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February 5, 2009
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The McGill Daily, Thursday, February 5, 2009
AMUSE loses steam
McGill contests the union’s formation
The McGill Daily The grounds for McGill’s objection, according to Morton Mendelson, Deputy Provost (Student Life & Learning), was AMUSE’s manner of categorizing student workers into student, non-academic – like gym employees or floor fellows – and casual workers; McGill proposed a division into just non-academic and casual workers. Mendelson added that McGill did not find the union sustainable because certain job titles could be filled by non-undergraduate employees. “The union defines a community of interest; they define a group that they think is an appropriate group… [but] we have jobs where one person is a student, and another is not,” said Mendelson, indicating that McGill was prepared to propose new categories to the Board. “The employer can accept that that’s an appropriate group, or it can present an alternative,” he said. AMUSE member Jacob Feygin, however, thought McGill’s objection was just a delay tactic. “We think the union we submitted is perfectly viable, and that McGill is just delaying us by trying to challenge us,” Feygin said. This was not the first time that McGill has obstructed AMUSE’s efforts to gain accreditation. This fall, when the union was seeking signatures necessary for its application to the Board, McGill withheld lists of student employees, for legal and privacy reasons. Working without a formal list, AMUSE organizers held events – like free beer and pizza nights – to identify students who worked for the University. Further complications with the application arose because the entire AMUSE union did not apply for accreditation at once, as the organizers decided to only submit a bid for the non-academic staff section where they had enough signatories. According to Max Silverman, former SSMU VP External and a current AMUSE organizer, it was not
he Association of McGill Undergraduate Student Employees (AMUSE) decided to suspend its bid for formal union accreditation from the Quebec Labour Board last week, after McGill issued a formal letter to the Board, threatening to contest their application. “We decided that fighting McGill… would be a waste of our energy, and we could do more by continuing our campaign, and then reapply later,” said AMUSE member and U3 History student Dan Pudjak.
appropriate for the union to apply on behalf of other internal units – such as casual and academic workers – because they did not acquire sufficient signatures from those areas. Feygin explained that ultimately AMUSE decided to regroup and submit their bid later this year, when they have enough signatures from all sections. “The game plan is to let it be known that AMUSE is here and AMUSE is going to be staying,” said Pudjak. “Even though that last court battle didn’t happen, there will be future court battles, and we’re not going anywhere.” -with files from Nicholas Smith
Academics petition for Israel boycott
McGill professors support call for Israeli boycott
n Eva Ne w to n/ Th eM cG ill D aily
rompted by recent events in the Gaza Strip, dozens of McGill professors and employees have signed a petition in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, and an academic boycott of Israeli institutions. Professors from Concordia University, Université de Quebec À Montreal, Université de Montreal, and numerous other postsecondary institutions in Quebec have also signed the document. The petition, published last Saturday in Le Devoir, was compiled in response to a January 22 call by the Palestinian Federation of
Unions of University Professors and Employees urging academics worldwide to denounce the Israeli occupation and its repeated violations of international law. Many of the petition’s signatories expressed exasperation with Israeli policies, including the continued blockade of Gaza. They felt boycotts could be a peaceful way of pressuring the Israeli government to comply with international law. “What else is there?” asked McGill professor and signatory Abby Lippman. “The UN has provided resolutions; Israel hasn’t listened. The world has condemned what’s been done; Israel hasn’t listened. This is a peaceful way of saying ‘No.’” Adrienne Hurley, another McGill professor, supported the petition because of Israeli air strikes on
Palestinian- and United Nationssponsored schools, and an Israeli ban on reporters, researchers, and aid workers to the Gaza Strip. “To me, it’s very important to send the message that this is not acceptable, that knowledge is important,” she said. The academic boycott, perhaps the most controversial aspect of the campaign, seeks to isolate Israeli universities on the international scene. According to the BDS website, such institutions help maintain the intellectual theories and justifications that underpin the occupation and Israeli policies of discrimination. Lippman said the initiative is not directed at individual Israeli scholars. She noted, though, that the boycott would prevent McGill from partnering with Israeli universities, or col-
laborating on research projects. McGill Professor Wael Hallaq felt that Israeli academics have a moral responsibility to speak out against the state’s treatment of the Palestinian population. “Academics are a little more detached from the world of politics. Israeli scholars...are the only group of scholars in the world that I know that serve in the army systematically. And at the same time they are scholars. They can make a difference,” Hallaq explained. They can, for example, become refuseniks. They can criticize; they are in powerful positions. They are also judges.... They are in government committees.... They can work from the inside.... If they cannot do this much then all of us are in trouble.” Launched in 2005, BDS is mod-
elled after a campaign applied to apartheid-era South Africa, and is supported by more than 170 Palestinian organizations. It attempts to pressure the Israeli government to end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and to dismantle the Separation Barrier. The campaign also calls on Israel to recognize the rights of Palestinian-Israelis, and the right of return of Palestinian refugees. Support for the BDS initiative has gained ground in Quebec. In June, L’Association pour une Solidarité Syndicale Étudiante (ASSÉ), a student union representing over 42,000 students, voted to actively endorse the campaign. The Federation National des Enseignants et Enseignantes du Quebec (FNEEQ-CSN) has also voted to support the boycott.
