Volume 100, Issue 37
March 10, 2011 mcgilldaily.com
DAILY Voting for Wyclef for 100 years.
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The McGill Daily | Thursday, March 10, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
SSMU releases international tuition report Quebec seeks to address funding gap for international tuition through deregulation Henry Gass
The McGill Daily
SMU VP External Myriam Zaidi said the SSMU executive first started talking with the McGill administration about the possible deregulation of international student fees the day after Principal Heather Munroe-Blum’s Town Hall last November. At the meeting, Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Morton Mendelson, SSMU President Zach Newburgh, VP University Affairs Joshua Abaki, Munroe-Blum, and Zaidi agreed to work together towards lobbying the provincial government on several points. According to Zaidi, a point was informally raised, regarding the deregulation of international student fees. Zaidi said the executives had been asked whether they thought all the money international students paid to the University should stay in the University. “We were like, ‘Well, it sounds nice, but we haven’t examined the situation, so we won’t agree on that.’ But they really insisted that we agree on it,” said Zaidi. “When they sent us a summary of the meeting, they said that we’d agreed on it, which wasn’t true.” International students in Quebec are required to pay a supplemental fee on top of the base Quebec tuition fee. The province justifies this by saying that international students, unlike domestic students, won’t repay the rest of the cost of their education in taxes the rest of their life. Ninetytwo per cent of this additional fee goes to the Quebec government, which then redistributes the funds among all Quebec universities based on each university’s overall enrolment. “I understood that’s what they meant by [that],” said Zaidi. “They meant they wanted the complete deregulation of all international tuition, because that’s the only way all the money can stay in the University.” “I think that’s what they wanted us to indirectly agree on – the complete deregulation of all international students’ programs,” she added. It was in light of this meeting that SSMU has released a research report on unregulated fees for international students, comparing current deregulation trends in Quebec with the past effects of deregulation in other provinces.
SSMU’s research report The report, which raises concerns of the long-term effects of deregulation and the lack of student consultation regarding the amount of increases, comes at
a time when universities across Quebec are restructuring their tuition models in anticipation of next year’s provincial budget. The budget will be released next week and is expected to prescribe further tuition increases. SSMU Researcher and Political Attache Philippe Lapointe wrote SSMU’s report in collaboration with Abaki and Zaidi. “There are two uses for this research,” said Zaidi. “One internally, in order to help [Abaki] and Senators in their lobbying efforts for international students.” Zaidi said the other reason was to lobby the Quebec Students Roundtable (QSR) to represent the interests of international students more in their negotiations with the provincial government. “In terms of external affairs, [Abaki] and I came to the conclusion that the [QSR] should be lobbying for international students and out-of-province students,” said Zaidi. “It was pretty straightforward and non-negotiable; that if the [QSR] wants to be representative of SSMU it should be taken into consideration lobbying for international students.”
International student enrolment
Source: Règles budgétaires et calcul des subventions de fonctionnement aux universités du Québec pour 2008-2009, MELS
Total int’l enrolment Students exempt from supplemental fees
Deregulating international fees In 2008, the Quebec government voted to deregulate international supplemental fees in six programs: applied sciences, mathematics, engineering, computer science, management, and law. Every year since, the Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport (MELS) has reduced its subsidies and revenue collection from these programs by 20 per cent. In 2014, all revenue from international supplemental fees in those programs will remain in the University. According to the report, MELS’s intake from international student fees at McGill would have been $40 million in 2008-09, but McGill would have received just $798,786 of these province-wide supplemental fees. Another issue involves the bilateral agreements Quebec holds with Francophone nations. Such agreements exempt international students from Francophone countries from paying supplemental fees. “McGill, an Anglophone university, has a significantly higher population of international students who come from countries which do not have agreements with the Quebec government,” reads the report. McGill receives 25 per cent of all Quebec’s international students, and contributes 41 per cent of all supplemental fees in the province. “There are gaping inequalities between supplemental fee payments and supplemental fee redis-
tribution,” says the report. “Large universities with few international students benefit more from supplemental fees than do universities with a large international cohort such as McGill.” Zaidi says the University has been arguing that money students pay shouldn’t go to other universities, and that were the money to stay in McGill, it would improve the quality of education at the University. “The question is: to what extent does it matter that some millions of dollars are taken and redistributed to all other universities for students? Or is it more important for them to not have to go through what Law students have to go through, for example, which is a $4,000 increase between May and September each year,” said Zaidi. “We’ve seen the priorities of the administration. The priority is not to reduce class sizes or to give more services to students. Their priorities are graduate research, research in general, and infrastructure…so in the end, even if it was deregulated and international students would buy into the rhetoric that basically the money you’ll be paying to McGill will be staying in McGill, and then that’s just going to increase your experience as a whole, it is not true.”
Where could deregulation leave students? Concordia has been experiencing similar increases in international fees. Roddy Doucet, Advocacy Manager for the Concordia Graduate Students’ Association, said Concordia has been raising international fees as much as MELS will allow. “We’ve also dealt with a tuition fee, ‘restructuring’ we call it, where students pay more up front based on a per-credit basis. So we’ve had different issues,” said Doucet. However, Concordia’s senate recently voted to approve a $3-million fund allocation to tuition waivers for international students. The waivers, spread out over the next three years, would cover tuition costs for 35 new graduate students. According to Doucet, these waivers won’t relieve financial stress on current graduate students, however. “They’re going to be used as recruitment tools for international students,” said Doucet. “As a concern I guess what we have is…6,000 current graduate students that this money is not going to help at all, who are facing substantial tuition concerns, and, due to the tuition fee restructuring last year, substantially higher tuition bills than they would have
previously.” Of the 6,000 graduate students at Concordia, Doucet said that about a third were international students. “So to add seventy of them, that’s a little bit over 3 per cent that would be on tuition waiver,” said Doucet. “That means that 97 per cent are paying full international, and rising, tuition.” Indeed, one of the SSMU reports main concerns is that Quebec universities can decide amongst themselves what the supplemental fee is each year. “First of all there is no student that sits on the [Consultative Committee for Education on Financial Accessibility] that decides how much the increase should be for deregulated tuition,” said Zaidi. “So we still don’t have a say on how much they should increase every summer.” Ontario began deregulating its international student fees in 1997, and every program is now completely deregulated. The report cites the example of the University of Toronto’s Executive MBA program as an example of the growth in international student fees Quebec could witness. According to the report, in 2010 international students in the program paid $89,000 in tuition and supplemental fees.
The McGill Daily | Thursday, March 10, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Jessica Lukawiecki The McGill Daily
espite the diversity of experts who gathered to discuss the issue of transportation in Montreal this Tuesday at Concordia University, there was strong consensus in their conclusion: the solution to current and future problems in the city’s transportation system is to focus on mass transit. Organized by Concordia’s Faculty of Public Affairs, “Are we there yet: Moving Montreal’s transit in the right direction,” brought together expert panellists to discuss Montreal’s declining transportation infrastructure – much of it has not been replaced or rebuilt since the 1960s. The question for policymakers now is whether to renovate the existing infrastructure, or to invest in completely new projects. Anthony Freyne, a transportation advocate with passengers’ association, Transport 2000, said that politicians often engage in exciting projects without realistically considering what is economically feasible. “Montreal has been a real champion in coming up with grandiose plans, but such projects have been taking decades when they should be taking years,” he said. Health Canada considers transportation to be one of the 12 key
determinants of health, because of its correlations with physical activity, air quality and accidents. While transportation accounts for about half of greenhouse gas emissions in Montreal, public transit only accounts for 1 per cent “Montreal needs another bridge onto the island like I need another hole in the head,” Norman King, from Direction de la Santé Publique (DSP), said humorously, referring to the fact that more cars are pouring into Montreal each day than the city can handle. DSP aims to help reduce traffic volume by 20 per cent in order to improve public health, a goal which the other panellists agreed with. Martin Bergeron from the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal felt that the choice between investing in automobiles and public transit is a very clear one. He explained that investing in transit translates into a long-term investment in Montreal, while private automobiles tend to divert funds away from the city. The cost of traffic congestion in Montreal has risen to $1.4 billion – 1 per cent of the total municipal GDP – which adds economic urgency to the need for investment in public transit. Francois Pepin from the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) concluded by describing how the STM has adapted to attract new ridership. STM’s changes include the improvement of services, expansion into the media and the new Opus pass. When asked about the role that
bicycle programs will have in the future of Montreal’s transportation, the panellists agreed that, although bikes can only play a small part in public transport, they are nonetheless important. “It’s a win-win solution,” said King. “You’re reducing pollution and you’re getting people active.” However, King also said that necessary accommodations must be made in order for people to consider cycling to work or school, including improved safety and the implementation of showers in the workplace. Angelique Rousseau, a Concordia student and co-organiser of the event, explained that since being assigned the topic of public transportation in class, she’s come to understand the complexity and depth of the issue. “We’ve discovered that there are more sides to this, and sometimes it’s a little more political and financial than we originally thought.” Charles Brenchley, another student and co-organiser of the event, explained the importance of public panels like this one. “What’s really neat with the transportation issue is that usually with these discussions you get people really pulling apart and fighting for their different views. Even though these people are from all different sectors, and have different ways of going about it, the common goal is to help Montreal develop a transportation system that is going to be prosperous for its residents.”
NEWS BULLETIN MUNACA and McGill make some progress on contract negotiations
he McGill University NonAcademic Certified Association (MUNACA) and McGill continue to negotiate terms for a new contract. MUNACA is the largest non-academic union at McGill and represents over 1,600 employees. The University has asked for concessions regarding the probationary period, access to bereavement and other leaves, sick calls, and sessional workers. Kevin Whittaker, President of MUNACA, identified the protection of union work as a key point of contention. “Most of the concessions were things that would reduce our rights and our members’ rights and their abilities to be represented at meetings and other work-related scenarios, “ he said. He added that McGill fails to meet the standards of other Quebec universities in regards to the recognition of seniority for job placement and a progressive pay scale. “They are not willing to recognize seniority…they’re trying to maintain their prerogative that management will decide who is the best candidate regardless of their years of experience, and that is not something done in other units.” “It takes thirty years for someone to reach their maximum salary, at other institutes it could take as little as five years to do so…and we’re nowhere close to that. That was where we saw was a glaring difference between McGill and other universities in Canada.” Whittaker did say, however, that the administration and MUNACA have come to an agreement in principle on streamlining the grievance process. “As of right now it’s convoluted, it cuts out management’s responsibility in some of the beginnings of a grievance or pre-grievance,” said Whittaker. “We’re looking at involving the manager…to allow for us to have a better ability to resolve an issue before it comes to a grievance.” The two parties will conclude the review of the grievance procedure on March 25, at which point they will review other less controversial issues on which they feel they can proceed. McGill Associate Vice-Principal (Human Resources) Lynne Gervais could not be reached for comment. —Rana Encol
What’s the haps
Mass transit is the future of Montreal
SSMU Elections Period Ends Friday, March 11, 5 p.m. https://ovs.ssmu.mcgill.ca Voting for your students’ society executives and referendum questions continues online and at various polling stations across campus. Results will be announced in Gerts on Friday, March 11 at 5:30 p.m. Female Entrepreneurship and Empowerment in Africa: The Future Beckons Thursday, March 10, 6 p.m. Leacock 26 The African Studies Students’ Association invites you to a presentation dealing with the challenges and prospects of female entrepreneurship and empowerment in Africa. The talk will feature Gilles Cloutier, board member of Canadian Crossroads International, and McGill Law student Siena Anstis. Five Days for Homelessness Sunday, March 13 – Friday, March 18 Roddick Gates during the day, in front of Redpath at night McGill students will be sleeping outside for five days, going without food (except donations) and all basic necessities in order to raise awareness and funds for the local youth homeless shelter, Dans la Rue. twenty-four business schools across Canada collaborating, including three others in Montreal. Introduction To Tenants Rights: A Workshop Wednesday, March 16, 1 p.m. Lev Bukhman Room, Shatner QPIRG presents this interactive workshop to familiarize participants with their rights as tenants, and explain possible tactics to defend these rights in tricky situations. The basics (leases, renewal, et cetera) will be discussed, as well as more problematic realities facing tenants, including gentrification and extreme rental board delays. Stolen Sisters: A critical discussion about missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada Thursday, March 10, 6 - 8 p.m. Chancellor Day Hall Room 312-316, 3644 Peel The Aboriginal Law Association presents Craig Benjamin (Amnesty International Canada), David Hugill (author of Missing Women, Missing News), Gladys Radek and Bernie William Poitras (Walk4Justice) in a panel as part of their “13 Days to Honour Aboriginal Women” event.
