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Volume 101, Issue 12

October 17, 2011 mcgilldaily.com

McGill THE

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News

The McGill Daily | Monday, October 17, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com

Picket lines form outside of Homecoming luncheon Erin Hudson

The McGill Daily

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ast Friday, strike organizer Joan O’Malley was arrested and ticketed as she and other members of McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association (MUNACA) took part in a disruption action outside of the 42nd Annual Leacock Luncheon, one of the main events during McGill’s Homecoming weekend. Several groups of MUNACA members entered the Hilton Montreal Bonaventure Hotel at around eleven that morning to distribute flyers. Lynda Bray, a picket captain for the union, was among those who went into the hotel. “Our intent was to inform the alumni members of our strike… We were going to hand out flyers and let McGill alumni know that the strike is into its seventh week, and we want a contract,” she said. Bray said she entered with six other people, including O’Malley. “We were with alumni members and we have every right as employees to be there,” she said. Bray said that MUNACA had bought a table in the luncheon and McGill accepted the union’s payment. “Security was on us immediately,” said Bray. “We were persona

non grata, not allowed to be in the building, and within minutes the place was swarmed with police.” Police escorted Bray and other members out of the hotel, but, according to her, O’Malley refused to leave. “Four police officers pushed me against a wall, pulled my hands back behind me, spread my legs and pushed up against me,” O’Malley told The Daily later that day. O’Malley said she was pointed out to the police by McGill Security agents who were in the hotel lobby. Police officers handcuffed O’Malley in the hotel driveway a few meters away from the union’s picket line. She was put in the back of a police car and drove away amidst boos from the picketers. O’Malley remained in the car for an hour behind the hotel before being ticketed and released. Police asked her not to return to the hotel picket line. When she spoke to The Daily shortly after her release, she was heading back to union offices to organize a two o’clock picket. “I’m 63 years old. I’ve never been arrested in my life, ever,” she said. “The issue is McGill Security pointing me out… That’s what I find objectionable.” McGill Security at the hotel declined to comment. Michael Di Grappa, McGill vicepresident (Administration and Finance), spoke to the presence of

McGill Security at the event. “If we have an event at another location, that location is responsible for security and they can take whatever security measures they deem appropriate. Our people might be there to assist with our own people, to help identify our VIPs that need access…but we don’t have any authority off-site,” he explained. A Montreal police officer at the hotel picket line said that “there’s been an arrest, but I can’t comment.” O’Malley felt that she was not doing anything illegal. She explained that she was informed that if union members receive a ticket, it would be their personal responsibility to pay for it. She did not disclose the amount of the ticket, saying, “however much it is, I can’t afford it.” “My take-home pay is $502 a week. I’m barely making my rent. So, thank you, McGill, for keeping me on strike, and pointing me out to the police to get me arrested so that I now have to pay a ticket. Thank you very much,” she said. “I feel that being able to speak out and voice my opinion is worth the cost of a ticket. How much does it cost not to be able to speak out?” she continued. “I really feel I need to take a stand not only for my benefits but…there’s a larger question of social justice.”

Not all union members were escorted out. Gabrielle Kern, another picket captain, made it into the luncheon’s cocktail party and spoke with several alumni. She left after receiving a call that O’Malley had been arrested and Di Grappa was on his way to the luncheon. Kern addressed members outside and dsecribed her experience inside the hotel. “We very worried, so when I was able to come down and say that I actually got the message through to [alumni], and they sounded supportive – you could see it in peoples’ eyes – something good came of this,” she said. Alumni crossing the line on their way into the luncheon included former Daily editor Charlie Clark, class of 1976, who travelled from Washington, D.C. “I think it’s unfortunate. I don’t really like to cross a picket line but we have no choice, this thing has been scheduled for months and we all travelled here,” he said. “It’s a tough situation and I hope they can work it out.” Di Grappa and Doug Sweet, director of media relations at McGill, crossed the line shortly after O’Malley’s arrest. McGill’s injunction against MUNACA, which restricts the union’s picketing activities, was extended on Thursday to January 21.

SUS spends $4,320 on iPhones for executives Society debates whether new mobile plans will be effective Jessica Lukawiecki The McGill Daily

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he Science Undergraduate Society (SUS) voted in a general council meeting on October 6 to allow an expenditure of $4,320 for mobile phones and plans for executives. The budget allocation, which was brought to council by SUS President Akshay Rajaram, passed with 14 councillors for and 9 against. According to Rajaram, the mobile devices, iPhone 4’s, will be used exclusively for business and will be passed on to incoming executives from year to year. SUS Executive Revenue Officer Akal Sethi explained that the “reason we chose to get a smart phone, in this case the iPhone, is the amount of emails we receive per

day. It’s nearly impossible to handle such an amount, say 50 to 60 emails per day, if you’re only accessing them on your computer.” “It helps us communicate more efficiently,” he continued. “Increasing our speed and our response time makes us plan events better, helps us solve problems better.” Rajaram agreed, explaining that “one of the biggest issues is that we’re all full time students, and sometimes you can’t pick up your phone in class. So sending an email is a lot easier and a lot more discrete than answering your phone.” Not everyone on Council, however, agreed on the rationale for the expense of the phones. According to SUS VP Finance Elaine Xie, when the 2011-2012 budget was originally presented to council in late September, the allocation for cell phones had to be tabled because it

was such a “contentious issue.” Science Senator Max Luke explained that concerns included how personal usage of the cell phones would be regulated, and whether using student dollars for mobile devices was justified. “I’m a senator, and I know that tons of other people, like councillors…and all the other [faculty societies], and they seem to be able to do just fine, and I’m fairly sure that we receive a similar volume of emails,” said Luke. “They claim it’s for efficiency’s sake,” he continued, “but I don’t think it will be more efficient, and, honestly, I don’t think that’s the rationale behind it. I think part of the rationale behind these phones is that it’s just a cool gadget.” Luke also expressed concern that the budget allocation within SUS would set a precedent for other undergraduate faculty societies to follow suit.

SUS is not the first student society at McGill to incorporate cell phone expenses into their budget. SSMU executives have been given mobile phones for the past four years for work related uses. According to Carol Fraser, SSMU VP Clubs and Services, the added yearly expense is worthwhile because it “helps the executives be more accountable to students and more efficient in a lot of ways.” “I think it’s really useful, it makes executives a lot easier to get in touch with, and it’s nice because I know that, for myself, the bill, if it wasn’t covered by SSMU, would be a lot financially,” she said. When asked whether the expense for undergraduate faculty societies was justified, Fraser said, “I think it’s really useful [with SSMU]. So if they have the same kinds of needs, then yes, for sure.”

What’s the haps

MUNACA member arrested

3

Culture Shock 2011 October 17 to 23 Various locations on and around McGill campus Culture Shock is an annual event series dedicated to exploring the myths surrounding immigrants, refugees, indigenous people and communities of colour. Culture Shock is co-organized by QPIRG McGill and SSMU. All events are free and open to the public. For full schedule, plus room changes and other information, visit www. qpirgmcgill.org/events/culture-shock. McGill Book Fair October 18, 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., 19 and 20, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Redpath Hall The Book Fair is entirely volunteer-run, and all proceeds are given to the University to fund endowed scholarships and bursaries. In addition to books in both French and English, there will be CDs, LPs, DVDs, and sheet music. Since 1971, the Book Fair has raised over $1.5 million; this year’s Fair will be the last after a 40-year existence. Indignez-Vous! Hope in Resistance Public Forum Friday, October 21, 7 p.m. Marriott Hotel, 1 Canada Place Indignez-Vous! Hope in Resistance begins with a public forum on October 21, organized by the Council of Canadians, Eau Secours, Alternatives, AQLPA, MQRP, First Nations organizations, student and labour groups. Speakers include Maude Barlow, Ellen Gabriel, Louis Roy and Gabriel NadeauDubois. The event is free. Visit Canadians.org, or call 1-800387-7177, ext. 333. Indignez-Vous! Hope in Resistance Conference Saturday, October 22, 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. Marriott Hotel, 1 Canada Place The conference continues with an exploration of how we can work together to create positive alternatives to a system that prioritizes profit over people and the planet by building a broad movement for social change. Cost: $30 ($15 fixed income). For registration or more information visit Canadians.org, or call 1-800387-7177, ext. 333. AUS Graduate and Professional School Fair Monday, October 17, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Shatner Ballroom AUS collaborated with CaPS to bring participating schools to McGill for their graduate and professional school fair. Representatives from programs in a variety of disciplines will be available to answer questions and provide information.


News

The McGill Daily | Monday, October 17, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com

5

Montreal rated second worst city in Canada for air pollution Provincial government allocating $1.9 million to municipal climate programs Alexis Giannelia News Writer

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ontreal has been rated the second worst city in Canada in regard to air quality according to a September 26 World Health Organization (WHO) assessment. Montreal is ranked only behind the industrial town of Sarnia, Ontario. The WHO compiled data from 1,100 cities in 91 countries worldwide to create an assessment of urban outdoor air pollution. The goal of the assessment is to raise awareness and facilitate solutions to limit the impacts of outdoor air pollution on public health. Nada Osserian, the communications officer of the Health and Environment Department at the WHO, explained to The Daily that the WHO estimates more than 2 million people die annually from breathing in tiny particles present in indoor and outdoor air pollution.

Air quality is determined by the presence of one air pollutant, known as PM2.5, which measures less than 2.5 microns. Cities were rated based on the concentration of this pollutant per cubic meter of air. Air quality is represented by annual mean concentration of this fine particulate matter. According to the WHO’s assessment, Montreal contains an average of 11.3 micrograms per cubic meter of air of pollutant. This is slightly lower than the 12.7 micrograms in Sarnia. Toronto and Vancouver were rated as having higher air quality than Montreal, containing 7.9 micrograms and 4.9 micrograms of PM2.5 respectively. According to 2006 data from the Montreal Health and Social Services Agency, the type of pollutants assessed in the recent WHO report are shown to lead to more than 4,000 deaths each year in Canada. These pollutants have contributed to approximately 1,500 deaths each

year in Montreal. The City of Montreal’s environmental municipal branch, Direction de l’environnement et du développement durable, focuses on environmental services and sustainable development. The purpose of this branch is to improve and monitor the quality of the physical environment in Montreal and the quality of life for citizens. As of 2010, there were 14 monitoring stations located throughout the island of Montreal, creating a network able to assess air quality. Data collected in these monitoring networks in 2010 showed that there were 65 days that year with air quality ratings of “poor,” three less days of poor air quality than in 2009. Fine particles alone accounted for 63 of the poor air quality days. Despite the data on air quality in Montreal, Canada ranks as the third-best country in WHO’s worldwide air quality ratings. The level of air pollution in

Victor Tangermann | The McGill Daily

Canada is third in the WHO’s worldwide air quality ratings. Montreal is lower than other major metropolitan cities. Paris rated at 22.7 micrograms, and according to the WHO, the rate of PM2.5 in Beijing reached 121 micrograms per cubic meter of air. In a 2010 Highlights report, Chantal I. Gagnon, the director of Direction de l’environnement

et du développement durable, states that “air and water quality continued to be closely monitored.” The government of Quebec recently granted $1.9 million to its Climat municipalités program. This grant will be put towards “mak[ing] Montreal a sustainable metropolis,” according to Gagnon.

