Volume 101, Issue 2
September 8, 2011 mcgilldaily.com
DAILY Striking out for 100 years.
Published by The Daily Publications Society, a student society of McGill University.
M U NACA ON STRIKE
3, 6, 15
The McGill Daily | Thursday, September 8, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Changes imminent for Concordia governance External committee criticizes BoG for lack of transparency and communication Elise Hannaford News Writer
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oncordia University’s Board of Governor’s (BoG) is set to meet on September 28 to vote on the implementation of recommendations by an external governance committee. The external committee was created in February 2011 in response to the growing concerns of Concordia’s faculty and students over the role of the university’s BoG. Disconnect between the Concordia community and the BoG began to develop three years ago, with the dismissal of a number of Concordia’s managerial staff. The reasoning behind the dismissals, which cost the University $11 million in severance packages, was not immediately made public. The dismissal of former Concordia President, Judith Woodsworth in December 2010, led to further questioning of the BoG’s role, leading to the release of an open letter published on January 10. Signed by over 180 faculty members, the letter demanded a full review of the governing structures of Concordia “with particular attention to the constitution and the power of the BoG.” In response to the tense situation, Concordia’s senate and BoG agreed to appoint an external governance review committee
made up of three independent experts to evaluate the current situation at Concordia. The review committee put forward a report on June 15 analyzing university management, highlighting a lack of transparency from the BoG and a lack of effective communication between the BoG, the senate, and the president. Its proposed solutions were to modify the university’s charter, increase senate and community participation, and increase communication between all governing bodies. The most significant change proposed by the committee concerned the BoG, whose size would be cut from 42 to 25 members. In an interview with The Daily, Lex Gill, president of the Concordia Student Union (CSU), said that undergraduate students would be “losing out significantly” if the BoG’s size were reduced. Concordia’s undergraduates would lose 60 per cent of their voting power, she said. Currently, four undergraduate student representatives sit on the 42 member board; the proposed reduction of the BoG to 25 members would contain only one undergraduate representative. Gill said that while the university has traditionally empowered student participation in governance, this change in the composition of the BoG is clearly a step in the wrong direction.
She further explained that, at Concordia, “there was a sense that the university valued the student voices.” However, with the new model, “it is clearly no longer the case.” In an attempt to address these concerns, the ad hoc governance committee proposed adding an “alternate member” on the board, able to vote in the absence of the other student representative. “But in the end,” Gill said, “this is not really an acceptable offer. They are acknowledging the problem, and doing something about it, but not doing enough.” The committee’s recommendations also included stricter term limits for governors on the BoG and increased internal community participation in the board. Lucie Leguin, President of the Concordia University Faculty Association (CUFA), told The Daily that the recommendations were a move in the right direction. “By June 1, 2012, if the changes are approved there will be a very different board,” he added. Although Gill recognized that some of the recommendations, if passed, would positively impact the university, she stated that the CSU was still skeptical. For Gill, a collective effort is needed to regain a trusting and collaborative atmosphere within Concordia’s administration. “The BoG is unwilling to treat students as equal partners,” she said.
To Know Christ and To Make Him Known
Weekly Student Activities Two Morning Services: 9:30 am and 11:05 am every Sunday, and Bible Studies; Evening Service 6:30 pm. Sunday, September 11 A Welcome Lunch after the 11:05 am morning service Weds.: CEGEP, University Students and Young Adults group from 7 pm to 9 pm. Weds., Thurs., Fri.: Cell group Bible Studies in different locations. Thursday: Alpha (Finding out more about the Christian Faith) from 6 pm to 9 pm. Opportunity to Teach Sunday School and Participate in Worship.
Pierre Chauvin | The Link (Concordia)
Corner of Union & Sherbrooke W. 2 blocks east of the McGill gates on Sherbrooke St. across from Faculty of Music/Pollock Hall Telephone: (514) 845-9834 www.peoplesmontreal.org email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Concordia interim-president Frederick Lowy has overseen the governance review.
The McGill Daily | Thursday, September 8, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
McGill still adapting after week of picketing Talks between University and MUNACA resuming today The McGill Daily
he McGill administration begins conciliation meetings with the McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association (MUNACA) today, one week after the union’s members commenced a general strike. In conciliation, the MUNACA and McGill bargaining teams are joined by a third party, a representative from the Quebec Ministry of Labour, who mediates the negotiations. MUNACA president Kevin Whittaker said the purpose of conciliation “is basically trying to get [McGill and MUNACA] back at the table and to get us talking.” He added that MUNACA is willing to continue negotiations, but that the union has been unsure as to McGill’s readiness to discuss issues. “I have many members that are quoting Provost [Anthony] Masi, who’s walking through our [picket] lines saying, ‘Have a Merry Christmas.’ That doesn’t look like McGill is very serious about this conciliation, when their own Provost is saying such things, so we find it very unprofessional and not very encouraging.” Picketers have marched at three locations over the past week: the Roddick Gates on Sherbrooke, the Milton Gates on University, and the bottom of McTavish. There are also two picket lines at Macdonald campus. According to Whittaker, there are plans to expand the picket lines to more locations, though he could not offer details as to where or when.
Confrontations at picket lines Morton Mendelson, Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) held a meeting last week with reporters from The Daily, The McGill Tribune, and Le Délit to discuss issues surrounding the strike. Mendelson called the picket lines “respectful on both sides.” He said that the only incident of disruption was a noise complaint from a resident in the Milton-Parc community that was resolved by moving a drummer from the Milton to the Roddick
Gates. A delivery truck was also directed to an alternate entrance due to MUNACA’s picket line. On Wednesday morning, picketers on McTavish were faced with two vehicles that refused to be rerouted. Dr. Hang Lau, a faculty lecturer in the School of Continuing Studies, attempted to drive up McTavish, breaking the picket line. “I’m a faculty member. I’m parking and I’m going right up here. I’m going to a meeting and I’m behind already,” he said while waiting for the line to part. A delivery truck from Ozawa, Inc., with Ontario license plates, also tried to cross until McGill security moved picketers to allow the vehicle to pass. Bertrand Lavoie, Regional Coordinator for PSACQuébec, took issue with the role that McGill security officers played in the situation, stressing that picketers were not on McGill property. “If there is a problem here, it is not their jurisdiction. It is the jurisdiction of the police, and that’s it. If the police arrive, we will discuss with them,” Lavoie said. Whittaker said that the incident on Wednesday was the only one of which he was aware. “There was some disruption with cars coming through. We’ve been asking [vehicles] if they can go around, which – in 99 per cent of the time – they go around. There’s only a few that actually force their way in,” he said. “We’re not blocking them. If they want to go in, we stop and ask them, ‘Would you please consider not passing our picket line?’ And if they still insist then we let them through,” he continued.
Campus mobilization Mendelson said that the he had reviewed the list of Frequently Asked Questions released by SSMU concerning the strike, but was “a little disappointed that there was a number of inaccuracies in what they said.” He added that he had informed SSMU of the mistakes. Joël Pedneault, SSMU VP External, explained that the fact sheet was updated after communicating with the University. “The
Work hours standard work week standard work day meal time (unpaid) paid break (minutes)
33.75 6.75 1.25 30
35 7 1 15
Percentage of employee dependents’ tuition covered by the university
67% McGill Concordia
MUNACA picketers block the car of McGill professor Hang Lau. major change was that we make reference to employees’ benefits being cut, whereas it is only current and future retirees’ benefits that are being cut,” Pedneault wrote in an email to the Daily. “The nuance is significant, although we are perplexed as to why the University took the time to point out the fact that people who cannot defend their rights (i.e. current retirees, who are not part of a union) are in fact the most affected in the short run,” he continued. The Mobilization Committee (Mob Squad) at SSMU has also organized around MUNACA’s cause and members reported that more than forty students attended a recent meeting to discuss ideas for demonstrating support. The Mob Squad organized a rally for this morning around the McGill Board of Governors on campus luncheon. “People are very excited about this,” said Mob Squad member and SSMU Arts representative Jamie Burnett. “People care a lot about this and people are really wanting to get involved.”