The McGill Daily | Thursday, March 10, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Haitian presidential candidate courts Montreal diaspora Communities split over ability to effect change Mari Galloway and Erin Hudson The McGill Daily
aitian presidential candidate, Mirlande Manigat, addressed a community centre packed with supporters in St. Michel this past Saturday in a last minute bid to garner political and financial support. Manigat’s visit to Montreal, which included a press conference on Friday, a $250-a-head fundraising dinner Friday evening as well as the rally Saturday, was part of a tour to pick up diaspora support before Haiti’s March 20 presidential runoff. The first round of presidential elections, last November, were marred by low voter turnout and
Haitian government figures report has caused over 4,000 deaths since the epidemic began in October.
The campaign Manigat’s platform centres around sustainable development and educational reform. “When you think in terms of sustainable development, you can’t go far if the public is not educated. We’re not just talking about basic education, Haiti also needs electricians and carpenters and engineers to rebuild the country, it needs professional schools,” she said in French. The personality of the candidates and the breakdown of the youth vote will likely determine the outcome of this election.
“When you think it terms of sustainable development, you can’t go far if the public is not educated.” Mirlande Manigat Haitian presidential candidate allegations of vote rigging and fraud. Its results led to widespread protests throughout Portau-Prince, the nation’s capital. The November elections included 19 candidates. Jude Célestin, candidate for outgoing President René Préval’s Lespwa party, placed second in the first round of elections behind Manigat, but was excluded from the runoff after Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council ruled that his campaign was marked by corruption. Manigat, age seventy, and Michel Joseph Martelly, a popular Haitian musician better known as “Sweet Mickey” who is twenty years her junior, will now face off in the upcoming runoff. Election officials hope to prevent a repeat of November by hiring and training thousands of new poll workers. The United Nations police force will also reinforce the Haitian police throughout the second round of elections, although the UN has said that they do not expect trouble. Haiti is still reeling from the January 2010 earthquake that killed approximately 300,000 people and displaced over 800,000, according to UN estimates. The country was further devastated by an outbreak of cholera, which
Voters aged 18 to 30 make up 60 per cent of the population, and both candidates have fairly similar centre-right platforms. In a recent poll by a private Haitian research group, Martelly is leading in popular support with 50.8 per cent support, with Manigat trailing at 46.2 per cent. A Sorbonne-educated law professor and former First Lady, Manigat has tried to contrast her political and academic background against Martelly’s lack of political experience. At the press conference on Friday, Manigat stated that voter turnout would be a critical factor in the election outcome. She spoke to the fact that many Haitians are more concerned with survival than participating in the political process. She also acknowledged that some voters may feel disenfranchised by the fraudulence of the initial election. However, Manigat stated Friday that she believes she will win if voter turnout reaches 50 per cent. By raising strong objections to the fact that the Haitian constitution disallows dual citizenship, Manigat hopes to win the support of Montreal’s Haitian community. She promised, if elected, to amend the constitution, to allow members of the diaspora to vote
in presidential elections. The Montreal-Haitian community is currently around 85,000 people strong. “Haitians cannot vote, but they can influence family, friends and neighbors in Haiti to vote, of course for me,” said Manigat at the press conference.
Reactions to Manigat Although the community hall was packed, and the crowd excited to hear Manigat, the Haitian community remains divided on whether her candidacy will make a difference. Serge Joseph, a member of the Haitian community and history professor, noted in French that, “There are a lot of people in the community, and for a Saturday night it is nevertheless exceptional.” “Firstly, after the earthquake there are 1.5 million people who are living on the grace of time. The next president will have a lot to do to fulfill the economic and sociopolitical situation,” said Joseph, “So it’s a rendez-vous with history [concerning] the circumstances and the sociopolitical situation in Haiti.” Majorie Villefranche, general director of La Maison d’Haiti – an organization dedicated to the education and integration of new Haitian immigrants – was less optimistic about the process and did not attend the rally. “It’s not new. It’s not the first time,” she said in French, in reference to Manigat’s campaign promises and the potential of a female president. “If you don’t change the system, nothing will change because the system will produce the same thing.” Villefranche pointed to the ouster of former president JeanClaude Duvalier in 1986 and noted that, though the dictatorial president is gone, his system remains. She also spoke to the “enormous” risk of sexual violence Haitian women face. She described Haiti’s current social and political system as “very, very chauvinistic.” However, Villefranche also explained how it is common for women to occupy important positions. “It’s a paradoxical situation, where women are so important in the country’s economy because all the market is based on their work. ... But at the same time they don’t have decision-making power,” she said. “Even if the law changed, women do not obtain justice when they are subjected to violence.” “What we hope is that she will really have influence with respect
Victor Tangermann | The McGill Daily
Manigat fielded a question at her press conference on March 4. to the feminine condition,” Villefranche said. “The most that we are hoping for is that she is capable to break the system and give more power to women and
it’s a lot of hope for one person,” Nelson said in French. Villefranche explained that candidates come to visit the diaspora primarily to shore up
“The day Haitians in the diaspora can vote – that will be different.” Majorie Villefranche Director of La Maison d’Haiti change the feminine condition.” Cynthia Nelson, cofounder of Haitiennes de Cœur, a foundation that aims to integrate people with disabilities into society, attended Saturday’s community rally. She was critical of the expectations placed on Manigat. “I perceived a kind of impatience tonight because so many people are looking for a saviour or that she will resolve the country’s problem. But the problem is so vast, and I think
financial support. “We do not influence the vote in Haiti really. The day Haitians in the diaspora can vote – that will be different,” said Villefranche. She also expressed her skepticism of Manigat’s platform, saying that the promises had been made before. “During the campaign they promise a lot of things. We’re just hoping that something will happen,” she said.
The McGill Daily | Thursday, March 10, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
MCN21 discusses the future of shale gas Quebec orders moratorium on controversial drilling technique to assess its sustainability Brett Howie
uesday evening, JeanMarc Pelletier, a specialist in the energy sector and co-founder of Maitre Chez Nous 21e siècle (MCN21), spoke about Quebec’s energy industryto a group of around 25 people at Concordia. The talk was hosted by Citizens in Action, a non-profit partisan group of concerned citizens dedicated to economic and social justice. Pelletier was asked to step in for the scheduled keynote speaker, geologist and MCN21 co-founder Daniel Breton. He spoke about the growing demand for methane natural gas and its controversial extraction process, shale gas drilling. Breton was unable to attend as a result of the release earlier in the day of a Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) report on the safety and
sustainability of shale gas commissioned by the province. Public opposition against shale gas drilling prompted Quebec’s Minister of Environment, Pierre Arcand, to commission the report late last year. Shale gas is a type of methane natural gas accessed through a procedure called fracking – fracturing shale rock with high-pressure blasts of water, sand, and chemicals. Fracking has come under heavy criticism due to potentially dangerous environmental effects associated with the process. This includes fresh-water contamination from chemicals used in the process, and leaks due to the exposure of the methane deposits themselves. Following the release of BAPE’s report, Arcand announced Tuesday that the government will respect the report’s recommendation and introduce a two-year moratorium on all commercial shale gas drilling. Drilling that is part of the ongoing
scientific evaluations of the practice will continue. Pelletier said in his talk that the MCN21 group was “pleasantly surprised” that BAPE called for a moratorium, a move the group has lobbied for. “The BAPE mandate was not to say whether or not to drill, but how to drill,” he said, referring to the moratorium as a way to assess the safety of shale gas drilling. Pelletier also emphasized that the moratorium on all commercial drilling is temporary, underlining the fact that the possibility of corporate capital investment will lead to substantial industry pressure on the government to allow drilling to resume. “Two years is two years. It’s not such a long time,” he stated. If developed, shale gas has the potential to become a multibilliondollar industry for Quebec. After his talk, Pelletier opened the floor to questions and comments. Most notably, he refuted
the opinion of some attendees that shale gas drilling should be permanently banned. He summarized MCN21’s core principle as one which advocates for the development of “the right fuel, in the right place, at the right time.” Pelletier said that the group weighs environmental factors with economic and practical ones to arrive at a position. While he maintained that there are good reasons for the moratorium on drilling right now, he sees the extraction of methane gas as a longer-term inevitability, especially as market demands for fuel sources grow. “Someday we’ll be extracting that methane. We will need to use it to heat our homes and fuel our cars. We need to know how to do it right, do it safely,” he said, emphasizing the importance of methane as a future fuel source. Responding to a question asked by The Daily, Pelletier expanded on alternative sources for methane
extraction. He presented the process of biomethanization, which is a process by which methane is produced from the decomposition of organic waste in controlled, anaerobic environments, as an alternative. In contrast to shale gas drilling, Pelletier was optimistic that the process of biomethanization could be a solution to multiple environmental problems. “More and more, even in Quebec, we have landfill problems. We could produce methane from organic waste, use it for energy, and the residues can be used for fertilizer,” he said, explaining how biomethanization puts organic waste to productive use. Pointing to European successes, Pelletier stated that, “in Lille [France], 300 municipal buses run on methane produced from waste.” He expressed the need for further development in Quebec, adding: “Biomethanization is now my passion.”
Developing countries most vunerable to climate change McGill study adds credibility to calls for greater aid from developed countries Jordan Venton-Rublee News Writer
new study conducted by McGill PhD candidate Jason Samson, offers credibility to long-standing warnings that the effects of climate change will be the greatest for countries that contribute to global warming the least. The study presents the projected effects of climate change on the human population in 2050, identifying who will be the most effected and in what ways. Samson used data on climate change and censuses that reached around 97 per cent of the globe. He mapped out the potential changes for the population based
on the collected data and found that the climate will have a strong impact on population density. “We think that our society is so advanced, so technologically developed, that our economy [is] so globalized that climate shouldn’t have anything to do with it,” he said. Samson’s model shows that those considered highly vulnerable reside in hot, low altitude regions including South America, the Arabian Peninsula, and parts of Africa. “It makes sense that [in] areas that are already difficult to grow crops, you have a good chance that with climate change these areas will be more vulnerable,” he said. “What I found was there was an inverse relationship between
the cause and the consequence of climate change.” Samson’s research shows that the countries most severely affected will be regions near the equator. Regions such as Central Asia, Canada, and Northern Europe are the least vulnerable. “After looking at this global picture you can clearly see that these areas are emerging economies; developing countries that have the highest vulnerability to climate change,” he said. According to McGill Geography professor James Ford, these findings are nothing new. “We have known that for quite a long time but it adds credibility to countries that say: ‘The climate is changing and we are being
impacted the most’,” said Ford. Samson noted the consistency he found in his results. “With the models I was doing I just kept obtaining the same results,” he said. “That was just mind blowing.” Ford also emphasized the importance of Samson’s study in moving forward the creation of adaptation funding and aid to developing countries in order to help protect against their vulnerability. “For the last five years at the international level we’ve seen a lot of talk about adaptation and adaptation funding. Whether its developing new crop types, developing new infrastructure, investing in irrigation, but it all comes down to basic money – money that developing nations
often don’t have,” he said. Samson reiterated the relationship between human societies and climate conditions. “It is essential to develop alternative models to help the understanding of potential climate change. … [The study] was the first quantitative evidence supporting what many emerging countries and decision makers were suggesting,” he said. “These kind of studies help show that climate change does impose costs,” said Ford. “It imposes costs on developing nations and there is an ethical responsibility there, on behalf of nations who are responsible for climate change, to support the nations that will be the most affected.”