The McGill Daily, Thursday, February 5, 2009
Montrealers held candles during a vigil last week in Place Jacques Cartier in peaceful solidarity with Gazans killed during recent Middle Eastern violence.
Shu Jiang / The McGill Daily
Remembering the victims in Gaza Scandals plague Concordia Student Union
Money lost, bookkeeper sued, recall petition thwarted, fingers pointed
The Link mer executive who wished not to be named. “This is very, very serious […] This is not something you play around with.” But current CSU president Keyana Kashfi redirected the blame to past executives. “They didn’t know where they [stood], but they just kept spending,” Kashfi said, “So as long as their cheques cleared, they kept spending.” When Fauve Castagna, former CSU VP Finance, started her term in the summer of 2007, an audit hadn’t been filed by the CSU since the 20042005 academic year. The CSU’s bank accounts were also seized by the Canadia Revenue Agency just one month after her term started. “Certain taxes hadn’t been paid, and the government was owed large sums of money in penalties and interest,” Castagna explained. “It was a nice way to come into office.” The Gazette reported that the finances were so disorganized that forensic accountants hired for an audit by the union could not decide whether funds were improperly or fraudulently spent or managed. They eventually just gave up. Ironically, Lyonnais, who is no longer a member of the Order of Quebec Chartered Accountants, was hired by Patrice Blais in 2000 to watch the finances after almost $200,000 was embezzled by a former CSU VP Finance. Mohamed Shuriye, CSU president of 2005-2006, said he could not have foreseen the mismanagement by an employee, especially since he wasn’t the one in charge of the books. “For this current executive to say that we should have questioned the numbers from a chartered accountant is unreasonable,” Shuriye said. “I’m appalled that this executive has the tenacity to question my judgment especially since they’re being recalled.” Patrice Blais, the current Secretary and Treasurer of the Concordia Student Broadcasting Corporation, spearheaded a recall late last fall after the executive tried to hold a fee referendum in spite of numerous breaches of regulations and a Chief Electoral Officer who was no longer a student. But it was contested by Chair of Council Jessica Nudo, because she said nearly two-thirds of the 3,600 signatures were invalid. The Chair’s ruling was based on provisions in the Standing Regulations of the CSU that were approved only three days before the petition was submitted by bailiff at Nudo’s home, because she was consistently unavailable at school. Hours after the ruling was issued, the Chair resigned. The issue is now at the Judicial Board, at which the current executive is arguing that it is too late in the semester, and too close to the general election, to remove them from power, and have a special election to fill the positions for the remainder of the terms. “With an election scheduled for March, the CSU will say, ‘It’s too late now,’ even though they are the cause of the delay,” said Blais. The Chair is now being filled on an interim basis by Brent Farrington, the current Deputy Chairperson for
All photos except top right by Alice Walker for The McGill Daily
he Concordia Student Union (CSU) is embroiled in yet another scandal, this time involving a $500,000 deficit, a lawsuit against its former bookkeeper, and a petition to recall the entire executive that has been taken to the Judicial Board. The union is suing Marie Lyonnais, a former CSU bookkeeper and Chartered Accountant, for a total amount of $363,238.25 for alleged “negligent behaviour.” Executives, both current and from as far back as 2000, have been pointing fingers at each other and Lyonnais for financial mismanagement – that, according to the CSU, caused the union to incur a combined deficit of nearly $500,000 for the fiscal years ending May 31, 2006 and May 31, 2007. “These kids don’t know what the hell they’re doing,” said a for-
the Canadian Federation of Students, who was president of the CSU in 2003-2004. He was at the head of the slate of candidates whose succeeding incarnations have swept CSU elections ever since. Judicial Board Chair Tristan Teixeira hopes for a speedy end to the recall case. “Hopefully this case should be wrapped up by the second Monday in February,” Teixeira said. The case of the CSU and CUSACorp, their corporation, against Lyonnais will be heard at the Palais de Justice on February 23 at 9 a.m., although a bailiff has yet to locate her to serve her with the lawsuit.
