Volume 101, Issue 16
October 31, 2011 mcgilldaily.com
Crude for100 years
Published by The Daily Publications Society, a student society of McGill University.
The McGill Daily | Monday, October 31, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Table of Contents
The Corn Conundrum
Special Section: Environment
A Snapshot of Labrador’s Coast
The McGill Murderer
A Two-Wheeled Trade
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The McGill Daily | Monday, October 31, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
McGill union marches to Occupy Montreal MUNACA rallies as negotiations get “serious” Erin Hudson
The McGill Daily
ver 500 people gathered on McGill College last Thursday to rally with the McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association (MUNACA), who have been on strike since September 1. Following speeches from McGill students and members of other campus unions, demonstrators proceeded to march through the streets to Occupy Montreal, located in Montreal’s financial district. The Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill (AGSEM) held a breakfast on campus before the MUNACA-organized rally. Jonathan Mooney, a member of AGSEM’s bargaining team, spoke about the event, which offered free coffee and bagels to participants. “The goal here was just to get a lot of TAs to come out – people like bagels, people like coffee – so we thought that we’d get a good number of TAs to come out and show their support for our demands and listen to the speeches,” Mooney explained. Sunci Avlijas, a biology TA, member of AGSEM’s mobilization committee, and an organizer for
the event, delivered one of several speeches to around 35 people gathered in the Y-intersection. Avlijas told The Daily that the committee planned the event after AGSEM members voted on October 19 to initiate pressure tactics. AGSEM VP External Sheldon Brandt noted that “the tone may have shifted because of the pressure tactics.” At noon, a group of 35 marched through campus to join the rally, which cordoned off McGill College, across from campus. Speakers who addressed the crowd included students, professors from the McGill Faculty Labour Action Group, members of AGSEM, and members of the Association of McGill Undergraduate Support Employees (AMUSE). Allison Cooper, a U4 Anthropology student, attended the rally in costume and introduced herself to the crowd as “Cruella McGill.” “I’m here because of all the familiar faces in the crowd – my favourite librarians, anthropology advising department, SSMU porters – and we need to realize that the University isn’t working. We, the students, support you. We need you,” Cooper said. Seven police vans, as well as intermittent police motorcycles,
Demonstrators occupy streets on the way to Place du Peuple. trailed the march as it wound down major streets on its way to Occupy Montreal. Mooney explained that MUNACA’s parent union, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), had contacted the police ahead of time. Marc Laramée, a member of the juridique (police and law) committee at Occupy Montreal, said
Victor Tangermann | The McGill Daily
he had learned that morning that the MUNACA rally would march to Square Victoria. “It’s an awesome phenomenon. If every major demonstration could converge to our spot, that would be awesome,” he said. McGill and MUNACA continued negotiations last week, and three dates have been set for this week.
An email from Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance) Michael Di Grappa stated that the “parties are continuing serious negotiations during which the key issues will be discussed.” Di Grappa’s email also states that both parties have agreed not to publicly discuss the contents of negotiations.
Undergraduate students involved in pro-MUNACA demonstration cleared of charges Security Services report contains erroneous information Henry Gass
The McGill Daily
wo undergraduate students who had allegedly violated the Code of Student Conduct during a demonstration in support of MUNACA have been cleared of all charges. The students, Arts Representative to SSMU Micha Stettin and SSMU VP External Joël Pedneault, met with Associate Dean of Arts André Costopoulos last Friday to review evidence presented by McGill Security regarding a demonstration held at the Y-intersection on October 11. The students were accused of violating sections 5a and 6 of the code, which state that, “No student shall, by action, threat, or otherwise, knowingly obstruct University activities,” and, “No student shall, contrary to express instructions or with intent to damage, destroy or steal University property or with-
out just cause knowingly enter or remain in any University building, facility, room, or office.” “We went through the evidence,” explained Stettin. “There was a charge of major disruption of traffic. It was very clear that there was a discrepancy…on some of their accounts of what happened.” “They said that cars were refused access, when it was really a slowing down of traffic, and that didn’t constitute a disturbance in [Costopoulos’] eyes,” he continued. Pedneault claims that he was at a meeting of the SSMU Executive Committee at the time of the October 11 demonstration – which was held in support of striking MUNACA workers – and said that his exoneration was contingent upon an alibi from other SSMU executives. He added that he doesn’t think the matter is resolved. “I don’t think that this puts an end to this particular story. I think it’s unacceptable that McGill
Security decided to go arbitrarily after two students who just so happened to be very vocal in dissenting on campus,” he said. According to Pedneault, Costopoulos said during the meeting that he didn’t think the allegations were politically motivated. Pedneault disagreed. “We’re in a very interesting situation right now where McGill Security has taken some liberties and acted in a really incompetent manner,” said Pedneault. “Allegations of disrupting things on campus and being somewhere unlawfully are pretty serious, and that’s exactly what they brought against us, with no evidence to back them up. So I really hope that there will be some sort of investigation, at least internally at McGill, just so that this kind of thing doesn’t happen in the future,” he continued. According to Stettin, in last Friday’s interview, Costopoulos said that he would inquire as to
why Security erroneously put Pedneault’s name in their report. In an interview with The Daily, Costopoulos said he could not comment on the specifics of the case, but that Dean of Students Jane Everett is already leading a group to revise the Code, part of which involves modifying disciplinary procedures. “In general, it’s important to make sure that we have accurate information, especially when the information comes from, say, Security, in order to be fair to the students, and so that the discipline process will actually work smoothly and accomplish its goals,” said Costopoulos. “If there was a systematic source of confusion, for example, in the process of reporting information about discipline cases, that would be bad for everybody. So that would need to be addressed,” he continued. Stettin said that a petition regarding the issue is now circulating. The petition asks that the administration formally apologize
for the intimidation of students and suppression of dissent on campus, and is addressed to the McGill administration and McGill Security. According to Pedneault, the allegations came directly from McGill Security, specifically Operations Administrator for McGill Security Services Kevin Byers, who could not be reached for comment late Friday afternoon. Pedneault said that he was considering filing a complaint against McGill Security, as he felt “their actions constitute a form of harassment.” “[The report] never really details how myself and [Stettin] might have been involved in [the demonstration]. It just kind of says that we are involved in Mob Squad, which is true,” he said. “So it seems as if we were kind of guilty by association, and that’s even something that André Costopoulos said when presented with the evidence,” Pedneault added.
The McGill Daily | Monday, October 31, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Montreal looks to implement citywide composting Public consultations to begin next month Daniel Smith
The McGill Daily
s part of a four-year waste development plan, the City of Montreal has drafted new by-laws to facilitate the implementation of citywide composting. The plan, adopted in 2009, includes the establishment of four organic matter treatment centres and a domestic garbage pre-treatment centre. The plan will undergo public consultations run by the Office de consultation publique de Montréal (OCPM), beginning with information sessions on November 1. Submissions to the commission will be heard beginning on November 30. The plan aims to reduce Montreal’s landfill-bound organic waste by 60 per cent by 2020. The OCPM will hold its meetings in the neighbourhoods where the developments are planned: the boroughs of Villeray-Saint-Michel-ParcExtension and LaSalle, and the cities of Dorval and Montreal East. At the time of press, the four boroughs where sites are planned could not be reached for comment. Currently, the City’s composting efforts consist of pilot projects across boroughs including Verdun, the Plateau-Mont-Royal, and Westmount.
Valérie de Gagné, a spokesperson for the City, described the new plan as a major advancement. “We think all buildings of eight apartments or less deserve treatment of organic matter, so, yes, it’s a big jump.” In an email to The Daily, David Morris, executive coordinator of McGill’s Gorilla Composting service, said, “Montreal will be playing catchup to major Canadian cities such as Toronto, Ottawa, and Edmonton.” According to their websites, Toronto, Edmonton, and Ottawa have had citywide composting programs since 2000, 2007, and 2009, respectively. Toronto had aimed to reduce its landfill contribution to 70 per cent by 2010, while the City of Edmonton’s website states that 60 per cent of waste is already diverted from landfills. Equivalent numbers for Ottawa were not available. Tye Hunt, the co-founder of Compost Montréal – a compost collection operation that serves about 1,000 commercial and residential clients throughout the city, including McGill’s MORE houses and Midnight Kitchen – noted that not all compost avoids landfills. “If you end up with compost of B-grade or less it will still end up in landfills. I know Toronto’s is B-grade, and a lot of it ends up in a landfill anyway. It has to be A or AA to be food safe,” Hunt said.
AA-grade compost can be used by itself as fertilizer, while A-grade must be mixed with soil and B-grade heads to a landfill. Montreal’s plan involves a process of biomethanisation, which produces methane from the organic waste broken down during treatment. Morris noted both the dangers and potential benefits of producing methane. “The uncontrolled release of methane in landfills is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, because methane is 21 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. However, methane, essentially natural gas, can be harnessed and burned to generate electricity.” Regardless of the results of Montreal’s own composting efforts, Hunt said that the first and biggest step toward citywide composting was the establishment of treatment centres. “If they’re getting treatment sites down, that’s half the battle. My experience with treatment sites is that no one wants a treatment site in their neighborhood. They’re going to have to pick a site where no one objects,” he said. Speaking to the prospect of resistance from the communities where these developments are planned, de Gagné said, “We will present the project to the citizens. We are there to inform and to take questions.”
Fall Referendum Period The Fall 2010 referendum campaign period will run from October 31st - November 9th, and the polling period will run from November 4th-10th. The following two referendum questions will be on the ballot: Referendum Question Regarding QPIRG Fee Renewal and Opt-Out System: Do you support QPIRG continuing as a recognized student activity supported by a fee of $3.75 per semester for undergraduate students, which is not opt-outable on the Minerva online opt-out system but is instead fully refundable directly through QPIRG, with the understanding that a majority “no” vote will result in the termination of all undergraduate funding to CKUT? Referendum Question Regarding CKUT Fee Renewal and Opt-Out System: Do you support CKUT continuing as a recognized student activity supported by a fee of $4.00 per semester for full-time undergraduate students, which is not opt-outable on the Minerva online optout system but is fully refundable directly through CKUT, with the understanding that a majority “no” vote will result in the termination of all undergraduate funding to CKUT? To view the full text of each question go to ssmu.mcgill.ca/elections and click on the “Elections” tab.
Polling stations will operate from November 4th and November 10th and locations and dates will be announced via email and posted on ssmu.mcgill.ca/elections. If you have any questions please contact Elections McGill at firstname.lastname@example.org
The McGill Daily | Monday, October 31, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
How McGill invests its $849.2 million Jessica Lukawiecki investigates the structures of environmental accountability that monitor McGill’s endowment
cGill’s endowment had a market value of $849.2 million in 2010. This money – which includes the University’s bequests, donations, and assets – is placed in the hands of various investment managers approved by the McGill Board of Governors (BoG) Investment Committee. According to the Report on Endowment Performance for 2009-2010, the objective of investing the endowment is to “obtain a total return necessary to provide a dependable and optimal source of income for endowment beneficiaries, to cover the annual costs of the endowment, and to preserve the capital of the endowment within the social and ethical norms of the University.” However, there is currently no system in place to monitor whether the commodities and corporations in which this money is invested engage in practices that are damaging to the environment. Although there is an ad hoc BoG committee – The Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility (CAMSR) – to review investments with potential implications of “social injury,” it has not met in over two years, and does not review the environmental impact of McGill’s investments.
The Investment Committee The McGill Board of Governors, the highest governing body of the University, is composed of 25 voting members and two observers, and generally meets six times per year. There are several committees within the BoG, including the Investment Committee, which is responsible for overseeing the investment of McGill’s endowment. The 14 members who sit on the Investment Committee were appointed, according to the terms of reference, “on the basis of their expertise and interest in investment, business, and economics.” The committee, which includes BoG Chair Stuart Cobbett and
Principal Heather Munroe-Blum, regulates which investment managers and commodities are part of the endowment portfolio. According to SSMU President Maggie Knight, one of two student members on the BoG with voting privileges, “there is no student representative on [the Investment Committee], so obviously it can be a little opaque in terms of exactly what happens there, but of course, it operates according to its terms of reference.”
The Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility CAMSR, which was formed in the 2004-2005 academic year, allows any member of the McGill community to initiate expressions of concern by providing a fully documented brief identifying the “social injury” that should influence investment decisions, as well as a petition of at least 300 signatures from fellow community members. CAMSR defines “social injury” as: “The injurious impact which the activities of a company is found to have on consumers, employees, or other persons, particularly including activities which violate, or frustrate the enforcement of, rules of domestic or international law intended to protect individuals against deprivation of health, safety, or basic freedoms.” This framework does not commit the BoG to any standards of environmental responsibility. PGSS President Roland Nassim, the other student member of the BoG with voting privileges, was involved in defining the terms of reference for CAMSR. Nassim explained that “essentially, investment purposes can go against such policies, and that’s the unfortunate reality if you are investing to make money. So, I’m not surprised that there may be some push to not meet or discuss these things, because it just doesn’t make sense in a business mindset.” McGill’s report on endowment
performance – which is available on the website of the Office of Investments – lists the names of investment managers and commodities in which McGill money is invested, but does not name specific companies. This information, according to Senior Treasury Officer of Endowment Accounting & Reporting Wanda Leah Trineer, is available to anyone who files an Access to Information Request (ATI). Trineer added that community members have filed such ATIs in the past. According to the report, $10 million of the endowment is invested in commodity commitments, which include two North American natural resource funds of funds and one Canadian early stage oil and gas fund. This number does not include money that individual managers could be investing in organizations that engage in environmentally destructive business practices, such as oil suppliers, or banks that invest in tar sands.
External Investment Managers
Under review Knight, who has been on CAMSR since September 1, explained her concerns about the committee. “Technically, any member of the McGill community can be aware of the fact that this committee exists and that they could get it to meet,” she said. “But, as we all know, there are a lot of documents on the McGill website that people may or may not know about. So, evidently either everything about McGill’s investments is perfect, and no one is worried about it, or people aren’t sufficiently aware of the process.” She compared McGill’s committee to the University of Toronto’s Responsible Investing Committee. The Responsible Investing Committee, which monitors the investment of the university’s over $1 billion endowment, states in the first line of its terms of reference: “The University recognizes that certain principles related to social,
Canadian and U.S. equity
State Street Global Markets
Non-North American equity, developed markets, Canadian Equity
State Street Global Advisors
U.S. mid-cap index equity
LSV Asset Management
U.S. small/mid-cap equity
William Blair & Company
Non-North American equity for both developed and emerging markets
Capital International and Comgest Emerging markets equity TD Asset Management
Canadian bond index and a passive currency hedging program
Phillips, Hager & North
Two funds of funds, primarily invested in long/short equity, a U.S. long/short equity fund and two event-driven funds
Six private equity funds of funds, a Canadian fund investing in securities of distressed, and undervalued Canadian companies and two Canadian venture capital limited partnerships
Two North American natural resources funds of funds, one Canadian oil and gas fund Source: Report on Endowment Performance for 2009-2010.
environmental or governance matters may be established to supplement our investment strategies without compromising our fiduciary obligations.” The committee is also required to meet regularly, regardless of whether there is a specific complaint filed. SSMU Sustainability Coordinator David Gray-Donald told The Daily that, for now, CAMSR deals “mostly about injury to humans fairly directly.” “That’s not all injury – there could be injury to landscapes and animal populations – but it’s already promising that they’ve set a precedent and that there is some consideration at least, so it doesn’t
seem inconceivable that environment could be integrated into that,” he continued. Knight agreed, explaining that she would like to see CAMSR meet regularly in the future, regardless of whether there are formal complaints. McGill Secretary-General Stephen Strople, another member of CAMSR, explained in an email to The Daily that “the committee’s terms of reference are currently under review, and discussion has begun about including environmental considerations in the mandate. The discussion will continue into the coming months, and it is expected that revisions to the terms of reference will be proposed to the BoG in 2012.”
The Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility – Limits on Authority The Committee shall only entertain expressions of concern from the University which are: 1. Initiated by one or more members of that community; 2. Supported by a fully documented brief identifying the “social injury” that should influence investment decisions or the exercise of shareholders’ responsibilities; 3. Supported by a petition of at least 300 signatures; 4. Deposited with the Secretary-General. All signatures must be collected during the same academic year as the petition is deposited. The Committee shall only make recommendations with respect to financial matters that fall within the jurisdiction of the Investment and Finance Committees of the Board. Source: Board of Governors terms of reference for CAMSR.