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Challenging simplistic power dynamics Israel/Palestine is more complicated than oppressor/victim Lily Hoffman Simon Hyde Park
he first time I heard of the BDS Movement (which advocates for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions of Israeli products implicated in Israeli occupation), I couldn’t help but think of kinky sex – bondage, domination, sadism, masochism (BDSM). When I thought more indepth, I realized the comparisons between these two acronyms go beyond the similarity in letters. To an outside observer, BDSM sex seems to represent a relationship where one actor is entirely dominant, and the other totally submissive. However, as anyone who has delved into kink will tell you, the relationship is anything but a simple power dynamic of dominator/dominated. The same can be said of the Israel/Palestine conflict; superficially, Israel appears holistically as the dominant actor, violently and aggressively dominating a weak, vulnerable Palestinian population. Israel is only understood as the oppressor, and Palestinians are the oppressed. However, this understanding is very limited. I will be the first to admit that Israel often – almost always in fact – acts as an oppressive force toward Palestine. In no way do I intend to belittle or ignore this glaring truth. But, such a simple
understanding of the conflict ignores the deep complexity and intersections of identity, power, and ideology involved. The oppression facing Palestinians reflects an imbalance in power and resource distribution that favours the state of Israel. Given this, it is easy to claim that the entire conflict can be boiled down to a systemic power imbalance that originated in European privilege enabling Zionist imperialists to settle the land. Essentially, this is the message of Israeli Apartheid Week. Although this power imbalance and initial European privilege are extremely relevant influences in the conflict, they are not sufficient to understand the entire situation. Why did these Zionists desire this settlement in the first place? What role did historic Jewish oppression play in developing a nationalist consciousness amongst the Jewish people, just as Palestinian nationalist fervour has developed in the face of British imperial and Zionist oppression? What about those Palestinians who are being exploited by Palestinian leaders? By presenting the conflict as a simple dichotomy between an oppressor, who is always in the wrong, and the underdog victim, in need of international assistance and solidarity, these deeper cultural and ideological questions are lost. The portrayal of power dynamics in Israeli Apartheid Week not
only ignores fundamental questions about the origins and development of power in the conflict, but also works to disempower Palestinian communities. The construction of Israel as the constant tyrant implies a constant victim, deserving of pity and lacking in indigenous resources to mobilize themselves toward social change. Although Israeli Apartheid Week does make an effort to emphasize Palestinian resistance and autonomy in challenging Israel, the mass portrayal of Palestinians is that of vulnerable and subjugated. In order to claim to have solidarity with a people, presenting them as such is not only disempowering, but also disrespectful. The strength of the Palestinian people is not all that is belittled through Israeli Apartheid Week. The use of the potent word “apartheid,” for example, scares away many potential supporters, particularly within the Jewish community. Through the use of aggressive words and strategies, individuals or communities are led to feel extremely uncomfortable, or assume that there is no space for their dissenting voices within the struggle for Palestinian rights. By silencing voices or ideas contrary to those represented in Israeli Apartheid Week, the BDS movement is in fact contradicting fundamental foundations of the movement. As a progressive movement, the basis of the fight
Rosie Dobson | The McGill Daily
for Palestinian rights is founded on challenging the status quo, struggling for anti-oppression, and each individual and community’s right to self determination. However, by silencing voices which differ from the perspectives reflected in Israeli Apartheid Week, the week is acting as an oppressive force, undermining the autonomy of those with dissenting views. Power dynamics, as presented in Israeli Apartheid Week, also oppress individuals who associate any ideological, cultural, or ethnic legitimacy with the existence of Israel. These individuals are immediately seen as perpetuat-
ing oppression, thus limiting their space to develop their ideas or express themselves. The ambivalence I feel toward Israeli Apartheid Week is tremendous. Although I do plan to attend some events, I cannot disregard the gross implications of a series which deems the conflict to be a simple relationship of domination and submission, ignoring the vast complexity of that very same system. Lily Hoffman Simon is a U1 Sociology and Jewish Studies student. She can be reached at lily. email@example.com.
In defense of tuition hikes We need to be realistic about closing the funding gap Murtaza Shambhoora Hyde Park
irst off, I would like to state that the Quebec Ministry of Education’s decision to penalize McGill for increasing their Masters of Business Administration (MBA) tuition fees is an unfortunate move. McGill’s decision to increase its annual tuition from a meagre $3,400 to $29,500 has been an effort to close a funding gap that has made the MBA program rather uncompetitive internationally. How big is this funding gap we are talking about? Around $10,000 per student, to be exact. In order to sustain the current MBA program, the administration has to take money away from other pro-
grams and departments within McGill. Call me selfish, but this indirectly hurts my undergraduate experience at McGill. Then comes the matter of reputation. As a future MBA hopeful, it is discouraging to see that McGill’s reputation as a top-tier university does not carry into its MBA program. The Financial Times’ 2010 rankings put McGill’s MBA program in 95th place, behind Toronto, York, and Alberta. Internationally, McGill’s program is not able to compete with other public universities such as Oxford, the Univeristy of California Berkeley, and the University of Michigan – whose tuition rates are $40,000, $41,680, and $45,189 respectively for local students. With an average starting salary of $103,000,
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McGill MBA graduates tend to earn enough money to pay back whatever college loans they accumulate pursuing their degree, and as such, the $30,000 sticker price does not worry me. Instead, I am glad that McGill’s administration is taking steps to make their MBA program competitive with elite schools such as Harvard. An MBA education is an investment that individuals must be prepared to make financial sacrifices for. The benefits of graduating from a top-tier MBA program far outweigh the costs of paying a higher tuition and having to take out loans. McGill’s two-year MBA program moved up 38 spots to take 57th place in the Financial Times’ 2011 rankings after the tuition hikes were implemented; this cannot be
a coincidence. This brings me back to the bigger question of why I see so many undergraduate provincial students opposing fee hikes of a meagre $100 a year. You cannot expect McGill to maintain its academic prestige and compete with world class universities such as Berkeley, Michigan, and Oxford while the Quebec government maintains its tuition freeze. It would be one thing if the freeze was working, but Quebec trails behind other provinces when it comes to university enrolment figures and in the proportion of young people holding a university degree. Charging provincial students a meager $3,000 a year in tuition fees for their undergrad and MBA programs is unrealistic. Out-of-
province Canadians and international students are paying the price for this funding gap. Meanwhile, McGill’s teaching quality, infrastructure, and international prestige is getting worse. Our classes are getting bigger, financial aid is being cut back, and the McGill administration is finding it harder to fund student clubs and services. A modest increase in tuition for provincial students will not deny education to anyone; it will only improve McGill’s international reputation and our student experience. Murtaza Shambhoora is a U1 Political Science and Economics student. She can be reached at murtaza.shambhoora@mail. mcgill.ca.
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The power of words and images Courses should use warnings to indicate potentially triggering content Olivia Messer Comment
This article may contain potentially triggering content.
rigger warnings are notifications, given verbally or in writing, of the potentially emotionally triggering content of an article, video, or image which might cause flashbacks of rape, other physical assault, or even eating disorders to surface. Individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), abuse histories, or other conditions might have a lower ability to tolerate reminders of stirring emotions or memories in everyday life. Reminders, in this case, are deemed “triggers,” and can constitute any visual depiction or detailed written description of abuse, rape, suicide, self-harm, disordered eating, or any of the psychological states that result from these. I learned about trigger warnings while enrolled in an introductory Women’s Studies class at McGill, which is why I was surprised when one of my feminist studies professors failed to give warning before assigning a reading about a film where one of the main issues was sexual assault. Then again, before playing a clip from a movie about rape, she also said nothing. The clip we watched was from a 2007 Romanian film, 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days. It’s about two female students in communist Russia who try to arrange an illegal abortion. The man performing the abortions requires sex as payment in a scene
that I would describe as portraying rape. It was emotionally provocative to say the least, and many students left seeming shaken or appalled by what we’d seen. I was surprised, and even offended, by the lack of warning, but I assumed this would be an isolated incident. While the problem never resurfaced again in that class, I was confronted with a similar situation in a communications class just before reading week. We discussed the media coverage of the infamous Chris Brown and Rihanna mess in which he physically abused her, and toward the end of a class, we watched a Public Service Announcement (PSA). The video contained a scene reenacting the transcription contained in the police reports from the event, as a narrator simultaneously described the exchange. The actual PSA contains a trigger warning, but there was no time, and frankly, no option, to leave class before it was shown. The acting in the PSA might have been terrible, but the words from the transcription were terrifying. There were quotes like “she attempted to gauge his eyes, but he bit her fingers” and “she brought her knees to her chest and placed her feet against his body, pushing him away. He continued to punch her legs and feet. She began screaming for help.” For those watching without histories of abuse – sexual or otherwise – this video may have been simply unpleasant. But if you’ve been through a similar situation, and there’s no indication of the potentially referential content of a course lecture or reading – something that you are obligated
to participate in – you might find yourself reliving a terrifying and traumatic incident in class. Some might argue that there aren’t enough students with psychologically traumatic histories to make trigger warnings necessary, but I would disagree. First of all, if there are any students at all at McGill who might benefit from such a policy, I’d say that makes it significant enough. Second, while there are really no precise statistics on students with abuse histories, I would argue that many more people than we realize have experienced psychological traumas. Third, it is the University’s responsibility to provide McGill students with a safe learning environment. Students should not be put in a position where they might have to reveal a personal history of abuse in order to advocate for trigger warnings. A November 2000 study conducted by the National Violence Against Women Survey found that 17.6 per cent of women in the United States have survived an attempted or completed rape. Statistics on this issue are, because of their nature, impossibly hard to calculate. Furthermore, this statistic is what I would describe as the bare minimum possible number, and are only those documented in the survey. It doesn’t include those attempted (or followed through) rapes that went unreported, instances of domestic or sexual abuse, or rape cases where the victims weren’t women. A little more recently, there was a 2004 study in Psychiatric News examining the effects of PTSD on university performance. Out of the
Olivia Messer | The McGill Daily
230 students polled, 105 “had experienced one or more serious psychological traumas at some point in their lives.” It may have been a small study, but that was almost 50 per cent of students randomly questioned. The study found that students with PTSD performed just as well as other students in school, but there’s no record of how often they were forced to encounter flashbacks, subjected to reliving traumatic events, or experienced panic attacks resulting from a lack of trigger warnings in classes or while doing readings. It is important to remember that we are responsible for what we say. The information (and opinions) you disseminate affect other
people, sometimes more than you may realize. If you’re in a public forum, and especially teaching a class, you’re accountable for your words and your actions. In a class where attendance is taken, it may not be an option to just skip a lesson you think might upset you, and students shouldn’t be forced to relive traumatic experiences simply because the professor didn’t think about what they were doing. Olivia Messer is a U2 Humanistic Studies and Communications student, and The Daily’s Illustrations editor, but the opinions expressed here are her own. She can be reached at olivia.messer@mail. mcgill.ca.
