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Volume 98, Issue 12

October 9, 2008

McGill THE

DAILY

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Teach English Overseas

2008 Mini-Beatty Lecture Series

Dror Wahrman (Indiana University)

Invisible hands in the eighteenth century: Complexity, causality and the roots of modern order Where does order come from? And how are seemingly random moments of disorder accounted for? The late 17th and 18th centuries mark an important departure in Western responses to these questions. This paper locates the first full-blown expression of this transformation in the European financials crises of 1720, which spawned new ways of thinking about randomness and chance, order and disorder, human agency versus divine providence, and the limitations of causality. These, in turn, became central in the following century and beyond for domains as far apart as religion and philosophy, sicence and economy, law and politics.

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Have a burning desire to ask 19,000 students a question? Got an idea for SSMU policy? This is your chance to make a difference! CALL A STUDENT INITIATED REFERENDUM!

Call for Referendum Questions! Pick up a petition for a Student Initiated Referendum NOW either from the Elections McGill Office (Shatner 405) or online at:

www.electionsmcgill.ca All petitions are due at noon on October 15th All questions must be approved by the Chief Returning Officer before collecting signatures. Shatner, salle 405 Téléphone: (514) 398-6474 contact@electionsmcgill.ca

WRITE FOR YOUR DAILY email coordinating@mcgilldaily.com for info


News

The McGill Daily, Thursday, October 9, 2008

Outdoor GA failed to reach quorum

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Motions passed now submitted to online referendum for ratification Olga Redko

The McGill Daily

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ot even a motion for “nopants Fridays” attracted enough students to Tuesday’s SSMU General Assembly (GA) for it to be treated as more than a “consultative session.” Because the GA failed to reach qualified quorum – 397 or two percent of the total number of undergraduate students – motions passed must be ratified in an online 48-hour referendum active until Friday at 5 p.m. According to Kay Turner, the SSMU general manager counted a total of 250 students come in and out of Three Bares Park, where the assembly was held, but the maximum present at one time was only 110. Although the first motion, calling upon SSMU to offer logistical support to the Association of McGill Undergraduate Students Employees (AMUSE), passed swiftly, disagreement persisted over two motions that asked SSMU to condemn military recruitment and research into thermobaric weapons at McGill. The motions’ author Cleve Higgins, U3 Sociology and International Development Studies, explained that scientific research at McGill has often received military funding exempt from ethical considerations.

“Some policies to regulate weapons research were developed [at McGill], but they don’t allow for transparency, and are without ethical considerations,” Higgins said. He faced strong opposition from Adam Cytrynbaum, U3 Engineering, who claimed that military-funded research can be used for peaceful and even beneficial civilian purposes. “Military research is done to better the people of Canada and the United States,” Cytrynbaum said. “Research is independent of what it is used for.” After considerable debate, the motion on military research was divided into two questions: one asked SSMU to oppose McGill’s involvement in thermobaric weapons development, while the other called for implementation of transparency policies and ethical evaluations of research done in cooperation with the military. Both motions passed, although the former received only a small margin of assenting votes. Military recruitment was an equally contentious issue. Michael Puempel, U1 Management, argued that since the government subsidizes certain costs at public universities, such as McGill, it has the right to place military recruiters on campuses. “The government...offsets some of the tuition students have to pay,” Puempel said. He added that while

Shu Jiang / The McGill Daily

Students vote on condemning military research and renaming Deputy Provost Darth Mendelson. most recruits did not serve in combative roles in the military, they are provided with legitimate careers. Higgins, however, argued a precedent has been set by similar movements in dozens of university and CEGEP campuses across the province. “We have seen a reduced military presence on campuses,” he said. Even after an amendment cut

down the motion to just opposing military presence in Shatner, it was passed with a slim margin. It was followed by a quick approval of a motion asking SSMU to petition the McGill administration for a catered open-bar party at Principal Heather Monroe-Blum’s home. But quorum was lost in the midst of the fifth motion, despite SSMU executives’ efforts to persuade stu-

dents to stay at Three Bares Park and call friends to the GA. Students were unable to complete a debate on whether SSMU councillors should refer to McGill administrators by Star Wars names. Turner said any motions left unaddressed at this GA will be carried over and discussed at next semester’s GA. To vote in the online referendum, go to ovs.ssmu.mcgill.ca.

And the dish ran away with the spoon The Plate Club shut operations this fall after concerns about sanitation and labour Lendon Ebbels

The McGill Daily

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tudents lunching in Shatner these days are pining for the return of the Plate Club, a free lunchtime plate distribution service that provided hungry caf-goers looking to reduce their environmental guilt with free reusable dishes, cutlery, and cups. The Plate Club, formed in February 2007 as a Quebec Public Interest Research Group (QPRIG) and Greening McGill initiative, originally supplied dishes to groups requesting their services for events. Last year the Club upgraded to a 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekday lunch service on the second floor of the SSMU building for students eating at Tiki Ming, Franx Supreme, Cultures, and Midnight Kitchen. According to Tim Dowling,

Interim Plate Club Liaison to SSMU, the Club stopped dish distribution for logistical concerns – sanitation concerns about the bins used for washing dishes, a shortage of members to fill shifts, and the time and labour-intensive nature of washing dishes – necessitating the Plate Club to rethink their operations. “We need to have a structure that’s sustainable,” he said. Sebastian Ronderos-Morgan, U2 Political Science and Economics and representative to the SSMU Environmental Committee, was surprised and disappointed when the Club’s lunchtime table was missing this semester. “It’s a fantastic service that impacts our environmental footprint,” Ronderos-Morgan said. “[The cafeteria restaurants] don’t give out reusable plates, so...I use paper plates when I eat there. When I eat at Midnight Kitchen, I have no

choice but to beg and grovel for Tupperware.” Despite their absence in Shatner, Dowling assured the Plate Club is still active, providing clubs and campus groups with dishes for their events by request. During a busy week, Dowling said the Club can work up to five events. Dowling plans to submit a research stipend proposal to the Clubs and Services Committee of SSMU next week that would explore options for a more centralized plate operation run by SSMU, more involvement from the McGill Sustainability Office, or for the Plate Club to gain SSMU service status. “We are actively looking at options for what plate services in SSMU should look like,” Dowling said. Samantha Cook, SSMU VP Clubs & Services, was unaware that the Club wouldn’t be dishing out lunch before the semester started. She

mentioned the possibility of creating a work-study position next year to have a student operate the industrial dishwasher that SSMU installed this summer. The work-study application deadline has already passed for the 20082009 academic year. “In the meantime, I need to have more conversations with the Plate Club and the SSMU exec before we go forward with anything,” Cook said. Cook explained that the Plate Club members applied for service status last April, but withdrew the application after discussions with Marcelle Kosman, the former VP Clubs & Services. According to Cook, Kosman was concerned that the transition from a club to a service was moving too quickly. “There should be more time before a club becomes a service. Granting [the Plate Club] such high status without being sure it could

self-perpetuate would be risky,” Cook said. SSMU currently has 20 services, all of which are institutionalized under SSMU’s services by-laws and have a mandate to service the entire undergraduate student body. According to Cook, services hold increased responsibilities to the students and to SSMU – ensuring regular availability to undergrads and conforming to SSMU’s accounting procedures. In spite of the unanswered questions that plague the Plate Club’s future, Dowling predicted the Plate Club will return to its table on the second floor in the future – though for the moment it will only supply events. According to Dowling’s latest tally, the Plate Club has approximately 325 plates, 75 cups, 96 wine goblets, but not enough cutlery. “There’s a donation box in the SSMU office,” he added.


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News

The McGill Daily, Thursday, October 9, 2008

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Vigil mourns missing aboriginal women News sources ignore murdered and disappeared First Nations women: Ducharme David G. Koch News Writer

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osters of smiling aboriginal women were laid out at the base of an imposing statue in Dorchester Square on Saturday night. But the words “missing” and “murdered,” written in bold type, told a different story. The crowd of about 80 people, many holding candles, gathered at one of approximately 40 simultaneous Sisters in Spirit vigils across the country that commemorated aboriginal women who have gone missing or been murdered in Canada. According to Theresa Ducharme, the Community Development Coordinator for Sisters in Spirit, more than 500 aboriginal women have gone missing or been murdered in Canada according to records that go back up to 20 years. And this figure increases almost every week. “In the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver, every two weeks there are more missing girls, and a lot of them, of course, [are] prostitutes and drug addicts,” Ducharme said. The recent disappearance of Maisy Odjick, 16, and Shannon Alexander, 17, made Saturday’s events especially poignant. The two girls have been missing since September 5, when they were last seen at Alexander’s home, near Maniwaki, Quebec, about 200 kilometres northwest of Montreal. While the number of missing women has risen, the media has

Josh Chapman / The McGill Daily

More than 500 aboriginal women and girls have gone missing in the past 20 years. applied a racist double-standard in their coverage, according to Ducharme. “With these two young girls from Maniwaki that are missing, I don’t hear about it on the news,” Durcharme said. “If it’s a non-native girl, you’re almost guaranteed that they will be on the front page.” Community members in the crowd included Rossel Berard, assistant coordinator for the Inter-Tribal Youth Centre of Montreal, which is part of the Native Friendship Centre.

“I’m here because it’s an issue that concerns a lot of the youth at our centre,” Berard said. “We always have posters up of disappeared youth.” “There are a lot of people that are touched by this in the Native Friendship Centre’s community,” Berard said. An open letter penned by social justice groups, including Amnesty International, decried the high rate of violence against aboriginal women, which Statistics Canada pegged at being between three and seven times

higher than the rate for non-aboriginal women, depending on the type of offence. The letter, addressed to all federal politicians, called for the government to act on a number of issues, including discrimination and poverty among aboriginal communities. Irkar Beljaars, who organized the Montreal vigil, called on federal politicians to investigate the disappearances. “I want to hear in the next federal budget that there is going to be

money to create a task force to help me find my missing sisters,” Beljaars stated. He told The Daily that he invited candidates from all major political parties to attend the event. However, the NDP was the only party represented at the vigil, with Montreal-area candidates Anne Lagacé Dowson and Daniel Breton speaking. Lagacé Dowson said that the lack of affordable housing is partly to blame for the problems faced by aboriginal women. “We need social housing and we need better measures so that people don’t fall through the cracks,” she said. In the fourth year of the campaign, the number of Sisters in Spirit vigils across Canada has almost quadrupled, according to organizers. And they hope to increase their numbers next year. “It’s time we all spoke up,” Beljaars said. “It’s time we tell our government that enough is enough.” You can hear audio from the vigil at mcgilldaily.com.

