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THE STRAND VICtoria University’s Student NEWSPAPER • est. 1953

15 MARCH 2012 VOL. 54 NO. 12


Fighting to keep peace and quiet Marg Ad Hall students hope that loud construction will not interfere with exams The construction of the Goldring Student Centre has been an ongoing goal for the past five years for students and administrators of Victoria College, and it is estimated that the building will finally be completed sometime early during the fall semester. According to Vic’s website, the centre will provide “space for meeting rooms, offices for student government and more than 20 student clubs, a renovated café, a two-storey lounge, an assembly space, a newly defined quadrangle and the addition of much-needed lockers for commuter students. It will give students, especially those who don’t live on campus, the opportunity to participate [in life on campus].” Although the centre itself is no doubt an exciting addition to Vic’s campus, the proximity of the construction to the students of Margaret Addision Hall and Annesley Hall has some questioning whether or not construction should continue through the exam break. Construction has been going on year round, beginning early in the morning and continuing late into the night. Students have dealt with high noise levels, vibrations, and dust. Margaret Addison Hall is in the middle of the construction and has to share its driveway with the construction vehicles. When signing up for residence, there was no advanced notice given of the construction that

Sabina Freiman

Andrea Themistokleous

Maragaret Addison Hall not looking as inviting as usual.

would be occuring, even though Rowell Jackman Hall residents were notified of ongoing construction beside their building. VUSAC President Brandon Bailey states that if construction is occuring late at night or before 8am, students are encouraged to contact VUSAC or their building council. “It should be noted that legally the start-time could be earlier; it has been agreed upon that it is worth absorbing the

extra cost associated with delaying construction to 8am for the sake of students,” Bailey added. There have been rumours of steel beams being set up from the windows of Margaret Addison hall during the exam period, and many students feel that this could disrupt their academic success. It is expected that during the exam break, students living on campus go into 24-hour quiet hours, yet the current plan is for construction

to continue during this period. Bailey believes that “the noisier phases, such as steel erection, [should] be kept to a bare minimum during the exam break. Students have been very fair in understanding the construction outside their windows all year and I’d hope the administration will be fair understanding the special considerations that should surround the exam break.” Despite these inconveniences, ad-

ministration is willing to listen to concerns or questions raised by students about the construction. Bailey explains, “Every single complaint we have received has been individually brought forward to the administration and has shaped policy. There have been no major complaints coming in from students. VUSAC worked with the Dean’s Office to host two info sessions for any students interested in the GSC or concerned about its development and implementation.” Annesley Hall resident Ruth Fisher said, “I noticed during the night there was a construction light that was directed towards my window, and I was annoyed so I told my Don about it, and a few days later they changed the position of it.” This reflects positively on how students concerns are able to be vocalized to administration through their Dons. When asked if he believes the Goldring Student Centre poses an inconvenience for students, President Paul Gooch responded, “Most students have been very understanding, recognizing that the inconveniences are a necessary part of the process of constructing a state-of-the-art student centre that will be the best in the country.” Bailey noted that the construction has been open to student feedback, and encourages for students to contact him at with any comments or concerns.

KONY 2012 campaign raises awareness and eyebrows Fiona Buchanan & Monica Georgieff


Editor-In-cHIef & staff writer

Since going viral last week, the KONY 2012 video campaign to raise global awareness of Ugandan warlord and leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, Joseph Kony, has exploded on television programs, newspapers, magazines, and countless social media outlets. In only six days, the video reached 100 million views on YouTube and Vimeo combined, making KONY 2012 a record-breaking viral video. The video was produced by Jason Russell, an American co-founder of Invisible Children, with the aim of capturing Kony and bringing him to justice;

presumably through the International Criminal Court. Russell invites viewers to join the movement, by signing Invisible Children’s online pledge, getting the iconic KONY 2012 bracelet and “Action Kit”, and to “sign up for TRI” to donate on a montly basis to support the organization. The culmination of the KONY 2012 campaign is a worldwide postering event set to take place on the night of 20 Apr., which to some extent hinges on the success of the “Action Kit”. Since Kony’s movement from Uganda through the Congo and beyond, his army of child soldiers has become a complex political issue involving different countries and the groups within them. Invisible Children’s approach includes appealing to the US government to continue to support the Ugandan Army in its attempts to capture Kony.

Shortly after going viral, a wave of criticisms began to emerge. Rosebell Kagumire, a Ugandan journalist specializing in peace and conflict issues in Eastern Africa stated that the KONY 2012 campaign is just another example of Westerners coming into Africa seeking to solve its problems. “We see an outsider trying to be a hero, rescuing African children,” said Kagumire in a video posted on her blog on 8 Mar. “We have seen these stories a lot in Ethiopia, celebrities coming in Somalia – it does not end the problem,” she said, adding that “sound educational campaigns that are geared towards real policy shifts” are what the region really needs. A Ugandan blogger TMS Ruge criticized Invisible Children, tweeting that they are “selling a pack of lies to unaware youth to raise money See '’KONY” on page 2


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news \\ 2 { } THE STRAND | 15 march 2012

March 17

Victoria College students should take a moment between Saturday 17 Mar. to Wednesday 21 Mar. to vote in the VUSAC elections. Candidate statements are available on the VUSAC website. Voting can be done online at, or at various polling stations that will be set up around Vic. Good luck to all those who are running! March 21

To inspire students to think globally, Hart House partners with Global Health Division of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and the Graduate Student Alliance for Global Health to bring you Make the World Change, a series of discussions over free pizza that aim to examine global issues and how they can be addressed. 5:30pm in Hart House March 23

The Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science will be hosting a Free Workshop on Thought Experiments from 10am– 5pm at the Toronto School of Theology (47 Queen’s Park Cres. E) in Conference Room Two. They will discuss the many “blind spots” that thought experiments face. Appreciators of artistic expression will enjoy the UofT Festival of Dance at Hart House, which will showcase dance styles from all over the world. The show will be on both 23 Mar. and 24 Mar. at 7:30pm; students and seniors get in for $10, adults for $12. Tickets can be purchased at Come listen to some of Vic’s loveliest voices and check out the Vic Chorus Spring Concert at 8pm in Isabel Bader Theatre. General admission is $10, and $5 for students.

New report prepares Ontario for climate change Environmental Commissioner approves new plan, but stresses implementation issues Wendelle So Staff Writer

Ontario’s first ever Climate Change Adaptation Plan, entitled “Climate Ready”, received a glowing review from independent Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller. Nevertheless, he also stressed the need for a strategy to implement the appropriate course of action to safe-proof Ontario from climate change within the 20112014 timetable, according to his report to the Legislative Assembly released Wednesday. The Climate Change Adaptation Plan inaugurates two broad changes in the provincial government’s agenda, in recognition of the very real effects climate change have on the province. The first requires modifying legislature, policies and programs from every part of the provincial government to consider climate change adaptation when necessary. The second calls for the establishment of a Climate Change Adaptation Directorate to oversee the plan’s implementation and adjustment, by coordinating province-wide economic and climate impact studies, guiding decision-making, and reporting annually to the public about progress made. Apart from these broad goals, the plan also includes 59 specific recommendations on the sectors of infrastructure, public health, environment, and the economy. These actions include amending the Ontario Building Code and undertaking infrastructure vulnerability assessments, and the creation of a model for adaptation planning of watersheds like Lake Simcoe and the Great Lakes to increase their climate resilience. Updating Public Health Units and public awareness of climate change-increased health risks (such as Lyme Disease, heat stress, summer asthma, West Nile Virus and malaria) also figure prominently, as do partnering with climate experts in decision-making, supporting climate science, and the protection of water, forests, fisheries and biodiversity vulnerable to climate change. The Adaptation Plan was released in November 2009 by the Expert Panel on Climate Change Adaptation, appointed by the Minister of Environment, led by Dr. David Pearson of Laurentian University and Dr. Ian Burton of UofT, and composed of 11 leading scientists and environmental experts. In making their recommendations, the panel focused on pragmatic goals, including avoidance of economic loss and unsustainable investment, practical measures to increase climate resilience of eco-

Harry Potter fans can live the Quidditch experience by attending the UofT Quidditch Team Tryouts from 3–5pm in the AC Field House Courts two and three. The event is BYOB—“Bring Your Own Broom”—and don’t forget your T-Card and water bottle! You can find out more about the team at

A violent rainstorm in August 2005 that washed out Finch Ave. broke two gas mains and a drinking water main, took out telephone, hydro and cable lines, and flooded more than 4,200 basements, at a cost of almost $550 million. Flooding in downtown Peterborough in July 2004 caused damage to homes and businesses amounting to $87 million. The Insurance Bureau of Canada noted that losses related to water damage are costing Canadian insurers and policy-holders up to $1.5 billion annually. An increase in these extreme weather events — rain, snow, drought, heat waves, wind and ice storms — are also likely, according to the expert panel. The Ontario Government is handling the climate issue with the twopronged approach of adaptation (adjustment to current climate-change problems), and mitigation (such as the reduction of emissions to abate actual climate change). All of Ontario’s plants are to stop using coal by 2014, while Ontario expands use of clean, renewable energy under the Green Energy Act. However comprehensive the Adaptation Plan is, Commissioner Gord Miller cites several problems, beginning with the lack of a time frame. “The lack of a clear methodology for prioritization of actions represents a weakness in the Climate Ready strategy,” said Miller. He also emphasized the need for local-level coordination and informa-

tion-sharing. “In the absence of such information, local decision-making is constrained and vulnerabilities remain unaddressed,” he said. He also noted the absence of specific actions for the Ministry of Energy. “Given that the first goal of Climate Ready is to avoid loss and unsustainable investment, [I am] concerned that a ministry with responsibility for guiding the planning of costly and potentially vulnerable energy supply and delivery infrastructure investments is not given lead responsibility for any actions within the strategy.” “Climate change is one of the defining issues of our age," insists the Environmental Commissioner, "and it's already having an impact on our lives. The costs of adjusting to climate change in the future will only continue to increase if we don't take action now.” The expert panel has also outlined actions any individual or student can take. This includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions by taking public transit or a bike instead of a car, unplugging cell phone chargers, turning off the lights when not in use, and washing clothes with cold water and hanging them up to dry. They also recommend getting in touch with the Ontario Regional Adaptation Collaborative — a joint federalprovincial program–which includes an outreach and capacity-building component that has delivered workshops and web-based tools to facilitate decisionmaking at the community level.

Kony phenomena sparks more debate than calls for action “Kony” from page 1

March 24

systems, sharing of risk-management tools across Ontario, continuous study of future climate change impacts, and collaboration among different government departments. The plan was made in response to concerns that huge changes in wind and precipitation could have grave impact on human life, personal property, agriculture, water resources, and mobility in Far Northern Regions, as well as tourism and recreation in Ontario. “The average temperature in Ontario has increased by up to 1.4°C since 1948,” said Environmental Minister John Wilkinson, in his opening letter for the Adaptation Plan. According to projections, by 2050 the average annual temperature in Ontario will go up by 2.5°C to 3.7°C, and the number of days with temperatures over 30°C will double. “It is critical that governments at all levels begin to build climate change considerations into their policy decisions at the same time as we address mitigation,” said Wilkinson. “Climate change adaptation means taking prudent action to protect our families and secure our business investments.” Climate change has already affected all economic sectors and communities, changing the way storm water drainage systems, bridges and roads are designed. Although some climateinduced changes have been positive, such as the widening selection of fruits and vegetables available from Ontario growers due to a longer growing season, such examples are rare.