The McGill Daily | Monday, October 31, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Canada opposes EU’s labelling of tar sands Tar sands implicated as greater pollutant than other forms of oil extraction
The McGill Daily
fter coming under fire from the Canadian government, the European Union (EU) is defending its labelling of the tar sands as 22 per cent more polluting than other forms of crude oil extraction. This label was issued as part of the EU’s Fuel Quality Directive, a plan to reduce transportation-related carbon emissions. On October 23, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver released an open letter addressed to the EU. In the letter, Oliver states that “Any proposed implementing measure that provides separate, more onerous treatment for oil sands derived crude oil relative to other crude oils with simi-
lar or higher GHG emissions intensities is discriminatory, and potentially violates the European Union’s international trade obligations.” Despite Oliver’s letter, EU Climate Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard maintains that the label is based on scientific fact, not political motivations. “We have the knowledge and the fact that the oil sands are more CO2polluting than other kinds of fuel,” Hedegaard said in a press conference last Thursday in Brussels. “It’s nothing targeted against this particular fuel. We are doing that with all our different biofuels. It’s the same methodology that we are applying for different things in the same directive.” Although Canada has been supported in its opposition to the label by both the United Kingdom and Estonia, there are some Canadians
Hydro-Québec shares lithium licensing New battery technology could help increase demand for electric cars Lola Duffort
The McGill Daily
ydro-Québec and Technifin, a subsidiary of the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), have agreed to share the intellectual property (IP) rights to their respective lithium-based technologies. The agreement was reached in an effort to encourage the commercialization of their lithium titanate spinel oxide (LTO) technologies, which are of particular interest to rechargeable lithium-ion battery manufacturers for use in the emerging electric automotive industry. Pike Research, a Coloradobased clean technology market research firm, forecasts that the market for lithium-ion batteries for transportation will grow from $2 billion annually in 2011 to more than $14.6 billion by 2017. According to Hydro-Québec spokesperson Patrice Lavoie, it is not unusual for research entities such as Hydro-Québec and Technifin to enter into these types of IP rights sharing agreements, since a single device – especially in industries such as computer or telecom – can typically encompass thousands of patents. The Technifin patents cover the basic use in lithium-ion cells of the LTO technology invented in 1994 by Michael Thackeray while at CSIR. The Hydro-Québec patents cover the potential of LTO that was recognized in 1995 by Karim Zaghib at a Hydro-Québec research institute. According to McGill engineering professor George Demopoulos, safety and longer cycle lives are the advantages of using LTO as material
for lithium-ion batteries. By pooling the IP rights to their technology, “Hydro-Québec has become a one-stop supply for this sort of technology,” he said. “The LTO’s particular advantage is safety,” he continued. “Imagine there’s a collision; you don’t want your battery to be volatile, to become a bomb.” Because the lithium reactions that take place during charge and discharge occur with no significant contraction or expansion of the battery material, lithium-ion batteries with LTO anodes have much longer cycle lives than traditional lithium-ion batteries. The trade-off that comes with the longer cycle lives, however, is that the batteries have a lower energy capacity. For Hélène Laurin, another Hydro-Québec spokesperson, the trade-off would not pose a problem for battery-powered cars. “At this point, batteries should last even longer than the car,” she said. According to Pike Research Director John Gartner, LTO technology “is one of the several leading candidates, though not a clear winner,” in the competition for better rechargeable lithiumion batteries, citing the LTO’s compromise on power capacity as one weakness. “Besides, we can’t be sure of the impact this will actually have on the electric vehicle industry until manufacturers come forward and actually license the technology to create a product,” said Gartner. “This is one of the technologies that will allow us to move forward. It’s at the forefront because of the safety and life cycle. Is it a game changer? I don’t know,” said Demopoulos. “There are other technologies available.”
who disagree with Oliver. Gillian McEachern, Climate and Energy program manager for Environmental Defence, a Torontobased environmental action organization, spoke to The Daily over the phone. “Time and again scientific studies have shown the tar sands to be more polluting than other forms of crude oil extraction,” she said. “It’s really just calling a spade a spade... Minister Oliver’s letter won’t hold water.” In his letter, Oliver wrote that the label appears to punish Canada for promoting greater transparency in its carbon emissions records. “We object to being treated less favourably than other crude oil sources simply because Canadian industry provides more detailed data on oil sands emissions. It is not
sufficient for the European Union to fail to address these data issues and base its directive on incomplete information,” he wrote. “Holding the third largest proven reserves in the world, Canada is a stable, reliable, democratic, and an environmentally responsible supplier of oil in a global market that is otherwise subject to a range of risks and uncertainties. Any policies that impede the free flow of global oil supplies are detrimental to our collective energy security,” he continued in the letter. According to McEachern, any political acceptance of the tar sands would defeat Canada’s aim to reduce carbon emissions. “It’s a bit alarming to see the federal government flying around Europe, trying to bully member states into backing down,” she said.
“Emissions from the tar sands are set to triple over the next decade and the government hasn’t stepped in to make rules to stop that,” she continued. McEachern added that provinces like Quebec and Ontario are doing better at reducing their emissions, but she still worried that Quebec will soon lose its edge on reducing carbon emissions because of the tar sands. “Quebec has been a leader in climate, and now, because of the federal government’s actions, we are really not stepping up to the plate,” she said. “As tar sands exports have risen, our currency has become linked to the price of oil. This is causing something called Dutch Disease – a boom in one area meaning job loss in others – and Quebec is being affected by that.”
Sustainability and SSMU The lessons and successes of the Five Year Plan for sustainability Juan Camilo Velásquez The McGill Daily
early halfway through its operating term, the SSMU Five Year Plan (FYP) for sustainability, adopted in 2009, continues to be a guiding policy for the student union. SSMU and its Environment Committee created the Five Year Plan in 2009 after a sustainability assessment of the SSMU was conducted during the previous academic year. The document opens by stating, “The Five Year Plan for sustainability is a clear, focused, and specific plan for implementing the recommendations of the sustainability assessment and more by establishing strong yet realistic goals for achievement.” SSMU President Maggie Knight, who was Environment Commissioner at the time of the plan’s creation, explained the formation of the FYP. “There was an increasing interest from SSMU in making our operations more sustainable, but also increasing out leadership in sustainability issues in general on campus,” said Knight. “We did that for a while, but then felt the need for a more strategic and broader focus, so, in 2009, the Five Year Plan was developed.” According to Knight, the biggest success of the FYP so far has been to achieve consistency within an inherently discontinuous institution.
“The plan has been good in that it has mandated SSMU in certain issues, because one of the things that we always have to deal with at SSMU is that everything that’s long term, that takes more than one year to do, relies on transitions between years,” said Knight. One of the solutions introduced by the FYP was the creation of the full time Sustainability Coordinator position, currently filled by David Gray-Donald. “One of the main tasks of mine is to make sure long-term projects succeed,” explained Gray-Donald. “There was a bit of a lack of institutional memory in the terms SSMU was running, where projects would be going along really well, and then maybe students would leave for the summer or go on exchange or get really busy with exams, so some of my position is to make sure that some really good ideas can get carried along for a long time,” he added. Similarly, the SSMU Environment Committee, which is mandated to link external members with internal sustainability efforts, is actively trying to execute the goals of the FYP. One of the SSMU Environment Commissioners, Aryeh Canter, explained in an interview with The Daily that the role of the Environment Committee is to “keep sustainability in the mind of the executives, keep sustainability in the actions of SSMU,
and to help other green groups around campus.” According to Knight, the FYP has not been without shortcomings. “The resulting document is a little bit of a laundry list of projects and things that we should do, more than it is an all-encompassing strategy,” Knight explained. “So, we have a sustainability policy, and we have a Five Year Plan, and we have some other random bylaws and things that all reference sustainability, but we don’t have a unifying vision incorporating those aspects yet.” SSMU has also had to take into account the added financial costs associated with environmentally sustainable practices. “There are lots of times where buying something more sustainable is slightly more expensive, and so of course we have to try to do that responsibly…it’s just that all these decisions have to be made,” said Knight. “We have three projects this year,” Canter said. “We are encouraging student gardening, we are working in implementing the bottled water ban in SSMU and helping it grow bigger, and we are also working on helping reduce energy usage from students.” According to Canter, while the future of sustainability within SSMU lies with the Five Year Plan, some of the most important efforts to attain sustainability continue to be executed by undergraduate students.
The McGill Daily | Monday, October 31, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Project aims to stimulate resource development and tourism Alexia Jablonski
The McGill Daily
rovincial environmental groups and First Nations communities fear that the Quebec government’s Plan Nord, a development project aimed at attracting investment into industrial activities in Quebec’s northern territories, will lead to severe environmental degradation. The plan, which will be carried out over the course of 25 years, aims to stimulate investment in the region’s forestry, mining, hydroelectricity, tourism, and bio-food sectors. The area covered by the plan consists of 1.2 million square kilometers – 72 per cent of Quebec’s geographic area. According to government estimates, the plan is expected to create, on average, 20,000 jobs a year and bring in $80 billion in investments. In an effort to limit the environmental impact of industrial activities, the government has vowed that by 2015, 12 per cent of the land covered by Plan Nord will be dedicated to the creation of protected areas. This area will gradually be extended so that by 2035, 50 per cent of the territory will be protected. This provision, however, has incited criticism on several fronts. The Réseau québécois des groupes écologistes (RQGE) – a network of environmental groups in Quebec – has deemed this land protection proposal insufficient. “The first problem we have with
[the plan] is that the fact that this 50 per cent number is somewhat arbitrary,” said Bruno Massé, general coordinator of the RQGE, in an interview with The Daily. “We see it more as a symbolic political number than anything else, because they present it as protecting half of the territory, which validates basically doing the exploitation of the other half.” Similarly, several First Nations groups have expressed concerns about the impact of industrial development. The area covered by Plan Nord is inhabited by a number of First Nations communities, including the Inuit, the Innu, the Cree, the Naskapis of Schefferville, the Algonquin, and the Atikamekw. Ghislain Picard, the regional chief of Quebec and Labrador in the Assembly of First Nations, told The Daily that, even though Plan Nord “offers great perspectives in terms of employment,” the government has not made enough efforts to protect the region’s environmental security. “We’re very much concerned with the intentions expressed by the government, such as the commitment to have at least 50 per cent of that territory dedicated as a protected area,” said Picard. “The biggest question that comes after that is what becomes of the other 50 per cent? Is it all wide open for development? If that’s the case, then we’re not in favour of that.” An additional critique is that even protected regions will still be open to certain development activities.
“Even if we were to just focus on that [protected] 50 per cent, we see that [the provincial government] still consider forest exploitation not to be an industrial activity,” said Massé. “They would also permit mining and exploration, tourism…and the construction of infrastructure, all within territories that are supposed to be protected.” Massé also noted that the selection of protected areas would be susceptible to industrial interests. “Basically, their plan is that, by 2035, they have to have this 50 per cent number, but to get there they’ll be switching around areas if they realize that there are resources that they hadn’t seen before,” he said. “It will be a whole mix and match, shifting things around, as long as, at the end, they can have their 50 per cent that will be fulfilling their goal.” For many First Nations communities, this prioritization of industrial interests has drawn comparisons to past development projects. “There are also memories of the past,” said Picard. “In Schefferville, it’s not the first time that mining companies have come to that area. To demonstrate that, around Schefferville, all you have is big holes…from the exploitation between the 1950s and the 1980s. People who live there, who have continued to live there despite the closure of the town, remember that. So there are very deep concerns about the environment.” Though the government is accepting input from concerned
groups in the form of public meetings and online communication, Massé argues that these steps are merely symbolic. “Our input has not been valued at all ever since the beginning, and the biggest problem we have with these consultations is their lack in the basic principles of democracy,” he said. “If they’re asking us to voice our concerns, they should at least guarantee that these concerns are going to be taken into account…we can blow steam as much as we want, but we have no power whatsoever as to what they are going to do.” Despite concerns, the project is likely to continue. “The resources that we have up North were not worth much a couple of decades back because of the world context, but now we’re seeing a rise in demand and the resources are getting much more rare,” said Massé. “We have to remember that before we try to tackle the subject because it’s happening on a much larger scale,” he added. Massé warned that, if criticisms are ignored, the environmental security of Quebec’s territory could be threatened. “We hope the people will start asking the right questions and try to change towards a more sustainable way of life,” he said. “We can only hope that this transition will be done voluntarily and peacefully before it’s too late, and not in a sort of catastrophic setting, which is what we’re headed towards if nothing changes for real.”
Occupy Montreal seeks to improve sustainability at Place du Peuple Committees struggle with cost of removing human waste Lucile Smith
ith 500 demonstrators inhabiting “Place du Peuple” – formerly Square Victoria – as part of the Occupy Montreal movement, multiple committees have been created to deal with the environmental impact of the occupation. Activities such as composting, recycling, and the management of human waste fall under the purview of the occupation’s committees. Erin, a volunteer who has worked in the kitchen for four days, told The Daily that, so far, the kitchen iniative has been a success. “About two-thirds of food comes from individual donors,” she explained. “Various restaurants, catering, and cooking com-
panies have donated food and appliances as well.” “Meat is avoided for sanitary reasons,” she continued. “We feed up to 500 people a day and, therefore, waste surprisingly little.” The most common dishes include bean salads, rice and tuna salads, quinoa, soup, and curries. According to Sara Ducharme, a member of the kitchen committee, different organizations have been cooking for the occupiers. “The Raging Grannies cooked French toast for us one morning,” Ducharme said, referring to the Montreal sector of the international non-violent activist group. Ducharme expained that the kitchen committee recently created an energy-conserving bikepowered blender, which she said is “great for cutting vegetables, and you get a workout.” Jessy Bruneau, who has been
occupying Place du Peuple since the movement began on September 15, explained that coffee has been readily available. “Santropol and Starbucks have been generous, but about two-thirds of our coffee comes from individual donors,” he said. Composting and recycling bins are positioned throughout the community, and according to Ducharme, “the kitchen committee composts as much possible.” However, rules concerning individuals’ recycling cannot be imposed. “This is a free movement,” said Ducharme. “People should be able to do as they wish.” According to Zoe Wolfe, a member of the environmental committee, sanitation is the biggest concern for occupiers. Wolfe explained that the committee has plans to create dry toilets, and added that, although
they have drawn up sketches of structures, this process will take time. Wolfe explained that this is not only an environmental issue, but a financial one as well. Toilet facilities have been set up on-site, but are not being donated. Toilets have been purchased for $75 each. According to Wolfe, clearing the waste is costing the committee $900 a week. “I use the toilets around me, mostly in commercial centers,” said Ducharme. “There are public toilets about a two minute walk away, and I go to Palais des Congrès a lot.” Wolfe said that occupiers are currently undergoing discussions to create a Sanitation Committee. “We do really need a committee [for sanitation and waste],” she said. “We’re not where we want to be, but we’re working on it, and we want to have a positive impact.”
What’s the haps
Environmental and First Nations groups criticize Plan Nord
The Haunted Mountain Tour Monday, October 31 at 8 p.m. Barfly (4062 Saint-Laurent Boulevard) Beginning at the rumoured-to-be-haunted Barfly, the ramble visits various haunted sites on the mountain, including locations where ghosts have been sighted. Theatrical guides will regale guests with ghost stories, mysteries, and legends about Mount Royal, including haunted hospitals, abandoned castles, cemeteries teeming with undead spirits, and all sorts of paranormal activities on the mountain. Speculation is rife that Montreal’s most infamous 19th-century ghost has been reawakened and is ready to continue terrorizing people who frequent the mountain. The tour is in English, runs for ninety minutes, and will finish at the intersection of Pins and Peel. Tickets will be on sale at 7 p.m. in Barfly Garden (at the back of the bar) for $15. The Run for Congo Women, The Second Time Around! Sunday, November 6 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Start: In front of Gert’s End: Top of Mont Royal, where Montreal bagels, cream cheese, juice and coffee will await! Come run to break the silence on rape in the Congo. STAND McGill is hosting a charitable walk in an effort to raise money for the Congolese women affected by the turmoil within the region. “Run for Congo Women” is sending a simple message: Congolese lives matter. The lives of Congolese women are significant. The lives of Congolese children are precious. They have waited far too long. The Run was established in 2006 by Lisa Shannon. It is a global run and walk movement benefiting Women for Women International’s Congo program. Last year, STAND raised $2,500. To make a donation, visit: active.com/donate/runforcongowomen/mcgill2011.
Trick Culture, and treat yourself to some News writing... Meeting every Thursday, Shatner B-24, 5:30 p.m.