Courtesy of The Ottawa Citizen

Alexander, 17, went missing near Maniwake, Quebec last month.

Algonquin protesters tear gassed by riot police Barriere Lake activists blockade highway in response to abuses by Canadian government

Henry Gass

News Writer

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ate Monday afternoon, nearly 60 Quebec officers and riot police violently dispersed a peaceful blockade on Highway 117 by the Barriere Lake Algonquin community, whose residents believe Canada has dishonoured their signed agreements and interfered with their local government. Around 6 p.m. – 12 hours into the protest – Quebec officers and riot

police surrounded the blockade 350 kilometres north-west of Montreal and, without warning, began to fire tear gas canisters into the crowd, hitting an Algonquin man and child directly with canisters while injuring several others. Nine arrests were made, and two protestors were hospitalized, according to Barriere Lake Solidarity, a citizen action group. “We will not tolerate these brutal violations of our rights,” said Norman Matchewan, a spokesperson for the Barriere Lake Algonquin community, as part of a press release sent out early Monday before Quebec riot police appeared. “We will be doing more non-violent direct action.” Barriere Lake Solidarity reported additional physical abuse by the police. “While a line of police obscured the view of human rights observers from Christian Peacemaker Teams, officers used severe ‘pain compli-

ance’ techniques on protestors who had secured themselves to concretefilled barrels, twisting arms, dislocating jaws, leaving them with bruised faces and trouble swallowing,” the release read. This brutality follows on the heels of alarm raised over comments made last month by Darlene Lannigan, the personal assistant of Conservative Minister Lawrence Cannon, which were perceived as racist. “In this election alone, the Conservatives have labeled us alcoholics and vilified our community’s majority as ‘dissidents,’” said Michel Thusky, another Barriere Lake spokesperson, in a release. “Now they and Quebec have chosen violence over meeting their most basic obligations to our community. ‘Pain compliance’ is the perfect description of the Conservative government’s aboriginal policies.”

The blockade was the latest event in a 20-year long struggle against federal interference in local government and failure to implement signed agreements – such as the 1991 Trilateral Agreement, praised by the United Nations and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples for the sustainable development and resource co-management initiatives. The provincial government has also failed to carry out promises of revenue sharing based on use of ancestral land for logging, hunting, and tourism. “[We] exhausted all our political options, [and the Federal Government] ignored or dismissed our community, leaving us with no choice but to peacefully blockade the highway to force the government to deal fairly with us,” said Matchewan in a release. Thusky pointed to the Department

of Indian and Northern Affairs (INAC) interference as a crucial point of contention. “The federal government deliberately avoided our leadership customs by ousting our Customary Chief and Council,” Thusky said in a Barriere Lake Solidarity press release. “In what amounts to a coup d’état, they are recognizing a Chief and Council rejected by the community majority.” INAC, however, denied intervention in the 2008 selection process. “The Department acknowledged the results of the customary selection process from January 2008,” said Margot Geduld, of the INAC Media Relations office. “The Algonquins choose their own leaders. INAC does not intervene [in the selection process], we simply acknowledge the results.” “We hope the Algonquin people find a solution to their problems,” she added.


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News

The McGill Daily, Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sustainability tour paints the town green CFS presses for legislative change Kartiga Thiyagarajah News Writer

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he coast-to-coast campus tour “Students for Sustainability” stopped at Concordia University yesterday, with Stephen Lewis, Peter Robinson, and Brendan Brazie urging students to pressure the government to push through sustainability reforms. Katherine Giroux-Bougard, national chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) – which initiated the project in concert with the David Suzuki Foundation and Sierra Youth Coalition – said the main goal of the project is to get the attention of government leaders. “We want politicians to increase federal funding of public transit,

invest in clean energy, and commit to sustainability on college campuses,” she said. Brazie, a vegan Ironman, opened the event Wednesday and spoke on the negative trend of over-eating unhealthy food. “The North American trend we see today is individuals who are overfed but undernourished,” he said. Robinson, the CEO of the David Suzuki Foundation, highlighted the relationship between apathy and the lack of environmental activism. “People fear the unfamiliar and [there’s a] resistance to change that crosses all cultures, professions, and geographies,” said Robinson. “While rising sea levels may not seem relevant to those living in Montreal and Toronto, to the South Pacific Islands in danger of disappearing, they are of

the utmost importance.” He also stressed the interdependence of the economy and the environment. “A common question today is: ‘The economy or the environment?’ The reality is, there is no choice between the two. One cannot prevail without the other.” Stephen Lewis, United Nations Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, was given a standing ovation for his talk on international atrocities spurred by environmental crises and called for immediate government action. “Individual acts, such as eliminating water bottles and using the right light bulbs, are all valuable. But real progress requires government intervention...[such as] policies that will decrease carbon discharge,” he said.

While speakers troop between 21 campuses in 30 days, “Students for Sustainability” will continue petitioning the House of Commons to adopt measures to minimize the impact of climate change on the people and ecosystems. The tour also urged students to make a well-informed decision when casting their vote in the upcoming federal election. “It is likely that Harper will be forming a weak minority, which raises the question, ‘How will Canada be governed?’” Lewis speculated. “Change comes by voting politicians in and out of office. Here is the opportunity to put pressure on political leaders regarding the environment.” The tour will conclude October 30 at the University of Victoria.

Josh Chapman / The McGill Daily

Stephen Lewis spoke Wednesday at Concordia.

In the hot seat: Peter Robinson The Daily chats up CEO of David Suzuki Foundation

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eter Robinson swapped his spot as CEO of Mountain Equipment Co-op for the role of CEO of the David Suzuki Foundation last

year. The Daily caught up with him yesterday on his last stop of the coastto-coast Students for Sustainability tour.

THE BEATTY MEMORIAL LECTURES COMMITTEE PRESENTS

James Gustave Speth Dean, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

Author of The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability (2008) and Red Sky at Morning (2004).

Capitalism and the EnvironmentFrom Crisis to Sustainability “Today’s environmental reality is linked powerfully with other realities, including growing social inequality and neglect and the erosion of democratic governance and popular control.” - James Gustave Speth

Saturday, October 18, 2008, 10 a.m. Centre Mont-Royal (Auditorium), 2200 rue Mansfield, Montreal Admission is free but tickets are required and must be obtained in advance at the McGill School of Environment, 3534 University, 2rd floor. (514) 398-2827.

McGill Daily: Why did you agree to be part of the Students for Sustainability tour? Peter Robinson: The David Suzuki Foundation has been involved in this tour for awhile...and David, myself, and others in the foundation fundamentally believe that it is really going to be people who are just starting their careers who should take a lead role in addressing the problems we have inherited. MD: How are you hoping to influence people to begin grassroots change with a big budget tour? PR: This [tour] is face-to-face. I’m a constant student of how [to] affect change. I look for the fastest way, and it’s apparent to me that getting in front of groups...is a better way to get people engaged. I’m not sure if I would call it a glitzy tour.... The idea is, and I applaud them, how do you engage students, and how do think about these matters a little differently than what they’re used to? MD: What sort of reaction are you hoping to garner from students today? PR: Well you’re not going to get students leaving this room, and say[ing] fundamentally, “gosh, I’m going to do things completely different as soon as I leave here.” What you need to do is plant the notion that people can effect change.... You need to give them choices as to how they can create their own future. MD: This is your third and final talk during the tour. How has your participation been beneficial? PR: It’s interesting doing the talk in the middle of the Canadian elec-

Stephen Davis / The McGill Daily

tion...because there’s an awareness that these are big issues, and in the past couple weeks it’s partly compounded with the idea of economic meltdown, too, so you’ve got people asking tough questions and looking for tough answers. MD: How has your background influenced your perception for the need of environmental change in Canada? PR: Well, I’ve worked in the public sector, I’ve worked in government, I’ve worked in the business sector, I’ve worked in the non-profit sector, and I’ve worked in the academic sector.... No matter where you work you’re faced with the same issues: change is really tough to do.... Students like to notice that there’s an old environmentalism and a new environmentalism, to oversimplify, but old environmentalism was about how to preserve ecosystems. The problem here is it left out one spe-

cies: people. New environmentalism that I see everywhere I go [involves] the realization that you can’t actually talk about the environment and sustianability if you don’t address what I like to call “human issues” at the same time.... If you can’t do that then you’re never going to get an understanding of what true sustainability is. MD: How do you think the political parties in Canada are moving to address this awareness for social justice and environmental change through their platforms? PR: I can’t actually talk about individual party platforms, but I will say that I’m a firm believer that the discussion needs to move to those issues. I encourage people to look at platforms from parties as they address these issues and make decisions based on that. – compiled by Alison Withers


News

The McGill Daily, Thursday, October 9, 2008

CBC pulls Mallick article

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Trudeau tells all at McGill

Publisher finds critique of Sarah Palin too vindictive

Jeffrey Bishku-Aykul The McGill Daily

Emily Clare

News Writer

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n a controversial decision last week, the CBC retracted a column by freelance writer Heather Mallick that blasted Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin after the corporation’s ombudsman, Vince Carlin received over 300 complaints. The article went relatively unnoticed for three weeks until a critique appeared in The National Post and a FOX newswoman called Mallick a “pig.” “Mallick’s column is a classic piece of political invective. It is viciously personal...and intensely partisan,” said CBC publisher John Cruickshank in a public statement on the issue. Mallick described Palin as having “a toned-down version of the porn actress look,” and claimed she would ensure “the white-trash vote.” She also accused Republican men of being “sexual inadeuqates” and criticized them for thinking “that women will vote for a woman just because she’s a woman.” But the CBC has remained in the limelight even after their decision. Though Carlin has maintained his recommendation for retraction came from Mallick’s violation of the CBC handbook on journalism, bloggers have accused the CBC of folding to external pressure rather than to ethics. Others have questioned the wisdom of removing such a controversial piece of journalism from circulation because of its potential for debate. “They should have allowed a rebuttal to cast things in a different light. Shutting someone down only

Evan Newton for The McGill Daily

adds fuel to the fire. Why this article? Other people have a right to rebut it,” said McGill Sociology professor Elaine Weiner. Palin, who has only been the governor of Alaska for two years, has

been criticized in the media for a lack of experience and competency. Her candidacy has been seen by some as a political manoeuvre for the women’s vote. “Senator John McCain’s choice...

is a cynical effort to appeal to disappointed Hillary Clinton voters and get them to vote, ultimately, against their own self-interest,” wrote the National Organization for Woman’s chair, Kim Gandy, in an online statement.