Victor Tangermann | The McGill Daily
Micha Stettin, another Mob Squad member and SSMU Arts representative, explained one of the group’s goals in mobilizing around the MUNACA strike. “We are trying to show that the McGill administration cannot just take whatever action they want without a response from the rest of the McGill community. We are the largest body in the McGill community and we have the most power, so we can act. And we will act.” When asked about student response, Mendelson referred to a campaign that encourages students to send emails en masse to administrators stating support for MUNACA workers. “That is something that happens from time to time depending on issues, you know, many students complaining about one issue or another issue,” he said. “Interestingly, we don’t get those campaigns when people want to say that things are really going well.” Whittaker said that MUNACA picketers would join the rally, and expressed gratitude for the various forms of support. “We’ve had a number of students that were out
Annual salary increase
here [on picket lines], and we had a teacher bring her class out to picket as well,” he said. Faculty members have demonstrated their solidarity in a number of ways. “We’re getting a lot of independent professors coming out and marching with us; there were about thirty of them at one point…and we have been contacted by a number of other professors that are apparently forming a group,” said Whittaker. The group, which is made up of faculty members from nine departments within Arts, is called the McGill Faculty Labour Action Group. Additionally, individual faculty members have published letters of support, which are posted on MUNACA’s website. Some professors have chosen to move the location of their classes in order to avoid crossing union picket lines. According to Mendelson, the relocation of classes is not an issue unless professors cease teaching altogether. Otherwise, he reassured students that, despite the possibility of delays, “we’re going to try our darndest to keep all the services that are really important going.”
Vacation days according to seniority 36
Janu 200 ary 7
Janu 200 ary 8
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The McGill Daily | Thursday, September 8, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
McGill clears professor of academic fraud Barbara Sherwin reprimanded for falsely crediting article Andra Cernavskis The McGill Daily
fter concluding an investigation into McGill psychology professor Barbara Sherwin’s alleged academic fraud, the University has officially reprimanded her for taking sole credit for an article she had co-written. The decision, which amounts to a public censure, spares Sherwin from a harsher punishment, such as sanctions or suspension. An internal review committee led by Provost Anthony Masi investigated three allegations made against Sherwin in relation to an article she published in a 2000 edition of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. First, that she had participated in ghostwriting, second, that she had an untoward relationship with a pharmaceutical company, and third, that she failed to acknowledge assistance with the article. The committee cleared her of the first two allegations. McGill’s investigation began in August 2009 after Sherwin’s name was brought up in a class action lawsuit against pharmaceutical company Wyeth, which has since been bought by Pfizer. In the case, 8,400 women claimed they were hurt by the hormone replacement therapy (HRT) drugs the company sold. The women’s lawyers also claimed that there had been insufficient information given about the potential harm of the drug. According to a Maclean’s article published in May, Wyeth paid DesignWrite to produce articles on the HRT drugs, asking leading academics to sign their names to them, and then publish them in academic journals. Sherwin was one of the academics mentioned in the case, prompting the allegations that she had both participated in ghostwriting and had been involved in an inappropriate relationship with a pharmaceutical company. Sherwin has publicly admitted failure to properly acknowledge the assistance she received from DesignWrite.
Richard Janda, a McGill Law professor who advised Sherwin throughout McGill’s investigation, described how Sherwin “continues to be used as an example of how there are problematic relationships between corporations and universities.” “If anything, this is a professor that has been scrupulous and almost paranoid about having involvement with pharmaceutical companies,” said Janda. “She has always refused to take
“The editorial assistance we provided to Dr. Sherwin was common practice in the industry and we have never had an author express any confusion in this regard.” Rosie Lynch CEO of DesignWrite
products even if it’s a matter of use in research. She has not taken drugs from pharmaceutical companies. She has not had sponsorship by pharmaceutical companies for her own work. She only had public funds for her own work.” According to Janda, Sherwin never knew of the relationship between Wyeth and DesignWrite, who often do not disclose that they are working for pharmaceutical companies. “If she had been asked to promote [the HRT drugs], bells would have gone off, but since that’s not what she was doing, there were no alarm bells that went off,” Janda said. The article was a comprehensive review, considering a range of possible treatments for cognitive disorders, including HRT. In regards to whether or not a DesignWrite employee had ghostwritten Sherwin’s article, Sherwin told Maclean’s she offered editorial credit to DesignWrite employee Karen Mittleman – who compiled Sherwin’s research into the article – but Mittleman refused. DesignWrite defends its posi-
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tion. Rosie Lynch, the CEO of DesignWrite, explained in an email to The Daily that Sherwin “authored an article that was medically and scientifically accurate and valid. We assisted her in writing and editing the article, which was common practice in the industry. She had control over the final product and final approval over the article. The article was published by independent peer reviewed journals that were completely autonomous in their decision to publish the article
based on its scientific merit.” When asked whether or not Sherwin was aware of the relationship between DesignWrite and Wyeth, Lynch replied, “The editorial assistance we provided to Dr. Sherwin was common practice in the industry and we have never had an author express any confusion in this regard.” She did admit that Wyeth paid DesignWrite “to assist Dr. Sherwin with writing and editing the article,” but also stated that journals were never paid to publish the article. According to Janda, the media coverage of Sherwin’s investigation has been particularly disturbing to her, and that the whole process has placed her under emotional strain. In an email to The Daily, Sherwin said she had been advised “to not communicate with anyone in the media for the time being.” Doug Sweet, McGill Director of Media Relations, said the University was not commenting on the investigation.
The McGill Daily | Thursday, September 8, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Arts and Education societies fight over Frosh fee AUS president threatening legal action Henry Gass
The McGill Daily
string of miscommunications have escalated a dispute over an annual Frosh fee paid by the Education Undergraduate Society (EdUS) to the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS). As early as 2004, Education students have participated in Arts Frosh, with EdUS compensating AUS $2,000. When planning for this year’s Frosh events began in May, AUS President Jade Calver increased the fee to $8,000. Kady Paterson, EdUS SSMU representative and former design and production editor for The Daily, said AUS initially asked for $10,000. “We cannot pay $8,000, and will not pay $8,000. We negotiated; we said we’d be willing to pay the $2,000 that we normally do. AUS said they wouldn’t go anything lower than $6,000,” said Paterson. Calver maintained, however, that EdUS was willing to pay up to $10,000. “Obviously that was a little much, so we decided on $8,000 together,” she said. “[Paterson], in front of all five of my other coordinators, agreed numerous times on this amount,” Calver continued. Paterson, who sat on the AUS Frosh Planning Committee this summer in lieu of EdUS VP Internals Elizabeth O’Dwyer and Talia Kelly, described the fee as “essentially a donation to Frosh.” “They keep all of our Froshies’ registration fees, they keep all of our leader registration fees, all of the liquid sales – so all of the beer that in the past has been included in ticket price but now is being charged for, they are now keeping all of the profits off of that,” she continued. According to Calver, the increase was the result of calculating the cost per student for Frosh – which included insurance, the hiring of Frosh coordinators, and labour over the summer – a measure AUS took after financial mismanagement of AUS Frosh last year left the society with a severe deficit. Paterson brought a motion to EdUS Council a few weeks before the start of Frosh to authorize the $6,000 increase. The motion was defeated.
The roughly 100 Education students who participated in Frosh were split between Arts and Science events.
Paterson said the council, which runs EdUS events on a $30,000 annual budget, “didn’t really see why $8,000 was justified.” She also spoke to the fact that she never had the authority to agree to a fee increase. “I don’t have the authority to promise anybody anything. [Calver] knows this. Her rep to SSMU couldn’t do it either; neither can I. And she also knows that changes of budget do need to go through Council. I can’t willy-nilly guarantee money and not tell anybody on Council – especially for us when it’s a 400 per cent budget increase,” she said. Nevertheless, Calver maintained that it was “made fairly clear to us that [Paterson] was sent to us on behalf of EdUS.” “[Paterson] said they had the payment ready to go,” she continued. Paterson did have an $8,000 check from EdUS, signed by
President Vanessa Harman and VP Finance Susanne Farag, but was only authorized to give AUS the check once Council approved the increase. Once EdUS Council defeated the motion, Paterson claims she tore up the check, at which point she also alleges Calver threatened legal action. “[Calver] informed me that there had been a verbal contract – which I was completely unaware of – and that we had breached the contract,” said Paterson. Paterson also said that Calver “would be consulting with a lawyer and looking to take legal action, which is something she has expressed to us further since then.” Calver said legal action would be a “last resort,” and that AUS had not begun any legal proceedings. She would not comment on whether she has spoken with a lawyer about the dispute.