Engaging with opposition The importance of Israeli Apartheid Week Jon Booth
his year, Israeli Apartheid Week is taking place in more than forty cities around the world, from Ottawa to Johannesburg. Even after seven years, the event remains controversial, not least because of its name. This controversy makes Israeli Apartheid Week even more important because it focuses attention on Israel’s actions and policies. With this in mind, we have put together a week of powerful, informative, and even fun events, to educate people about Palestine, and hopefully stir them into action. Here are some of the most exciting events of this year’s Israeli Apartheid Week: Tonight there is a panel discussion that asks the question, “Are the cases of Egypt and Tunisia a first step towards justice and self-determination in
the region?” The week will end on March 15 with the a closing panel entitled “Decolonization Begins at Home.” The panel will focus on the connections between colonization and resistance in Canada and Palestine, and will feature Clifton Nicholas, a Mohawk activist from Kanehsatake; Audrey Redman, a journalist, writer, and residential school survivor; and Clayton Thomas-Muller, an Indigenous Environmental Network campaigner against the Tar Sands. Additionally, there will be many more events, including film screenings, panels, and workshops at McGill, UQAM, and Concordia. A complete event schedule with times and locations can be found at IAWMontreal.org. I would like to invite all those who support the Palestinian people, but for one reason or another do not approve of Israeli Apartheid Week. By attending you can see firsthand what activists in Montreal and around the world are doing to
support the liberation of Palestine. Moreover, we are always willing to discuss why we use the term Israeli apartheid, and any other issue. Our goal is to build the movement, not to divide well-intentioned people. The most common criticism leveled against Israeli Apartheid Week activists (aside from criticism of the term) is that we unfairly target Israel, since there are so many other problems in the world. Aside from the fact that this criticism could be used against any group that has one cause, it is baseless for many other reasons. First of all, there are very few anti-Apartheid activists who only focus on Israel, most of us are involved in many other movements. Second, Israel particularly commands our attention for two reasons. First, since the Canadian government unquestionably supports Israeli we feel partially responsible for the oppression of Palestinians. Second, we believe that Israel’s situation is unique, but not for the rea-
sons its supporters claim. Israel is one of only three countries actively colonizing land that it holds illegally (the other two are China and Morocco, whose respective activities in Tibet and Western Sahara are quite similar). We feel that it is as important to fight against the Israeli colonization of the West Bank as it is to fight against the Chinese colonization of Tibet, for example. The whole of Israeli Apartheid Week seems somehow more controversial than the sum of its parts. All of the talks, panels, workshops and movies will be interesting and inspiring and doubtlessly lead to discussion and action. Our goal is to put the issue of Israeli apartheid and occupation at the forefront of the discussion, at least for a week, and encourage continued effective action until Palestine is free. Jon Booth is a U2 Economics and History (Joint Honours) student. He can be reached at jonathon. firstname.lastname@example.org
Errata Maggie Knight’s profile in the elections pullout (March 7) incorrectly identified her as serving as an Equity Commissioner, when in fact she was an Environment Commissioner. In the Haps Section, we incorrectly identified the host of the “Indoctrinate U” as the Liberian students association, when in fact it was the Libertarian Students Association. The article “Small numbers and big hopes” said that Ali Lamrabet’s prison sentence ends in 2015, when in fact a state ban on his practise of journalism will expire in 2015. The student quoted in the article spoke anonymously because of fear of reprisals, not necessarily from the Moroccan government. The Daily regrets the errors.
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Today, forget the plastic Our over-consumption of harmful plastic is bad for our bodies and for the Earth Robin Reid-Fraser Hyde Park
ometimes, being environmentally friendly can be a little daunting. There are so many issues – climate change, deforestation, pollution, consumption, food security... the list can seem endless and overwhelming. At times like these, it’s important to be reminded that despite the worldwide scale of many of these problems, even small actions by individuals are significant and important, and that every person can be a part of a positive global change. Today is international Bottled Water Free Day, and in light of this I invite every person reading to be part of a positive environmental and social change by choosing to stop buying and consuming bottled water. There are a number of reasons that reducing or eliminating the consumption of bottled water is an important environmental action, and I will begin by harkening back to the elementary-school fundamentals of environmentally friendly practices: the three R’s.
Reduce The U.S. environmental consumer watchdog Food and Water Watch estimates that with all the fossil fuels required to make plastic bottles, fill them, transport them and subsequently recover, recycle or dispose of them, each water bot-
tle’s life cycle uses an equivalent of 25 per cent of that bottle filled with oil. Similarly, it has been estimated that the whole manufacturing process requires twice as much water as the bottle itself carries, so each bottle of water uses triple the water it actually holds for direct human consumption. Oil, as we all know, is a nonrenewable resource, and a rapidly depleting one at that. Any way that we can reduce our consumption of fossil fuels will mean that more of them remain to be used by future generations. Water, despite being a renewable resource, is threatened around the world as extraction rates exceed the natural replenishment rates. Although Canada is well-endowed with freshwater compared to the rest of the world, it makes no sense to use it in unnecessary industrial production.
Reuse Despite how handy plastic water bottles may seem for reuse, it is actually recommended that standard vending-machine type water bottles (#1 plastic) not be reused over and over again, as over time they may begin to leach the phthalate (plasticizer) DEHP, which is thought to be a human carcinogen.
Recycle Though #1 plastic is easily
recycled and accepted at nearly all recycling stations across campus and around Canada, most water bottles aren’t actually diverted from landfills. In Toronto, it has been estimated that fewer than 50 per cent of water bottles end up being recycled, which means that in that city alone 65 million bottles end up in the landfill every year. If the pure environmental reasoning isn’t convincing enough, consider the fact that bottled water is not any safer than water from the taps, at least in a city such as Montreal that is fortunate enough to have a well-functioning water system. According to environmental think-tank the Polaris Institute, bottled water is inspected as a food product under the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which means it is inspected an average of only once every three years, whereas municipal water is tested continuously throughout and after treatment. Furthermore, bottled water is not fluoridated, the lack of which – though fluoridation is controversial in itself – has been associated with increased dental health problems, especially in children. In addition to this, the pure economics of bottled water consumption are ridiculous. An 800 millilitre, stainless steel, endlessly-reusable (until you wear it out because you love it and use it so much) water bottle might
cost you $15 to 20 and is then free to fill for the rest of your life, whereas a 500 millilitre bottle of water may cost between $.50 to 1.50, depending on where or how you purchase it, but is only useful one time. Similarly, it has been shown that many bottled-water companies do not get their water from a particularly pure or natural source, but instead take tap water, filter it, and then use it to fill the bottles, which are sold for incredibly inflated prices. Why pay a company to re-filter water that has already been tested and found to be good enough for human consumption? From an environmental and economic standpoint, it is clear that the consumption of bottled water does not make sense. Other issues also come into play, such as those related to the politics of privatization of a resource that should be a human right and a public good, but for everyone out there who feels like they simply don’t know what actions to take at this point in order to foster positive environmental change, I offer this as an olive branch. Join us in celebrating Bottle Water Free Day, and celebrate the fact that we are lucky enough to live in a country that provides us with safe, clean drinking water free of charge. Robin Reid-Fraser is a U1 Arts student. She can be reached at robin. reid-fraser@mail.
Alexander McKenzie | The McGill Daily
Democratize your education
The university is becoming more and more corporate, but there are ways to resist The gadfly Shaina Agbayani
n Democracy and Education, philosopher John Dewey asserts that education ought to presuppose the growth of not only individuals, but thriving democratic communities. Educational aspirations are indistinguishable from the pursuit of communal wellbeing. However, the marriage between education and community is being preyed upon by the capitalist hyena, rendering communal priorities subservient to corporate agendas. The rabid costbenefit calculations that penetrate the policies of those dictating our educational experience are undermining the decency – in every sense of the word – of our education. Principal Heather Munroe Blum’s Strategic Framing Initiative (or SRI, outlined in that oh-so-sanguine email we received Tuesday) exemplifies most tangibly our education’s tendency to veer toward the neoliberal. The SRI regards “find[ing] ways to either save costs
or generate new revenues” as paramount, listing “cost-efficiencies” as the first of the initiative’s five themes on the project website. As part of the SRI, McKinsey and Co., a consulting firm whose infamous zeal for austerity measures heralds tuition increases and cuts to (lower-quality) higher education, has been contracted to work with McGill. The SRI further upholds a mandate to help “our researchers, with minimal red tape, attract the funding they need to put their great ideas to work serving society.” Indeed, the “minimal red tape” provision aligns with McGill’s lax research policies which have, for instance, permitted the unfettered capacity of Mechanical Engineering professor David Frost to conduct research on thermobaric explosives, which according to Human Rights Watch “kill and injure in a particularly brutal manner over a wide area.” Permissiveness for unethical research, regardless of its callous disregard for consequences for humanity, is a corollary of the University’s neoliberal re-configuration from community-hub to corporate-hub.
The infiltration of cost-benefit philosophies into research production related to education demonstrates education’s weakening role as a custodian of humanity. In September, Joce Jesson, a professor of Critical Studies in Education at the University of Auckland, led a seminar on “Globalization, Education, and Change” at McGill. Jesson, who was commissioned to research the state of education in New Zealand, uncovered the chronic ineffectiveness of her homeland’s schools in cultivating motivated and successful students. After she completed her investigation, the board that commissioned it refused Jesson her promised payment and the publication of her research due to its incompatibility with the board’s penchant for capital-accumulation. Corporate dosages have similarly been injected into McGill’s medical research community. Last year, McGill reviewed a case of potential academic misconduct by professor Barbara Sherwin, who was accused of supporting a scheme concocted by drug behemoth Wyeth Pharmaceuticals after she falsely
attributed herself as the author of an academic article published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The article, highlighting estrogen’s potential effectiveness in dealing with everything from cardiovascular diseases to memory loss – was actually penned by the ghostwriting firm DesignWrite, which collaborates with Wyeth Pharmaceuticals to promote the latter’s products. This evidence of the medical community’s reliance on marketing material rather than medical literature when dealing patients’ health marks the descent of “the community” in the hierarchy of what our education operates to serve. Yet we have access to channels of agency in re-democratizing our education to serve the community rather than the CEOs. For instance, CURE (the Community-University Research Exchange) “is a database by which students can integrate their academic research with the work of local movements and activist organizations.” McGill already has the infrastructure in place to recognize CURE research – in the form of an internship or independent study course – for credit. The CURE database connects students
with non-profit community groups that work in fields ranging from environmental justice, food policy, ableism, anti-police brutality, migrant justice, and first nations, and queer advocacy. Embarking on a CURE project allows us to “work with local movements for social change … to make rubble of the walls which enclose academic privilege.” Lingering in isolation in an academic setting allows us to erect theoretical shutters which block out vistas to the community. Why not support Right to City Montreal’s goal of understanding and redressing the grievances generated by gentrification in the Parc-Extension neighbourhood, or assist Solidarity Across Borders in developing strategies for supporting migrant rights through a CURE research project while working toward your degree? Channels of agency always remain to create an academic experience that palpably supports the broader community. I encourage you to consider these avenues to subvert and reconstruct the narrow, individualistic neoliberal framework into which our educational experience is being compressed. o
THE CONSEQUENCES OF COPPER Indigenous Panamanians are fighting to save their land from international – and Canadian – mining interests Rosie Simms for The McGill Daily
Dana Holtby and Rosie Simms Features Writers
AN FELIX, PANAMA — “The only interest of the government is resource exploitation, indiscriminately, without it mattering to them who lives in these areas, whose lives they will destroy. These things do not matter to them. It does not matter to them that they will alter the cultural life of the Ngöbe population. We are aware of this.” The calm night and bright stars above and the even tone of Eira Carrera’s speech stood in stark contrast to the severity of the struggle she was describing. A young indigenous Ngöbe activist, Eira appeared unafraid of defending her home and community from the powerful mining companies seeking to develop an open-pit mine in Cerro Colorado, Panama. We walked with Eira along a narrow dirt road, making our way further into the Ngöbe Comarca, the name for provincial-level indigenous territories in Panama. We were accompanying Eira and four or five others on their visit to a young man who only days prior had been hospitalized with an injury he received from Panamanian riot police while protesting changes to the National Mining Code. Tension ran through the community, as it was feared that changes to the code would facilitate the development of the Cerro Colorado deposit. We fell into step at the back of the group, listening to their quiet conversation on the events of the past days. They spoke of an anonymous phone call warning them that the government had obtained a list of the 15 leaders of the Ngöbe protests, and
was sending the police to arrest them. They spoke of preparations for coordinating the 3,000 people who would be arriving from across the Comarca the following afternoon for the next wave of marches. They spoke of the police violence and the degrading treatment of those injured in the previous protest.