NDP promises a thousand bills in students’ hands Postsecondary education plan to be financed by shelving corporate tax cuts Jeffrey Bishku-Aykul The McGill Daily

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he NDP wants to give $1,000 to Canadian students who qualify for student loans. Anne Lagacé Dowson, the NDP candidate in Westmount—VilleMarie, noted that the party’s grant plan would help students struggling with tuition and ancillary fees at the beginning of each school year. “It’s a big commitment to sign on for college programs. The idea to give people a bit of a leg up,” Lagacé Dowson said. Zach Churchill, National Director of the Canadian Alliance of Student

Associations (CASA), a student advocacy group, thought the NDP grant program, while a step in the right direction, lacked specifics. “It seems to be a pretty consistent theme throughout the NDP platform that we don’t have enough information on the plans they are proposing,” Churchill said. “We don’t know who they are targeting the grants to. Is it targeted to all students, those with the highest need, or those who are under-represented in the system?” Accoring to Churchill, CASA would urge the NDP to ensure the grants reach demographics marginalized by the postsecondary education system, such as First Nations, northern, rural, and disabled students.

Lagacé Dowson suggested the education platform be financed by reversing tax cuts and by shifting money currently funding the war in Afghanistan. “The Harper government is intending to go forward with 50-billion in tax cuts to companies who are seeing record profits right now. This should be put back into the hands of students to make it possible to study.” Katherine Giroux-Bougard, National Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), Canada’s largest federal student association, argued that more tax dollars should go toward education to make university accessible. She noted that universities have suffered since the 1990s, as students faced rising tuition fees due to cuts to federal postsecondary education. “[The cuts have] resulted in less tenure track profs being hired, less

refurbishment to buildings,” she said. Sarah Woolf, co-president of NDP McGill, suggested that the federal government needed to collaborate with universities, students, and provincial governments to find appropriate solutions to funding woes. As well, Churchill said the problem of making college education more widely available involves focusing on several issues, such as cost. He said that some students are unaware of the benefits of attending university and decide very early in life not to pursue postsecondary education. “We’ve seen through research and data that students are making up their minds at a much younger age: elementary and junior high school. That points to something, that there’s other barriers at play here.” The plan is part of the NDP’s $51.6-billion platform released September 28.

bout 40 students listened to Justin Trudeau discuss his political roots and hopes for the upcoming election last week at McGill. The 36-year-old McGill alumnus is running for MP in the Papineau riding in north-east Montreal against Bloc incumbent Vivian Barbot. He kicked off the event by explaining his relatively recent decision to enter politics. “Despite what you might read, [it] was not an automatic decision,” he said. Trudeau said that he grew up oblivious to politics even though his father was Canada’s 15 Prime Minister. “I was 13 when my father left Ottawa. Until that point, I was not aware of politics as a job.... My father did not come home and tell me ‘well I’m having a tough time with René Lévesque today,’” the candidate joked. During a question and answer session, Trudeau dismissed the NDP as a rival when asked about the difference between the candidates. “The NDP are great at proposing programs but not at thinking about what the cost to the Canadian people will be,” he said. “No matter what Happy Jack says, we’re going to have a Liberal or a Conservative prime minister.” But Trudeau was critical of the current Conservative government, which he said has neglected crucial regions like Asia and Africa in recent years. He also noted that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has yet to visit China. “We used to be such a player; we used to be so present, so respected. If we have a role to play on the world stage, it’s because we have stepped up,” he said. The event, held in the Bronfman Building, was organized by Liberal McGill.

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Mind&Body

The McGill Daily, Thursday, October 9, 2008

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The story of O-no Guttural mind Julie Alsop

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he myth of the elusive female orgasm is a particularly nasty one in the great kingdom of sex. Why? Because it means that all over the nation, the globe, and possibly the universe, girls are not coming – at least not nearly as much as their male counterparts. Out of an informal survey of several female friends, I found that only some of them have ever had an orgasm – by their own hand or in the hands of others – and that too many didn’t climax on a regular basis during sex. The same question asked of guys, however, yielded very different results. All of my male acquaintances claimed to have come. Ladies and gentleman, steers and queers, this is a problem. A big one. Sex talks with my lady friends often follow a similar pattern: they voice their frustrations, liken straight up, penis-in-vagina, penetrative sex to a form of Japanese water torture

(they use more diplomatic terms, though, like “boring”) and then conclude by saying. “But I understand, I’m sure it’s very hard.” This conclusion needs to be examined: what, pray tell, is so difficult about female sexuality? Perhaps it’s just a case of mind over matter. There is concrete, somewhat empirical, evidence to refute the myth that the female orgasm is difficult to attain. Many women have a 99 per cent return rate when it comes to sex. My lady and I, for instance, have sex basically every day, boasting an orgasm each. I guarantee we’re not alone. The holy grail of consistent female sexual gratification is in reach; the problem is knowing how to get there. In labeling the female orgasm as difficult, if not impossible, the woman is almost erased from the sexual equation. Why is it that a female orgasm is viewed as a conquest, something

attributable to the skill of her partner, but is never a given? A man’s orgasm is always a given. In this way, women are still encouraged to lie back and wait until the man gets his. This view of sex means that basically no matter what position you’re in, you’re still doing it missionary-style. The problem is not biological, but cultural. The construction of the apex of intercourse as penis-in-vagina penetration (PIV for our purposes) is the main culprit. I am not knocking PIV as a sex act; I think it’s great, and I’m sure there are many women who can get their rocks off from it. I just don’t think it should be touted as the one and only “real” sex act. The issue is not necessarily that PIV is boring or doesn’t stimulate the woman on any level, it’s just that the main goal of PIV is also the end goal of PIV: when a guy comes, he loses his erection, and the sex suddenly stops, usually well before a woman gets hers. It doesn’t have to be this way. As noted in Natalie Angier’s Woman: An Intimate Geography, a woman’s erogenous zones extend well beyond the vagina: the inner and outer labia lips, the vulva, the clitoris, and the g-spot if only to name a few, and many of these areas just aren’t getting enough attention during PIV. Remember that there

are many tools for sexual gratification, not just your penis or your strap-on. Your tongue can go lots of places your phallus can’t, and let’s not forget your fingers, either. They’re basically ten really flexible pseudo-penises that can curve up over the vulva, around to the g-spot with the heel of your palm resting and pressing up against the clitoris. These sex practices need to be rescued from the side-lines of foreplay, and can even be combined with PIV using a bit of creativity. Girls, the responsibility is not on your partner alone. You are master of your own body, and this means your own orgasms. Guys come all the time because they know what they like: they start masturbating young and they keep at it. Meanwhile, most women I’ve talked to have rarely even dabbled in masturbation, at least before they became sexually active. The general response is: “I’m not very good at it.” It’s important to find out what you like so that you can replicate it later, over and over again.

Ben Peck / The McGill Daily

The problem is that it’s still hard for girls to take up the cause of their own sexuality. Women are rarely encouraged to negotiate their sexual identity on their own terms. Women are still often viewed as commodities, which reinforces their passive role. In order for women to come more, women have to be recognized as active participants in their own sexual experience, responsible for their own orgasm. People, we have work to do. Every girl should take her orgasm into her hands and come: loud, hard, and hopefully often. And remember, practice makes perfect. Julie’s column will appear every other Thursday. Send her your O-pinions to gutturalmind@mcgilldaily.com

ELECTION 2008

Health care issue often ignored in campaigns Sarah Goldstein

The McGill Daily

I

t’s nearly election time. The environment, education, and poverty have emerged as the major talking points, while growing concerns over the economy have certainly now topped the list. Yet sparse attention has been paid to health care, which ranked as the second most important concern for many Canadians according to an Ottawa Citizen article from September 25. “This year it is a campaign about leadership and addressing crises – economic crisis. When we go to the polls we are thinking about health care as a main concern and issue, but no parties have made this a battle cry,” said Antonia Maioni, director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada. The Canadian health care system has many problems. One major concern is the long wait times that many people face for medical treatment. According to the Commonwealth Fund, 24 per cent of Canadians who visit emergency rooms wait four hours or longer for service. What’s

more, simply seeing a general practitioner – let alone a specialist – may take up to four weeks, if not longer. Canadian health care has also been criticized for the shortage of medical professionals in the system. Canada has 2.2 doctors per 1,000 people, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Health Data for 2007. This is below the OECD average of three doctors per 1,000 people. While the reasons for Canada’s doctor shortage are difficult to pinpoint definitively, the College of Family Physicians of Canada attributes three major causes: U.S. migration, the unwillingness of medical students to choose needed specialties, and the concentration of medical practices in urban areas, leaving most of Canada’s interior even worse off. According to the Health Council of Canada, the federal government has not made improvements to the health care system that have been promised in the past. The idea of a “two-tier” system of public-private health care has longsince been proposed to ameliorate the current problems. Proponents

of the two-tier idea have argued that greater privatization would imbue the Canadian system with greater overall efficiency. Its detractors, however, see the two-tier system as unequally privileging those who are able to pay, while leaving the majority of Canadians with even longer queues and worse quality services. Little, however, has been heard on any of these issues from the politicians vying for power. While every party has some platform on health care, the issue seems to have been relegated to the back-burner this year. “Health care is not a driving issue. Politicians have figured out that playing political football in terms of health care is not the best thing to do,” said Maioni. We must all be able to make informed decisions at the voting booths next week. Health care is only one of the issues, but an important one nonetheless; the course that is plotted for the national health care system by whichever party wins this Tuesday will concretely affect Canadians for a long time to come. – with files from Nadja Popovich

Health care platforms, 2008 Conservative: conservative.ca

• Free dental and drug coverage for everyone over 65; expanded long-term care options for acutecare seniors • Investment in innovative choice for patience, like home care • Affordable national prescription drug strategy • Promotion of healthy living

Liberal: liberal.ca

Bloc: blocquebecois.org • Create an independent, Quebecrun health-care system; support provincial health care initiatives while opposing federal health care interventions • Maintain universal health care

• Committed to public health care • Specific policies: agreements with all provinces and territories for guaranteed patient wait times; addressing the doctor/nurse shortage by establishing new funding for training; development of electronic health records

• Ensure that the country’s health care system will continue for all Canadians, regardless of residence or income • Ensure a patient-focused health care system • Increase training for new healthcare professionals • Work more closely with Aboriginal communities to help lessen the health gap • Provide “catastrophic drug coverage” for everyone

NDP: ndp.ca • Committed to public health care • Working with provinces in order to discourage for-profit health care

Green Party: greenparty.ca • Maintain public health care • Reinstatement of funding for the Canadian Health Network • Creation of a fund for community – conceived and focused projects that address human and ecosystem health • Focus on environmentally friendly, non-toxic products • Promote fitness, sports, and active living


Mind&Body

The McGill Daily, Thursday, October 9, 2008

How to make your mommy proud

9

A Friends with food Thanksgiving

Friends with food Sophie Busby & Olivia Hoffmeyer

What: Home-away-from-home Thanksgiving Dinner How much: $115 for the whole dinner (including blog recipes). It feeds 14 mouths. You can easily reduce this amount with some creativity.