Tories looking to force unions to open books Henry Gass

The McGill Daily

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anada’s unions may be forced to disclose annual financial statements to the federal government if a private members bill passes. Russ Hiebert, Conservative MP for the South Surrey-White RockCloverdale riding in British Columbia, tabled Bill C-317, “An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act (labour organizations),” in Parliament two weeks ago. Under the bill, every labour union in Canada would be required to file a standard set of financial statements each year with Revenue Canada. “The Federal Government provides substantial public benefits to unions as they perform this valuable task for Canadians. My bill is designed to provide for the financial disclosure of how those public benefits are used,” said Hiebert in a press release, referring to the federal tax exemptions granted to unions. Hiebert was unavailable for comment due to meetings. “With public disclosure, Canadians will be able to gauge the effectiveness, financial integrity and health of their unions… The principle is, just like charities, labour organizations receive a public benefit and the public should be informed how that public benefit is being used,” continued Hiebert in the

press release. The bill is accruing significant opposition. Jinny Sims, NDP MP for the Newton-North Delta riding in British Columbia, called the bill “absolutely ridiculous and unnecessary.” “It is an attack on the union movement. This government has made no secret that they see the unions as barriers, as getting in the way of some of their agenda, and this is another way to undermine the union,” said Sims. “I think that whenever any of our institutions have this kind of intrusion and oversight it hurts all Canadians, because if you’re going to do that with unions, what’s the next step? If you’re going to do it with the unions, let’s do it with the private corporations as well,” she continued. The bill is in its second reading in the House of Commons. Sims, a former president of the British Columbia Teacher’s Federation – which represents 41,000 public school teachers in the province – said union finances are already well monitored. “Russ Hiebert is behaving as if union funds are public funds. People pay to be members of a union, and there is an incredible amount of oversight into the funds,” she said. “The business of union dues and how they are handled is the business of those people who belong to that union. It is not public money. It’s

money that belongs to members of that union,” she continued. Lerona Lewis, president of McGill’s largest on campus union – the Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill (AGSEM) representing over 3,000 members – does not see the bill as a problem. “You can go online to look to see what was spent, when it was spent, and so on,” she said, adding that transparency was “something we believe in anyway.” AGSEM’s financial statements are public on the website of their parent union the Confédération des syndicates nationaux (CSN). Molly Alexander, an advisor to AGSEM from the Fédération nationale des enseignantes et des enseignants du Québec, another CSN subsidiary, said they were fine with the bill so long as “it doesn’t become just more bureaucracy and more paperwork.” “Constitutionally…the [AGSEM] executive is required to present a budget and financial statements to its members,” she said. But Lewis expressed the concern that C-317’s proposals were not worth the potential costs for unions. “Probably you’ll have to hire another person to just meet those requirements, and if you multiply all the unions and, you know, are you creating more bureaucracy to solve a real problem?” she asked. A website in support of the bill

Victor Tangermann | The McGill Daily

Opponents argue private member’s bill represents excessive intrusion

Lerona Lewis, president of AGSEM, does not see the bill as a problem. – c317.ca – states on its home page that “using electronic filing, the annual filing expense incurred by unions and by the federal government should be negligible.” The website also states that “public disclosure will demonstrate that unions spend their money wisely, effectively and obtain good value for members’ dues. To suggest that this is somehow an attack on the NDP or the labour movement is a fiction.” Peterborough Conservative MP Dean del Mastro recently accused unions’ leaders of “seeking to buy influence” with the NDP. Sims noted that a bill to reform union political contributions would have to amend the Elections Act, while C-317 proposes amendments to

the Income Tax Act. “So far the Elections Canada, the people who investigate, have said they’ve got nothing of substance, and once again it is the Tory backbenchers throwing out all kinds of allegations,” she said. Sims continued to state that Conservatives are “creating a kind of excitement out there to detract from the fact that we have a lot of people in Canada not working.” “I think the biggest chill factor in this is that this government actually believes they can go in and investigate how people spend their money, money belonging to a group,” she added. — with files from Michael Lee-Murphy


6 News

The McGill Daily | Monday, October 17, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com

Occupying Canada W

hat began as a direct action to protest the growing economic gulf between America’s rich and poor, the occupation of Wall Street has now grown into an international movement characterized by countless public grievances. On Saturday, the movement came to Canada. Protesting a range of issues, from political corruption to financial inequality, demonstrators descended on public spaces in 15 cities in Canada in solidarity with similar protests around the world. The demonstration in New York City is now one month old. See Thursday’s issue of The Daily for coverage of Saturday’s Occupy Montreal demonstration. —Compiled by Henry Gass

Protests occured in the following cities: Montreal (QC) Toronto (ON) Vancouver (BC) Ottawa (ON) Calgary (AL)

Edmonton (AL) Victoria (BC) Sault Ste. Marie (ON) Windsor (ON) Kamloops (BC)

Kelowna (BC) Saint John (NB) Saint John’s (NL) Moncton (NB) Charlottetown (PEI)

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2011/10/13/ occupy-canada-protests.html; Wikimedia. Alyssa Favreau | The McGill Daily

White Paper plan presented at Legislative Council Kallee Lins

The McGill Daily

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cGill Provost Anthony Masi made an appearance at Legislative Council last Thursday to present the ASAP 2012 White Paper (Achieving Strategic Academic Priorities), a five-year strategic plan for the University referred to as the “blueprint by which we allocated funding.” The plan was updated at Council to include a greater focus on technology in pedagogical work and interdisciplinary research. Masi remained for questions for nearly an hour after the allotted time for his presentation. A major focus of the plan is increasing the number of professors at the University. Arts Senator Matt Crawford brought up concerns that this would come at the expense of course lecturers and TAs. “We’d like to have more tenure track professors who can bring their expertise into the program,” stated Masi, who continued to explain that the positions would vary across disciplines. “Some faculties will be requiring more course lecturers,” he added. Masi was reluctant to answer questions regarding the MUNACA strike, citing the fact that he has not been present at the bargaining table. Education representative and former Daily Design and Production editor Kady Paterson questioned

the White Paper’s proposed commitments to enhancing career development opportunities for all McGill employees, citing a perceived reluctance on the part of McGill to allow MUNACA members to go back to work. “The support staff walked out. There’s a strike, so people should tone down their rhetoric,” Masi responded. The comment came after questioning about the administration’s treatment of students who protest and visibly support MUNACA on campus. “There is confusion between the ability to conduct freedom of expression and the inability of the University to go about its business,” Masi said. “The injunction [against MUNACA] doesn’t say you don’t have the freedom of speech,” he added. Masi spoke of increased commitments to TAs. “We have engaged with TAs in something called a ‘skillset’ program. We are certainly in favour of anything that enhances the skills of our graduate students and our TAs,” he said. Jonathan Mooney, representative for the Association of Graduate Students Emplyed at McGill, announced that the union will vote during its next Council meeting on whether to authorize pressure tactics. “When we vote to authorize pressure tactics, that excludes a strike,” said Mooney, specifying that tactics may include letter writing campaigns and rallies. In light of the upcoming fall ref-

erendum period, members of community radio station CKUT were present to see their referendum question approved by Council. The question asks students to vote on the continued existence of CKUT by renewing the $4.00 per semester fee from every undergraduate. The motion is similar to their previous existence referendum question, but includes specification that the fee “is not opt-outable on the Minerva online opt-out system but is refundable on the premises of CKUT.” Since the online opt-out system was instituted in 2007, CKUT and other groups supported by opt-outable fees have attempted to negotiate the system with the University, but have yet to see any changes made. Myriam Zaidi, a CKUT board member and former SSMU executive, responded to concerns that forcing students to retrieve their refund from CKUT’s premises might be intimidating for some. “This is like a refund, so when you purchase something at a store, you’re not pressured to answer whether or not you’re going to keep it,” she said. Since McGill has control over the Minerva online opt-out system, questions were raised whether or not the University would make changes if such a motion were to be passed. VP Clubs and Services Carol Fraser, who authored the motion, responded that, “McGill would be grossly delegitimizing democratic processes if it ignored the votes of

Victor Tangermann | The McGill Daily

Councillors question whether strategic five-year plan will benefit McGill employees

Masi spreaking to council. thousands of undergraduates.” QPIRG put their referendum question forward by collecting 500 student signatures, as opposed to submitting the question to Council. However, QPIRG representatives were present at Council to discuss the work of the group and answer any questions that Councillors had. A motion presented by the Executive Committee to enhance

transparency was passed, despite questions regarding its constitutionality from former SSMU President Zach Newburgh. Minutes from incamera sessions of the Executive Committee will now be available to Councillors upon request. Council also passed a motion to endorse the strategic plan of McGill Food and Dining Services entitled “An Appetite for Sustainability.”


Commentary

The McGill Daily | Monday, October 17, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com

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Crisis and action As students, we have a responsibility to mobilize Aaron Vansintjan Hyde Park

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n Friday September 30, McGill professors, staff, and students marched side-by-side through campus, symbolically taping their mouths to protest the silencing of MUNACA by the McGill administration. At the same time, emerita Professor of Economics at McGill University, Kari Polanyi, and Montreal anti-capitalist activist, Jaggi Singh, led a discussion at Concordia on activism in the context of worldwide austerity measures and predatory capitalism. The next day, 700 people were arrested in New York while peacefully protesting the current financial system. The world is changing, and people are mobilizing to change it. In all of these events, I was surprised to see so many different people discussing, learning, and acting together. But even though our age, backgrounds, and biographies may differ, we are all affected. We are worried about the future. We know that something is not quite right. And we feel that something must be done about it. To focus the discussion, we need to be aware of what is at stake, what problems we are dealing with. There are three issues that I feel are most pressing: First, the financial crisis. This crisis is not a ‘market’ crisis. It is a people’s crisis. It means debt

Amina Batyreva | The McGill Daily

live. This is feudalism in a globalized world. Let’s look at it this way: One fifth of all profits in the US return to finance, insurance, and real estate. This sector is also one that has grown more than any other: from 15 to 16 per cent profits in the 1970s, to 40 per cent now. These profits far exceed the function of the services the sector provides. Meanwhile, 49

This crisis is not a ‘market’ crisis. It is a people’s crisis. It means debt and insecurity, fear and helplessness. and insecurity, fear and helplessness. It means the inability of most to make the choices they have been working for all their lives and the prospect that even fewer choices will be available for their children. Meanwhile, a small minority have all the freedom to choose where and how they live, and how their children

of the poorest countries, inhabited by 11 per cent of the world’s population, receive only 0.5 per cent of the global product – equal to the income of the world’s three wealthiest men. 90 per cent of the wealth on the planet remains in the hands of just 1 per cent of its inhabitants. For every dollar made by a typical worker in 1980, a chief executive made $42. In

2000, that number had grown: chief executives made $532 for every dollar made by the average worker. The world has gotten terribly unfair. Second, a food crisis is underway. The numbers are in: despite extensive water management systems, high inputs of artificial fertilizers, state-of-the-art machines, and genetic modifications of crop species, hunger has actually gone up in the last two decades – what was 824 million hungry people 1991 has now become 1 billion. This is coupled with a water crisis, in which already-stressed water systems are failing. For example, in India, already the world’s most malnourished country, water supplies are projected to be exhausted by 2015. The Ogallala aquifier, which supplies 30 per cent of US agriculture, may run out by 2030. Our food system is broken, and it will only get worse. According to a report published this past summer, food prices may rise to 180 per cent by 2030, and the 1 billion – and rising – hungry people will not be able to afford this. And despite what our chief economists have been saying

since the 1960s, hunger isn’t just a technical problem of yield or a relationship of supply and demand. It’s a financial, legal, and structural monopoly, where a select few, intentionally or not, have been able to determine how the majority of the world ought to live, work, and eat. Third, climate change is happening faster than we thought it would. According to most recent reports, the northern ice cap will probably melt by 2030. For the first time in 3 million years, the Earth will have an open Arctic sea. Given that humans have only been around for 175,000 years, we’ll be in for an unprecedented shock. Some consequences: we may lose 20 to 70 per cent of all species on the planet, about 634 million people may be affected by rising waters, two thirds of all cities with populations over 5 million could be partly under water, and the world will have to start dealing with a mass influx of climate refugees. When you graduate, the world will be a different place. Political inclination – whether you stand on the ‘right’ or on the ‘left’ – won’t mean much. The world of the future isn’t going to be socialist, communist, or even dominated by a free market. These are old and inadequate concepts for new problems. Now we have free-market communists, envi-

ronmental conservatives, and tradition-oriented radicals. We’re dealing with enormous issues that we’ve never faced before. But this doesn’t mean we should pick an ideology blindly. Every opinion must be constantly questioned; every step must be made knowing what is at stake. Being at a university, we are both separate from and an inextricable part of human affairs. We have the opportunity to mobilize for a different world and experiment with new ways of living together. We need to practice new ways of life and create the institutions that can deal with the problems of tomorrow. As students, we must be vigilant and aware. More importantly, we must act. As Kari Polanyi, the former McGill Economics Professor who spoke at Concordia, remarked, “It is a huge challenge. It is not an easy world. We need a lot more activists. We need a sense of imagination.” Aaron Vansintjan is a U4 Joint Honours Philosophy and Environment student, Chair of the Daily Publications Society, member of the QPIRG board of directors, and a former Design and Production editor for The Daily. You can contact him at aaron.vansintjan@mail.mcgill.ca