“I don’t seek to hurt them financially,” said Calver. “Obviously I’ll do everything in my power to enter into negotiations with them before we ever pursue legal action.” Apart from one meeting between Calver, Paterson, Farag, and AUS VP Events Jason Karmody several weeks before Frosh, no negotiations have taken place. Paterson said Calver refused EdUS’ request for a mediator, after which SSMU President Maggie Knight offered to mediate negotiations. Calver refused Knight’s offer. Knight said she had been “willing to mediate as a peer, as a student,” though not as SSMU President, as it is not SSMU’s role to mediate disputes between student societies. According to Knight, Calver initially said she didn’t think it would be appropriate for Knight to mediate. Last weekend, the Education
Ian Murphy for The McGill Daily
Froshies who were not registered for Arts Frosh, along with Education leaders, participated in Science Frosh. According to Paterson, the Science, Management and Engineering faculties all offered to take the roughly 100 Education Froshies and ten leaders for free. Paterson emphasized the importance to Education – one of the smallest faculties at McGill – of having their first-years experience Frosh together. “There are almost more people attending Arts Frosh than there are in my entire faculty,” said Paterson. “We’re just trying to actually give our students something tangible to do, and things to bring out of Frosh aside from a hangover.” “The AUS has had a habit of not reclaiming the money that is owed to them,” said Calver. “That’s what we agreed upon during our meetings, that’s what they owe to us, and it is now Arts students’ money.”
The McGill Daily | Thursday, September 8, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Student solidarity Why we should all support the MUNACA strike Davide Mastracci The McGill Daily
t 6 a.m. on September 1st, the McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association (MUNACA) went on strike. MUNACA represents 1,700 non-academic workers at McGill who have been engaged in a lengthy struggle with the McGill administration. The union includes library staff, Service Point employees, residence security guards, lab technicians, and many more workers. Their decision to strike is motivated by the fact that their collective agreement is less favourable than those of their counterparts at other universities in Montreal. MUNACA members have a lower wage ceiling than similar workers at other universities and must work longer to reach this low wage ceiling. Furthermore, the McGill administration has attacked the workers’ pensions and benefits by cutting $1 million from their pension plan. The administration’s disregard for the well-being of these workers has been made apparent through their failure to come to an agreement after 23 collective bargaining negotiations since January. MUNACA members have responded appropriately to this disregard by going on strike. Now students must respond as well. The student community should follow a twofold strategy in expressing their solidarity with MUNACA members. First, students should seek to increase the stress placed upon the system by the MUNACA workers’ absence. A strike’s purpose is to stop as much work as possible from being completed in an attempt to force the administration to accept the strikers’ demands. By abandoning their positions, the workers place a burden upon the system that can only be relieved through their renewed presence. To aid MUNACA’s objectives, students can flood Service Point with appointments or carry out strategic mass loans at McGill libraries in order to maximize this
Amina Batyreva | The McGill Daily
burden. These kinds of actions can cause inconveniences for students, but that is exactly the purpose. Without inconveniences, strikes would rarely be successful. These hassles are definitely worth it when you consider that the lifelong salaries and pensions of workers are at stake. Furthermore, it’s critical to note that the extra burden doesn’t actually fall upon student workers because it’s illegal for the administration to ask them to work extended hours or do jobs previously done by MUNACA workers. The second component of stu-
dent solidarity should come in the form of mass public support for MUNACA members. This means joining the picket lines, emailing administration figures such as Heather Munroe-Blum to let them know that the students stand behind the strikers, and, most importantly, sending a clear message to the media. As the school ultimately exists for the students, a divided student body would be destructive to the chances of a successful struggle for MUNACA members. The administration and the media will likely try to emphasize
disturbances created by the strike in order to antagonize MUNACA members. Students must publicly reject this narrative. For example, when you’re waiting in a lengthy line at Service Point during this strike, remember that it is a result of the McGill administration refusing to grant their employees fair conditions. Essentially, McGill students must not be complicit in the unjust treatment of MUNACA members. McGill has no problem with granting deans and administration executives exorbitant salaries in the
name of competition, but evidently does not hold the same standards for MUNACA members. MUNACA workers are essential to ensuring that day-to-day life at McGill runs smoothly. As such, the least McGill students can do is return the favour and help ensure a successful transition to better salaries and pensions for these workers. Davide Mastracci is a U1 Joint Honours student in Political Science and History. You can email him at davide.mastracci@ mail.mcgill.ca.
Got something to say? Send 300 words (or less) to email@example.com.
The McGill Daily | Thursday, September 8, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
“We’re a great country, but we can be a better one” How Jack Layton reshaped Canadian politics Matthew Milne
The McGill Daily
n August 22, 2011, Canada lost one of its most respected voices, and McGill lost one of its greatest inspirations. The death of the Honourable Jack Layton, the man who was the leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition for a regrettably short period of time, leaves a dearth of integrity and optimism on our national stage. For me, Layton’s passing was a catalyst for the recognition of my own aspirations, both as a student of political science and, more importantly, as a Canadian.
leader, many of us were forced to take a meaningful look at the NDP’s policies and integrity. In the mix of eulogies and commentary on Layton’s passing, the words of Stephen Lewis, former Ontario NDP leader, obliterated any dissent on Layton’s rationale for being in politics: “he insists that we’re a great country, but we can be a better one.” For a young Canadian, the desire, nay, the obligation, to make this country better, is the cri de couer that injects me with the vigour to make something not only of myself, but also of my country. Jack Layton demonstrated that politics could be about convictions and ideas instead of politicking
“He wanted every single Canadian to feel like they were an integral part of this country.” But how does a man that I’ve never met, never heard speak, and never even voted for affect me in such an intimate way? Why does the death of a man whom the National Post’s Christie Blatchford derogatorily called “a 24/7 politician who was always on,” make me ask myself not only what it is I want to be, but also how I can take part in actively shaping the country I want. As the vocal, long-time opponent of the Conservative and Liberal parties, Jack Layton and the NDP continually represented the voice of the voiceless. Layton and his party stood behind those mercilessly disenfranchised by Canada’s single-member district plurality electoral system. But as the consistent third wheel in federal politics, Jack Layton and the NDP were able to stay honest to their goals and to keep their ears open to their constituents. Last spring, when Layton moved into Stornaway, the residence of the official opposition
and half-measures. He demanded that politics be an engaging conversation, precluding angry diatribes and porous monologues. The pleasure of seeing an honest person do an honest day’s work in a profession so fallen from grace is like seeing a light pierce through the blackness of a mineshaft. It is only too sad that his mandate was validated before it could be thoroughly applied. Nevertheless, the knowledge that politics can be done in an authentic and deeply personal way is inspiring. Layton’s ability to seamlessly negotiate the personal and political has pushed me to realize the unifying ideals of social democracy. They provide everyone with an equal voice, allowing the country to come together behind a progressive agenda. More importantly, he showed that these ideals can be implemented without sacrificing one’s self respect or beliefs. Some may critique Layton’s populism, arguing that he attracted a cult
of personality without any navigable public policy underpinning his own demagoguery. Blatchford certainly has no problem dismissing the outpouring of grief by Canadians of all political stripes as “mawkish” and pedestrian (in the same article, she also tries to use the death of a six year old girl to prove a point). As a B.C. native, I can see this most clearly in the naivete of reopening the constitutional debate in Quebec. But if his populism swept the Bloc Quebecois from relevancy on the national political scene, I cannot see it as a negative. Rather, the populism embodied by Layton is populism at its best. It is, without fail, inclusive. He wanted every single Canadian to feel like they were an integral part of this country. This extended to members of the queer community, exemplified through his longstanding support for marriage equality as well as his early campaign for support for individuals with HIV/AIDS while on Toronto City Council. Furthermore, Assembly of First Nations National Chief, Shawn Atleo, called Layton a “remarkable and inspirational leader for all peoples” on his passing. Jack Layton’s populism was based on the idea of being popular throughout Canada, with every Canadian. That is a populism I can live with. But it’s more than
Nicole Stradiotto | The McGill Daily
that – it’s what makes our country one that I can proudly live in. Jack Layton, born in an affluent Anglo suburb of Montreal, the great-grandnephew of a father of Confederation, and son of a cabinet minister, became the most respected voice in opposition in at least a decade. He didn’t do it with tricks and half-truths but through honest work and sound convictions. His passing is nationally mourned because
of the ideas he represented, and we must rise to the challenge he left us. We need to shape the national dialogue into an inclusive exchange of ideas and offer to those around us only the best in ourselves. I, for one, hope to rise to the occasion. Matthew Milne is a U2 Political Science and English Literature student. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students react to Jack Layton’s death “To contemplate that Jack is no longer among us means to recognize that a huge hole opened in Canadian politics and society. Layton was a visionary because he grew out of traditional politics by showing us an authenticity and sincerity that people weren’t used to seeing. He presided over the biggest reorganization of the Canadian left wing in 50 years, fought for social justice, and never gave up. Until the end. Rest in peace, Jack!”