Sarah Crawley

The Happenings

for themselves.” Given the backlash against Invisible Children and doubts in regards to their spending, many are proposing that supporters of the cause choose to donate to other groups for aid. The KONY 2012 video has also been critiqued for assigning a simplified formula of “good vs. evil” to a larger, more complex conflict — something Russell was recently quoted as saying “was intentional.” The video has become a controversial matter not only among politicians, social theorists, or philanthropists, but also among stu-

dents. Last Friday, the Association of Political Science Students (APSS) at UofT hosted a discussion about the implications of the KONY 2012 campaign. The general sentiment among attendees was aligned with that of many critics: the video oversimplifies a very complex issue. “Awareness is really problematic,” said Peter Liakhov, a participant in the discussions. “It implies that things are revealed, but this constructs a narrative that there is one bad guy and if we kill him, everything will be good.” He added that there are complicated structural problems in the region that

are being ignored when the focus is all on Kony. The discussion also touched upon why criticism of the campaign might be equally problematic when disseminated through social media. “The [initial pro-Kony 2012] bandwagon turned into a negative bandwagon. People would criticize others for liking or re-posting the video without knowing anything themselves,” said Aras Jizan, Executive-at-Large for APSS. Meghan McGinnis-Dunphy questioned the implications of increasingly popular critiques of Kony 2012 ask-

ing “How much will the backlash hurt [efforts to protect human rights in the region] in years to come, now that criticisms are general knowledge?” Another participant expressed fear that the “criticisms will cause people to give up on the issue entirely.” The APSS discussion concluded on an open ended note. Similarly, it remains to be seen if KONY 2012 movement will have a measurable impact on African politics, but at this time, it appears that skeptics outnumber procampaigners — at least when assessing the issue in depth.

news Living Library Project: borrowers lend an ear Muna mire

Last week, Hart House played host to a novel concept: that of a living, breathing library. The Hart House Living Library Project, which had its inaugural run last Wednesday, 7 Mar., was an exercise intended to create dialogue between participants and human “books”, with the end goal of promoting understanding and reducing prejudice. The blurb for the project urged participants, “Ditch the Kindle, put away the iPad. Come to the Living Library where books are made from organic cells and living memory.” Participants were encouraged to “borrow” a human book for up to 30 minutes of open dialogue in a structured context, thereby creating a safe space for sharing personal narratives and asking productive questions. The collection of human books chosen offered plenty of variety of ages, cultural and religious backgrounds, and gender — including former Toronto Mayor Barbara Hall. The idea behind the live “reader-book” interaction was to ultimately promote social cohesion and community building through face-to-face human interaction. The Strand sat down with the Living Library’s Project Coordinator Sam Saad to find out more about how the Living Library came to Hart House and what was involved with the project behind the scenes: The Strand: How did you first come across the idea for a Living Library at Hart House? Sam Saad: The idea was initially introduced by Day Milman, a Hart House Programme Coordinator who’s currently on maternity leave. It was instantly recognized as a brilliant learning opportunity and adopted by the Programming Department as a whole. TS: What was involved in curating the project? How did it all come together? SS: I identified key partners across

Bahar Banei

Opinions Editor

different divisions and struck an Organizing Committee. Due to the project’s overwhelming appeal, all parties contacted were interested in collaborating. Offices involved included: the Multi-Faith Centre, Robarts Library, the Sexual & Gender Diversity Office and the Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity Office. TS: How did you choose the human “books” that were a part of the library? Which book was the most popular/influential? SS: The Committee choose books through both an invitation process and an open call. We identified certain key themes, such as: race, religion, sexuality, academic and professional success, civic engagement, personal empowerment, etc. — and

researched individual that could speak to those themes. We then also created an open online application process and received numerous entries from a wide range of individuals. Final books were selected by the Committee as a whole with the dual intention of equitably addressing numerous themes, while offering strong books that successfully fostered a unique learning experience. All of the books were popular. And, based on participant feedback, all interactions were highly successful. Barbara Hall was the first to be fully booked. TS: Why do you feel the Living Library project is relevant to UofT’s student body; how might UofT students negotiate the exhibit? SS: Hart House is a leader in cultivat-

ing co-curricular learning opportunities and the Living Library Project perfectly matches our vision in doing so. It offers a unique learning environment, whereby readers and books can safely engage in an open and robust dialogue. Conversation, curiosity and wonder take a deep dive as the one-on-one interaction allows for a uniquely tailored iterative learning experience. Students negotiated the exhibit in two ways: 1) by identifying a book that spoke to a particular theme that they were keen on; 2) by taking out a random book and engaging in emergent conversation. TS: What do you hope will be the result/outcome of this project? SS: We hope that students will learn more about their selected topic of

interest via this highly participatory pedagogical methodology. We hope that knowledge, attitudes and behaviors around issues of religion, race, culture and sexuality will be both deepened and broadened. And that this opportunity will provide the requisite tools for learning while sparking further curiosity. TS: Having had this experience, would you recommend it? Would you like to see other Living Libraries in Toronto? If so, where? Who else do you think would make a good living “book”? SS: Highly recommend it! This event will run again next year. And we hope to see many of the same books return, while also further diversifying and deepening our selection.

Council debate gets heated as TTC board gets rebuilt Meraj zefar Staff Writer

Toronto’s city council rebuilt its TTC board on 5 Mar. in a motion that saw the board expanded from nine members to eleven – seven politicians and four citizens — with councillor Karen Stintz reinstated as chair. The vote, which brought conservative and progressive councillors together to support the new LRT-friendly board, is just another example of how the city’s current transit debate is mobilizing city hall. Much of the debate centers around whether the new Eglinton LRT line should be buried along its entire length — from Jane Street to Kennedy Station — or only in the central city area. In early February, the majority of council approved the second option, which would save enough money to fund a Finch LRT as well as a conversion of the outdated Scarborough RT to new

light-rail. But Mayor Ford and his supporters are still pushing for the buried LRT, a plan that would use most of the $8.4 billion allocated for Toronto transit on one line. Part of the reason council has moved so fast on this issue is that construction on the Eglinton LRT already began last summer. As Stintz explained in an interview with The Toronto Star, the original plan of waiting until June to restructure the board “wouldn’t give the TTC the stability it needs” while the project moves through construction phases. It’s the recent firing of TTC Chief General Manager Gary Webster by Ford’s allies on the old board, however, that has councillors collaborating with new urgency. But councillors aren’t necessarily staging a coup through their actions. As Ward 22 councillor Josh Matlow noted in an interview with The Strand, Toronto governs using a weak-mayor system. This means that

the mayor is “one councillor out of 44... Council decides, and then Mayor Ford represents that decision.”

Much of suburban Toronto doesn’t have the population density to warrant building heavy-rail transit. Since the mayor can’t veto issues, he relies on his ability to persuade others, and he hasn’t convinced council on transit. “Streetcars vs. subways”, as Ford puts it, is not the right way to frame the debate. Above-ground LRTs are faster and more efficient than streetcars, and buried LRT don’t have the speed or capacity of a real subway. “No one,” emphasized Matlow, “is suggesting we start to run streetcars along Sheppard... and the mayor has

never actually presented a plan for how to pay for all these subways... he’s promising.” Some are also calling the transit issue a matter of the suburbs vs. downtown. At a meeting in Scarborough last week, residents jeered at Stintz, chanting “Subways! Subways!” According to Matlow, the question isn’t whether Torontonians prefer subways to LRT. “If you don’t tell [constituents] the truth about... cost[s] and only ask if they want subways, then of course they’ll prefer subways. The real question is, would you like to improve transit with LRTs or keep the status quo?” And as supporters of the LRT point out, much of suburban Toronto doesn’t have the population density to warrant building heavy-rail transit. The entire Sheppard line, running through North York, sees only about 50,000 passengers a day, a tiny fraction of the TTC’s 1.5 million riders.

Council will have their work cut out for them when it comes to addressing citizens’ concerns by late March, when the next transit vote will take place. And though council and many constituents see aboveground LRT as the clear choice, it’s necessary to address the concerns of those who still see the issue as “streetcars versus subways”. While Ford’s transit plans might not be fiscally responsible, there’s a large number of voters — including but not limited to Ford Nation — who still consider him as their voice at City Hall. As Stintz said in an interview with The Globe and Mail last week, “As difficult as these issues have been, I still fully respect the Office of the Mayor.” Mayor Rob Ford himself kept his mouth closed after the vote last Monday, but he seemed himself the next morning on AM640 when he said, “Democracy rules, and you win some, you lose some.”

opinions \\ 4 { } THE STRAND | 15 march 2012

WORKERS' \'RIGHTS??ARE Worth the fight! Sara deris Associate Copy Editor

I have worked for a large unionized corporation, with high transparency and strict employer relations regulations, for the past four years. I had always felt lucky, even a bit smug, that I never had to deal with poor employer relations or harassment. I constantly hear horror stories from my friends about their jobs: terrible working conditions, long hours, no breaks, tyrannical bosses — you name it. But I was unable to relate, and surprised when I found that they had no union to turn to. A couple of weeks ago, I came down with a bad cough and fever. As I work with small children, I did not want to go in and expose them to whatever I was ill with. My company states that if an individual is unable to attend work due to illness or unavoidable circumstance, they must call in a minimum of three hours before their scheduled shift. The onus therefore falls on the shift supervisor to find a replacement, or take over the shift themselves. I realize that these regulations seem pretty lenient, and many employees are required to find their own replacements, but these are the ones that my employer is required to follow. I am well-versed in these regulations as I also work as a supervisor occasionally. I am, however, the youngest supervisor, and this particular supervisor

Solidarity, 4 Aug. 1917

did not know this–she assumed I was another young, part-time worker with no knowledge of the staff manual. I called in about five hours before my scheduled shift to give the supervisor ample time to secure a replacement. She reacted by accusing me of lying, informing me what a burden I was placing on her shoulders, and insisting that I had to find my own replacement, and that yes, those were the rules. Rather than argue, I

sent out an email to a couple of coworkers. The next week I was still unwell and I regretted simply giving into my supervisor’s will the previous week. Again, I called in well before the three-hour deadline. This time, I reached the facility programmer, who is a step above the shift supervisor, and also had no knowledge of my being a supervisor. She also decided that I was lying and skipping out on my shift (in the past

four years of employment I had maybe called in sick to four shifts, so there was no background of my shirking responsibility). She informed me that it was policy for me to find my own replacement, and that this time she also required a doctor’s note, at my own expense, stating the illness that was causing me to miss work. Again, instead of disagreeing with her, I procured the doctor’s note and faxed it to her. This sort of treatment by an employer is unacceptable. It is extremely unprofessional for an employer or supervisor to accuse an employee of lying, and to lie themselves about the regulations set in place. It is also pretty despicable that because these supervisors assumed from my age that I was a new employee who had no knowledge of the regulations, and as such they could demand these things of me. It is a gross breach of privacy to insist that a doctor’s note detail exactly what is ailing the employee — if a doctor’s not is required, a simple ‘for medical reasons’ should suffice. Your employer has no place in your personal medical history. I have since sent my employer the invoice for the doctor’s note as well, and am currently emailing my union representative regarding the details of the doctor’s note. I was passive throughout the entire process, only acting after the fact, and I regret this immensely. Remaining passive for fear of disciplinary action or termination is only prolong-

ing the harassment and allowing it to carry on to more employees. I urge all young employees to make themselves aware of their company’s policies, as well as Ontario labour law, and Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) regulations.