8 Commentary

The McGill Daily | Monday, October 17, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com

Marlise Armstrong for The McGill Daily

Suzanne Talhouk speaks in Montreal at the Envision Arabia Summit

The need to preserve the Arabic language The influence of Suzanne Talhouk’s talk at the Envision Arabia Summit Mays Chami Hyde Park

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n the weekend of October 8, numerous distinguished speakers spoke in Montreal at the first summit of McGill’s Arab Development Initiative. Each spoke about their area of expertise and the ways in which they applied their skills for the benefit of the broadlydefined ‘Arab World’. Some spoke about their initiatives in humanitarian NGOs, others spoke about the innovative ways in which they applied engineering and physician skills to the development of the Arab world, while yet others spoke more generally about the imperative need for the building of democratic states and the implementation of human rights legislation. One speaker that was particularly moving was Suzanne Talhouk, founder

of Feil Amer, an organization with a goal of keeping the Arabic language relevant to the current generation of Arab youth. Delivered in classical Arabic, Talhouk’s speech was particularly moving as it touched on an overlooked issue. Feil Amer was created as a reaction to the prevalent trend in the Middle East, and especially in Lebanon, to use Arabic as little as possible in conversation. Talhouk gave the example, which rang familiar to all those with family from that part of the world, of the recurring feeling of pride among families when their young one communicates in English or French. Drawing from a personal anecdote of mine, I remember my family and I visiting my mother’s extended family in Lebanon as a child, and, upon hearing me speak in Arabic, a relative turning to my mother and exclaiming, wide-

eyed, “Don’t your children speak French?” I remember feeling flustered on behalf of my mother, and feeling guilty about not speaking in French and shaming her. It is almost impossible to go about one’s daily life in some, if not all, parts of the Arab world without inadvertently using a few foreign words. Not because some words do not exist in Arabic (although this phenomenon is so ingrained in our minds that it would sometimes take a few minutes to think of the appropriate translation of a term), but, because saying it in Arabic would likely make one sound uneducated, or, one may even go as far as saying, fundamental. It says something about our culture if speaking in our own mother tongue is perceived as demoded or the opposite of modern. I believe that this extends beyond the parts of the world

touched by the second wave of colonization of the 19th and 20th centuries. Today is a time where one’s professional success in most parts of the world depends in part on their proficiency in the English language. That is why I feel like Talhouk’s plea will hit home with more than just Arab audiences. The fact that all the other speakers gave their talks in English (even if only for the consideration of the few non-Arabs in the audience) and that, among the Arabs attendees, the main spoken language was English, and occasionally French (albeit with the requisite Arabic word here and there) drives home the fact that Talhouk’s speech is the one that I connected with, and knew how to act on in a practical and immediate way. I, personally, had not expected this specific talk to be particularly moving or influential when com-

pared to the other speakers’ more obviously pressing topics – such as the health system, democracy, and human rights. However, her talk hit a sensitive spot for students with an Arab origin. For people of the Arab diaspora who have lived in both the Middle East and the West, our vernacular is composed of multiple languages. In addition, we cannot fully express ourselves in any one language, and our spoken English often hints at our mother tongue through pidgin phrases of transliteration. By alluding to these points, Talkhouk effectively stressed to us how imperative language is to development and reminded us that modern and Arabic are not mutually exclusive. Mays Chami is a U4 Chemical Engineering student. She can be reached at mays.chami@mail. mcgill.ca


Commentary

The McGill Daily | Monday, October 17, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com

9

It’s the time for decisive action An open letter from McGill teaching assistants

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s you may know, teaching assistants at McGill have been negotiating a new contract with the administration since May 2011. Our current contract expired on June 30, 2011. After ten meetings and forty hours of negotiations, we have been unable to reach an agreement with the administration because their negotiation strategy is a categorical “NO” in response to the reasonable requests we have made at the bargaining table. Their refusal to progress beyond “No” and their reluctance to compromise with TAs reveals that they undervalue the contributions of TAs to the McGill community. What follows is a description of the bargaining priorities of TAs and the responses of the McGill administration.

A cut to TA real wages

TAs seek an annual salary increase of 3.0 per cent. This increase, slightly less than the current 3.4 per cent increase in the cost of living in Quebec, aims to provide TAs with the same buying power in 2012 and beyond as they had in 2011. The McGill administration is offering a 1.2 per cent annual increase that would take effect eighteen months after the last pay increase which is in June 2012. If TAs were to accept this offer, we would be earning less in real terms each year of our contract, since the cost of housing, food, transportation, et cetera would increase at a faster rate than our salaries. McGill’s offer of a 1.2 per cent increase amounts to a cut to TA real wages. Under McGill’s offer, a full-time TA would earn $800 less in 2011 dollars per year by the end of the contract than if TA wages increased with today’s inflation rate. In the current financial climate, TAs should not be expected to take a pay cut – especially on the eve of a tuition hike.

has increased 9 per cent and the number of graduate students has increased 13 per cent. But, the number of hours TAs work campus-wide has actually decreased by 2500 hours over the same period. As the number of undergraduate students increases, the time requirements for consultation, instruction, and evaluation also increase. Increasing the number of TAships across the university would greatly improve the quality of undergraduate instruction and evaluation by ensuring that TAs will have enough time to teach the growing number of students. We ask McGill administration to hire more TAs and limit the size of discussion-based conferences and laboratory sessions to ensure that TAs can provide sufficient instruction and that undergraduate

More students, fewer teaching hours

Amina Batyreva l The McGill Daily

TAs seek a commitment from McGill to invest in more TA hours and positions. Since 2007, the number of degree-seeking undergraduates enrolled at McGill

students have a stimulating and challenging environment to learn and express themselves. The administration has refused.

Untrained Teachers TAs at McGill do not receive standardized paid pedagogical training. Other universities across Canada, however, do provide paid and certified training for TAs. Although first-time TAs are experts in their fields, before starting their duties they very often have never taught a class, led a discussionbased seminar, evaluated a paper, or marked an exam. Even though paid pedagogical training for new TAs would improve the quality of their instruction and the quality of undergraduate learning experience, the administration has yet to respond with a concrete proposal. Because the administration has refused to offer a meaningful response to these core issues, TAs have realised that it is time for decisive action. At our General Assembly on October 19, 2011, TAs will vote on authorizing the use of pressure tactics – not including a strike – to support our demands. These pressure tactics may include demonstrations, media campaigns, letter writing, protests, or any other action that will encourage a reasonable response by McGill to our priori-

ties. Pressure tactics allow TAs to take their fight beyond the bargaining table and into the public sphere, where we will build support for our bargaining position. It is long overdue for the administration to negotiate in good faith, to respond to our priorities, and to offer TAs a fair contract. It is now up to us to teach the administration that what is at stake in these negotiations is the integrity of the teaching assistant position and the quality of education available at McGill.

Signed by AGSEM – McGill’s Teaching Union.

Help us reform your GA An open letter from the SSMU

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n response to the editorial entitled “More than just going through the motions” (Page 19, October 3), we share the Daily’s concerns about the GA’s continuing struggles with low turnout and interest in considering major GA reforms. However, we would like to clarify a few items addressed in last week’s editorial. First, the decision to host the GA early in the semester was made precisely with poor turnout in mind – historically, SSMU has been criticized for hosting the GA deep into midterm season. Timing the GA for the end of the first month of school was not without precedent, but, indeed, it was held earlier than in the last couple of years. Second, GA publicity is always criticized. While we agree that SSMU could always do more publicity, we undertook substantial efforts to improve publicity efforts since last year, including more informative posters, social media presence, classroom announcements by executives to at least

4,000 students, chalkboard announcements, and requesting the help of Councillors, Senators, and Faculty Associations. GA motion deadlines were advertised via the SSMU listserv, website, and social media sites. It is also important to clarify that, just because a motion is signed by SSMU Councillors, does not mean it was written by them, but, rather, that they have leant it their support. If we could do it again, we would start publicity earlier, but, unfortunately, due to the MUNACA strike and other pressing matters, we found ourselves having an even busier September than expected. Third, regarding a lack of promised reforms, don’t worry – we’re working on it! Given the concern last year over insufficient involvement of students in the GA reform process, we didn’t think it would be appropriate to enact sweeping reforms over the summer, and SSMU’s legislative process would have been hard pressed to approve

major changes in time for this fall’s GA, even if it had been scheduled for the end of October. Initial work reviewing the GA was completed during the summer and reported on by the President and VP External to SSMU Council; SSMU’s bylaw review committee is now working on the issue. A document outlining the reform process – as well as other resources regarding GA reform –is available on the SSMU website’s GA page. We will soon be adding a survey to garner student feedback on different ways to reshape the GA. We do think, however, that the Speakers of Council did an excellent job of both making students feel welcome and of explaining the rules of debate, which was a request for reform voiced last year. We hope the student body and campus media will actively participate in the con-

tinuing discussions around the General Assembly: it’s your democratic forum and it deserves to be shaped by you.

Signed by Maggie Knight, Emily Yee Clare, Joël Pedneault, Todd Plummer, Carol Fraser, & Shyam Patel: 2011-2012 SSMU Executive.


10 Commentary

The McGill Daily | Monday, October 17, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com

Religion and children Why parents should not force religion on their offspring Balaclava Discourse Davide Mastracci

balaclavadiscourse@mcgilldaily.com

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hildren are often mosaics, comprised of the musings of their parents. While it is healthy for parents to have some level of authority over their children, certain decisions in every child’s life are best left to the child. Debate over the issue of whether parents should assign their child a gender at birth has been prominent in the last few months, yet religion, a similar issue regarding autonomy has been largely ignored. Every year, millions of children are pushed down a conveyer belt of conversion and shaped into products of faith. The process starts early, with parents often branding their child with the poker of faith upon birth. Yet, as Dawkins has stated, there is no such thing as a Catholic, Muslim, or Jewish child – and labelling them as such is disingenuous. Young children are not mature enough to properly formulate and express their own views on god, or how humanity came to be. This inability is akin to a toddler’s inability to express their own views on normative moral or economic issues. Yet it is entirely common for a child to be religiously branded as if religion was a hereditary trait, while the lunacy of labelling a child

as a ‘capitalist child’ is apparent. Beyond simply assigning children a religion, the long term process of converting children is problematic, and, in many ways, draws comparisons to the conversion of Native Americans by European settlers, although is obviously far less violent. In both cases, the dominant group abuses its power by asserting a subjective belief it holds true over those it controls. Children are put through the ringer of forced festivals, such as baptisms, which they do not consent to, much in the same way that Native Americans were forced through these procedures as adults to appease their oppressors. The effects of this abusive procedure are evident in the world, with young Muslim children on Hamas television preaching hate, and minions of the Westborough Baptist Church picketing with their troubled parents. While these cases are regularly condemned by more moderate religious followers for their extremity, the procedure in all cases of religious indoctrination is fundamentally unjust, regardless of the teaching it injects. Parents can educate their children on various religious beliefs, but should not punish nor praise their children for whatever view they choose to adopt. As logic increasingly continues to trump blind belief, the percentage of religious followers on the earth has declined. Yet, for real

progress to be made, parents must end the unjust brainwashing of children. This should mean no forced prayers or church and no fear mongering through in depth descriptions of hell. Ending this indoctrination will give children the opportunity to discover their own views, unpolluted by the beliefs of their elders. If this means that children will continue to overwhelmingly believe in their parent’s religion, so be it. Yet it is likely that indoctrination will continue, as parents wishing for their children to follow their religion know that, without biasing the process, children will likely emerge as non believers.