This article is a compilation of articles from The Link, a Concordia student paper, over the academic year, with files from Justin Giovannetti. Lyonnais and Nudo have been unavailable or refused to comment to The Link for at least a month as these stories have developed.
The McGill Daily, Thursday, February 5, 2009
Ghetto Shul out of space
Funding cuts come after long struggle to secure a home
News Writer “It’s not just a synagogue, it’s more of an environment and a certain type of community and warmth. We lose that spark that attracts people without our own space,” said Tal. Jeff Bicher echoed Tal’s sentiments. “Its main group of students are out-of-towners who are living in the McGill Ghetto,” said Bicher describing them as those who don’t have their own home community to fall back on, which makes having a space specifically in the Plateau even more important. Full access to an independent space is crucial to the services the Shul provides, explained Emily Foxen-Craft, VP Internal, in a written statement to the board. “Though it may seem materialistic to value a building so much, it really ties together so many elements of the grassroots organization of Ghetto Shul, unifying its members, new and old, to a specific place which they can associate with their private and communal exploration of Judaism,” wrote FoxenCraft. The Shul’s latest residential predicament comes after a long struggle to secure its own space. Two years ago, a zoning issue forced the Shul out of a building on Lorne Avenue in the Ghetto, where it had been running its operations since it was founded in 2000. In the following year, it continued its activities out of Hillel House, which hosts Jewish holiday programming year-round on mainstay of the Jewish community at McGill, Ghetto Shul, is now in danger of losing its space in the Plateau, after nearly two years of real estate limbo. Hillel Montreal, a Jewish students’ association that promotes cultural learning, has cut Ghetto Shul’s rent from its budget. Jeff Bicher, the Interim Managing Director for Hillel Montreal, explained that the Shul cuts were part of a $185,000 scale-down in the face of the economic crisis. “In an analysis of expenditures, if we don’t change our spending habits, we’re looking at spending $1.4-million, and we’re only bringing in $1.2-million.” Ghetto Shul, a student-run and largely student-funded grassroots synagogue, launched a fundraising campaign to make the rent at its location on Clark in the Plateau. According to Erin Kizell, students initiated a phone-a-thon that draws from their home communities for pledges. With activities now split between the Clark Street Shul and Hillel House, Josh Tal, Public Relations Representative for Ghetto Shul and U3 Cultural Studies, said that Ghetto Shul has suffered drops in attendance, especially since the weather has gotten harsh and cold.
Stanley. Last August, Ghetto Shul finally got a home of its own when a new five-year lease was initiated at a location on Parc, near Milton. According to Erin Kizell, VP External at the Shul and U1 Arts, the space was acquired with “the generous support of Hillel Montreal.” After three months on Parc, the group was forced to relocate again after the building next door to theirs was torn down, exposing pipes that froze, broke, and flooded the space. Bicher remained optimistic that Hillel Montreal would soon recover financially. “We are still looking, connecting with potential donors,” said Bicher. “We aren’t giving up.” Kizell was sympathetic to Hillel Montreal’s financial situation. “Funding was never guaranteed by Hillel Montreal; there was no assurance we would be able to maintain the needed or same amount of donor funding.” Hillel Montreal facilitated the donor funding that was given to Ghetto Shul for their leases and Rabbi salaries. The Shul’s other sources of funding include Central Address for Jewish Philanthropy and Community Service, a Montreal-based organization that works to support grassroots Jewish communities throughout the world. Tal hoped the Shul would find a new space with a lower rent somewhere in the Ghetto.
Join the call! Toilets for all!
BECAUSE : Nearly one billion people — about a sixth of the world’s population — do not have access to safe drinking water. One person out of three does not have access to basic sanitation facilities. BECAUSE : More than 5000 children die each day from water and sanitation-related diseases. BECAUSE : Safe water and sanitation is vital to human health, promotes gender equality, supports primary education, and generates economic benefit.