Why: Because who wants to give up tradition just because they can’t make it home for dinner

this year? Plus, this great North American holiday is the perfect time to prove your culinary talents.

Laura and Janice’s Famous Turkey Recipe, because something this delicious shouldn’t be that hard Tools of the trade: heavy duty foil; a large roasting pan – the exact size depends on the turkey; a wire rack to place in bottom of roasting pan – the toaster oven’s rack should fit perfectly; Pam, or any other brand of cooking spray. Place the wire rack in the bottom of the large pan and then place the turkey on top, breast side up – this means “ass up.” Spray the top of turkey and its legs with a lot of cooking spray, and we mean a lot – you’ll thank us for this later. Take a large piece of foil and also spray the side of it that will be touching the bird. Place the tin foil over the turkey, wrapping it down and sealing it very tightly to the roasting pan. If the foil isn’t going to be wide enough to cover completely, join two pieces by folding long edges together several times, then place over the bird and

Dorothy’s Pie Crust, because nothing says comfort like Grandma’s pie This delicious and easy pie crust used to be Sophie’s grandmother’s specialty. It has taken years for anyone to master it as well as she can. Sophie’s still trying. • 1 C really, really cold butter (freeze it for 30 minutes before starting the crust) • 2 C flour • 1 tsp baking powder • 2 tbsp ice water • 2 tbsp plain yogurt or sour cream Cut the frozen butter into large cubes – about 3cm3. Put these into a large mixing bowl alongside the dry ingredients. If you have a food processor, use it; set it to pulse until the flour and butter are relatively mixed together. There should be small pea-

About 1⁄2 hour before the end of the cooking time, turn the oven down to 350°F and remove the turkey from the oven. Very carefully punch a few holes in the foil to let the steam out and then, very carefully, remove the foil. The steam will come pouring out at first, so you run the risk of being badly burnt if

your hands or face get too close. Put the foil-less turkey pan back in the oven. After the last half hour, the bird will be golden brown. What do you mean it isn’t!? Leave it in for another 15 minutes to get that delicious crispy outer layer just right, but no longer than that – you don’t want to totally dry out your turkey. Once you remove the bird from the oven, let it sit for a few minutes. If you’ve stuffed it, spoon out stuffing and place in bowl, cover, and put it back in a warm oven. Keep the turkey tented with foil while you make gravy. If you don’t want to make your own gravy, or would like to limit the work, buy a pack of instant turkey gravy. We recommend Club House brand. It uses real turkey drippings, so it tastes just as good as homemade. But gravy is super easy and cheap, so score extra brownie points by doing it all from scratch. When the gravy is done...enjoy! For gravy-making info, please check our blog at mcgilldaily.com.

sized ovals of butter coated in flour. If you don’t have a food processor, then you can either use a hand-mixer, or a potato masher to blend the butter and the dry ingredients together. Don’t have these tools either? Shame on you! But you can still mix the ingredients together with a knife, breaking the butter as you go. Be warned, your arm may be sore at the end of this exercise, but once you’re done, it’ll be oh-so-satisfying. Now get prepared to get your hands dirty. Add the water and yogurt into the mixture, stirring with a spoon, knife, or potato masher until there are no obvious chunks of yogurt left floating around. Now dig in with your hands. Shape the mixture into a smooth, doughy mass. This will take a bit of time. If it seems to be much more difficult than it should be, buck up – apparently, the harder it is to get the flour-yogurt mixture into a dough,

the better the crust. As soon as you have the dough into a ball that you can easily hold in your hands, grab the plastic wrap. Divide the dough into two hockey-puck-shaped parts. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a 30 minutes, minimum. During this time you can start making the filling, and maybe do a few dishes, maybe. Once the dough has been adequately cooled (you can also make it the night before and keep it in the fridge for a day or two), take one puck and roll it out, until it’s about the size of a pie-pan. It should be very thin, about 1⁄4 cm thick. Once the dough is ready, gently wrap the crust around your rolling pin, and slide over and into the pie-pan. Make sure the dough covers the entire pan and break off the overflowing edges. If you’re doing a pie that requires a top crust, roll out the other hockey-puck of dough in the

wrap it up. What’s most important is ensuring that the foil is tightly sealed around the pan. If any air is let into the pan while the turkey is cooking, it won’t be as delicious. Place the turkey in oven at 450°F. (If your oven runs hot, like ours, then 430°F is fine). Cooking time depends on the size of the turkey. 10 - 13 lbs (4.5 - 6kg) = 2 3⁄4 hours 15 - 17 lbs (6 - 8 kg) = 3 1⁄4 hours 18 - 21 lbs (8 - 10kg) = 3 1⁄2 hours 22 + lbs (10kg & up) = 4 hours maximum

Thanksgiving is a fantastic time to give thanks for you friends by giving them food. In order to show off our skills, and our adult-ness, Friends with food decided to undertake the task of actually making a full Thanksgiving feast this year. But, we cheated; our dear pal, Laura D’Angelo, was added to the chef line-up this week to add the carnivore to our vegetarian duo. Even with Laura, the turkey-queen extraordinaire, on the team Thanksgiving dinner was a lot of work, but it’s definitely worth it. The traditional Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, any number of potato dishes, some veggie specials, and various other trimmings. We “accidentally” forgot cranberry sauce, but that’s because it’s just too easy – dump it out of a can, or make the “home-style” stuff off of the recipe on the back of a bag of berries. Feel free to be as extravagant or as moderate as you feel capable of with this year’s feast, but we’ve gone all out to bring you some recipes and we guarantee that they will leave you and your friends feeling loved and homey.

Vegetarian Stuffing, because it’s too important to feed to the meat-eaters alone This wild rice and mushroom stuffing is a delicious twist on the classic Thanksgiving staple. (It’s great to make for all of those people who can do without the turkey but go nuts for stuffing). • 1-2 loaves of sliced bread (we like to use one white, one wheat) • 3 small-medium onions, chopped • 2 cloves garlic, minced • 1 can (or equivalent) vegetable broth • 2 eggs • 1-2 C pre-cooked wild rice (you can use a mix of brown and wild rice, but make sure to use plenty of the wild variety – that’s what gives it a fabulous crunch) • 2 boxes of mushrooms, quartered or sliced

same way. Dump the filling into the bottom crust. With something like an apple pie, you can place the second crust directly on top of the first. Connect the top and bottom. Make sure to poke holes in the full top crust with a fork. Beat an egg with a fork for a few seconds, and then gently coat the top crust in egg with an egg brush or paper towel. The egg will create a nice shine when the pie is baked. Once the pie is assembled put it in the oven at 450°F for 15 minutes. After that first, delightful quarter of an hour has passed, turn the temperature down to 350°F and cook for 30 minutes. The crust should be tanned with a golden tinge when it’s done. Let cool for 15-20 minutes, until you can touch the pan, then serve. Yummy, yummy. For pie fillings (very key!) please check out our blog at mcgilldaily. com.

• 1 tbsp each, sage and thyme • salt, pepper Start by tearing the bread into one-inch pieces and put into a large bowl. Sautée the garlic, onions and mushrooms in a pan with a bit of oil or butter. Once the onions are clear, add the vegetable broth. Drizzle this broth mixture over the bread in the bowl. Keep adding broth until the bread is wet, but not sopping. Beat two eggs together in a small bowl, and then add them to the stuffing mixture to help bind it all together. Mix well. At this point add salt, pepper, sage and thyme (you can use ‘Italian seasoning’ instead if it’s handy.) Transfer the whole mixture to a deep baking dish. Cover and bake at 350°F for one hour. We like to take the cover off for the last 15 minutes to give it a bit of a crusty texture on top. Serve immediately, and hope there are leftovers!

Tips and Tricks: Don’t have rolling pin? Take your can of Pam, or an old or unopened bottle of wine. Cover it in plastic wrap, and away you go! It works almost as well as the real thing. When buying a turkey estimate about 1.25 lbs per person (1/2 kg). Remember, half the fun of Thanksgiving dinner is the leftovers, so always aim for more food. We could only find two small 5-7 kilogram turkeys (11-15 lbs) when we went schopping. To calculate the cooking time we picked half way between the larger turkey’s weight and the total weight. Blog action: find “How to save money on this feast” and “Leftover madness” at mcgilldaily.com, along with a Turkey Journal, a step-by-step guide to our day of cooking, the promised pie fillings – apple, pumpkin, and berry – and lots of tasty sides. Catch the next FWF in two weeks, when you kick the turkey hangover.


10 Features

IMPRACTICAL CATS Kitten life isn’t quite the way Old Possum made it out to be Photos by Stephen Davis Text by Drew Nelles

E

liot and Hemingway and Twain loved their cats. Writers, both iconic and would-be, often do, probably because writers are lazy and cats are low-maintenance. Owning a cat is an attractive idea; the reality is not so rosy. Particularly when you are allergic to the creatures, and the one that lives in your house regularly unleashes torrents of diarrhea in the bathtub. On August 23, the stray cat that showed up at my apartment one day and refused to leave gave birth. Naturally, she ignored the nest I had prepared for her in favour of my roommate’s dresser. The two resulting creatures looked like gerbils and sounded like baby birds. There was also a third, stillborn. Françoise greedily swallowed the afterbirth of her living offspring and licked them clean, but the dead kitten’s placenta went uneaten. It stayed, wet and unnaturally

twisted, in the corner. I am not proud of the way I disposed of the thing. Now, all brother and sister do is fight, and they are getting very good at it. They kick each other’s faces and gnaw ears. When they annoy Françoise, she seizes their throats in her teeth and pins them to the ground. Then, sometimes, they stop moving. That cat, the mother, was all I had this summer – those nights when you smoke on the porch even though you don’t smoke, watching the neighbours try to parallel park. An animal doesn’t listen, but it hears you when you speak, looking up with half-dumb pupils expanding in the darkness. Cats’ independence makes them seem disposable, and there are too many in a world with too few homes for them. Now, in any case, my home has two more.


