A Publication of the McGill Model United Nations Assembly
January 2012 1
If you are interested in participating in McMUN 2012, please visit our website at www.mcmun.org for further information on the many opportunities we provide, or contact Nir Kumar, Secretary General at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns.
Advocacy, Anger, and Activism: The Many Facets of Beryl Wajsman tSarah Feldman
Contributors: Daniele Curtis Sarah Feldman Stephanie Pietrantonio Carmina Ravanera Olivia Siu
After being told he couldn’t smoke in the hotel conference room, Beryl Wajsman, keynote speaker of McMUN 2012 and activist extraordinaire, kept his cigarette, unlit, firmly in between the index and middle fingers of his right hand. “Get angry,” he told us. “Activism isn’t about getting people to like you. It’s about affecting change because injustice literally makes you throw up.” Mr. Wajsman needs not be sensationalized, and his resume speaks for itself. As the editor-in-chief of The Suburban, the publisher of The Metropolitan, and the president of the Institute for Public Affairs, Mr. Wajsman has dedicated his life to social justice and advocacy journalism. While studying law at McGill University in the mid-1970s, Mr. Wajsman achieved what he considers his first social justice victory. “That year,” Mr. Wajsman explained, “PLO President Yasser Arafat arrived at the UN with a gun on his hip, and rumour had it Prime Minister Trudeau was about to invite Arafat to Canada.” Mr. Wajsman, an outspoken opponent of terror and tyranny in the international sphere, placed pairs of university students on every street corner of Mount Royal; within a few days, Mr. Wajsman had collected 25 000 signatures of Mount Royal residents – half the population of the riding at the time – who, like Mr. Wajsman and his peers, favoured keeping Arafat off Canadian soil. Prime Minister Trudeau wrote to Mr. Wajsman and ensured him he would not be inviting Arafat to Canada. “This was quite a win,” Mr. Wajsman reminisced. “It’s rare to make change without retribution.”
In the McMUN media room after his keynote speech, Mr. Wajsman, a writer, edited himself as he spoke: “Leave that out. Take this down.” As a politician, Mr. Wajsman took over parts of the interview, hurling journalists’ questions back at them. It is clear, however, that Mr. Wajsman’s heart is in the right place. As he eloquently explained, “If I didn’t care about others, I’d be a very rich man and I wouldn’t give a shit.” Mr. Wajsman’s fervour for student journalism, his passion for social justice, and his interest in Canadian politics resonated in the intensity of his speech and the crescendo of his voice. “My only regret,” Mr. Wajsman said, “is not running for the Liberal leadership in 2006. I didn’t listen to my instincts, and I second-guessed myself.” Later, in 2009, Mr. Wajsman announced in his newspaper The Suburban his bid for mayor of Montreal. Although Mr. Wajsman received widespread support from members of the Montreal community after he published his announcement, he backed out shortly thereafter on the advice of a friend. “I soon realized I’d end up splitting the federalist vote with Tremblay and effectively put a separatist in city hall.” In spite of such setbacks, Mr. Wajsman believes his political career is far from over. “I will run for a federal
seat when [Mount Royal MP] Irwin Cotler retires, if not earlier elsewhere in Montreal. Yes,” he told us, “you can publish that.” Although Mr. Wajsman disparaged many of the United Nations’ actions in his keynote speech on Thursday, January 26, specifically the recent election of wartorn Syria to UNESCO, Mr. Wajsman firmly believes “journalism is not dead and the UN isn’t either.” Both, however, need serious reform from the inside out. Journalism must transition from investigative, or “gotcha!” journalism to journalism focused on advocacy and social justice. The purpose of journalism, Mr. Wajsman explained, must be to serve the community, rather than simply shock it. The UN – in both its real and model forms – must “stop the lies” in order to bring the institution from the precipice on which it so precariously rests. To turn itself around, “the UN must return to the libertarian principles of 1948 as expressed in John Humphrey’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Mr. Wajsman said. As a liberal with an affinity for John Locke, Mr. Wajsman recognizes the exceptionality of the individual – himself included. “No one has to be like me,” Mr. Wajsman smirked. “But if you like kicking ass and you like getting angry, you may as well give it a shot.”
As an experienced activist, Mr. Wajsman is chock-full of practical advice. “Be prepared to be smeared, ostracized, and demonized.” Of all people, Mr. Wajsman should know. After having gone to the Gomery Commission to denounce its destruction of due process, and then been the victim of an attempt to smear him by those he attacked even though he wasn’t blamed for anything, Mr. Wajsman has witnessed his fair share of political melodrama. But he has also witnessed his share of political courage as when Liberal Party President Alfred Apps praised him to Macleans in 2009 and said that attacks on him were nothing but political retribution with no basis in fact or truth. “I always tell student activists that nothing is off limits, that no tool should be left out of their arsenals. Defamation, though,” Mr. Wajsman admitted, “is never acceptable. I don’t do defamation.” Whether the product of his history as a journalist or merely his personality, Mr. Wajsman carefully crafts each of his sentences. Mr. Wajsman, whose keynote speech centred on the detrimental effects of disinformation in international relations, is evidently conscious of the consequences of language. “Disinformation,” Mr. Wajsman said, “is for idiots. And I am not an idiot.”