Conference examines sustainability with money in mind
The McGill Daily of the problem – greenhouse gas emissions – to adapt solutions to address the global rise in temperatures that 150 years of carbon emissions have already locked in. “Adaptation is an important thing, but there are those people who say all we can do is adapt,” he said. “I’d like these people to go and explain to the population of Miami how they should adapt to a two-metre sea level rise.” Praising the developments of renewable energy and sustainable transportation initiatives around the world, Guilebeaut reminded the audience that even greater shifts in thinking must take place in order to substantially cut global greenhouse gas emissions. “Even if everyone is driving a hybrid in 2011, there will be 9-million of us then. That’s a lot of cars, and that’s a lot of metal,” he said. “We have to rely on more transit; we have to rethink the way we build our city.” On Friday night, Robert Weese, the Vice President of Government and External Relations at General Electric Canada (GE), presented his company’s “ecomagination” program, which outlines measures to help GE and its customers reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other impacts on the Earth. A central tenet of that program is to raise GE’s annual revenues from “ecomagination” products to $25-billion by 2012. According to Weese, his company’s primary motivation for researching and building sustainable products is its financial incentive. “Green is green, and we don’t make any apologies for that,” he said, referring to the returns made on green products. “We’re not in this business because it’s a responsible thing to do.... We wouldn’t be in it as a company if we couldn’t make money out of it.” The company’s program also includes goals to reduce companywide absolute greenhouse gas emissions by one per cent and use of water by 20 per cent by 2012. Weese stressed that his company’s ability to adapt to a constantly changing market has allowed it to survive for over 130 years. “I think ‘ecomagination’ is our latest adaptation to a changing world,” Weese said. The annual conference was organized by a team of students from the Management Undergraduate Society.
Come sign our petition at Redpath Library on February 5th from 10:30 to 4:30
To pressure the Canadian government to hold its commitment to the Millenium Development Goals and make safe water and basic sanitation a foreign aid priority.
uilding sustainable products is an excellent business decision, according to both keynote speakers at last week’s “Awake,” McGill’s Business Conference on Sustainability. About 70 delegates from universities across Canada attended the conference, where they participated in workshops with industry leaders, listened to two speeches, and attended a sustainability fair with campus groups. In his opening keynote Thursday, Steven Guilbeault – a founding member of Equiterre, a Montreal basedenvironmental organization,and former Greenpeace spokesperson – said that the effects of human-induced global climate change on the Earth could be even greater than scientists previously anticipated. “It’s entirely up to us as a global society to decide how much climate change we are willing to live with, along with the consequences,” he said. According to Guilbeault, humans need to immediately attack the root
The McGill Daily presents
Hear Journalists Speak!
PATRICK LEJTENYI & HENRY AUBIN
February 12. Leacock 232. 5 p.m. Free.
The McGill Daily, Thursday, February 5, 2009
Saul redefines Canada’s legal origins
Speaker urges recognition of aboriginal influence on Canadian law
News Writer executive editor for the McGill Law Journal, was happy to see a speaker challenge the diametric view of law that’s commonly taught. “We wanted to invite someone in here who would challenge our view of Canadian legal history,” Murphy said. “Although we’re taught aboriginal law at McGill, it’s almost seen as separate from Canadian law.” In his lecture, Saul also accused the media of tokenizing its coverage of indigenous groups by focusing on pity-inducing stories about alcoholism or suicide rates, trying to make the aboriginal question disappear. He related the current political climate in aboriginal communities to that of the francophones in the 1960s. “If you look at the past 50 years of Canadian history, it’s been about the attempt to reestablish the power of the francophone pillar,” he said. “One can say that it’s been pretty successful, whether the country falls apart or not, because the francophone fact has been reasserted. But that other pillar, the original pillar, has been virtually ignored.” Saul’s theories resonated with many audience members. Michael Doxtater, McGill’s only First Nations professor, said Saul’s ideas will gain more traction as the country moves into recession. “You’re going to have to completely rethink the way the economy runs, the way wealth is distributed, the way we demonstrate our humanity to each other,” he said, adding that Canadians can find wisdom in indigenous models of trade networks and commerce as the monetary system begins to collapse. While Mae Jane Nam, U2 Law, was impressed by Saul’s reconception of Canadian history, she said his belief that Canadians are eager to embrace a new model of their identity is optimistic. “Even in our school, with issues surrounding our Chancellor [referring to pre-European Canada as ‘un pays de sauvages’], a lot of us are very hesitant to acknowledge the contribution of civilizations that existed before European colonization and imperialism,” she said. But Nam said she believes that with a lot of re-education – which begins with intellectuals like Saul disseminating their ideas – the three-pillar model of Canadian identity could someday become mainstream.
