law, and then they use prisons as a repository for the mentally ill because they have nowhere else to put them.” “The problem is particularly severe for mentally ill female prisoners, large majorities of which have suffered sexual or physical abuse,” said Sapers. Two-thirds of incarcerated women suffer a substance-related abuse or disorder, and one-third have been psychiatrically hospitalized in the past. Ottawa-based lawyer Michelle Mann, who specializes in native and women’s issues, commented on the need to prioritize “corrections” instead of incarceration. “Building more prisons, building more beds, and increasing capacity will not help. That isolation will hurt because you are just going to have more people incarcerated,” she said. “Ultimately we need to find more alternatives to incarceration, more use of community corrections rather than incarceration, particularly for nonviolent offenders.” For Piché, the problem with Canada’s justice system is both practical and ideological: “What we’re seeing is a government that is more concerned with punishing people than helping them reintegrate into society in ways that would be beneficial to the communities where they return.” The office of Public Safety Minister Vic Toews could not be reached for comment.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH
Montreal couple awarded $20,000 in reparations Montreal police force moving to address racial profiling with mixed results Henry Gass
The McGill Daily
n April 9, 2007 Félix Fini and his girlfriend Christy Coulibaly were driving home from a friend’s party when they were stopped by a Service de police de la ville de Montréal (SPVM) squad car for a routine traffic stop. The incident spawned a two-year legal struggle with the City of Montreal that culminated on February 5 with the Quebec Human Rights Commission recommendation that the couple receive $10,000 each in damages for violation of their civic rights based on ethnic or national origin. From the Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso respectively, Fini and Coulibaly graduated from the Université du Québec à TroisRivières in 2007. They both arrived in Canada in 2002, but Fini was not eligible to use a Quebec driver’s license. As a result, when stopped in 2007, Fini presented the police officer with his license from the Ivory Coast that he was authorized to use temporarily. After a background check, the
police officer told Fini his license was suspended due to an unpaid ticket. Fini was unaware of the suspension as he and Coulibaly had recently moved, and had not received notice in the mail. The police officer also noted that the car was not registered in Fini’s name – it was registered to Coulibaly. The couple waited outside the car with their two-month old baby for the entirety of the 45-minute stop. The officer refused Fini and Coulibaly’s request to allow their baby to sit in the police car during their questioning. Their child continues to suffer from respiratory problems as a result of the incident. In her court deposition over two years later, the officer stated that she told Fini he could “go live elsewhere” and should return to his country when he became frustrated and criticized Quebec law. Fo Niemi is the Executive Director for the Centre for ResearchAction on Race Relations (CRARR), who assisted Fini and Coulibaly in their case. “In dealing with racial profiling the evidence is never directly explicit…[but] in this case, what is a dead giveaway is the kind of com-
ments made by the police officer that reveal a certain degree of racial bias,” Niemi said. “We felt that, based on the information he provided, it was a case of driving while black – a routine traffic stop that could’ve been influenced by his race.” In a CRARR press release, Fini described the recommendation as “a nice moral victory for us.” The SPVM declined to comment on the decision. “The SPVM is part of the City,” said SPVM spokesperson MarieHélène Ladouceur. “Even though there’s two officers involved, we don’t comment.” “There’s always a possibility that we can go on appeal,” continued Ladouceur. Niemi said he doesn’t expect Fini and Coulibaly to receive the recommended reparations from the City of Montreal any time soon. The Commission’s recommendation is not legally binding, and Niemi predicted that the City would continue to drag the case out for “a couple more years” before offering the minimum $500 per person settlement. He said that in the last three years CRARR has only won six of over sixty cases brought to the Quebec Human Rights Commission.
“The problem with these cases I’ve mentioned is that the investigation takes very long – partly because of the legal obstruction tactics used by the City to make these cases,” said Niemi. “Often they say, ‘Well, they took too long to investigate so the delay caused prejudice to our police officer,’ so the City would make a motion to have the case dismissed on procedural grounds of delay,” explained Niemi. “And they keep appealing. And every time it appeals it prevents the case from being addressed on its merits.” Dan Philip, president of the Black Coalition of Quebec, lamented that the investigative process into racial profiling does not favour the victims. “In these cases it’s the police that investigates the police, and the results are always the same,” said Philip. “What you find is there is no access to justice, and that’s a very serious situation.” Niemi also described how some young black men are arrested on dubious charges as a part of anti-gang tactics. He described an incident involving a black man in the summer, who had just come out of a bar on
Crescent early one Sunday morning. “He came out of the bar, [and] just leaned against the building, waiting for his friends to come out,” said Niemi. “He was arrested, handcuffed and fined for violation of a municipal by-law. And what does the by-law say? ‘Thou shalt not obstruct the circulation of pedestrians’ – because he was leaning against a building.” Niemi was confident that such tactics are being phased out under new Police Chief Marc Parent, who was appointed in September. Parent pledged to crack down on racial profiling by re-prioritizing gangbusting tactics. “Personally I have worked on some occasion with Marc Parent,” said Niemi, “and I can tell you that the change in the tone and in some of the orientations that have taken place since he became chief are very noticeable.” Philip, however, was less optimistic about the prospect of change. “There might be, for the time being, less cases, but there has been nothing put in place in order to stop racial profiling,” he said. “Nothing has changed as far as I’m concerned.”
The McGill Daily | Monday, February 14, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Bill C-389 scores a victory for trans rights
ast Wednesday, the House of Commons narrowly passed MP Bill Siksay’s (NDP Burnaby-Douglas) private member’s bill to enshrine gender identity and gender expression in the Canadian Human Rights Act as well as the Criminal Code. The bill was based on research by socialwork students at the Carleton University, and mirrors two private member’s bills that Svend Robinson – the first MP to come out as gay – sponsored concerning sexual orientation. Matthew McLauchlin, who co-chairs the NDP federal LGBT committee, worked with the trans community in promoting the bill and spoke to The Daily about its implications. The McGill Daily: What kinds of discrimination do trans people face at the federal level, and how would the law affect judicial processes? Matthew McLauchlin: Human
Rights tribunals would hold private and public actors accountable at the federal level of jurisdiction. … Banks and air travel are the site of a lot of discrimination in the private sector. Federal government services such as the army, RCMP, and prisons are also the site of a grotesque amount of discrimination.For full human rights protection, the bill would have to have to see similar legislation in the provinces, so as to cover areas such as housing and health care. MD: Private-members’ bills generally do not make it to third reading. Could you comment on the fear that it won’t make it through a Conservative-dominated Senate? MM: The precedent has been that when the House passes a bill, the Senate has been wary of blocking it. That changed under the Harper government. He promised not to appoint new senators and then he did. The Conservatives have abused their presence in the Senate to block legislation, such as
the NDP’s climate change legislation [Bill C-311]. We’ll be pressing the Senate hard and contacting the community to do so as well. … The bill now has to go through the same stages and readings at senate… and it would all have to take place before any elections were called. MD: A McGill prof, Douglas Farrow, recently signed an open letter telling MPs not to vote for the bill, telling them it would open up a “can of worms” such as the bathroom scare, the provision of unisex washrooms, and over-crowding hospitals because of sex-reassignment surgeries (SRS). What is your response to this claim? MM: First of all, hospitals fall under provincial jurisdiction, and secondly, well, there’s maybe ten annual SRS surgeries carried out in the province of Manitoba. If anything, this will be all for the good; there have been barriers to accessing what has long been established as a medically necessary set of procedures.
McGill recieves $3 million for research NSERC hopes new funding will increase cooperation
As for the bathroom scare, this one really hurts me. My partner is trans and I know what he goes through. In the more than one hundred jurisdictions around the world where similar protections have been put into place, there has never been a recorded case against anybody who has tried to engage in reprehensible behaviour in the washroom. Trans people already use washrooms and locker rooms, and it’s trans people who get subject to violence and discrimination. Crimes are still crimes, and trans people already use washrooms and locker rooms. MD: Another criticism of the bill is that it does not define gender identity and expression. MM: None of the other grounds for discrimination are defined… not race, religion, sex orientation, because the law is meant to be applied in terms of social understanding of what those concepts refer to. … If we have survived and managed to make use of the
The McGill Daily
cGill researchers will receive $3 million from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), which hopes to support practical application of multidisciplinary research. This investment is a part of NSERC’s $55-million investment to university research teams across Canada announced on January 20. According to an NSERC press release, “The goal of the program is to increase research and training in areas that could strongly inf luence Canada’s economy, society or environment in the next ten years.” The grants support research led by at least one researcher and in collaboration with a supporting organization. This year’s grant will target environmental science and technologies, information and communication technologies, manufacturing, and natural resources and energy. According to a McGill press release, the seven teams awarded funds will collaborate with government and industry partners. McGill VP Research and International Relations Rose Goldstein attributed the focus on collaboration to an attempt to apply basic research to real-world problems. “I think there is a growing realization that as good as our basic research is…it must be supported we want to see it translated into real life applications,”
said Goldstein. “I think there is a growing, hopefully openness on the part of universities to work better with other partners, including industry.” “These awards are the result of a competitive, peer reviewed process managed by the NSERC,” wrote Michel Cimpaye of Industry Canada, in an email to The Daily. The funding is invested through NSERC’s Strategic Project Program. NSERC reports to Parliament through the Minister of Industry. Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics professor Ghyslaine McClure and her team received $522,450 for three years. McClure’s project aims to develop a seismic risk assessment method for schools and hospitals in Eastern Canada. McClure’s partners are the Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport du Québec, l’Agence de la santé et de services sociaux de Montréal. McClure also has an industry partner: the office partitions company Rampart Partitions Inc. “The success of a proposal resides not only in the originality of the research approach and the strategic importance of the research for Canada, but also the quality…of the research team and the support of partners,” said McClure in an email to The Daily. She described the selection criteria as “very strict.” NSERC’s funding processes will be reviewed by a Research and Development Review Panel formed by the federal government in October 2010. The panel
is composed of six Canadians from the academic, business and government sectors and operates independently from the federal government. It “will offer analysis and recommendations to improve our system of support to enhance business innovation,” according to an October 14 speech by the Gary Goodyear, the Minister of State (Science and Technology) to the panel. Goldstein explained that the review panel will look at how policies and programs can be improved in order to encourage the applicability of fundamental research and to enhance innovation. David Robinson, associate executive director for the Canadian Association of University Teachers, voiced concerns about the review panel, including the lack of academics on the panel. He noted that similar review boards have in the past recommended the commercialization of research. He also described the relationship between university researchers and business as a “clash of cultures.” “Corporate research is more secretive,” said Robinson. “University research is more collaborative.” “I know that there is this fear, this is not new to me. I don’t think there is any evidence that that’s really happening,” said Goldstein referring to Robinson’s concerns. “I think there is a general understanding that…it’s really a question of supporting [fundamental and basic] research to make it more applicable.”
—Compiled by Rana Encol
CEGEP expenses exposed FECQ criticizes extravagant travel costs Alexia Jablonski
The McGill Daily
Canadian Human Rights Act without defining the other concepts, the same ought to be true for gender identity and expression. As Bill Siksay said effectively in parliament, “A right that has to be explained is not an effective right,” and trans people or people who do not fit traditional gender stereotypes should not have to think their way into protection under legislation that defines grounds of discrimination for different groups. For example, in New York City two years ago, a non-trans woman was evicted from a restaurant because she had gone to use the woman’s washroom and someone thought she was not a woman, and therefore had no business being there, even though she showed her ID. She won a human rights case because New York city human rights code specifies gender identity and expression.
utraged by CEGEP administrators’ large entertainment expenses, Quebec unions have demanded that Bill 44, a provincial law to increase transparency, accountability and reform CEGEP spending, be brought back to the National Assembly’s agenda. A February 2 article in the Journal de Québec revealing the spending patterns of CEGEP administrators sparked the controversy. According to the newspaper, entertainment expenses in 2010 – including conferences in luxurious hotels in Brazil, Guadeloupe, and Europe – amounted to at least $324,000 dollars. Léo Bureau-Blouin, the president of the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec (FECQ), called the spending “extraordinary” and “excessive.” “They were talking about fivestar hotels to hold meetings of the CEGEP Federation, or trips to Europe, or in Morocco, that could have been avoided,” said BureauBlouin. “We think that it was a lot of money that could have been spent on more priority aspects of CEGEPs.” “In many regions of Quebec, there are great needs for psychologists, or for classes, or for new computers, and we are seeing that CEGEP administrators were making trips to, like I said, Morocco, or to China,” he added. However, CEGEP representatives have criticized the accuracy of the Journal de Québec accusations. “We found that this article is incorrect, that it is false on many respects,” said the CEGEP Federation director of communi-
cations Caroline Tessier in French. “There is some information that is not fair, or that in any case implies negative things that are not the reality. I am thinking for example of everything concerning international trips. This is part of CEGEPs’ mission, so it is normal for them to travel abroad.” Nevertheless, FECQ and the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ) – a union representing nearly 180,000 members, including over 100,000 education personnel – have used the controversy to push for the adoption of Bill 44. Bill 44 was first introduced to the National Assembly on October 30, 2008, to tighten rules regarding the financial management of CEGEPs, by increasing transparency and accountability. However, after two years of detailed study and numerous amendments, the bill has stalled. “We also think that by making public the meetings and the statements of administrative councils, it will be much easier to follow the activities of CEGEPs,” said an adviser for the CSQ, Gabriel Danis, in French. “So it’s for this reason that we were making the link between the frivolous expenses that were revealed in the newspaper and Bill 44.” It remains to be seen whether the bill will be re-introduced to the National Assembly. “We think that we really need to have clear rules about how we spend money that comes from the Quebec government that is given to CEGEP students, because we are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars that are given to Quebec CEGEPs,” said Bureau-Blouin. “We can’t wait anymore and we hope that the ministry of education will hear our calls.”