The McGill Daily, Thursday, October 9, 2008

11


12 Commentary

The McGill Daily, Thursday, October 9, 2008

volume 98 number 12

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

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Art History professor Charmaine Nelson jokes about going into “Olympic withdrawal” after watching Usain Bolt dominate this summer’s track events. And in her academic domain, she explains that tip-toeing around the use of colour in art prevents us from understanding pieces like Manet’s “Olympia.”

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Embracing visual literacy

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The Daily is proud to be a founding member of the Canadian University Press. All contents © 2008 Daily Publications Society. All rights reserved. The content of this newspaper is the responsibility of The McGill Daily and does not necessarily represent the views of McGill University. Products or companies advertised in this newspaper are not necessarily endorsed by Daily staff. Printed by Imprimerie Transcontinental Transmag. Anjou, Quebec. ISSN 1192-4608.

The conversationalist Rosie Aiello

P

eople talk about being blind to things like colour and gender. “Colourblind” is the friendly term some use for this approach. And it has its positive effects: when people are “colourblind,” they are more likely to steer clear from nasty racial stereotypes and the explicit acts of prejudice that accompany them. Darlene Lannigan, assistant to Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon, is a shining example of someone who is not colourblind. She recently made a dastardly comment to an aboriginal protester, telling him that he is free to come into her office and negotiate only “if [he] behave[s], and [he’s] sober.” Wouldn’t it be nice to think that we could solve racism of that kind – that we could solve all this race, gender, sexuality, disability business for that matter – with just a bit of “blindness”? But “blindness” ignores some important points.     Dr. Charmaine Nelson, Associate

Professor of Art History at McGill, says her frustration with the “colourblind” mentality motivated her to get involved in teaching. In her postsecondary Art History classes people would dance and twirl and tip-toe around the fact that one of the two women in Edouard Manet’s 1863 painting “Olympia,” was black. No one thought it important enough to mention. The professor would act as if these women were simply two women, and that race played no part in any discernible difference in life experience or advantage. But you see, it’s more than a little important that one of the women was black and one of the women was white; it’s important because, in 1863 in France, the black woman was most likely a slave, and the white woman was most likely not.     “Colour/gender blindness refuses to see the differences that marginalize individuals; colourblindness

refuses to see that it is not a level playing field,” Nelson says.     Nelson is an Obama supporter. Though she doesn’t say that Obama should be president simply because he’s black; she does believe that since he is black, we should see his success as exceptional. He has gotten this far despite past and present systems of oppression. But then things get frightening. Think of that frightening woman Sarah Palin, and all the people that think they should vote for her because she’s a woman, and consider that she has gotten this far despite gender biases and not, perhaps, because of gender biases. Or consider that frightening member of the United States Supreme Court, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, who was appointed arguably because he is black, and despite all the allegations of sexual harassment filed against him. So, how to

deal with this? How to respect Obama and Pallin’s respective experiences of race and gender without reducing voting to a tokenizing gesture or to misplaced race and gender loyalties?     “Visual Literacy” is Nelson’s answer. And this is how Art History finds its place in politics. It teaches us to be conscious of the visual information that we receive, be aware of the history of what you see, or of the intentional tricks advertisers and campaigners play on our experience of the visual, and to consciously consider this information within our understanding of the non-visual. If you are lucky enough to have functioning eyes, don’t choose to be blind. See what there is to see, and read what it is you are seeing. The conversationalist appears every other Thursday. You can contact Rosie at theconversationalist@ mcgilldaily.com.


Commentary

The McGill Daily, Thursday, October 9, 2008

ELECTION 2008

Don’t be afraid to eat your ballot Fred Burrill

HYDE PARK

O

ver the last month, election platforms, promises, and pot-shots have filled Canadian airwaves in preparation for October 14. Behind all of the inanity, though, there is a common theme that seems to unite politicians, bureaucrats, and organizations of just about every ideological stripe: the importance of voting. This goes beyond party allegiances and the debate over strategic ballot-casting. In a liberal democracy, voting is about much more than simply applying your pen to a small piece of paper. It is an act loaded with symbolism and meaning, embodying the rights and duties of citizenship in a supposedly enlightened and free society. Those who don’t vote, we are told, are either apathetic or incurably cynical. If we don’t fulfill our basic responsibilities, what right do we have to voice our dissent? Let’s take a moment to think about this critically. First, it helps to dispel some of the mysticism surrounding the vote. Marking an “X” next to a name is definitely not the essence of

democracy – here it might help to hit the mute button on the high school civics teacher inside your head – but nor is it, as many radical political thinkers have argued, tantamount to an active acquiescence to the “powers that be.” Especially for those of us opposed to inequality and exploitation, voting needs to be seen as just another political tactic, to be used or discarded as people see fit. Even in cases where it seems a viable strategy for social change, we need to recognize that voting actually constitutes an extremely limited form of democratic citizenship. We are invited to make a choice of

Marking an “X” next to a name is definitely not the essence of democracy, nor is it tantamount to an active acquiesnce to the ‘powers that be’

government from the two largely interchangeable dominant parties, the Liberals and the Conservatives (oh, unknot your knickers, Liberals. Anyone who remembers Paul Martin’s budget cuts or the invasion of Haiti isn’t fooled by your opposi-

tion to the admittedly scary Harper Tories; and Justin Trudeau needs a haircut), and then to line up an opposition to these behemoths from a mixture of vaguely progressive and definitely confused smaller parties. The Greens? Neoliberals with Al Gore powerpoints. The Bloc? One too many conservative xenophobes hiding in the wings. The NDP? Sorry folks. Keynes is dead, and Jack’s just annoying. What is actually being promoted is not some stirring participation in a quasi-holy institution, but instead a political culture that fosters only sporadic engagement in a morally bankrupt system. When we teach our children about changing the world, we need to focus on long-term, grassroots involvement. Get involved in your local community centre, kids! Take to the streets! Demand change! Solve your own problems! In The Daily’s recent FAQ guide to the federal election, the first question – “should I vote?” – was answered with a resounding “YES!” The answer is actually much more complicated: vote, if you must, but voting is not a must. Fred Burrill is a U3 History student. In the last election, he voted for the Canadian Action party as a joke. But then he felt guilty.

13

Vote with your heart, not your strategy

Every four years – or, as it has been recently, every one or two and a half – Canadians vote for their Members of Parliament. This time around, many progressive voters are determined to prevent the Conservatives from getting re-elected. And with four left-wing parties to choose from, many are considering voting strategically for the party most likely to defeat the Conservatives in their riding. Web sites have sprung up predicting what their authors think is the party most likely to defeat the Tories in each riding. Other sites encourage vote swapping – voting for a strong candidate from a party you would not normally vote for in a competitive riding and having someone else vote for your preferred party in a safe riding. Although we can’t agree on which party we think should get elected, one thing we can agree on is not voting for the Conservatives. In the last month, we’ve criticized them in this space for trying to weaken copyright protections for consumers and for slashing arts funding – cuts the Tories just announced they would reverse after massive public outcry. With environmental policies that allow pollution to rise drastically, American-style crime policies that create hardened criminals, and Harper’s controlling nature within his Cabinet, it’s no surprise that strategic voting is gaining popularity. Especially after blaming Ralph Nader for Gore’s loss to Bush in 2000, many voters have tried to avoid splitting the vote. But the theory that supporters of smaller parties would automatically vote for larger ones simply doesn’t add up. In the 2000 Canadian election, the combined total of the Progressive Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance was 38 per cent. But after the two right-wing parties merged, the following election had the new Conservative party claim only 30 per cent of the vote, even as the weakened Liberals lost their majority. The other problem with strategic voting is the difficulty in knowing which candidates can beat their Tory opponents. The most common method is to consider a race competitive if the margin between the top two candidates was less than five percentage points in the last election. But in the last three elections, more seats where the margin was greater than five percentage points flipped than those where the margin was smaller. Incumbency, strong candidates, good party organization, more money, even a campaign stop by a party leader can drastically affect who is the “strongest” progressive candidate, especially when more than two parties are competitive, which is the case in many ridings around the Greater Montreal Area this year. Often, by encouraging strategic voting often encourage you to vote mostly for the party they prefer. Despite Canada’s use of the simplistic “first past the post” system – where the candidates with the most votes win, even if they get fewer than 50 per cent of the votes – Canadian politics has astoundingly evolved into a multiparty system. This is more in common with countries that use proportional representation, and quite rare in those, like Canada, with “first past the post” voting systems. Strategic voting will further push us toward an unwanted twoparty system, as those who vote for a third party will essentially be “wasting” their vote. Smaller parties can have an influence even if they’re not the governing party. For instance, their policies may be adopted by larger parties, and in minority governments, they can even can hold the balance of power. A little healthy competition in the political landscape is far from a bad thing. Further, any party that gets two per cent of the national vote will get $1.95 per year for each vote they received in the previous election. Your vote matters no matter what happens locally or nationally. So learn about the issues, get involved in the future of your country, and vote your conscience.

Editorial

Nicole Buchanan for The McGill Daily

Errata The photo accompanying “CNR-Mohawk lawsuit resisted by local activists” (News, Oct. 2) was incorrectly credited to Stephen Davis. In fact, Marie Thomas took the photo. In “U.S. war resister can stay in Canada for now” (News, Sept. 29), The Daily incorrectly stated that Robin Long was the first deported soldier since the Vietnam War. In fact, Long was the first U.S. war resister deported from Canada since the Vietnam War, according to Sarah Lazare, a Project Director for the U.S.-based support group for war resisters, Courage to Resist. The Daily regrets the errors.