Balaclava Discourse is a column written by Davide Mastracci on the structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination in society. It appears every other Monday in commentary. You can email him at balaclavadiscourse@mcgilldaily.com.

Amina Batyreva |The McGill Daily

From Tahrir Square to Wall street How we’ve gone from “Change We Can Believe In” to “Change We F@#king Need” Richard Carozza Hyde Park

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he self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi of Tunisia brought an attention and a focus to the rampant economic inequality and unemployment for those in the Arab world; Occupy Wall Street brings awareness to the first world’s failure to combat the same issues. The Arab Spring toppled the regimes of Ben Ali, Mubarak, and Gaddafi. Occupy Wall Street instead endeavours to rid Western civilization of the yoke of the “corporatocracy” – the omnipotence of the banks. In the Middle East, the governments of Morocco, Kuwait, and Oman avoided relinquishing their power by implementing reforms. The banks, and their executives, need to concede similarly. The complete lack of empathy of the American economic elite to the plight of the poor – and their labelling of any attempt to level the

playing field as tantamount to “class warfare” – will inevitably lead to much more than ragtag protesters. Because it is the product of decades of inequality, it will result in what should have been done a long time ago: making the rich pay their fair share of what life has offered them. We bailed them out in 2008 so that they could continue making profits. It’s time for them to share the rewards of our investment. In the United States, unemployment remains at an appalling 9.1 per cent, and the poverty rate is at a staggering 15.1 per cent. In the past 25 years, the inflationadjusted middle-class income bracket rose a meagre 21 per cent, compared to the top one per cent’s income, which rose 480 per cent, to an average income of $24.3 million. The only real tax increases in recent memory have been on payroll taxes – the ones that the “99 per cent” pay – while taxes on dividends and capital gains – paid by much of the top “1 per cent” –

have in fact decreased. The superrich actually pay taxes on their gross income that borders on 20 per cent (in 2008, the top 400 wealthiest people in America paid 21.5 per cent of their income to the federal government). The middle class pays between 30 per cent and 40 per cent. Perhaps the idea of lowering capital gains taxes was to spur growth of American corporations, but, as Warren Buffett said himself, the rich would never “shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain.” And, yet, the rich say that they have been vilified, that it is necessary to cut entitlement programmes as a means of balancing the budget. The average income of an elderly, social security-collecting senior is just under $30,000, and for two thirds of retired Americans, social security accounted for half or more of their income – at an average of $1,153 per month. Economists predict

that the poverty level of American seniors staying at a constant 8.9 per cent during the recession is largely due to the stability of monthly social security cheques; they also say that another 13.8 million seniors would have entered poverty without said program. In this economy, while the lower percentages struggle to scrap together a livelihood, the salary of the top 200 American executives has actually gone up 23 per cent to an average of $10.8 million. If this is class warfare, I say that the lower 99 per cent is losing pretty badly. I’m not saying that entitlement programs don’t need reforming – they do, they’re unsustainable and they have about 40 years left until they run effectively bankrupt. But to say that cutting social programs for the impoverished is a necessary part of trimming the budget, and that raising taxes on the rich – who are growing richer every year – is class warfare, is absurd. To the bank executives that claim

that they are “under siege,” I say this. When you shattered the U.S. economy in 2008 and needed bailing out, it was the taxpayer who bailed you out to the number of $700 billion. The citizens of the United States made an investment in you. Now it’s time to cash in. And as Senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren once said, nobody in this country got rich on their own. Your goods were moved on infrastructure that we all paid for; your companies were protected from crime and fire by professionals we all pay for; you hired workers that we all paid to educate. It’s time you paid your fair share for the preferential treatment that you’ve received in this country. Until then, the 99 per cent will continue to occupy Wall Street. Rappallez-vous que nous sommes dans 99 per cent.

Richard Carozza is a U2 Physiology student. You can reach him at richard.carozza@mail.mcgill.ca.


Features

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The McGill Daily | Monday, October 17, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com

Secularism and its discontents J

osé Casanova is a professor in the Sociology Department of Georgetown University. He’s one of the world experts on religion and globalization. His 1994 book Public Religions in the Modern World was a seminal text in the field. When I saw him speak last Wednesday, he was sitting next to Canada’s most famous philosoper, Charles Taylor. Casanova and Taylor, professor emeritus at McGill, were giving a lecture on secularism and the modern world in the Redpath Auditorium, a beautiful afterthought of a room in the museum of the same name. The auditorium was filled with a monastic hush as the scholars watched their audience file in. But the talk was also being streamed live online as part of the Tony Blair Faith and Globalization Initiative, in which McGill is a partner. I found Casanova’s reassessment of the meaning and history of secularism so engaging that I asked for an interview. He agreed, so we met in the lobby of New Rez on Friday and had this conversation. The McGill Daily: First, how do you define secularism? José Casanova: I would say there are two different fundamental types of secularism: one is what we call a philosophy of history, or a theory about religion, how religion started in the primitive age of humanity and how it then became secularized and then, with modernity, disappeared. This is a very simple view of the genealogy and teleology of the direction of history and how religion is related to it. This comes out of the Enlightenment critique of religion. And this permeates much of our common sense understanding of reality. We take those things for granted because they are part of the way we understand the world. Religion is something of the past that weakens and disappears with modernity. So, this is one view of secularism. And of course it reflects the experience of Western, Christian society. Quebec is an obvious example: it was a very religious society fifty years ago, and it’s a very secular society today. So, the experience of the process of secularization is the personal experience of almost everybody. So, if we understand this as a universal process of humanity, it’s a problem. Because this is a particular Christian process. The second type of secularism is just simply a kind of doctrine of statecraft. You want to have democracy – principles of equal liberty for everybody. So some kind of institutional separation between political authority and religious authority is necessary. One version of this secularism

would be ‘we need to separate it because religion is dangerous. We need to protect the political sphere from religion, and so take religion out of the political sphere.’ Another version is ‘There are so many different religions, that none of them should have privilege.’ You have to think of a secular, neutral sphere as a place where all religions have equal rights and all individuals – religious or non-religious – have equal access to this public sphere. And I think this is the version of secularism that, as the world becomes more pluralistic, more multicultural, we need to embrace. MD: That’s not the way Quebec looks at secularism, necessarily. JC: No, because of the model of laïcité [literally, the French word for secularism, but, in practice, a very strict seperation of church and state] that they have adopted from the French. And as long as we are all Quebecois ex-Catholics, there is no problem. But the moment nonCatholics come in to Quebec, and they are neither Catholic nor secular, then it is a problem. So how can you be Quebecois and be neither secular nor Catholic? And how can your religion enter the public sphere or have equal rights? MD: At your talk on Wednesday you mentioned how different cultures have used the model of laïcité in different ways. Can you name a

couple of them, and describe how people see secularism in these different countries? JC: Let’s think of three societies that have incorporated the French model, even the word laïcité, into their systems. The Turks did it because [Kemal] Attaturk – the founding father of the new Turkish nation – thought, ‘I’m going to take the French model and turn Turkey into a laïque system.’ Laïque meant the state, rather than pushing religion, told people you cannot dress as a Muslim, you have to adopt Western dress, and so on and so on. But, rather than pushing religion into the margins, what it did was take religion into the state. In the Turkish state, the largest ministerial department, with the largest number of civil servants, is not the army, but the ministry of religious affairs. Every imam in the country is a civil servant of the state. The laïque state controls the sermon of every Friday, in every mosque. The secular state completely controls Islam. MD: That’s interesting, because one justification for secularism is to protect religion from state interference. JC: One [model] is to protect the state and have it as far away from religion as possible. It’s the French model. The other is to create a state that controls religion completely. And the third is Senegal. Senegal was a French colony, so it

became a laïcité. But there you already had a system of many different forms of Islam – the Suffi Brotherhood, Mouride, the Tijāniyyah. And because there were so many forms of Islam, they did not want any of these to become the official state Islam, unlike in Turkey. [It’s] very similar to the [way the] American sects didn’t want any of the churches – either the Episcopal Church in the southern states, or the Congregational churches in New England – to be the church of the United States. So it is for the sake of religious pluralism that laïcité is pushed in Senegal. MD: Why has the first type of secularism you described – the historical genealogy of religion, rather than the theory of statecraft – been a specifically Christian experience? JC: I would argue that it goes back to the foundation of the early modern state, and every early modern state becoming a confessional state, whether Anglican or Lutheran or Catholic. And, so, there is a process of deconfessionalization of the state, of society, of individuals. Because modern individualism – we want freedom from authority, to develop our own identity. The age of authenticity demands from us to find ourselves, and so we want to free ourselves from any externally imposed identity. So we associate religion with an identity, which we didn’t choose, but which was given to us. It’s interesting to compare this to

Amina Batyreva | The McGill Daily the United States, which never had a national church, like so many other states. Their historical modernization has not coincided with the decline of religion, but actually with the growth of religion. So Americans identified becoming modern, becoming democratic, with becoming religious. We know by public opinion polls that Americans tend to exaggerate their religiosity, because they think to be a good modern American is to be religious. While Europeans tend to discount their religions. MD: How has this Western narrative of secularization affected Western relations with the contemporary Muslim world? JC: They are seen as anachronistic. As fundamentalist. Not modern enough. Not liberal enough. One of the most fundamental conflicts has to do with what gender equality means, and the notion that Islam is a patriarchal culture that does not believe in gender equality, and that it is an extremely repressive culture in terms of sex. But we cannot forget, in the 19th century, we portrayed the Muslims as the harem, the loose ones, and we were the Puritans, the proper – morally, sexually. And they were the depraved. So, something has changed in our culture in terms of our sexual mores. ­­—Compiled by Eric Andrew-Gee


Sports

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The McGill Daily | Monday, October 17, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com