The McGill Daily | Monday, February 14, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Re: “Schizophrenic landscape” | Culture | February 10
The use of “schizophrenic” as an adjective to describe an art piece, as emphasized by The Daily, is ignorant and insensitive. Camilla Grudova U3 Art History
SSMU executives are human, too Re: “Zach Newburgh must resign” | Editorial | February 7 Is SSMU at war? Is there some dangerous security threat that we, the defenceless students, should not be privy to? Why was there a move to remove our president without any student involvement (recent buzzword: consultation)? I applaud The Daily’s efforts to shed light on this event, and to get its readership involved. I disagree on what needs to be done. This isn’t another offshoot of the revolutions in North Africa. As president of a union, Zach Newburgh’s primary role is to represent the interests of the union members to other authorities. In four years at McGill, no president has done this better than Zach. The “damage” this supposed conflict of interest has caused is only as big as we let it be. Honestly, SSMU’s reputation is intact, there is no financial liability, so what’s the big fuss? Zach Newburgh, like any candidate, took a big risk being SSMU president, and he put himself on the line to negotiate something that would arguably be beneficial to a majority of McGill students. It’s unfortunate that the council was upset at his level of secrecy. As an engineering student, I have a lot of respect for someone who honours such a contract to the bitter end. We forget that the SSMU executive are students just like us, elected in what is largely a popularity contest. Like most students they can make mistakes; they are just as overburdened. And yet, the campuspaper-reading, GA-attending minority wants more: financial ethics, peace in the Middle East, a charity fund... I would beg those involved in this to consider their broader mandate: representing the undergraduates of McGill University. Forget the personal betrayal, this is politics. Please keep our president in power. Raphael Dumas U3 Civil Engineering
It’s time to stop pretending Re: “In Defence of the Prince Arthur Herald” | Commentary | February 3 Brendan Steven’s “Defence of the Prince Arthur Herald” was a laugh. The notion that Steven and co.’s website is a “newspaper” publishing “articles” – rather than a blog putting out, well, blog posts – is farcical. Where’s the reporting? The original coverage? Any semblance of journalism? Let’s get real. To call this blog a newspaper is disingenuous, fallacious. To call it a forum for debate may be accurate, but let’s not forget the site’s baldly partisan, manifestolike statement of principles, calqued on the Conservative Party’s platform. Or, for that matter, that the editor-in-chief’s written output is an intellectually vacuous, pompous parroting of Tory talking-points. (See his articles in the Tribune.) His – and the Herald’s – pretensions to journalism are a joke. William M. Burton B.A. 2010 French Language and Literature Former Daily Commentary & Compendium! editor Former member, DPS Board of Directors Member, QPIRG Board of Directors
A loss of confidence Re: “Newburgh censured” | News | February 7 What is a censure? It’s a polite request, made to a member of an elected body, to step down before their behaviour, deemed shameful, causes gridlock and contaminates the entire work of the aforementioned elected body. Why is Zach Newburgh still president of SSMU? Where is his sense of dignity? Regardless of the morality of his involvement with Jobbook, Council’s censure sends a crystal-clear message: It’s time to go. Step down, Newburgh. You have lost the confidence of your coworkers and your constituents. William M. Burton
Erratum In “Students polled on GA,” (News, February 10), it was said that “Of the 84 respondents, only 35 had ever been to a GA.” It should have read, “Of the 84 respondents, 35 had never been to a GA.” The Daily apologizes for the error.
Make sure to check your facts, Daily Re: “The case for medicare” | Commentary | February 10 I’m sorry, but Quinn Albaugh doesn’t understand the fundamentals of how RAMQ administers medicare in this province. Most Quebeckers do not qualify for pharmacare through RAMQ, but through private plans: either through work, a spouse, parents or student unions – for undergraduates at McGill, this plan is offered through SSMU and ASEQ and is administered by Sun Life. Only people who cannot get a private plan otherwise qualify for public prescription insurance. They pay an annual premium for this coverage in addition to a deductible and coinsurance. In addition to core medical coverage, the Blue Cross insurance provides benefits that are not covered by RAMQ and would require supplemental insurance. (This is why international students are not enrolled in the full SSMU insurance package while Canadian students are.) Finally, student plans benefit from the same cost control mechanisms as the public system. With exceptions, these plans pay for care at the same rate as RAMQ. Prescriptions under these plans also cost the same amount: prices for on-patent medications are set nationally by the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board. Because students would have to purchase supplementary and prescription insurance on top of RAMQ participation, and in light of the student population’s health, it is unlikely that Albaugh’s solution would lower costs for enrolees. I sense that Albaugh’s real gripe is not with the way international student insurance is administered at all: rather, they are upset that Medavie Blue Cross will not pay for hormones for transgender individuals. This is another issue entirely. I merely wish that next time they would understand the facts at hand before making their case.
Goddamn it! Please stop gendering everything all the time, kids Re: “Finding the feminine in dumpstering” | Commentary | February 7 I read Alex Briggs’s article on my way home from class recently, stopping off as I generally do to raid the dumpster of a major grocery chain. Yet surprisingly, while I found plenty of leeks, onions, bananas and oranges, there were no gender studies to be seen! There’s nothing wrong with Alex’s ultimate point. He’s right, the pleasures of the world should be free, and we should work to make it so. But he doesn’t bother to draw a connection between “dumpstering returns us to our roots and balances our psyches” and the idea that dumpstering is inherently feminine. One builds an argument like anything else; foundations support every architectural conclusion. Relying on the old hunter-gatherer narrative of humanity is overdone and questionable in its accuracy. Come on, Alex, don’t you find that equating scavenging with a feminine viewpoint a bit degrading? Aren’t you relying on the same tired dichotomy you profess to dislike about society – the man “imposing his will” on the Provigo aisles while the woman (or dude in a skirt, oh lawl at The Daily’s funny!) digs through the spoiled food out back? What does “following a feminine model of happiness” even mean? Can I just be happy? Is that allowed? The greatest thing about diving for your dinner is that the dumpster is a great equalizer. As Alex points out, it doesn’t require any skills or pre-requisites, only a bit of common sense and an open mind. I love seeing friends of every ideological stripe stop by to drop off their riches, arms laden with dumpstered deliciousness. Why can’t we celebrate this quality of our lifestyle without trying to force it into a conversation about gender?
Language is not to be taken lightly Re: “Schizophrenic landscape” | Culture | February 10 Like many people probably feel, I am getting tired of having to write letters to The Daily pointing out offensive or discriminatory writing, but the use of “schizophrenic” as an adjective to describe an art piece, as emphasized by The Daily, is ignorant and insensitive. Schizophrenia is an often-debilitating mental illness and to think we can feel “schizophrenic” by watching a trippy film is a gross misjudgement. Camilla Grudova U3 Art History
Amy Monroe U2 Middle East Studies
Ryan Hassett U1 Political Science and Economics
The Daily always loves your feedback: send your letters to letters@mcgilldaily. com from your McGill email address, and keep them to 300 words or less. The Daily does not print letters that are sexist, xenophobic, or otherwise hateful.
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Being “too Chinese” Not a victim, but a perpetrator in Indonesia Red star over Asia Ted Sprague
t was red everywhere in Jakarta. No, it’s not because the Arab revolution has spread over here. It was red because the Chinese community in Indonesia was celebrating their New Year. It was not long ago when ChineseIndonesians had to celebrate their most important holiday discreetly within the walls of their homes. This year, fireworks, lion dances, and all kinds of red ornaments filled the already bustling streets of Jakarta. For decades, the Chinese minority in Indonesia has been socially and politically discriminated against. In 1998, anti-Chinese riots broke out across Indonesia. Thousands of people were killed and hundreds of Chinese women were gang-raped. It is true that the riots were orchestrated by the army loyal to Suharto, a Mubarak-Ben-Ali-type dictator who ruled Indonesia for 32 years, to sow fear and chaos in order to discredit the movement that later ousted him. But the riots wouldn’t have become such a widespread phenomenon if there hadn’t been anti-Chinese sentiment to start with.
Nicole Stradiotto | The McGill Daily
However, I am not here to talk and complain about the marginalization of the Chinese minority in Indonesia. I am here to confront an old demon that has been bothering me as a member of this community, by default and not by choice, that we Chinese are racist. We are not merely passive victims of racism. We are also a active agents that perpetuate this problem.
“I don’t like that place, too many huana,” said my Chinese friend when I told her I was at Trisakti University, a native-dominated school. I cringed at her statement. Huana is one of the two “N-words” that the Chinese-Indonesians use to refer to the natives here. It means people with no manners. Another “N-word” for the Indonesian native is tiko, which is far more demeaning. It literally means “black pig.”
Most Chinese use these degrading words, knowing full well what they mean. The Chinese think very poorly of the native population here. But we also think lowly of every race. “White people,” said my father, “are lazy. All they do is sit at a cafe and chat aimlessly.” He always harps on the prime virtue of the Chinese race: hard working. With the ascendancy of China, his pride
– or arrogance depending on how you look at it – as a Chinese man is at an all time high. There are few groups who were once colonized who think that they are better than anyone else. Our bodies might be colonized, but our minds never have been. The younger generation is without a doubt more openminded than their parents. But the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. A racist attitude is still prevalent amongst many young Chinese. As someone who dreams of liberating Indonesians, be they native or Chinese, from the clutch of capital, I often have to grapple with this uncomfortable fact. The majority of Indonesians look at the colour of my skin as a sign of ill-gotten privilege, while my own “kind” treats the rest of Indonesians as lesser beings. The latter distresses me more than anything else. “Workers of the world, unite!” seems to be the only solace that I can find, the only rudder that helps me navigate through this thorny situation I have been thrown into. ! Ted Sprague is currently in South East Asia. You can follow his adventure through this column or his blog redstaroverasia.wordpress. com.
The world’s water is being privatized And it’s starting on your campus The character of community Adrian Kaats
ampaigns against bottled water on campuses across Canada are suffering from marketing fatigue: battles against Goliath beverage manufacturing and supply corporations such as Coke (Dasani) and Pepsi (Aquafina) are hard won, and as they drag on, support wanes. This is unfortunate because the sale of bottled water where safe, public, and free fresh water supplies could be built – or worse – are readily available, is not only highway robbery, it’s deeply damaging. According to the World Health Organization, more than a billion people don’t have access to drinking water. As the global population grows, the problem worsens, and it is compounded by the creeping privatization of the world’s fresh water supply. The bottled water industry is a huge part of the problem, and it’s still growing.
The Polaris Institute puts it simply: “The marketing of bottled water, which the industry claims is a healthier, purer, and more convenient product, has led to a distrust of public tap water systems.” Not only is this bunk, the marketing strategy “sets the stage for water privatization.” The nature of the multinationals spearheading these initiatives means that our local consumption has global impact. According to Food and Water Watch, “Despite the marketing, bottled water is not safer than tap water.” An independent test of ten types of bottled water found that they “contained 38 chemical pollutants, with an average of eight contaminants in each brand.” In fact, when bottled water is found to be clean it often comes from municipal tap water. Unlike bottled water sources, tap water is usually tested for pollutants on a daily basis. In terms of consumption of bottled water, Canada was ranked 37th in the world in 2004. However, according to Statistics Canada, between 1998 and 2006, the bottled water industry has
been growing by an average of about 5 per cent per year. But that growth rate is increasing: between 2005 and 2006, the increase in consumption was 18.1 per cent, to almost 2.2 billion litres, with an estimated production value of $708 million. Although Infrastructure Canada claims we have “more than onequarter of the world’s freshwater reserves,” paradoxically Statistics Canada reports that in 2006, our imports of bottled water began exceeding our exports. We are engaged in the global water trade by both exporting our water in bulk and importing the water of other nations. In the meantime, our water supply infrastructure is decaying. So what’s the problem? According to Polaris, increased consumption of bottled water distracts from the need from the increased investment in safe public water services, ultimately “transferring public service costs over to the private sector.” This phenomenon is not restricted to “Banana Republics;” it’s happening right here in Canada.