I urge all young employees to make themselves aware of their company’s policies, as well as Ontario labour law, and Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) regulations. It is not sufficient to assume, as I did, that your employers will always follow these policies of their own accord It is not sufficient to assume, as I did, that your employers will always follow these policies of their own accord, and it is definitely not okay to remain passive and bend to your employer’s will. Every employee, even young, part-time students, deserves a level of respect and safety in their work environment that is unfortunately not always provided.

Robocalls, checks and balances, and the nature of power dan smeenk Associate editor

One does not need to be a great historian or philosopher to understand that the will to power is a particularly dangerous disease of the human spirit. It is a virtue of Canadian life that political corruption exists at such a low level in comparison to many other countries in the world. However, this is not due to a benign absence of the will to power inherent among Canadians, but because of outside impositions which keep this power in check. The incidence of automated deceptive robocalls, widely believed to be orchestrated or at least sponsored by the Conservative Party of Canada, is now estimated at 31,000 calls spread across 38 ridings, according to Elections Canada. While our institutions are generally com-

The news of widespread accusations of automated deceiving robocalls orchestrated or at least sponsored by the Conservative Party of Canada is now estimated at 31,000 calls spread across 38 ridings, according to Elections Canada.

petent in checking and balancing power, at least in comparison to much of the rest of the world, this situation showcases Canada’s institutional flaws as well as the flaws of those who seek power. It’s not just the Harper government but the governing party of Canada more generally which has shown itself capable of playing power politics, even when the means of doing so are explicitly illegal or immoral. Preston Manning showed admirable clarity of thought this past week when he said, “You can find illustrations of people who play close to the edge in every political party.” In recent Canadian history this has been seen repeatedly. When the Mulroney government was in power, it was taking money envelopes from Airbus. With the Chrétien Liberals, it was the sponsorship scandal. And with this government, it has

been prorogation and robocalling. This is not meant to excuse the actions of the Conservative Party under the common excuse of “others do it too”, but it simply suggests that they are human beings who are morally weak when faced with the temptations of power and privilege. Merely looking to elect more incorruptible politicians is an impossible task. What would make this situation a tragedy would be if these calls had little political impact in the long run as a result of the failing of our institutions to hold the Conservative Party in check. Unlike the Liberals during the sponsorship scandal, where Auditor General Sheila Fraser (as well as subsequent investigations through the Gomery Commission) managed to expose the scandal with serious consequences for the Liberal Party’s reputation and success, it

looks as though our current federal government will not be held accountable. Elections Canada did not start investigating these irregularities until seven months after the election, even after the robocall allegations had been released to the public during the election campaign itself. If the Harper majority government is not held responsible, by the time all the facts have come out, there is a significant risk that the vast majority of people will have forgotten about this scandal altogether. The Harper government will avoid having to take responsibility for this at all. The Liberals adequately paid the price for their actions when they were in power, but that was because of the excellent work conducted by our regulatory institutions which would do well to hold this government responsible as they did the last.


Obama vs. Romney three possible scenarios

I read an article a few weeks ago written by a reporter who was following Mitt Romney’s campaign. Apparently, Romney events come with very expensive sound systems, which have to be thoroughly tested before the candidate ever gets near the microphone. One property of the sound that needs to be checked is called crispiness, so some poor staffer has to go on stage and ask the microphone “Is crispy good?” The reporter proceeded to apply the epithet “crispy good” to Romney himself, along with every aspect of his campaign. I think this phrase captures something otherwise ineffable about the former Massachusetts governer’s excessive wholesomeness and profound stiffness. Regardless, the Romney campaign won six of ten states on Super Tuesday (6 Mar.), leaving him with around 40 percent of the delegates he needs to claim the nomination. Rick Santorum is in second place with less than half as many. There are many reasons to believe Santorum’s low-budget, high-Jesus campaign will fail to overcome the crispy goodness - as the online betting market Intrade gives Romney around an 87 percent chance of being the nominee. Meaning no disrespect to Santorum, Gingrich or Paul, this article is written with the assumption that Romney will be the one to face Barack Obama in the general election. Below are three different scenarios of how an Obama vs. Romney campaign might transpire:

Scenario 1: Obama wins big The central aspect of this scenario is that recent positive trends in the US economy continue and indeed accelerate. January and February 2012 have brought monthly job growth well above the 200,000 threshold, and sectors from housing to manufacturing have shown real improvement. The hangover of consumer debt is finally beginning to lift, and Americans are even starting to buy cars. In Scenario 1, we’d see all of this snowballing into a strong upward surge in the American economy. Annualized GDP growth would be around 3 percent or even 4 percent, with unemployment falling steadily throught the summer. Assuming an average monthly drop of 0.1 percentage points, we could be looking at something like 7.5 percent unemployment come November. This scenario also envisages no bad news from the rest of the world, with Europe remaining relatively stable and a quiet Middle East helping to keep down the price of gasoline. All of this would give Obama the ability to make a confident case


Peter Burton

where between 270 and 300 electoral votes, along with something like 45-50 percent of the popular vote, and to 43-47 percent for Romney.

Scenario 3: Things go Romney's way

Meaning no disrespect to Santorum, Gingrich or Paul, this article is written with the assumption that Romney will be the one to face Barack Obama in the general election. Below are three different scenarios of how an Obama vs. Romney campaign might transpire... that his economic policies are finally starting to bring real benefits to voters. Romney will struggle to convince people that the Obama administration has been the kind of wholesale failure that Republican rhetoric insists it has been. Much of the Democrats’ agenda is a good deal more popular than President Obama himself, and we might expect that in this rosy scenario Obama starts to take credit more openly for the achievements of his first four years — Obamacare foremost among them. Romney will be repeatedly undermined by his Massachusetts health care initiative, and voters will be receptive to Obama’s characterization of Romney’s economic plan as full of irresponsible giveaways to the rich. Romney is hurt by many of the positions he was forced to take during the primary, with Latino voters turned off by anti-immigrant talk, and women alienated by his position in the contraception and abortion debates. The electoral picture In this scenario, Obama would hold on to all the states he won in 2008. The big Midwestern states like Ohio and Michigan would be solidly blue, and Obama would easily win the definitive swing state of Florida. His coalition of minorities, young voters and liberal immigrants from elsewhere in the country would come together to deliver states like Colorado, Virginia, and North Carolina. The real battlegrounds would be in historically Republican states like Georgia, Ari-

zona, and even Texas, where heavy minority turnout combines with a lack of enthusiasm among white conservatives to bring Obama within a margin of a few points. The end result would be somewhere between 350 to 400 electoral votes for Obama, along with 50-55 percent of the popular vote. Recall that 270 out of 538 electoral votes are needed to win the presidency.

Scenario 2: A tight race The most important factor in the election will undoubtedly be the state of the American economy, and this scenario naturally foresees more economic problems. We would see monthly job gains sink back down to less than 100 000 and GDP growth would sit at a sluggish 0.5-2 percent. Possibly battered by more crises in the European financial system, US banks remain wary of lending, and potential corporate profits do not translate into gains for workers. This scenario might also see adverse events outside North America, again with the Middle East being the most likely flashpoint. Obama will be unable to attract much attention to noneconomic issues like abortion and immigration where he holds the upper hand. If 2012 plays out along these lines, Mitt Romney’s message that Obama has not backed up his promises of recovery will find good traction. In particular, white people across poorer parts of the Midwest and South who voted for Obama in 2008 will abandon him, although doubts about Mitt Romney as a

nominee will cause some of these voters to stay home. Obama will try to distract from the poor unemployment data by pointing to his efforts at economic support, and he will make the case that a Romney presidency would take away the government lifelines that many poor voters depend on. In this scenario, minority voters would become disillusioned with especially high unemployment rates among black and Hispanic communities, and would not turn out in the same numbers that they did in 2008. Overall, the campaign is likely to be a brutal one, as Romney tries to tear down an Obama record that holds significant weaknesses. The electoral picture A contest like this would be fought in the classic swing states that have decided elections for the past couple of decades. Obama would lose in places like North Carolina, Virginia and Indiana where he expanded the Democratic map in 2008. Things would ultimately boil down to Ohio and Florida, where George Bush squeezed out wins to take the 2000 and 2004 elections. Obama would be able to sow enough mistrust about Romney’s pro-corporate agenda to hold onto the essential Rust Belt states of Michigan and Pennsylvania. In the end, the advantages of incumbency combined with Romney’s problems as a nominee would probably allow Obama to eke out a victory, probably by putting everything into holding his core states and winning at least one of Florida or Ohio. This would leave him with some-

Suppose that a major crisis in Europe or some unforseen turn of events causes the U.S. economy to take a sharp downturn between now and November. Unemployment would begin rising again, ending up closer to 9 percent than 8 at election time. GDP would flatline or even fall, and talk of a double-dip recession would be widespread. The election year climate will allow for little effective action on the part of the U.S. government, and we might see a return to 2008style credit conditions. If international events go even further awry, gasoline prices could remain high despite the economic slowdown. All of this would lead the American public to be seriously sceptical of anything Obama has to say on economic matters - regardless of how he tries to frame it. Ironically, the closest electoral parallel to this would be the 2008 election itself, when economic conditions so clearly favored Obama’s narrative. Mitt Romney will sound far more credible indicting “big government policies” if Obama can’t point to any economic success to defend the government’s interventions - regardless of whether or not the underlying problems are in fact caused by government overreach. In this scenario, unemployment in poorer urban neighborhoods would soar far above the national average, making it impossible for Obama to build a campaign on minority support. The electoral picture If the year turns out like this, Mitt Romney should be able to roll back a significant portion of Obama’s gains from 2008. He wouldn’t even need to campaign in North Carolina or Virginia, and a potential return of mass foreclosure would put Florida solidly in the Republican column. Romney would be favoured in Ohio, and if Obama can’t win either of the two main swing states, he will be in difficult straits indeed. The election will be fought in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and New Jersey - all blue states that are must win for Obama if he is to have any chance at all. Nevertheless, Obama’s sweeping victory in 2008 means Romney starts from a disadvantaged position, so even in this outcome things would be relatively close. I would expect 270-300 votes for Romney, with the Republican taking something like 42-47 percent, with 40-45 percent going to Obama.

EDITORIAL \\ 6 { } THE STRAND | 15 march 2012

our masthead Editors-in-Chief Fiona Buchanan Pauline Holdsworth Managing Editor Patrick Mujunen News Associates

Sabina Freiman Vacant

Opinions Associate

Muna Mire Dan Smeenk

Features Associate

Corrie Jackson Catriona Spaven-Donn Vacant

Arts & Culture Associate

Leila Kent Anne Rucchetto Nathan Watson

Film & Music Associate

Alex Griffith Will Pettigrew Paula Razuri

Stranded Associate

Jake Howell Brandon Martin-Gray Vacant

Copy Associate

Allie Chenoweth Sara Deris

Photo Associate

Nick Kotoulas Annie-Narae Lee Vacant

Art Associate

Bahar Banaei Vacant

Web Associate

Jamie Shilton Vacant

Editorial Assistants Blaire Townshend, David Wang Article Contributors Peter Burton, John Debono, Monica Georgieff, Kate Latimer, Ursula K. Le Gin, Wendelle So, Angela Sun, Sonya Suraci, Alice Tallman, Andrea Themistokleous, Fan Wu, & Meraj Zafar Art & Photo Contributors Sarah Crawley, Tristan Laing, & Alice Tallman Banner Nick Kotoulas Special Thanks Bahar Banaei

The Strand is published 14 times a year and has a circulation of 2500. It is distributed in Victoria University residences and across the University of Toronto’s St. George campus. The Strand loves its editorial autonomy. It should just marry it already. Please direct inquiries by email to For advertising information, email Our office is located at 63 Charles St. W., Toronto, ON, M5S 1K9. Follow us on Twitter for news and updates: @strandpaper If you follow us, we’ll follow you too.