anadian philosopher John Ralston Saul addressed the aboriginal influence on Canadian culture and legal tradition Tuesday at the McGill Law Journal Annual Lecture, which attracted an audience of 250-300 people, necessitating the creation of an “overflow” room where his talk was simulcast. Saul asserted at the McGill Law Journal Annual Lecture that Canada’s legal culture was based on aboriginal ideas of egalitarianism, welfare, and justice – and not on tensions between the French civil code and English common law. He eschewed the current model of Canadian history that focuses on the French and English as the country’s founders. “There’s a classic thing to say, that we’re a more European country than the States, but we’re the least European country in the [western] world,” he said. “Canada is built on three founding pillars: anglophones, francophones, and aboriginals.” Saul argued that Canadian concepts such as single-tier health care, legal aid, and even multiculturalism cannot be traced to Europe, but rather to First Nations’ philosophies that the country’s migrants inherited. The uniqueness of Canadian geography makes many European concepts irrelevant, he contended, noting that early settlers had to give up the wheel – what many Westerners consider a sign of “civilization” – for the canoe when traversing the Canadian Shield. “Everything that works in Canada cannot be traced back to Europe,” he said. “Every time we try to do something European, we do conscription, or ban languages, or racism.” Shane Murphy, U3 Law and English
Evan Newton / The McGill Daily
Religious Studies class was without a professor until yesterday
TA shows movies while prof remains ill in India after conference
The McGill Daily was scheduled to miss the first few weeks of the semester in order to attend a conference in India, but fell ill and has, up to this point, been unable to secure a flight back to Montreal. Ellen Aitken, Dean of the Faculty of Religious Studies, wanted to assure students that despite Sharma’s prolonged absence, the course plan was being followed. “Professor Sharma was in India for a conference the Faculty [of Religious Studies] was co-sponsoring,” said Aitken. “Suitable arrangements were made for covering the first few weeks of class.” Lecture time, for the past five weeks, has been filled with film screenings on Hinduism and Jainism – including the feature-film Ghandi – and multiple lectures given by teaching assistant (TA) Tom Pokinko. “We’ve had class discussions, and I asked the students to write a personal response on two aspects of the film [Ghandi],” said Pokinko, as examples of different lecture activities. Yet some students questioned the relevancy of the material they were watching to the course as a whole. “What are we paying for if there’s no prof? We could watch the movies on our own,” said a student in the class, who asked to remain anonymous. “The class cost $600, and $200 [a third of the semester] of that wasn’t going to anything.” As of yesterday, Professor Katherine Young has assumed Professor Sharma’s role, a replacement Aitken said the Faculty was fortunate to secure. “Most universities don’t have multiple professors in single subjects,” said Aitken. “We were lucky that someone like Professor Young, who is familiar with the information, was available during class time.” Aitken also supported the instruction given by Pokinko, a PhD student in Hindu and Jain ethics, who ran the class for the first third of the semester, providing several lectures, organizing movies, and distributing assignments, all under the instruction of Sharma. “Often grad students and TAs know the course material best, and are in the best position to follow the course plan,” Aitken said. Pokinko added that the material presented in class was approved by the absent professor. “I’ve been in email contact with [Professor Sharma],” said Pokinko. “He advised me to lecture on Ghandi’s life and the course outline, interspersed with various concepts relevant to the course.” Some students said that the quality of their learning had not been affected. “Everything was really fine,” said Emily Blake, U2 International Development Studies. “We understand why the prof has been away, and the TA has been great.” Still, with the midterm approaching students expressed concern over the content of examinations due to the relative lack of time spent on lecture. Because RELG 353 is a high level course, students committed to majoring or minoring in Religious Studies feel particularly worried. “A decent amount of the [students in the] class are specialized,” said the student. “For most people, it’s not just an elective.” The midterm has since been changed to a take-home examination. Aitken believed that there has been good instruction in the course, given the circumstances, and that the course has been running as planned. “Generally, courses gel at various points [and] many students don’t understand how various concepts fit together until a few weeks into the semester,” said Aitken. “When the professor returns, he will be able to tie the first few weeks of the course together.”
he students of RELG 353 – Ghandi: His Life and Thought – have been without their professor all semester, and some in the class of around 80 students are concerned that the material presented in their professor’s absence has not prepared them for the upcoming midterm. Professor Arvind Sharma, an authority on Hinduism and the life and beliefs of Mahatma Ghandi in,
The McGill Daily, Thursday, February 5, 2009
Re: “I want my bottled water” | Letters | January 26
How backward is our world when the crazy person is the one who wants to eliminate senseless waste and death?