“Layton’s consistent political behaviour won my confidence when I was kind of cynical about federal politics. His personal consistency of spirit is far more humbling to me than his political accomplishments though.”
“While his death was remorseful, it’s incredible what he accomplished in his life. His story is inspirational to all dealing with cancer and fighting for change in our country.”
“Chomsky says that in contemporary political newsspeak, ‘Jobs’ actually means ‘Profits.’ It’s self-evident that ‘Job-Creation’ policies pursued by so many of our leaders are actually ‘Profit-Creation’ initiatives, but Jack Layton was a breath of fresh air in Ottawa because his policies and language were never obfuscated by a thick layer of misinformation and contradictory wordplay. When Mr. Layton spoke of economic and social security for the working families of Canada, he meant what he said and this should be the memory we honour and learn from, like Laurier’s legacy of compromise. Our world needs more honest public servants like Jack, and I sure hope he’s right about our generation – like never before, we can be empowered and rise up against injustice, so long as we settle for no less. RIP, JL.”
Nicole Stradiotto U2 Philosophy
Nika Ahmadi U1 Management
Ethan Feldman U4 Philosophy
Alexander Kunev U3 Mechanical Engineering Victor Tangermann | The McGill Daily
Pushing the envelope Postal workers’ struggles with Canada Post and their union over the last year Erin Hudson
The McGill Daily
n November 22, 2010, nine weeks after a new, arduous mail delivery system was introduced there, postal workers in Winnipeg simply walked off the job without the consent of Canada Post or their union leadership. This is how Bob Tyre, president of the union’s Winnipeg branch, tells it: “One of our temporary workers said, ‘I can’t do the new method. I’m more than happy to do work in another depot – I’ll deliver the old way– but this new way is too much to me and I can’t do it.’ So they suspended him on the spot and that angered the building. We had four letter carrier depots in that building together. When the boss wouldn’t back off, well, then, they walked out for a day.” The walkout would set the stage for six months of workers’ struggles, culminating in this summer’s mail strike. But the walkout would also inspire some workers to break with their union’s powerful National Executive, and to question the future of unions. From November 2010 to June 2011, anarchism arrived at the post office. Last fall Canada Post Corporation (CPC) introduced the Modern Post – a new method of delivering mail that will begin the postal transformation Canada Post believes they need in order to modernize, be financially sustainable and maintain relevance in the digital age where mail volumes per address are decreasing. The Modern Post plans to motorize letter carriers and implement a two-bundle carrying method. The two-bundle system will consist of one bundle of pre-sequenced mail to hold on the forearm, while the second bundle will be flyers to be handed out at each point of call. Instead of letter carriers sorting their mail in the plant, machines will sequence the majority of mail, which means that letter carriers will spend more time on delivery routes. Parcel delivery drivers will be almost completely eliminated. The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) estimates that in Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton and Scarborough 306 jobs will be cut as a result of the new system. Outside a union meeting in Montreal, delivery agent Denis Auger Delegue said this is his first bad year at the post office in 32 years. Modern Post was first implemented in Winnipeg, in the city’s Southwest and Northeast depots. The system came in two waves, beginning September 20, then completely on October 18. On November 4, following a court decision prohibiting workers from refusing to work under Modern Post, the CUPW – which represents all Canadian postal workers – released a web bulletin weighing in on the matter. Their message: the union’s collective agreement, which was set to expire at the end of January 2011, would not protect workers who walked off the job to protest the Modern Post. With little concrete action taken by CUPW’s National Executive, workers facing the daily challenges of the Modern Post took matters into their own hands.
Wildcat: workers’ claws come out A wildcat strike is when workers walk off the job without warning. Sudden as this one was, it didn’t come out of nowhere. Tyre has been working as a postal worker
since 1977, and began working for CUPW in 1993. He says the Modern Post was the latest in a long string of problems postal workers were having with Canada Post. “The carriers were getting angrier and angrier, and the boss was getting more strict and being bigger bullies– so things were coming to a head,” Tyre explained. Forced overtime, short staffing, and overtime-related injuries contributed to the increased tension on depots’ work floors. On November 22, those tensions came to a boil, with the wildcat strike. “It was kind of a flash point to reignite
the labour movement and I don’t think people realize how important that one-day walk out was for the labour movement and for postal workers,” Tyre said. Following the strike, Tyre said their union local received messages of support and solidarity from around the world. “Everybody realized that they weren’t alone,” he said. “The workers just fed off of that, not only in Winnipeg but across the country, and not only in our own union but in other unions.”
Winter at the post office In Edmonton, large networks of workers were organizing among themselves, galvanized in part by what they witnessed in Winnipeg. Though not facing the Modern Post yet, postal workers in Edmonton were contending with compulsory overtime, short staffing and allocations of delivery routes that left certain areas of the city un-serviced. Sometimes, postal workers were even delivering mail after dark. Patrick,* a CUPW organizer, spearheaded a public outreach campaign through the union named Porchlights for Posties, in which Patrick and others went around neighbourhoods distributing lamps for people to stick on their porches, making night routes better lit and safer. But campaigns such as Porchlights, based on traditional CUPW strategies, proved unable to create real changes that workers were demanding. This presented an opportunity for Patrick’s second identity– as an anarchist and “Wobbly”– to provide alternatives for postal workers. Wobblies is the nickname for members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Formed in Chicago in 1905, their goal is to unite workers across different industries, to form “one big union” and a world without bosses. IWW’s union culture is based
on grassroots direct action, and workers taking control of their workplaces through mass participation in these actions. For example, Wobblies pioneered something called March on the Boss, where employees collectively present their boss with a list of demands. IWW members working at Starbucks invented and polished the tactic. Many Wobblies identify as anarchists, but IWW is not associated with one ideology. Its members bring many different identities into the organization. Patrick counted communists, practicing Mormons, and NDP-ers among their constituency. Helen Keller was a Wobbly. “It is a union with radical politics that are not only in reaction to each worker’s situation but
“Old-school union radicalism”
also [it’s a union] that is able to carry a transformative social vision for the long term,” said a founder of the Montreal IWW branch, who preferred to remain anonymous. Montreal Wobblies started to build their organization almost two years ago. Led and trained by several self-identified Wobblies, Edmonton workers developed a large organized network of postal workers over the winter months. They used innovative tactics such as mass text message lists, coffee-break meetings, Marches on the Boss, and workplace surveys. Rapidly, many workers in depots across Edmonton became increasingly militant on the floor, voicing demands and taking actions together. On February 27, around 160 workers in Edmonton took a stand by holding a mass meeting to discuss grievances and working conditions. The next day, Edmonton’s Depot 3 and Depot 9, presented a statement of their demands and grievances to management. Within the week, ten depots across the city refused forced overtime due to health and safety concerns. As a result, Canada Post started staffing properly and cut forced overtime. Depot 3 made a YouTube video documenting their fight with Canada Post. It ends with this message: “As workers, we cannot rely on our management or even our own union leadership to grant us the working conditions we desire. We must organize ourselves from the workfloor up.”
Jean-Claude Parrot is a labour legend. A retired Montreal postal worker, former chief negotiator for CUPW, and president of their National Executive board from 1977 until 1992, he spoke about the importance of the union being connected to its members. “We succeeded to get the support of the membership because we earned our credibility with them,” Parrot said. “You have to be careful not to discourage people to take action… we got that reputation [of militancy] because we earned it.” During Parrot’s tenure CUPW won the first large-scale fight for paid maternity leave in 1981. Parrot himself served 64 days in jail after refusing to ask workers to go back to work in 1978. Now, in 2011, the union’s radical bona fides are increasingly being questioned. The winter in Edmonton, filled with workers’ own grassroots organizing and direct action strategies, would stand in stark contrast with the National Executive’s top-down approach to negotiating the urban postal workers’ collective agreement throughout the spring.