Our government is systematically offloading to private industry its responsibility to provide clean water to us. In a 2006 letter, Maude Barlow, currently the national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, wrote that the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board invested $1 billion into Anglican Water, “one of the world’s largest private water companies,” and our government consistently opposes recognizing water as a human right. This position, and its corollary – that water can and should be subject to privatization – is not only allowing Canada to help privatize and usurp foreign water supplies, it’s also destroying our domestic supply infrastructure. According to the Council of Canadians, “Decades of cuts in infrastructure funding, coupled with the downloading of several programs and services to municipal governments, have resulted in a ‘municipal infrastructure deficit,’ ... [leaving communities] in desperate need of money to pay for water pipes and filtration systems.” For Canadian students attending publicly funded educational
institutions, the proof surrounds us. A 2008 survey by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Polaris Institute entitled, Corporate Initiatives on Campus: A 2008 Snapshot, paints the picture. While more than 90 per cent of respondents have reported that their campus has an exclusivity contract with Coke or Pepsi, they also report that water fountains are being removed, left unrepaired, blocked by vending machines, and not installed in new buildings. Cold water taps are also being taken out of washrooms. This is serious: we’re talking about losing access to one of the most important substances on Earth. So, when you see organizing on campus that is asking you to stop buying bottled water, to demand access to drinkable tap water, or to oppose exclusivity contracts with beverage companies, don’t scoff – lend a hand. As an added bonus, remember this: safe, publicly sourced tap water costs one one-thousandth of poorly regulated, often contaminated bottled water. !
The McGill Daily | Monday, February 14, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
A sit down with Dr. Joe McGill professor Joe Schwarcz talks research, publishing, and teaching chemistry
oe Schwarcz is the director of the Office of Science and Society (OSS), a group of three McGill professors dedicated to communicating information on the topics of food, health, medicine, and cosmetics. The McGill Daily: Who is, or should be, responsible for interpreting university research for lay readers of the popular press? Is it the role of science reporters to inform the public? Joe Schwarcz: It is the responsibility of universities to publish what they’re doing. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think it was the university’s responsibility. It’s not like there’s a plethora of scientists writing for newspapers, or at least writing well for newspapers. I think newspapers would much rather have a science writer with a solid science background, but that’s just not what is happening. What is happening is these writers emerge from journalism schools, and one of the big problems that I see with the ones that are trained in traditional journalism is that they are trained to give “the balanced picture” of anything that’s controversial. So they will go and interview experts on both sides of a question. Wi-Fi, cell phones, Bisphenol A – whatever it is, you can find an expert to support anything. The ones they find will be the ones willing to talk and they’ll get two opinions that are quite diametrically opposed. And they’ll write the story as if those are equally weighted opinions, and that’s never the case. The truth is always in between, but it’s always closer to one side than the other. One scientist may have the majority of the scientific community standing behind him, while the other is a flake with a few supporters, and that doesn’t come across. Instead what comes across is here you have one expert saying this, and here is another saying that, so it’s left up to the reader to choose what they want to believe. In most of these controversies, there is a pretty good consensus on one side, but [journalists] go overboard in trying to be “fair” in presenting both views. But the real fairness is to present both views in the properly weighted way. You can’t dismiss a view just because it’s not a popular view. Of course in history there are examples of less than popular views turning out to be true, but those are rare exceptions. These people like to portray themselves as modern-day Galileos. They’re the ones that know the truth and the scientific community is wrong. And this is what I see all the time in the AIDS and vaccine business: big pharma colluding with scientists to prevent cheap natural treatments from being sold. MD: You’ve written several pop-
Roxana Parsa for The McGill Daily
ular science books. For whom are your books written? JS: I try to write in such a way that if you have a reasonable intelligence you can get something out of it. It’s my belief that you can write scientifically, [and be] informative and entertaining without being trivial. There are lots of books aimed at the public on scientific topics. There are many good ones, but most are oversimplified or too complicated. It’s hard to get the right balance, and having a little whimsy there always works. Humour makes the medicine goes down. To me, what is really the key is to make the connections to daily life. To show people that there are reasons for studying this and it’s not just to satisfy your intellectual curiosity. Especially chemistry, which is probably the most applied of all the sciences because it’s the thread that ties all science together. MD: What’s it like publishing a non-fiction book? What are the standards of that industry? JS: The standards in the publishing industry – like in any other business – are what the market will bear. Publishers will publish what they think will sell. Why do you think books by Suzanne Sommers on bioidentical hormones sell? What the hell does she know about anything? Her contention is that estradiol [used in hormone therapy] should be isolated from the urine of pregnant horses instead of created synthetically. It’s absurd, but there she is writing books on this, and people are lapping it up. What does she know? Zero. MD: You mentioned feeling angry toward chemistry teachers
you had in the past that were so lackluster with the subject. Do you think that’s happening with McGill? JS: I think it happens everywhere. Just like in any other business, it’s a bell curve. You have really good people, really bad people, and mostly mediocre people, but in the teaching business, it’s more serious. Just like in the medical field, mediocre is not good enough. You have to capture the kid’s imagination. You take a kid in elementary school, or even in high school, and their picture of chemistry is just writing equations and doing stoichiometric calculations without ever seeing why you’re doing that and where it’s connected. It’s missing the boat. MD: Do you do anything with education systems or high school science teachers? JS: I speak at a lot of teacher conferences. It’s very easy for me to go and speak to a bunch of high school teachers and show them things, how you make things interesting, because I only have to do it once with them, but they have to go back to the schools and do it six times a day with six different classes. MD: And then the next year and the next year... JS: Right. When you have a workload like that and no technical support, it’s all nice to say “here’s this demonstration that you could be doing and here’s a story you could tell and all that” but, given the real practicality of what happens in high schools, if you want to give a demonstration in class, you have to go in the prep room. No one’s going to do it for you. It’s pretty hard to get motivated. MD: How do you feel about
using popular science books in high school curriculums, rather than pop bottle explosions, different coloured flames, and other magic tricks? JS: Sure. But it has to be a blend of everything. The most important thing is to see the connections. To see why it is that you’re doing it. It’s more than just an intellectual exercise. One can argue that you do trigonometry and calculus as an intellectual exercise [because] it teaches you a method of thinking, it teaches you logic, whatever, but let’s face it – no one is ever going to stop you on the street and ask you to differentiate an equation. But there are going to ask you why they get a scale in their kettle, or whether bottled water is better than tap water. Even kids in chemistry, most of them will not be practicing chemists. They will end up in all different kinds of areas, so you don’t teach them all as if they were going to become research chemists. Don’t teach them like that. The ones that do become research chemists will learn what they need to know along they way. MD: You’re critical of a lot of non-fiction books. Are there any authors you enjoy? JS: Isaac Asimov. What is really unbelievable is the amount that he produced, both science fiction and non-fiction. I remember hearing an interview with him where he made a point of the fact that he never writes anything twice. Everything he ever wrote was first draft. He just had that talent. I don’t – I go back and forth
and agonize over words. He just sat down and wrote. Sagan, also. MD: Any contemporary authors? JS: Dan Gardner in Ottawa is excellent. He has some science background – he’s not an academic – but he has gotten the grasp of it. I think he has both a law and a science degree and now he just writes, but the trouble is that there are a lot of people writing that shouldn’t be writing. Take a look at some of the stuff out there. Everything is toxic, everything is chemophobia. Most people who write about science don’t know anything about science. There is just a market for it. MD: What are the current activities of the OSS? Where would you like to see the office go in the future? Are you recruiting new members? JS: To tell you frankly, it’s hard to recruit. To do the kind of things that we do takes many years of experience. There’s no young person whose going to come in who is adept at looking at all the different kinds of things that we have to deal with it. It’s not going to be easy to find someone that can eventually come in and take over, but we are looking, because I think it’s too important a process. There’s tremendous hunger out there for scientific knowledge and it [should be] fulfilled in a proper, unbiased way, without allegiance to any companies, just the scientific method. And that’s why we have developed a following, because we’re not in the pockets of anyone. But if it isn’t available, they will end up listening to [someone] on a soapbox screaming, and those are the ones that talk a good game but are usually peddling something, an idea, or a product, but it’s not sciencebased. — Compiled by Anthony Cotter To read the full interview, visit mcgilldaily.com
Olivia Messer | The McGill Daily
The McGill Daily | Monday, February 14, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
The most expensive sugar pills money can buy Exploring the failings of homeopathic medicine Prose Encounters of the Nerd Kind Andrew Komar
t the recent McGill conference, “Confronting Pseudoscience, A Call to Action,” James Randi of the James Randi Educational Foundation began his presentation by downing an entire bottle of homeopathic sleeping pills. He then continued his presentation without so much as a yawn, despite the supposed effects of dozens of pills floating through his body. This anticlimactic demonstration raises the question: what exactly was in those sleeping pills? As it turns out, not much. The basic theory of homeopathy was established in the late 18th century by the German physician Samuel Hahnemann. He believed that all disease was caused by an imbalance of the body’s “humours.” Homeopathy supposedly addresses this imbalance with the principle that “like cures like,” treating specific pathological symptoms with ingredients thought to cause those symptoms. The idea behind homeopathy is that extremely small doses of ingredients would be able to cure symptoms that would be caused by large doses of the same ingredient. This minute dosage is the fundamental scientific problem with homeopathy. Homeopathic medicine operates under the premise that smaller doses have larger effects, and achieves these small doses through a process of dilution. Homeopathy has its own logarithmic nomenclature to refer to these dilutions, with a 1/10 dilution known as a 1X, and a
1/100 dilution known as a 1C, or 2X, dilution. To prepare a homeopathic remedy, one part of a specific active ingredient is dissolved in 99 parts water. One part of that resulting solution is further diluted in 99 parts water (a 2C solution), continuing this process until the desired concentration is reached. Many commercially available remedies contain concentrations of 30X, and some products even contain dilutions of up to 200C. The problem is that at these concentrations, it is exceedingly unlikely that even a single molecule of the original active ingredient is left in the pills. Given that all matter is composed of molecules, the minimum concentration of any solution would be one molecule for a given volume. A 30X dilution would correspond to a concentration of one molecule of active ingredient in 1030 molecules of water. Just for a concentration of 30X, the necessary container of water that size would weigh about 180 tonnes. In reality, it is almost certain that most homeopathic remedies contain none of the active ingredients they are described to contain and actually consist of simple sugar pills. The Science Committee of the British House of Commons, on a recent review of homeopathic claims, stated that, “homeopathy is nothing more than an elaborate placebo that is theoretically weak and scientifically implausible.” However, this fact has not stopped Health Canada from officially recognizing homeopathic medicine as a valid natural health care product. Health Canada supposedly has standards for natural health care products, including demonstrations of safety from clinical trials,
but in the case of homeopathic regulation, the standards are different. Uniquely, the homeopathic industry is allowed to submit evidence from a 200 year-old collection of books produced by the homeopaths themselves! There isn’t even a requirement for double-blind clinical studies, which is the minimum requirement for conventional drugs before they ever make the market. This “regulation” of homeopathy allows these products to be sold in drug stores all across Canada, in the same aisles as drugs that have proven pharmacological effects beyond a placebo. As a placebo, homeopathic medicine has similar effects to other medicines for everyday drug needs such as pain relief, headaches and nausea. This therapeutic power is simply from the psychological effects of taking a pill. For those purposes, there is little harm in homeopathic remedies – besides all that money spent on sugar pills. Unfortunately, the curative claims made by homeopaths extend beyond symptoms that tend to go away on their own. A recent CBC investigation into homeopathic medicine found that some practitioners claimed that they could cure ailments as diverse as diabetes, hypertension, eczema, autism, and even cancer. It is here that the claims of homeopaths take a turn from harmless lies into criminal negligence. The survival rate of many types of cancer is based on how soon chemotherapy and surgery begin after the disease is detected, and the exclusive use of homeopathic medicine can only serve to delay that critical point.
In some cases, the choice to exclusively use homeopathic medicine is not even the choice of the victim. Such was the case with Gloria Thomas Sam, the infant daughter of an Australian homeopath. Gloria contracted a routine case of eczema, which is easily treatable by conventional medicine, but her parents decided to administer homeopathic medicine instead. As a result of this decision, her parents condemned her to months of constant pain, crying and scratching before she died at just nine months old. The parents were convicted of manslaughter
as a result of this negligence, but her father continues to believe in homeopathic medicine. Homeopaths have been given a free pass by the Canadian government to continue making millions of dollars by selling glorified sugar pills masquerading as legitimate drugs to unsuspecting consumers. At best, these little pills do nothing besides make your wallet lighter, but at worst they lead to preventable suffering and death. Perhaps it is about time that Canadian consumers leave this quack medicine back in the 18th century where it belongs.
entific racism by critics, was formally denounced after the Second World War. Even so, the “science” has since been used to further the racist beliefs of individual researchers. In 1994, Richard Hernstein, a Harvard Univesity psychology professor, and Charles Murray, a political scientist from the American Enterprise Institute, published their best-selling book The Bell Curve. Not submitted for peer review, the controversial book claimed that intelligence was primarily based on genetics, and by extension race. However, according to Thomas Shultz, professor of Psychology at McGill, the reasoning behind research of this kind is flawed. In an email to The Daily, he wrote, “in the old days, researchers tried to figure out, for intelligence and other interesting traits, how much of that trait is due to genetics and how much to environment.” “A common strategy,” he continued, “was to examine the correlation in IQ between pairs of people repre-
senting various degrees of genetic relationship.” The strongest comparison was between genetically identical twins and unrelated people, and often “there was an independent factor contrasting pairs of people who are reared apart versus together in the same family.” Shultz added that “a typical finding was that about eighty per cent of the variation in IQ was due to heredity and twenty per cent to environment. A big problem with this conclusion is that you have dramatic differences between levels of genetic relationship and rather small differences between levels of environmental variation.” Shultz went on to say that since adopted children were often placed in families similar to their natural parents, “monozygotic twins reared apart did not necessarily have very different experiences.” The fact that environmental differences, and therefore their measurable effect, could be so small indicates that, according
to Shultz, “such research designs favour genetics over environment and thus cannot decisively assess the relative contributions of heredity and environment.” Though the belief that race dictates intelligence is still held by some today, Frances Aboud, another McGill Psychology professor, is hopeful. “You can always find someone who wants to uncover an evolutionary or genetic basis for intelligence, but more researchers and educators are interested in discovering how to promote learning,” she said. “There is no serious scientific debate about this any more.” Although both Shultz and Aboud believe that we have seen the last of racial anthropology, the scientific community should be wary of prominent figures like Watson, who do nothing but validate racism and further stigmatize people who are already victims of discrimination.