ith a population of roughly 200,000, the Ngöbe are the largest indigenous group in Panama, and the second largest indigenous population in Central America. Since the arrival of the Spanish to the isthmus in the 1500s, the Ngöbe have inhabited the rugged mountainous region of the interior of western Panama. They are predominantly subsistence farmers. Until the 1960s and 70s, slash-and-burn agriculture was a sustainable means of food production to meet the Ngöbe population’s needs. However, when the population boomed in the 1970s, increasing demands for food led to land shortages and declining agricultural yields. These changes spurred the Ngöbe’s increasing participation in the wage economy as temporary labourers on banana and coffee plantations in the neighbouring provinces. In 1997, after more than twenty years of organization and making demands to the government, the Ngöbe were granted constitutionally-recognized rights to their territory for their collective use and benefit under Law 10. At nearly 7,000 square kilometres (about 8 per cent of national territory), it spans three provinces and is the largest indigenous Comarca in Panama. In the heart of the Comarca lies Cerro Colorado, one of the world’s largest untapped copper deposits. If developed, this mine would cover approxi-
mately 630 square kilometres, the majority of which would lie within Ngöbe territory. Although the Ngöbe have legal rights to their territory, an important omission was made when the Comarca was formed: these rights do not extend to subsoil resources. This discrepancy allows the government to enter Ngöbe territory and dispossess people of their land in order to access the gold and copper deposits that lie below. Various national and international mining corporations have undertaken prospecting and construction activities in the Cerro Colorado region since the early 1970s. However, due to fluctuations in copper prices, the project was rendered economically unfeasible and twice put on hold. Even these early stages of exploration were met with opposition from the Ngöbe community, and served as a unifying platform in their mobilization to gain state recognition of their territory. The concerns about the impacts of an open pit mine at Cerro Colorado are many. Indigenous communities across Latin America have been forcefully dislocated from their homes and met with police violence when mining projects enter into their territory. Here in Panama at the Petaquilla gold mine (currently the only operational mine in the country), neighbouring communities have had their homes burned by mining workers, their communities profoundly divided, and their water contaminated – resulting in an increase in skin diseases. Time and time again the people in the Comarca expressed their fear of the destruction of their land and resources. Eleto Martin, a resident of a community downstream of the Cerro Colorado site, reiterated these concerns. “The only hope for the future of this town
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is the water that lies in our rivers,” said Martin. “The San Felix River is born in Cerro Colorado and empties into the Pacific Ocean, providing water to numerous communities along its course. What I want to say is that four rivers are found in the exact place where the mine will be developed. We know that a mine requires vast amounts of water to work. How can they assure us that even though they will build a mine exactly where these four rivers are born, the environment and water resources won’t be affected? Where will we get water once these rivers are damaged?”
the very fact that we feel uncomfortable admitting our nationality when we are in the Comarca suggests otherwise. Several community members with whom we spoke mentioned the need to inform the Canadian public of their struggles with Canadian mining companies.
ince entering office in 2009, President Ricardo Martinelli has made clear his intent to attract international investors and push forward mining projects across the country. To facilitate this, the government passed a controversial law in February of this
around San Felix as well. The Ngöbe community met the change to the mining code with intense opposition. Many feared that Law 8 was passed with the intent of accelerating development of the Cerro Colorado copper deposit. Eira Carrera’s concerns about Law 8 were clear. “The changes to the mining code are a tool which gives the government the ability to operate in any territory. The government says it will not touch Cerro Colorado when we know that this is completely contrary to the truth,” she said. Even as the first round of legislative
the people. We do not believe in this society, in the politics that Martinelli believes in.” Despite substantial community resistance, Law 8 was passed on February 11. Immediately thereafter, another wave of demonstrations swept the country. Not only did protests in San Felix grow from 3,000 to an immense 10,000 people, but marches and protests were staged across the country. Still unsatisfied with the lack of government response, the Ngöbe intensified their efforts by establishing a roadblock on the Transamerican Highway – the main transportation route through the isthmus, stretching
Rosie Simms for The McGill Daily
Alex Tran for The McGill Daily
Opposite: Anti-mining sign on the riverbank outside of Villa del Carmen, a campesino community near the proposed INMET mine site. The sign reads, “No to Mining Projects; Project of Death. Contamination of the environment, the rivers, the wildlife. [Mining is a] crazy project that will benefit few.” Above left: Anti-mining banner hung at Coclesito. The sign reads, “President Martinelli, for the respect of life and land of Indigenous and Campesinos, No to Mining!” Above right: Young Ngöbe girls at Salto Dupi
Mining has been at the forefront of national consciousness since the first round of debates began at the end of January. It has been on the front cover of the national press daily, with a strong anti-mining sentiment running in two major papers, La Prensa and La Estrella. Promining ads proclaiming that mining will lift communities from poverty play on the radio every day. Anti-mining graffiti decorates walls across the city and anti-mining banners hang at the University of Panama campus in the capital. We too find ourselves immersed in the topic, opening the La Prensa webpage every morning with a feeling of apprehension, not knowing what will have unfolded since the previous day. Even the Carnaval preparations of our Panamanian classmate took on an antimining spin, as they decorated glittery banners denouncing mining development to dance with in the streets. Mining, in short, has been everywhere we look. Today, rising copper prices have sparked renewed interest in exploiting Cerro Colorado. Several international mining corporations, including Canadian company Corriente Resources, are already present and are waiting to get their hands on mining concessions in the area. As in many other Latin American countries, Canadian mining companies here have been associated with numerous environmental and human rights abuses. Our response to ¿de dónde vienen? is tinged with shame as we confess that we are Canadian. This is especially true following last fall’s defeat of Bill C-300, which would have required Canadian companies to comply with international environmental best practices and human rights standards. The Trade Commissioner of the Canadian Embassy here in Panama recently stressed the good relations between the two countries. But
year. Law 8 revised the 1963 Mining Code to permit foreign state-owned companies to directly invest in mining concessions. This would allow such companies to control vast tracts of land in Panama, despite contravening Article 3 of the Constitution, which prohibits ceding national territory to other states. Julio Yao, a professor of International Relations at the University of Panama, has been highly critical of the mining code reforms. “We now know that the government is completely in favour of open-pit mining and is willing to give the country to multinational corporations – specifically from Singapore and South Korea – for exploitation,” he said. “It is a very good time in Panama for international mining corporations, as foreign governments will be permitted to buy national territory.” Yao continued in a tone of incredulity to describe that although this runs contrary to the Panamanian constitution, the government was yielding to pressure from international corporations to change the mining code. Singapore and South Korea have both expressed interest in financing the expansion of mining projects just outside Coclesito in the Colon province. LS-Nikko Coper Inc. of South Korea will acquire a 20 per cent interest in Minera Panama, while state-owned Temasek Holdings Ltd. of Singapore will finance the expansion of Canadian owned Inmet’s Cobre Panama project. This underlies much speculation concerning the government’s motivations for passing Law 8. Due to the extraordinarily high capital investment required for these mining projects, foreign state investment is crucial to their development. Although Law 8 may have been most directly related to mines in the Coclesito region, it will doubtless have ramifications for the communities
debates began, the Ngöbe mobilized and took to the streets. During this first period of government discussion, over 500 Ngöbe protested in the streets of San Felix. Just a few days later, as word spread across the Ngöbe Comarca, protests swelled to 3,000 as Ngöbe came to show their distaste for the reforms. Many had travelled several days by foot to attend the marches. Police met the peaceful demonstration with tear gas and violence. Rubber bullets were shot indiscriminately into the crowd, which included many women and young children. Eighteen people were admitted to the hospital, among them the man we visited with Eira. One of the policemen, he said, “hit me on the side with his baton. I left walking, they threw gas at my face. I was shocked and choking with this. I tried to flee and I was running but there were too many people. When I tried to see, they were on top of us, falling on top of us, throwing tear gas. I didn’t have any way out.”
elestino Mariano, a traditional regional leader in the Ngöbe territory, made clear that the police were the sole perpetrators of violence and that the Ngöbe were justified in their dissent. “The weapons of the government are the armed riot police and all of the armed and equipped police that they hire. This is the force of the government to oppress Panamanian society,” said Mariano. “We will continue to go out in the streets as many times as it is necessary. Our only weapon is reason and strength in numbers with which we will confront the government to make them understand that we love, respect and will defend nature, because it is nature that we depend on. Not on arms or explosives. Not on tear gas, nor on police that oppress
from the border of Costa Rica to the most eastern regions of Panama.
he government’s response to the protests has been a bizarre back-and-forth between blaming unrest on outsiders and environmentalists, and proclaiming that Law 8 has nothing to do with the development of Cerro Colorado. The Martinelli government released statements accusing “foreign instigators” of sparking Ngöbe protests. Last week a Spanish freelance journalist was deported under this justification. The motivation for the government’s accusation is not clear, but may be seen as an attempt to undercut the Ngöbe’s access to the international community. The situation continues to become increasingly complex, with ongoing negotiations between the government and leaders of the Ngöbe protests. Even now, as we attempt to piece together an understanding of the events of the past month, this story has taken an unexpected turn. On March 3, Martinelli travelled to San Felix to announce that Law 8 would be renounced. This will effectively erase the contentious changes to the mining code. It is unclear to what degree this change was motivated by the Ngöbe protests or external pressure. When we spoke to Mariano in January, he was far from optimistic about the government’s intentions. “A battle is coming, we know this, we know that consequences of mining are terrible, and we are working with communities to together stop mining projects in our Comarca,” he said. While the future for the Ngöbe remains unclear, indigenous leaders have been firm that they will not back down until they are assured that a moratorium on mining developments in their territory has been established.
Financial Statements April 30, 2010
The McGill Daily | Thursday, March 10, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Bringing university into the real world Applied research is slowly on the rise Aaron Vansintjan
f the 29 courses that I have taken, 27 required essays,” said Jonathan Glencross at last semester’s TedXMcGill conference, “and only 1 of the 29 required me to directly talk to anybody in the real world. Of 74 essays, 73 of them are collecting dust. I’ve never lived the change that I came in to [the university] to learn about.” Many students share this frustration – we often come to university expecting to learn how to make a difference in the world, but much of our work never sees the light of day. McGill has often rejected the “how-to” sensibility. Want to effect change in the world? Join a club or volunteer for an organization. But don’t expect to do it through a class. There are however, opportunities for involvement that some may not be aware of. Applied research is a broad term, but generally means research proposed by a student or an institution – be it a community group, non-profit group, or corporation. It means that your essay doesn’t just collect dust, but can make a change in the world around you. You’re helping the world and getting credits for it too. “There’s a fine line between applied student research and extracurricular activities,” said Ari Jaffe, a student now involved in the creation of applied student research programs through the Office of Sustainability. “But McGill does have a lot of avenues that you can take [to do applied research].” Most students don’t know that systems are being put in place to facilitate applied research. Many professors are also becoming sympathetic to the idea, also known as
community-involved research. “There’s often this understanding that there’s a big disconnect between student-university life and academia and the real world,” said Caitlin Manicom, a QPIRG board member who sits on the organizing committee of this weekend’s StudyIn-Action, a conference that, in her words, tries to “bring those two worlds together and give students a place to promote research that is socially useful.” Applied research allows students to deal with real-world scenarios, which, according to Jaffe, will help students from all faculties search for job opportunities. “If you had one independent study that allowed you to specialize, it would offer you a competitive edge, you could sell yourself better to your employer.” According to George McCourt, a McGill School of Environment professor involved with applied research, it also helps students learn better. “I think a better way of [teaching critical thinking] is having people do research projects as opposed to sitting in a classroom and being given a bunch of information.” But the most important aspect of applied research is that it seems to empower students to make change that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to make. Lilith Wyatt, the administrator of the Sustainability Projects Fund (SPF), who also facilitates sustainability-oriented applied research, said, “the students that participate in that kind of research would have a chance to engage meaningfully in the campus and have an impact on it. And have a chance to not just read and learn about the kind of change you can make in the world theoretically but have a chance to do it and to see it. Some people call it campus as a living laboratory.” McCourt added, “you can be a Don Quixote
Want to do applied research?