The McGill Daily | Monday, October 31, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
The cult of corn How one crop is wreaking havoc on our environment
Jacqueline Brandon with Amina Batyreva | The McGill Daily
Jacqueline Brandon Soap Box
spent last summer near the seat of American power in Washington D.C. As I got off the metro each morning at the teeming Capitol South station, I was bombarded with poster advertisements featuring photographs of smiling farmers standing in sunny, modestly sized fields. These people are the face of the American corn industry: the Corn Farmer’s Coalition. Perhaps it is a coincidence that this corn propaganda is displayed to key lawmakers, or, perhaps, (and more likely) it was a strategic move made by an organization that represents influential special interests in the U.S. The coalition’s advertisements enthusiastically show people exactly what they want to see: a harmless crop that has wholesomely sustained us since the first Europeans arrived in the “new world.” For the sake of our at-risk environment (to say nothing of our health, society, economy, the list goes on) we should question the happy façade that the corn industry presents. Recent years have seen tremen-
dous change in agricultural industries. We have undergone what author Michael Pollan calls “cornification” without even realizing it. Everything from farmed-fish to automobiles to soft drinks can exist on the scale that they do thanks to corn. The United States alone grows enough corn to cover an area of land that is double the size of the state of New York. The “Corn Belt,” comprised of Midwestern states such as Illinois and Iowa, produces 80 per cent of this crop. We would be wrong to assume that the cornon-the-cob as we know it is the reality of most contemporary corn. In 2008, the United States Department of Agriculture reported that 5,250 million bushels of corn went to livestock feed, whereas only 327 million went to direct human consumption. In addition to the tremendous proportion of corn used for livestock feed, corn is increasingly used to make bio-diesel and high-fructose sweeteners. The sheer immensity of the corn industry gives it the ability to devastate our natural world if the crop is grown irresponsibly. In relation to other produce, modern genetically modified corn requires a substan-
tial amount of nitrogen fertilizer and pesticides. These chemicals are made with fossil fuels, and, accordingly, do not come without a cost – each bushel of corn is treated with half a gallon of fossil fuel (12.1 billion bushels were produced in 2008). The environmental story does not end with the crop being sufficiently drenched in millions of pounds of chemicals, the next step involves these chemicals making their way into groundwater and down the Mississippi River, eventually flowing to the Gulf of Mexico. The result of this is an ever-increasingly massive body of toxic water known as the “Dead Zone.” This 12,000 squaremile area is where marine life comes to die. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 210 million pounds of nitrogen enter the Gulf each year. Fertilizer also causes exponential growth of sea algae, which sinks to the bottom of the ocean and creates an oxygen-depleted environment that leads to the death of species such as oysters and crabs. Efforts to contain the runoff and create buffer zones have been futile. Of course environmental consequences like these are insignificant when big business
commandeers policy. The environmental fallout also includes the excessive amount of energy used to power the machinery plants, fertilizes, and harvests all of this corn, leading to a larger carbon footprint. Additionally, there is an incredible amount of water needed to produce corn. Especially as it relates to ethanol production, corn is a water-inefficient crop, often requiring more than 100 litres of water to produce one liter of corn-based ethanol. Prospects for our ecosystem are bleak when one considers that the demand for corn has exponentially grown in recent years. It is no surprise that, in 2007, more than 90 million acres of corn were planted for the first time since 1940s. Initially, bio-fuels were embraced for their ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In reality, there is a huge energy cost associated with both converting the grain with coal into ethanol and shipping it. Motivated to reduce its dependence on foreign oil, the U.S. federal government subsidizes corn on a massive scale. A recent farm bill provided $4 billion annually to corn farm-
ers. The U.S. government – to the satisfaction of groups like the Corn Farmers’ Coalition – have mandated a nearly three fold increase in ethanol usage over the next decade. But we must ask ourselves: at what cost? With so much private interest and promotional campaigning, it is truly difficult to gather information on the subject. In 2010, Monsanto, a multinational corporation that produces genetically engineered seed, spent more than $8 million on lobbying. We are a part of an industrialized food system that prioritizes profit needs over environmental needs. We must see past the veneers of smiling corn farmers in advertisements and pleasant packaging in grocery stores. It is on us to become responsible consumers and make decisions that our planet can sustain – and corn is just one component of an extensive problem of exploitation.
Jacqueline Brandon is a U1 History student. She can be reached at email@example.com.
The McGill Daily | Monday, October 31, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Be wary of double standards
cGill Daily eva | The M yr at B a in m A
MUNACA protesters deserve the same rights as other McGill community members Aison Laywine Soap Box
ear Friends, I am writing to you out of concern for two students – and members of the Mob Squad – Joël Pedneault and Micha Stettin. I learned from The McGill Daily on October 22 that these students are facing allegations that they breached the Code of Student Conduct because of a demonstration in support of the MUNACA strike that took place at the Y-intersection on October 11. I myself did not attend this demonstration because I was teaching. All I know about it is what I just said. But I have been present at two other demonstrations at the Y-intersection organized by the Mob Squad in support of MUNACA: one held on Monday, September 26 and one that took place the following Wednesday. The demonstrations I attended could only be described as peaceful assemblies designed to convey to the McGill higher administration – and indeed the University community as a whole – the views of the assembled
students and faculty members. To that end, students and faculty sat in a circle and took turns speaking into a bull-horn. Does the word ‘bull-horn’ send alarm bells? I don’t think it should. The injunction that went into effect on Friday, September 23, expressly prohibited members of MUNACA from using “amplifying devices.” But, none of the people at the demonstrations I attended were members of MUNACA, or any sort of union operative. Was it loud? It was certainly loud enough – on September 23 – that it drew my attention, as I ate a piece of pizza outside, in front of Redpath Hall. But before we think of using the word “disruptive” here, I would like to put things in perspective by inviting you to consider the following two cases. My office is on the ninth floor of the Leacock Building, overlooking the Redpath Museum and the lawn where the Open Air Pub sets up shop every year at the beginning of September. When the live bands start playing, I must abandon my office, even though – at the beginning of September – my office is the most convenient place for me
to work. I repeatedly complained about this disruption – and that is the right word for it – back in the mid and late 1990s. But I had to give up, because no amount of complaining seemed to make a difference. It has always been simpler to abandon my office. This is a disruption that the McGill higher administration thinks I must tolerate. Here is the second case of disruption we must all tolerate: for two years in a row, the Remembrance Day ceremony on November 11 has involved a piece of heavy artillery borrowed from a local garrison that fires once every minute for 21 minutes. It is so loud that my colleague Calvin Normore, who attended the ceremony last year, told me that it caused him to “levitate.” I have deep respect for those who served, and who serve now, in the Canadian Armed Forces. I welcome the opportunity to reflect on their sacrifice and to hope that no such sacrifice will be required in the future. But a salvo of 21 shots over 21 minutes makes such reflection absolutely impossible. It disrupts all of those trying to work in their offices or trying to teach or learn in classrooms.
Moreover, it may be torture, pure and simple, for the people in our university community – some of whom are surely veterans – who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Those people, and anybody who just does not want to “levitate,” must stay away from the campus for some part of the day on November 11. This is disruption that, for some of us, borders on abuse. Yet, we are expected to tolerate it. When I consider the significant disruption caused by the Open Air Pub and the Remembrance Day ceremonies and compare it to the noise generated by the two demonstrations I attended at the Y-intersection, I infer that there is double standard at work. The McGill higher administration has no problem at all with disruption. But it flies into a panic when it encounters members of our community who support MUNACA and wish to exercise their right to express their criticism of the administration’s handling of the strike. In the case at hand, disciplinary action against Pedneault and Stettin, at least, appears to be worse than unfair. It has all
the appearance of vindictiveness. The demonstration held on September 23 proceeded to the James Administration building, just as the Provost, Tony Masi, and the Vice Principal for Finance and Administration, Michael di Grappa, happened to walk by. They were recognized, and came to address the demonstration. The “archival material” shows that Di Grappa announced to assembled students that they did not have the right to demonstrate on campus. He was called on that: a student read to him the relevant section of the Charter of Student Rights, according to which – yes, indeed – students have the right to free expression and free assembly on campus. Under the circumstances, it is difficult for me not to infer that an example is being made of Pedneault and Stettin for no better reason than that Di Grappa made a fool of himself in public. But I ask: whose fault is that?
want to give back to McGill once they graduate? The answer to both these questions is a resounding no. Undergraduate students will not care that McGill rises through the Times Higher Education or QS World University Rankings due to its excellence in research if they also no longer feel that they have a voice in this community. The undergraduate student population should see this MUNACA experience as an example of how diminished our role has become in a university that is supposed to educate us. We should lament the fact that we are simply cogs in a giant machine whose simple task is to churn out
academic degrees at the end of the day. Especially if that machine is one that silences our voices and discourages critical thought. Actions will ultimately have to be taken by the administration to make real changes. The students can protest, write articles, and give their feedback. If McGill really wants to grow as a university, the administration needs to make sure their large undergraduate student population feels involved.
Alison Laywine is an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are (not) all McGill Rethinking the sense of community on campus
Murtaza Shambhoora 2 Cents
haven’t been a supporter of MUNACA since the strike started. I am unaware of what dire economic situation each of them are in, and I have not received any unbiased information about how similar workers are compensated throughout Quebec and Canada (nor have I bothered to check). However, I do support their right to protest, and thank them for showing the McGill community how unaccommodating the McGill administration can be to its staff and undergraduate students. The
University administration’s insistence on silencing their student’s voices and sending periodic onesided messages to the student community makes me question Principal Heather Munroe-Blum’s statement that “We are all McGill” in a recent e-mail we found in our student inboxes. Unfortunately, Principal MunroeBlum, the McGill community does not seem to be as cohesive as you hoped it would be when you wrote your email. Not only has there been a growing divide between students and the administration, but the MUNACA strike has the student body itself between those who care, those who don’t care, and those who
are simply fed up. I understand that McGill is a large bureaucratic organization incapable of giving personal attention to each and every student. But can’t at least place more importance on the voice of the student body as a whole? We cannot ignore the blatant injustices the McGill administration has committed against its students over the past few months. Consequently, the administration cannot ignore how badly this is tarnishing the University’s reputation. Are undergraduate students going to praise the University to prospective students and academic surveyors? Will current students feel any sense of community or
Murtaza Shambhoora is a U2 Political Science student. He can be reached at email@example.com
The McGill Daily | Monday, October 31, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Giving thanks, twice
Amin a Ba t yrev
a | Th e Mc
Gill D ail
Re-evaluating differences between American and Canadian Thanksgiving
Joseph Rucci Hyde Park
fter reading the article “Thanks, but no thanks” (October 17) in the last issue of The Daily, I can’t help but notice a subtle anti-American tone buried underneath the piece. Summarizing American Thanksgiving as a consumerist holiday tainted with the oppression of Native Americans and characterized mainly by stereotypical football games is not only hypocritical, it is highly offensive. As a New Yorker who has experienced many Thanksgivings similar to the author’s description of the holiday across the border as “a time to relax and eat good food,” I feel obligated
to speak out. Although the author focuses most of her argument on highlighting negative aspects of American Thanksgiving, she should realize that the culture of Canadian and American traditions are extremely similar. I’d like to mention that the ‘controversial’ aspect of the Thanksgiving south of the border – namely that it celebrates the oppression of Native Americans – which the author insinuates as inherently American, is something shared by Canadians. The United States is not the only country that has exploited aboriginal people – First Nations individuals in Canada have unfortunately suffered the same history of repression. Furthermore, some historical sources cite the origin of Canadian Thanksgiving as being
brought over to the north by loyalists who fled during the American Revolution. Satirizing the “wholesome” relations between colonists and aboriginals seems like a cheap insult. The point of Thanksgiving in America is not to whine about historical conflict; something that happened 300 years ago – it’s to be thankful for the blessings that we have today. Relating hard working, modern American families to a disgusting colonial offence is pointless. The author also criticized the American Thanksgiving for being “consumerist.” Black Friday may be an example of overblown greed, but it’s just a day of sales where people can buy cheaper presents for the holiday season that comes afterwards. Am I dumb for con-
sidering that the capitalist consumer fascination with Christmas is also present in Canada? It would seem that the heritage of the two Thanksgivings isn’t so different after all. Americans aren’t all greedy, ignorant, football-loving, sensationalist animals who will trample anyone to buy an iPhone on Black Friday. We aren’t celebrating our oppressive colonialist past and we have parades because we want to celebrate a holiday. Is that so bad? My American Thanksgivings have been spent enjoying delicious meals, preceded by family members reciting what they are thankful for. And, last year, when I travelled to Ottawa to celebrate my first Canadian Thanksgiving, it was pretty much the exact same thing.
If anything, the Thanksgiving myth that we “bright-eyed American schoolboys and girls” learned in grade school serves to teach that people can set aside their differences to understand each other just for one day. Maybe the author should follow suit and set aside her biases about America. On both sides of the border, Thanksgiving is a time set aside so we can sit back, forget about materialism, and love each other through home and food. And, now that I attend McGill, I’m so happy I get to celebrate my favourite holiday twice.
Joseph Rucci is a U1 Cultural Studies student. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anti-intellectualism amongst the political right The Republican movement from discussion to denial Balaclava Discourse Davide Mastracci
ccusing climate change of being a conspiracy theory? Must be from Zeitgeist, right? Possibly your grandfather? None of these options are correct, though the latter is the closest. This absurd quote is from Rick Perry, a potential Republican nominee for the American Presidency. While it should be disturbing that someone who could potentially run the most powerful country in the world blatantly rejects scientific evidence, if you know anything about Perry you’ll know he’s just being consistent. After
all, denying climate change seems to mesh quite nicely with belief in intelligent design. Unfortunately, Perry’s illogical dismissals aren’t unique, and have infected the political right in America. Climate change was once appropriately perceived, like cancer, as a genuine threat against humanity. It has now become a partisan issue; a mere litmus test for how right or left one is. Despite Perry’s claim, this shift has not occurred due to scientists doubting climate change. The consensus on climate change amongst scientists has only grown in recent years, now standing at 98 per cent according to the National Academy of Sciences. Contrastingly, belief in climate change amongst Republicans has declined from 50 per cent in
2008, to 30 per cent in 2010. There is also no elaborate history of climate change denial in the Republican Party. Republicans like John McCain, Newt Gingrich, and even George W. Bush have recognized and sought to fight against climate change. Currently, however, GOP candidates like Perry have routinely denied that climate change exists, while others, like Romney, argued against the regulation of greenhouse gases by the EPA, which was ironically created by Richard Nixon. Republicans taking a different approach than Democrats to solving climate change is to be expected. The utter denial of climate change amongst much of the Republican Party should not be. Unfortunately, with the rise of the Tea Party move-
ment and their characterization of climate change as an invention of the liberal elite, it looks like this disturbing trend will only continue. The trend of evolution denial and religious extremism within the Republican Party is already dangerous enough. The addition of the blatant disbelief of environmental facts should be a death blow to the credibility of the party. While I would regard the decimation of the Republican Party as a cause for celebration, what if the Republican’s don’t lose? We have begun to see evidence of what this would entail with the Republicans blocking regulations in September that “force industry to reduce unhealthy air emissions, such as mercury from coal-fired power plants,” claiming that these regula-
tions “would kill jobs and burden businesses with billions of dollars in additional costs.” Essentially, the safety of Americans will be put at stake for the sake of corporations under a congress which has been labelled as “the most anti-environmental Congress in history.” With this explicit anti-intellectualism, it seems that many Republicans are no longer concerned with conserving structures, but, instead, with conserving ignorance.
Balaclava Discourse is a column written by Davide Mastracci on the structures , authority, hierarchy, and domination in society. It appears every other Monday in commentary. You can email him at email@example.com.