14 Commentary

The McGill Daily, Thursday, October 9, 2008

Letters: Thoughts on LGBT and military stories; the crime of skateboarding

Letters Queer McGill should recognize power struggles Re: “Queer McGill should evaluate its legacy” | Commentary | Oct. 6 The institutionalized and systemic oppression that queers are subject to is in no way synonymous with the sporadic disadvantaging of straightness in queer spaces. A safe space for queers strives, in part, to let us express ourselves in ways we cannot otherwise. If this includes the venting of anger and frustration that comes from being queer in a homophobic, transphobic, and heterosexist society by engaging in “straight bashing,” then so be it. Part of being an ally means dealing with this kind of discomfort – it means confronting one’s straight privilege head on.

Having said that, talk of the inclusiveness of the entire student body in Queer McGill proves to be rife with contradiction. A standardized policy of inclusiveness assumes that everyone is found to be on equal footing in society. We’d hope that Queer McGill would swiftly reject a claim like this in so far as it is an organization premised on the existence of power differences. A singular prescription for inclusiveness doesn’t make sense for an organization that recognizes the realities of inequality. If we’re going to start criticizing Queer McGill, we need to look at the ways in which race, racism, and racialization are repeatedly marginalized within the organization. Queerness and race – whether “black, white, or purple” – are inextricably linked. This cavalier treatment of race by Name Withheld reflects the cavalier treatment of race generally in our white-supremacist society. Queer oppression as being solely reducible to issues of gender and sexuality is a white-washed notion indeed. Matt Lee U1 Arts Lisa Miatello U3 Women’s Studies

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Looking for a church home while attending University? Maybe we’ve got just what you’ve been looking for! Consider the Church of St.Andrew & St.Paul. We are a vibrant Christian community located in the heart of Montreal’s downtown. Our College & Careers groups meet regularly for Bible Studies, social events, and retreats.

And if you visit us this Sunday October 19th we’ll treat you to lunch following the service! Service begins at 11:00am

(Sherbrooke St. @ Bishop) 3415 Redpath St. Montreal, Quebec H3G 2G2 514-842-3431

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There’s more than one side to every story Re: “LGBT sensitivity training not up to par: Queer McGill” | News | Oct. 6 As a former McGill undergraduate, current graduate student, and Safe Space facilitator, I was dismayed to read Ms. Theodorakis’ piece. The article demonstrates very little knowledge of the content, history, and purpose of the Safe Space program at McGill – which began delivering workshops on queer issues to faculty, staff, and student leaders in 2004. The criticisms of Safe Space seem to be that the program does not reflect what students experience on campus, that the professors who attend workshops are already queerpositive by virtue of having selfselected, and that the program caters “to the older population of professors,” somehow jeopardizing the program’s integrity as though professors were not a focus of Safe Space’s efforts. Queer McGill administrator Aubrey Trask is also quoted as effectively saying that Safe Space does more harm than good, implying that a lot of money is pumped into Safe Space as though it is a campus-wide sensitivity training initiative. Not only do these accusations misrepresent the actual conditions in which Safe Space operates (i.e., there is no money), but they completely miss the point regarding what the program actually does. Safe Space is not a campus-wide vehicle for sensitivity training, as implied in the article. It is a group whose goal is modest yet important: to empower, through outreach and peer education, individual members of the McGill faculty/staff community who are or who want to become queer positive. This enables participants to make changes in their workplace toward creating safe(r) spaces for non-heterosexual and gender non-normative people. As I understand it, participant self-selection is the essence of the program. Further, the accusation that Safe Space misguidedly caters to “older professors” is ageist, and the suggestion that Safe Space has never worked with Queer McGill to revise program content is – to my knowledge – blatantly untrue. Anyone who has been involved in the countless revision processes would have verified this, and as far as I know no one from Safe Space was contacted. This article is one-sided and sensationalist, creating an issue where none exists through wild speculation and insufficient research. In my humble opinion, such time and energy should not be spent on dividing a very small community. Liz Airton MA Education and Gender Studies Safe Space Facilitator

Don’t fall victim to apathy! Re: “Hey you, there’s an election coming your way!” | News | Oct. 6 First and foremost, I love you all. Well, really only your staffers that I know. And love is a strong word. So I should be careful. Anyway. I was sad to see that the upcoming federal election here in the great confederation of Canada, only got a quarter page of coverage tucked away in a corner of page six. Not only is this troubling for those of us who just so happen to be American but inexplicably obsessed with the Canadian election, but it also makes me worry about Canada’s image to the world. Do you want the world to hate you? I’ve been there. I’m American for Christ’s sake. People fucking hate me because of something as arbitrary as my nationality. As of now, you all have the luxury of being loved by the whole world (mostly because of Hotel Rawanda), but that will not just stick around forever! A Harper majority? Are you shitting me? The quickest way to achieve this, of course, is to not pay any attention to what is happening. Fall victim to apathy! Don’t talk about the election or the election issues in student-run independent sick-ass newspapers! Let Harper get that majority, enter Iraq, help the U.S. invade Iran, and we can all sit together as our economies crash and burn in a self loathing pool of lava. Benny lava, that is. Now, I’m guessing you all were planning an election issue anyway, so this just may make me seem like an idiot, but it’s gotta be said. Please vote (strategically). Please educate yourselves about election issues (everyone). Please use the news and this student base as a critical mass, capable of achieving some social change. Paul Gross U3 Anthropology

Resister? More like deserter Re: “U.S. war resister can stay in Canada for now” | News | Sept. 29 The News brief on U.S. Army private Jeremy Hinzman raises an important semantic concern. Throughout the article, Hinzman is referred to as a “war resister.” I do not take issue with this characterization because I do not support Mr. Hinzman or the Canadian government with regard to his case. Indeed, I hope that Hinzman’s bid to stay in Canada is successful, regardless of his character, and that the Canadian government remain accommodating in its granting of political asylum to foreign soldiers who are persecuted in their countries for conscientious

objection. Describing Hinzman as a “war resister,” or his legal troubles as the product of persecution for conscientious objection, however, are both inaccurate assessments of his situation, and imply the existence of a decidedly political dimension in an issue – contentious as it is – where there is none to be found. As I am sure Daily staff are aware, there are many thousands of Americans who would consider themselves war resisters. The manifestations of their sentiments are diverse, but the American government has never sought to prosecute Americans simply for disagreeing with or “resisting” the war, and the Canadian government has never mulled the possibility of deporting them. I should hope it hasn’t, anyway – I might soon find myself in hot water. If Hinzman were deported, he would face a court-martial – not because he is a war resister, but because he is an Army deserter. Though Hinzman’s flight assumes a very different colour in light of what is now an almost universally unpopular war, it is important that The Daily clearly communicates the nature of his decision, whether or not it constitutes a crime in the opinions of the staff. Mike Prebil U1 History

Skateboarding is not a crime. Oh wait...it is Last Thursday, I was skateboarding down Ste. Catherines when two cops pulled me over. They were surprisingly friendly given my preconceived notions about police in Quebec, but despite this, they proceeded to tell me what I was doing was a crime. Not only is skateboarding anywhere in Quebec not allowed, if caught, I can be charged $120 and have my board seized. I’m 97 per cent sure that I have not seen a novelty T-shirt exclaiming that “Skateboarding Is Not A Crime” in at least eight years, but maybe that’s because it is again. So for all of you who have been whining about having to walk your bikes through campus; throw on a helmet and brave the streets like the rest of us. But unlike the rest of us, embrace the fact that your environmentally-friendly method of transport is not against the law. Jonah Greisman U2 Cultural Studies More letters were received than could be printed. They will appear in the next possible issue. Send your letters to letters@mcgilldaily.com. The Daily does not print letters that are racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise hateful.


Culture

15

Montreal’s Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, a luminous spot on the contemporary film circuit, boasts almost 250 films. Here’s a quick overview of gems to check out and wishy-washy flicks to avoid.

Nouveau

Cinéma

2008

2008

Waltz with Bashir Israeli director Ari Folman describes his new film, Waltz with Bashir, as an “animated documentary.” The film unfolds with Ari, the director’s animated surrogate, interviewing subjects in the style of a documentary while their stories unfold in stylized animated sequences. With a tightly crafted sense of rising tension and visuals that are alternately shocking and stunning, Folman weaves together interviews, historical facts, dreams, fantasies, anecdotes, explosions, and blaring eighties music into a surreal nightmare meditation on the 1982 Lebanese Civil War. After talking to an old war buddy, Ari realizes he doesn’t remember anything about his experiences as an Israeli soldier in the Lebanese War. That night, he has a flashback to his most troubling experience: the massacre at Sabra and Shatila. However, his flashback is not a realistic reen-

Thursday 16 October, 7 p.m., and Friday 17 October, 3:15 p.m. at Ex-Centris

actment, but a vivid hallucination in which he and two others emerge naked from the sea and walk toward Beirut. The bombed-out high-rise hotels are illuminated by slowly falling aerial flares, casting the entire dream in eerie shades of black and yellow. He wanders into the city and is engulfed by a crowd of shrieking, wailing women and children – and then it ends. Ari seeks out fellow soldiers he thinks might remember his experiences and the massacre. What follows are scripted exchanges and talkinghead narration that relay emotional explorations and experiences from the war. As Ari gathers these recollections, he starts to recover his own past. The film probes the horror of modern urban war: how war feels, impacts the psyche and, most importantly, how war is remembered. It

does this by immersing its viewers in complete moments, then jerking the tone out from under them. There is the exhilaration and horror of Israeli artillery missing a speeding car and hitting anonymous apartment blocks set to ragged punk rock, or the terrible beauty of a rocket-propelled grenade arcing slowly through an orchard set to a gentle waltz – all rendered with breathtaking animation. Folman plunges us into a surreal consumer apocalypse. As Public Image Limited’s “This is Not a Love Song,” blares away, Ari walks through his home city, the people, shopping and eating, a blur around him, kids shooting video game guns: modern life is as busy as usual. A week later, attacking Beirut, Ari wanders through the airport, hallucinating shops full of Coca-Cola and Bulgari, and departing Air France and British Airways flights to Paris and London.