Develop a topic
Attend Study-In-Action this weekend to get some inspiration! (qpirgconcordia.org/studyinaction) Check out CURE (qpirgconcordia.org/cure) Check out these courses known to encourage applied research: ENVR 401, GEOG 302, MGCR 360, URBP 506, ECON 326, ENVR/AGRI 490, MGPO 440, ARCH 515, MECH 393, GEOG 360. Talk to a group, company, or organization that you like and ask them what research they need. If your own faculty doesn’t support independent research, consider doing it in another. Geography, Environment, Urban Systems, Management, and Anthropology are known to have a more structured approach toward applied research. You can also contact the SPF administrator, Lilith Wyatt.
and joust at windmills or you can get inside that windmill and try and make change.” Applied research is also valuable to the university. Often understood as “ivory towers,” the institution’s role in society can easily be discredited. That the university structure is becoming less recognized is increasingly clear from government funding cuts all over the world. McCourt suggested that more diversity in research and more community involvement could mean a wider recognition of universities’ importance. A logical way out of the funding crisis in education would be to prove that universities do make a difference. As it is, it seems that the large population of undergraduates are a wasted resource for the university. Not only that, but the university’s massive structure makes it very difficult to do applied research. Manicom, who wishes she had done applied research before graduating, said that, “there are really interesting ways to do research at McGill but you have to really search them out … it’s really hard sometimes, it feels like you’re facing McGill University’s entire academic history, trying to break down those walls.” According to McCourt this is because the university, as an 800-year-old institution, is still very conservative. “So much of what we’re seeing right now requires the taking down of barriers. The infrastructure of universities is still set up with significant boundaries between disciplines.” Manicom added, “I think that there’s often a tendency within academia to do research on behalf of a community without actually engaging with that community or without necessarily doing research that’s even being called for. But I think that it can be a
Find a professor
This may be the hardest part, as professors often don’t like helping students with research that isn’t explicitly objective. Applied research is often not accepted as valid, so professors sympathetic to coming out of the ivory tower may be hard to find. Try to talk to as many students as possible, they often know what professors are sympathetic to applied research. But keep in mind: it never hurts to ask. You can contact the CURE coordinators for some tips on finding a professor.
Rachel Reichel | The McGill Daily
really empowering thing to be doing research that people are asking to have done.” Manicom explained that students initiated the community-University Research Exchange (CURE), for this purpose. CURE links community groups with students willing to do community-involved research, but who don’t know where to start, and offers information and resources for students to do so. It presents “different types of learning that aren’t always validated within the academic context.” After her experience trying to get her own applied research approved, Jaffe does think that it takes a lot of effort to pursue, but warns against a flat-out critique of the structure of the university. “It takes a bit of organization on the student’s part as well. I think it
Work with the system
In this case, you’ll have to work with the administration before you can subvert it. Getting credits approved and submitting a proposal will require making friends with some professors and staff, especially in more conservative departments. Ass-kissing may be required.
would be a little bit myopic to blame the administration on not having enough options, because I think those avenues exist, you just really need to take the reins.” It’s clear that awareness of applied research is on the rise, even though there are limited systems in place to support it. “I think it is on the increase,” said McCourt, “but it’s a slow process. Universities are big institutions. Big institutions don’t change quickly.” A different understanding of a university may be taking shape, but putting better systems in place for alternative types of research may yet take a while. A view of the university as simply a space for academic research and an assembly line of undergraduates may be giving way to an understanding that it does have responsibilities for the society in which it exists.
Present your research
Try to publish your research or consider submitting it to conferences like the McGill Sustainability Symposium or Study-inAction. Let other students know about your work and the benefits of applied research. Spread the love.
The McGill Daily | Thursday, March 10, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
False peace of mind
Antidepressant placebos remain a steady presence in clinical experiments, but not in public knowledge Critical Condition Debbie Wang
t’s the classic situation: with an imminent exam and a carefully planned cramming schedule, you awake one morning with the all too familiar symptoms of a common cold. Feeling sorry for yourself between sniffles and coughs, you self-medicate with the usual blend of OJ, vitamins and copious amounts of water, fervently hoping for a rapid recovery. Most of us who catch a cold end up taking desperate measures to fix the situation, regardless of whether such measures are founded on scientific truth. Increased vitamin C intake? Not only is there zero proof that it prevents colds, there’s also none that it expedites recovery, according to a paper in EvidenceBased Child Health. Herbal remedies like echinacea? Hot liquids? Beyond the latter’s ability to provide temporary relief, neither will provide much help. Indeed, the most powerful panacea of them all is our own gullible mind. Once convinced of the effectiveness of a cold cure through a lifetime of anecdotal accounts and lore, many of us will start feeling better after a day of downing orange juice even though it serves as much of a medical purpose as twiddling your thumbs. And while juice manufacturers don’t proclaim cold-fighting abilities on every carton, another highly lucrative industry relying heavily on the placebo
effect does assert a claim: that antidepressants cure depression. Beginning in 1998, a series of studies have repeatedly questioned the difference in efficacies between antidepressant drugs and placebos. Pioneering analysis work done by University of Connecticut researchers Irving Kirsch and Guy Sapirstein confirmed the effectiveness of antidepressants – but also their inert counterparts. In 38 studies conducted with over 3,000 depressed patients, placebos improved symptoms 75 per cent as much as legitimate medications. “We wondered, what’s going on?” said Kirsch in a 2010 interview with Newsweek. The medical community, skeptical of his analysis, asked him to instigate a more comprehensive study with the results of all clinical trials conducted by antidepressant manufacturers, including those unpublished – 47 studies in total. Over half of the studies showed no significant difference in the depression-alleviating effects of a medicated versus non-medicated pill. With this more thorough analysis, which now included strategically unpublished studies from pharmaceutical companies, placebos were shown to improve symptoms 82 per cent as much as the real pill. Now also consider that any apparent advantage of the genuine medication might be more the mind’s handiwork than chemical effect. Patients in double blind clinical trials, where neither experimenter nor patient know if a placebo or real drug has been taken, may eas-
Victor Tangermann | The McGill Daily
Pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer are aware of the literature surrounding placebo testing. ily determine which is the placebo. The obvious side effects of the genuine pill, such as headaches or nausea, may alert the patient to which study group they’ve been placed in, and the knowledge that their pill is medicated may be enough to alleviate their depression. Are antidepressant drugs really “a triumph of marketing over science,” as researchers have claimed? Kirsch and other experts are convinced that antidepressants do not chemically cure depression. A British agency charged with determining which treatments are effective enough for government funding has stopped endorsing antidepres-
sants as the default treatment for anything but the most severe forms of depression. And drug manufacturers themselves don’t deny Kirch’s data. A spokesperson for Pfizer, producer of Zoloft, has alluded to the existence of a “wealth of scientific evidence documenting [antidepressants’] effects,” yet the fact that treatment “commonly fail[s] to separate from placebo” is “well known by the FDA, academia, and industry.” However, if experts and antidepressant manufacturers are aware of this, the general public certainly isn’t. Which is precisely why antidepressants work. Without the knowledge that even manufacturers of
medications aren’t completely convinced of their product’s superiority, antidepressants will continue to be effective. This not a recommendation for current users to halt taking the pills; abrupt withdrawal is extremely dangerous, and there is still a range of perspectives on the topic of antidepressants versus sugar pills. But you have it. Millions of people every year feel better, simply because they believe they’ll feel better. We’ve recovered from colds, headaches, pain, and depression, courtesy of the placebo effect. After all, there’s something to be said for feeling better.
teach behavioural control in physical activity, utilizing the unique benefit of mutual language to develop and hone these skills. At the Douglas sessions, student teachers reinforce language based on the model’s rules, which state that if you are “responsible” and “respectful,” meaning you are in “self-control”. If you are in self-control, then you can “participate.” Defining these terms is the key element of the model. To quote a ten-year-old participating in the program, respect means “don’t give anyone any lip.” Joey Feith, one of Harvey’s former student teachers, put the model into action when he taught at École Secondaire de Chambly, south-east of Montreal: “I always try to include the model in my teaching, it really makes a difference when classes get a bit out of control, and they can actually tell me what behaviours they need to exhibit to be able to participate.” Feith added, “one thing I realized while teaching in the pro-
gram is that these little kids are going through a lot in their lives, and when a child comes into your gym, you’re only seeing one side of them. I always think of this when I am teaching, it’s helped me always remember that you’re really only seeing the tip of the iceberg.” Service-learning programs, such as this one, can be helpful for the numerous children with ADHD in schools, their families and professional educators in the field. For teachers like Harvey and Feith, the gains in self-control can be translated back to school and home. Enacting positive behaviour management methods can help a child remain in the classroom, and avoid those robbed learning opportunities while sitting in the principal’s office.
Physical focus A McGill institute’s new approach to ADHD childcare and teaching Sophie Carette
hildren with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are continually being removed from classrooms every day. Teachers use much of their energy to overcome the challenges of educating children with behavioural problems. While positive teaching methods may be abundant in pedagogical literature, it may seem that often learning for many children becomes reduced to whatever posters hang drearily on the principal’s office wall. The service-learning team at the Choices in Health, Action, Motivation, Pedagogy, and Skill (CHAMPS) lab of the Douglas Mental Health University Institute argue that these lost opportunities for learning are too costly. ADHD affects between 2 to 14 per cent of school-aged children, with 50 per cent experiencing difficulties in
academic achievement. Under the direction of William Harvey, the CHAMPS lab aims to increase self-control in young children with ADHD by using a more positive teaching approach to behaviour management. On Saturday mornings, a group of 8 to 10 children between 6 to 12 years old gather at the Douglas for two hours of physical activity led by student teachers from McGill’s department of Kinesiology and Physical Education. Meanwhile, their parents take part in psychoeducation sessions with a Douglas social worker and psychiatric nurse. Parents acquire the necessary tools to effectively communicate and aid their child in coping with ADHD, such as learning how to use language understandable by both parent and child, or “mutual language.” Harvey, an assistant professor of Kinesiology and Physical education, and formerly a Douglas physical educator and department
head, has been enthusiastic about the program results. “There are so many levels of learning in our project. Children are learning how to play, parents learning how to play and communicate better with their child, and student teachers are bringing positive behaviour management techniques into the schools of Montreal.” Approximately two years before the start of the program, Harvey’s lab found a significant link between the fundamental movement skills of children with ADHD versus those without ADHD. Children with ADHD had been found to have a significantly lower proficiency for movement skill patterns like running, hopping, skipping, catching, and kicking, in contrast to age- and gender-matched peers without the disorder. What ensued was the impetus to redefine a physical activity intervention method for children with ADHD. In 2003, Harvey had created a social skills training model to
The CHAMPS lab is seeking volunteers for various annual programs. To get involved, contact William Harvey at email@example.com.
The McGill Daily | Thursday, March 10, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Spring is coming
The McGill Daily | Thursday, March 10, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
David Collier’s Chimo shows the new function of military art Amina Batyreva
The McGill Daily
ast December, the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa presented David Collier’s Chimo at its “Brush with War” exhibit. Released by Conundrum Press, Chimo is an autobiographical graphic novel which is the product of Collier’s participation in the Canadian Forces Artists Program (CFAP). The Canadian military is an indelible part of Collier’s life – having been trained for three years as a combat engineer, he left the army in 1990 to pursue his dream of cartooning. His portrayal of the military is at once playfully familiar and deeply respectful. “I was interested in the Canadian Forces Artists Program as an art form when I first contacted them, ten years ago,” Collier wrote by email. “The only support material I sent in when I applied to the CFAP was a three-part comic book series published by Dark Horse Comics, called Unsung Hero. Harvey Pekar wrote this story for me, based on my military experience.” The book is a biographical account of the experiences of a former Black Panther and Vietnam War vet named Robert McNeill. Canada’s military art initiative has a history that reaches back to the First World War. At the time, news blackouts at the frontlines of combat were par for the course. “Journalists were often barred from the front. Instead, official and often false communiques were issued,” Collier narrates in Chimo. “The Artists Program was one of the few things to come out of the First World War that wasn’t horrible or destructive.”