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A Peek into the Ad-Hoc Committee of the Secretary-General
Britain in World War II Carmina Ravanera
January 27 15:30 The Ad-Hoc Committee is in chaos; groups of delegates are gathered in pockets all over the room, arguing vigorously and gesturing at a map of Europe on the wall. The context: Germany has just invaded Poland and their navy is blockading the English Channel. The issue at hand: should Britain set up a counter-blockade against Germany? The delegates settle into moderated discussion. Simon, British Chancellor, vehemently voices discord at counter-blockading Germany, believing the act will cause a full-scale attack from Germany and a war Britain is unprepared for, especially financially. Halifax, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, seconds that Britain has a distinct lack of financial support, especially as “the US does not want to get involved fiscally”. In fact, Britain has no other allies at this time except the French, and they need resources if they are going to counterblockade. 15:45 While Simon keeps emphasizing the need to wait for resources before a counter-blockade, others call for immediate action, stating the Nazis will not stop their attacks and there is no
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time to wait. After all, Britain has the advantage of a very powerful navy. MacDonald, Secretary of State for British Colonies, proposes that since Britain is not prepared to formally declare war, what needs to be done immediately is just stop the blockade, without an attack, and buy time to prepare for war. General support soon arises for this idea of using a counter-blockade to aggravate the Germans, but not outright attack them. The consensus is strengthened when it is officially confirmed that Germany does not consider a counter-blockade an act of war. Wood, Chancellor of the Exchequer, warns that Britain must be very careful in this action, stating that without their navy, they have nothing.
16:00 There is still fierce debate between whether to set up the counter-blockade or to take a more diplomatic, safer route. Finally, the delegates vote in favour of amending a proposition for a counter-blockade. The amendment terms state that the British will take preventative measures against any blockade in the Channel, rather than just targeting the German blockade. This is less threatening to the Germans and less likely to start war. 7 vote in favour and 6 vote against. 16:15 Though French Ambassador to Britain is concerned with the impending British blockade in the Channel, as France does not want to be “pulled into battle”, a conclusion is declared: the British will counter-blockade the Germans. What will come of this action is yet to be seen.
McMUN on BestDelegate.com ! Natasha Racco
McMUN 2012 opened on Thursday, January 26 with its ceremonial bag piper and determined Secretariat leading the way. Secretary General Nir Kumar launched the theme “Information: IR’s New Currency” to reflect just how influential 21st century means of communicating are on political discourse and the leaders of right now.
The MUN-y Lessons I’ve Learned Rebecca Rosenthal
Part of me wishes I could tell you my interest in the United Nations and my high school’s Model U.N. club didn’t directly stem from the delight I got out of watching the Olsen twins in Winning London countless times from age 11 through freshman year of high school, but that would be a lie. As soon as I got to high school in my suburban New York hometown and was able to join the John Jay Model United Nations Club, there was no turning back. Besides being a competitive swimmer throughout those years and doing some community service work, MUN was definitely my focus outside of friends and homework, and I owe so much of my growth and joy during these four years to my MUN experience. It’s hard to believe this club was only once a week after school plus several annual conferences across the Northeastern US, when in reality MUN contributes to such a large proportion of my happy memories from those years. I loved every aspect, from reading background guides and writing position papers, to mock conferences and moderated caucuses, to making many of my best high school friends and getting to travel to conferences together. Delegate dances, ‘initiations’ (nothing too scandalous, just the occasional dare to a rookie to make them motion for a ‘semi-moderated caucus’ -which of course does not exist- in front of a huge GA, or sending silly notes to Djibouti during a crisis committee) all made high school so much fuller. Model U.N. forced me out of my comfort zone in so many beneficial ways, and helped me to stretch my mind and bring out certain strengths in me that hadn’t previously
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had a chance to show themselves. As my initial passions for traveling and interest in human and environmental health grew into a cultivated knowledge of current events, I grew much more engaged in my thinking of the world. I stumbled upon the realization that I seemed to have a knack from out of nowhere to speak and write about these current issues such as child soldiers and space exploration with far more eloquence than I ever could in regular classes at school. I actually enjoyed public speaking – who knew! I carried with me a new passion for international relations, one that took me abroad to Oxford University when I was 17 to study the subject with a Rhodes scholar for the summer, and later to permanently study abroad here in Montreal. Though on paper what I am currently studying may not obviously relate to MUN, I can honestly say I owe pretty much all of my current academic passions directly back to the spark first ignited through Model United Nations. I chose to study Urban Systems in McGill’s Geography Department because during my time spent at conferences, I was always drawn to discussions focused on infrastructure improvement, public health, and anything design-related. Between all of the people it caused me to meet to the knowledge and skills directly and indirectly acquired, Model United Nations gave me an invaluable gift in the form of so many lessons about myself and about the world that have become part of who I am and what I believe in. I hope it has done this for all of you as well, and continues to do so.