But the planes are smoking hulks, and the only movement in the stores is an automatic door opening and closing like a postmortal spasm. Lines of Mercedes are run over by tanks, posters for politicians and products cover every battlefield. Rockets come raining down from the windows of luxury hotels, and Lebanese families watch street battles like movies from their balconies. The stories in the first two thirds of the film are insular, personal, and focused. The innocent victims are seen only obliquely as the soldiers frantically fire into the dark of the countryside or into the chaos of the city, riddling a family’s car with bullets. As Ari finds people closer to the massacre, his hallucinations turn into devastating memories that humanize the victims in a way he can’t ignore. The story of the actual massacre is pieced together from

these fragmented, confused viewpoints, and the detachment and disorganization of the soldiers portrayed earlier directly affects how the massacre plays out. Finally, one of the interviewees, news reporter Ron Ben-Yishai, goes into the refugee camps and gives us all the gory details. Folman, in the course of the film, gives us a new memory of the war and the massacre. Waltz with Bashir doesn’t hit you over the head with its political message, but hides it behind ambiguity until the end when the politics of memory and war become very real. The last frames of the film are the only ones that aren’t animated. This video footage violently rips away any semblance of safety the audience might feel in the film’s style, and completely changes your ideas about everything that came before. – Sam Neylon


16 Culture

The McGill Daily, Thursday, October 9, 2008

Nouveau

Cinéma

Tokyo Sonata Sunday 12 October, 7:45 p.m. at Cinema Imperial, and Monday 13 October, 9 p.m. at Cinema du Parc In a live interview following the North American debut of his 2007 film Tokyo Sonata, director Kiyoshi Kirosawa acknowledged that he is, at heart, a sentimental filmmaker. Those who are familiar with Kirosawa’s gory oeuvre will no doubt have trouble believing this statement. But then again, Tokyo Sonata is something of a departure for the cult-horror director, one that brings his humanist impulses fully to light. The plot features almost all of the stock themes one would expect from a domestic melodrama: unemployment, a marriage in crisis, infidelity, abuse. But, if the screenplay seems contrived at times, the cam-

era work still has all of the director’s characteristically evocative – and indeed unsettling – cinematographic trademarks. Depictions of the Tokyo skyline, the city’s subway system, and empty night-time side-streets evoke a sense of vague, lurking malevolence, as hard to pin down as it is to ignore. Nevertheless, the film betrays a measure of sympathy for its four embattled protagonists, even as they fall victim to their own egotism, solipsism, and emotional impotence. The movie’s best scene is its final one, which is both conciliatory and quietly heartbreaking. –Simon Lewsen

Gomorra Saturday 11 October, 1 p.m. at Cinema du Parc, and Sunday 12 October, 5 p.m. at Cinema Imperial Matteo Garrone’s Gomorra reveals the interlocking webs that make a city run by showing us the modern-day Camorra crime families of Naples. The camera focuses right in on these people; only in the corners of the screen do we see the gritty conditions that surround them. The mafia are a bunch of thugs in this movie, and no effort is made to romanticize them. Violence comes out of nowhere and is often offscreen at unexpected times. We don’t see the drug dealer get gunned down; we see the group of locals rushing to the body. Killings are unceremonious and sloppy. The music is often droning, mindless house or italo-pop from the gangsters’ trashy car speakers,

accompanying their sudden acts of violence. The film centers on a Neapolitan Housing Project: a high-rise monstrosity with a space-station-like framework of dirty concrete platforms and rusty pipes connecting the apartments. These are people trying to get by while a world of drug dealing, murder, mafia controlled hautecouture, and crooked toxic waste disposal forces them into moral conundrums. The many strands of the story weave through the rotting underbelly of the city, creating a loose, sorrowful narrative that is insistently gripping. – Sam Neylon

Turbid Monday 13 October, 7:30 p.m. and Tuesday 14 October, 3:30 p.m. at Ex-Centris At first glance, Turbid appears to be just another indie film trying too hard to be edgy and provocative; turns out, the movie is provocative, edgy, and indie in the best possible way. Director George Fok – who also wrote, produced, and edited the movie – took a risk with his first feature-length film, choosing to portray the story of a young girl “navigating through the confusing path of adolescence,” in which she steals, dabbles in drugs, questions her faith, and rebels against her mother. Despite the seemingly unoriginal storyline, Fok presents a strangely compelling film with an unconventional cinematic approach and honest, believable characters played by “non-actors.”

The plot unfolds organically: when the main character says, “Maybe things are supposed to be shitty,” it is convincing – and not unreasonable to find oneself agreeing and sympathizing with her. Fok treats his viewers with refreshing intelligence. The film is riddled with in-your-face religious motifs, and just as the viewer is wondering about the abundance of Jesus figurines, the characters discuss the presence of God in their lives. Although the content of the film is undeniably heavy and somewhat cliched, Turbid achieves a sincere portrayal of the emotions involved in what is, for many, the everyday struggle to get by. –Victoria DiPlacido


Culture

The McGill Daily, Thursday, October 9, 2008

17

Nouveau

Cinéma

The Lovebirds Tonight, 5:20 p.m. and Sunday 12 October, 9:20 p.m. at Ex-Centris Artsy-indieness does not guarantee success. The Lovebirds is a film that attempts to do too much but achieves too little, resulting in a pisspoor imitation of the 2006 ensemble of short films, Paris Je T’aime. The Lovebirds is a compilation of eight relationships unfolding on a single night in Lisbon, Portugal. Each narrative is completely different, attempting to untangle stories of lust, murder, drugs, and failed friendships. It sounds like you’d get some juicy action, right? Wrong. The director glues some stories together, leaving others neglected. There’s no climax, no resolution, not even a bloody cliffhanger. Jumping

from two buddies at an archeological site to a rich man and his mistress in a hotel room, the unifying theme is either absent or just undetectable. At one point, the character of a Portuguese director compares filmmaking to boxing: you’ve got passion, love, fantasy, jealousy, and neurosis. The end result is that all these mixed emotions come together, like a crazy Jackson Pollock piece – or like a kindergartner’s finger-painting project. It feels like the director made the first half of each short story, then got bored and left it there. Like a night of bad sex, you’re left thinking, “Is that it?” – Veronica French

Sentimental Capitalism Next Floor plays Friday 10 October, 5:30 p.m. at Ex-Centris Un Capitalisme Sentimental plays today, 3 p.m. at Ex-Centris

Check Out These Nouveau Cinéma EVENTS The FNC Lab

R.I.P: A Remix Manifesto

Probe the future of cinema at events like the Pocket Film festival, a selection of shorts made on cell phones and webcams, and Encounters, a series of talks with established local filmmakers like Denis Villeneuve and Jean-Marc Vallee.

Brett Gaylor’s movie that explores copyright’s role in the digital era is, like, so meta. R.I.P: A Remix Manifesto, is the world’s first Open Source documentary – aspiring filmmakers were invited to “remix” the film’s raw footage. Gaylor is hosting a launch party that will be filmed for the movie’s final cut. A criminal mugshot photo booth will be available for the use of all delinquent attendees.

As I walk into Cinema Ex-Centris at 8:50 a.m. on a Thursday morning, I am tired, cold, and wary of what to expect from the two films being screened for the Festival Nouveau Cinema. I perk up a bit at the prospect of free chocolate croissants and settle myself into the seat where I will spend the next two hours. The first film, Next Floor, is only 12 minutes long, but it’s definitely an intriguing 12 minutes. The film opens with a scene of 11 dinner guests devouring a meal that appears to consist entirely of meat. The meal is shown in grotesque detail, which is quite a shock so early in the morning. The focus is on the never-ending meal, and the guests continue to eat as servants bring out countless dishes of sausages, pheasant, and even rhinoceros. However, the meal is continually interrupted by an unexpected event, which eventually leads to the dinner’s end – and the guests’ demise. I have never been particularly drawn to short films, but this one certainly piqued my interest, and I recommend it for its pure absurdity. With Next Floor, understanding the language spoken was not a problem because only two words are uttered during the film, which – as you can probably guess – are “next floor.” So as the lights dim once more for the 90-minute film Un Capitalisme Sentimental, it does not cross my mind that the movie might not have English subtitles. However, as the film comes on and the protagonist begins to speak, it becomes quite clear that there will be no subtitles to guide me through this three-

quarters-French, one-quarter-English film. Still, I am able to make sense of the movie with my not-quite-fluent French, especially with the English interjections. The movie is set in the late 1920s, beginning in Paris with an idealistic young woman named Fernande Bouvier. She abandons her husband in the country and moves to the city to be an artist, but is unsuccessful, and attempts to commit suicide. Two capitalist Americans bet their stockbroker, Victor, that he cannot market Fernande as a product. Victor accepts, finds Fernande before she can kill herself, and whisks her off to New York City where she begins her capitalistic ventures. However, as Fernande learns, what comes easily in the capitalist world can also be taken away in an instant. The Quebec film has a very avantegarde feel; the mixture of drawn representations of scenery and filmed reality give it an air of fantasy. The characters’ random outbursts into song also remind me a little of a scattered, pared-down Moulin Rouge. The movie raises some noteworthy points about the careless attitude toward money that was prevalent in the late 1920s. In the end, Un Capitalisme Sentimental offers a somewhat unrealistic fairy-tale ending, which I feel didn’t fit with the atmosphere of the rest of the film. However, it is an interesting film, and I don’t regret the 8 a.m. wake up, which is saying something – I don’t generally enjoy being up before 10. –Erin O’Callaghan All images courtesy Nouveau Cinéma


18 Culture

Mind the gap

Bursting the bubble

D

irty, mundane, often crowded, and rattling-loud, the subway limits our personal space, packing us tightly together and intensifying self-consciousness. But the metro can also bring us into brief contact with unfamiliar and unexpected beauty. More than just a mode of transportation, the subway is itself a space for social interaction – or just a spot to spend a few minutes preparing for, or reflecting on, the day. The subway has seen parties, riots, pickpockets, and terrorism; it’s been puked on, vandalized, and buffed clean countless times over. Not surprisingly, it has been the centre of numerous debates on public space and freedom of expression. The light’s reflection on dark subway windows tends to divert our attention back at ourselves and at the people around us. Like all public spaces, there are certain unwritten rules of behaviour. Eyes move constantly – studying shoelaces, scanning advertisements, or watching the abstract landscape of tunnel lights between stations. Other gazes rest patiently, staring blankly into space, but are ready to shoot a questioning glance if other eyes should cross their path. However, most eyes are eager to meet if they can find a valid reason – a look of relief after a loudly singing drunk disembarks, or a warm smile between strangers watching a mother with her baby. In a culture where we are often isolated within subcultures or pods of shared interest, we tend to see ourselves constantly mirrored and affirmed in the people around us. To say that the metro is a great equalizer that unites people of different class or race would be naive, but it does bring together people who might not normally associate with each other, presenting us with difference, and potentially asking us to evaluate ourselves – that is, if we’re not too busy listening to our iPods. On the metro, we can observe how people carry themselves: their odd mannerisms, attitudes, and postures that may hint at their profession or family role. In New York in the 1930s, street photographer Walker Evans used a hidden camera to photograph candid moments of people aboard trains, compiling a powerful document of the city, its people, and the cultural climate during the economic depression. In the early years of graffiti, the train cars were an important mobile canvas displaying tags or images across a whole city, while every inside surface was covered in dripping black ink from homemade markers. Footage of these writers and their assault on public space was captured in the 1982 documentary Style Wars. Recent years have seen renewed battles over photography in public space. Fearing terrorism aimed at public transportation, New York City Transit proposed a law in 2004 that would prohibit all photography and filmmaking in subways and bus systems without a formally issued permit. Denounced as an ineffectual attempt