With the expiration of the urban postal workers’ contract on January 31, 2011, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt appointed Jacques Lessard to act as the conciliator between CUPW and Canada Post, forcing both parties to engage in negotiations. Conciliation also marks the start of an 81-day period, at the end of which, if no agreement has been reached, either party has the right to strike or lock out. Denis Lemelin, chief CUPW negotiator and National Executive president, frequently posted bulletins with updates on the union’s website throughout the conciliation and mediation process in February and March. But the “incredible” spirit of the winter was missing, says Roxanne,* a relief letter carrier also based in Edmonton. Like Patrick, she indentifies herself as a Wobbly, an anarchist, and a union shop steward. “It felt like we were somehow in control, like we called the shots on the floor,” she said, in reference to the winter’s spate of direct actions. “Just the level of input: we were able to say when we wanted to do things and how we wanted to do them.”
April 2011 On April 18, the union announced that 94.5 percent of its membership voted to give the union a mandate to strike if necessary. The voting represented the largest turnout and strongest mandate the union has ever received, including the union’s 1965 wildcat strike where 80 percent of postal workers walked out. Lemelin interpreted the voting results in a web bulletin on April 18.
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The Union Strikes With no progress being made at the bargaining table, the CUPW National Executive called on its members’ to begin a rotating strike starting at 11:59 p.m. on June 2 in Winnipeg. The discipline that was required to stay optimistic and keep momentum going in a tense working atmosphere was a challenge, according to Roxanne. Workers waited for the National Executive to tell them when they would strike and, while they waited, they continued working without their collective agreement. On May 30, with the union having given 72-hour notice for the rotating strike, Canada Post declared they would no longer respect the collective agreement as of that night. This announcement suspended vacation leave and health benefits. Tyre said he knew of members who died during the spring’s standoff whose families were temporarily unable to collect their life insurance as a result of the suspension of the collective agreement. “We’ve got members that are dying of cancer, paying thousands of dollars a month for medication now; people on disability insurance had their disability cut off,” he explained.
Canada Post’s treatment of workers during the rotating strike and bargaining period left much to be desired, but CUPW’s ability to find solutions for workers was hardly better. Some workers, like those in Saint Albert, found that circumventing traditional union methods were often more successful than following the union’s strike strategy or acting through the grievance procedure. The union’s grievance process can be deeply frustrating. Tyre says that in Winnipeg there are about 3,000 grievances waiting to be heard since 2000. In Edmonton, Patrick says 2,200 workers file 1,000 grievances annually. Meanwhile, workers grew increasingly impatient with the rotating strike’s inability to resolve negotiations. On June 14, the last day of the strike, over 300 letter carriers stormed and occupied Depot 9 in downtown Edmonton. Management locked themselves in their offices. Around 9 p.m. Western Standard Time, Canada Post locked out its workers, suspending mail delivery across the country. Workers exiting Depot 9 continued a blockade around the depot after noticing management staying to finish the mail. After a seven-hour stand-off with police, the demonstration broke up and management was able to leave.
Locked out and legislated back-to-work The cost of keeping postal service operating during the 12-day rotating strike amounted to $167 million, according to CPC spokesperson Anick Losier. They had no choice, then, but to lock out workers, she says. In addition to financial loss, management had hoped that the union would reenter negotiations under the pressure of a lockout. This spurred the federal government into action. Thirteen days after CPC locked out its employees, the newly elected Conservative government introduced and passed back-to-work legislation. Workers were given a pay increase and CUPW’s old collective agreement was temporarily re-instated, retroactive to February 1, 2011. Still, the union saw the legislation as a bitter defeat. For one, an arbitrator, Coulter Arthur Anthony Osborne, was appointed by the government to review the separate collective agreements proposed by Canada Post and CUPW. He will choose one collective agreement without any further negotiation between the two parties. The union is also challenging the Osborne’s appointment, as he has no previous experience in labour disputes and is not bilingual. “We’re certain that they’ve carefully picked an arbitrator that’s going to pick
Canada Post’s collective agreement,” said Tyre. “It’s working in such a way that if we ask for anything that costs ten dollars, that’s it, the arbitrator can’t pick it.” What’s more, CPC’s Labour Relations department initially stopped the pay increase included in the back-to-work law. CEO and president of Canada Post Deepak Chopra had to intervene so that workers will receive their payments on September 29. The government has also failed to hold Canada Post accountable for its violations of the collective agreement, which now applies retroactively to the entire period of negotiations, the rotating strike, and the spring lock out. Finally, Tyre pointed out that the legislation fails to address the health and safety concerns with the Modern Post. For him, the omission serves as an indication that the government is not listening to postal workers. “We know we don’t have a hope in hell there.” Starting with the postal workers who stormed out of their depots in Winnipeg last November, the struggle had come full circle. Modern Post was still in place; postal transformation continues to sweep the country. Negotiations are over. Workers have little to show for eight months of mobilization and resistance.
Lessons learned Patrick noticed that his fellow union members in Edmonton had grown fatigued from such a prolonged struggle. The demoralizing effect of the back-towork legislation, coupled with habitually low mail volumes in July and August, resulted in a quiet summer for Edmonton. Despite painful
setbacks, Patrick saw a silver lining in the previous year’s agitation. “I think it was a really good learning experience for a lot of people,” he said. He described the fighting spirit of postal workers over the past year as being greater than anything workers have seen since the 1980s. However, said the National Executive’s control of how, where, and when postal workers would strike failed to tap into the energy generated from the shop floor. “We were an early fight in the Harper regime and the broader wave of austerity that is rolling out right now,” he said. “We’ve stuck to previous methods a lot in how we did things with the postal workers. And I think that the result we got was indicative of the strategy chosen at the top.” To Parrot, the purpose of the labour movement is to continually reorganize and build momentum among its members and make a tangible difference. “The movement has to find better ways of reaching out to people and better ways to reach out to their own workers on different issues,” he said. “There’s a new generation of workers who know nothing about this struggle of the past.” The struggle is not over: the Rural and Suburban Mail Carrier’s contract will expire on December 31 and workers are currently voting on demands for the union to fight for in negotiations with Canada Post. For workers in Montreal, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and across Canada, the Modern Post continues its spread throughout mail depots. Meanwhile, the decision for urban workers’ new collective agreement is still pending. “The thing to me is workers will never be able to stop struggling,” Parrot stated. “If we don’t fight for what we want we will lose all the time.” *Names have been changed due to the wishes of the speakers to remain anonymous
Illustrations by Edna Chan | The McGill Daily
“With this vote postal workers are sending Deepak Chopra [President and CEO of Canada Post] and the rest of Canada Post management a clear message: Start negotiating now!” he wrote. But negotiating through the National Executive was not the top priority for all CUPW members. Just days before the strike vote, at a rural Canada Post depot in St. Albert, outside Edmonton, workers began an illegal wildcat strike. They were protesting pay cuts that were announced suddenly on April 12. The cuts were to be implemented through a decrease in parcel delivery per worker, translating to an annual pay drop of between $8,000 and $28,000. Rural centers are known in union circles to have bad working conditions; to date rural mail carriers have brought 3,000 health and safety concerns to Canada Post. According to the union’s website there are 6,000 rural workers. “It’s easier to bully someone when they don’t have 5 people to stick up for them,” said Patrick speaking to the geographic isolation of rural and suburban workers. Rural and suburban postal workers negotiated a collective agreement with Canada Post for the first time in 2003. While the National Executive was undertaking slow-moving negotiations in Ottawa, the postal workers of St. Albert were taking action. Patrick described the workers’ reaction to the news of the pay cuts as he had learned of it. “I listened to one [voicemail] message saying: ‘Hey Pat, we’re really mad. They’re cutting our pay and we’re going to walk. We’re wondering if we should or not.’ And then the next message was ‘Hey, Pat. We just walked. We’re in the Tim Horton’s across the street.’ I looked at my phone and that was like half an hour ago.” Over the next three days, the 15 workers from the St. Albert Depot maintained a 24-hour picket line outside their depot. The workers prevented mail from being brought in or out of the center and turned away contracted workers hired by CPC to replace the strikers. St. Albert’s wildcat strike prompted mail stations in rural Alberta to follow suit. In towns such as Athabasca, Canmore, Kitscoty, Cold Lake and Strathmore, Patrick described how handfuls of employees, acting in solidarity, closed their stations for coffee break meetings. Meanwhile, urban workers were chaffing under CUPW’s protracted negotiating style.