Edna Chan | The McGill Daily
BLACK HISTORY MONTH
The continuing risks of racial anthropology Alyssa Favreau
The McGill Daily
n October 2007, James Watson – who won the Nobel prize in 1962 for his role in discovering the double-helix structure of DNA – made several racist comments calling into question whether people of different races had “equal powers of reason.” Though not a psychologist, Watson nevertheless went on to say in an interview with the Sunday Times that he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa...because all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really.” These comments caused outrage and Watson, considered one
of the most prominent scientific figures of the late 20th century, was forced to resign from his position as chancellor of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. His views, though not supported by concrete research, are far from new or unique. Racial anthropology – a term used to denote the use of the scientific method to research differences between races – grew to prominence in the second half of the 19th century. The practice – closely associated with European imperialism, slavery, and eugenics – was popular, and the argument that people of African heritage belonged to a different species was heavily relied on during the 1857 Dred Scott U.S. Supreme Court decision that determined that people of African descent were not protected by the Constitution. Racial anthropology, termed sci-
Erin Hudson penetrates Montreal’s porn scene
ollective consent to give into your truly scandalous nature is immediately reinforced upon entrance to Montreal’s “Everything About Sex Show.” Music from a large stage pulses over the grid-like system of booths, each separated by thick black curtains. Booths are alternately stocked with XXX products, elaborate sex toys and clothing, or offering services – massages, a booth creating plaster molds of body parts. I witnessed one woman receiving a chest mould. An erotic art exhibit runs along one wall, while on the opposite side of the hall a burlesque themed fashion show begins. At the far end of the convention, the “dungeon area” offers workshops on the hands-on aspects of sex; I listen in on one instructing how to trigger an orgasm with the touch of an ear. People are here to sell their product or service and network with friends in the business. Representation from the porn industry is limited, though all groups present embrace the label of “adult entertainment” wholeheartedly. Cam4 is one of the few representing the true porn industry. On Cam4.com, the largest free pornographic webcam site in the world, anyone can post themselves doing “freaky” pornographic things, and anyone can watch. Montreal is known as the third largest porn-producing city in the world – though in a close race with Prague for that prestigious position – placing behind the largest producer, Los Angeles, with Amsterdam in second place. Canada is among the top ten producers of porn videos in the world and the presence of Canadian porn is increasing. The show has both local representation and out-of-towners
excited to be in Montreal. With $97 billion in revenue annually, the porn industry is among the internet’s biggest. The porn capital of the world is undeniably L.A. home to legendary companies such as Playboy, Hustler, Vivid Entertainment Group, Wicked Pictures, and Red Light District – to name some of the most well known. Porn in Hollywood has a reputation of creating stars out the ordinary people who, in the mainstream world, would likely never achieve the same stardom. Upon my arrival at the Cam4 booth I am instantly referred to Freaky Steve, a Torontobased director and producer of lesbian fetish porn, who sat down to do an interview with me near the “dungeons.”
Freaky Encounter Steve was initially involved in the software business, which eventually led him into the porn industry. He ended up working at a dungeon where he met his fiancee Jasmine Jade. Steve and Jasmine now co-own a dungeon in Toronto, Kink Den, where they produce BDSM and kink niche films. “There’s a lot of combination of things that can make it go for you. It’s like any other business in that regard, but a lot of people come and go,” Steve said. He followed up by saying that when people leave there’s usually a good reason: assholes don’t last long in the industry. “Reputation is everything.” In addition to filming, Jasmine and Steve also offer training to aspiring actresses and dominatrixes at Kink Den. “Authenticity is a big deal for us,” Steve says. He and Jasmine only hire actors who are
professional doms with proven skills, or who have a personal interest in BDSM. “I’m into it myself so I know what’s good,” Steve adds, “If I wasn’t into BDSM, I’d be a fool to try to produce BDSM content.” Steve’s production process is unique thanks to the creative freedom he exercises, and the special process that goes into making his films. The DVDs shot are within the girls’ limits, and Steve’s films have garnered several Feminist Porn Awards in the last few years. “There’s a feminist element to it. It’s obviously directed at guys as the primary consumers, but a secondary thing that’s come out it is that couples like what we do, girls like what we do,” Steve says. “It’s all girls, there’s no dudes. It’s kind of a female empowerment thing because we’re dealing with domination and BDSM.” Steve, unlike many others, does not agree that the DVD is dying. “Lot’s of people have websites, not everyone is on a DVD that’s in stores.” Our conversation turns to Jasmine Jade, who is featured on many Freaky Steve DVDs distributed to stores across North America. “She’s the real deal. She can be a sassy little brat submissive or she can also be a badass bitch as far as domination goes. So you go, ‘Oh this cute little Asian girl,’ and yet, she’ll fuck you up.”
Lesbian fetish domination Steve leads me back to the Cam4 booth for an interview with Jasmine, who is busy promoting a new toy called the Violet Wand – a glowing wand that emits low voltage electric shocks. She coyly strokes the passing flocks
Courtesy of Vandal Vixen
Working under the covers
of curious show goers and, though she is incredibly petite – barely reaching my shoulders – Steve’s parting words ring in my ears as I wait for our interview. Jasmine extricates herself from the booth and launches into her story. She is a fetish porn star and a professional dominatrix, specializing in lesbian domination. She got her start at 18 or 19, (“whatever the legal age is,”) on a fetish webcam site. Initially it was about “money and fun,” and after shooting fetish videos for the site she discovered her love for performing. “When you say porn, most people think of hardcore and that’s it. What we do is different because it’s no-cock porn, number one, so no guys at all, and it’s all play.” Jasmine classified mainstream porn as “more sexual.” With fetish porn she can play with fun possibilities such as caning, flogging, electricity, spanking, bondage, and S&M. The girls she films with are all trained fetish performers who “like getting hurt,” and who possess the skills necessary to work in the world of kink and fetish. “You can tell they enjoy it, and I enjoy what I do, ” she said with a smile. Jasmine will be turning thirty and has been practicing and learning about BDSM since she began her career. She outlined the importance of communication and the safety measures she and her actresses take, among them the safety words “yellow” and “red,” and a pain ranking from one to ten that signals how tolerable the pain is. What makes a good dom, according to Jasmine, is to know the sensations you create, and not to make assumptions about what your sub can handle.
The McGill Daily | Monday, February 14, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com Jasmine has worked hard to build up her reputation. Over a year ago, she was invited to broadcast a fetish and kink show twice a week on Cam4, occupying a Super Show slot on the site – a major accomplishment as spaces only go to well-established stars. Jasmine recounted how women liken her films to feminist porn. Though she admitted to not seeing the connection, she gives credit to others who do similar things and states that her main goal is “getting kink out of the darkness.” Her latest movie, Purry Furries: Lesbian Catgirls Having Sex, is anything but dark – it’s feline-themed fun filled with faux fur. From Jasmine’s perspective, the taboo of getting bruised and bloody masks the fun and playful nature of kink and fetish. “Fetish is play. I like playing. Playing around, hurting.” She glances at me, seems to ponder for a moment, and then clarifies with a grin, “Hurting but not harming.”
Hustler magazine, and works in various cities across North America and Europe. With Uncle D, Katrina starred in the Gemini-nominated Canadian reality show Webdreams, which followed prominent Canadians in porn. Originally from St. Petersburg, Russia, she immigrated to Montreal in 1997. It was in Montreal that Katrina became the internationally known porn star she is today. “It didn’t happen in one day,” she said. She had been modelling and acting since she was seven or eight and went to Concordia and Dawson College for film studies. After she turned 18, her former mainstream gigs began to ask for topless and nude pictures. “I’m an exhibitionist so I like to be in front of the camera,” Katrina explained. She began her career with solo scenes, shooting scenes
an independent artist; I don’t have any longterm contracts.” Katrina balances many different projects; among them an erotic novel, Pornartgraphy, which she penned over the course of several years. It has been published in France and a translated edition is available online. Though she noted some competition, she outlined the enormous variety of work in the industry. “They don’t need just one girl,” She says, “There’s always new companies and in porn you have so many niches.” Katrina adds that Montreal does have “a lot of stuff going on” despite a decline in production that she attributes to the increasing strength of the Canadian dollar and the financial crisis. “Here in Quebec we make one big movie that everyone talks about, [in L.A.]
The Ass Man After questioning me about my article, Steve declared, “You’ve got to meet the Ass Man.” “Excuse me?” “The Canadian Ass Man, Uncle D. If people find out he was here and you didn’t talk to him it’ll be…ridiculous, really embarrassing.” Uncle D has two sleeves of tattoos, a giant spider on his back, and vines climbing up the back of his head, which is covered by a bandana. His beard is long, and knotted with elastics to make it a rigid column of hair protruding down from his chin. He’s the classic bad boy, complete with musical aspirations. In his former life he worked in radio, hoping to slip his band’s CD into the hands of a record producer. After trying the “whole rock and roll thing,” he made a huge change. “You get to a point – when you are an entrepreneur and a creative individual – when you gotta take a chance on your own stuff,” he said. Uncle D quit all his jobs and embarked on his new venture: travelling the world photographing women’s butts in tight clothing. He posts his findings on his website, touchyourtoes.com, which is sustained by online membership. His goal, he says, is to show off the curvature of a woman’s body. Uncle D says his work falls into a grey area in the adult business. Though he does close ups and face smothering – along with everything else that comes in the territory of an “Ass Man” – the girls are always clothed. Though his work is now fairly well known, it was not always easy “shootin’ ass.” When he first started his project, he recalls thinking, “What kind of a fuckin’ freak am I? But then you find out there’s a lot more freaks out there who think the same way you do! So I guess I’m no longer a freak, I’m more of a leader now,” he laughed. “So it works.” When approaching girls he wants to photograph, Uncle D explained how his “freak factor” attracts the ladies. “It makes you go holy shit, what’s this guy about? So they’re intrigued,” he said. He will typically begin his pitch by saying: “I’m not trying to pick you up, but you’ve got an incredible butt…” Then he hands the lucky girl a business card with all his past work and media credits. So how much junk in the trunk warrants an Uncle D shot? “I want something that pops,” Uncle D said. “Where a girl almost feels self conscious to walk out, where she wants to wrap a sweater around her waist cause she thinks her ass looks too big – take that sweater away, that’s what I want to see.”
Internationally acclaimed Sitting down with Katrina B. in her Westmount apartment, it is evident that she has a long list of accomplishments to her name. She has worked alongside legendary porn actor Ron Jeremy, was featured in
Courtesy of Freaky Steve
Above, and next page: Jasmine Jade Cover and opposite page: Vandal Vixen with girls and her longtime boyfriend before being comfortable to do scenes with “everybody.” “When it’s artistic pictures it’s more about me, my body, my personality, what I want to do and the photographer’s vision,” Katrina said. In mainstream industries, she pointed out how the focus is often the product as opposed to the model. “I shoot almost every day, or give an interview, or meet people for potential work,” Katrina said. She loves variety: her work can range from hour-long amateur shoots in a small hotel with natural light to a high-profile shoot with Hustler, where she had an oasis built in the desert for her scenes and five assistants attending to her every need. “I like that I do different things everyday but it can also get a little bit exhausting,” she noted, explaining her freelance lifestyle, “I’m
everyday there is a new movie. They have big studios just like mainstream studios,” she explained. “There’s less companies who want to come here from the States to shoot because there’s no point.” I asked about how being a porn star affected her “real life,” and she laughed before setting the record straight on what her real life consists of. “That is my life! No, there’s nothing else to influence!” she said, referring to her routine of sleeping late before going to shoot whatever project she may be involved in on a given day. “I’m very detached from the mainstream crowd; the people who work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m… I watch it on TV and I go ‘Whoa!’– just like they do about me.” She says she hopes to still work in porn when she’s sixty or seventy, and laughs imagining an aged version of herself “in some fetish movie as a mistress who needs to undress.”