SEX100Y1, LEC 0109 with Dr. SexLove Dear

Doctor SexLove,

I’m a 23 year old guy in my fourth year. I’ve been having some pretty strong sexual urges for my professor. I’ve been in her course since September and I’ve been feeling this way since, pretty much, the first lecture. I visit her during office hours every week and I feel like we have a great connection, I talk to her about course content, but often, the discussions extend to more personal topics and I feel like I’ve really got to know her well. She makes me feel so comfortable; our conversations flow so naturally that I feel like I’m talking to a peer. I really feel like this is something more than just a studentteacher relationship and I am thinking about asking her out on a date. I know it’s conventional, but I couldn’t bear to pass up such a great person just because she happens to be an authority figure. What should I do?

—Loving Educator And Really Nervous Dear LEARN I have to say, you are venturing into dangerous territory if you decide to ask your professor on a date. And particularly if you do so before the end of term. There can be serious implications when getting involved with your prof, not only for you, but for your professor as well. Because you are enrolled in her course, your professor is evaluating you, and this creates a conflict of interest if you were to become romantically involved. UofT does not prohibit such relationships; however, your professor would be obligated to disclose the relationship to their academic supervisor, which might make things uncomfortable for you. You can read up more on their poli-

cy at I suggest that you wait until the course is over before you try to pursue this relationship. It will be easier for you and for your professor and will also give you time to gauge her interest in you after the course is over. You might want to take into account the possibility she is being friendly because you are a good student in her class, and she is interested in you only in a professional capacity. During the summer, you can test the waters to see if her interest continues and use that to determine whether or not to ask her out. If your professor is interested in you, she might also be hesitant or outright opposed to dating you, due to potential professional implications, such as negative views amongst her colleagues regarding dating students or former students. And you may decide you don’t want to jeopardize your relationship with your profes-

sor by pursuing her romantically because you might want to ask her to refer you for a job or for graduate school down the road, LEARN. At the same time, I’m not one to discourage you from following your heart. As my friends Van Halen would say, if you’re “hot for teacher” you should weigh out the pros and cons before deciding how you will proceed.

Dr. SexLove Do you have a pressing question that requires

Dr. SexLove’s

attention? Write to me at:

*All submissions will be kept confidential.

EDITORIAL UTSU dynasty chalks up another one Predictable election results cast doubt on democracy, electoral process at UofT

UTSU Unity 2012-13 President

Shaun Shepherd

2011-12 Unite for Action President

Stronger Together 2010-11 President

Danielle Sandhu

VP External Shaun Shepherd

Adam Awad

2009-10 Demand Access

VP Equity Danielle Sandhu


Unite U of T 2008-09 President

Sandy Hudson

VP University Affairs Adam Awad

Sandy Hudson

2007-08 Your Team Chairperson

Vote Progress 2006-07 Chairperson

Andrea Armborst

VP Equity Sandy Hudson

Jen Hassum

VP Internal & Services Andrea Armborst

2005-06 Vote Progress President

Paul Bretscher

VP External Jen Hassum

Fiona Buchanan Editor-in-Chief


nother student election has come and gone and another incumbent slate has emerged victorious. According to the unofficial results, Shaun Shepherd and his Unity cohorts crushed their opponents, the Students First slate. Any seasoned UofT student who follows student politics – granted, there are not many of us – would have predicted this long before the campaigning had even begun. It’s unlikely that anyone on the Unity slate held their breath this election given the proven record of incumbent success in the past six elections. This is just the way student elections go at UofT. This is not to imply that there was any serious competition against the Unity slate this year. Students First’s central platform tenet for a campus bar was a trivial idea and diverted attention from salient issues that engaged, voting students care about. Between Students First, who emitted a “Party First! Issues? Maybe...” vibe and Rohail Tanoli who, to his detriment, wouldn’t take a stance on any issues and instead opted for a campus-wide referendum for most policy decisions, Unity was by far the strongest player. And given their performance throughout the election campaign, it is pretty obvious that the Unity slate deserved to win. My issue isn’t with the Unity members themselves. In light of numerous issues that have surfaced within the student body over the past few years – including racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, Islamophobia and transphobia to name a few – UofT student leadership must have a strong commitment to speak out against oppression and advocate for those who have been affected by it. I oppose the way in which these groups are elected, and have been elected for the past 10 years, through questionable democratic processes which undermine the legitimacy of any elected position in the organization. My beef with UTSU isn’t about whether or not they should have been elected, but with how they are

elected. Looking back over the years, UTSU incumbent slates have won every executive position, effectively eliminating any voice of opposition or alternate views that might contribute to UTSU policy. While executive members always state that they are open to different views, if only students would come and talk to them, the idea of one group of people who share the same goals and priorities makes it understandably difficult for a student who does not agree with UTSU policies to approach the union and ask that they address their concerns. During the past two years, the incumbent slate has also been extended to include UTSU Board of Directors candidates. This marks a move away from independent BoD candidates as representatives of their respective colleges and faculties toward running under a homogenised political banner. Fortunately, the board-elect for 2012 is comprised of some Unity members as well as some independents, but considering the record of most executive slates, it is rather alarming to contemplate the possibility of a full “Unity Board of Directors” acting as a rubber stamp on all executive initiatives. The UTSU has had a long history of selecting a VP from previous years to run for the new president, and since 2006, the favoured candidate along with his or her slate have achieved sweeping victories. It is extremely problematic that there have been no new UTSU presidents in recent years that did not formerly serve in VP positions. There is a clear and obvious pattern of nepotism plaguing UTSU which appears to be encouraged by the Canadian Federation of Students. There have been numerous complaints about CFS members campaigning for incumbent slates in UTSU elections over the years. This year, Ryerson Student Union officials were reported campaigning for Unity outside Sydney Smith surface. In 2010 elections, Toby Whitfield of the RSU was spotted campaigning for Adam Awad’s slate, Stronger Together. In 2009, The Strand suggested that campaigning should be reserved for UofT students and that demerit points be issued to address the problem.

In addition to questionable campaign practices, opposition slates have long complained that election procedures make it prohibitively difficult to run against seasoned incumbents who are more familiar with the ins and outs of the elections procedures code. These complaints have sparked movements calling for electoral reform. In fact, incumbents are not immune from the code; Shaun Shepherd was issued demerit points for The Varsity’s endorsement of his campaign, something he had no control over and which many viewed as unfair. Other criticisms of the elections process have been are directed at the hiring procedures for the Chief Returning Officer, which is currently conducted by the UTSU, as opposed to an independently-appointed CRO. ooking over the multitude of issues surrounding the legitimacy of UTSU elections, I used to ask myself, “Whatever happened to true democracy in student politics?” But the real question is “When were student politics ever a model for democracy?” If Shaun Shepherd and his colleagues truly want to unify the student body, they should conduct some serious self-evaluations and make a concerted effort to ensure the democratic legitimacy of their organization. I certainly won’t be holding my breath.


Retraction The Strand regrets the confusion and offense caused to Papa Ceo Fine Italian Foods & Pizza by the article “Pie vs. Pie” published in our magazine issue. This article was intended as a light-hearted look at popular pizza establishments Papa Ceo’s & Cora’s and at the imagined rivalry between these two establishments. It was not the intention of The Strand to allege that Papa Ceo’s is responsible for any wrongdoing. We wish to retract this article and sincerely apologize for the distress it has caused.

features \\ 8 { } THE STRAND | 15 March 2012



The Strand takes an Israeli Apartheid We

L-R Monira Kitmitto, Deena Gamil and Nahla Abdo speaking at IAW event “From Uprisings to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions”

The organisers of Toronto’s 2012 Israeli Apartheid Week introduce the various cultural and academic events with these powerful words, therefore immediately asserting an international view of indigenous solidarity while also rooting it to the Canadian context. Israeli Apartheid Week began in Toronto in 2005 after a statement was issued from 170 civil society organisations in Palestine calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions from Israeli companies and institutions. And so began the worldwide phenomenon of BDS, a movement which, in promoting the above actions, encourages the use of non-violent tactics to end the Israeli Occupation of Palestine. The calls in the original statement cited international law, and Israel’s breaches of it, in order to highlight “the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination.” Article 2 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, [including those] made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.” With that in mind, the BDS letter calls for Israel to: 1. End its occupation and colonisation of all Arab lands and dismantle the Wall; 2. Recognise the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and 3. Respect, protect and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194. The letter acknowledges the failure of international intervention and the peace-making process up to this point, which is particularly relevant after a weekend of renewed missile attacks triggered by Israel’s air strike on Gaza last Friday. BDS looks to the international solidarity movements that called for similar claims at the time of South African Apartheid. It recognises that “people of conscience in the international community have historically shouldered the moral responsibility to fight injustice.” Students Against Israeli Apartheid UofT and SAIA York have made their own BDS claim to tackle Canada’s complicity in the Occupation. They call for a divestment from four companies, BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, Hewlett Packard and Lockheed Martin, who profit from and aid the Occupation, for example by making the technology used at Israeli checkpoints. SAIA demand the refrainment of investing in any and all companies implicated in violations of international law. This petition has garnered support from professors and organisations at universities in Toronto and across Canada. In fact, the list of 100 signatories to UofT and York’s call continues to grow, including recognised names such as Judith Butler and Ken Loach. All of this indicates a phrase much repeated from the variety of speakers at last week’s series of events: there will be justice for Palestine. In the words of Frank Barat, coordinator of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, “Israel is guilty of violating international law – to that there can be no debate.” And when a country breaks laws established by the UN, the Human Rights Watch, the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court, they have to be

punished. Impunity cannot last forever. So often people turn away, bow their heads, and get uncomfortable when the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is mentioned. However, Israeli Apartheid Week aims to educate, disseminate information, and tackle the popular myths that shape the dominant narratives in Western discourse. As Palestinian spoken word poet Remi Kanazi writes in one poem:

“all I hear from twenty-somethings is that “politics isn’t their thing” politics isn’t their thing when civilians in the Middle East reach out for freedom and justice they are defined as political to undermine their suffering creating notions of two sides and equal conf lict covering up their dispossesion and burnt down villages”