The McGill Daily | Thursday, September 8, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
The Dalai Lama Photo by Victor Tangermann The Dalai Lama spoke on “Global Citizenship through Universal Responsibility” at Stade Uniprix in Park Ex yesterday at an event hosted by the Canada Tibet Committee (CTC). Former Montreal Canadiens enforcer Georges Laraque acted as the emcee. The talk commemorated the Canadian government’s decision last year to admit 1,000 displaced Tibetans living in Arunachal Pradesh, India into Canada over the next five years. Proceeds went to support the Project Tibet Society, which is overseeing the resettlement. The lead-up to the talk was marred by cyber attacks involving two emails infected with a computer virus supposedly sent from the account of CTC Executive Director Dermod Travis. —Henry Gass
The McGill Daily | Thursday, September 8, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Struggling to stay in focus Inattentive students have a harder time completing schooling than their hyperactive classmates Chen Zhiying
Health and Education Writer
e all remember the sheer joy we felt as we tossed those square academic caps up in the air – high school graduation, that all-too-elusive moment, had finally become a reality. Most people will agree that the path to a diploma is a long and arduous one. It is not simply 12 years of sweat and toil, but also a period of confusion, uncertainty, frustration, and a whole range of other emotions. However, for many students with difficulties paying attention, this much-anticipated day never arrives. Researchers from the Université de Montréal found that only 29 per cent of children with attention problems finished high school compared to 89 per cent of children who did not exhibit such problems. When considering students who are hyperactive, the difference was smaller: 40 per cent
of these individuals graduated versus 77 per cent of students without this difficulty. In the study, teachers evaluated whether students had attention problems by looking for specific behaviours, such as the inability to concentrate, absentmindedness, and the tendency to give up or become easily distracted. Hyperactivity was identified by behaviour such as restlessness, running around, squirming and fidgeting. Using data collected from the parents and teachers of 2000 children over a period of roughly 20 years, the researchers concluded that inattention, rather than hyperactivity, is more important as an indicator regarding whether someone will complete their high school education. The findings of this study have important implications. First, they serve as a reminder to teachers and parents to be alert to problems of attentiveness in students. It is often the case that teachers are more inclined to identify hyperac-
tive students, and overlook inattentive with inattentiveness, as these pupils tend to be quieter and don’t disturb the class. But, as the study showed, identifying the latter group of students is arguably more important, as they are at greater risk of not finishing high school. Furthermore, this finding also raises the possibility of the need to define a specific medical profile, solely for inattentive students. Currently, they are often diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). However, three subtypes of ADHD exist: those who are predominantly inattentive, those who are predominantly hyperactive, and those who are a combination of both. Present treatment methods for ADHD include computer games, music, sports, and Montessori education, which is a type of instruction that stresses freedom, independence, and respect for the child’s natural psychological development. However, as a result of the lack of a singular pro-
file just for inattentiveness, there is less specificity in treatment methods for this condition. Given how crucial inattentiveness could potentially be in determining whether students complete high school, lead author of the study Jean-Baptiste Pingault asserts that it’s necessary for this additional
profile to be created to increase the effectiveness of treatment, and maximize the students’ chances of graduating. It seems that, with further research on why students fail to complete high school, certain conditions that impede students’ learning can be more easily identified and treated.
Houda Chergui for The McGill Daily
Far East Asian movement
50 Grads. One Weekend. Your Future. We’re inviting 50 of Canada’s top engineering students to Waterloo for one weekend to plan their futures.
Budgetary limitations constrain the East Asian Studies department Melanie Kim
The McGill Daily
The 50 Graduates Weekend is a chance for selected Canadian students interested in master’s and PhD studies to learn about graduate programs in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Waterloo and experience life in one of Canada’s most vibrant
All expenses paid.† Want to join us?
communities. You will tour state-of-the-art engineering facilities, explore innovative research programs, and learn about collaborations with the region’s growing list of technology, automotive, financial, health and environmental companies. You will also get a taste of the region’s exciting social life with visits to local cultural centres, restaurants and the idyllic village of St. Jacobs.
November 3 to 6, 2011
engineering.uwaterloo.ca/50graduates Apply by: September 30, 2011
†Details regarding travel expenses can be found at: engineering.uwaterloo.ca/50graduates 3212
very department at McGill has a reputation. The East Asian Studies (EAS) department is known for its small classes, tight-knit community, popular introductory language courses, and the close interactions between students and professors. But this image is currently being tarnished by constant budgetary limitations. This is not an unfamiliar or isolated issue – lots of small departments at McGill are struggling with insufficient funding. But the EAS department, like other departments that offer language training, is at a disadvantage when receiving funding. It’s really a numbers game. At the administrative level, the number of students completing a major or minor in the department is what matters when it comes to receiving funding. This is problematic for language heavy programs because there are lots of students who are interested in learning a foreign language, but not necessarily in registering for enough courses to count as a minor. So, if a Management student signs up for a Japanese language class, the EAS department won’t receive any more funding even though that student is using its resources.
Moreover, there aren’t enough faculty members or TAs to begin with – the department consists of only two administrative assistants and around 20 professors – and continuing budgetary limitations will only make the situation worse. The lack of teaching staff is evident in the 500 plus students waitlisted in first year Chinese classes, where there is only room for a mere 60 students. “We are in a situation where we are constantly forced to let down and disappoint students because we can’t offer enough courses to meet their needs,” said Adrienne Hurley, an assistant professor in the EAS department. “It is awful that we have to turn away students who really want to study an East Asian language every year, and what’s also very bad is that sometimes a student who completed first level can’t fit into a second level.” The course shortage is even more pronounced at the graduate level. The number of grad seminars is very limited, particularly in courses taught in East Asian languages. Students can propose to initiate an independent class, but the process of coming up with a proposal that must be approved by the department as well as the Dean of Student Affairs is very tedious and time consuming. According to Robin Yates, the Chair of the EAS department, one
goal for this academic year is “to win a major grant from the Korea Foundation to create a tenuretrack position in Korean Studies.” The good news is that the dean of the Faculty of Arts has been extremely supportive of this initiative, and has committed significant resources to winning this grant in 2012. In addition, faculty members are going out of their way to make the situation better for students. “Because I want to do the best I can to meet the students’ needs, I offer as many independent studies as I can every semester,” said Hurley. “Of course I don’t get above and beyond what I’m contracted to do, so it’s basically work that I’m not paid for. Some of those are for students with research interests that aren’t met by current course offerings.” Finally, the East Asian Studies Student Association (EASSA) is taking an internal approach to improve the situation. “Instead of trying to fight the big guys, we’re going to try to make things better from the inside,” said Joanna Lai, U3 EAS student and co-president of the EASSA. “To improve the situation with the 500 person waitlist on the first year classes, we are thinking of creating a document that will inform students on the other ways to get first-year language credits because, obviously, McGill can’t facilitate that.”