The Quebec Industry Cached behind a nondescript door in a run-of-the-mill Plateau office building, I enter El Diablo Productions’ four-month-old studio. Frédéric Paquin, vice-president of El Diablo and an occasional actor in his films, escorted me through the facilities where they shoot their movies. The studio consists of a spacious foyer, a room for costumes and make-up, a bedroom set, and an under-construction stage complete with stripper poles. Paquin, a Montreal native, has invested three years and $100,000 into starting up El Diablo. Simon Templar, founding producer and webmaster, first introduced Paquin to the business. The pair found video editor Marc Longtin, originally from Gatineau, on Craigslist. Longtin graduated from film school in Paris and was out of a job until he found El Diablo, the first group to actually pay him for work since he returned to Montreal two years ago. They began producing in a renovated church – “We’re going to hell,” Longtin interjected – and have since expanded to this new studio with intentions to be in the business for the long haul. El Diablo has produced movies such as 2010 Hardcore Striptour Quebec, Amateur Gonzo, Lesbian Lust, A Hardcore Year with Patricia Petite, and Puck Bunnies, a hockeythemed movie that plays to Canada’s “national fantasy” and “national sport,” as Paquin described it. “Once you get over the stigma of people fucking, it’s easy work,” said Marc. “It’s actually quite boring.” He outlined an average day on the job: makeup, have a few beers then shoot the scene and leave. Sylvain “D.R.” Morneau, another Montrealer, got involved by chance when his cousin, the owner of a porn production company, asked him to do sound. Having already worked in sound, he obliged, later taking on the role of cameraman, and eventually he became the director of the company. Porn star Vandal Vixen brought colour to the group with her irrepressible yet easygoing commentary and fantastic hair. “One of the most popular girls in Quebec,” according to Paquin, Vixen began her work behind the camera at Erobec Productions and studied video editing and broadcasting in school, before she started working as a stripper. After a Christmas party where she did a live show with a friend “for fun,” she became more interested in being in front of the camera. When she was asked to be in a movie she said yes, and now, seven years later, she has not looked back. Vandal has filmed up to 300 scenes throughout her career, in addition to feature shows and the live appearances she makes at various clubs and events. In the clean and freshly painted studio foyer, the five of us sat around a large desk. I took a seat on an old church pew (presumably from the old studio), while the rest of them light cigarettes. “I can go into any party – know nobody – and just say I work in porn, and I’m everybody’s friend by the end of the night,” said Longtin. “I don’t know if this has ever happened to you guys when a girl learns that you do porn she always will move her eyes –” Marc points down at his crotch. Laughter erupts. “It happens all the time for me,” he continues. Paquin notes the challenges of being a producer and actor. Porn stars will show up late – and the show cannot go on without them. Then there are difficulties that come with the territory: “People think it’s very easy, but it’s not like you’re fucking in your bedroom.” Vandal chimes in: “When I shoot I have make-up, I have hair – but some people recognize me in the grocery store and it’s like–” she lowered her voice to a whisper, “‘Hey, hey, it’s Vandal Vixen’…I like it. I’m like, ‘Yeah! You want an autograph?’ I’m more excited than them.”
14Features When having sex is a part of your job, it does hold risks, as Vandal acknowledges readily, though she explains the rules that make the profession safe. Porn stars must be tested for STIs and bring documented medical proof to shoots, otherwise the DVD cannot be distributed. With so many regular visits to medical clinics, a porn star is likely more aware of their sexual health than the average person. “I’m sorry but it’s better than the girl-nextdoor that goes out every Friday and is too drunk and fucks with anyone,” said Vandal, calling critics out on their hypocritical stance against porn. “Having sex with a porn star is probably the safest thing around,” Longtin agrees. Though sex with porn stars may be safe, working with them can be difficult. Paquin discusses how he never knows when a scheduled shoot will begin and end: “It’s really stressed out the day of your shooting.” Vandal said that it was obvious, both to her and the camera, when a girl does porn only for the money without enjoying her work. “Not cool,” she stated emphatically. Good chemistry and a connection with the other actor is something that Vandal emphasizes as crucial to the makings of a good scene. “We make enough money not to work everyday but, at the same time, it’s a hard business…It’s a little bit everyone for himself,” Vandal explained. “You might wake up at 7 a.m. and be so tired and you don’t want to go fuck – you just want to sleep.” Everyone in the business is essentially “freelancing,” and self-motivation is key. “In my personal life, I’m not, like, all that horny. I’m not a nymphomaniac – at all, but the camera and that I have to do my job and for my fans – it gets me into it,” she continued. Yet in spite of all her experience, Vandal admitted to nerves: “Sometimes I get really, really nervous, but once I’m onstage I love it. When I’m not going to be nervous anymore I think is going to be the time when I stop, because I won’t be thrilled anymore.” Vandal took a moment to reflect on the effects porn has had on her life, and any misconceptions or judgments that she has encountered. “It’s been seven years,” Vandal said, “I’m so into it that I don’t see and I don’t hear things the same.” Female pleasure and ejaculation is paramount according to the group at El Diablo. The porn star is the central presence on the set. “You can tell if she’s having fun,” said Longtin. “You can recognize it [if she had an orgasm].” “The girl has to come – me, I squirt,” Vandal said, explaining the necessity of the money shot, but also the lesser-known ending to a scene. “Even if she doesn’t squirt, it has to show that she came.” The biggest headache in the business, all agree, is male performance. Ejaculating or getting hard at a moment’s notice is necessary, but not always possible. Paquin and Longtin relayed how they once used a pina colada to fake a cum shot. Morneau shared a story of waiting on set until 6 a.m. to get the shot. “It can happen in two to five minutes or it can take two to three hours,” he said. Sometimes the stress of performing can literally be deflating. A producer at Erobec named Mike had echoed these sentiments when I sat down with him earlier. We were at a cafe near his alma mater, UQAM, where a decade ago Mike was refused entrance to a Masters program on sexology due to the selection committee’s distaste for his “other job” in porn. Mike is a self-described jack-of-all-trades, who has done everything from pornographic journalism to starring in a porno scene himself. Our three-hour interview covered diverse topics ranging from why four – not five – fingers can go into a vagina up to the knuckle in film, according to Le Régie du cinema du Québec, to the legendary, and the historic importance of the cum shot.
The McGill Daily | Monday, February 14, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com ously, and the regular TV producers, like we were, never want to touch sex.” Losique cited taboos and fears of personal image and reputation as factors holding people back from becoming involved. Though she is not involved directly in porn production, Losique does do much of the selection of pornographic content for Vanessa. “Even if we don’t do that, we’re still a window on the porn industry.” She said, further expanding on the gap, not only in local porn production in Quebec, but more broadly in Canada. “There’s nothing Canadian, it’s crazy.”
Courtesy of Freaky Steve
“Not having the well-known cum shot is like not having any blood. It’s like you’re watching a movie and somebody kills somebody else with a gun and you don’t see the blood splash – there’s something missing,” he said. According to Mike, porn is the only industry in which women consistently earn more money than men. Women are the centre of attention for the traditional target audience of straight white males, and therefore walk away with the bigger paycheque. At Erobec, said Mike, any female actor, regardless of her experience, will get paid around $600 for vaginal sex whereas the male actor will receive around $250.
Production in Quebec “Today any film with the label ‘Made in Quebec’ is going to sell more than a film of equal quality – it’s going to have higher sale than an American one,” said Mike, who worked at an XXX movie store, Gypsy Video – a real “ma and pa kind of place” at the beginning of his career. “We like things from here. It’s been like that from start.” Though the demand is there, the Quebec porn industry is not easy. “If you want to be a porn star in Quebec you need to work very hard,” Paquin said. The porn market in Quebec is not extremely large, so producers must search out more consumers. Longtin notes that El Diablo finds the French market is a frequent recipient of Quebec content: “Frenchmen have a boner for Quebec accents.” Away from the crowd surrounding Québec érotique’s booth at the Salon de l’amour, General Manager Cédric Savard-Filion, as he sucks on a penis-shaped lollipop, said that the circulation of the magazine is constantly growing. Savard-Filion attributed the lack of porn production in Quebec to a shortage of actors, which, in turn, was due to porn being considered taboo. “Posing nude in Quebec, it depends on how you do it. It is possible [to be nude]; to be in a video is another thing.” He described how people outside the industry tend to make to judgments about porn stars – either she is glamorous and impressive or “a fucking bitch.” SavardFilion says the line is drawn at seeing people have sex. “It’s a question of moral conceptions that we’ll accept up to a certain point.” The January cover girl for Québec érotique, Stéfanie Richard, contended with
the weight of societal taboo when deciding whether to pose for the magazine. She is a fitness model, not an erotic model or in any way active in the porn industry. “I reflected before…just because it’s still, after all, a magazine for adults, and I really don’t want to align myself with the adult world,” she said. To combat these sentiments, Québec érotique is in the process of changing its image to a more professional Playboy-esque concept. The Playboy businessmodel is the end goal of many ambitious producers in Quebec, among them legendary TV producer and broadcaster, Anne-Marie Losique. The cofounder of production company Image Diffusion International, Losique is aiming to create a Playboy brand around her new “stand-alone” French language adult entertainment channel, Vanessa TV, which was launched in Quebec October 28, 2010. A national English Vanessa channel is currently in development. Losique attributes the immense popularity of locally produced porn to a cultural awareness of not being “French from France” or American. “It’s our way of speaking… It’s cultural, and sex is also like that. We have certain relationships between men and women… It’s a different approach to sex, and that’s important.” “In French Canada we are very matriarchal,” Losique explained. The origins of this “different approach to sex,” and the humorous stories attract her attention the most. “Women are very dominant in Quebec, but that’s very known anyway. You know that,” she joked with me. Vanessa aims to help “complete” the Quebec adult industry and build production. Losique cites the demand for adult entertainment as one of the key reasons she decided to pursue opening an adult entertainment channel four years ago. “We were producing so much that we said: well why not have our own channel?” She says if it hadn’t been for the amount of interest in the locally produced adult entertainment genre, and the lack of suppliers to match that interest, she might not have created Vanessa. “With adult entertainment there was definitely a void, and there was a lot of demand. Before we had our station we had demands from everybody asking us to produce that,” Losique says, “You go with the demand.” She defines Vanessa as the “grey zone”– not porn but adult entertainment. “The real porn industry people want to do film, obvi-
Jeremy Roddick, a major gay porn producer and webmaster, began his porn career while still a university student. He hosted an online show with call-in customers on the side of his marketing and web design studies. After graduation, he acted in porn movies and started his own network of sites including Videoboys, Squirtz, a self-titled site, and a scouting agency called Nous Les Boys. A year ago, Roddick abandoned his porn career and devoted himself entirely to the production and management side of porn, which permits him total freedom and creativity regarding what is produced. Based in the Village, we met at a local Starbucks to discuss his “dream job,” his vision of porn production in the gay porn market, and his experiences in the industry. Roddick said that the porn industry is facing some big challenges. Traffic – the amount of people visiting a site – has become “the cornerstone of sales on the internet” for the adult industry, according to Roddick. Specialty companies like Braincash assist sites, helping them harness traffic effectively, and the result has been less “readily available” traffic. “You could have the best looking site, the best models, the best sex going on, [but] if nobody knows about it...” Roddick explained. Accompanying the uneven advantages of internet comes the universal challenge of easy access to free porn and online piracy – both of which are extremely problematic for producers and actors. “It’s like music, people think that it’s free so that you can download it. They don’t really see the repercussions on the industry and they don’t really care because ‘Oh people doing porn, they must be rich,’” Roddick said. The notion that working in porn generates mass wealth is an alluring and well-known myth – and not a reality. Roddick says he works ninety hours a week and spends a lot of his time waging the near-impossible fight against piracy. He tries to take down servers who have ripped off his content by sending out copyright infringement notices. Roddick mentioned that his companies preserve the Québécois identity of his actors and maintain his sites’ uniqueness. “In interviews if the guy speaks French we keep it in French and put subtitles. A lot of people think it’s sexy to see a guy speaking French, we’re renowned for that.” I ended my survey of Montreal’s porn industry in the office of McGill Sociology professor Eran Shor, who in a single sentence stated the ongoing relevance of the discussion: “Whether we like it or not we’re influenced by it because, even if we choose not to watch porn, our society has become pornified.” With pornographic images featuring prominently in all sectors of society, albeit to varying degrees of intensity, porn in some form is part of our everyday lives. The porn industry – moral, immoral, empowering, or exploitative, whichever you prefer – is built by the people who make it happen. So what kind of person does porn? Well… “What were you expecting? Did you imagine the place full of old pedophiles?” Mike demanded rhetorically. “We’re just like everybody else...for the most part.”