He describes us students in Canada, the States and other nations free from conflict as having the privilege of avoiding politics, while the lives of others are politicised to the extent that “to exist is to resist.” The week emphasised this celebration of life as an act of resistance. It began with a variety of solidarity events, including the partaking of a Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid contingent in the International Women’s Day March and the endorsing of the Toronto KI Support Group’s event and rally ‘No Mining on Sacred Lands.’ Asserting solidarity with Canada’s First Nations people and recognising their struggle on colonised land is a large part of Students Against Israeli Apartheid’s mandate. On Tuesday March 6th, IAW Toronto 2012 officially opened with the event ‘Economic Mappings of Apartheid.’ The panel of three speakers consisted of Dalit Baum, Justin Podur and Eva Bartlett. Baum is a well-known feminist activist who works with the Coalition of Women for Peace in Israel and co-founded the research initiative “Who Profits from the Occupation,” which investigates corporate complicity in the Israeli Occupation of Palestine. In her talk she discussed companies such as Veolia which allow construction of and transportation to Israel’s illegal settlements. Justin Podur and Eva Bartlett are both Canadian writers and activists. Bartlett showed footage of her work on the ground with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) helping farmers and fishermen in the Gaza border regions. They are systematically harassed and attacked by gunfire from Israeli troops while harvesting parsley or fishing within the marine boundaries imposed by Israel, which from 2000 to 2009 have been reduced from 20 to three nautical miles. Not only is there tight security around the “no go zone” which surrounds Gaza, but there is also a “high risk zone” up to 1500 metres inside the Green Line – meaning Gazans lose access to their land, property and crops while also being the target of the Israeli Defence Forces just by fault of proximity. Bartlett showed disturbing footage of ISM workers attempting to communicate with the IDF troops over megaphone while they continued to shoot bullets into the group of farmers. Wednesday’s event, “From Uprisings to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions,” focused on the key role of women in the Arab uprisings, in Palestinian and in local Canadian activism. Monira Kitmitto is a Palestinian activist and mem-


remi kanazi/


n in-depth look at eek from March 5-11

Remi Kanazi performing spoken word on the Palestinian struggle for peace, justice and equality

ber of the Union of Palestinian Women who discussed these themes of gender and conflict as well as their effects on Palestine`s solidarity movement. Deena Gamil is an Egyptian journalist, reporter and founding member of the largest leftist party in Egypt – the Socialist Popular Alliance Party. The final panelist for this event was Nahla Abdo, professor at Carleton University, one of the first Canadian universities to promote the BDS campaign. She is an Arab feminist scholar whose work explores the dynamics between gender, class, race, ethnicity, sexuality and the state; issues which she addresses in her book, “Women in Israel: Race, Gender, and Citizenship.” In this book, she also discusses the experiences of the different ethnicities in the region, such as Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, and Palestinian Arabs. Artist, professor, and writer Richard Fung also addressed the theme of ethnicity in Friday’s event, “Cutting the Ties to Israeli Apartheid: Cultural and Academic Boycott.” He said, “It is easy to miss these kinds of [ethnic] complexities in understanding Israel,” and went on to question the “Biblical hegemony” that presented scriptures as a truth, even two thousand years later. He asked: “Is it ethical to reclaim a land generations later?” and went on to comment that in Biblical times “the Anglos weren’t in Britain, the Turks weren’t in Turkey” and that land claims from then would look rather different. Joining Fung on the panel were Remi Kanazi and Mary-Jo Nadeau. Kanazi explored the movement of cultural boycott and the growing number of artists who are cancelling shows and performances in Israel. “Artists are beginning to think twice about crossing the international picket line,” said Kanazi. “Art can change, art can provoke, art can force people to act,” he said, emphasizing art’s need to reflect politics. Nadeau, lecturer at University of Toronto Mississauga and co-founder of Faculty for Palestine, discussed the silencing campaign that takes place on campus as “an assault on academic freedom” and as a way of “narrowing the legitimate speech on campus,” as well as “shifting who can take part in the debate.” She asked a question that addresses all students, faculty and staff: Do our universities prevent political dialogue in the encouragement for purely “academic dialogue”? In which case, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney’s comments fully display this “narrowing” and “shifting,” affecting freedom of expression on campus. It is ironic that in his statement issued last week from Ottawa, he emphasises the importance of an uninhibited exchange of ideas, yet he tries to shut down the free expression for Palestinian solidarity, as the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid’s response points out. It asserts: “Free expression on Canadian campuses, including both academic discourse and political analysis, must be protected from these kinds of political interference and all attempts of censorship.” Far from being “anti-Semitic” or “racist,” as Kenney claims, IAW is open to the public and encourages all forms of dialogue and discussion “within the standard regulations governing debate and events on university campuses.” Nadeau emphasised the danger of equating criticism of the Israeli state to antiSemitism, much as a Meretz party member called Israel’s recent illegalisation of the use of the word “boycott” “an embarrassment to Israeli democracy.” Clearly, democratic free speech is crucial in this issue. IAW promotes and encourages a dialogue, while taking the dominant discourse of Zionist Western, and especially Canadian, media and politics and “flipping it,” to use Fung’s phrasing. The last day of IAW Toronto, Saturday March 10th, marked the end of a successful week of raising awareness and educating about Israel’s apartheid policies towards Palestinians in Israel, in the West Bank, and in Gaza. The after-

noon event, “A People’s Interrogation of Law and Human Rights” heard Frank Barat and Faisal Bhaba’s research on Israel’s breaches of international humanitarian law. Bhaba, Harvard Law grad and former Vice-Chair of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, examined the violations of international law by the Occupation, which he described as “a de facto annexation.” Barat asserted Israel’s institutionalised oppression of the Palestinian people as oppressive acts committed systematically by a minority against a majority. He went on to discuss the Hebrew naming of the Wall as “gader hafradeh,” which translates as “separation fence.” Barat explained that in using the word “separation,” one is also using a synonym for the word “apartheid.” In 1973, the UN made the use of the word apartheid universal at their International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. Apartheid constitutes the forcible transfer of population and control of land by a ruling power and racist regime. In South Africa, the major historical example of apartheid, the indigenous black population were systematically oppressed, displaced and dispossessed. Indigenous rights were denied and native lands were colonised. Israel’s policy of forcing non-Jewish citizens to carry different ID cards and their prevention of free movement for Palestinians makes it an Apartheid State under the UN’s definition. South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said in an interview with The Guardian; “I’ve been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa.” Kanazi ends his poetry collection with the question:

“funny that “enlightened nations” always blame the victim and never ask the needed question: when will the day come when Israelis and other colonizers of the world better themselves?”

He performed numerous poems at the cultural event on Saturday night, “Rhymes and Resistance and the Sounds of Existence,” which took place at the Tranzac and featured a range of artists. First Nations group, the Red Slam Collective, opened, followed by singer Chand-nee, who sung South African solidarity songs from the time of Apartheid as well as an adapted version of K’Naan’s “Wave Your Flag” with lyrics addressing the BDS Campaign. Kanazi entertained the audience with his energy, humour and articulate explanation of the Israeli Occupation of Palestine. He has been performing at fourteen Israeli Apartheid Weeks all over North America telling people of his own personal connection to Palestine as the grandson of Palestinians forced to leave their homes after 1948, when the State of Israel was created. His spoken word explains his own personal identity as an American Palestinian and also more general issues of Middle Eastern politics and religion. Sitting in the audience, you cannot fail to be captivated with his delivery and passion. The closing words to one of Kanazi’s poems provide suitable closing words to the whole of this year’s Israeli Apartheid Week Toronto:

“Put down stolen beauty… and join the rest of us on the right side of history.”

arts & culture \\ 10 { } THE STRAND | 15 march 2012

How the West was fun


In need of a little adventure? Spend a day heading toward the setting sun. We’ve prepared a map starting from the edge of campus for you—whether you decide to walk, bike, or take the TTC is your call.

erin Duff e o r G v Park


OSSINGTON 4. The Lakeview 1132 Dundas St. W




2. Keriwa Café, 1690 Queen St. W With a chef named Aaron Joseph Bear Robe and a Queen West address, you know it’s got to be good at Keriwa Café. As of August 2012, this little Parkdale restaurant will be celebrating one year in business. Their philosophy: presenting food “as rich as the heritage of Canada’s people, Aboriginal and non-aboriginal, that make up the culinary landscape of our country today.” A menu that changes monthly takes inspiration from the many traditions of this culinary landscape. Everything from the bread to the bison brisket is handmade. Plus, you leave at the end of the meal with complimentary cinnamon buns. Urban living meets Canadian heritage, exposed piping meets birch bark mosaics — all at Roncesvalles and Queen. -Kate Latimer

Yep, it’s the truth: The Lakeview is ALWAYS OPEN. That, along with a wide-ranging menu, a big space, and a lucky location at the north end of the recently trendy strip of Ossington, explain its popularity over the past few years. Don’t be surprised to wait in line; at 3am, Epic Mealtime drunks drool over deep-fried mac n’ cheese balls, and wannabe gourmands devour fungi salads with dijon dressing. Eight hours later, the hungover stagger out of bed for poached eggs and mimosas. Stop by to witness the spectacle — and for a spot of lunch. The warm goat cheese, pear, and walnut salad is pretty drool-worthy. Eat it on the patio — though a bit too close to the din of Dundas, it’s still a great excuse to get some sun when the weather’s feeling friendly. -Leila Kent

1. Mrs. Huizenga 121 Roncesvalles Ave. This “alternative retail” destination offers unique and superbly picked vintage finds for affordable prices. With its helpful and friendly staff and array of enchanting merchandise, it’s impossible to say if it will be a sequined trophy dress or a cherry-wood jewelry box that ends up coming home with you. From handkerchiefs to bookshelves, Mrs. Huizenga’s has it all — and is definitely worth a visit. -Anne Rucchetto 3. Balluchon Raymond 221 Sorauren Ave. One of the many perks of Parkdale is that there is not a Starbucks in sight (for now). Balluchon Raymond, nestled between Dundas and Queen on Sorauren Avenue, is a friendly hangout for the trendy Roncesevalles crowd. With the oddly complementary aromas of cheese and espresso, as well as its exposed brick walls adorned with paintings, you immediately feel at home. When I walked in, the entire café was singing The Cure’s “Friday I’m in Love.” Balluchon is both a café/restaurant and gourmet grocery, serving tasty buttery pastries and daily features like cranberry cured elk. -Alice Tallman

5. The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art 952 Queen St. W The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) is one of a kind. Offering free admission with a pay-what-you-can option, the MOCCA features art from around the globe, with a special focus on Canadian talent. The MOCCA was one of the main kick-starters in developing Queen West into the cultural hub the area has now become. If you’ve got a free afternoon or want to beef up on your art knowledge, swing by the MOCCA. -Anne Rucchetto

Dufferin Grove Park FRANCES TUFFORD

Where in the city can you find freshly baked bread, pizza, and cookies, a bustling organic farmer’s market, homemade community supper, a skating rink, wading pool and campfire space? In one outdoor place: Toronto’s Dufferin Grove Park. Located on Dufferin St. just south of Bloor, Dufferin Grove encompasses 14 acres of urban park, serving as a busy hub for the area’s residents. The park’s unique amenities include two outdoor wood-fired ovens where park staff bake bread weekly throughout the year, which is sold at the park’s organic farmer’s market run every Thursday from 3–7pm. In the winter, two skating rinks provide hours of fun for leisure skaters and shinny players alike. Skates are available to rent for $2 a pop, while chili, cookies, hot chocolate, homemade muffins and fair-trade coffee are for sale inside the rink house at the “Zamboni Café”.