A new kind of struggle Whereas Unsung Hero dealt with the nightmarish reality of the Vietnam War, Chimo is significantly more mundane in setting. Afghanistan, for Chimo’s Collier, is a distant and elusive dream. Much more concrete are Collier’s daily struggles: with his aging and deteriorating body, the conflict between military and family life, and the gritty reality of the Canadian urban landscape. “The book is a very personal work. More about mortality and aging than anything else,” commented Andy Brown, Collier’s publisher, by email. The novel opens with Collier having recently been accepted to the CFAP. He hopes to re-enlist in the army in order to maximize his chances of going to Afghanistan
– in the comic, John MacFarlane, CFAP manager, points out that the problem with sending civilian artists into war zones is that these civilians are not covered by Canadian Forces insurance. But in lieu of the active combat Collier anticipates, he’s instead given the opportunity to spend two weeks at sea on an active vessel. On Collier’s desire to re-enlist, MacFarlane’s disembodied voice says on the telephone: “But remember, if you do take this step; do it for yourself not for the program.” At the age of 42, Collier begins the Canadian army’s basic training for the second time in his life.
Military art Collier’s character cites A.Y. Jackson and Frederick Varley as early war artists who became pillars of Canadian art when they went on to found the Group of Seven. Collier notes that, following the conclusion of the Second World War, the Royal Academy in London hosted a wildly successful exhibition of Canadian war art which helped the country define its worth on the international stage at a crucial time in its history. It seems obvious what Collier is trying to say – military art has played an undeniable role in forging Canada’s national identity. The Canadian military art initiative stopped after the First World War, but ran again twice: first during the Second World War (in 1942), and then in a push for civilian artist recruitment through the Civilian Artists Program from 1968 to 1995. The program’s current incarnation was restarted by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Maurice Baril in 2001, now called the Canadian Forces Artists Program. The program’s website states the CFAP’s raison d’être as being to “capture the daily operations, personnel and spirit of the Canadian Forces.” The artists are unpaid volunteers chosen by the committee from a pool of applicants – including not only painters but all types of artists, running the gamut from sculptors to writers and poets. Collier, as a comic artist, is living proof of CFAP’s mandate to widen its spectrum of artistic media and human perspectives. When probed on the degree of influence the Canadian Forces had on Chimo, Collier wrote by email: “I was grateful for the suggestions made by the Canadian Forces Artists Program, as they actually made my work more entertaining. Focus less on equipment, they said and more on the human story.”
A personal narrative As propaganda, Chimo is arguably a poor recruitment aid. Collier’s depiction of life in the army, while respectful, is not particularly glorifying. The disjointed, meandering narrative of the book is a little hard to puzzle out. It’s not an easy read, full as it is of tangential personal anecdotes and stories about the history of Canada and the Canadian military. The line between past and present is blurred, events sliced from the chronological timeline and pasted in what seems to be a slapdash manner. The book is very much coloured by Collier’s personal experience, and as an autobiography it is intensely insular and selfreflective. “It’s a way of telling a story that more closely follows the jagged curve of real life, rather than the slick smoothness of a conventional narrative,” wrote journalist Jeet Heer, who has reviewed much of Collier’s work, by email. Though one of Collier’s characters opines that joining the army is a way to perfect his physical condition, Collier himself suffers a variety of nauseating physical injuries after enlisting. After fracturing his tibia a few days into basic training, he runs on it for a while before seeing a doctor: “A month earlier, the distance would’ve been nothing for me, but now, because of my leg, it was a killer. The pain was almost too much. I held off crying until I got to the shower. The water covered up my tears.” The fragility and breakdown of Collier’s body is mirrored in his artwork: linework is rough, the drawings generally dark in a literal sense, weighed down with heavy inks. It’s almost morbid, with Collier’s writhing cross-hatching sometimes bordering on the grotesque. The handwritten text and its uneven, clumsy lines adds to the eclectic feeling of the work. Despite the essayistic and selfreflective nature of Collier’s storytelling, he seems to put surprisingly light emphasis on the impact his re-enlistment and military participation has on his young family. His drawings of his wife, Jen, and his young son James are careful and complimentary. And yet on the tradition of husbands leaving their families behind to pursue dangerous and far-flung careers in the military, Collier has this to say: “You listen to the older guys – also with beautiful families at home – and you find that they are here because they want to be.” He ruminates, “Even if I joined the
Courtesy of Conundrum Press
Navy and was away a lot, Jen, James and me would still have togethertime capital in the bank, so close together we’ve been.” But recurrently throughout the book, such concerns about his family are worryingly played off with jokes or glib changes in subject. In one surprisingly lucid stab at dark humour, Collier likens his desire to go to Afghanistan to a scene in the comic strip The Gumps, where the husband is stopped by his wife from trying to jump over a deep chasm. “There’s nothing dangerous about all this? I mean, he’s the only husband I’ve got,” his wife asks at one point. “You could be safer staying in bed, I guess,” her friend responds.
From function to expression While honest in presenting himself, throughout the book Collier appears unwilling to deal with the topic of how his involvement in the military will affect his family. The comic medium allows a non-conventional narrative, the strip style suited to the individual anecdotes he relates. As his publisher Andy Brown commented, “David is extremely respectful of
the military and the war artists program.” This respect prevents him from openly criticizing the military itself, and what remains is only the implicit consequence that it takes him away from his family. In its current state, the CFAP doesn’t really deal with war. Few artists who join the program are able to go into areas of active combat. Furthermore, war itself has changed, necessitating a change in the function of the program: from a way to navigate the information blackouts of the First and Second World War, to a means of capturing what contemporary photojournalism cannot. Rather than focussing concern on conveying information, it seeks to help individuals come to terms with the effects of war through artistic expression. For Collier, this encompasses his training and its effect on his home life. While lacking both exploration of and a concluding judgment on the military as an institution, Chimo still offers valuable insight into the personal effects a role in the Forces can have – even if one’s role doesn’t involve active combat.
Want to run for Culture? Elections are March 23 and 24. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The McGill Daily | Thursday, March 10, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
See you in the funny pages
The Red Herring’s bi-annual comedy show promises to tickle McGill’s funny bone
Susannah Feinstein The McGill Daily
hen one thinks of McGill, it’s unlikely that high comedy will be the first thing to spring to mind. There are few outlets here for satire, or even the general expression of humour. However, we do have the Red Herring, the self-proclaimed “only intentionally funny student publication” on campus. On March 10, the Red Herring will host “Spring has Sprung,” its third semi-annual display of McGill comedy and musical talent. The event aims to simultaneously alleviate the drag of winterrelated grumpiness and raise money for this sparsely-funded publication. “Spring has Sprung” will comprise, among other acts, four standup comics – all of whom graduated from or are currently attending McGill – four bands (also from McGill), and a performance from McGill Improv. Perhaps the event’s Facebook page provides the most appealing description: “Do you crave live comedy? In need of a hearty laugh? Do you enjoy receiving auditory or visual cues, translating those cues into neural impulses, organizing those impulses into discrete messages which the brain perceives to be somehow incongruous, attaching an abstract meaning to those messages and then contracting your larynx at irregular intervals?”
Indie rock cools down
Self-dubbed as “electric jangular beat muzik,” it seems that the Torontobased the Two Koreas – like so many of their indie rock contemporaries – are set on redefining conventional music genres. Consider the way in which the band describes its music: “a retro-futurist amalgam of sixties garage-rock primitivism, seventies Kautrock prupolsion, eighties postpunk dynamism, nineties indie-rock irreverence and post-millennial attention deficiency.” Their third LP Science Island, released last week, signals a shift in the Two Koreas’ sound with the invention of a subgenre to be known henceforth as “glacial garage.” According to the band, glacial garage is “garage rock encased in ice: a frozen tableaux of raygunned punk and strobe-lit psychedelia, captured in a state of permanent combustion, floating for all eternity.” Lead-singer Stuart Bergman discussed the band’s progression towards glacial rock in an email to The Daily, stating that traces of this evolution can be found in their sophomore album (2007’s Altruists) in the form of “a roiling pool of droning guitars and synthesizer swirls.” These elements dominate the new album as the recording’s guiding aesthetic principle. “As the name of our new album, Science Island, indicates, we
In reference to the show’s aims, Editor-in-Chief Matt Essert explained to The Daily, “We want to showcase talent from people in Montreal and McGill.” Editor Elinor Keshet added that the Red Herring is a “one-of-akind publication. It’s a community.” This uniqueness is true in various respects, especially when considering the potentially awkward job of editing a humor magazine. For example, an author could easily perceive an attack on an article as one on their level of funniness. In reference to an editor’s job of evaluating the effectiveness of a satirical piece, Essert responded, “Nobody judges ‘funny’ from ‘unfunny.’ We sometimes get a story or two by an author who thinks the piece is funny, but we can’t publish just a story. Aside from that, we’ll basically publish anything, as long as it isn’t racist. Nobody should be afraid to submit work.” Both Essert and Keshet emphasized that interested students should not fear a bruised ego in writing for the Red Herring. “We don’t reject many people,” Essert added. The publication is notable not only for its racy content, but also because of its unusual inner workings. There is a high degree of anonymity between editors and writers, and among contributors themselves. Because the editing process is usually completed over email and there are no regular meetings, “you could write for four years and never meet anybody,” explained feel somewhat isolated from any sort of contemporary indie music scene, where the dominant strains these days appear to be sensitive-beardo folk, no-fi garage-punk skronk or ‘80s-obsessed chillwavin’ laptop jockey” wrote Bergman, when asked whether glacial rock fits into or brings something new to the indie music scene. “As such, our brand of highfidelity, cosmic post-punk rock music feels like something of an anomaly, a circumstance with which we, of course, are entirely comfortable.” Despite this playful obsession over (sub)generic reconstruction and redefinition, the Two Koreas’ music will surely appeal to those unable to piece together their puzzle of influences. With a hard rock energy reminiscent of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Fever to Tell mixed with Pavement’s vocal drone, the Two Koreas’ upcoming Montreal show is likely to draw a diverse crowd. —John Watson The Two Koreas play with Silk Screaming at Il Motore, 179 JeanTalon O., Saturday 12 at 8:30 p.m. Entrance $8.