The McGill Daily | Monday, February 14, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
McGill Athletics vs. student apathy Pack the House event tries to engage the student population Drew Childerhose Sports Writer
rambunctious, and this only grew as the games went on. When the Redmen rallied, the fans rallied with them, aided by $4.50 beers and flasks undiscovered by the student security guards. They were loud, taunting, and borderline obnoxious. Led by a contingent of Red Thunder supporters, Laval players were mocked for missing shots and referees were ridiculed for questionable calls. The atmosphere was highlighted with face painting, homemade signs (including one that read “Let it Rain,” and was accompanied by umbrellas that went up in unison when McGill scored), chirps, cheers, and jeers from the crowd. Complete with the loyal McGill Fight Band and McGill’s cheerleaders, this was quite the spectacle for what would normally be a smaller and more reserved crowd. Sadly, yet obviously, the after party faired far worse than the games before it. With a no-name DJ playing in the adjacent part of the gym, it was more reminiscent of a junior high school dance hosted by Much Music: bright lights, pizza, cliques of friends, atrocious music, and a projector filled with photos from past Red Thunder games. Why the strong attendance at these selective games? Tom Fabian asserted that attendance and interest in McGill sports is “all about creating buzz,” using word of mouth, Facebook, and varsity teams selling
tickets to the highlighted games. If you build it, they will come… You just have to let them know it’s happening first. In discussions with Drew Love, McGill’s Director of Athletics, he and Love have come to the conclusion that Red Thunder has caused, “an increase in the arena and court sports, but not so much the field sports”: the atmosphere possible with 1,000 fans in an arena for basketball or hockey is impossible to match in Molson stadium. Another hindrance comes from within the athletic department. “[Students] are only here for three, four, five years, whereas they’ve been here forever,” said Fabian. “The problem is we’re the ones who know what’s going on.” Until the department starts building more bridges with students, groups, and clubs on campus, Fabian believes that attendance won’t hit its potential. What Red Thunder has created in the past two years is far from perfect, though it’s a strong start for a school where athletic apathy had previously
Stacey Wilson | The McGill Daily
istorically, the strong detachment between McGill Athletics and the greater student population has suppressed passion for all things sports at McGill. Because of an amalgamation of problems, including McGill’s proximity to Montreal’s nightlife and professional sports teams, and the out-of province and international students without loyalty to the school, McGill simply lacks an environment conducive to sporting activities. My first experience with McGill sports culture followed a pattern – a basketball game that occurred two years ago that I attended in support of a then Martlet friend. The game was quiet, unexciting, and lacked the atmosphere you’d expect from a school of more than 30,000. The few fans in attendance were scattered throughout the bleachers amongst the relatives of those playing. The attendance was more reminiscent of a second-tier high school matchup than one between university varsity teams. Enter Red Thunder, brainchild of then volleyball captain and current SMMU VP Internal Tom Fabian. With the intention of fostering student interest, Red Thunder offers free entry
to varsity games for all members and has put a focus on “storm” games, such as Fill the Arena and Fill the Stadium, in support of the hockey and football teams. Recently, they helped organize Pack the House – the first “storm” event for McGill Basketball. The strategy includes marketing the tickets through other varsity sports teams and clubs. The tickets are cheap and the games fall on Friday nights, garnering attention as a more exciting pre-drink than beer pong or streaming the Leafs game off justin.tv. In contrast to my experience with varsity basketball two years ago, Pack the House was near astonishing, with fans trickling in throughout the two games. The near-capacity crowd – that McGill officially recognized as a sell-out – was a sea of red, leaving only a few dozen empty seats in the upper section of bleachers. Actually, Pack the House marked the first regular season “sell-out” since they moved to the Love Competition Hall in 1996. The games themselves were both entertaining. The Marlets added to their division lead with a commanding 65-58 win over the Laval Rouge et Or, leading the entirety of the game. The Redmen fared just as well, narrowly winning 85-83 in a game that went down to the wire, moving them within two points of the nationally ranked Rouge et Or. The hall was
ruled. Pack The House, Fill the Arena, and the other events aren’t solutions to the apathy problem, but they are getting people interested, and that’s more than students ever were before. More importantly, they’ve created games worth attending, and although sports culture at McGill will likely never flourish like major American schools, they have created quite the rumbling.
Sports psychology’s effects on athletes Jenna Blumenthal Sports Writer
ecent years have seen a rise in scientific interest regarding how psychological factors affect the behaviour of athletes in competitive sport. Sports psychology is defined, in broad terms, as the study of how the mind influences athletic performance. While the discipline is no longer in its infancy, it is still criticized for being a patchwork of theories and therapies woven together and mistakenly called science. Plenty of athletes share this skepticism, including seven-time world bowling champion Margaret Johnston once quoted as saying “if I am going to lie on my back for an hour, I expect to be enjoying myself.” But it is well recognized that athletic performance is a direct reflection of mental state, so studying the behavioural outcome of psychological influences may provide an interesting lens through which the brain can be examined. At first glance sports psychology is as unscientific as it gets: the pillar of the scientific method is the systematic account of obser-
vations by an objective investigator. But sport psychology is not delivered in a vacuum – it is by nature biased, depending both on the implementer of the program and the subject on whom it is applied. Psychologists develop specific mental strategies – and if it contributes to the success of one individual, it doesn’t imply that it is universally beneficial. Given these constrictions of partiality, sports psychology researchers garner respect from the scientific community by performing systematic experimental research. Investigators are compelled by their reviewers to rigorously demonstrate that their findings are objective – meaning that they are not the result of a strong relationship between psychologist and athlete, particular conditions, or a placebo effect. By stringent scientific standards, the validity of a sports psychologist’s technique must be proven to reside within the treatment itself rather than who is delivering it. However, these randomized impartial clinical investigations may not be appropriate. The quality of a psychological approach is inseparable from the athlete and
the implementer. If a technique improves an athlete’s performance, how can there be an argument against its effectiveness? Strategies are often developed in a highly idiosyncratic manner, so if psychologists are limited to the techniques that have emerged purely from empirical research, they miss the opportunity to cultivate individualized programs – potentially more successful. So it seems that there exists a paradox. If obligated to publish findings void of experimental bias, the results obtained may prove to be useless in clinical practice. Peter Smith is the coach of the McGill Martlets hockey team and holds a Masters degree in sports psychology. He explains that while the relationship between theoretical and applied psychology may not always be harmonious, there are limitations to only acknowledging one or the other as legitimate. “There can be a division between empirical scientific thinking and well, less scientific thinking…[and] for your players to be successful, you have to recognize that there is an important mix of both of those areas,” said Smith. He adds that a significant
aspect of athlete-psychologist interaction is “that intuition, sensing what your team needs, and what you can give them [in terms of] mental training.” At several points throughout the season, Smith brings in experts to give lectures on topics like focus, goal setting, and dealing with defeat. “I think it is important to get different viewpoints that give the players information, so they can process it and figure out what’s best for them.” He stresses that being up-todate on current research enables sports psychologists to construct strategies that are founded upon experimental findings. “I don’t think its necessary for an athlete to know everything there is about myelin and synapses but there are experts who can take that knowledge and translate it into practical applications,” said Smith. Whether derived from systematic research or not, more and more athletes are turning to sports psychology to give them a competitive edge. George Banks, McGill Redmen soccer midfielder, explained that while some of the exercises may be mundane, there are others that really help.
“One good thing [our team’s sports psychologist] does before every game is we sit down in the locker room and have ‘visualization’ sessions,” added Banks. “We close our eyes, turn off the lights, and then he walks us through a scenario…[i]t’s fairly general imagery, but at the least it’s calming and gets you to loosen your nerves before the game. In pretty much every sport, teams have better records at home than away, and I imagine a big reason is players are more comfortable.” “[Sports psychologists] are really valuable if you use them on a regular basis,” he added. “They can recognize patterns in your performance that you might not notice on your own.” Though on the surface sports psychology seems to propagate archaic concepts about untapped energy and the extension of human capabilities, the close relationship between the mind and body during competitive sport is relevant for athletes and scientists alike. Our further exploration of the brain relies on finding novel and experimental approaches – and the information we can gain is indispensable both on and off the playing field.
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Sparring with history Theatre production examines Joe Louis as a forgotten icon Christina Colizza
The McGill Daily
t was August 22, 1938, at a soldout Yankee stadium. Two minutes and four seconds into the first round, heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis had defeated his German competitor, boxer Max Schmeling, in 31 solid punches. That night, Joe Louis became an American hero as the pressure of Americaâ€™s World War II nationalism and black Americaâ€™s dreams of racial integration weighed heavily on the â€œBrown Bomberâ€™sâ€? shoulders. The grandchild of former slaves, Joseph Louis Barrow grew up in rural Alabama among eight siblings. As his family suffered the hardships of the Great Depression, the young Joe turned to boxing at the local youth centre as an alternative to gang violence. It was there that Louisâ€™s career began as he soon entered professional boxing and quickly garnered fifty wins and a pair of Golden Gloves to his name. Ten knockouts later, Louis had earned fame in the boxing world, and more importantly, white respect. Currently playing at the Bain St-Michel theatre in Mile End, David Shermanâ€™s Joe Louis: An American Romance investigates the boxerâ€™s professional career and the political and racial undertones of his emergence as an African-American superstar. In the spirit of his struggle, Shermanâ€™s play explores the many facets of Louisâ€™s career as a sports figure, a political icon, and a hero for African Americans. A victim of the mediaâ€™s unbridled racism during his career, Louisâ€™s successes and losses were personally felt by Americaâ€™s black community. As Maya Angelou once said about Louis, â€œIt was our people falling. It was another lynching, yet another black man hanging on a treeâ€Śthis might be the end of the world. If Joe lost we were back in slavery and beyond help.â€? Despite the nationâ€™s segregation, whites and blacks bonded together as Louis became a national figure in his matches against Max Schmeling. In
this case, the two boxersâ€™ vicious battle embodied the Second World War political and ideological strife between American democracy and German Nazism. Twenty-two years old, uneducated, and illiterate, he united the marginalized, the blacks, the Jews, and the casualties of the Great Depression while maintaining a public image of respect and composure. Shermanâ€™s play presents Louisâ€™s life on the set of a literal boxing ring. Real archival footage plays on the walls of the stage as the older Louis, (Ardon Bess), recounts his life by watching a younger version of himself (Samuel Platel). From the beginning, the audience witnesses the older Louisâ€™s cocaine and dementia-induced fall from grace as a woman from the IRS prods him for money. Abandoned in 1981 to a life of celebrity greeting outside a Las Vegas hotel, Louis owed thousands of dollars in taxes to the country that had been the setting for his success. A recurring line of dialogue in the play consists of the racial restrictions Louis adhered to in order to succeed and maintain white respect. Forced by his coach, Jack â€œChappyâ€? Blackburn (Tristan D. Lalla), Louis must repeat his real-life â€œcommandmentsâ€? by heart: â€œNever have your picture taken with a white woman, never gloat over a fallen opponent, never engage in fixed fights, and live and fight clean.â€? These commandments seem ludicrous in todayâ€™s sporting world as NFL gloating becomes a team emblem and no NHL fight is particularly â€œclean.â€? Louisâ€™s strict commandments and his dogmatic adherence to them highlight the adversity he faced â€“ both in the ring and in his personal life. In the playwrightâ€™s words, Joe Louis embodied â€œBlack America defending the notions that white Americans hold dear â€“ democracy, equality, and tolerance â€“ during a time when those very ideals were not practiced in much of the country.â€? In the spirit of the Civil Rights movement, Sherman deploys a female character from the IRS as a parallel to black oppression. As
she argues with the older Louis to pay the government in 1981, a sentiment of second-wave feminism emerges from her frustrations with the ever-proud Louis. She tires quickly of Louisâ€™s â€œmacho bullshit,â€? and reveals the hardships women endure in the professional world. The dialogue between the two represents the dominant social movements of 20th century America. Expressing her frustrations at lower pay than a manâ€™s wages, the two are similarly caught between career and socially prescribed pressures. Shermanâ€™s message is clear: many marginalized groups have been compromised under white patriarchal structures. Joe Louis: An American Romance, seemingly displays more hatred than love, emphasizing topics such as the Depression, World War II, sexism, and Americaâ€™s brutally racist history. In an interview, the playwright described the â€œromanceâ€? as a love story in which America worships, and then so easily discards their sports stars. â€œDespite Louisâ€™s status as an icon he was left in the dust of history,â€? said Sherman. â€œNo one has ever made a motion picture about him. Americans loved him and used him. He brought America this success and was dumped.â€? Despite the progress in racial equality since Louisâ€™s time, black athletes still suffer the whims of the media. Sherman elaborated on this American â€œexpendability of athletesâ€? with the example of Tiger Woods: â€œAn athlete like Tiger Woods has sex and he was forgotten instantly. He became a target because he had sex. He was human and he lost. Joe Louis didnâ€™t even do anything.â€? Although his legacy has not lasted, he paved the way for future racial awareness and future black athletes. However, Louisâ€™s accomplishments are often overlooked among the achievements of African-American athletes in the 20th century. In Louisâ€™s time, he was a cultural and political icon who has since been knocked out of the American consciousness â€“ so quickly loved and lost in the public eye.