Canadian national identity and rugby 2011 Rugby World Cup shows an improvement in Canadians’ apathy for national teams Sports, eh Sam Gregory

sportseh@mcgilldaily.com

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n the sporting world, Canadians share many common bonds: most throw their alleigance behind one of the seven Canadian NHL teams, and most are aware and supportive of players like Steve Nash, Justin Morneau, and Hayley Wickenheiser. In general, Canadians are proud of their athletes and professional teams. However, Canadians fall pathetically short in supporting their national teams. Sidney Crosby galvanized the nation with his overtime game-winning goal to lift Canada to a men’s hockey gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, but, outside of the country’s most popular sport, there is very little of this same enthusiasm. The Canadian men’s and women’s national soccer teams both play to crowds of, on average, under 10,000 people in Toronto, while the professional soccer team in the region, Toronto FC, averages attendances of over 20,000 every week. The Canadian men’s national basketball team played a friendly game in Toronto as a warm up to their Olympic Qualifiers this year, and drew only three hundred spectators, whereas the Toronto Raptors habitually fill the Air Canada Centre to capacity for their games. This general indifference to Canadian national

teams from the Canadian public represents a serious flaw in the country’s sporting culture, and is a source of frustration for the athletes sporting the Maple Leaf. Canada is not a country known for outpourings of patriotism, unlike its southern neighbor, but what does seem to galvanize the country is a story. This fall, an intriguing narrative unraveled in New Zealand of the Canadian team at the Rugby World Cup, one that garnered more patriotic support than a national team would typically receive. The team’s surprise 25 to 20 come–from-behind win over Tonga in Canada’s first game of the Rugby World Cup was watched by an audience of 138,000 people on TSN in Canada. This number, on its own, is nothing to fuss over, but, when it is taken into account that the game was played in New Zealand and was shown live at 1:00 a.m. EST in Canada, the number becomes much more impressive. Aside from the fact that everyone loves an underdog, it was the story of the individual athletes that grabbed the interest of the average fan over a sport that is considered non-mainstream in Canada. Thirty-one-year-old Pat Riordan splits his time between carpentry and captaining the team. Jamie Cudmore has lived his life overshadowed by his younger brother, who starred as an actor in the X-Men series – he is now getting his time to shine playing as a flanker. These are just two of many interesting storylines that came with the Canadian rugby team, which

garnered international media recognition during their time in New Zealand. After the early win against Tonga, the Canadians put up a valiant effort in ultimately losing games against France and New Zealand, while tying with the Japanese. These results led to a slightly disappointing fourth place finish in the fiveteam group. This finish means that Canada does not qualify for the quarterfinals. The team will also not have the same luxury as the world’s top rugby nations of a guaranteed spot in the 2015 World Cup; Canada will have to play their way in again. While this means uncertainty as to whether or not Canada will actually get another chance in the World Cup, it also gives the team an incredible opportunity to build on the support back in Canada. As Cudmore was quick to tell TSN, “There are huge pluses that came out of the World Cup.� Qualifiers at home will give Canadian rugby fans – and Canadian sports fans in general – a chance to support a team that needs and deserves national backing. The Canadian rugby team is made up of a determined group

of athletes who are neither pretentious superstars nor overpaid underachievers. Most importantly, despite having significantly less professional experience than their opponents, they showed that they are true competition, pulling off surprises like beating Tonga and bringing out a few French nerves in an unexpectedly tight game. After the victory over Tonga, Pat Riordan was nearly speechless. He

MMPA

kept his post-match comments to TSN a concise, “That was awesome. Just awesome.� This is the type of team Canadians should be willing to get behind, as the country slowly changes the way they approach and support their national teams. Gaining the support they deserve from people back home could make the team one worth cheering for.

Master of Management & Professional Accounting

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Amina Batyreva l The McGill Daily


Sports

The McGill Daily | Monday, October 17, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com

13

The wounds of an old rivalry remain deep Rangers FC and Celtics FC football teams keep historic tensions and violence alive in Glasgow Martin Law

Sports Writer

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n March 4, 2011, The Guardian reported that 280 arrests had been made in Glasgow, UK in 11 days. The Scottish government announced there would be a meeting in Edinburgh between the conflicting parties. Was this the aftermath of a strike? Riots? Gang wars? No. Try: a football match between two Glasgow-based teams. Splitting the city of Glasgow, the Rangers FC and Celtic FC (known collectively as the “Old Firm”) have a long football rivalry in the Scottish Premier League. From the founding of both teams in the late 19th century to the present day, the teams have been known for a spirited and sometimes violent rivalry on the pitch. There is also a considerable amount of fan violence in the streets of Glasgow preceding, during, and following matches. This has resulted in fans storming the field on many occasions. Most notable is when fighting, which had to be broken up by police on horseback, erupted on the pitch in the 1980 League final. While football-associated violence in the rest of the world – and especially in Canada and the U.S. – has often acquired a nearly comic character, the nature of the fighting in Glasgow is no laughing matter. Western Scotland – and Glasgow specifically – has imported the Irish Troubles as cultural baggage, with many Irish immigrants and their descendants constituting the population of the region. This affects the football rivalry, which plays out along sectarian lines: Celtic FC fans overwhelmingly identify as Irish Catholic and Irish nationalist, while Rangers fans are typically Protestant and British loyalist. The religious and political divisions involved have haunted the British Isles for centuries. Traditionally, much of the population of Scotland has been Presbyterian, and was involved in the long colonization of Ireland, aiding in the eviction of Catholic farmers from their land. After the separation of Ireland, the tension between Catholics and Protestants, which follows the Irish-British divide, was carried as a cultural memory by Irish immigrants to Scotland; it remains an understood reality in Glasgow culture. It is manifested in the Rangers and Celtic clubs. Kate Sketchley, a McGill graduate now studying in Glasgow, says there’s a taboo towards speaking about football in the city: “It’s definitely come up whenever I’ve met a Glaswegian for the first time. Basically, the advice I’ve been given is to avoid the topic

altogether.” The phenomenon is manifested to a lesser degree in Edinburgh as well, where Hearts FC and Hibernian FC take the respective “British” and “Irish” sides, but the ferocity of the violence does not match Glasgow. Violence frequently occurs after games, often for reasons as simple as someone wearing the wrong colours. What distinguishes this from other forms of fan violence in sports, like those witnessed in Vancouver following the 2011 Stanley Cup, is the deliberate targeting and savage physical violence. Both the Rangers and Celtic teams have their hooligan groups, which are the Inter-City Firm and Celtic Soccer Crew respectively. These groups are responsible for organizing some of the violence, often resulting in vicious mob clashes between groups. However, violence is largely in the hands of the common fan. Murders, assaults, and beatings occur over individual allegiances, and Glasgow police classify a certain portion of the crimes they deal with as sectarian in nature. The Scottish government has openly addressed the fighting. Jack McConnell, the previous First Minister, labelled it “Scotland’s secret shame” in a speech marking the beginning of government measures against sectarian violence in December 2002. On top of large-scale police presence at games, both McConnell and Alex Salmond, the current First Minister, have hosted conferences between both clubs, the government, the Catholic Church and Orange Order – a Protestant fraternal organization – to try and tackle sectarianism. Since June 2003, sectarianism has been “outlawed”: any offence or abusive language based on religious prejudice is considered a crime. Current bills in Scottish parliament limiting free speech around sectarian words are hotly debated. Measures have extended well outside the pitch, exemplified by incidents such as the arrests of men who have created websites and posted threatening online comments towards Celtic manager Neil Lennon. The absurdity of these arrests based on internet activity is made sobering by the fact that at least two mail bombs sent to Lennon were intercepted by Scottish police in March. However, speech laws may only increase the publicity of the issue rather than affecting real change: insults like “Hun,” “Taig,” “Tim,” “Fenian,” “Orange bastards,” and the like are just as much in common parlance between opposing fans at these games as before the laws were implemented. Songs officially outlawed are still loudly sung, including a Rangers’ fans’ favourite, “The Billy Boys.” The song goes, “We’re up to our knees

Amina Batyreva l The McGill Daily in Fenian blood, surrender or you’ll die...” Furthermore, nothing has helped desegregate the stands of any of the three stadiums in Glasgow, where the hatred is palpable. In photos and films from matches, one sees Irish and British flags in their respective sections: a game appears to be more like an international than a local football match. In addition to the public segregation and violence, the Old Firm football matches have created other forms of violence that are not as visible. The Strathclyde police – the territorital police force of the region around and including Glasgow – report that domestic violence in western Scotland increases dramatically after Old Firm games, from a 56.8 per cent increase after weekday matches and to up to 138.8 per cent after Saturday matches. This spike in violence is related uniquely to Old Firm games, and is not typical of a match between either Galsgow team and a visiting team. This type of abuse, fueled by frustration and anger associated with this rivalry, has no obvious comparison in any other developed nation. Despite the clear sectarian nature of the rivalry, some have attempted to explain the violence as a result of Glasgow’s poverty. Certain authors and studies have

suggested that sectarianism does not factor into the explanation for the intensity of violence and amount of crime committed on the streeth; instead, they argue, it is due to frustration bred by poverty. A Guardian article written by Ian Jack in March 2011, when tensions were running high, reported that, in Glasgow, 25 per cent of men will not see their 65th birthday. In the areas closer to the Celtic stadium, the average life expectancy is age 55. These are working-class neighbourhoods, where alcoholism and poor health haunt homes with financial insecurity and lead to many failed marriages. However, it seems the idea that poverty, rather than sectarianism, is responsible for the violence could not be further from the truth. While the urban conditions in Glasgow certainly contribute to the desperation of those who commit violence, the dismissal of sectarianism simply does not make sense in this context. If anything, sectarianism thrives in such desperation. Football clubs provide a concrete group identity and a chance to experience victory through a team, which is valuable to someone who may experience loss in other aspects of their life. Regardless, it should be emphasized that the nature of the violence

dealt with extends well beyond the type of misery associated with one’s everyday lot. Instead, it manifests itself in targeted violence – like the letter bombs sent to Lennon – and often in unprovoked attacks. The worst cases of violence are not easily explained as simple outpouring of social misery, but as deliberate sectarian hate. After all, why would the extent of violence in the street and homes be higher after Old Firm games than when teams from other parts of Scotland visit if the violence was not a result of this extreme sectarianism? All in all, Glasgow’s sectarian scene is an ugly mix of history, poverty, and bigotry. The situation is made all the more grave by the fact that there is no obvious way to bring an end to the violence. The Irish Troubles have been considered resolved since the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, yet people still fear being stabbed in Scotland because of their associations with the same religious and national identities. While in North America, we may have to worry about a riot here and there following an important sports game, in Scotland, people who decide to throw their allegiance behind either the Rangers FC or the Celtic FC may have to fear for their lives.


Science+Technology

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The McGill Daily | Monday, October 17, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com

Downloading on the down low Wilber Lin

Science+Technology Writer

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orrenting is the most commonly used method of online file sharing. At any given moment, there are more active torrent users than Facebook viewers. Many of us do it at least occasionally. Whether it’s to download TV shows, music, movies, games, or even textbooks, it is difficult to resist the temptation of downloading digital media for free. But how many of us truly understand how torrenting works? I consider myself to be knoweldgeable about computers. But before conducting research for this article, I, too, did not know how torrenting worked, only how to use it. How many of us are aware of the potential consequences concerning the use of torrents or the more general use of peer-to-peer software in Canada? Why is it that so many of us have no qualms about downloading a CD for free, and yet feel that stealing that same CD from a store is immoral? In layman’s terms, torrenting can be described as your computer asking other computers to upload chunks of data to it. Computers that are sharing data with your computer are called seeds, or peers if they are also downloading, while your computer is known as a leecher. Seeds and peers must first have the torrent file that is associated with the data and also be a torrenting client. The torrent itself contains no part of the file that you want to download. Your

computer only receives the file when you open the torrent, which means that you are asking other seeds or peers to send chunks of the file to your computer. Popular files with lots of seeds can be downloaded at very high speeds, while more obscure files could take much longer. A tracker keeps track of how much each computer uploads and controls the speed at which it is able to download based on that. Computers that upload at a higher rate also download at a higher rate and vice versa. This way, torrenting becomes a data trading system in which users are encouraged to share what they have so that it is easier for them to receive what they don’t. All of this makes torrenting quite unpopular with companies that produce digital media. According to Pierre-Emmanuel Moyse, a professor in McGill’s Faculty of Law, almost all aspects of torrenting and file sharing in general are currently illegal in Canada. “None of the activities (in torrenting) are authorized, with few (possible) exceptions,” says Moyse. “However, the law makes it generally impossible to prosecute those responsible for file sharing.” Indeed, while copyright law does prohibit file sharing, privacy laws protect the identities of file sharers. This may soon change, to the chagrin of college students everywhere. “There is bill, waiting to be passed, which would reform the law to allow media companies to pursue legal action against those who run torrent networks as well as those who participate,” added

Moyse. Although the extent to which this will reduce the use of torrents is unclear, Canadians may not be able to share files online with complete impunity for much longer. This brings us back to the question: is it ethical for us to share files with one another? How different is file sharing from stealing? A very informal survey of my friends revealed some common lines of thought. Some people have said that it would be unfair to have to buy a product without first knowing if it will be worth it, while many people justify file sharing by saying that people in the entertainment industry already make more than enough money. Furthermore, the additional exposure brought on by torrenting could translate into even more profits later. Although these arguments neglect those artists who are less well-established, popularity and the extent of torrenting activity are directly proportional: the works of those who are already popular will be easier to download, while you would be hard pressed to find torrents for obscure indie bands. While all of these justifications are logical, the fact remains that file sharing is stealing. Most of us will never see the detrimental effects that this has on the creators of what

Alex Chalk l The McGill Daily

A look at the logistics and legality of torrenting

we download. There are many artists that will not benefit from an increase in popularity, whether it’s because they are behind the scenes or because there will not be additional opportunities to make money. Despite these facts, I do not think torrenting will stop, or even decrease. Ultimately, the ability to obtain desired goods for free,

with little to no risk, is too alluring. Nobody is torrenting to help make artists more popular – a few might be doing it to stick it tto big corporations, but most people are probably doing it because it saves money. I think that this is indicative of the innate selfishness in our nature, but I’ll let the philosophy students debate that one.