Hosting over 1300 international delegates in downtown Montreal, McMUN took an innovative twist when it came to committee topics and its actual simulations, from running the World Economic Forum completely digitally to having Perez Hilton as a character in the 21st Century Media Strategies committee. Keynote speaker Beryl Wajsman, a prominent social activism advocate in international public affairs and McGill Law alum, took the conference theme and challenged the role of the United Nations, putting out a call to the crowd to not sit idly by waiting for change. Over the course of the weekend McMUN’s scrutinous PR team, McMUN publication The Ambassador, The Bull & Bear (McGill’s Management Undergraduate Society paper) and TVM (McGill’s student run TV network) covered every inch of the conference. Friday night’s itinerary took delegates on a wild ride where they were taken on the “United We Crawl” pub-crawl on Crescent Street equipped with a 100 item scavenger hunt list that certainly rang true of McGill Frosh spirit. Saturday, McMUN presented McParté with rising DJ Kap Slap, playing to a packed crowd at Club Le Boom.
Best Large Delegation: Georgetown University Best Small Delegation: United States Military Academy, West Point
Film Review: Good Neighbours Natasha Racco
You never know who’s living right next door. The tag line to the Montreal set and TIFF selection (Toronto International Film Festival) Good Neighbours evokes that eerie feeling most of us living in tiny student apartments frequently push to the backs of our minds. I first stumbled upon this hidden gem when hearing that Canadian Jay Baruchel would be headlining the ensemble cast with this foray into the dark reality of local crime. A much more serious role for Baruchel, who has reprised the quirky yet lovable nerd in The Trotsky and She’s Out of My League, Neighbours still allows him to exercise that awkward charm but this time the stakes are much higher and he’s caught in the midst of a serial killer’s path who happens to live in the same building as him.
Convention for Media Strategies 2012 Carmina Ravanera
The discussion of the Convention for Media Strategies this year is based on the premise that certain “social media organizations have been in negotiation with internet providers in China to initiate their online services in exchange for provision of private information and censorship of anti-government sentiments.” These include filters on Twitter and chat logs with certain key words uploaded to government services. For the media delegates, the issue for debate is whether social media should align with democratic values, and if so, how can this be done most effectively? At noon on Saturday the discussion is surprisingly calm and relatively free from any heated debate, apparently due to the after effects the previous night’s pub crawl. Almost every committee peaceably agrees that there should be a working paper on media’s affects on public policy and vice versa, and that the media’s influence on the government’s rules on intellectual property should be addressed immediately. Fox News especially advocates for different media to unite to affect policy, create new legislation, and protect intellectual property. At around 1pm, a group of media delegates, including Fox News, Wikipedia, Perez Hilton, BBC, and a few large newspapers present a working paper on their idea for a Transparent Media Initiative, or TMI (pun intended). They propose creating
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this organization as a collective, expansive tool for media organizations to increase transparency, ethical standards of withholding intellectual property, and contribution of resources to media worldwide, especially through collaboration with governments. This initiative is questioned intensely, especially by the Gazette and the Washington Post, who both believe that the entrance into the political realm will not benefit them, could ruin their reputations, and is too top-down of an approach. There is also questioning as to whether all organizations will have equal representation, although Perez Hilton affirms that even individuals involved in the media, like himself, will have equal vote in TMI. By lunchtime,TMI is still being hotly contested. Another aspect that the delegates discuss intensely is media in the Third World. All the delegates are concerned with the inaccessibility of media in Third World countries, and many agree that increased accessibility in these many regions would be beneficial for their countries. Wikipedia suggests Media Without Borders: the building of infrastructure through computer donations, the dissemination of print media, and a lot more media education. The Independent agrees that print media will probably be the easiest way to increase accessibility in the Third World, while Dawn suggests mobile technology, stating that cell phones are far more popular in many of these regions than laptops.