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Rebelling with a cause Tiana Reid explores the past, present, and future of counterculture
hat’re you rebelling against, Johnny?” “Whaddya got?” Those are the famous words of Marlon Brando and Peggy Maley in the 1953 film, The Wild One. It was shortly thereafter, in the 1960s, that counterculture as a sociological term rose to prominence. The meaning of “counterculture” is seemingly explained in the word itself. To be countercultural is to be against mainstream culture. In the most general sense, a counterculture is a collection of attitudes, behaviours, and an overall way of life that is opposed to dominant social norms. According to cultural studies professor Derek Nystrom, of McGill’s English department, it is first important to make the distinction between subcultures and countercultures – an idea that originated in Resistance through Rituals, a collection of essays edited by Stuart Hall and Tony Jefferson. “Both subcultures and counter cultures resist ‘dominant’ culture, but in different ways: subcultures are marked more by a partial dissent from dominant institutions and practices, and their resistance is often subterranean, rather than explicitly articulated,” Nystrom wrote in an email. Furthermore, both subcultures and countercultures are perceived to be threatening to the dominant social order. Subcultures, like countercultures, may emerge from rebellion and an opposition to the
ing and transmission of its alternative sets of beliefs and practices,” wrote Nystrom. Some of those “alternative sets of beliefs and practices” include looking at institutions such as family and work in an unorthodox way. For John Clarke, Stuart Hall, Tony Jefferson, and Brian Roberts in Resistance through Rituals, counter cultural practices in the 1960s involved extensive populations of middle-class youth. They argue that “middle-class countercultures are diffuse, less group-centered, more individualized” than what they call “working-class subcultures” – fixed collectives with a group identity, like gangs. For the most part, the 1960s have been considered the hotbed of countercultures. “The 1960s in the U.S. offers, of course, a host of these kinds of countercultural institutions – from the various New Left groups and their organizational structures to the wide range of communes and other alternative living organizations, as well as the identity-politics based institutions created by the black, gay, and women’s liberation movements,” wrote Nystrom. The Vietnam War, North America’s first televised war, bombarded people with more graphic images than ever before, which had an obvious impact on how U.S. citizens perceived their own state. Nystrom insisted that Vietnam was simply one part of this increase in cultural opposition.
“[Counter cultures] articulate themselves explicitly in opposition to dominant beliefs and practices, and often seek to build counter-institutions” Derek Nystrom Department of English, McGill
dominant social norms, but there’s less of a precise and detailed goal. Nystrom drew from cultural theorist Paul Willis to explain that subcultures “rarely do what they say, or say what they mean, but they mean what they do.” On the other hand, countercultures have an explicit goal. It’s not simply about being against something, but rather talking about what you’re fighting for. Countercultures “articulate themselves explicitly in opposition to dominant beliefs and practices, and often seek to build counter-institutions for the secur-
“It’s also important to note that countercultural youth movements sprung up all over the globe during the 1960s, and those other places weren’t fighting in Vietnam, which suggests that the causes for them may have been more demographic (the post WWII baby booms) and/ or structural (as part of the shift from monopoly capitalism to late or multinational capitalism),” he explained. Like most social movements, countercultures eventually lose their fire and enter the mainstream. Even the cultural legacies
Anna Foran | The McGill Daily
of those moments don’t have the same poignancy in our generation’s eyes as they did to the fresh eyes of their era. Easy Rider, for instance, is considered an iconic countercultural text, but today, its message pales in comparison to the impact it had when it was released in 1969. Speaking broadly, Nystrom wrote that countercultures are mainstreamed “when the explicit political challenge of the counterculture fails, and some of their beliefs and practices prove to be assimilable into dominant practices.” Nystrom noted that author and journalist Thomas Frank argued that many of the principles of the countercultures in the 1960s were focused heavily on pleasure, easily translatable to consumer capitalism. Although this seems like an oxymoron, Frank wrote in The Conquest of Cool that “faith in the revolutionary potential of ‘authentic’ counterculture combine[s] with the notion that business mimics and mass-produces fake counterculture in order to cash in on a particular demographic and to subvert the great threat that “real” counterculture represents” – something he calls the “co-optation theory.” For every genuine counterculture, corporate response is to integrate the counterculture into consumer products, commercializing its original values. While we may be nostalgic for
the sixties conception of counterculture, the idea of a contemporary counter-culture is more difficult to assess. Do counter cultures even exist today? When asked what constitutes counter culture today, Nystrom expressed the opinion that it, in the context of the U.S., counter culture is located on the Christian right. He argued that the Christian right has a distinct worldview relying on a network of institutions, including universities and churches, that are against mainstream culture – such as scientific method in schools, political secularism, and to some extent, consumer capitalism. This argument at first appears striking, because what we usually think of as counterculture – queer movements, civil rights, anti-war movements, the “summer of love” – are more commonly rooted in leftist ideologies. But Nystrom wrote that “someone who has been homeschooled by born-again Christian parents, attends Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University in Virginia, and goes on to work as a lawyer for the Pat Robertson affiliated American Center for Law and Justice lives a fully saturated countercultural existence as profound as someone who resisted the draft and lived in a commune in Vermont in the 1960s and ’70s.” If contemporary counterculture is defined by groups such as Christian right, does this mean the end of the radical activism
that defined movements of the sixties and seventies? Or can it be reinvented? Counterculture gave birth to cyber culture, argues Fred Turner in the 2006 book From Counterculture to Cyberculture. The two are inseparable, and this has revolutionized the way cultures interact and develop. Communications technologies – especially social media like YouTube, blogging, Twitter, and Facebook – are routinely lauded for their effects on social change, and more importantly, for human possibility. Nystrom thinks that social media can influence the creation of countercultures because they “allow people to have access to and participate in alternative beliefs and practices without being geographically linked to each other.” With communication technologies as a resource for change, cultural critic Greil Marcus has argued that the very notion of a counterculture may be unnecessary. In a 2003 New York Times article, he wrote, “It doesn’t matter that there is no counterculture, because counterculture of the past gives people a sense that their own difference matters.” While the idea of counterculture today is embedded with romantic and nostalgic implications of past rebellion, to be in defense of the possibility of counter cultural change is to be in defense of freedom.
The McGill Daily | Monday, February 14, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
BLACK HISTORY MONTH
“I am large, I contain multitudes” Kepkaa’s Creole lessons spread Haitian language and culture to the expat community Allison Friedman Culture Writer
’ve just arrived at the small nook of a church basement to take a beginner’s class in Haitian Creole, and somehow we’ve gotten into a discussion of the all-time literary greats. “Do you like the Russians? Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky?” The instructor, Rassoul Labuchin, sizes me up from across his desk. “And the Americans. You know Dos Passos? Or Walt Whitman? Walt Whitman is a good poet.” I can immediately imagine him declaring, à la Whitman, “I am large, I contain multitudes:” with his booming voice and air of selfassured amusement, Labuchin commands space like a seasoned stage actor. I and the five other students in the class – mostly young Quebeckers of Haitian background – are all eyes and ears. The lessons are offered by Kepkaa, a relatively modest organization dedicated to the promotion of Haitian Creole and Afro-Caribbean culture in Montreal. Whitman, the 19th century American poet who sung his fledgling nation into being, ends up being an appropriate spectre to invoke at the beginning of a class that turns into a long discussion on the history and culture of a troubled country. “There are many root causes of under-development in Haiti,” Labuchin begins, visibly deciding how to disentangle the topic for us. Over the next three hours, he sketches out a dismal national narrative: 15th century colonization by the Spanish resulted in the decimation of the country’s
CULTURE BRIEF Yann Tiersen at Metropolis One hit wonders rarely deserve to be anything more than that – A-Ha’s thirty year career is unremarkable after the first release of unbridled dancefloor ecstasy that is “Take On Me”, and even though Rick Astley got a “Best Act Ever” award from MTV Europe, he’s only famous because of the dozens of times you got rickrolled while trying to watch a re-run of Usain Bolt in the 2008 Olympics. But there are certain artists who, despite having a great deal more to offer, never get acknowledged beyond the exposure the mainstream media gives them. Yann Tiersen is one such artist – most people have only ever heard of him as “the Amélie guy.” But the soundtrack he composed for JeanPierre Jeunet’s 2001 film is only a sampling of his work. Most of the
native population, and was followed by French rule relying on imported African slave labour. A brutal civil war at the end of the 18th century ended in independence that ultimately isolated the small country from the rest of the world. If nothing else, Labuchin wants to make sure we remember that, “The history of Haiti is a history of blood.” By the end of the night, we still haven’t cracked open a Creole textbook – partially for my sake, as the other students are three classes in, and would have left me in their dust, but also because the course is meant to cover more than just language. The president of Kepkaa, Pierre-Roland Bain, explained over the phone that young HaitianCanadians are eager to dig up their roots. “They learn about themselves,” he told me. “They start with the language, and then they will buy books to learn about the history, they will ask questions, they will go to activities to learn more because they feel that they’ve missed something – that there’s something they don’t have.” Unsurprisingly, Afro-Caribbean history is sorely lacking from the curricula of most Canadian schools. “You need someone to help you to find it, to know it, to read it to you,” Bain said. It’s hard to imagine a better person to tell that story than Labuchin. He’s a literary force in his own right, as it turns out – handing out scripts for an opera called “Maryaj Lenglensou” (or “Le Mariage Lenglensou,” in French), he declares cheekily, “Rassoul Labuchin is the name of the artist.” I later found out that it’s celebrated as “the first
tracks came from his back catalogue – including his albums La Valse des Monstres (1995), Rue des Cascades (1996), and Le Phare (1998) – and provide only a glimpse into his style as a composer. On February 21 at Metropolis, his second time in Montreal, Tiersen will promote his new album, Dust Lane, released October 11 last year. On first listening, the album is refreshing – even more so if all you know of Tiersen is the ripply tinkly piano that accompanies Amélie’s adorable little docmartin-ed feet across the cobbles of Montmartre. Certainly the technique of minutely-harmonized themes repeating over each other, shifting up and down scales, recalls this earlier work. Much of Tiersen’s music comes across as profoundly solitary – his reliance on the piano and accordion, while limiting the use of vocals, conjures images of a lone street musician playing for an audience of a near-empty felt hat and a stray dog. But Dust Lane is altogether more communal. Each track is vast, choral, layered, swell-
Olivia Messer | The McGill Daily
black opera in Haiti,” and is the only show in Haitian theatre history to have been performed in 37 cities. The story tackles traditional operatic themes of passionate love and betrayal: a young sexton proposes to his beloved, only to have his jealous friend sabotage the marriage. The triangular mess snowballs into a fatal disaster that gives the story its name – Lenglesou is a voodoo spirit associated with violence and
ing with synths and voices and drums and musical boxes plucked out of dilapidated Loire Valley attics. This is an album that needs to be an album. Each track bleeds into the next with caramel-like smoothness – but sad caramel, tainted with the sound of mournful sighing winds and the droning electronic whines that remain in the aftermath of the choral orgasm that explodes about seventy per cent of the way into every track. Listen to the album from start to end. Then keep listening, because there’s one more track, the best one. The joyful and deceptively innocentsounding orgy that is “Fuck Me” invokes raw, passionate sex with an intensity that will make you either yearn for it or raise your eyebrows, but you won’t be able to stop it. —Naomi Endicott
Yann Tiersen will perform at Metropolis, 59 Ste. Catherine E., on February 21 at 8 p.m. Tickets $27, phone 514 790 1245 for more details.
tragedy. It hardly seems coincidental that, like his country’s past, Labuchin’s magnum opus is a history of blood. Labuchin warns that next class will be strictly Creole-only, and nobody groans. As Bain explained, the students come on their own initiative: “Most of the time the parents say, ‘If you speak Creole, your English will be very bad.’ But the young generation, they are not
satisfied with that. So they learn by themselves, and when they get together they speak Creole most of the time.” Fostering a community of young people on the basis of language is, for both Bain and Labuchin, Kepkaa’s main “rezon pou être.” Kepkaa is at 2000 St. Joseph E. See kepkaa.com/coursdecreole/ index1.html for more information.