The smelly environmentalist sonya suraci


resident eco-fiend



7. Cafe Pamenar 307 Augusta Ave.

8. Thirsty and Miserable 197 Baldwin Ave.

Cafe Pamenar is everything you’d expect from a hip cafe on the northern and (dare I say) less dilapidated side of Kensington Market. The cafe is bigger than it appears on the outside and there’s a nice patio out back. The general layout and decor is pretty simple — mostly consisting of wood with the usual exposed piping and antique light bulbs — but some flavour comes from using an old weighing machine as a condiments table and the flashy banner along on the wall. Most hot beverages are offered as well as a few danishes and sweets, but the real treat is the selection of prefrozen paninis that are surprisingly delicious. -Angela Sun

Thirsty and Miserable is Kensington’s newest watering hole. The dive bar, owned by the guitarist of Toronto hardcore band Brutal Knights, fittingly owes its name to a Black Flag song. It occupies the narrow spot that was once home to the “Havana Cuba” restaurant, near the corner of Baldwin and Augusta. Thirsty and Miserable offers a long list of craft brews waiting to be tasted. Its mantra: “Life’s too short to drink shitty beer!” You’ll find beer made around the corner as well as across the Atlantic, and limited-run bottles from local brewers — basically nothing you’ll find at Sneaky Dee’s. If you know a beer geek, or are looking for something new to try that won’t burn a hole through your wallet, you should give Thirsty and Miserable a shot. -Nathan Watson

9. Sonic Boom 201 Augusta Ave.

With Dollarama’s purchase of Sonic Boom’s flagship location last summer, music fans feared the rumours must be true: that nobody really buys music anymore. But despite the music industry’s generally declining sales, Sonic Boom revealed that their business has been actually growing with each year. In addition to relocating to their new Honest Ed’s location, Sonic Boom expanded into a cozy new Kensington store. With less space to work with, the market location focuses its collection almost exclusively on new and used vinyl. Updated daily, the store’s stock boasts an extensive catalog of whatever it is you’re looking for. If you need a break from browsing, they have a few arcade machines in the front of the store. Don’t have a turntable? They can help with that, too! -Nathan Watson

6. The Monkey’s Paw 1229 Dundas St. W Situated very west indeed is the self-described “old & unusual books & curiosities” shop: The Monkey’s Paw. The small store is just as gently worn as you’d expect, complete with peeling paint, wooden chests as end tables, and zoology diagrams on the walls. While it mainly peddles well-read books and rare editions in a variety of odd subjects (whatever the owner finds interesting), they also sell such curiosities as insects set in lucite, prints from vintage book illustrations, and retro tourist maps. The prices may be a little higher than what you’re used to, but if you can appreciate the aesthetic of old typewriters, then this store is a must-visit. -Angela Sun



All prices — like everything that is for sale in the park — are priced by suggested donation. A lively rink house doubles as skaters’ changing area and a community meeting place, and is kept warm with an old-fashioned wood-burning stove. At the helm of all this is community icon Jutta Mason, who became frustrated by the state of the park in the early 90s and gathered neighbours to reclaim the space. After almost two decades of hard work, the park has seen a remarkable transformation and now serves as an indispensable multi-use space for a diverse community. Dufferin Grove straddles an affluent area and social housing, and the park strives to remain accessible to all users, despite cultural, economic, or linguistic differences. The grassroots style of governance promoted by Mason has proven very successful at this local hotspot. Although park staff and users have dealt with a variety of feedback — from positive to discouraging — the warm and welcoming atmosphere of Dufferin Grove has continued to prevail for nearly two decades.


With the weather these days as moody as your teenage sister, it is not uncommon to find yourself wildly overdressed on any given (surprise) sunshiny school day. Your frantic bolt across campus lands you in class on time, and also hot, sweaty, and out of breath. Snug in your compact Sid Smith chaise, elbows dancing, awkwardly unzipping and disentangling excess layers, (which are now sticky) you are struck with one solitary, paralyzing thought: did I remember to put on deodorant today? There it is! A fully-formed paragon of bromidrophobia, the fear of body odours. But don’t worry, you aren’t the only one. In fact, the paranoia of leaching unpleasant smells is one of the most common of our generation, and the generation before that. North Americans spend billions of dollars a year on deodorants and antiperspirants, despite the fact that nearly everyone has now heard at least the murmurings of the hazards these products present for your body and the environment. Those handy little sticks of anti-smell agents are concocted from a litany of chemicals. Essentially wrapping up your ‘pits in Saran wrap, aluminum is one mineral that is found in most antiperspirants that clogs up your pores and prevents wetness. Despite its familiarity, it is a known water pollutant and may not be the friendliest to your kidneys, and there’s dozens, if not hundreds more where that came from. The sheer number of articles published in the last few years about alternative, eco-friendly deodorants proves the point that people are learning about the potential dangers of deodorant. But here we find ourselves in quite the pickle because although these ethical alternative choices are theoretically attractive, with their charming country bumpkin flavours like “clary sage” or “wild ginger”, they, quite frankly, don’t work. Pee-yew! Is weird-smelling deodorant or chronic body odour the price we pay for giving up evil chemicals? Well, along with the extra few bucks we put down for that sustainable roll-on at the health food store, the short answer may in fact be yes. An itchy question arises. How on earth did people deal with their own unpleasant stenches before the invention of deodorant? And whatever happened to “if everyone smells, no one smells”? It worked in 17th century France, didn’t it? The culture of clean has infiltrated so many aspects of our lifestyle, the age-old logic fails us. Certainly now that everyone smells like peach blossoms, if you show up smelling like a real human being, you are sure to be forever banished from all respectable forms of society. The truth is that personal cleanliness is a multi-billion dollar industry, and if advertisers can instill the fear of God in us humble consumers to make an extra buck, why wouldn’t they? Commercials promise that smelling daisy-fresh will secure us everything from a job promotion to a Friday night date. The alternative? Social ostracism. Years and years of media bombardment from the Old Spice guy and the like, and we’re all hopelessly conditioned by a pathological fear of B.O., with deodorant as our only hope. It’s due time that consumer choices be re-evaluated. A discrimination between what is socially mandated and what is actually needed for each individual has never been more necessary.

Rink season has ended now, but the farmer’s market continues all spring and summer, when park activity picks up again. Community suppers will start once more, and for a suggested donation of $7 a plate, diners can choose between a homemade vegan or meat option. The menu changes weekly; some examples of past suppers include pulled chicken tacos with fresh corn tortillas, pickled onions and salsa verde, polenta and vegetable ratatouille, and even a turkey dinner around the holidays. Summertime sees campfires, a lively wading pool, and endless play at the city’s biggest sand pit. Stop by and participate in this remarkable mobilization of community resources and exciting use of public space. If you enjoy yourself, send a quick note to the Ward’s councilor, Ana Bailão ( and let her know you support this kind of community work in Toronto. Dufferin Grove Park is also labelled on the map

film & music \\ 12 { } THE STRAND | 15 MARCH 2012

Killin’ it at the Kool Haus The Kills bring their Blood Pressures tour to Toronto Kate Latimer



s Allison Mosshart and Jamie Hince walk on stage, you can almost taste their chemistry. With her fuchsia hair and his leather jacket, they are the unique, dynamic duo that make up The Kills. They performed at Kool Haus for the release of their new album Blood Pressures (Domino Records). Toronto was their last stop before their final performance in New York with the official celebration of their 10-year anniversary. But first, two opening acts. The NYC natives Hunters swaggered out on stage as the crowd was still arriving. Their rock songs like “Deadbeat” had a little too much screaming for the crowd, who stood around as the lead singer attempted complicated microphone cord maneuvers. As the room filled, Jeff the Brotherhood filed onto the stage. Their singer wore a red cape and drank from a goblet — needless to say, heads began to bob as they played. Having been the official opening band for the tour, Mosshart came out for their final number to sing a duet, to the screams of her loyal fans. Finally, around 9:30, The Kills began. The Kills are notorious for passion before precision. The guitar wasn’t always perfect, Mosshart didn’t always hit her note, and yet it seems as if it was all part of the act. They played in front of a leopard print screen and had two drummers, their faces disguised with bandannas across their mouths. And while the Kool Haus sound system might leave something to be desired, The

Frontwoman Allison Mosshart of The Kills live in concert

Kills killed it. They played songs off their new album including “DNA”, “Baby Says”, and “Future Starts Slow”, eyes following Mosshart with her rock and roll charisma. While Hince, husband of Kate Moss, described Mosshart as his sister and best friend, it seemed hard to believe that there isn’t something else going on. As Mosshart saunters over

to share the microphone with her bandmate, there was undeniable electricity on stage. They moved into covers including “Crazy” by Patsy Cline and “Pale Blue Eyes” by The Velvet Underground. Then they thanked the audience and walked off stage. The audience cheered, demanding an encore for what seemed like forever, until they

finally came back on, drinking wine and smoking. They sang “The Last Goodbye”, a heart-wrenching waltz, and continued to play the second half of their set. Hince, sweating profusely by this point, thanked the audience with his British charm and they walked off stage to cheers and crazy applause. Blood Pressures is their fourth al-

bum and unlike any of their others in that they began with a melody as opposed to lyrics or a certain sound in mind, which was their method for previous albums. Though their songwriting has changed, the beauty of The Kills remains their perfect balance of glamour and rock and roll.

Other Lives: an oasis in the desert Art Editor


early six months ago, I was walking through the smoke-filled rooms of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in America’s favourite playground: Las Vegas. It was day three of my trip and by that time I couldn’t see past the seizure inducing glares reflected off the golden walls of the surrounding hotels. It was as though Trump’s burnished face had decided to haunt me wherever I went. Enough was enough. It was during my walk through the Cosmopolitan casinos when I heard a series of chimes that were not coming from the slotmachines. I then turned towards a small stage hidden behind one of the many bars where Other Lives, a fivepiece band from Oklahoma, was playing. I was finally listening to music that wasn’t on the top-40 charts and I felt saved. At that moment I forgot about the men and women gambling, drinking, and stripping (yes, there was stripping) behind me. I walked into the room and despite the isolated arrangement, the audience was silent, and by the look on their faces, in awe. I stayed to watch them play for

the rest of the night and in that time I saw them switch between guitars, a cello, bells, a xylophone, various percussion instruments, and more. The band originated in Stillwater,

They in no way over exceed the usage of their instruments, leaving you in awe that only a five-piece band can formulate such a dynamic sound Oklahoma where they released their first album Flight of the Flynns in 2006 under the name Kunek when they began their contribution to the surge of indie musicians in North America. Since my encounter with them in Vegas, they have been on tour with Bon Iver, and are currently on tour with Radiohead, promoting their latest album, Tamer Animals. The carefully crafted album embodies what emerging indie artists strive to do. They in no way over exceed the usage of their instruments, leaving you in awe that only a five-piece


Bahar Banaei

Other Lives: a far cry from Celine Dion and Tom Jones in Sin City

band can formulate such a dynamic sound. Lead vocalist Jesse Tabish’s voice is often compared to that of Robin Pecknold from Fleet Foxes, which fittingly compliments Jenny Hsu’s entrancing back-up vocals. Ev-

ery piece of this album fits perfectly together, and I should add that it is the only album I have ever purchased on iTunes. Although it is easy for musicians to get lost amongst the many bands

hoping to “make it” Other Lives manages to produce the unique sound that sets them apart. It was exactly that which lead me to walk back to the Cosmopolitan the next day to see them perform once more.

film & Music

By the foam of the tap!