The McGill Daily | Monday, October 31, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
The McGill Daily | Monday, October 31, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Catching the wave Taylor Holroyd
idal energy is a kind of hydropower that converts the energy of the rise and fall of sea levels caused by tidal movements into useful energy. Tides are highly predictable, which makes tidal energy a much more reliable alternative energy source than solar or wind power. It is also one of the cleanest sources of power because it utilizes existing resources and creates no pollution. Tidal power works by harnessing the energy of the tides and converting it into electricity. An enormous dam called a barrage can be constructed across a river estuary, or the mouth of the river. As the tide moves inwards and outwards, the water flows through tunnels in the dam and turns a turbine. Alternatively, large chains of
underwater turbines called tidal fences can be built; the movement of the water causes the turbines to generate electricity. The world’s first fully-fledged tidal station was the Rance Tidal Power Station, which was built on the estuary of the Rance River in Brittany, France in 1966. Other successful tidal power plants exist in Nova Scotia, China, Russia, South Korea and the United Kingdom. More tidal stations have been proposed, or are under construction, but tidal power is still not widely used. The original kinds of tidal barrages and fences were unproductive, as they did not generate much power and were not cost-efficient. However, tidal power machinery has progressed greatly since its inception; it is now cheaper to produce than nuclear power. Early tidal turbines were not environmentally friendly because organisms often got caught
in them, but, modern turbines are completely safe for fish. Tidal barrages and fences can be very expensive to build, although the price is eventually offset by the low cost of upkeep. Once the turbines have been built, tidal power is completely free. The machinery does not consume fuel and requires very little maintenance. Tidal energy is also more powerful than wind power, as water has a higher density than air and, therefore, can apply more force on the turbines. The environmental impact on the tides is negligible, as research shows the tidal movements change only very slightly with the construction of a barrage or fence. However, tidal barrages can only be built in some locations, as they require a narrow channel, relatively deep water, and a high tidal flow. There are some environmental issues associated with tidal power that are preventing its widespread use. Some tidal barrages may
block sewage and waste from being carried out to sea, which can damage both aesthetics and ecosystems. The power can only be generated when the tide is coming in or going out, so it’s not a continuous energy supply; depending on the area, energy can be generated for only about 10 hours per day. Unfortunately, tidal power stations could have negative impacts on aquatic and shoreline ecosystems – both up and downstream of the power station. Despite being cost-efficient and relatively stable for the environment, tidal
energy is not yet widely used. Engineers and power companies have been examining the great potential for tidal power as a major source of energy in the future. It cannot yet be used as a replacement for fossil fuels, but the construction of more tidal power stations can gradually increase the use of tidal power worldwide.
ur world is currently sliding down a slippery slope of fossil fuel usage – one that can only end badly. Fossil fuels are substances formed from ancient dead organisms buried underground. They include coal, petroleum – also known as crude oil – and natural gas. The current uses of fossil fuels are innumerable. These fuels, and the energy they contain, pervade every aspect of our environment. Although the link between fossil fuel usage and environmental degradation is not a novel one, there remains a curious sentiment held by many: that the continued usage of fossil fuels is possible. Let us be clear. The idea that fossil fuels are not directly correlated to a multitude of negative environmental impacts is false and any attempt to purport this as science should be met with scepticism. The idea that a world with fossil fuels is realistic is one that we cannot afford to entertain. Fossil fuels are a limited resource, and whether or not we envision or plan for a world without them, that day will come.
Dam, that’s powerful Ryan Lee
ydroelectricity is a renewable energy resource that harnesses the energy of flowing water. It is currently the most widely used form of renewable energy on the planet. Canada is the world’s second largest producer of hydroelectricity. HydroQuebec accounts for almost half of Canada’s total energy production. Humans have been harnessing hydropower for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks
used water wheels to grind their wheat and flour nearly 2000 years ago. Although the central tenets behind the usage of hydropower are much the same, technology has come a long way since then. The invention of the hydraulic reaction turbine has been a boon to the industry. By the early 1900s, 40 per cent of America’s electricity was produced by hydroelectric production. As this form of renewable energy became more abundant and reliable, it was termed “white coal” to distinguish its gradual substitution for the primary source of energy at the time.
The basic theory of hydroelectric power generation is the principle of converting mechanical energy into electricity. When water rotates a turbine, the kinetic energy of the water is transferred to the turbine, and this mechanical energy is converted to electricity. The amount of power produced is dependent on the volume and height difference between the main water body and outflow. This height difference is called “the head”, and it is directly proportional to the energy output of the water source. Although dams are presently the primary method of producing hydroelec-
tric power, there do exist a variety of other methods by which hydropower can be harnessed. Hydroelectric power holds a wealth of potential in regards to energy production. Almost two thirds of economically feasible hydro-potential is yet to be developed on a global scale, specifically in the regions of Latin America, Central Africa, and Asia. Operational and maintenance costs are relatively low and it is also a reliable and abundant source of renewable energy. The industry is still improving as new technologies are discovered and old methods are refined to increase efficiency. Hydropower
remains an extremely regional source of energy as it requires a large water source. Although operational and maintenance costs may be low, there are high initial investment costs. In addition, hydropower plants tend to disturb the natural environment and can often mean a loss of wildlife and aquatic habitats. Still, the future of hydropower remains bright. Electricity demand is expected to grow by about 1.2 per cent per annum for decades to come, and hydropower is expected to play an important role in reducing emissions and relieving the demands of an ever-growing population and economy.
The McGill Daily | Monday, October 31, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Digging a little deeper Alexander Kunev
The McGill Daily
s climate change continues to advance, and energy prices soaring, it is now naturally accepted that he next energy revolution will most likely come from a major adoption of alternative sources of power. However, few could predict, at that moment, that such
a revolution could start from the Middle East, and, more specifically, Palestine, a country still struggling to have its borders recognized. Khaled Al-Sabawi’s presentation at the Envision Arabia summit brought forward a new perspective for developing a clean energy economy. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are characterised by the scorching hot desert weather and the dry climate. As a consequence of this, large cities must rely on vast amounts of energy for heating and cooling, in order to survive. With the increase in infrastructure development in the last 20 years, the MENA region has
However, it is important not to lose sight of who the real culprit is here. It is not fossil fuels, which are simply inanimate hydrocarbons but, rather, us. Fossil fuels are not inherently evil or damaging. It is how we, humans, extract, use, and dispose of them that is dangerous. More than anything, we need to realize that “saving the environment” really means saving ourselves. Humans are just like any other species and can only survive under a relatively narrow range of conditions. Since it would be nearly impossible to live in such a way that would not require energy, the need for alternative energy sources becomes even more pressing. Alternative energy is used as an umbrella term that refers to any source of energy that does not have the current negative consequences of fossil fuels. There are many different types of alternative energy and while each has their flaws, they are important options that we must continue to develop. — Jenny Lu
experienced even higher demand for electricity. More and more cities are updating their power infrastructure, and new buildings are being constructed. Without knowing how energy is used in a region, it is impossible to determine which sources are most efficient and plausible. Energy intensity measures the amount of energy consumed per GDP produced. As Al-Sabawi explained, the MENA region’s energy intensity today is 60 per cent higher than that of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, and 40 per cent above the world’s average. What this boils down to is the fact that the MENA region uses more energy with respect to its economic production. Energy intensity can be affected by numerous factors, for example, the weather. Norway, with its Scandinavian climate, boosts one of the highest ratios in the world. But, mainly, this means that the MENA region is consuming much more energy than it is producing. The price of energy is directly correlated to energy intensity, and this is particularly true in Palestine. With its quickly rising demands, it has one of the highest electricity prices in the world. Oil is not an option for Palestine, wind power is still too unreliable, and
solar power does not make sense due to the space restrictions of a small, highly dense territory. So, where can Palestine turn to meet its growing energy demands? The answer may just be right under our noses. The earth absorbs 50 per cent of the sun’s energy, and stores it as a clean alternative source. Usually, when we talk about geothermal energy, it is meant to encapsulate the steam and hot water reservoirs, as well as the hot dry rock, which could be found below ground in some regions like Iceland. But, another way to extract heat from the Earth is through geothermal heat pumps. At a constant temperature of 17 degrees Celcius a few metres below ground, pipes containing a fluid can be buried and connected to a heat pump. When the temperature below ground is higher than the outside temperature in the winter, it is used for heating, and in the summer when lower than outside – for air conditioning. MENA has already attempted to harness this energy with its geothermal building plants, and, in doing so, decrease electricity prices. “Heating and cooling account for 60 per cent of a typical building’s energy”, as Al-Sabawi explained, “and the best technology to reduce [their consumption] is geothermal.” Currently, MENA Geothermal has three large heat pump sys-
tems in Palestine, each boosting energy savings to a staggering 70 per cent. As a result, they’ve been awarded the contract for a 1.6 megawatt power plant at the University of Megada in Jordan, the largest geothermal system in the entire region. But, in order to lift their model off the ground, they worked hard to reduce the cost of geothermal energy in order to make it fiscally, as well as environmentally, sustainable. This was done through a variety of methods, such as by using local materials. Also, they plan to build plants near residential buildings in order to be able to provide heating and cooling for an entire community. Investors seeking a financial return can then invest capital in geothermal plants and sell the energy to nearby consumers at prices that could be 50 per cent lower than the current cost of electricity, since the return of geothermal energy is so high. Right now, however, highly subsidised energy prices make it extremely hard for alternative energies to progress in the region. But, if Palestine is able to transition to the effective and efficient energy geothermal power provides, other countries may soon will follow suit. As Khaled Al-Sabawi puts it, “It is time for the Arab people to take matters into their own hands and build their own communities right.”
All illustrations by Amina Batyreva
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Amina Batyreva | The McGill Daily
Our relationship with the environment may be changing our bodies
opular belief blames fast food like McDonald’s and Burger King, movies and popcorn, and the increasingly sedentary lifestyle of North America for rapidly raising rates of obesity. However, this view problematically simplifies the causes of obesity, and overlooks an extremely important segment of the population who don’t eat junk food, do not particularly enjoy exercise, and do not have a choice but to be sedentary: babies. According to a 2006 study by the scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health, the prevalence of obesity in infants under six months of age has risen 73 percent since 1980. That’s massive, and it can’t be explained by popular belief. This statistic poses a huge problem to notions of obesity. It can not be explained in terms of couch potatofication and fast food. “Since they’re eating only formula or breast milk, and never exactly got a lot of exer-
cise, the obvious explanations don’t work for babies. You have to look beyond the obvious,” says endocrinologist Robert Lustig of the University of California, San Francisco. The search beyond the obvious has led scientists to an interesting find: trace chemicals in the environment especially in food which may have adverse effects on developing babies, both inside and outside of the womb. These chemicals, when exposed to developing fetuses and newborns, can turn more precursor cells into adipocytes (fat cells), which stay with you for life, and alter metabolic rates, causing the body to hoard calories rather than burning them off. Environmental chemicals affect a large part of the obese population, especially those under fifty according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Science (NIEHS), and their effects during development may account for some of the frustration associated with an individual’s inability to lose weight. The first spark of the idea that chemicals can cause weight gain
came in an obscure paper published in 2002 by Paula Baillie-Hamilton of Stirling University in Scotland. This paper was published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, and noted a curious correlation between a rise in the use of chemicals like pesticides and plasticizers and obesity rates during the previous forty years. Most scientists took this link to be poppycock, because one could just as easily make the link between increasing obesity rates and the popularity of glam metal, which also took off in the good old 1980s. A few, however, did find the link to be an interesting one, and set off to figure out if it had any substance. A team of Japanese scientists, for instance, discovered that bisphenol A, a plastic present in things such as baby bottles, causes certain precursor cells to become fat cells, and stimulates the proliferation of already existing fat cells. Upon hearing of this discovery, Jerrold Heindel of the NIEHS wrote: “The fact that an environmental chemical has the potential to stimulate growth of ‘preadipocytes’ has enormous implications.”
That is to say, if this were to happen in living animals as it does in petri dishes in a laboratory, the result would be an animal with a tendency to become obese. Another scientist that worked to show the proof of the link between obesity and environmental chemicals is Bruce Blumberg of the University of California, Irvine. In a 2006 study, he fed a common disinfectant and fungicide, called tributyltin, to pregnant mice. The offspring were born with a 5 to 20 per cent higher chance of becoming obese. These were such significant results that Blumberg decided to give a name to the chemicals that have such an effect on the body: obesogens. Developing babies who are exposed to obesogens become programmed to produce more fat cells. The more fat cells you have, the more places there are for fat to be stored, and, if you are particularly efficient at burning calories (meaning there is more fat leftover for the body to store), then the leftover ones will remain in your fat cells and cause you to gain more fat cells. Moreover:
those with more fat cells, and who are more efficient at burning fat, tend to feel more hungry more of the time. Blumberg explains this cycle, saying ,“One of the messages of the obesogens research is that prenatal exposure can reprogram metabolism so that you are predisposed to become fat.” Traces of obesogens are found in the bodies of almost every American, so why aren’t all Americans predisposed to gaining fat cells? According to Blumberg, even the slightest changes to dosage and timing of exposure are crucial to the “fate” of cells. Even in genetically identical mice, he says, the reactions to obesogens were varied. Obesogens are all around and pervade almost all elements of our lives. But, more research must be done regarding obesogens before conclusions can be drawn. One thing can be said for certain: the relationship we have with our physical environment is not one-sided. Just as we can impact the environment, the environment can have an equally powerful impact on us.
We are living in a time of unrealistic expansion. The human population keeps growing and each of us keeps consuming more each day. We are driving more cars. We are eating more food. We are using more energy. We live consumption focused lives that allow us, in their comfort, to forget one thing: The earth is a finite resource. One that we are already stretching to its limits. We, The Daily editorial board, challenge you to read on and decide how you can help be part of the solution. Let us challenge ourselves to change.
Think you’re on 1The morning
Average water use per day
You have been up studying for a midterm late into the night. Caught off-guard by the sudden drop in temperature over the weekend, you fall asleep with the thermostat set to 22 degrees Celsius. If the thermostat was kept at 16 degrees Celsius, you could reduce your energy consumption by over 10%. Even
United States 380 L
lowering it to 18 degrees could make valuable reductions to gas and electricity consumption, and any added chilliness could be off-set by extra clothing. The next morning, you take a 10 minute shower and leave the tap running as you brush your teeth. Almost 90 per cent of CO2 emissions related to water usage relate to household water usage. Taking water from the environment, treating it, distributing it, using it, collecting it when it has become sewage, and then treating it before discharging it back into the environment are all processes requiring energy, and, therefore, result in CO2 emissions. Only one per cent of the Earth’s water is usable for humans. Most of that water is unevenly distributed across the planet, at times inflicting severe droughts and starvation on the drier regions of the earth, such as central Africa and India. Just by being vigilant about water usage, we can reduce Canada’s CO2 emissions and our water consumption, freeing up what little collective water resources we have for those regions with less.
2 The commute
Israel 135 L
GHG emissions from private vehicles
You live in Solin. Transportation
amounts to about half of greenhouse gas emissions in Montreal, however,
70,744 kilotonnes of CO2 equivalent 2007
only one per cent of those emissions are from public transportation. In 2007, transportation accounted for 27 per cent of Canada’s green-
Canada 39 L
68,622 kilotonnes of CO2 equivalent 2006
house gas emissions, within which 69 per cent was from road transportation, and this number has only increased. Whatever students can do
to decrease the demand for private road transportation, the better.
Source: Environment Canada.
Source: Statistics Canada.
Water Use In and Around Our Homes
of Canadians commute to work by car.
Canadians use an average of 329 litres of water each day for household and gardening purposes. • The United States uses around 380 litresper day; Israel uses 135 litres a day. Only 10% of our home water supply is used in the kitchen for drinking, cooking, and washing dishes. • About 65% of indoor home use occurs in the bathrooms. • Toilets up to 40% more water than needed. • The greatest water use occurs in the summer when about half to three quarters of treated water is sprayed on lawns.
Canadian motor vehicle ownership
use public transportation
= 200K cars Source: Statistics Canada.
1804 –1 billion 1960 – 3 billion
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nly one person?
3 Coffee Break On your way into class, you stop to buy a cup of coffee. Based on coffee-consumption Over 63% of adult Canadians drink coffee each day. In Quebec, 70% of adults are coffee drinkers. This amounts to Canadians consuming 40 million cups of coffee a day. The worldwide production for coffee for 2010-2011 is estimated to range from 133 to 135 million
bags of coffee. Last year, the total exports of coffee exporting countries were 93,809,000 bags. Canadaâ€™s total import of coffee last year from all suppliers was 3,915,304 bags. In April of this year, 8.3 million 60 kg bags of coffee were exported by coffee exporting countries. In coffee year 2009-2010, world coffee exports were worth $15.4 billion U.S.
Average price paid to growers in US cents/lb in 2010
In 2009, Colombia, Brazil and Guatemala were the top exporters of raw coffee to Canada. To drink one standard 125 mL cup of coffee, we need about 140 L of water. You would need about 14 buckets of water for one cup of coffee or more than 1100 drops of water
Total exports to Canada in 2009 (million bags)
Source: International Coffee Organization.
statistics, as a coffee-drinker, you drink 2.6 cups of coffee on average each day.
for one drop of coffee.
2050 - 9.2 billion* 2011â€“ 7 billion
Source: UN Statistics. *Projection
4 You sit down in class. There are 657 students
in your lecture hall. Each of you will consume an average of 3,560 calories today. The average man only needs 2,700 calories – the average woman only 2,500. We consume around 30% more food than necessary. It will take 853,705,800 calories to feed your lecture hall this year. Meaning your class will waste 623,493,000 calories. Thats enough food to feed over 1,000 people from the Democratic Republic of Congo for a full year.
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You can’t find a recycling bin. You just finished a Vitamin Water and want to get rid of the bottle. You throw it out. Then you pick up a copy of The Daily, read it, carry it around all day, and throw it out when you get home. Plastic takes 400 years to break down in a landfill. North Americans produce enough garbage each day to fill 70,000 garbage trucks. If every person on earth produced as much waste and used as much energy as the average Canadian, we would need four planets to sustain our lifestyles. Canadians take home more than 55,000,000 plastic bags each week. 40,000 trees are cut down each day just to produce the newsprint for Canada’s daily papers. Since 1950, Canadians have consumed as much as all the generations before us combined.