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The McGill Daily | Monday, February 14, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
The futAR of contemporary art Amir Baradaran uses Augmented Reality to bring the Mona Lisa to life and challenge the notion of French identity
Nicole Stradiotto | The McGill Daily
Evelyn Stanley Culture Writer
ot a smartphone? Want to use it to question concepts of national identity, iconography, and curatorial practices? Viewable on the application Junaio by pointing a Smartphone camera at an image of the Italian painting Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, Amir Baradaran’s latest work Frenchising Mona Lisa does just this. In his artist’s statement, Baradaran says he wishes to question concepts of national identity, property and curatorial practices by drawing a parallel between the naturalization of the Mona Lisa into French society and the distortion of the hijab debate in France into a “lightening rod about Frenchness.” Frenchising Mona Lisa uses augmented reality (AR): hold a smartphone camera up in front of an image of the Mona Lisa and she comes to life, pulling a French flag over her shoulders like a scarf. Then, with a half smile she lifts the flag over her head, arranging it to cover her hair. The approximately fifty-second animation has a comic tone, however the message is clear. France has long been hostile toward the hijab – as recently as January 25
(two days before Baradaran’s project launched) a parliamentary committee recommended the banning of the hijab in public places such as hospitals and schools. Yet the resistance to this ban, while established and passionate, nevertheless has not lost its sense of humour. The wan smile of Lisa del Giocando as she pulls the tricolor flag over her shoulders indicates that she recognizes the irony of her situation: in spite of her obviously Italian roots, she has found herself a symbol of French culture and an icon of the Louvre, passing her days idly in central Paris. Through a comic piece verging on the absurd, Baradaran has made his point. The French debate on the hijab has come to dominate policy on secularism and “politicians from the right and the left have been engaging in a one-sided argument, castigating (their interpretation of) Islamic practice while religious underpinnings of Western secularism go unacknowledged and undisputed,” claimed Baradaran in an email to The Daily. This “presupposes that the culture of hijab and that of France are static, unchanging and unchangeable,” he continued. In other words, he believes that the hijab has been exploited by French politicians who fiercely oppose it in order to win public opinion, while
Western religious symbols go largely without criticism. Iranian born, brought up in Montreal, and currently based in New York, Baradaran struggled from a young age with the concept of national identity and geopolitical boundaries. His past and present have tackled these issues, in addition to topics regarding race, gender and other forms of discrimination. In spite of discussing heavy issues, Baradaran’s work has a lighthearted, and even selfdeprecating, tone. In a trailer for Frenchising Mona Lisa, a voice lists the ten worst things to happen to the Mona Lisa over the course of history, including theft, poor restoration, and of course, the installation of an Augmented Reality artwork over the Mona Lisa that will change her appearance forever. Baradaran’s recent work The Other Artist is Present, in which he highjacked artist Marina Abramovic’s The Artist is Present performance at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, again demonstrates his tongue-in-cheek style. So, why is Frenchising Mona Lisa only viewable via smartphone? Baradaran wishes to share with you, the future, or futAR, of contemporary art. By making art more accessible and more easily created by and for the general public,
Futarism challenges currently held notions of ownership and curatorial practices. In his manifesto regarding Futarism, Baradaran writes that Augmented Reality “creates a peculiar kind of mischief making.” By “taking” canonical works of art from large Western museums such as the Louvre and then building on them, Baradaran sees his work as “a new type of graffiti making as it defies our notions of sabotage, trespassing and vandalism.” These ideas of graffiti, vandalism and comedy draw definite parallels with Baradaran’s past work, including his guerilla performance, The Other Artist is Present. When asked if he viewed himself as a graffiti artist of sorts however, Baradaran replied that he is an artist who is not media specific. Augmented Reality also allows artists to take existing works of art and “turn them into AR tracked objects. New artwork will then be layered onto these objects.” This concept, described as a “hint at our future while it reckons with our present” carries the significant assumption that future art will be built upon the foundations of work that has come before it. Indeed, Frenchising the Mona Lisa does just this by giving an already famous work by Leonardo da Vinci a new and different significance. Though he may not admit it, Baradaran
is most certainly a graffiti artist, manipulating the appearance of existing images and distributing artwork to the masses. Whether or not other artists follow his lead is another question. Apart from being a new artistic medium, AR will also help artists to present their work to the public. Baradaran commented that “climbing the ladder of art world success necessarily entails finding gallery representation and exhibiting at museums of increasing importance. This progress confirms the validity of an artist’s work both as art and as significant…this is not a democratic system but reflects the interests of hegemonic power.” By employing AR, artists can escape the unfair process of selection and present their art to the public in an easy and accessible way. Adjectives used to describe Frenchising Mona Lisa have ranged from “unsettling and bizarre,” to “clever,” or “hilarious.” Regardless, this strange endeavouris enjoying growing success in the art world. It is questionable whether other artists will adopt AR as a new artistic medium. But whether or not it catches on, Baradaran’s goals to help in the proliferation of art seem no different to those of any other artist. As he put it, “we wish to augment the world.”
The McGill Daily | Monday, February 14, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Lies, half-truths, and true love
Plate Club is fucking sexy!!! (and awesome!!)
Oh no you didn’t.
he Plate Club did not make an “arbitrary decision” to stop renting to MK. There are a PLETHORA of reasons if you care enough to hear them. They also spent all of last week transitioning students, telling everyone that as of next week they would have to bring their own containers. PC informed SSMU Environment Commission asking them to make announcements at their meeting. They also informed MK so that they would post on their Facebook and their blog. If this was not enough of a transition period for you then I am DEEPLY apologetic that we didn’t want to wait more than a week to take action when everyday there are probably 50 bags of waste being produced in the SSMU cafeteria. How is PC supposed to know that this was the ONE DAY you forgot your Tupperware and decided at the last minute to go to MK??? How is PC supposed to know that YOU missed all the warnings that were given??? Is it really too much to ask people to bring their own containers!?!?!! If you actually forget MK has dishes in the kitchen. And regarding your “sustainable lunch” wouldn’t it be more sustainable to bring your own container so that you can use it wherever you go? What if you “decide at the last minute to grab” some food elsewhere? Then you are forced to use disposable containers, which just add to the already overwhelming amount of waste in this world. I feel saddened by your need to lash out at PC, whose mandate is NOT to help you get “lunch on the cheap” but to bring about change in the SSMU cafeteria and eliminate harmful Styrofoam waste for everyone. It was not because PC hates you and wants to “betray your sustainable lunch time needs.” You are not the only one who got “wholesale shut down.” If you have any constructive suggestions and not just criticisms on how to do things better please let me know. You can find me eating baby pandas with my bare hands.
You’d think all the students in Ferrier could get their shit together
uck the motherfucking students who come through the Ferrier Computer Lab. Fuck how you can’t read the sign that says, “when you print over 30 pages, your print job will not go through.” Fuck how you fail to ACTUALLY select the right printer before whining to me behind the desk that “it’s not working.” Fuck how all these type-A neurotic McGill students (see: last Thursday’s Ferrier rant) can’t just relax while I try to fix the problem, instead of breathing down my neck saying “I did that. I tried that.” Fuck how you get mad when the HELP DESK doesn’t have pens, pencils, CDs or envelopes to GIVE you – this isn’t a fucking Staples. Fuck how stupid all those students are. You’d think they could figure this shit out.
Fuck this! and Fuck yeah! are occasional columns for you to rant and rave about things that bug you or turn you on, while remaining anonymous. Send your 200-words-or-less blurbs to firstname.lastname@example.org. Fucks these that are actually hateful will not be printed, so keep your racist and homophobic comments to yourself.
Be mine, valentine
The Crossword Fairies !
"! "$ "( #"
UCK YEAH Plate Club and its FUCKING AMAZING student volunteers who save HELLA disposable plates from being thrown out in SSMU! Thanks for providing this FREE student-run service from 11:30-2 EVERY DAY M-F, and to its plate-borrowing users whose lunches are now so much more sustainable sans styrofoam! FUCK YEAH Midnight Kitchen for delicious sustainable lunches, and awesome MK users who know to bring their own tupperware instead of overwhelming Plate Club, whose original mandate is to reduce waste in the caf! (and FUCK YEAH MK dessert!! mm...) And finally, PLATE CLUBBERS: You FUCKING ROCK for giving MK users a transition period with warnings, and for selling sweet foldable tupperware by donation! Plus you plate-loving people are just so damn cool – you’re not called the sexiest service on campus for nothing! Very cool, PC + MK + enviro groups working together on campus, very cool!
I’m having what she’s having... - m4(molars) Date: 2011-02-14, 9:03 PM EST I don’t know if anybody ever reads these anyways, but I just can’t get you out of my head. In yesterday’s lecture, you were sitting right behind me about ten inches away from my left ear, making those cute hamster-like nibbling noises. And I don’t even know what you look like, or what you were eating (inhaling). I even stopped listening to my prof to devote my full attention to those “adorable” gnawing rodent sounds you were making. The succinct wheezing and saliva-slurping in between bites made me fantasize about your appearance. Reveal yourself; I would love to get to know you and your efficient molars. r *U JT PL UP DPOUBDU UIJT QPTUFS XJUI TFSWJDFT PS PUIFS erotic interests PostingID: 28509293876
1. ___lestar Galactica 5. Call at first 9. “Silly” birds 14. Sheltered, nautically 15. Not “fer” 16. Set forth 17. Greek speaker’s platform 18. Breathe hard 19. Feudal lord 20. Capable of being claimed 23. Dancing With the Stars winner Julianne 24. Giovanni’s “Farewell” 25. Charge 28. Cacti featured in “The Bare Necessities” 31. Play the part 34. Catch a glimpse of 35. Fluff 36. Intertwined things (from Greek) 38. It can be in a full or half Windsor 41. Charged particles 42. Pre-stereo 43. “And I Love ___” 44. Alan Cumming in X2 49. Anger 50. Horse colour 51. Utopian 54. 38-across is a component of this 57. Old Jewish scholars 60. Bank deposit 61. These hands are the devil’s playthings
62. San Andreas, for one 63. To be, to Tiberius 64. Christie’s “Death on the ___” 65. Cap worn by a Highland laddy 66. Cast off 67. Check
37. ___ Wednesday 38. Right this minute 39. Joined up 40. New additions to the old boy’s club 42. Possessing male characteristics 45. Reliable 46. Trigonometry abbr. 47. Elevates 48. Hardened tree saps 52. Sit in on 53. Charles de Gaulle’s birthplace 54. Unguent 55. ___’s, de Bullion and Roy watering hole 56. Abound 57. Astern 58. Bleat 59. No-goodnik
1. “Ali ___ and the 40 Thieves” 2. First Hebrew letter 3. Beat 4. React sentimentally 5. Tegan and Sara’s creed 6. Petri dish filler 7. Particular 8. Involve 9. Faster than a canter 10. New York’s ___ Canal 11. Poetic palindrome 12. Give in to gravity 13. Hurricane’s center 21. Shrek’s kin Solution to “You spin me right round baby” 22. “Open the pod B O X T A S T E B E T A S __ doors, HAL” O S C A R U S A G E A K A 25. Goes with Hope A P H R O D I S I A C L A X O N S A L E E P I C S and Charity R I S O T T O E D D L A T 26. Bert’s best friend N Y A L A S E V E R E 27. RCOOR U S P S R I G O R L O O T 29. Tax preparer, A D V E N T U R O U S N E S S for short B O L L T R E E T E A S E 30. Caribou kin N I N O N H O T T E R 31. Berry-shaped E N E D O E C A P E D O C A L U M N I I R O N Y cell clusters D I S 32. Church singing group F O R G E T M E T O N E R O D E G O T M A N E S 33. Bit of colour S T A R S
T O R O S
E N S
The McGill Daily | Monday, February 14, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
volume 100 number 33
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Being tough on crime is regressive Rumblings of a May election are growing and the Conservatives are still trying to sell themselves to Canadians as defenders of public safety, investing almost forty percent of their legislative agenda and billions of dollars in crime legislation. When marking his fifth anniversary in power on January 23, Harper emphasized the Tories’ “tough on crime” agenda, congratulating his party for keeping the “bad guys out of circulation for a while,” and maintaining that the money spent on crime prevention has been “worth it.” Right now the government is running the largest budgetary deficit in Canadian history. But, while other departments are being frozen or cut, the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) is rapidly expanding its facilities to accommodate not only prisoners, but also the number of staff who will work in them. According to Parliament’s budget watchdog Kevin Page, the Truth and Sentencing Act – just one of the many Conservative crime bills – will cost at least $5 billion dollars more over the next five years than the Conservatives initially projected. To handle increasing inmate populations, the CSC will hire more than 3,000 employees, only 35 of whom will be health care professionals, according to an internal report obtained by Postmedia news. This is despite the fact that it is estimated that at least a quarter of new admissions to federal prisons have some form of mental health illness. Prisons are effectively being used as dumping grounds: a lack of existing community services for mental illness and drug abuse leaves imprisonment as the option most often employed by law enforcement, when in fact prisons have no capacity to treat such health issues. This leads to the incarceration of people who are convicted of behaviours that we have unjustifiably criminalized, often conflating underlying health issues with crime and creating a situation in which mentally ill individuals are overrepresented in prisons. Canada’s prisons are already dangerously overcrowded with an influx of inmates who have mental health or drug abuse problems. This situation will only worsen with tougher sentencing legislation. Within the federal prison system there is already too little access to treatment centres, and an extreme over-reliance on punitive measures to deal with inmates who are mentally ill. We need to invest in programs that end cycles of violence, addiction, and untreated mental illness. Without proper access to such programs, recidivism rates rise, and people leave the system with more acute mental health issues than when they entered. A “tough on crime” strategy wastes billions of dollars that could be invested in rehabilitation programs. In isolation, it will only serve to make our communities more dangerous. Building more prisons is not the way to address the complex root causes of crime. This is an extremely misguided strategy considering that there has never been a study directly linking more prisons with lower crime rates. Harper thinks we should keep the people who commit crimes out of society. The thing is, many of these “bad guys” need more than a cell to break the cycles of violence. Further, this “bad guy-good guy” dichotomy misses the point: many people commit crimes due to factors largely outside their control – like poverty, substance abuse, and mental illness. They need programs, treatment, and opportunities for rehabilitation and redirection, but none of these are offered by Harper’s multi-billion-dollar plans to punish.
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Olivia Messer | The McGill Daily