Priam Poulton-McGraw steps into an oftenoverlooked urban microcosm to project a sense of security, the bill was challenged by photography, press, civil rights, and free speech groups. Over 100 photographers protested for freedom of expression, gathering at Grand Central Station with their cameras, and spreading across various tube lines to take photographs. This year, professional photographer Jam Abelanet caused a stir with his series of nudes shot on the Paris Metro, seemingly without the awareness or permission of the transit authorities. The photographs were intended as a playful response to people’s declining attention to their surroundings. Metro parties – social events held on a moving subway train – also address anti-social behaviour by renegotiating the rules of social interaction within public space. They often involve costumes, decorations, and music. Though bewildering to other passengers, the gatherings often grow from station to station. While in England this summer, I accidentally found myself in the midst of a huge metro party while trying to get back to where I was staying in north London. Londoners held parties on the Underground on May 31 – the last night before a law banning consumption of alcohol on the Tube was implemented. For some, it was a protest against Borris Johnson, the newly-elected mayor, and what they perceived as his social conservatism. For others, though, it was merely an excuse to get drunk and wear costumes. Six stations were closed due to riots – including the one I was trying to get to – and 17 people were arrested. Many people understand the law as an aim to eliminate an anti-social behaviour through punitive measures rather than through social change. Given how anti-social the metro space has become in general, it seems to be a fairly ineffective gesture. Ironically, the only time I talked to anyone on the London Underground was when a metro partier gave me a beer. The subway has been a fixture of the world’s largest cities since the beginning of the twentieth century. In the case of cities like Moscow and New York, the insides of stations are time capsules that have remained the same, while the underground lines grow and the face of the cities above them are drastically remodeled. Though Montreal’s metro is the younger sibling of the world’s underground systems, its futuristic 1960s modernist architecture and diverse artwork make it an intriguing addition to this bilingual city’s character. Over the next few weeks, The Daily will take you outside the familiar bubble of student life in Montreal and expand your knowledge of the city with a series of articles on metro stations and their surrounding neighbourhoods. While travelling, you might also want to put down your book, take off your headphones, and watch the people around you to learn more about the city we live in. Priam Poulton-McGraw / The McGill Daily


Culture

The McGill Daily, Thursday, October 9, 2008

In defense of daring architecture

19

Will Alsop, the avant-garde designer of OCAD, pleads his case

Conceptual Painting for the Sharp Centre for Design at OCAD, Toronto, 2000, Courtesy Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal

Ryan Mackellar Culture Writer

O

n Tuesday, renowned British architect Will Alsop gave a lecture at the Canadian Centre for Architecture entitled OCAD: An Urban Manifesto. A central theme was questioning the role of the architect and architecture in contemporary society. Should buildings be designed simply for function, or rather, should they be engaging and unique,

becoming places where people will actually wish to spend their time? Well-known for his colourful, avantgarde architecture, Alsop believes the latter. Many architects, Alsop said repeatedly, are immensely bored; they create places that people will never go to. He believes that architects, unlike lawyers, accountants and so on, should be peddlers of joy, creating places that are unusual and thus remembered in the often-bland urban centers of the modern world. One of Alsop’s earliest creations, a

large visitors’ centre modeled after a disposable cigarette lighter, certainly attests to this. Accountants, whose profession he mocked throughout the lecture, made predictions that 25,000 people would go to the centre in its first year. Despite this estimate, over 450,000 people visited during its first year alone. Why would 450,000 people go to see the Cardiff Bay visitor’s centre? Because it is unusual. It is this unusualness that people want; an out-of-the-ordinary building can evoke feelings of curiosity for those

who have not seen it, which can be formidable desire. Alsop believes that the OCAD (Ontario College of Art and Design) building has a similar effect. Architects in urban centres should try to break free from the orderliness and sharp clarity that many buildings try to create, he explained. But what does this mean for the future of architecture, and urban centres in particular? Does a style such as his have the power to transform and revitalize often lifeless cities?

Alsop referred to the importance of engaging the general public and breaking down barriers so that it is not just the architect who is a part of the design process. Architecture should be a reflection of the people that inhabit a city, he suggested. It is something that we pass by every day, and thus, he believes that architecture influences us in unknown ways. Buildings should not simply be functional, but interesting, unique, and ultimately a reflection of the direction which are headed in the 21st century.

Flimsy futures: existential anxiety at eco-minded photo exhibit Hannah Martin Culture Writer

I

t’s hard not to be in perpetual worry. On top of the normal anxieties of confused, twentysomething university students, we’ve now got to grapple with quasi-apocalyptic issues like terrorism, economic crisis, global warming, biased media, and the occasional mass epidemic as well. In particular, environmental issues seem to have taken a leading position in the 21st century’s fearful consciousness, as it becomes more and more obvious that the human race is on a path to seriously damaging the earth. But, for all the agonizing, it seems like there’s very little actually being done, as the world – and North America in particular – still continues to consume like there’s no tomorrow. Pun intended. This is exactly what Cindy Diane Rheault hopes to call attention to in “Bâtir Vert L’Avenir,” her photography exhibit, which showcases the state of sustainable construction in Quebec

and calls attention to alternative solutions for responsible consumption. Working with ImageECOterre, Rheault’s exhibition hopes to use art to express the ways that we can aid the environment in our everyday lives – hopefully steering us off our path toward destroying the earth. Speaking of the end of days, things felt just a bit apocalyptic on my journey to “Bâtir Vert L’Avenir.” As the meteorological gods would have it, “Bâtir” opened to a cold, dismal evening, threatening rain and awash with a general sense of inauspiciousness. (Hello, global warming!) Wandering through a series of streets perpetually under construction, I saw migratory birds in jumbled formations and smoke stacks on the horizon. Most ominous of all, I was at one point passed by an open-ended truck carrying the bodies of two dead moose. While my childhood road trips into the Canadian wild had always ended in disappointment because we failed to sight a great Canadian moose, the city was now supplying me with not one, but two – presum-

ably off to meet the grim end of taxidermy. If I wasn’t thinking it before, this couldn’t help but evoke the thought that the world was, in fact, going to shit. The walk there wasn’t the only curious precursor to “Bâtir Vert L’Avenir.” The exhibit was held in a structure generally reserved for the circus – TOHU, a bizarre building surrounded by carnival tents, oversized sunflowers, and Montreal’s Centre de Recuperation des Matières Recyclables. The fact that a seemingly important environmental callto-arms would be held, essentially, in a fun house felt eerily ironic. At the very least, I anticipated some ridiculousness in the exhibit to come. However, these hopes were quickly deflated. “Bâtir Vert L’Avenir” did little to whet the aesthetic palate, never mind meet expectations for insanity. Free-standing boards showcasing Rheault’s “photographic record of the current state of sustainable construction in Quebec” looked more like a high school photo fair than it did gallery of design. Pretensions aside, these murals,

albeit far from artistically exciting, did have something important to say. For “Bâtir Vert L’Avenir,” art is not so much the crux of the exhibit as it is a vehicle for something more ethically valuable. And, in that sense, it does its job. Environmental awareness was the key player of the night, with each of Rheault’s pieces conveying green solutions to ease our growing environmental conscience. “Bâtir” placed special attention on the responsibility of the consumer and the importance of sustainable solutions. This was expressed through examples of recycling ingenuity, like the a staircase made entirely from bicycle parts, and manifesto-like, how-to-guidelines for collecting water – “blue gold” – through simple draining systems. McGill’s Leacock even made a cameo in one photo; however, it seemed that the only “solution” said all the building had to offer was a patch of flowers growing within its 100-metre radius. Near the rear of the exhibit were interactive displays that drew attention to the life cycle of consumer

products, in particular that of carpet. Inviting viewers to touch, pause, and evaluate, such displays remind the consumer that household products like carpeting leave an ecological footprint on our earth that is hard to ignore. Even the framework of the exhibit itself encouraged green advocacy, as the chairs, bookcases, display boards, and tableaus – offering a “green” assortment of finger foods – were made entirely of recycled cardboard. Spirits seemed high as Rheault invited attendees to reflect upon what can be done to make the future a little greener. But I worried that, like the flimsy cardboard structures, “Bâtir” was merely a feeble call for awareness that continues to be largely ignored by much of the public. As I walked home, rain beating down and roads now empty, I couldn’t help but think that it’s more action, and less encouragement, that the planet needs to repair the damage that has been done. Thankfully, though, tomorrow is still going to come.


Compendium!

The McGill Daily, Thursday, October 9, 2008

Lies, Half-truths, & Old school faves

Ben Peck / The McGill Daily

Corpus Christi

20

“That Guy” shows up to GA again

Dan Hawkins / The McGill Daily

Shu Jiang for The McGill Daily

If you want to piss everybody off at General Assemblies, you just gotta have the look: a plain black T, an Imperial cigar (no Cuban-Commie bullshit), and of course, zip-off pants (because you just never know). Compendium! had a chance to sit down with That Guy before the GA got underway. When asked how long he would be staying, he replied, “As long as it’s fun or until I run out of booze.” Evidently, he came prepared.

Damien Plezmer / The McGill Daily

DAILY, DAILY, DAILY CAN’T YOU SEE? SOMETIMES YOUR COMIX JUST HYPNOTIZE ME AND I JUST LOVE YOUR HILARIOUS WAYS THAT’S WHY YOU MAKE ME FUCKING LAUGH Wait...what? Compendium@mcgilldaily.com

Condiments

Mariel Cappana / The McGill Daily


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