— Compiled by Andra Cernavskis, Henry Gass, Erin Hudson, and Jessica Lukawiecki Photographs by Victor Tangermann, Infographics by Alyssa Favreau | The McGill Daily
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6 Flight Home You book a flight home for winter break. A roundtrip flight from Montreal to Vancouver emits 1,784 lbs of carbon dioxide into the air. If you go home 3 times a year, that’s 5,352 lbs of carbon dioxide. In 2010, 2,759 McGill students came from Canadian provinces other than Quebec, and 2,443 students came from outside of Canada. A roundtrip flight from Montreal to Paris emits 1,628 lbs of carbon dioxide. A roundtrip flight from Montreal to New York emits 1,067 lbs of carbon dioxide. If every student from outside Quebec were to fly to New York, the emission of carbon dioxide would be 5,550,534 lbs.
7 Night out
Your friends return from their dep run and crowd into your living room for a pre-drink. They split 12 Heinekens between them. Brewed in the Netherlands, those Heinekens traveled over 5,500 km, to get to Montreal, burning approximately 385 kg of
CO2 in the process. A six-pack of Heineken bought from the dep carries a carbon footprint of roughly 5.5 kg of CO2 equivalent. If you bought your Heineken from a bar, the carbon footprint would be reduced to 500 g of CO2 equivalent. Buying a locally brewed beer from a bar would reduce the carbon footprint to 300 g of CO2 equivalent. The night goes on and on and on and on. Your pub crawl has taken you deeper into the Mile End than you would like this close to November. It’s almost 3 a.m., so you decide to take a cab back to Solin rather than sleep at a friend’s. It takes 15 minutes to travel the almost seven kilometer distance. The transport sector is responsible for 23% of all energy-related CO2 emissions globally, and 13% of all GHG emissions. In Canada, public transport is responsible for double this percentage of greenhouse gas emissions. Sadly, Montreal’s metro system stops running at 12:30 a.m.
Per cent of greenhouse gas emissions from private vehicles
Source: Statistics Canada.
Death by Cream:
One McGill grad’s sexmurders Ryan Healey
f familiar, driven, type-A stock, McGill grad Thomas Neill Cream managed to kill at least nine people transatlantically in the sixteen years after receiving his medical degree in 1876. That’s .56 people – about a half-person – per year, which is a pretty competitive rate for a medical student, and just generally a notable standard for the rest of us to think about come convocation. Some think Cream was Jack the Ripper, which is unlikely, but he was probably the first globalized modern serial killer, a fact that needs to get on McGill admissions brochures. On the Case of Cream, a certainly pale and himself-creamy British criminologist wrote, “the bare facts are sufficiently hideous; they need no embroidery.” Well, uh, I’ve come to embroider. It’s 1891 and Cream’s killing women in London. He’s fresh from a Chicago prison – having killed a dude, his Dad’s money subsequently bought him clemency – and mostly bored. He spends his days at home reading and writing, his nights at music halls and “having connection” with prostitutes. He’s restless, and always afraid of being alone. He wears a dark mackintosh and a flat-topped Monopoly©-man felt hat. His cross-eyes squint tight like a caricature of evil, and he’s bearding like Freud and balding like everyone else. He has a penchant for showing people photographs of 1) himself and 2) porn. He’s addicted to strychnine, morphine, and cocaine, which our man considers an aphrodisiac. And he’s obsessed with women. His day job is as a doctor, but, mostly, he performs abortions. Girls come to him for abortifacients (abortion-inducing chemicals) to “get them out of the family way.” He tells friends back home he has “lots of fun with women” in London. Like an
ashamed New Jerseyan abroad, he tells prostitutes he’s from New York. One night, after fucking a prostitute, one Violet Beverley, he prepares her what he calls an “American drink” made of the pills he often carried with him. (Violet declined). Most likely, it’s strychnine, his recreational drug of choice, which is lethal in large doses. Strychnine is a colorless, bitter alkaloid/pesticide – C21H22N2O2 – and it carries out the following procedure once about 30 milligrams get in you:
1. An overwhelming, blood-level feeling of terror and apprehension (consciousness is never lost; mind is 100% clear and aware throughout) 2. Sea sick nausea and stomach-emptying puking 3. Uncontrollable facial twitching; pupils & eyeballs like carrion-Jackson in the “Thriller” video 4. Mouth frothing 5. Exorcistic convulsions of the entire body 6. A respite 7. Continued violent holy-fool spasms 8. A sense of suffocation and of being stamped out 9. Blue lips, muscles rigid, lungs contracting 10. Death, setting in over the course of 1-3 hrs from lack of oxygen; your body locked in hyperex- tension; your face sometimes fixed in a macabre grin (risus sardonicus)
Another list – this of Cream’s victims, the people most familiar with the preceding sequence: Flora Eliza Brooks (died August 12, 1877) Kate Gardener (May 8, 1879) Mary Anne Faulkner (August 23, 1880)
Ellen Stack (December, 1880) Daniel Stott (June 13, 1881) Ellen Donworth (October 13, 1891) Matilda Clover (October 20, 1891) Emma Shrivell (April 12, 1892) Alice Marsh (April 12, 1892) Even by murderer standards, Cream’s a jerk. When he thinks one guy didn’t pay his medical bill, Cream snail-mailingly spams him: one letter says his wife and kids contracted a disease from their pater familias; he has a bastard child; his wife’s a “low, vulgar vixen.” He once killed a guy – Daniel Stott, see lists – by a strychnine overdose, claimed the druggist from whom he bought the admixture was responsible, blackmailed him, tipped the police off to him, and then helped the daughter of the deceased sue him. But remember: our man Cream was known to the London cops as an “extremely sensual person.” It’s an attitude he picked up in his frolics at Old McGill. ← Thomas Neill Cream – born in Glasgow, raised in Quebec City – signed the McGill register on November 12, 1872. He studied medicine, and lived on Mansfield. Cream was aptly named for a denizen of Victorian Montreal, which hosted a soul-crushing whiteness of Lords and Sirs, men who could still pass with names like “Lord Strathcona” and could still bald and beard themselves unpathetically and unironically. The son of a shipbuilding and lumber firm manager, he was classic fin-de-siècle nouveau riche stuff. He had a pleasing voice, rode down St. Denis in a stylish carriage, wore ostentatious clothes, and lots of jewelry. He was known as a
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“fast and extravagant liver.” Cream was that guy at frosh who barked out drink-commands, but kept to himself between pubs, that guy who would whip his dick out at Miami without being asked – those quotidian sociopaths, the “that guy”s of retrospective fun-making, who we disassociate with by third year and hope that they’ve calmed down. Or maybe he’s that dandyish, archly sartorial guy with the fedora, black and gray toned prom-suit-vest-and-tie, and ambitious plaid patterns here and there, a cigarette always at hand. Either option’s got pretty well-off parents. In September 1874, fresh into third year, Cream took out some fire insurance. In his last month here, he set fire to his room and caused a little damage. He sent off a claim for $978.40, which was promptly disputed, but was ultimately reduced to $350 and paid out. His graduation photo shows him with short bristling hair and long side-whiskers, a sporting young man and a good musician who occasionally taught Sunday school. During his four years as a Redman, he worked summers in Quebec City. His teacher was Sir William Osler, of Osler Library renown. He specialized in obstetrics and graduated with honours in 1876. He wrote his thesis on chloroform. His official registry document, as it reaches us in 2011, states in hurricane-windyslanted cursive under “other information”:
abortion practices, even to kill them in “retributive deaths.” As these of-the-era M.Ds said: “Women are obliged to believe all that we tell them. They are not in a position to dispute anything we say to them, and we, therefore, may be said to have them at our mercy.” Or, “To save a child from death, and a mother from crime, what could be a more wonderful result.” File those under Things Doctors Said That I Wish Weren’t Said. So, women come to him in full confidence, ask for something illegal, and Cream kills them for their trouble. In the murky, whale oil-fired light of Victorian mores, you see the sick logic: these women dwelt in crime and sought more by their abortions. If they were found out, they would spend the rest of their lives in some bronchial prison somewhere. The abortionist keeps them alive at his discretion. And, of course, failure rates for these proto-back alley abortionists were murderously high. Cream’s esteemed kill count surely balloons beyond official numbers – those untold botched abortions that were neglected, even appreciated. Maybe W. Teignmouth Shore was referring to something more than Cream’s obvious psychopathy when he wrote in the preface of 1923’s Trial of Thomas Neill Cream, “He may have had a half-crazy delight in feeling that the lives of the wretched women he slew lay in his power.” So uh, McGill once, McGill twice…
DEAD Tried for murder at central criminal court London England Found guilty Executed at Newgate It’s no small mark of merit to have your McGill transcript – that irreducible yet petty ticket of bureaucratic ontology – held in some actual human regard, even if it’s gravedancing. Cream did what countless anonymous student #’s never could: make an institution individualize and flesh out a man with his short plot and death. One wonders twice: why did McGill record the legal life and death of a specific alumnus? And will I – or: can I – receive the same honour? ↓ Now, with Cream, there’s always Women. Soon after graduation, he meets a nice girl named Flora Brooks from Waterloo, Quebec when she’s visiting Montreal. He promptly knocks her up and, then, flush with his new degree, performs the abortion himself. Mr. Brooks finds out shortly, and drives off to Montreal, where he exacts a marriage from Cream. Cream comes to Waterloo and weds at gunpoint (at the point of Mr. Brook’s gun, in fact), then sets off for England the following day. From there, he mails back some pills to Flora, who dies mysteriously, though her doctor suspects Cream of “foul play.” Regardless, Cream stakes a claim to a thousands dollars, willed out in his and Flora’s marriage contract, though Mr. Brooks only coughs up $200. Moving between London and Chicago, he frequents prostitutes and haute society gatherings – nothing was more a la mode in 1878 than a well-kept Scot. Except for the killing part, he largely treats his prostitutes with patriarchal charm, giving them wine and roses, hopefully listening to them, and definitely talking to them. As an obstetrician, most of his patients are women. In 1803, getting an abortion became punishable by death in Britain. With the Offences Against the Person Act of 1861, Parliament cordially reduced the woman’s punishment to “penal servitude for life.” Surely, our fellow Martlet Cream, with his mellifluous name, was performing a service for women that the state would not abide. Except he was a sordid motherfucker. Cream, to another hoary, creepy white guy (his lawyer): “I made a practice of poisoning dissolute girls in Canada.” His main conversational topics: Money, Poison, and Women, a telling triumvirate. He’d brag of the cheapness of London prostitutes, of having three women in five hours for a shilling each. Cream wantonly blurred the usually firm line drawn between the sexual proclivities and day jobs of responsible medical practitioners. As Angus McLaren put it in his A Prescription for Murder: The Victorian Serial Killings of Dr. Thomas Neill Cream, “the straps and stirrups of the obstetrical consulting room conjured up too readily images of pornographic bondage, a pornography in which Cream indulged.” Late Victorian medicine was all about deceiving women re:
↓ In his 1993 play, Thomas Neill Cream (Mystery at McGill), David Fennario wrote that “Cream was indeed the school spirit of McGill University.” I can’t really speak to the aesthetic merit of the play – there’s this Greek chorus of women who repeat names, cliches, and finish each others’ lines, like a grimmer version of St. Laurent and Prince Arthur any given Saturday night; stage directions like “THE DEAD, LAURIER and CREAM climax”; and this gem: CREAM: The essential condition for the male is sufficient erection of the penis. WOMAN 1: The cock. WOMAN 2: The prick. WOMAN 1: The tool.
However much I shit on Fennario’s play, wrenched out of context, he’s got a decent take on Cream for the 2011 vintage of McGill: CREAM: But no, we don’t talk about such things, do we, gentlemen? We don’t talk about why you had me erased, oh yes, from your bibliographies, purged from your official histories and expelled from my profession. A man who was your friend and associate, who shared your dreams and ambitions and helped you created the McGill that we have today. A McGill that lies, a McGill that cheats, a McGill that has very good reasons for hiding the fact that I ever existed…
I want very much, however spuriously, or half-comically, to echo that Cream is the school spirit of McGill. It’s an institution that matriculated a class-warring serial killer and hasn’t changed much internally since that Victorian epoch. I mean, run your eyes over the e-portraits of the current administration: it’s a thick, rich vanilla that loses out to even the Bush Administration in demographic stats. It’s an idea of a McGill that can produce a man able to solicit clemency through his father’s money and influence, a man who can – and did – sit undisturbed on a transatlantic sail after being convicted of murder, with chiefs of police as dining companions. This is a McGill of brutal injunctions, brutaler biking policy, and brutalist buildings, one that unilaterally shuts down beloved cafes, wars against the very use of their name, and generally just hates its staff and students beyond photo-ops in the pages of the McGill Reporter or the THES/QS rankings. I can’t shake this idea that perhaps we students, we vessels of Cream-y ambition, are Thomas Neill’s, McGill’s Miltonic Satans, carrying a Martlet fluttering in our breast wherever we go. It’s an idea about the ambition that keeps us in class and many of us politically remote, that fulfills McGill’s cancerous motto, grandescunt aucta labore – “by work, all things increase and grow.” Including iniquity, I guess: CREAM: Oh yes, I was ambitious. A young man, a young British gentleman at the very time and peak of the British Empire. And I wanted the Good Life. I wanted my share of the power and the glory, and the fuck and the suck and the moan and the groan of it. And did you think we were only photographs? Did you think we were very much different from you?
All photos courtesy of the McGill Archives.
opposite: Thomas Neill Cream, in 1874, a proud McGillian; above: notice of Cream’s death in the McGill student directory; bottom: McGill School of Medicine, Class of 1876, the year Cream graduated. It is not clear which one is him.
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Smart sports statistics Why Canadian NHL teams should take a page from the Canucks’ books Sports, eh Sam Gregory
omer Simpson’s hypothesis that “people can come up with statistics to prove anything” may be more relevant in sports than any other discipline. Billy Beane, general manager (GM) of the Oakland A’s, demonstrated how misused and, at times, ignored statistics were in Major League Baseball. He revolutionized the game by using new forms of statistics to evaluate players when he became the GM in 1998. While teams with larger budgets could rely on their money to recruit players, the Oakland A’s had to build a team that could compete with the rest of the league by using Beane’s techniques. This strategy of gaining advantage through statistical evaluation has come to be known as moneyball. However, not many sports have begun to use these new statistical methods. For example, in hockey, only a few pioneers in the NHL have
implemented these ideas. According to sports statistician and St. Lawrence University professor, Michael Shuckers, “there are at least a handful of teams in the NHL that have folks on staff using moneyball-type ideas, although it is certainly not widespread”. “The Canucks are the team using these new statistics most extensively,” he continued. If that is the case, then the Vancouver Canucks GM since 2008-2009, Mike Gillis, may be the closest thing hockey has to a Billy Beane figure. Shuckers recently garnered significant media attention for his proposal of a new statistic to analyze the performances of goalies, called the Defensive Independent Goalie Rating (DIGR). The idea behind the DIGR is to replace the commonly used save percentage stat, which only calculates the percentage of shots saved by a goalie. The DIGR, rather, takes into account the difficulty of each shot that a goalie faces, providing a more comprehensive analysis. Save percentage is just one of many examples of a statistic that does not accurately reflect
a player’s merit but, nevertheless, is often relied upon by managers. Another suspect statistic is the plus-minus statistic, which calculates the cumulative number of goals scored and allowed in while a player is on the ice. It is often used to evaluate defensemen, since, for the most part, they accumulate less points than their offensive counterparts. The argument that Shuckers and others have against using the plus-minus system is that it does not account for the strength of a team’s goalie or fluke goals, which may unfairly inflate or hurt a player’s plus-minus score. The most popular alternative to the plus-minus is called the Corsi. The Corsi looks not only at goals scored and conceded, but also at shots attempted. It takes into account shots on target, shots missed, and blocked shots. However, the Corsi is still not officially acknowledged or calculated by the NHL, despite pressure from many people within the game. Both the DIGR and the Corsi are examples of alternative statistics that are not used by official NHL statisticians. This gives the league’s manag-
ers an opportunity to use these stats in exciting new ways, which potentially giving them a step up on other organizations who are clinging to the past. Shuckers says that, for a team to successfully employ efficient statistical analysis beyond what is given to the general public via the NHL official statistics, “there needs to a be a buyin from the GM’s office.” Gillis has certainly bought into the system, and seems to be employing either these or other effective forms of statistics to build a winning team. One of the first changes Gillis made was in the scouting department. He adopted a new form of statistical analysis to help his staff find players who normally would not play in the NHL. The acquisition of defensemen Christopher Tanev is a perfect example of this. While NHL scouts usually ignore players in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Vancouver found Tanev when he was playing for the Rochester Institute of Technology, an NCAA school. Under Mike Gillis, the Canucks made the Stanley Cup Finals for
University of Ottawa
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the first time since 1994. Based on Vancouver’s success with statistics, it may only be a matter of time before the rest of the NHL, and particularly the other six Canadian teams in the NHL, which have all been going through rough periods, catches on. The Montreal Canadiens have not won a Stanley Cup Final since 1993, the Calgary Flames since 1989, and the Toronto Maple Leafs since 1967. The Edmonton Oilers are coming off a last place finish in the NHL, while the Ottawa Senators seem destined be among the league’s worst teams this season. Then, of course, there are the Winnipeg Jets, who are entering their first year back in the NHL and, therefore, have a nearly clean slate to work with, having changed much of the team they inherited from the nowdefunct Atlanta Thrashers. The first team to truly follow in the footsteps of Gillis and Vancouver may turn around their fortunes with the use of the Corsi, the DIGR, or a new statistic that is out there waiting to replace what is, currently, a flawed model for analyzing the sport.