Computer game contributes to science Just this one though. Sorry. Madeleine Cummings McGill Daily

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esearchers in McGill’s Computer Science department have turned thousands of hours of procrastination into scientific data that could eventually advance our knowledge of genetic disorders. As a result of conversations with an office mate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Professor Jérôme Waldispühl had the idea, while doing post doctoral research, of harnessing the power of humans to solve scientific problems in the form of a game. Could a game be created that would allow everyone – even people who don’t know any biology – to contribute their efforts to solving complex biology problems? Waldispühl returned to the idea after coming to McGill in 2009. He teamed up with Mathieu Blanchette, a comparative genomics specialist and, together, they hired two students –

Alex Kawrykow and Gary Roumani – to design such a game over the summer. The culmination of their efforts resulted in Phylo, the game that allows users to contribute to science by aligning genetic sequences. Launched last November, Phylo will soon be available as an app on cellphones and tablets. Scientists arrange sequences of DNA, RNA, or protein in order to find similarities and learn more about how genomes have evolved over time. By locating where mutations may have occurred and where parts of genetic code have been conserved, scientists can learn more about the spread of genetic diseases in humans and other species. “To infer which regions of the genome are important, we need to compare them,” explains Waldispühl. Finding similarities in a region helps scientists identify the functional part of a genome. This is the goal of comparative genomics. While computers can align the sequences, they don’t always succeed in finding the optimal alignment.

The process is also time-consuming and very expensive. Humans, however, are better able to solve these visual puzzles, and they do so more efficiently. However looking at raw genetic data can be confusing, even for trained researchers, and would probably be akin to reading ancient Sanskrit scroll for most of us. That’s where Phylo comes in. The idea behind Phylo is that players align coloured puzzle pieces vertically on a screen, essentially rearrange regions of genomes. This fun game takes some of the burden away from geneticists. Players are essentially doing the grunt work for these researchers, giving them the data they need to make scientific discoveries. One of Phylo’s best features is that anybody can play it; there is no scientific knowledge required. This is what sets Phylo apart from games like Foldit, a protein-folding game from the University of Washington that made the news recently after some of its players solved a puzzle

that had plagued scientists for years. However, Foldit requires knowledge of some scientific principles, while Phylo does not. Phylo has more than 16,000 registered users who have worked to solve over 300,000 puzzles. On hightraffic days, the site gets over 15,000 submissions, but on low days, only 300 to 400. Increasing Phylo’s popularity is the next step. Waldispühl and his colleagues hope to use Facebook to find more players and get them playing for longer periods of time. “The success of the project is only valid if we build a large and strong community where everybody participates,” Waldispühl said. Phylo already has a Facebook group, where players can talk about the puzzles, interact with the developers, and even suggest potential game improvements. Once the game establishes a larger connection with Facebook, users will be able to compete and share puzzles with their friends. “The idea behind

that is to integrate and use the social network as a base to grow... step by step we’ll be able to grow the network of people and have a community that communicates around this and continues to work on these puzzles,” Waldispühl said. There are many groundbreaking principles built into the fundamental concept of Phylo: the transformation of a hard and complex science into a fun game for all, human computing, and most importantly the open and encouraged involvement of the general public in scientific research. Phylo and multiplealignment sequencing could very well be one of the first of many biology games that lead to important discoveries down the road. As for the gamers themselves, they’re a diverse bunch. Some play once; others spend hours solving puzzles that are more and more difficult. Phylo’s top user has completed over 6000 levels. “It’s pretty impressive,” Waldispühl laughs.


Science+Technology

The McGill Daily | Monday, October 17, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com

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Pi is wrong Ethan Yang

Science+Technology Writer

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i is wrong. And the answer is not cake. It’s tau. We don’t mean to say that a circle’s circumference divided by its diameter is not 3.14159, and so on and so forth, just that the concept of pi as the circle constant is wrong. The circle constant may seem like an arbitrary number and, to many, the importance of pi may never become immediately apparent. But it is, in fact, one of the most important numbers in the world. Airplanes, radios, navigation, statistical calculation, and much more all depend on the circle constant. Currently, the circle constant is defined by the diameter of a circle. Pi denotes the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. However, a circle is defined as a set of points equidistant from a central point. This distance is the circle’s radius, not its diameter. It is this confusing convention that causes one-quarter turn of a circle to be one-half pi. Many students resort to rote memorization of the unit circle in lieu of understanding the concepts and

relationships it represents. All of this could be averted if the radius of a circle, instead of the diameter, defined the circle constant. This is the concept that Professor Bob Palais from the University of Utah wrote about in his article “Pi is wrong!” nearly a decade ago. In doing so, Palais drew attention to the need to replace the constant that turns “the opportunity to impress students with a beautiful and natural simplification…into an absurd exercise in memorization and dogma.” Since then Palais’ idea has gained a moderate number of supporters. Physicist and educator Michael Hartl has published “The Tau Manifesto,” a declaration that officially called forth the Tau Revolution. Vi Hart, a YouTube Mathemusician, created a video titled “Pi Is (still) Wrong” and Kevin Houston, a professor from the University of Leeds in U.K., also created a YouTube video “Pi is wrong! Here comes Tau Day.” These are just a few examples of the kind of attention that the idea is receiving. However, pi is a powerful foe. Ever since the Egyptians and Babylonians first estimated its value the deadly grip of this devilish constant has only strength-

ened. Pi is honoured every year on March 14. There are contests devoted to the recitation of pi’s digits. Entire books are devoted to praising pi. And of course pi brings to mind a particularly delicious pastry. It’s hard to see how tau could compete with this but that isn’t stopping people from trying to do so. Tau’s proponents are proposing the circle constant become 6.2831… or twice as large as pi. This number would be denoted by the symbol tau and there are many profound mathematical benefits that accompany this change, all of which are catalogued in a detailed list by Peter Harremoës, information theory researcher and former post-doc at University of Copenhagen. Although it clear that tau would make many operations and formulae much simpler there remains a reluctance to change. One McGill professor did agree that while pi can be a pain, it’s one that “we have to live with.” The notion of keeping something that is an admitted inconvenience often stems from the appeal to antiquity. It is a common logical fallacy to think that older ideas are better, simply by virtue of being old. The appeal of antiq-

uity does not restrict itself to discourse on mathematical constants but also extends itself to the hesitation that most new ideas meet. It is understandable that mathematicians, scientists, engineers, and other professionals would not want to switch from pi to tau when they have been using pi their entire lives and have grown accustomed to its fickle ways. However, the most important consequence of retiring pi in favour of tau would be the pedagogical benefits. For students who are just learning these concepts the confusion pi causes can be a major deterrent. Making the more natural definition of the circle constant with regards to the radius would make not just math, but other related subjects, slightly more accessible to people. Ultimately, most people show complete apathy, as this would change very little, if anything, of their day-to-day lives. Even with tau, calculus would probably be just as hard, statistics just as convoluted, and math and related subjects, just as confusing. Judging from the current state of affairs it is unlikely that tau will be able to usurp pi in the near future. Perhaps if tau had a name as delicious as pi, it would be a different story.

Sci-DE BAR

The Tau Manifesto proposes a new circle constants Broadcast: How might global warming affect the variable hydroclimate of Western Canada? All week On canalsavoir.tv Canada’s western interior has one of the world’s most variable climates, where both severe drought and torrential rainstorms have been experienced in recent years. Extreme climate events in this region have been some of the most costly natural disasters in Canada history. Current western water management practices were established during a period of intense and periodic drought. As a result, adjustments may be required to sustain land and water in light of recent global warming effects.

The Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Research Centre Public Forums Tuesday October 18, 6:30 p.m. McIntyre Medical Building, 6th floor This forum facillitated by Michel Tremblay will look at in therapies in oncology, tumor banking, and navigating the complex health care system. Speakers include: Wilson Miller, Anne-Marie Mes-Masson, and Antoinette Erhler.

Broadcast: Making headway in food-related research October 19 and 20 at 11:30 a.m. On canalsavoir.tv Nutritionist Katherine GrayDonald and Laurette Dube from the Desautel School of Management examine the causes of the current obesity pandemic.

New kid on the block: Wnt signaling regulation of activity-dependent synaptic plasticity Thursday October 20, 11 a.m. Neurological Institute, H3A 2B4 Wnt proteins are a large family of signalling molecules that regulate a large number of diverse cellular processes. The include cell fate, cell motility, epithelial and mesenchymal transition, and gene expression. This lecture will look at their role in neural plasticity.

Broadcast: Can children suffer from depression?

Edna Chan | The McGill Daily

All week On canalsavoir.tv Continuing on this year’s theme of mental illness in children, adolescents, and young adults, this series will be given by experts from the Douglas Institute.