This may be a very Canadian thing to do, but watching any movie that has been filmed in my area always makes it just that much more appealing. The movie is set in the Notre Dame de Grace quartier of Montreal, but I could interpret the narrow streets, apartments sans elevators and mysterious neighbors to set the scene for my own block in the McGill ghetto. So, you have Baruchel as Victor, a young social misfit moving into a new building, but then enter Scott Speedman as Spencer, the wheel chair bound good guy and Emily Hampshire as Louise, a Montreal native working to pay the bills at a local restaurant. If you think you can figure out the plot from here, be my guest, but the unraveling into the lives of each of these characters becomes so unexpected, you really start to question if any one of them has morality. The story itself could be far fetched at times, but the raw dialogue and the workings of each character are painfully real; like I mentioned before, the creepiness sets in and my own neighbors are starting to look more like drug lords and money launderers as each minute passes. It has become all too natural to group all Canadian films together into their own genre of failed humor or made for TV dramas, but Good Neighbours deserved its box office time. If anything, Montreal born director Jacob Tierney took creative license when it came to censorship and provides some sickeningly graphic scenes that make the film stand out.
Cautiously watch this movie if you’ve ever had doubts about your own roommates! Otherwise, extend your stay in Montreal for just another 98 minutes with this thrilling slice of intrigue.
McMUN is grateful to Reza Aslan and Aslan Media Initiatives for being an integral part of last year’s conference and is pleased to announce their return for McMUN 2012 as Media Sponsors. As such, Aslan Media has graciously agreed to invite all of McMUN 2012’s participants to become a part of their organization’s Global Community by writing for them. This is a call for contributors to all those who are interested in becoming part of the global conversation on world issues that they are interested in, with potential for contributors to become regular writers. If you’re interested, please contact Aslan Media Initiatives at email@example.com with your CV/Resume and writing samples. *Please note that all contributions are voluntary and are not compensated.
The McGill International Summer Program is designed to provide undergraduate students the opportunity to gain critical North American perspectives on issues of global importance. McGill University is ranked #1 in Canada and among the top 20 universities worldwide. Our campus is located in the heart of Montreal, a cosmopolitan city with more students per capita than any other Canadian city. Year after year, Montreal is highly acclaimed as one of the most diverse, sophisticated, and safe cities in the world. Make this summer your opportunity to expand your global outlook and create memories that will last a lifetime! Apply today.
Facebook: Make this summer your opportunity to expand your global outlook, form friendships and create memories that will last a lifetime! Join the McGill International Summer Program: http://www.mcgill.ca/desautels/isp
Twitter: Expand your global outlook and create a lifetime of memories by joining the McGill International Summer Program 2012! http://bit.ly/sDtBFo #mcgill #desautels
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This just in…. Kap Slap is in the building
United We Crawl
For those delegates that survived the madness of last night’s wild pub crawl, start preparing your livers for round two at McParte 2012, an event that is bound to be the highlight of the weekend. This year DJ Kap Slap will be performing at La Boom, providing all you party people with awesome mash-ups and the night of a lifetime. Kap Slap has been mashing music since 2009 and released his first mash-up in the summer of 2010. His stage name, Kap Slap, refers to his family line shot in the kappa alpha society, a shot which involves funneling a beer with a shot of Bacardi 151 rum. His beats will most definitely have you going all night long, so come ready to rage.
“Wait, you stripped down Crescent? … were there pictures?“ I don’t think we can stress enough how much a success last night’s pubcrawl was. From the humble beginnings of years previous, your entertainment coordinators Christina Sfeir and Eloise Charreyron certainly knew how to spark interest with their 100 odd items on the infamous scavenger hunt list. Basically, these two lovely ladies wanted to wet the palettes of non-McGillers’ mouths with a taste of what McGill frosh is known for. Inhibitions were certainly thrown aside, as well as a few items of clothes, as delegates, lead by the best and brightest we have to offer traversed their routes of bars in the Crescent and Bishop area. The final destination was Club Entourage where the party continued into the early morning hours. The dares or scavenger hunt items were successfully completed by many delegates and can only be described as scandalous, ridiculous and provocative. Some of them included, toilet paper eating, passing an ice cube mouthto-mouth with 10 people, licking bathroom floors and an array of nudity. Nothing new to the Montreal scene, but it’s safe to say the ladies pushed the boundaries and set some serious precedent for years to come. Interview with the exquisite Christina and Eloise:
Q: If you had an unlimited budget to plan a pub-crawl, what would you do?
Q: What are 3 key elements to a great night?
E+C: Free alcohol for all participants, contact dancers, putting the classy Super Sex establishment on the route.
Loss of dignity
Christina: 1. Seduction
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to particularly enjoy licking poles. It was quite amusing going on to Crescent St. and seeing the McMUN madness of the crawl unfold.
Q: Which delegation were you most impressed with?
Q: What was your favourite part of the night?
E+C: Georgetown. They were the most spirited and ready to rage right from the start.
E+C: We got to club at 2 am, sober initially but that soon changed. Standing on balconies over looking the crowd. Raging. We were completely satisfied. Loved the event. Captured the United We Crawl vision, even though our vision was a little cloudy.
Q: What were your reactions to the night? E+C: Impressed with the large interest in the scavenger hunt. Above and beyond turnout. Delegates seemed