The McGill Daily | Thursday, September 8, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Going against the grain A look at Montreal’s alternative grocery options
Roxana Parsa / The McGill Daily
The McGill Daily
elieve it or not, even starving students need to eat. In a city that offers so much for so little, it should go without saying that Montreal’s food sources are far from limited. No matter what combination of coins you have jangling around in your pockets, there is a place for you to shop – namely, Montreal’s alternative grocery stores and fresh food markets. Unlike chain groceries, Montreal’s alternative food outlets have a varied selection and are incredibly affordable. So why bother dropping all your money at Metro and Provigo when you don’t have to? Situated on St. Laurent and Duluth, Segal’s is likely a place you’ve walked by a million times, but never been able to identify. Without a prominent sign on its storefront, it has remained under the radar for many years. Regardless, it’s worth checking out. If you can acclimatize yourself to the store’s unmistakeable smell of dried, salted fish, you
have passed the Segal’s test, and will be granted access to some of Montreal’s cheapest groceries. If it’s too much for your schnoz to bear, you may want to skip this option. Another advantage to Segal’s is the surprising variety of organic and vegetarian products, which are discounted just as much as the rest of the items in store. When shopping at Segals I save between 25 and 45 per cent on average, compared to shopping at Provigo and Metro (Liberté yogurt is 5 dollars less!) Anything that would cost you an arm and a leg at a chain grocery store, such as tofu, granola, alternative milks, spreads, and organic breads, can be found at Segal’s for prices that will floor you. While chain grocery stores hardly cater to vegan crowds, Segal’s welcomes conscious eaters with conscious wallets. And if you forget to bring your own bags, they almost always have boxes in which to pack your groceries. Similar to Segal’s, and even closer to campus, is Marché Lobo, conveniently located just north of Parc and Milton. Lobo is slightly more
organized than Segal’s, and nearly as cheap. It may not carry all of the essentials, but you can always succeed in finding the canned version of just about anything – I’ll let you decide whether or not that’s a good thing. Besides your standard Campbell’s chicken noodle, Lobo carries an impressive selection of Middle Eastern food. In fact, they are famous among their loyal customers for making their own impressive variety of hummus. Lobo is also a great place to stock up on bulk bags of rice or beans (assuming you have the means to carry body bag-sized sacks home). On average, I save between 25 and 35 per cent when shopping at Lobo, compared to shopping at their unfriendly neighbours. The only downside is that Lobo’s tiny aisles are anything but ideal for the clumsynatured. Clunky backpacks should be left at home. For those looking for some culture in their cuisine, be sure to peruse through one of Montreal’s vibrant markets: namely, Jean Talon and Atwater. Poke your head into either of these gems and expect to
leave both inspired, and with your wallet still intact. Jean Talon’s vendors will keep you on your toes, and the mere range of lemon yellows alone will leave your head spinning. It’s a feeling that can only be understood by visiting these markets yourself. Though there are a number of pricier booths specializing in delicacies from fine chocolates to cheese, the produce stands offer large quantities for minimal prices. And quite unlike chain grocery stores, more often than not you can have your questions answered by the farmers who actually grew the food. In my experience, they are always thrilled to chat, and even happier to offer you yummy samples. Much like the characters behind the stands, each piece of fruit has its own unique personality – a refreshing change from the carbon copy apples neatly stacked and stamped over and over again. Instead of marching down aisles full of packaging and curiously distant expiry dates, try soaking up some culture and community in one of these local markets. On a student budget, saving money should be enough of an incen-
tive to check out these alternatives to Montreal’s chain grocery stores. But if it isn’t, think of it this way: every dollar you spend and every item you purchase places an order for another one to be developed, produced, packaged, constructed, or farmed. If you know where your food comes from, as well as the faces that run the shops you frequent, you can make conscious decisions with your money, and rightfully speak back to your options. Taste real flavours in organic food, save your money, and help protect the environment. As the Jean Talon website states, food travels, on average, more than 2,500 km to reach your plate. When you think of the packaging and fossil fuels it requires to ship food, your purchasing power suddenly seems to hold more weight than you may have previously imagined. Forget the artificial lights and unfortunate piped-in music of your “local” Metro or Provigo, and check out one of Montreal’s many alternative food sources. It’s better for you, your bank account, and, more importantly, your planet.
The McGill Daily | Thursday, September 8, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Strings that speak A strange encounter with a St. Urbain violin maker Ryan Healey
I. Et cetera. Mr. Gilles Blouin, of seventy-so years, of white face and beard, of gentle white casualwear, points to sprawling blotches on a lone violin back. They’re the result of a cancer in the tree, and as an experiment, he plans to make two violins from this 100 year old piece of wood that he was given as a gift 21 years ago (I’m twenty-one years old). He runs his fingers along the clusters and invites me, a cautious customer, to do the same. He’s rapt, and moves through the cancer like a mouse arrow would over pixelated lily pads – “look at these unorganized phenomena.” His voice trails, my attention flags. Behind him there’s a pile of horsehair bows beside a late-nineties laptop. Mr. Gilles Blouin talks history on one seamless plane, where asking about his wood-cutting family background results in a requisite greater-Quebec geography lesson, which in turn becomes a digest of the violin-making tradition in North America, which comes back to how his father made his first violin with a pocketknife. He then extols the vir-
Andrea Zhu | The McGill Daily
tues of pocketknives beyond mere self-defense. “Everyone in Quebec countryside had a pocketknife.” He brandishes the knife. He says sorry when it gets too close to my face. My notes are a mess, but I have his story: his family lived in rural Quebec, actually cutting trees and actually making things like tables, chairs, violins – everything made on the spot. At seven or eight (all time is fluid and uncertain here – in lieu of precise dates he often prefers to say “the old days”) he learned how to use certain tools, how to sharpen knives, chisels, saws, how to work
with wood. When he was of age, he went to Université de Montréal and theorized about language and generative grammar. He identified that Quebecois “joual” was actually how old Parisian French was spoken. He briefly spoke with Noam Chomsky at McGill in order to better understand his work, but was no sycophant. He soured of linguistics, and of the reality that he could only take more examples and regurgitate evidence for papers to be published in obscure, unread journals. He felt he was writing these papers alone in his room, words to
no one, and, being from a family of Makers, he was Depressed.
II. Violins He tried jewelry. Here I must note he speaks superlatively about beauty, and it’s beautiful. Mr. Gilles Blouin liked the trade, but he didn’t have the expensive tools, mainly, precious stones. You need diamond to break jade. From there, he returned to Wood. At 22, he read a book on violinmaking, its social allowances as well as its history, detailing the 1850 Parisian market, where it was the social equivalent of an HD TV, when artisans made
2 to 2.5 violins of the highest quality each week. Mr. Gilles Blouin was amazed that humans could make an object so beautiful – “it is a fight with nature” – from American lumber, white spruce, and maple, ebony, steel. He felt a fruitful kinship between linguistics and violinmaking – by hearing plosives and the like in the strings, he could replicate the mouth’s sounds in a machine. He’s been a luthier (violinmaker) now for some time, among many in Montreal, whether official or basement based. It’s a trade he insists is not at all secret or lost. And he’s here in 2011 on St. Urbain, creating a violin a week, where “the emotion is in the next one.” The cancerous violin was unique, he said, because of its old age. Trees begin low and get scathed in stone, sand, and dirt. Once they get taller, they bend subtly because of the wind. Mr. Gilles Blouin notices that Montreal trees tend to bend in a certain direction because of a dominant wind. But when the tree takes on enough wind, it develops a fiber for this wind-induced internal stress that’s better for a violin. He points me to the skeletal beginnings of a piano soundboard, lines of silver pegs where keys will go. Long white hair covers everywhere it can on his face, and I never see his mouth.
The McGill Daily | Thursday, September 8, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Community Co-Laboration Interdisciplinary forum brings together different schools of thought Fabien Maltais-Bayda The McGill Daily
s pre school aged children, we are all taught to share and to cooperate with one another. It seems, however, that once we outgrow the swing set, we also outgrow this sentiment. Being a student in a post-secondary institution can often be a secluded experience, and it’s easy to get caught up in individual work within the confines of our own classes, faculties, and disciplines. The issue, however, may not be that we no longer feel the need to co-conspire and collaborate but, rather, that once we’ve matured past the playground, we are left without a conducive arena in which to do so. After reflecting upon this lack of a space to share, two former McGill students, Leah Pires and Kira Josefsson, decided to take action. Thus, Co-Lab was conceived. Co-Lab bills itself as an informal idea sharing event, and, after the success of the first installment this past summer, Debbie So and Emily Kaibock have taken the reins to produce a second incarnation to take place on Friday, September 9. “It’s really celebrating people in our [McGill and Montreal academic] community and what they do, and acknowledging that everyone is doing these amazing things,” So told The Daily in a phone interview. The event will feature a series of talks by individuals researching and working in a variety of fields, with topics ranging from Japanese experimental cinema of the sicties, to restorative justice and the prison system, to paranormal activity in Montreal. Discussion will be encouraged, and the entire affair will be served up along with snacks and drinks. While So describes the first Co-Lab event as a highly successful endeavour, this new episode will have a few minor alterations. So noted, “We had a little tighter submissions process”
in order to keep the event to a more reasonable length. Yet even with increased curation, So stressed that they “still want to keep it really open.” The openness that the organizers are seeking helps illustrate how Co-Lab was, in part, designed to break down what So calls “the isolating structure of school.” In a regular academic context, she posits that after a paper is written, submitted, and filed or thrown away, “that knowledge is kind of lost.” Co-Lab may present a way to help extend the lifespan of the masses of knowledge that students acquire through their enthusiastic academic efforts. Another primary objective is the forming of interdisciplinary connections, and the opening of discourse among seemingly disparate fields. “I think it’s a great opportunity for people
to kind of make links between topics that they didn’t think had links before,” So explained. “There is so much to be gained from thinking in an interdisciplinary manner.” As a platform for idea sharing, it’s clear that Co-Lab’s success hinges largely on ensuring
that people are willing and able to address their peers and present their work. According to Aaron Vasnintjan, former design and production editor of The Daily and current DPS chair, one of the individuals behind The Plant, the venue where Co-Lab is held, creating a positive environment is crucial to making this happen. “What we really want is for people to be able to feel good about standing in front of other people, and feeling confident that they can say what they are interested in,” Vansintjan explained in an interview with The Daily. “I think what would be really nice is if the event has a very friendly atmosphere, definitely nonjudgmental, and encourages people to
of academia, it may be impossible to go back to the times of sharing in the sandbox. However, with events like Co-Lab, we may, in fact, be able to break down our academic boundaries, and just get back to playing together. Co-Lab will be held Friday, September 9 at 5p.m. at The Plant. Check Facebook for more details.