The McGill Daily | Monday, October 31, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Ski bummer Climate change causes ski resorts to prepare for warmer temperatures and less snow Andra Cernavskis The McGill Daily
Julia Boshyk for The McGill Daily
limate change evokes many terrifying images. Scenes of drowning polar bears and sunken cities come to mind. But, we don’t live in the Arctic, and coastal cities like New York won’t have to worry about being under water any time soon. Some of us may even like the new bizarre weather patterns. I know I liked spending Thanksgiving weekend in shorts and a t-shirt. However, I also really like to ski, and I’m not willing to give that up for eternal summer. We can debate whether or not global warming is actually happening, but I’m not going to get into that here. What I will say is that, if it is happening, our winters will be shorter, there will be less snowfall, and I, eventually, won’t be able to ski on that natural, fresh powder that every skier dreams of. And that is a problem. It is a well-recognized reality within the skiing industry that climate change is happening, and that it is already having an effect on the mountains. “At this point, nobody [involved in the skiing industry in North America] is denying that changes are happening,” says Alexis BoyerLafontaine, Public Affairs Director of the Association des stations de ski du Québec (ASSQ). “Ski areas have to take into account weather patterns and climate change scenarios… It’s not something that will, at some point happen. It is already happening.” Similarly, Catherine Lacasse, Public Relations and Communications Supervisor of Mount Tremblant, says, “We noticed in general, that the start of the season has been less cold in the past few years. We also seem to have more rain.” “In our perspective, climate change is inevitable, and, at that point, it becomes a question of how we adapt to this change of circumstances and how can we still be able to offer skiers skiing conditions that are optimal for the perpetuation of the sport,” Boyer- Lafontaine con-
tinues, insisting that ski resorts in Quebec and all across North America “have been on the path to climate change adaptation for many years, probably before everyone else.” Resorts in Quebec and other regions of the continent have been making more and more investments in snow making equipment since the 1980s. Ski resorts in Quebec are also now looking into how to do their part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by instituting programs that will cut down on vehicle idling in ski resorts. Mount Tremblant is one of the resorts to have implemented the anti-idling program. Named the “coupe ton moteur,” the program hopes to reach both employees and visitors, according to Lacasse. “We recognize that we need to improve some of our practices from year
to year, for example: increas[ing] recycling rate, reduc[ing] water use, includ[ing] composting in some areas of the resort, [and] reducing CO emission through alternative transportation,” she says. With all of these measures, there may still be hope for the future of skiing and other winter sports. The ASSQ has been involved with many scientific groups to learn more about the situation at hand, including the Montreal-based scientific consortium, Ouranos, which conducted data analyses to help give a more accurate picture of what is going on currently with ski resorts. When the ASSQ received the reports, the findings showed, according to Boyer-Lafontaine, that “the picture of the future of the ski industry is not black and white. There are both positive aspects and concerns. The posi-
tive aspect of climate change is that more precipitation is possible in the near future, which is good news.” More precipitation can lead to more snow during the winter. Even rain is preferable to dry conditions, as having sufficient amounts of water helps in the production of artificial snow. Despite their efforts, nobody is capable of forcing nature to make snow. All that ski resorts can do at the moment is to produce more and more artificial snow when temperatures rise. According to Boyer-Lafontaine, “From the perspective of the industry being able to have snow conditions that are precise and stable over the course of the season is a major concern. It’s directly related to the financial concerns of being able to operate a ski area... [Climate change is] putting more pressure on
ski areas to do a better job and become experts at being able to regulate all the snow making equipment.” In light of this reality, Lacasse says that Mount Tremblant employees must “maximize the artificial snow production at the beginning of the season in order to make sure to have snow in case of rain or warmer temperatures throughout the season. This way, we can always rely on this bank of snow to compensate for the lack if need be.” While Boyer-Lafontaine suggests that the alpine ski industry is incredibly resilient and capable of adapting to the current and coming challenges of climate change, the point still stands that those days of waking up in the morning to three feet of fresh powder, and making first tracks, will be fewer and far between if our current climate crisis is not abated.
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The McGill Daily | Monday, October 31, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Indulging in insect specialties Introducing bugs as a nutritious and environmentally-friendly supplement to our menu Marzieh Ghiasi
The McGill Daily
nsects and creepy crawlies are common Halloween decorations here in North America, but, in 80 per cent of the world, insects are also a staple of the dinner plate. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 1,500 edible insect species are eaten around the world. In Africa, Asia, and South America, insect dishes range from fried ants and candied grasshoppers to canned grubs and caterpillars. The eating of insects, however, is on the decline. Robert Kok, an emeritus McGill professor in Bioresource Engineering, said, “A lot of people remember their grandparents consuming Mopani worms but don’t indulge themselves anymore.” “There’s a very strong modern cultural bias against eating bugs.” The adoption of insects as food may not only help to alleviate the ethical issues and health concerns associated with eating meat, but also to reduce the negative environmental impact of meat production, including pollution and land degradation. “Insects are animals and their flesh has pretty well the same composition as the flesh of our
more commonly-consumed food animals,” said Kok. “So, if you eat their meat you get pretty well the same nutrition as when you eat chicken,” he continued. It has been projected that, by 2050, food production must increase by 70 per cent to meet the needs of the growing world population. Livestock, which is notoriously internally inefficient at converting plant feed to protein, is unlikely to meet these demands. Researchers such as Arnold van Huis, an entomologist in the Netherlands at the Wageningen University and Research Centre, have shown that many insect species efficiently convert plant feed to edible protein. While cows require 10 kilograms of feed to produce one kilogram of protein, locusts only need two kilograms of feed to produce the same amount of protein. Moreover, it’s been shown that insects release between 10 to 300 times less greenhouse gases such as methane than livestock. “[Insect] materials could be used as food chemicals to make industrial foods and feed for fish farming, chickens, biodegradable plastics, et cetera.” Kok said. He noted, however, that the conversion efficiencies, costs, and environmental impacts are not fully clear since there have not been industrial insect farms to produce
food for humans yet. Additionally, Kok believes that North Americans are unlikely to embrace insects anytime soon. Nonetheless, mass production and the use of insect parts in food chemicals such as chitin, oils, and protein presents an opportunity to introduce insects into our diets.
“To me, edible insects represent a whole new culinary world to be explored, one which has the potential to be highly ecofriendly and maybe even help solve hunger problems,” Martin said. “Insects are historically and globally popular, easy to raise, very nutritious, and usually quite tasty. What’s not to like?”
Amina Batyreva | The McGill Daily
Let’s talk global warming Amy Tang
some of the myths surrounding global warming:
1. What does the data tell us? Is there global warming?
Health and Education Writer hat do you get when you cross a polar bear with increasing carbon emissions? The answer may surprise you, depending on who you ask. Despite what we are taught in school, it seems the jury is still out on whether global warming is an amateur conspiracy created by alarmists or a cold hard fact. Tsunamis. Earthquakes. Ozone depletion. Depending on who‘s talking, you will hear a range of explanations for what’s happening to the planet. Some say humanity is in the early stages of an approaching doomsday, with pollution or beef over consumption (think methane) to blame. Others will respond that nothing unusual is going on and that everyone needs to move on. Confusing? Contradictory? Too much to handle? Fear not, my fellow citizen of the world. We are here to clear up and dissect
If you haven’t already noticed, the main theme here is that the answer varies depending on one’s point of view. Look at the data some institutes have put out. The US Environmental Protection Agency tells us that “seven of the top-10 warmest years on record for the lower 48 states have occurred since 1990, and the last 10 five-year periods have been the warmest five-year periods on record.” It’s no wonder the current outcry exists. This piece of data is a pinhead on a profusion of similar statistics, which, when viewed concurrently, make it hard to dispute the fact that something is happening. You will also get answers from critics telling you the data is engineered, distorted, and somehow unrelated to the actual climate situation. This idea also isn’t difficult to believe. Mistakes are common in data collection and analy-
sis, and it’s possible some triggerhappy scientist made their conclusions prematurely. Additionally, these facts are decontextualized and published in scary little blurbs so that you rarely get the chance to ask important questions about the data.
2. Could there be false data? Of course, the possibility is there, as stated in the previous section. There is skewed and misinterpreted data, sure, but what does the big picture tell us? What is the overall trend? Despite individual pieces of data failing to attribute causes and explain external influences, the general consensus is that something is changing. To be clear, the issue may not be that data is false in and of itself, but that there is little room for interpretation and dispute (consider correlation vs. causation). Once a hypothesis of environmental doom is shown to be true even in the most minute way, you’d want to react as fast as possible, no? Again, the data probably isn’t false, so it seems to be a mat-
ter of presentation and review.
3. Are the effects of global warming mild? “The problems are being grossly exaggerated,” Freeman Dyson, professor emeritus at Princeton University, said. “They take away money and attention from other problems that are much more urgent and important. It’s something to think about. Besides, wouldn’t you love a proper three-month (or dare I say it, even shorter) winter, as opposed to the frozen wasteland we experience every six months? Even with climate change being shown to occur, it could be a non-linear model whose effects come and go. In reality, mother nature is volatile and her effects are hard to predict. However, even the most hard-line global-warming sceptic will admit to the vastness of natural phenomena and the general unpredictability of the natural world. While not requiring Chicken Little theatrics, it is always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to the environment.
Embracing an eco-friendly diet Marlee’s vegan kitchen Marlee Rubel
couple days ago my close friends told me that I couldn’t be trusted if I didn’t admit to liking the taste of cheeseburgers. As a vegetarian, it was not an unfamiliar proposition, nor was it an unfair one. Bonding over food is something that most cultures have in common, and dates back for as long as humans have existed. However, in today’s climate, it would appear that the state of the planet has become an equally important topic of communal interest. With that in mind, I would like to thank green-washing marketing trends. You have made my food choices, as a vegetarian, so much easier to explain. Environmental vegetarianism is based on the premise that animal production is environmentally unsustainable, consuming an undeniably concerning amount of fossil fuels, water, and agricultural land. Environmentalists have been telling us for years: a little bit of action goes a long way. It’s become widely acknowledged that a vegetarian or vegan diet is better for the planet. Producing one pound of beef requires approximately 2500 gallons of water – 10 times more the amount needed to produce a pound of soy. In other words, with the water used to produce a single hamburger, you could take a shower every day for two and a half weeks. Conservationists have even begun referring to beef cows as “hoofed locusts,” suggesting their significant role in deforestation, water scarcity, and loss of biodiversity. With facts like these, it’s hard to justify that late night burger – unless you’re willing to skip a few weeks of showering to make up for it. Now, the surprising part: according to a new analysis by public health expert Dr. Mike Rayner in a Friends of the Earth report, we can save more than 45,000 human lives a year if everyone began eating meat no more than two or three times a week. Navin Ramankutty, associate professor in the Department of Geography at McGill, addresses meat as a main concern in a newly published blueprint for doubling the global food supply. By using prime cropland to grow food for humans, as opposed to biofuels or animal feed, we could increase food production by nearly 50 per cent. Eating less meat requires little or no work at all, and is remarkably costefficient. Without even going vegetarian or vegan, you can choose to eat meat less frequently and still be making a significant reduction on the environmental impact of your food choices, while increasing the total amount of food produced for humans. Talk about a win-win situation.
The McGill Daily | Monday, October 31, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Permaculture greens campus
A summer project implements a container garden outside Thomson House Christopher Wrobel
he exterior of Thomson House, the home of the Post Graduate Student Society of McGill University, was chosen last fall as a site for a project on integrated garden and permaculture design. This initiative reflects the growing trend of permaculture, or sustainable land design, in North America. The purpose of permaculture is to create stable, productive systems that harmoniously integrate the land with its inhabitants. Permaculture can, for example, greatly enhance a food production system, especially in an urban setting. Planting flowers with blooms that set at different times of the growing season can attract pollinators and beneficial insects to a garden all season long, with the benefit of increasing yields of vegetables as well as biodiversity. Permaculture can also help solve certain environmental problems that plague urban settings, and help beautify ecosystems with locally adapted plant species that require very little maintenance. Planting landscape buffers with perennial plant species can reduce soil erosion by decreasing the flow of sediments and pollutants into nearby bodies of water and sewers. As surface water runoff moves through the vegetation buffer, pollutants are filtered out. Moreover, landscape plants, including shrubs and turf, remove
smoke, dust, and other pollutants from the air. Project Evergreen, an organization in Minnesota that seeks to create more green space, found that one acre of trees has the ability to remove 13 tonnes of particles and gases annually. In urban climates, plants are useful in moderating the temperature effects of solar and infrared radiation. Properly selected and placed plantings absorb sound waves, and can significantly reduce noise pollution. Roger S. Ulrich, professor of Architecture at the University of Delaware, studied college students under stress from an exam and found that views of plants increased positive feelings and reduced fear and anger. A combination of a container and permaculture garden with associated workshops would also help introduce a culture of sustainability among the graduate student population at McGill. In addition, Thomson House would also benefit from sourcing some of their food supply, such as different kinds of herbs and vegetables, from the container garden for its restaurant. David Wees, a faculty lecturer who teaches a course on urban horticulture at the Macdonald campus, embraced the idea of a permaculture garden design at Thomson House and got two groups of students in his class to try their hand at designing such a space. The student group Campus Crops, a QPIRG McGill project that encourages
The container garden on the north side of Thomson House. campus gardening, also helped the implementation and management of the container garden. After several weeks of consulting with the operations manager of Thomson House, the chef of the Thomson House restaurant, and several students and staff, both student class groups came up with a computerized design of what such project would look like. The project included a rain garden – a landscaped area designed to receive storm water and allow it to infiltrate into the soil – positioned on the front ground of Thomson House
facing McTavish, a container garden area on the north side, ferns on the heavily shaded west side of the building, and some ornamental grasses along the stairs on the east side. The project was accepted for funding by the Sustainability Projects Fund under the project leader, Samantha Fink, a U4 student in Anthropology and Environmental Studies. Implemented over the summer with the help of several students from the urban horticulture course, Campus Crops, and a number of graduate student volunteers with an interest in gardening, the project managed to
Amina Batyreva | The McGill Daily achieve most of its objectives. Amidst several problems such as delays in receiving project materials and resources, and sourcing high quality plants, the team – as well as the student volunteers – learned to improvise and keep their focus on the attainment of the project goals. By drawing on their inner strengths the project was successfully completed.