Putting your best foot forward Most of the time, student life is pretty far from glamorous. Tonight, however, is an exception to the Sorelsand-sweatpants status quo: P[H] assion, a non-profit student organization that raises funds for the fight against HIV/AIDS, is holding its annual fashion show. Over the past 15 years,
Roxana Parsa for The McGill Daily
Keshet. At the moment, the publication has about fifteen regular contributors. Budget issues are a familiar struggle for the Red Herring. As Keshet pointed out, “We never really know how much money we will be getting from SSMU. Although this year hasn’t been that bad, one year, editors had to pay for funding themselves” in order to keep the publithe group has raised over $150,000 for local HIV/AIDS charities; this year’s goal is to pull in a record-breaking $30,000, to be donated to the ACCM (AIDS Community Care of Montreal). But fundraising is only half the story – “the co-chairs this year, [Jordana Kimel and Traci Tohn], were really keen about educating students about safe sex,” explained Manuella Djuric, P[H]assion’s promotions director. By drawing attention to the importance of sexual health, the committee hopes to prevent transmission of the disease within their own university-aged demographic. “It’s really important to raise awareness,” Djuric stressed. For the present, money raised by the event will go towards those living with HIV/AIDS in Montreal, through ACCM. Alex Wysocki, the ACCM’s Fundraising and Communications coordinator, outlined “two major facets” to the organization. “One is that we offer support to people who are both affected [by] and infected with HIV,” he told The Daily over the phone, through services like group support, peer support, and treatment information counselling. The second facet is “education and prevention” among youth. Fundraising events like P[H]assion, Wysocki explained, go toward “something like our Buyer’s Club Food Collective, which doesn’t receive funding from any government body, but is one of our programs with the biggest need.” The Collective offers reduced-priced groceries so that people with HIV, many of whom “are on disability and take a financial
cation in circulation. This inconsistency in funding is largely due to the Red Herring’s avoidance of using advertising. “We’d have to make a rate card…it’s just so much easier this way,” added Essert. For now, the Red Herring can only receive funds through SSMU and its bi-annual variety show. If you have an interest in helping to preserve one of McGill’s more hit,” can maintain a healthy diet. While charity fashion shows have gained a certain amount of popularity, P[H]assion has gained a reputation as one of the biggest. “It just shows that there’s a lot of grassroots going on, and I think that’s really valuable,” Wysocki said. While “grassroots” and “high fashion” might not seem like they’d go part-in-parcel, Djuric explained that student energy helps blend together “a love of fashion and a love for humanity.” At the end of the day, she said, “it’s all young people working
unusual creative outlets on the varied list of campus publications, Thursday’s show promises to amuse. To once again quote the event’s description, bring your friends and “help this poorly funded publication, put out. More issues that is.” Spring Has Sprung is March 10 at Trois Minots, 3812 St. Laurent, at 8:30 p.m. together to raise money and get the word out with something that’s fun.” So, despite the evidence that John Galliano recently gave to the contrary, social consciousness in fashion seems to be alive and well. —Allison Friedman P[H]assion is tonight at Koko Restaurant Bar, 8 Sherbrooke O., at 10 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance from the Bronfman lobby between 11:30 and 6 p.m., or $30 VIP on the door. Email phassion2011@gmail. com for more information.
Tom Acker | The McGill Daily
The McGill Daily | Thursday, March 10, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Lies, half-truths, and flying cars!
SSMU ballots not spoiled enough Elections McGill concerned about election fraud Marie Josèphe-Vaugeois The McGill Daily
s the SSMU elections period draws to a close, concerns are being raised within Elections McGill that students are tampering with ballots. “Right now we’re only at 2 per cent spoilage rate ... that’s unprecedented for a student election at McGill, and probably anywhere,” explained Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Chase Deal. “When something like this happens, my first instinct is to assume fraud.” A ballot is spoiled under the current system when a section is intentionally or uninentionally left blank, or when a voter fails to fully rank candidates or referendum questions. Last year, the spoilage rate was at least 17 per cent, average, per executive position. Of the 28 per cent of students who voted, that amounts to 4 per cent spoilage total. The voting period will close at 5 p.m. on Thursday, and with 13.5 per cent of the student body already having voted, Deal recognizes that any fraud would seriously undermine the turnout. “We’re trying to look into the issue as quickly as possible, before we have to close the ballots and start over for a second time, this time on a more secure platform,” he said. “I mean seriously, who would believe that students are that smart? There’s no way that they’ve gotten it figured out this well... even if we did make most students vote twice,” Deal added.
Some of the candidates are worried how this controversy will affect further turnout in these final days, and are upset that Elections McGill could have done their job so well. “We expect there to be some spoilage. I mean seriously, the voting system is kind of stupid and confusing anyway, and really, students just aren’t that informed this much of the time,” said one executive hopeful, speaking on a condition of anonymity to avoid being targeted for their comments. Other administrators have expressed fears that this election will turn out like the great recount of the Faculty of Arts of 2008, when Arts executive ballots were discovered to have been fabricated by people using names like “Margaret Atwood,” and “Steven Harper” to vote more than once for their preferred candidate. It was never disclosed how these names also had McGill email handles associated with them. “No matter what happens, we hope that students are discouraged from voting, and that the democratic process wins out,” Deal said. “Yeah, I mean, I’ve voted like six times for all my friends already – I want to make sure that everyone else gets to vote for their apathetic friends too. That’s the democratic process, you know, getting your voice heard through other people’s votes!” added U4 Management student and Campus Bro representative to SSMU hopeful Sammie Shakedowan. Deal declined comment on this last statement, but did turn quite white and take off down the hall toward his office. Either way, this reporter has already voted, suckers.
The U.S. Senate rejects the motion passed by the House that would defund Planned Parenthood! Way to go... for now...
A company called Terrafugia is developing a “roadable aircraft”... also known as a flying car! WTF RAD.
The battle between protestors in Libya and crazyQaddafi continues, including increased attacks on innocent protestors.
New York Times contributes to problems with rape culture, saying things like young men were “drawn in to” perpetrating the rape of a young girl
An NPR exec resigns for “allegedly” calling the Tea Party racist
The Tea Party is fucking racist... and stupid.
SSMU elections end tomorrow, be sure to vote!!
LAST WEEK’S TOTAL
How’s your life been lately? Email email@example.com, I’d love to hear from you!
Never disobey the written law of Halo. Fuck.
Mark Heinrichs for The McGill Daily
ait... how did yo- oh my god! Oh my fucking god. Come on, Brian! Are you kidding me!? There is NO WAY you’re allowed to look on someone’s screen when you’re playing HALO. Dude, no you can’t. NO YOU CAN’T! I SAID NO YOU CAN’T! As if “it’s totally legal.” Whatever... (ten seconds pass)... That is such bullshit, Brian, and you know it. What!? Nobody else is doing it... What do you mean “we never ofﬁcially said we couldn’t” it’s like the UNWRITTEN LAW of HALO. You are such a jerk, Brian. There is no way I am letting you sleep over this weeke- WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU JUST SNIPE ME AGAIN!? Stop looking on my screen!
Appropriation is stupid. Get your own fucking ideology
Are you clever? Do people laugh at your jokes? Share it with me? I really really want to hear one. firstname.lastname@example.org
don’t think I’ll ever understand people who are oh-so-satisfied with the status quo, just because it privileges them. Yeah, it’s great, you study Management or Economics or whatever and you’re going to graduate and go join some company where “The CEO is a woman, yeah!” and you’ll pat yourself on the back for being a sexy woman CEO and being such a good feminist. That’s great for you. But seriously? How does that really, really help other women? Nina Powers says that it’s great to have women in power – but it really depends on who they are. Case in point: Sarah Palin is NOT A FUCKING FEMINIST YOU IDIOTS. No, you do not get to say what feminism is, you appropriating mysogynist asshole. It is certainly NOT mama grizzlies or just bra-burning lesbians. It’s so much more, and until you recognize that, don’t even think you can call yourself a feminist. Fuck you.
Fuck This! is an occasional anonymous rant column, and the barrel’s been a bit dry lately. Please send your diatribes to email@example.com!!!
The McGill Daily | Thursday, March 10, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
volume 100 number 37
editorial 3480 McTavish St., Rm. B-24 Montreal, QC H3A 1X9 phone 514.398.6784 fax 514.398.8318 mcgilldaily.com coordinating editor
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Deregulation is not the answer In 2008, the Quebec government deregulated international students’ tuition fees for six programs: Applied Science, Mathematics, Engineering, Computer Sciences, Management, and Law. This deregulation is part of a six-year transition that will end in 2014, which will ultimately see a decrease in the amount of governmental subsidies that cover international tuition. International students at McGill pay an average supplement of over $10,000, charged in addition to Quebec tuition for each student – currently set at roughly $2,000 for most programs. The provincial government receives 92 per cent of this supplemental fee, which it then redistributes, based on total student population, over all Quebec universities. The revenue of the Ministère de l’éducation, du Loisir et du Sport (MELS) is then redistributed to all universities regardless of the number of international students; students at universities with a large international student population like McGill pay more in supplemental fees than the subsidies the university receives. That is why MELS chose to deregulate fees – so that McGill can charge what it chooses to make up for this funding inequality. But there is no restriction stipulated for such a freedom. There is no procedure for the hikes, and ultimately no student consultation about this entire process. Moreover, international students should not have to bear the burden of funding universities if the government cannot redistribute tuition dollars in an equitable way. In-province Quebec tuition has already risen by $100 a semester and will continue to climb. By 2012, unfrozen Quebec tuition will have risen by at least $500, affecting the tuition that not only in-province students pay, but also out-of-province Canadians and international students. A recent study commissioned by the Quebec government found that these increases will result in a province-wide drop in enrolment of at least 6,000 students. The Principal’s Task Force on Excellence and Diversity has found that McGill lacks students of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds: if McGill wants the “best and brightest” from around the world, hiking tuition fees only means that admission will be increasingly limited to an increasingly smaller segment of privileged students. International, Quebec, and Canadian students must stand together to protest rising tuition fees for international students and the upcoming increase of tuition in general. Let the university know that students should not have to pay for the province’s underfunding of universities: voice your concerns at Heather Munroe-Blum’s town hall this Friday at noon in the Cyberthèque, and rally with fellow students and workers for your right to education at the Provincial Day of Action on March 12. McGill students will meet at 11:30 a.m. in front of the Shatner building on Saturday to head downtown.
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The Daily is proud to be a founding member of the Canadian University Press. All contents © 2010 Daily Publications Society. All rights reserved. The content of this newspaper is the responsibility of The McGill Daily and does not necessarily represent the views of McGill University. Products or companies advertised in this newspaper are not necessarily endorsed by Daily staff. Printed by Imprimerie Transcontinental Transmag. Anjou, Quebec. ISSN 1192-4608.
Olivia Messer | The McGill Daily
You’re a sharp young thing, a little bored in class, and eager to spread your fledgling journalistic wings. What to do? Why, become an editor at The McGill Daily, of course!
THURSDAY, MARCH 25
the staff of
THE MCGILL DAILY
will elect the 2011/ 2012
EDITORIAL BOARD COMMITTEE Because we hope you’re interested in joining the non-hierarchical team, here’s a quick intro guide on how to become a Daily editor, how the election process works, and how to get in touch with us.
The Basics Unlike most student newspapers, our editors are elected by Daily staffers rather than hired by a committee. And to run for an editorial position or to vote in the election, you must be Daily staff.
To be Daily staff, you must have written six articles, taken six photos, drawn six graphics, written two features, come in for three production nights, or some combination thereof. Even if you’re not staff yet, you’ve still got time before the election – email an editor to get involved.
COPY EDITOR COORDINATING EDITOR ILLUSTRATIONS EDITOR COMMENTARY&COMPENDIUM EDITOR WEB EDITOR COMMENTARY&COMPENDIUM EDITOR PHOTO EDITOR PRODUCTION&DESIGN EDITOR HEALTH&ED EDITOR PRODUCTION&DESIGN EDITOR
CULTURE EDITOR SCI+TECH EDITOR CULTURE EDITOR
COORDINATING NEWS EDITOR
Nineteen editors share equal voting rights on editorials, and work together to produce two newspapers per week. Each editor recieves a small monthly honorarium. For more information on individual positions, visit mcgilldaily.com/aboutus to send the current editors an email. You can also stop by The Daily’s office, located in Shatner B-24, any time.
Dates & Deadlines
The Daily requires all candidates to submit a one-page application. It can be anything you want: your qualifications, why you’d be good for the job, or even a page of photos or artwork. Email your application to email@example.com by 11:59 p.m. on March 21.
Submit a one-page statement to coordinating @mcgilldaily.com
All staffers who would like to vote in the election must attend the rundown.
Candidates will interview in front of all voters at the election.
The candidate rundown takes place March 24 at 5:00 p.m., and the election takes place March 25 at 5:00 p.m.
This is intended only as a brief introduction – to learn more, swing by our office (Shatner B-24), or visit our special elections web site.