The Strand talks to Vic filmmakers about alcohol-soaked fantasy ALEX GRIFFITH


plied by London-raised McCalla – explaining the creation of the One Keg, containing the strongest, most vile brew of all. To keep the Keg out of the hands of the Enemy, the beer wizards long took it upon themselves to guard those 60-or-so litres with their lives. The wizards include Old Millwalker, Pabst of the Blue Ribbon, Busch Beard, Miller the Genuine, Bud the Wiser, Rickard the Red, and Strongbow – you can see what Stephenson means regarding beer puns. McCalla adds that there are evil magicians of alcohol such as the French wine warlock and Smirnoff Ice Witches, presumably because everyone has had at least one bad experience with Smirnoff in the frontier days of Fireball and high school. The filmmakers had to organize the cast and crew, about 14 in total, for four consecutive days of shooting over Reading Week. “There was a lot of moaning at first,” says McCalla, “We tried to start makeup at 5:30, that takes an hour, to be able to shoot when the sun rose. It took a while to get going.” “Tim Hortons,” nods Stephenson sagely. “Tim Hortons,” she agrees. “There was a feeling of dread before production,” adds Stephenson, “then we did the four days, and I realized we had lost some footage, and I thought people were going to freak out, but everyone was really stoked. Everyone worked their asses off. Meg McCarthy was up at 5am everyday to do makeup.” They shot in Riverdale Park during a very busy Family Day. “A bunch of people in beer costumes on Family Day doesn’t make a very good impression.” Apart from police officers who told them they could not shoot in a public space (they did anyway), and an afternoon of rain,

the shooting process became more efficient from day to day. Working so intensely for 12 hours without break is bound to spark creative friction. “Alex’s job is to make sure we get shit done and move along as fast as possible,” says Stephenson, “and my job is just to produce it, make it look good, make it having a style, which is directly contradicStephenson and McCalla, director and producer tory to getting stuff (with a gremlin in the lower left hand corner) done.” “It’s weird that the director and While Beer Wizards is a self-conproducer have to work so closely to- tained trilogy – Stephenson admits gether,” muses McCalla, “because the script pushes beer puns to the actually what they both have to get limit – the screenings will drum up out of the situation is completely dif- publicity to lead to future projects. ferent.” “It’s definitely a vehicle for recruiting Regarding delays and setbacks, more people,” says McCalla, “that’s Stephenson advises restraint. “Part why we’d like to screen in September, of it was not getting mad. When we to build some buzz for the beginning found out the footage was deleted, I of the year.” was pissed, but I knew I had to work Stephenson and McCalla tried for eight more hours, I couldn’t get “real special effects” like playing with mad. So it was like: ‘Guys, footage got filters and over-exposure, as opposed deleted, we’re not mad about it, let’s to adding cookie-cutter Adobe presets keep shooting, and then go home… in post-production. “I’m always in and break some shit.’” favour of using the tools of the craft I ask them if they agree with Hitch- rather than post-production,” says cock: should actors be treated like Stephenson. cattle? Stephenson and McCalla are That authenticity extends to the much nicer than Hitch, but they ac- score, which will not appropriate knowledge there being a few difficul- copyright-protected tracks, but will ties. showcase some of Vic’s musical tal“I wanted to leave Scott to direct,” ent. Faculty of Music student Paolo says McCalla, “I know he has a mil- Griffin is writing a violin quartet for lion things to go over in his head, so the soundtrack. The style will recall I took over organizing people. Some- the epic orchestral swells of Howard times the actors were kind of cattle, Shore’s LOTR score, but, adds Mcbut sometimes you had to treat them Calla, has “hints of comedic trills.” like gods to get them to do what you An accordion will play a theme wanted.” whenever the French wine warlock, Stephenson adds: “Other people’s the wizards’ main enemy, appears on catchphrases were: ‘What’s my line? screen. What am I doing?’”

and how those films shaped their work afterwards. Not to discredit the amazing work of Pixar, but it’s impossible to imagine the California studio without the cinematic road paving of Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. Starting on 10 Mar., TIFF Bell Lightbox is hosting a Ghibli retrospective, a good opportunity to discover those films in the original Japanese voiceover. Studio Ghibli was founded by directors Miyazaki and Isao Takahata along with producer Toshio Suzuki in 1985, a year before they released their debut, steam-punk fantasy epic Castle In The Sky. While the studio’s films were incredibly popular in Japan, they were not distributed in North America until Disney and Miramax bought the distribution rights to the majority of their films, beginning with Princess Mononoke in 1999. Since their partnership with Disney, Studio Ghibli

has become a household name in animation, releasing acclaimed films such as Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) and Spirited Away (2001), the latter being considered to be one of the best animated films of the last decade. The studio’s latest film, The Secret World of Arrietty, is currently in theatres. If you’re new to Studio Ghilbi, expect intelligent and impeccable craftsmanship. I always felt as though these films acknowledged their audience’s intelligence. Unlike the majority of mainstream American animated features, Studio Ghibli sees animation as a way to tell a range of fantastical and allegorical stories. While the studio’s films have made very successful children’s features, Ghibli is at its best when it engages in dark themes and imagery. All these films share the presence of an intelligent, young protagonist (usually a girl) trying to make sense of a bizarre, adult-dom-

inated world. It is from this perspective that such a compelling narrative is created in each film. The studio’s work has addressed serious personal and political issues such as love vs. friendship (The Ocean Waves), the environment (Nausicaa of the Valley of The Wind), and the Iraq War (Howl’s Moving Castle), which provides great insight and wisdom especially appreciated by teenaged viewers . I speak from experience; my high school art teacher introduced me to Princess Mononoke when I was 15. At the time, I believed that animation was nothing more than a way to keep children distracted for two hours (admittedly, I was a slightly pretentious teenager). That phase ended within the first five minutes of Princess Mononoke. I not only loved the details presented in every frame, but the complexity of the story as well. It was probably the first time I realized that animation could be used for more


eading week, Toronto. In the Parks High and Riverdale, a group of young adults covered in beer logos, beards, and Gandalfian pipes congregated for Motion Victures’ first feature: Beer Wizards. The project (expected to be an hour long) is about halfway through production, and the filmmakers are aiming to screen a final cut in September. I sat down with director Scott Stephenson and producer Alex McCalla to talk about the trials of the ongoing shoot. Stephenson and Alex are in Cinema Studies, third and first year, respectively. Last year, Stephenson founded Victoria College’s filmmaking club Motion Victures with this project in mind. “It’s been my baby for a long time,” he says, describing Beer Wizards as a three-part trilogy of 20-minute segments. This year he recruited more talent and is gradually getting more funding from the college; an $1100 lighting kit is a nice addition

for a one-camera crew. Essentially Stephenson took the structure of Lord of the Rings and filled it to the brim with alcohol puns, finding middle ground between Tolkien’s heroic story and the faux heroics of beer advertising. “Beer marketing fits the epic mould so well. It’s ridiculous how many apt beer puns work with LOTR. You would not believe it unless you read the script.” I ask him what students would find appealing about this combination – which I realize is a really stupid question, but Stephenson does a good job of explaining it anyway: “Students love LOTR, we’re at the perfect age because we were 10 or 11 when the first one came out, and we grew up with it, watched marathons with our friends. There’s also that party phenomenon of wizard staffs, a stupid test of manliness: You drink one beer, and then you attach a new beer to it, tape it, open it, drink, and see how far you can go.” The movie will open with an appropriately British voiceover – sup-

MONDO 2011

on Studio Ghibli

JOHN DEBONO staff writer


ne of my favorite hobbies as a passionate lover of cinema is to find what has influenced my favourite filmmakers. It is fascinating to learn about their idols



than talking animals, and helped to rejuvenate my passion for animated films. With that being said, the Studio Ghibli fare aimed at younger children are also things of wonder in their own right. One that I am looking forward to introducing my younger cousins to is My Neighbor Totoro. Most famous for the friendship between a young girl, Satsuke, and the iconic bear-spirit-creature-thing Totoro (the Studio Ghibli mascot, left), it is a refreshingly warm and innocent film that shares many of environmentalist themes of Princess Mononoke without the violence and pessimistic outlook. There is some gravity though: Satsuke’s mother is hospitalized (possibly because of cancer?), which may be why Satsuke invents forest spirits to keep her company and console her. “Spirited Away: The Films of Studio Ghibli” is presented by TIFF Bell Lightbox from 10 Mar.–13 Apr.

film & music \\ 14 { } THE STRAND | 15 MARCH 2012 “It’s getting harder and harder to find legitimate information on what’s going on out there. Docs, to me, have always been a great way of informing yourself.” The projection booth can play 35mm film as before, as well as HD tapes, digital files, and Blu-Ray. Smith even suggests that 3D might be an option further down the road. The flexible formats allow the Bloor to receive foreign prints from overseas filmmakers that never printed digital, or 16mm edited in someone’s basement, while still carrying industrystandard equipment to accommodate the major distributors. Those companies, while necessary to the success of Bloor 2.0, were also partly to blame for the cinema’s closure in 2011. Brothers Paul and Cam Bordonaro have owned the Bloor since the 70s, a transitional period from the ol’ single-screen neighbourhood theatre to 24-screen Cineplexes. “If [the distributors] had made a

delay of one year between releasing a film at the theatre and releasing on video,” argues Paul, with the all the ingrained frustration of a veteran exhibitor, “they could keep a vibrant movie theatre industry, but they’re willing to see this crash and burn as long as they can sell anywhere else.” He sees an adultery metaphor in how theatres are treated by Hollywood: “It would be like being married to someone for a hundred years, and then another girl comes along and then: ‘See ya!’” Nonetheless, the Bordonaros are optimistic about the new theatre and the architectural updates. The concession stand has been moved to the side of the lobby, which now ends in a glass pane looking out into the auditorium. The screen has been moved higher to allow for more stage events; clearly the Bloor now recognizes its role as host of Hot Docs, and all the galas and Q&A’s that come with that responsibility.

“You see a bad documentary, and you still come out with something. You see a bad fiction film, and you’ve just wasted an hour and a half of your life.”



or many months there has been a black hole in the heart of the Toronto cinephile, and that hole used to be the home of the Bloor Cinema in the Annex. The programming was a synthesis of the best: high-brow filmes you would find at TIFF Lightbox; American classics you’d always wanted to see on a 15foot screen; second-run releases that had bowed out of Cineplex weeks ago; and wonderfully awful or awfully wonderful cult hits to tear apart

your pretensions. Now, renovated and refurbished with seats inspired by Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival Theatre, the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema is open again, its schedule docu-fied by programmer Robin Smith. On the steps of the theatre’s balcony, now outfitted with Dolby 7.1 speakers, Smith says the content will be “75 percent docs, 25 percent fictional films,” with improvisation and adjustments after the Hot Docs festival running 26 Apr.–6 May.

Smith studied film at York University (“I realized I was too pretentious to make films”) before working on the distribution side of the industry. “Docs always spoke to me really strongly.” He, like the other characters behind the Bloor’s comeback, speaks of documentaries with a visceral enthusiasm. Neil Tabatznik, head of investor group Blue Ice, remarked at a press conference that “you see a bad documentary, and you still come out with something. You see a bad fiction film, and you’ve just wasted an hour and a half of your life.” Smith adds:

Brothers/owners Paul and Cam Bordonaro tell it like it is

me, but somehow I’m still alive. Terrible…” Jiang is presented as a heavy smoker, as a woman with a sense of dignity, and as someone who is growing more dependent on others by the day. She wants death as soon as possible to end the grey monotony of infirmity, yet she also desires the rhythm of life, to postpone death because it’s too much of an interruption of daily routine. The most poignant portion of the film shows Grandma Jiang’s decline into a nearly vegetative decrepitude. As the pain and paralysis from the stroke spread through her body, she becomes weak and bedridden, losing control of her limbs. The filmmaker asks her, “Do you ever think of where you’ll go afterwards?” She answers in a thoughtful, unconcerned tone: “I guess I’m headed for the afterlife. Where else can I go?” In the following scene, Jiang has become visibly withered and zombielike, suddenly a living body without any sign of human consciousness.