For a virtual tour of the project, visit http://pgss.mcgill.ca/getinvolved/thomson-house-gardenproject/
Participatory research in action McGill’s CINE addresses concerns about traditional food systems Annie Shiel
reated in response to concerns about food supply, McGill’s Centre for Indigenous Peoples’ Nutrition and Environment (CINE) conducts participatory research across Canada and the rest of the world to assess the nutritional quality and environmental sustainability of traditional food systems. Because the food supply of indigenous peoples is largely made up of locally available wildlife, rather than the market-based products common to urban areas, the safety and protection of these local ecosystems has become an area of great concern. According to CINE’s website, frequently raised concerns are questions such as: how do we know our wildlife is safe to eat? What are the contaminant levels in our traditional food? How can we improve our nutrition? To answer these questions,
CINE conducts specific research for each indigenous community, analyzing contaminant levels, pollution, nutritional deficiencies resulting from environmental degradation, the prevalence of chronic nutritionrelated diseases, and socioeconomic factors that affect food choices. One of the most important aspects of the program is the full participation of the indigenous communities. “A really important constant that was insisted upon by indigenous or aboriginal leaders was the fact that participatory research was used,” emphasized Dr. Harriet Kuhnlein, founding director of CINE. “[Aboriginal peoples] had their informed consent used, and they were given advanced notice… In other words, [there was] collaboration and communication with the leaders about the way plans were made.” These values are reflected in CINE’s history, which began in the 1980s when Inuit and Dene communities in the North expressed concerns over the health and environmental effects of contaminants
like polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) – a toxic organic pollutant – in their food supplies. “At that time, I was getting to know some of the traditional leaders, both the Inuit and the Dene leaders, and we just started talking about the need for a centre at McGill that could help indigenous people think about the different risks and benefits of using their local traditional food,” Kuhnlein recounted. A few years later, indigenous leaders lobbied for funds to start the centre and CINE officially opened in September of 1993. Since then, CINE has expanded to include a wide circle of McGill professors, partners, and graduates who conduct research on traditional food systems around the world. Their research addresses a wide range of issues, including environmental health, the disappearance of wildlife, contaminants, and the nutritional quality of indigenous diets. Karen Fediuk, a graduate of McGill’s School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, began her work
with CINE and Kuhnlein as a graduate student analyzing vitamin C levels in Inuit food sources. Today, she works with Health Canada on the First Nations Food, Nutrition and Environment Study. Though independent of CINE, this research continues to embody the centre’s participatory principles. “CINE was a great experience for me,” Fediuk said. “I’ve been out on the coast for the past few years and worked with many First Nation communities on food systems and it’s always been a very participatory approach.” She added that it’s “a great centre that’s been invaluable in documenting the risks and benefits of traditional food across Canada.” Another important aspect of CINE’s research is the analysis of the nutritional effects of an increasingly market-based diet. According to Kuhnlein, globalization has presented poor quality foods – highly refined, processed, and inadequately fortified – at a very low cost. “In Canada, there’s a lot of obesi-
ty cropping up because [indigenous peoples are] eating too much market food and not enough of their traditional food,” she explained. “For indigenous peoples who are often living in poverty circumstances, they don’t have the money to buy good quality food.” In an attempt to address the resulting dietary deficiencies, CINE provides short nutrition courses to indigenous communities across the North. These courses equip indigenous people with reliable information to make informed decisions about their diets and lifestyles, encourage the consumption of traditional food, and train aboriginal health and community workers while incorporating traditional knowledge of nutrition and environment. “The best quality food [indigenous people] have is their traditional food,” Kuhnlein explained. “And so that’s why we’re always encouraging them to eat as much of their traditional foods as they can to protect their health.”
The McGill Daily | Monday, October 31, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
The Dead-line That night, inspiration stubbornly refused to bless me with her presence. The standard fogginess attributable to a nasty bout of writer’s block inhabited my conscience and disabled my ability to generate anything remotely worth reading. Even the sky, habitually dotted with dreamy constellations, mirrored my mind in its stark blackness. I willed a beam (a sliver, even) of moonlight to infiltrate my room and instill me with a temporary stroke of genius, one that would remedy the blank page staring angrily up at me. Useless. An obscure room and an unforgivingly white sheet of paper were all I had. I fidgeted and picked at the frayed arm of my swivel chair, desperately trying to avoid thinking about my deadline, but to no avail. It gnashed its teeth definitively, providing me with a dreadful confirmation that I was, for lack of a better word, screwed. My brilliant ideas, I decided, were caught in literary limbo, and the ghost-like specters of ‘what-could-have-been-had-I-not-procrastinated’ haunted me ruthlessly. Leave me alone, I relayed to them, hoping to put an end to the unwelcomed séance; it’s harder than it looks. The unnervingly leaky bathroom faucet was not helping my anxious disposition. Drip, drop. I shot a furtive glance at my alarm clock, which glowed red – 2:46 a.m. That couldn’t possibly be the time. I looked back down at my sheet of paper and inhaled, trying for a deep, soothing breath. Drip, drop, the faucet interrupted. Startled, my exhale came out in ragged bursts- my meditative breaths were evidently leaving something to be desired. As the leak dripped and dropped, my thoughts wandered dangerously. Echoes of an urban legend from my childhood – which, by rule, could only be narrated in hushed and forbidden whispers – now manifested itself quite freely with every resounding drip: A woman lies in her bed, she is frightened by the dark. Her dog licks her hand from underneath her bed to reassure her. The faucet leaks menacingly. Drip, drop. She goes to turn it off. When she returns to her room, her dog comfortingly licks her hand from under the bed again. Dripping noises continue to plague the silence of her home, but her dog continues to lick her hand soothingly and she eventually falls asleep. The following morning, the woman saunters into her bathroom, pulls back the shower curtain and finds her dog hanging from the ceiling, dripping blood. Drip, drop. The words “HUMANS CAN LICK TOO” are written on the wall in glistening red letters. Cue screams and flickering flashlights. A shiver made its way up the length of my spine upon rehashing the spooky story’s gruesome end, causing my shoulders to convulse. Drip, drop. It was hitting too close to home. Without warning, I found myself erect and heading towards the bathroom. Stop, I yelled at whatever or whoever had possessed me to walk towards my impending doom. The unidentified force ignored me and marched me through the bathroom door. The shower curtains were drawn back – it was empty. I whirled around wildly to survey the sink. It was, indeed, dripping. As relief washed over my mangled nerves, I sheepishly realized that a part of me – likely the more sensible half – had known that I was being irrational and that the faucet needed to be turned off so that I could please, please get back to trying to make my deadline. I splashed copious amounts of water onto my face in the hopes that it might appease my lingering nervousness, but a spattering of cold sweat had already begun to form at the nape of my neck. My deadline! What time was it? I turned off the faucet and jangled the left sink knob, determined to disable any and all potential distractions. The house was silent. I flicked the bathroom switch off and stood in the dark for a moment, endeavoring to recollect my thoughts. I paused long enough to notice the outline of my figure in the mirror, which was now completely cast in shadows. My features were impossible to make out in the darkness – I looked foreign to myself. Gradually, I began to wonder if I was even looking at a reflection of myself at all. Unbridled fright started to swell in the pit of my stomach as it dawned on me that the figure I was contemplating was a manifestation of a second urban legend that had haunted me as a child. Bloody Mary, it seemed, had come to pay me a visit. Bloody Mary, legend suggests, was an infamous child murderer who was burnt at the stake for her wretchedness. To spite the villagers who had sentenced her to her fiery fate, Bloody Mary placed a curse upon any person audacious enough to chant her name three times in front of a mirror. Conjuring Bloody Mary’s presence in the mirror, it was said, would provoke her to lash out violently at the conjurer. This should, I deliberated as I watched the enigmatically still figure in the mirror, be reason enough to convince the bravest of souls to avoid thinking of her. Yet, there is a certain deliciousness attributable to the rush of fear that one experienced in the dark, chanting something so unarguably forbidden. It was, I decided, the ultimate game of courage. I spoke her name a first time, quickly and without hesitation. My pulse instantly began to accelerate – I could feel it in my clenched jaw. I said her name again, this time deliberately emphasizing each vowel, daring her to protest. My knees buckled ever so slightly and my heavy breathing dizzied me in anticipation. I whispered her name a third time, this time almost inaudibly, and dashed out of the bathroom, hell bent on getting as far away from the mirror as I possibly could. A girl’s curiosity has its limits. I threw myself into bed. My heart knocked wildly against my ribcage, saturating the stillness of the night with pulsing thuds so loud that I began to question whether they were actually mine. The thumps only seemed to be increasing in volume – all telltale signs of a vengeful heart hidden somewhere underneath the floorboards of my bedroom. As I cowered under my covers, sheltering myself from the wrath of the sprites and mythic characters that I had conjured and cursing my unrelenting powers of procrastination, I was struck with an idea. A wonderfully horrifying, scrumptiously terrifying, deviously wicked idea. My Halloween article, I considered as I wriggled my nearly mummified body out of my knotted bed sheets, has just written itself. For once, the sheer terror attributable to a looming deadline seemed to have done me some good. I glanced excitedly at my clock – 3:52 a.m. glowed in encouragingly blood-red lettering. Plenty of time, I deliberated as I sat down at my desk. Not a sliver of moonlight in sight. Boogeyman, eat your heart out, I mused as I picked up my pen and began to write.
— Laura Linden
The McGill Daily | Monday, October 31, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Speaking of spokes Bike messenger co-op founder shares his tricks of the two-wheeled trade Brendan Lewis Culture Writer
inor Cordero is the founder of the bicycle cooperative Co-op La Shoppe, located at 2111 Bleury. Though still a work-in-progress, Mr. Cordero explains that its mural-adorned walls hold more than gears and grease. The McGill Daily: For the unacquainted, can you give me a description of what the job of a bicycle messenger is? Minor Cordero: Well, first of all, it’s not rocket science. It mainly consists [of] picking up a package at point A and delivering at point B. For most people that work for courier companies [like FedEx, DHL], they get these calls through the company they work for, and that’s basically it. Or, like in my case, you go and look for your own clients, and you work autonomously. You offer your services and people call you. You have rates, depending on distance and time, and the weight and size of the package. MD: What sort of businesses would contract to bicycle couriers? MC: The financial districts, the banks, the lawyers, use bike messengers for things that have to go from point A to point B in a short amount of time. Within downtown, it’s faster than a car, especially in the wintertime. So that’s why, and that’s how, most companies work. Now, in my case, I work with a place – for example – a boutique in which I did their tailor runs: bringing clothes from point A to point B for the tailor and then back and sometimes to the customer. It’s all in how you want to work and how you work. MD: Could you tell me a little bit about how the Co-op works? What exactly do you guys do, aside from the message carrying? MC: Actually, this is one of the main things that we would like to explain, and at some point we’ll have it written on a wall [motions to murals]. Because a lot of people ask, “What is a co-op? Is this my co-op? Can I join in?” Basically, yes, La Shoppe Coop comes out of the necessity of having a space of our own. This is a workers co-op, meaning we work in a cooperative manner, and we work and go through a process in which our business is registered as such. The main point of the co-op is having a bike store, so that us, the workers, can be able to administrate the bike store, and at the same time, offer our services [as messengers] from within. Sara, for example, does sewing. She has her sewing workshop in the back. Sam is a bike mechanic, but he also works carbon fiber, so he offers carbon fiber repairs from the store. Now
Amina Batyreva | The McGill Daily everybody has their own input, everybody’s bringing something in. And, without one of the workers, this place doesn’t work. That’s the main thing, you know, and there’s no boss. Everybody comes and goes. We obviously have set schedules, but we all make decisions together. MD: A Danish consulting firm has recently named Montreal the most bicycle-friendly city in North America, what advantages might the city hold for those in your profession? MC: I’m not originally from Montreal. I live about three kilometers from here; it takes me about 10 minutes to bike here and back. Even in the winter time, maybe fifteen, seventeen. But, I’m still in biking distance from everything, and use my bike to go everywhere. So, I would say it’s great that Montreal has this new rating of being the most bicyclefriendly city in North America. I’m happy. I just hope that more cities join, and that less cars come, and that they promote the use of more bicycles. MD: Do you think that the hardships of working for a job that doesn’t necessarily have opportunities for advancement at a place
that’s non-hierarchical, and looking at subsistence as opposed to profit, is indicative of a larger trend in society? MC: I truly believe that taking a political stand and more action towards what you think is right, it will put things the way they should be. And that’s personally the only way. I’m not here to set examples; I’m not here to tell people what to do. I’m just here to keep doing what I enjoy doing. For example, one of our newest members is nineteen years old. We call him Sunshine (his name’s Taylor). But seeing him come up to me and ask, ‘Hey bro, I want to start working one day a week, do you think that’s possible?’ And I answer, ‘Bro, here are the keys. Welcome aboard, man.’ That’s the whole point. That’s my pay, right there. Why? Because I know this kid is coming here, and he’s rock solid. It was him asking me and not me asking him for anything. So, I mean, I can’t aspire for more. I do truly think that the more you put out there in terms of good in general, the more you get back in terms of everything you need. MD: As a non-polluting alternative to gasoline [powered vehi-
cles], what do bicycle courier services have to do with more widespread efforts for environmental sustainability? MC: We’re not competing against these companies, because we’re not even going and addressing their clientele. Their clientele is used to paying low prices or going, as a business, for the lowest cost. Personally, I don’t want to do calls that are worth a dollar. But these companies, because of the high volume, they offer to lower their cost. And these people [the bike messengers] are underpaid because of the fact that these calls were lowered as much as they could for them [the courier company] to offer the service. Now in terms of what we’re doing from the store here, we’ll offer a messenger service – a personalized messenger service – within an area that we can cover no-problem, first of all. And, it’s always in bikes. We’re actually about to get two cargo bikes from Denmark, and, with those, you can transport from two hundred fifty to four hundred pounds with one single person. Internal seven-speed gears, with a rack in the front. They’re called Bullets, and that’s how we’re going to say, “We don’t
need cars.” We don’t want cars, we live by that, and we are going to just stay on it when it comes to not using cars at all. MD: Despite all the challenges and complexities that you have to face with this sort of business model, why do you keep doing it? Why don’t you find something where you could kick your feet back and be more comfortable? MC: Because I have no time. I have absolutely no time to waste. I have no time to ride shitty bikes, for example. Therefore, I want to have my bikes as comfortable as they can be. So by me having a place where I can work on my bike, for example, it’s kind of stupid, you know? But it’s just responding to what I enjoy doing. Therefore coming here every day at nine with my girlfriend and my dog, to open a register and call some distributors over bike parts. It’s a job…but it’s not a business. I’m just thinking in terms of, if I’m putting all this time and effort towards this place in which we all have an equal share of the pie, then when it’s running and when it’s good, I will be able to choose when I work. Therefore, I need nothing else. I can’t see myself getting tired of doing what I do.
The McGill Daily | Monday, October 31, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
All in the family Player’s Theatre shows what happens when The American Dream comes true.
Victor Tangermann | The McGill Daily
The McGill Daily
layer’s Theatre’s mounting of The American Dream and The Sandbox, both written by Edward Albee and now directed by Dan Beresh, leave you with an urge to run to your grandma to see if the world is really as it appears. Constructed by Alex Rivers, the production’s striking set instantly throws you into a world where appearances are struggling to be maintained. The blue and gold floor tiles are jagged around the edges, the fireplace is boarded up, the window hangs crooked, and the johnny (the toilet) still
hasn’t been fixed in what otherwise appears as an expensive home. All of this is contrasted by a straight line of bare, low-hanging incandescent bulbs that shed light on Mommy and Daddy’s eerily dark past. Mommy and Daddy had a “bumble” of joy (or bundle, perhaps?) once, but it was defective, and finally died, so they have to buy a new one. The American Dream begins as the couple are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Mrs. Barker, played by the ever-energetic Maija Whitney. Unfortunately, she has no idea what sort of business brings her to the apartment, but after a little hinting and a lot of cunning from Grandma she successfully deliv-
ers a new bumble – the “clean-cut, Midwest farm boy type” young man played flawlessly by Cory Lipman. Needless to say, he fully fits Mommy’s requirements. While both plays on the bill are immensely satisfying (for the audience – the characters make very clear that they receive little satisfaction these days), it is The Sandbox that really fulfils all the promises of what Beresh refers to as his “absurd, postmodernist, post-structuralist baby.” Written by Albee in the midst of completing The American Dream, Mommy, Daddy, Grandma, and The American Dream all make a return for Grandma’s final moments of life at the “beach.” Lasting only about 10 minutes,
The Sandbox provides a concise portrait of the family it took so long to uncover in The American Dream, thanks to the characters’ many pretences. Unlike the first play, in which there are very few breaks from tightly phrased dialogue (leaving the audience begging for a moment to catch their breath from spending the entire play begging for logical coherency), The Sandbox is perfectly paced and provides ample opportunity to appreciate its nearcinematic staging. Not to mention the added perk of Claire Stewart-Kanigan’s cello playing whenever Grandma allows it. The entire cast gives an impressive performance. Gabriela Petrov as Mommy perfectly assumes
Albee’s critiques of material society with her insistence on a beige hat over a wheat one, and though occasionally lacking engagement with the other characters, CharlesAdam Foster-Simard as Daddy succeeds at constantly straddling the line between in-control husband and Mommy’s doormat. Rebecca Gibian’s performance of Grandma is particularly notable. Her character fills the apartment with an all-knowing, prescient presence even when simply watching Mommy and Daddy from her chair in the back corner of the stage. Albee’s world may be a confusing and critical one, but I highly recommend that you “Come in. Take off your dress, and get comfortable.”
printing method, Folio proves that artistic awareness and environmental conscientiousness seem to go hand in hand. “We hope that eventually Folio will leave no carbon effect…whether that means in regards to production or parties,” Beauvais explains. In celebration of their recent accomplishments, the Folio team has organized a launch party, taking place on November 3 at Casa del Popolo. It promises to be an artful evening, featuring the musical stylings of Marble Lion, Zoe Kiefl and d’Eon, as well as Joanna Lai’s video art. The goal of the launch party is to expose both students and Montrealers to the immense artistic talent nestled amongst the overarching academic environment of McGill. Folio is certain that weaving an artistic thread
through campus will enrich McGill’s image and prove that it is more than just a research university. In the future, Folio hopes to collaborate with the Art History and Communications Student Society to bring students within the faculty bring artist talks. These sessions will enlist a few Folio artists – who exhibited a clear artistic vision – to discuss their art amongst their peers and specifically address how their academics have influenced their work. But, for now, Folio has the sixth issue and a party on its mind. How could they not, with all of the hard work and commitment it takes to create each issue? As Alaszkiewicz puts its, “I just can’t wait to hold the finished product in my hands and relax.”