talk, and then hopefully peo- ple will really start getting excited about each other.” As grown-up students in the world
Edna Chan | The McGill Daily
Cinequa-no more Montreal’s free summertime movie night says cut after one last show Fabien Maltais-Bayda The McGill Daily
n Friday, September 9, Cinequanon will once again help to redefine the notion of ‘a night at the movies.’ The brainchild of Tim Kelly and Pablo Toledo Gouin, Cinequanon is a free art house cinema, run out of their backyard, showing a different film every Friday throughout the summer months. While movie goers aren’t able to bring booze to the festivities, there will be free popcorn in order to satisfy any serious cases of the munchies. And, while the
movie is free, the organizers are raising money for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders), and hope to reach their goal of $1000. This weeks screening will be of John Water’s “Pink Flamingos,” a film that Kelly described in a message to The Daily as “disgusting, offensive, and hilarious. Perfect for Cinequanon.” That being said, the evening may be tinged with a little sadness because, after three years of summer movie screenings, Cinequanon will be taking down their silver screen for good. “It’s come to an end because three years is a long long time to do something for free every week, every summer,” wrote Kelly.Indeed, three years
is a long time, and this experiment’s long period of growth and development is awe-inspiring. Looking back, Kelly recalled that Cinequanon’s current home “was the first apartment [he] ever moved into in Montreal.” Soon thereafter, Kelly realized he had a unique space at his disposal. “It had this huge back yard, a rarity here obviously. Pablo and I felt it necessary for us to do something with the space,” he continued, noting that he found the answer in his own farflung roots. “Coming from Australia I actually thought it was funny there were no outdoor screenings in summer here.” The first ever Cinequanon screening was El Topo and, as Kelly said,
when seventy people showed up, “the monster was born.” Since that modest beginning, there have been many moments that Kelly seems to look back on with a certain fondness. “Cops shining flash lights into the yard during the police brutality scene in La Haine,” Kelly recalled as a distinct, and rather ironic, memory. He also recalls many additional encounters with the police, mostly involving noise complaints–a seemingly unavoidable side effect of attempting to do something creative —and therefore loud—in a typically domestic space. While Cinequanon’s ability to keep the cops busy is impressive, perhaps the most outstanding thing about the cinema was its surprising
staying power. “We ran a free cinema for three years. Neither of us have any money. I have no idea how this went for so long,” Kelly said. While Kelly insists that he is stepping aside, he does hope that the creative spirit of Cinequanon will live on. “Hopefully when it ends someone else will do another thing weekly in the Plateau.” This remains to be seen but, luckily, the magic of this outdoor cinema can be experienced at least one more time–It’s sure to be a night to remember; as Kelly said, “I might light the screen on fire.” “Pink Flamingos” will be screened at 4562 Ste. Dominique on Friday, September 9 at 8:00 p.m.
The McGill Daily | Thursday, September 8, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
volume 101 number 2
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March with MUNACA One week ago today, The McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association (MUNACA), which represents more than 1,700 workers, including library staff, lab technicians, and registration staff, commenced a general strike after a prolonged and frustrating series of negotiations with the McGill administration. While the strike has caused inconvenience for students, The Daily stands in support of MUNACA, and urges all students to do so. These service interruptions are not the fault of the MUNACA workers but, rather, of the McGill administration, which forced MUNACA to strike. By refusing to consider MUNACA’s demands, McGill is essentially holding the university’s functions hostage. Although the union has been in negotiations with the university since November 2010, no progress has been made on their primary issues. The union’s demands, such as protection for pensions and a wage increase that would be equal to the increase in the cost of living, are reasonable and equal to the benefits and salaries that other Montreal universities give to similar employees. It takes a McGill employee 37 years to reach their wage ceiling while it takes those at UQAM, Concordia, and Université de Montréal 3 to 14 years to reach theirs. MUNACA’s decision to strike was the only way for these employees to stand up against the administration’s unfair treatment of its members. Student solidarity with the union is significant to the strike’s success. But there are many ways students can unintentionally harm the union’s cause. For example, it is disrespectful to cross the picket lines. Try to walk with the line rather than through it, or take an alternate route to get to your destination. Crossing the picket line shows a symbolic crack in the union’s ranks, and we should be standing shoulder to shoulder with the picketers instead of brushing past them. It’s also important for student workers to be wary of taking on the duties of striking MUNACA members, as it is illegal under Quebec anti-scab laws for the University to ask or hire employees to do the work of absent MUNACA members. If you are asked to do so, contact your union immediately with information. Students choosing to stand with MUNACA join a host of supporters on and off campus who have already expressed their solidarity. These groups include the campus unions: AMUSE, AMURE, AGSEM, and the SSMU Executive. In addition, a group of professors from nine departments within the Faculty of Arts recently formed the McGill Faculty Labour Action Group in order to better support the union. Tuesday morning, two MPs elected last May – Charmaine Borg and Lauren Liu – visited the picket line to show solidarity as former McGill students and, in Borg’s case, as a former AMUSE Labour Relations Officer . In fact, showing up at the picket lines is one of the most effective ways you can show your support as a student. Spare picket signs as well as green MUNACA buttons are available on site. The MUNACA website advises students to e-mail the administration to express support for the union’s bargaining demands and for a swift resolution to the strike. The strike involves more than just the union and the administration – it tangibly affects the services that students need on campus and ideologically parallels students’ struggles against tuition hikes and austerity measures. The McGill Daily’s editorial board endorses MUNACA in their strike and asks McGill students to stand in solidarity.
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The McGill Daily | September 8, 2011 | mcgilldaily.com
Lies, half-truths, and sharp kittens!
Busy-ness as usual The MUNACA strike has definitely not diminished back to school mayhem Pannon Shalus
The McGill Daily
ines at the McGill bookstore are still long. Students, just like every other year, are rushing to get course packs that will have a
resale value of less than a toonie. They’re crowding into single files to pay over $50 for chemistry solutions manuals, 50 per cent of which will never have the shrinkwrap torn off. They’re picking up calculus textbooks that prove more helpful as door stops than in getting a passing mark
on Brown’s final exam. The strike has neither interfered with the claustraphobic environment created by the annual back-to-school checkout lines, nor has it added to the rushes of anxiety permeating first years just trying to get a start on studying for their first midterms. The Daily was notified of the situation when third year philosophy student Bikuta Tanaman, who didn’t even bother to stand in line, stormed into our office, yelling, “Why does this society pressure us to stand in lines?! WHAT THE FUCK!” Just like last year, he was unmotivated by the crowd to purchase his Histomological Considerations of the Skinny Jean course pack. Tonight, he plans to “sit around and think about my readings. In silence!” According to some accounts, the lines might actually be even longer than they were when the people who make our university run were not fighting for their rights.
Write, draw, or make crosswords for Compendiummmmmmmmmmmmmm! Send your stuff to compendium@ mcgilldaily.com! <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
Still haven’t picked up my books because the lines at the bookstore are fucking atrocious.
OAP is still heaven on earth!
PLUS 73 MINUS 33 MINUS 247 PLUS 45 EVEN
But it ends on Friday... MUNACA still on strike. Admin STILL mean. Last night was Zach Lewsen’s birthday! Cake! Everyone’s settling into school Autumn’s coming - flannel season’s BACK. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is airing again after a two week break.
PLUS 2 ARBITRARY REALLY BIG NUMBER
No one wants to hear about just our quality of life: compendium@ mcgilldaily.com.
Guess who left track changes on?!