Culture

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The McGill Daily | Monday, October 17, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com

The former glory of grain Investigating a relic of Montreal’s industrial past Kaj Huddart with Cory Lesk Culture Writers

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n the western edge of the Old Port, just south of the intersection of McGill and de la Commune, lies a colossal relic of Montreal’s industrial past. Slumbering on the Pointe-duMoulin jetty, Silo no. 5 is an abandoned titan of the Canadian grain industry, a monument to the city’s former glories, and an open question to developers, urban planners, and the municipal government. Silo no. 5 is composed of three separate grain elevators, constructed between 1903 and 1957. The most impressive of these, Silo B1, dominates the local landscape with its sheer size and decaying splendor. It is an imposing array of 44 cylindrical grain silos, each one 40 metres tall, with a total length of 182 metres. The scale of an abandoned site so close to downtown is surprising: in length, the three facilities of Silo no. 5 are equivalent to the distance between Peel and Bleury. The silo was built when Montreal was the main port of exit for wheat grown on the prairies and hauled eastward by freight rail. The site’s heyday was in the period after World War II, when Canada was referred to as the “breadbasket of the world”. At that time, Canada was tasked with feeding much of Europe, whose agricultural economy was left in shambles following the second world war. In 1956 and 1957, the final expansion to Silo no. 5 was undertaken with the construction of the enormous Silo B1 complex, built to handle the inflated demand for Canadian wheat. Montreal’s layout and architec-

ture are telling documents of the global economy’s history, and Silo no. 5 is no exception. During the latter part of the 20th century, the rebuilding of European agriculture and the explosive growth in Asia’s demand for Canadian grain reduced the importance of Silo no. 5. In addition, the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway made it possible for large ships to use the ports of the Great Lakes and bypass Montreal entirely. This economic change precipitated shifts in Montreal’s landscape, such as the replacement of the working Old Port with the current park and heritage zone. It also reduced to withered husks some onceessential industrial buildings. If the Lachine Canal is Montreal’s “Cradle of Industry”, as Parks Canada suggests, then the Pointe-du-Moulin might accurately be called its tomb. The Canada Lands Company (CLC) is an “arms-length, selffinancing crown corporation” that repurposes disused land to the benefit of the Canadian taxpayer. It has been in control of the Pointedu-Moulin since November of last year. Our guided tour with the director of real estate for the CLC in Quebec, Aldo Sylvestre, took us inside two of the three buildings on-site. The interiors of both structures – a steel silo from the 1900s and the concrete Silo B1 – are eerily silent apart from the occasional flutter of the pigeons that have thoroughly colonized them. Within the oldest building, the decaying sorting machines, conveyor belts, and transport ducts mingle in a latticework above a set of hopper car unloading bays. The sophistication of the apparatus continues to impress the few engineers who behold it. The oversized windows

of the upper levels were intended to shatter in the event of a grain-dust explosion, dissipating the energy of the blast and sparing the structure and equipment. Since Montreal’s economic expansion in the 2000’s, following the economic disaster of the 1995 referendum, abandoned buildings all over the city have been demolished and the sites redeveloped, mostly into condos or lofts. Property developer Devimco’s massive and controversial “District Griffin” condominium project in Griffintown is one example among many. These projects tend to be concentrated in the city’s former industrial areas – along the Lachine canal, in Griffintown, and in the south-

Photos west borough. Thus, the eventual destruction and “condo-ization” of Silo no. 5 would seem inevitable. However, there are several reasons why the buildings may be here to stay. First, Silo no. 5 is protected by a Federal heritage program that lists it as a “recognized building,” a secondlevel heritage designation that protects the building from destruction while excusing the federal government of any fiscal responsibility concerning its future. Silo no. 5 is also protected by inclusion in provincial and municipal heritage designations concerning the Old Port of Montreal. Another source of hope for preservation is the bisection of the site by a busy and essential freight rail line, which complicates plans for redevelopment. Finally, when viewing the site, the melancholic beauty of the post-industrial and the nostalgia for a more tangible economy, are palpable. For all of these reasons, it seems that Silo no. 5 is likely here to stay. The presence of such a large, abandoned structure on valuable land, as well as the difficulties of demolishing it, necessitate a creative plan for the future of these buildings. It is unlikely, in this economic climate, that heavy industry will ever reoccupy the site. And no matter what is done with the land, any use will have to leave the rail link in the middle of the area untouched. Part of the CLC’s response to this challenge was to organize a visioning exercise involving fifty concerned Montrealers from a wide range of backgrounds. This team of urban planners, local residents, architects, and business and cultural leaders empha-

by Matthias Heilke | The McGill Daily sized the need for “multifunctional development” and suggested that tourists are increasingly interested in “authentic, memorable experiences.” Considering Montreal’s history of failure concerning huge, single-use development projects (witness the Olympic complex or the Radio-Canada tower), the team’s suggestion of multifunctionality seems appropriate. At the end of our tour, our guide treated us to the most impressive view of Montreal that any of us has ever seen. We’re all familiar with the view of Montreal from Mount Royal, which looks towards the river through the downtown skyline. Most of us have probably seen the opposite view, equally postcard-worthy, from Avenue Pierre-Dupuy, which passes by Habitat 67 and looks onto the Old Port and Downtown. The view from Silo no. 5 easily eclipses both of these, as it provides a 360-degree panorama of downtown and the mountain, Griffintown and the Old Port, Île Ste-Hélène and the South Shore. On a clear day, Sylvestre noted, visitors to the roof of the Silo can even see the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. Sylvestre mentioned that Phase One of the redevelopment of Pointe-du-Moulin is tentatively scheduled for completion by 2017 (the 150th anniversary of Canada, and the 375th anniversary of Montreal’s founding). He suggested the possibility of an observatory on the top of Silo B1. With an unparalleled view of the city, such a project seems at once viable, relatively inexpensive, and respectful of our city’s heritage.


Culture

The McGill Daily | Monday, October 17, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com

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Hot button issue Poking around the history of protest pins The McGill Daily

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n August 9, 1963, at the height of the civil rights movement, a piece appeared in TIME Magazine that discussed the development of “an obtrusive lapel button” that could be worn to show support. Citing orders by the thousands by national councils and committees for these buttons, as well as by President Kennedy and his cabinet. The article discussed the power of a single emblem in conveying collective support. The power of buttons in delivering political and social statements has been proven time and time again: they have encompassed an incredible range of issues, from anti-war marches in Vietnam, to pro-choice movements, to regarding political affiliation. Pins allow individuals to concisely express beliefs and demonstrate support, especially regarding controversial issues. And, in return, the visuals they provide shape our perception of those issues and events, both in the moment, and long after our memories have begun to warp and fade. After all, possibly the most famous symbol in the western world, the peace symbol, was first featured on buttons during the antinuclear movement of the 1950s. Protest buttons and political pins add a distinct visual flavour

to an issue and the public’s perception of that issue. Take, for example, the MUNACA button. The bright green against a canvas backpack or wool sweater has become a familiar sight on campus for students. The strike – and the button – have become entwined, largely due to the proliferation of these buttons through campus. Student activism and political buttons are surely nothing new, but the widespread display of these buttons in solidarity with MUNACA, with respect to a highly sensitive issue for our University’s administration, has elicited some interesting reactions from university representatives. Shyam Patel, SSMU VP Finance and Operations, told the McGill Daily of his personal experience at the Management Career Fair that resulted from wearing the green button. Stopped by a member of CAPS, he was told that wearing this pin would “not look good to other companies” and was “inappropriate”. “It was a situation where either I took it off and went in, or kept it on and went through the other door,” said Patel. So it is clear that the button is attracting attention, though perhaps not in the desired form. So, what exactly are the MUNACA buttons doing? When they first appeared, they provided yet another route, in addition to the picket lines and rallies, for

MUNACA to attract attention and support. At the time of their conception, the pins supplemented the strike’s more visible activities. This is no longer the case. Now with the injunction in place, MUNACA can no longer hold rallies for support or even encourage students to wear the pins. Yet, as Patel told the Daily, “I think the empowerment of the buttons is really significant because it shows the students are in support of the strike and the MUNACA workers.” With the picket lines forced into silence by the injunction, the buttons are the last vestige seen on campus indicating that a strike is in effect, and that students have not forgotten. Although strikers continue to march in small groups in areas close to campus, these buttons may now be more important than ever before. “I feel that there has been a lot of support on campus for MUNACA workers. It’s not a specific group of students who support MUNACA; a lot of students understand. They realize how important these workers are,” added Patel. These green buttons may be just the way to keep that importance in sight and in mind. What will be interesting to see is whether their visual, as striking as it is, will last past the end of the labour talks, to make a lasting impact on McGill’s visual culture in the same way that so many iconic buttons have had a lasting impact in the past.

Alyssa Favreau | The McGill Daily

Anqi Zheng

Battle of the bikes Cinema Politica screening explores the word of bicycle activism Madeleine Cummings The McGill Daily

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small group gathered in Leacock 26 this past Tuesday for Cinema Politica McGill’s screening of You Never Bike Alone, a 2007 documentary about cycling activism in Vancouver. The topic is especially relevant in light of Montreal being named North America’s “premiere bicycle city” this fall by Danish consulting firm, Copenhagenize. The film, which was written, directed, edited, and produced by journalist Robert Alstead, documents the evolution of “Critical Mass” bike-riding events in the city. Critical Mass refers to the phenomenon of two-wheeled riders filling the street and riding together for a cause. It’s a well-put-together documentary that follows the movement from its birth in early ‘90s San Francisco to its success on the

busiest Vancouver bridges. Critical Masses typically take place once a month at rush hour in the centre of a big city. Riders assemble, and, much to the chagrin of many drivers, take over the road en masse. While many ride to raise awareness for cycling as a sustainable mode of transportation, others join the mass in order to experience the rush of flying down a major traffic artery or to connect with other members in their like-minded cycling community. Needless to say, the Critical Mass rides mean many things to different people. “Critical mass is just a rolling street party, really,” one participant says. And in a way it’s true. The footage shows cycling enthusiasts of all ages laughing, cheering, and singing as they pedal their way through the streets. “Hey hey! Ho ho! Narrow sidewalks have to go!” Forget the sidewalks. Cyclists fill all of the available lanes on the road, giving drivers no choice but to crawl behind the group at a snail’s

pace until there’s an opportunity to detour or turn around. Not surprisingly, drivers get angry. Some try to hit cyclists with their cars or others yell out of their windows or honk horns. This tension has convinced many cyclists to skip the event. They denounce the movement as being too aggressive in its uncompromising traffic-halting efforts. Those who are brave enough to ride at the back of the pack are often met with a relentless stream of honking cars. In cities like New York, the conflict between cyclists and drivers during Critical Mass rides have escalated out of control, leading to violence that has discouraged people from participating. Vancouver, however, is a different story. The police tolerate the chaos, or even ignore it, figuring that stopping to arrest people would do nothing but prolong the traffic disruption. Much of the documentary focuses specifically on how Vancouver cyclists have used the rides to build

a culture of pacifistic resistance. While they borrowed images and slogans from other cities, Vancouver riders have made Critical Mass their own by ensuring that the positive spirit overpowers the angry and militant element of the ride. Simply, Vancouver’s rides work because they are peaceful. Some of the film’s most enlightening moments come from a group of “freak” bike riders and designers. The designers, who create those terrific contraptions (think tiny or tall frames with huge handlebars) that look like they belong in a circus, show people that by changing bikes, you convince them that they can similarly change the world. The effectiveness of the Critical Mass movement has since inspired other big rides in Vancouver, such as the World Naked Bike Ride (“Less gas, more ass!”). What is it about cycling that lends itself so easily to activism? In a way, the documentary

answers this in the final moments of the film as interviewees are asked to describe biking in one word. In a powerful final montage, many of the cyclists say, with confidence: “freedom.” Cinema Politica hosted a short discussion after the screening. Audience members compared Montreal’s cycling culture to that of Vancouver and even more cyclingsavvy European cities. They also questioned the overall message behind Critical Mass --even comparing its spontaneity and disorganized structure to more recent Occupy Wall Street events. “I thought it was a well-made documentary,” said Cinema Politica McGill’s VP Events, Liza Ponomacenko, a U2 International Development Studies and English Literature student. Audience member Natalie Boyle, U1 International Development Studies and Communications student agreed. “I’m starting to think, why don’t I bike more? Why don’t we all?”