All the art that’s fit to print
Student-run visual art magazine launches first edition of the year Laura Chapnick
The McGill Daily
espite the cacophonous mix of clubs on campus, Folio Magazine stands out from the rest as the only publication that features exclusively visual student art in print. This tangible art source provides students with an artistic outlet and a means to share their work with the McGill community. Now putting together the magazine’s sixth issue, editors, Paula Alaszkiewicz U2 student and Michael Beauvais U3 student, have set out to expand Folio’s audience beyond the Roddick gates. Penetrating the Montreal art scene will be no easy task, but the dedicated edi-
torial and curatorial team of 2011 is ready to experiment. Although small, Folio’s pages are bursting with inventive designs that exemplify Montreal’s edgy aesthetic. One of the benefits of publishing art in print is the inclusivity of this format, which is able to incorporate various mediums, from photography to sketching to digital art. For example, the fall 2011 issue features a hand made piece of furniture and an artist that works primarily with oil paint on transparent paper, among other works. This broad selection ensures that any student will find something within the publication that they can connect with, whether that may be the impassioned strokes of a paintbrush. or the mathemat-
ical blocking of a photograph. The magazine’s pages act as a forum for artists to connect with the public and test out their respective artistic styles. McGill students welcome these experimental works with an open mind and an analytical eye, for each issue of Folio spreads around campus in a matter of hours. As Alaszkiewicz says, “we want submitters to know that even though they don’t attend art school, that doesn’t mean they aren’t in a community that appreciates what they produce.” In line with Alaszkiewicz and Beauvais’ fresh perspective is their choice to go carbon neutral this fall. As one of the few – if not the only – McGill publications to use an environmentally friendly
The McGill Daily | Monday, October 31, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Don’t suf-fur for fashion Vegan fashion show encourages style and social change Victoria Lessard
The McGill Daily
nimal rights and runway fashion – the two phrases, when put together, conjure up images of paint being splashed on fur and protestors jumping onto runways, battling with models for center stage. These two worlds, often at odds with one another, will be united at the upcoming Montreal World Vegan Day Fashion Show. The Fashion Show hopes to raise awareness about animal rights, promote a cruelty-free fashion industry, and fundraise for two charities devoted to rescuing animals: Refuge RR and TEJA’s Animal Refuge Feeling as though the fundraising events she had been attending were not generating enough excitement and interest in both veganism and animal rights, Melissa Galianos, the founder and president of the annual show, began the project in 2007. “I had been to fundraisers for animals before which were stand up comedy nights. All the comedians did was poke fun at vegans all night. I thought to myself, as great as it is that this event is for a good cause, nobody will leave here feeling motivated, or feel like veganism is hip and fun. A fashion show, on the other hand, seemed the perfect vehicle to convey the message,” Galianos told The Daily in an interview. However, it has to be asked if fashion, especially given its complicated social history regarding body image, is an appropriate medium to
raise awareness about animal rights issues. Galianos was quick to assert her point of view, stating, “The show was built from the ground up on the idea of embracing diversity and accepting others, whether they have two legs or four, or are covered in skin or fur. One way this is reflected is through our models, whom we are proud to welcome in all shapes and sizes. I believe fashion is an excellent way to create awareness about the plight of animals. Our fashion show is a fun, positive and playful way to showcase a way of life which would do incredible good in the world.” Galianos’s aspiration for the event is that it will impact both the fashion industry and public consciousness. She hopes the show will encourage designers to stop using animal materials such as leather, wool, and silk. She would also like designers to realize that they can use their cultural capital to effect changes in the industry: as Galianos states, “Compassion is the most powerful fashion statement that will always be in style.” Galianos hopes her efforts will help not only the fashion industry, but also the general public realize their own power to effect change in areas such as animal rights. By buying cruelty-free fashion, people can collectively speak out against the use of animal materials in the industry, effectively creating social change through their own personal style. Galianos emphasized that even through making small changes, people can bring animal rights into the spotlight. “Students could also find the Concordia Animal Rights Association on Facebook and join so they can get news of upcoming
Amina Batyreva | The McGill Daily protests and events. We are thrilled to meet anyone who wants to lend a hand to the animals!” emphasized Galianos. The fashion show promises to be an exciting event. With a
have a have a good time in the name of cruelty-free fashion.
designer piece to be auctioned off, and musical performances by Mannequin Brides and Young Krow, the evening will provide vegans, vegetarians, and carnivores alike the opportunity to
The fashion show will occur November 1, at the Rialto Theatre, 5723 Parc.
expressed that the lights were an “annoyance” and were “blaring into the night sky.” This has been the site of some debate regarding the show – is the installation a source of light pollution? Should this artwork be on display, especially because of the amount of energy resources used to put on the show every night, when environmental resource concerns are such a prominent issue? While concerns such as these must be strongly considered, a representative of the Quartier des Spectacles took the time to respond to the commenter’s concerns, reminding them that the installation was only temporary, as it ends November 6. While the environmental concerns for the installation are problematic, the representative for the Quartier des Spectacles made a
great point in his response. He emphasized that the installation is not a permanent part of the Montreal landscape, and therefore it’s challenging aspects must be seen in comparison with its benefits – mainly, the fact that the public can participate in contemporary art, free from the pressure and cost of the MAC. Oftentimes it can be difficult to get a large swath of the general public into a contemporary art space, even in a city as culturally engaged as Montreal. There is a stigma of contemporary art being confusing or even – gulp – boring. Lozano-Hemmer’s piece allows people to be a part of the installation, while having fun. So the next time you’re down by the Place des Festivals, grab the handle for the spotlight and become an active part of the Montreal art scene.
And then there were lights Place des Arts installation brightens up the Montreal skyline Victoria Lessard
The McGill Daily
ate one night, walking home from the library, my head reeling with names and dates for an upcoming midterm, I happened to notice streams of light beaming up into the night. Confused, and wondering if the lights were a hallucination produced by my coffee– addled brain, I continued on my walk home. Upon repeated sightings, I realized I hadn’t been suffering from midterm hallucinations. However, it was not until I was walking across the Place des Festivals a few days later that I stumbled upon the answer to the mystery – the lights are an installation for the Quebec Triennial 2011 in collaboration with the Montreal Museum of
Contemporary Art (MAC). Created especially for the public square beside the museum, the art piece is titled “Architecture relationnelle 18.” The work was constructed by Rafael LozanoHemmer, a Mexican-Canadian artist who primarily creates works that interact with space and architecture, most often through the use of electronic lights. With the origin of the lights uncovered, I ventured later that night to see the artwork in action. Walking towards the Place des Festivals, I was awed by the scene before my eyes. Even a few blocks away, the show appeared spectacular, the lights swirling and moving gracefully across the night sky. The sight only improved upon walking closer, and I was delighted by the festive scene at the square. While
some of the spotlights are placed on top of the museum and surrounding buildings, quite a few are placed on top of platforms in the plaza, and are controlled by the public through long handles on the ground. Elated groups of people ran from light to light, laughing with joy as they lit up the Montreal night sky. Others simply stood in the Place des Festivals, enjoying the show. Many were taking photos, documenting their chance to participate in this unique piece of contemporary art. Despite the cheerful scene I encountered, not all members of the public have been pleased with the installation. While researching the artwork, a comment left on an article about the show perfectly displayed some citizens’ attitudes towards the lights. Critics
The McGill Daily | Monday, October 31, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Amanda Kron takes a look at local hauntings
Horror Stories Nicolas Roy
n some particularly dry days, you might run into an elderly woman watering the flowers outside a frat house on des Pins. When trying to talk to her, she nods, smiles gently –and disappears. As is the case in many other cities with a rich and multifaceted history, some individuals and phenomenon from Montreal’s past have not quite moved on to the other side just yet. As Halloween approaches, the interest in ghosts and all things occult is massive, and is especially interesting for an international student – and Halloween rookie – such as myself. Old Port is, of course, famed for its historical aura, and seemed like the perfect place to start a search for spirits. While all of the special Halloween ghost walking tours are already booked to the brim, you can still go investigate the streets of Old Montreal, perhaps in the company of some brave friends. Look out for 18th century couple Marie-Josephe Angélique and Claude Thibault, who were thought to be guilty of setting a fire in 1734 that destroyed around 45 houses along Rue Saint Paul. Angélique was sentenced, tortured and executed, but Thibault disappeared on the day that his lover was arrested and was never found again. Further west, the streets of Griffintown are the home of Mary Gallagher, a prostitute from the 19th century who, during a quarrel with a friend, was beheaded with an axe. Continuing this quest for the supernatural, I headed to the Mount Royal cemetery. I was looking for the mythical “Algonquin Indian,” in particular: allegedly
David Chak for The McGill Daily a Native American warrior who wanders the cliffs of the Mount Royal section of the cemetery. With no one around for miles and no other defense other than a faint “I ain’t afraid of no ghost” whisper, the rustling leaves and tombstones helped create an atmosphere conducive to apparitions of all kinds. Unfortunately the cemetery closes at 5 p.m., making nightly excursions impossible, but it nevertheless makes for an interesting visit. McGill is not, by any means, spared from these haunting experiences. The sixth f loor of the McLennan library is, according to rumor, visited by a man wearing period clothing. When addressed or looked at, he (conveniently) disappears. However, during the late hours I’ve spent there, I must admit I encountered nothing but stressed students in midterm mode. If you want to unveil more of Montreal’s supernatural side, montrealparanormal.com and the “le spectre” group on Facebook are good places to start your hunt for the undead, you could also go on a ghost walking tour arranged by Montreal Ghosts (if you have another nineteen friends that have an equal interest in the occult, and are willing to shell out twenty dollars for the experience, that is). If you’re more into the kind of haunted houses that are made by people for partying, there’s Halloween celebrations of different kinds all over town, including the fright fest at La Ronde, Metropolis, Rocky Horror Picture Show at Cinema Imperial, and clubs all over the city. Happy hunting!
Does white space scare you? Fill it up with Culture. Meetings on Tuesdays, at 5:30 p.m. in Shatner B-24
The McGill Daily | Monday, October 31, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
volume 101 number 16
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Invest in environmental accountability It is no secret that Canada has an abysmal environmental record that needs to be reversed. McGill taking action on its environmentally destructive investments would be crucial in addressing what has become one of the most important issues of our generation. McGill styles itself as a leader among Canadian universities, but the lack of concern it exhibits for the environmental impact of its investments clearly shows otherwise. In 2010, McGill’s financial assets, bequests, and donations – managed by the Investment Committee of the Board of Governors (BoG) – held a market value of almost $850 million. But there is no structure in place within the BoG to monitor the environmental impact of these investments. In fact, the only body that assesses anything other than the purely financial aspects of endowment investments is the BoG Committee to Advise on Social Responsibility, which is mandated to focus on issues of human health, safety, and basic freedoms. This committee has not met in over two years, and is purely reactive – someone from the McGill community must file a petition with over 300 signatures before the committee can take any form of action. This weak and ineffective structure is a superficial attempt to hold the BoG accountable for their investment choices. In order for it to become effective, it must fulfill its mandate by meeting regularly and adding environmental responsibility to its purview. Without adequate transparency and accountability, the McGill endowment has been invested in environmentally irresponsible ways. According to the Report on Endowment Performance in 2009-2010, $10 million were invested in commodity commitments, including “two North American natural resources funds of funds and one Canadian oil and gas fund.” Even more worrying is the fact that McGill’s investment portfolio could include a number of environmentally degrading corporations, the names of which are not readily available to the McGill community. Investment managers hired by McGill could put money in things such as mutual funds, which could include oil and gas companies. Without any written commitment to the environment, McGill BoG members are free to make decisions without taking into account how those investments might contribute to environmental degradation. By investing money into commodities such as oil and gas, McGill is providing both funding and legitimacy for those industries, thereby tacitly endorsing the viability of fossil fuels. However, the notion that continual reliance upon oil and gas is necessary, and that alternatives are unrealistic, is baseless and counterproductive. Human consumption of these finite resources is damaging the planet and contributing to a way of life that is not sustainable in the long term. We will have to learn to live without them eventually, and it is in our best interest to do so now. Given the extreme environmental hazards posed by such industries, McGill should divest from all corporations linked to them. Not only will this weaken environmentally irresponsible companies financially, it will also serve to delegitimize them. By taking such steps, McGill would put the environmental impacts of such companies in the public consciousness, and would, therefore, encourage others to divest from them as well. If our administration wishes to live up to the leadership position it claims, they must begin by taking concrete steps to increase the accountability and transparency of their financial stakes and by considering the environmental impact of where endowment money is invested. Our University must step up.
Compe n di uM !
The McGill Daily | Thursday, October 27, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Lies, half-truths, and weird halloween shit!!!
FUCK YEAH STAY-CATION IN OUTREMONT
Last night, we went out for (what was supposed to be) one drink, and, instead, found ourselves in sleepover-party-heaven! Rather than cabbing/biking/walking back to our respective apartments before the clock struck midnight, we found ourselves falling asleep on couches, mildly drunk, and full of Nouveau Palais tacos, surrounded by friends and watching Hugh Grant seduce Julia Roberts in the rom-com classic Notting Hill (also, at one point she’s wearing a belly shirt and a trench coat – fuck yeah 1990s fashion). Then, this morning, we woke up to buddies, sunshine, and cozy blankets to cope with the coming chill. We made the best fucking breakfast. Yay for vegan pumpkin waffles, bacon, and coffee that’s been made with spoons of grounds measured to two significant figures. Yay for forgetting that we have responsibilities and lingering in a wood-paneled living room! Yay for apartments that remind us of Vermont! Fuck yeah stay-cation!
Zombies in the house at floor fours
Photo by Bikuta Tangaman
After the usually faulty Montreal health inspections, zombies came to life out of barrels of beer at Berts. The bar owner promised new security measures to look out for these sanitary concerns. Some conspiracy theorists believe these zombies may have pulled a fire alarm earlier that day at the Shbatner building. —Bikuta Tangaman and Zee Lou Green
FUCK MONTREAL’S FUCKING COLD
Holy shit, it’s only October but I’m freezing my ass and balls off. This city is colder than a fucking freezer in the North Pole. As mentioned in Austin Powers, I want to say it’s Fricking Freezing, Mr. Bigglesworth. That is my new terminology: hot, cold, very cold, and then you get into Bigglesworth territory. And best of all it’ll stay this Bigglesworth until like mid April. So better pull out the big puffy jackets, dorky looking hats, and fake Timberlands. Fuck this!
It’s spooky how much we love you. Send your jokes, comics, and funny stories to email@example.com
Pumpkin flavoured Crossword
The Crossword Fairies The McGill Daily
1. Horse or scag? 6. Bavarians, e.g. 13. Ethiopian stew 14. Nipple surrounders 15. Clytemnestra’s slayer 16. Scott Joplin’s genre of choice 17. Humanoid robot series from PAL 18. Start of a break-in 20. Pool contents? 21. Indian bean trees 23. Arrangement holder 24. Opposite of paleo25. Mosaic piece 27. Unhappy 30. Major square in Kuwait city 33. Demon tempter of the Buddha 34. Bank 35. Flow stopper 36. Fanatical 37. Auth. unknown 38. Shrek, e.g. 39. Building additions 40. Student getting one-on-one help 41. Cap 42. Son of Ramses I 43. Mythical big bird
44. Ancient 46. One of Cyclopes 51. Lustrous fabric 53. Mayan rain god 54. Goad 55. Green mineral 57. __ of the Christ 59. Process, in photography 60. Sprain-prone joints 61. Cassandra 62. Doesn’t go
1. Cold shower? 2. What many students do with their time 3. Appear 4. Skinflint 5. Buckwheat groats 6. Mythical Norse watchdog 7. Victorian, for one 8. Jamaican music 9. Dust particles 10. Short email? 11. April or May 12. Dates 13. Acreage 15. Tolkien villain 19. Found 22. Rent 23. ___ the Impaler 26. Camera diaphragm 28. Burn soothing plant
29. Fraction of a newton 30. Sean Connery, for one 31. Pond organism 32. Personality molding 33. ___ liquor 34. Noisily 36. Bassoon, e.g. 40. Craggy peak 42. Dotty 43. Take back 45. Unselfish sort 47. ___ bar 48. Jimmies 49. Freudian topics 50. Habs rival 51. Lays down the lawn 52. On the safe side, at sea 53. Primitive beehive 56. Discouraging words 58. Calypso offshoot