She cannot speak, and only groans: the scene is terrifying for its grotesque reality, its documentary sincerity. The documentary works in extremely slow, often still shots which parallel Grandma Jiang’s glacial and stuttering movements. These shots are accompanied by her relatives’ voiceovers, full of trivial, natural observations, not typical thematic soundbites. Although the lower-class Chinese suburbs have a strangely gorgeous ramshackle charm, I get the sense that this is a film made for those who enjoy unbroken scenes of human interaction. The cinematography’s atrest style, which rarely uses abrupt cuts, allows conversations to breathe, falter, and renew. The documentary allows for boredom and habit to be “filmable” subjects. The people of The Vanishing Spring Light are simple: their lives are dictated by ritual, not by personal ambition. Scenes of squabbling over what is to be done with Grandma Jiang never rise beyond pragmatic considerations; we never see Jiang’s family broach broader issues of spirit, morality, or responsibility — issues we may consider enlightened or even necessary. But Jiang’s world — a post-

West Street blues FAN WU staff writer

The Vanishing Spring Light is the first of a four-part documentary series, Tales of West Street, which documents the lives of soon-to-be evictees of West Street in Dujiangyan, China. The Vanishing Spring Light follows 80-year-old Grandma Jiang — the fallen matriarch of a large, humble

family — from the period right after her stroke to her funeral less than two years later. The peripheral characters — Jiang’s fourth daughter, her only son (often referred to as “The Fifth”) and his ex-wife Xiao Da — orbit around Grandma Jiang’s life, caring for her, complaining about her, celebrating her life. The first appearance of Grandma Jiang shows her recovering from a stroke: she says “I wish that fall killed



By film editor

Xiaoping, post-Open Door Policy suburban China which began to value a hard-headed capitalistic practicality — does not demand such abstractions. They faced capital-Q Questions of death, family, and spirituality with an unworried simplicity, one which did not invite unnecessary theorizing or intellectual resolution. If we can call the film “meditative”, it is because the film neither draws any conclusions for itself nor demands that we make any judgements. Instead of overtly thematizing, it feels most like the film is characterizing: the West Street as a community, the family’s chemistry, the peculiar blend of oriental and occidental culture found in many suburban settings. The Vanishing Spring Light’s unobtrusive visual style and willingness to let Jiang’s family speak for themselves make the film a source of a nourishing quietude, and make it watchable without making it gripping. As one character says, “Laying there like that, Granny is getting worse… She told me she’s waiting to die.” The film invites us to wait silently with them by her bedside, as it invites us to construct her being for ourselves out of intimate details of her life and the awareness of her inevitable death.


news in brief with files from the top drawer

In weather news, spring has officially sprung. Look forward to more daylight, less snow, and the standard amount of crippling anxiety. Dread insufferable classmates asking only half-jokingly if we can have class outside. In anxiety news, the University of Toronto has ordered 1,000 boxes of Xanax for its upcoming crunch period. “We’re expecting moderate to excessive amounts of stress and at least a few total freakouts,” said Phillip Phillips, an engineering student. “Anxiety disorders are not very funny, I’m sorry to say. They aren’t the type of topic you should write satirical journalism about,” he snapped, pulling his hair out. Students looking for a hit of tranquility in the maelstrom of school can go to the walk-in clinic and ask for “white boys” – according to Google, it’s the street name for Xanax, which sounds about right. In other school news, most of you have essays due like, yesterday. Keep this in mind when you text someone “can’ busy.” Everyone’s busy, brah. We all have shit to do, girl. Some people are better at time manage-

ment, maybe, fine. But look, you can’t completely ignore your social obligations, man. Newsflash: realizing your assignments are coming up is not news, pal.

“1 in 6.” I am officially 0 for 9, and I’m angrier than a road-raging Toyota Camry Hybrid driver, which is what I someday strive to be and, statistically speaking, should be by now.

In news news, brevity is key, according to a newspaper study jointly sponsored by the ADHD Foundation of Canada and the Council for Brevity in News (CBN). “Brief news is the only news worth reading,” quipped CBN president John Henson in a truncated phone interview. “I have to go now,” he ended.

In statistics news, The Strand’s Stranded editors got very poor marks in Stats 100, but whatever, they will take it pass/fail. Odds are pretty good they will get at least one of those.

In telephone etiquette news, the Society for Telecom Politeness (STP) has issued a press release reminding Torontonians that they “are not Stone Temple Pilots, but [they] are fans, especially that one song”, and that “being rude is wrong, especially on the telephone. And that includes texting.” In a street interview conducted by The Strand, first year student and walkie-talkie junkie Anthony Hopkins contended “phones are bullshit, Red Leader. Over.” In bullshit news, I have still not won Roll Up the Rim, despite the contest claiming odds of

In 50/50 news, did you see that movie? With Seth Rogen and JGL? JGL rocks that movie. He was great on Third Rock from the Sun, too. In Earth news, I think Earth Hour is coming up. Yeah, March 31. That’s actually kind of a long way off. Oh well. Are you gonna participate? You should. It’s good for the planet. Really, really good. If VUSAC’s Sustainability Commission has taught me anything, it’s that planets are people too. Just remember the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And the Earth is full of gold, so. Um, also, you shouldn’t litter. Think about it: Earth doesn’t throw garbage on you, does it? No. Unless you live in a tropi-

cal climate, in which case you get rained on a lot. Hmm. I have to do some thinking. In thinking news, philosophy student Jimmy Borrigan recently got into an “Is-ThereA-God” debate in Wymilwood’s chillzone and won. “Think about it, bro,” he explained, “Jesus was a carpenter. Therefore, God doesn’t exist.” Following the heated debate, Borrigan promptly logged on to popular news-aggregator website and atheist circlejerk to brag about it in rage comic form. He got a lot of karma. In karma news, Radiohead is coming to Toronto. Did you get tickets? Downsview Park, I dunno. That’s where the SARS concert happened, I think. In epidemic news, student politics continues to infect the minds of “nobody,” according to a study on student apathy conducted by Some Academy for Whatever. SAFW did not return our calls — no surprise there. In unsurprising news, you’ve probably stopped reading.

Definitely the last Stranded caption contest ever We’re not kidding this time. We will turn this car around. Jake howell & brandon martin-gray stranded editors

Look, we don’t do this for us. We do this for you. We scour the web looking for funny and interesting images that desperately need captions, and we print them so that you can think of suitable ones (or hilariously unsuitable ones), send them in, and win a prize. But no one ever enters. This is getting ridiculous. We’re giving you gold here, and we’re getting nothing. So this is it, the last one. No take-backs, no givesies-backsies, nothing. Listen, shit-for-brains, send your goddamned captions to or tweet @strandpaper using the hashtag #lastcaptionever. Not on Twitter? That says a lot about you. The winner will receive two movie vouchers, a $10 Tim Card, free trackpants, breakfast in bed, two complimentary hours of Twitter coaching, one snack pack, and a fully loaded Toyota Camry.

THIS ish

last ish's winner Some suggestions:

“Well, there’s your problem.” “And that, kids, is how a train is born.” “This is a trainwreck!” “Railed it!” “I think we’re on the wrong track here.”

“Party over here.” - Rod Pall, Chilltown, TX Congratulations Rod! Check your inbox for muchos nachos, muchacho. You are the big winner, or as they say in Spanish, “¡grande perro del diablo! ”

stranded // 16


{ } THE STRAND | 15 march 2012

UofT’s undergrad bar: a review from the future The Strand has a time machine Ursula K. Le Gin Time travel editor

A proposed campus bar was a key issue in this year’s UTSU election, and all those sudsy student stump speeches got us thinking: The Strand has a time machine, so why not swing on by the future and check the place out? Despite the fact that the winning slate, Team Unity, did not endorse the idea, we here at The Strand assure you that the St. George campus bar will be built. So come along as we travel through time and take a peek at what will soon be UofT’s hottest new watering hole.

“Ever since the university was forced to erect the Great Academi-Bubble to keep out Emperor Ford’s marauding gangs of Bibliovexers, off-campus taverns are off-limits.”



he year is 2013 and it is a typical January nine o’clock at the University of Toronto. Climate change having been solved a few months ago using laser techniques, students are prepared for the seasonally cold night. Everyone you see is swaddled in a trim silvery Canada Goose Smartparka emblazoned with his or her student QR code: the university’s compulsory winter uniform. Walking down the newly pedestrianized St. George St., its central promenade dappled on either side by virtual trees that gleam like arboreal iPad 4’s, you know exactly where you’re headed. You’re headed to the best place on campus. The first thing to know about the campus bar of the future is its sensational name. Back in the past (but not as far back in the past as you, dear reader, are now), UTSU held a campus-wide contest to name the

The campus pub of the future is housed in Robarts’ peacocky head, pictured here in spooky sci-fi colours

highly-anticipated, highly-desired, and highly-necessary student space. Entries numbered in the hundreds of thousands (almost one third the undergraduate population), but the winning name pleased everyone, for it was selected by a committee comprised of UofT’s world-class infallible robot faculty. Yes, Undergraduate Pub Alpha-Niner Theta Sine, or Upants for short, was a hit. Upants is nestled high above street

level in the southeastern protuberance of Robarts that is the concrete peacock’s head. Getting up there is easy. Simply transmit your unique academic hashtag to the nearest social media receptor and up you go in the matterlift. As you walk into the bar, you realize that all the concerns raised by the undergrad bar skeptics of the past were for naught. At Upants, inclusivity and equity are paramount.

Patrons of all races, creeds, colours, and firmwares feel welcome. While this hospitable atmosphere is mostly thanks to the homogeneous spiritual epoch ordained by the arrival of our terrible exogalactic alien creator-gods in December 2012, it is still nice. The other major concern of the past — that there were many, many other bars within walking distance from campus that suited the needs

Letters to the (Stranded) editor(s) We get so many emails Sir, I sincerely ask for forgiveness; I know this may seem like a complete intrusion to your privacy but right now this is my option of communication. This mail might come to you as a surprise and the temptation to ignore it as un-serious could come into your mind; but please consider it as a divine wish and accept it with a deep sense of humility, i am aware that this is certainly an unconventional approach to starting a relationship My name is Favor Eleazar a partner with SOlPON-PRO GH LTD; we are contractors with the MINISTRY OF LANDS FORESTRY AND MINES. Besides being a contractor my company is also involved with mining of gold with branches in some strategic locations in my country Ghana West Africa. Through a contact of mine With the Ministry of lands forestry and mines i executed a contract here in Ghana three years ago which

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of thirsty undergraduates just fine — is a non-starter. Ever since the university was forced to erect the Great Academi-Bubble to keep out Emperor Ford’s marauding gangs of Bibliovexers, off-campus taverns are off-limits. The decor is the perfect mix of trendy and kitchsy. Vintage luminospheres garland the oscillating walls, and the high phosphorstucco ceiling has plenty of gravity welts to charge your space inverter. Plus, with three big screen iPad 4’s, Upants is a great place to relax after class and watch popular streams like Ultimate Killing Championship and Hoaders: Eaten Alive 3D. Should you be a creature that requires nourishment (do not be ashamed — in compliance with antijudgment ordinance 1138, Upants is a judgment-free zone ), the tapas style menu is sure to please. From pita and hummus to honey-roasted edamame to everyone’s favourite in vitro-grown meat paste TubeChew, there is truly something for everyone. As for drinks, Amsterdam Blonde and Steamwhistle are on tap. Exiting the bar after a night spent forging great friendships in their top of the line friendship forge (before daybreak, of course, when the heliovampires mount their hunt) you think to yourself that Upants really is a place where everybody knows your name — as much as private reflection is possible these days, in light of the innernot.

Last issue’s crossword answers All of them were the letter “A,” idiot. Except for 11 across (1998 R. Kelly album), which was “R,” and 17 across (omnipotent ST: TNG character), which was “Q.” Also, there was a mistake. There were two 32 acrosses. The Strand does not regret the error. Present your completed puzzle at The Buttery for a free Starbucks!

Vol. 54 Issue 12  

The Strand Volume 54 Issue12