18 Culture

The McGill Daily | Monday, October 17, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com

Thanks, but no thanks A look into the cultural differences between Canadian and American Thanksgiving Sara Levasseur Culture Writer

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he thought of Thanksgiving conjures up several images for Canadian and Americans alike: warm pumpkin pie served under a melting portion of spiced whipped cream, meandering fall hikes, delicious turkey smothered in cranberries and gravy, the first, second, and third bite into a crisp apple, one last glorious weekend squeezed out of cottage season, crunchy leaves under your feet, wool socks and plaid flannels, warm apple cider served with cinnamon, and reunions with old friends, family members, and long lost pets. The holiday’s history in these two countries however, is rather divergent. As the all-American story goes, passengers aboard the ship the Mayflower landed in the New World in the year 1620. From the onset of the first brutal winter, many of the colonists suffered from the harsh weather, scurvy, and other diseases. Half of the Mayflower’s passengers did not live to see their first New England spring. In March of that year, Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe, aided the struggling settlers in cultivating corn, extracting sap, catching fish, and avoiding poisonous plants. A celebratory feast was organized after the first successful corn harvest – what is now known as America’s first “Thanksgiving.” The holiday fare, however, was far from what we serve today. Traditional Native American methods were used to prepare the feast, and the absence of ovens and sugar meant no pies, cakes, or other desserts – a paramount aspect of the modern day holiday. Over the next couple of centuries, various days of thanksgiving were held at different times throughout the year across different states, but the tradition remained largely unrecognized in the South. That was, until, in 1863, at the height of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln scheduled Thanksgiving as the final thursday in November. It remained there until 1939, when Roosevelt moved the holiday ahead one week in an attempt to encourage retail sales during the Great Depression. “Franksgiving,” as it was known, was met with significant opposition and the holiday was moved back to the fourth thursday in November in 1941. Of course, this glossed-over American tale of the wholesome origins of Thanksgiving is an inaccurate depiction of the exploitative relations between the colonists and the Native Americans. There are countless examples of brutal and bloody conflicts between the two parties over land, the organized assimilation of Native peo-

Amina Batyreva | The McGill Daily ples into American culture, the blatant squandering of Native American resources by colonists, the pillaging of Native American villages in the name of “Manifest Destiny,” and the intentional spread of disease as a tool of warfare against Native Americans. These are just a few instances of the many disturbing historical interactions between Aboriginal populations and European settlers. This truth hardly aligns with the tale of America’s hearty good nature that is painted for bright-eyed American schoolboys and girls in thanksgiving pageants all across the country. Controversy aside, Thanksgiving has modernized and is continually celebrated each year. The holiday has now become synonymous with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. Also, unlike christmas, thanksgiving has become a holiday that spans religions as well as cultures. As such, it highlights the importance of community and benevolence, which result in the popularity of various volunteering campaigns and food

drives in the modern application of the tradition. Although the holiday is celebrated in both Canada and America with similar harvest fare, there are some stark differences of tradition between the two countries. In America, parades are an extremely popular tradition, as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade attracts two or three million people every year. The day after Thanksgiving, known as black friday, marks the joyous occasion of unbridled consumerism as the Christmas shopping season is kicked off prematurely. The consumerism unleashed on black friday is so rampant, that there have been causalities as a result of trampling by stampedes of crazed consumers – all in the name of giving thanks, of course. Such a tradition has shrouded the goodness of American Thanksgiving in a dark cloud of mass consumption. On a lighter note, a tradition also unique to American Thanksgiving is the pardoning of turkeys. In charge of such a pressing duty is the president

himself, who chooses one or two turkeys each year to be pardoned from slaughter and sent to a farm for “retirement.” Finally, perhaps most synonymous with the concept of American Thanksgiving, as well as our perception of the American identity in general (besides apple pie), are good ol’ football games at college and professional levels, scheduled on the day of Thanksgiving. The Canadian version of Thanksgiving falls on the second Monday of October and is, like many Canadian things, less conspicuous. Considered adoringly by many as “Christmas minus consumerism and dysfunctional extended family,” Canadian Thanksgiving is often seen as a time to simply relax and eat good food. There is no Black Friday, no presidential pardoning of turkeys, no overblown parades, and no good ol’ American football. Canadian Thanksgiving is more of a subtle feeling, like long drives home on tree-lined roads listening to Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon.” It’s the

feeling of home that, as we progress in our studies at McGill and lives in Montreal, becomes harder and harder to place. With each passing year and each passing Thanksgiving, the feeling of home begins to slip through our fingertips. People change and disappoint us, high school sweethearts break up, we lose touch with old friends, buildings are torn down, dogs grow old and pass on, and our parents move away. Thanksgiving then, is a chance to reconnect with your roots. To salvage and indulge in any remaining sense of home you can conjure up within a three-day long weekend. It’s a sad and hollow testament to what you have left behind and will never gain back, but a hopeful and warm reminder of what you could create for yourself in the future. So, as you scarf down your leftover turkey sandwiches and finish off that last piece of pumpkin pie, remember where you came from, what it made you, but mostly, as the wonderful Dr. Seuss said, just think of all the places that you’ll go.


The McGill Daily | Monday, October 17, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com EDITORIAL volume 101 number 12

editorial 3480 McTavish St., Rm. B-24 Montreal, QC H3A 1X9 phone 514.398.6784 fax 514.398.8318 mcgilldaily.com coordinating editor

Joan Moses

coordinating@mcgilldaily.com coordinating news editor

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Queen Arsem-O’Malley Erin Hudson Jessica Lukawiecki features editor

Eric Andrew-Gee commentary&compendium! editors

Zachary Lewsen Olivia Messer culture editors

Christina Colizza Fabien Maltais-Bayda

science+technology editor

Jenny Lu

health&education editor

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Victor Tangermann illustrations editor

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Matthias Heikle Contributors Marlice Armstrong, Madeleine Cummings, Mays Chami, Clara del Junco, Carol Fraser, Alexis Giannelia, Sam Gregory, Matthias Heikle, Maggie Knight, Martin Law, Wilber Lin, Kallee Lins, Davide Mastracci, Emma Mungall, Joel Pednault, Todd Plummer, Aaron Vansintjan, Ethan Yang.

Protect Public Space The City of Montreal has launched a new plan called Montreal 2025 to improve various areas throughout the city with “whimsical” and “avant-garde projects.” The plan’s message, according to Mayor Gerald Tremblay, is that “city dwellers today want to live in ‘real’ places, ones that encourage the open-mindedness, social cohesion, and inspiration they need for their own and their families’ well-being.” As part of Montreal 2025, the Ville-Marie Borough, which is bounded by Sherbrooke, Atwater, and Bishop streets and the Ville-Marie expressway, has proposed a special planning program for the “urban development” and “revitalization” of the Shaughnessy Village, known as the Quartier des Grands Jardins. The program focuses on three aims: to improve the residential environment and services for residents, to showcase the area’s architectural heritage, and to boost the economy. A key part of the $5.5 million program – slated to begin this year – involves the building of condos in Cabot Square, near the Atwater Metro. Cabot Square is a public space largely frequented by homeless people and often used as the starting point for public initiatives; for instance, the annual Montreal Sisters in Spirit Memorial March and Vigil in commemoration of missing and murdered aboriginal women. The recent “revitalization” efforts are part of a trend of the construction of condominiums. Last September, the old, unused Seville theatre across from Cabot Square was torn down to make way for a $100 million condo with 350 units. If this construction is an indication of what is to come, most of the housing in this area will soon be unaffordable to the majority of people living in the area. This is worrying because, when expensive condos are constructed, low-income residents tend to be pushed out due to rising rents and costs of living. Preliminary consultations were done by a jury within the Canadian Centre for Architecture in 2008. This past August, the Office of Public Consultation Montreal released a report in which the “large majority of citizens and organizations who commented” deemed the Cabot project as “timely” with full support of the plans. The city is inviting residents of the area to give their opinion on the proposed plans. This strategy narrows the scope of opinion influencing the project. Regardless of where you live, you should mobilize against this project given the implications it has for your fellow Montrealers. Furthermore, the consultations effectively excluded many of the residents who currently use this space. Often those most marginalized in our society lack a political voice or access to processes such as the City’s consultation on Cabot Square. The language of revitalization and redevelopment is problematic, as “revitalization” implies that the space that exists now is inadequate, rather than a thriving community. With elevated housing prices and the systematic exclusion of the homeless population, Montreal 2025 is not a “revitalized” or “redeveloped” makeover effort – instead, it is the gentrification of a quarter that has been known as a lower-income area since the mid-1990s. The City’s construction project takes steps that push current residents and those who frequent the area out. It is emblematic of the continuing systemic problems that plague these kinds of projects. Positive change should not come at the expense of any members of our community. The time is now to make noise about Montreal 2025, as the Cabot Square project is currently, according to the project’s website, in “incubation.” Students can also contact a newly formed joint QPIRG Concordia – QPIRG McGill working group called Right to the City at antigentrification@gmail.com. We should occupy the streets on behalf of those made unwelcome in their own quarter.

The Daily is published on most Mondays and Thursdays by the Daily Publications Society, an autonomous, not-for-profit organization whose membership includes all McGill undergraduates and most graduate students.

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Errata In “Collaborate beyond the classroom” (Editorial, page 19, October 13), it was stated that the wikinotes.ca email was admin@wikinotes.com. In fact, their email address is admin@ wikinotes.ca. The Daily regrets the error.

19


Compendium!

The McGill Daily | Monday, October 17, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com

Lies, half-truths, and CUPCAKEZ!!!1!!

20

Mark H. | The McGill Daily

Let them eat cupcakes Photo by Bikuta Tangaman

Diarrhea is no fun

Fuck this shit, literally. Whether it occurs during a first date, a job interview, or a band practice that goes a little late, that urge to rush to the washroom is never a fun one. That bad case of mud butt is always a pain. It can sometimes be a result of that roast beef sandwich you ate an hour ago or that molten lava cake that is turning your bowels into molten lava. Diarrhea’s absolutely no fun and it puts you in a grumpy mood whatever day of the week, time of the day, et cetera. Next time you have to catch a plane, perform a concert, present at a conference, eat white rice about an hour before the event. Usually that helps. I hope you guys never have to deal with instantaneous diarrhea. Yet, if it ever persists for a long period of time, don’t take anything I said here as professional medical advice.

I really should be studying right now

In lieu of proper pensions and benefits, Principal Heather Munroe Blum offered MUNACA workers and supporters cupcakes. The principal is also considering brownies, tea sandwiches, and hugs as future replacements. — Simone de Boudoir and Zee Lou Green

Comic, and jokes, and rants, oh my! Send your stuff to compendium@mcgilldaily.com

The Crossword Fairies The McGill Daily

Across

Crazy Eye

1. Creep 5. Chem degree follow-up 8. Barter 13. Met solo 14. Diesel, for one 15. Sharpened 16. Thpeech problem 17. Carpet layer’s calculation 18. Rajah’s wife 19. British high school 22. Country dance 23. __-Wan Kenobi 24. Toil 27. Low-Enriched Uranium 29. Mr. Lodge catchphrase 33. French romance 34. Wispy clouds 36. Consume 37. Unwelcome individual 40. Blood letters 42. When hell freezes over 43. Madcap 45. “__ alive!” 46. Catholic accessory 47. Special __ 49. Bone-dry

50. Liberal party politics 58. Gallic goodbye 59. Legal prefix 60. Barn topper 61. Camelot, to Arthur 62. Kuwaiti, e.g. 63. “Empedocles on __” (Matthew Arnold poem) 64. Fresh-mouthed 65. Conducted 66. Lentil Curry

Down

1. Buddies 2. Great Lake 3. RNA-Induced Silencing Complex 4. Gaseous 5. Big picture 6. Clairvoyant 7. Pottery precursor 8. Pulsate 9. Rock band gopher 10. “Green Gables” girl 11. Bambi’s mom 12. Fall locale 14. Bleach 20. Brain cell 21. Bewail 24. Capital of Bolivia 25. Amorphous creature 26. Fifth element

27. Come-ons 28. Desire 30. Tasty juice flavour 31. Daisylike bloom 32. Grandchild’s address 34. Thieves’ code 35. Slight, in a way 38. It may be white 39. Introverted 44. Off-peak calls? 46. Amy Winehouse won’t go 48. Feathery 49. Top-notch violin 50. The red planet 51. Copyright candidate 52. “Buenos __” 53. October birthstone 54. Charge

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