Kyle Kaplan Meat is the eco-elephant
Heads-up about that Gaza motion at the GA
I would like to bring to the attention of the undergraduate community a rather important issue that will be brought up as a motion during the upcoming SSMU GA on Thursday at 4 p.m. The motion aims to condemn the bombing of Gazan educational institutions during the recent Israeli incursion. As an educational institution that takes pride in transcending differences for the pursuit of knowledge and the betterment of our community, we must take a moral stance in supporting our fellow students’ right to education. The illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory has long hindered and crippled every facet of Palestinian society, as well as encroached on basic humanitarian rights. Furthermore, the recent bombardment has left Gazan society in shambles, and has been condemned by international, as well as Israeli human rights organizations. I want to stress that the upcoming motion is in no way partisan in nature and is only intended to show support for the rights of Gazans to continue their educational pursuits. This further serves to uphold McGill’s reputation as an international institution that has long advocated diversity and renounced violations of human rights. Jamal Daoud PhD III Biomedical Engineering
Vote for the Bloc? Ugh
Re: “The Bloc legitimizes Canadian democracy” | Letters | January 29 After reading David Searle’s article on why the Bloc deserves the support of Canadians, I felt the need to respond. The argument that the Bloc deserves our “wholehearted” support as well as our votes (!) is one not only lacking in material to back it up, but also rather outlandish and excessive. Our votes? Why? The Bloc does not represent the views of millions of Canadians, so why should we vote for them – to promote national unity? I’m not sure why supporting another party, such as the NDP, does not promote national unity and strength just as well. Is the Bloc honestly our only option for ensuring national unity? I personally have nothing against Gilles Duceppe; I actually think he is a very strong leader. But I do bristle at the argument that the Bloc “legimitizes” this country’s democracy. Giving that praise to only one party that only runs in one province is not a very democratic action itself. Jessica Roberts U4 Sociology
Meat is the eco-elephant
Re: “I want my bottled water” | Letters | January 26 It is great that bottled water has been removed from the bagged lunches given by Residence Food Services. Bottled water is obviously an unnecessary luxury, potentially unhealthy and wasteful of our natural resources. However, bottled water is small fish in the giant, sludge-filled lake of environmentally destructive choices made by the McGill administration. If McGill is really looking to eliminate from their food services items that fit the afore mentioned criteria – unnecessary, unhealthy, wasteful – perhaps their attention should be turned to the harvested flesh served three times a day to the nescient freshmen it houses. Animal agriculture far exceeds bottled water in the devastation it wreaks on the environment, in too many ways to even begin to mention in the 300 words I am allowed to use. Of course, this will never happen; people might even say that it would be “crazy” to remove meat from the food residence offers, that the kids need the “nutrition.” First, how backward is our world when the crazy person is the one who wants to eliminate senseless waste and death? Second, it seems strange to me that the McGill freshmen “need” their seasoned corpses for sustenance while globally, hundreds of millions of people live rich, active, long, energized lives free from the vampiric need to consume an animal’s rotting body. At the very least, the administration can put warnings in front of meat dishes with facts like, “These pigs were castrated, de-toothed, de-tailed, and de-eared without anaesthetic,” followed by, “Studies have found pigs to have a greater capacity for intelligence than dogs.” Or “Animal agriculture accounts for 65 per cent of the world’s N20 production, a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.” In the discussion on sustainability, meat is the elephant in the room. If McGill wants any kind of credibility in its efforts toward sustainability, this is something it has to address. Kyle Kaplan U2 Music Technology
Your propaganda is so much worse than theirs
Re: “Deface this!” | Commentary | January 29 No thanks, Hartlee Zucker, I get enough propaganda from your side! I’ll take my propaganda from the other side, just this once. Kudos to the McLennan admin for having the balls not to cave to your lobby. Dan Adshead U3 Political Science & Economics
We like kids when they’re born, too
Re: Defending the born | Letters | January 29 I would like to reply to Mr. Sprague, who argues that we must defend the born. He says that pro-lifers should work toward creating a condition in which women have access to the resources they need to raise a child if they find themselves unexpectedly pregnant. I wish to assure him that Choose Life wholeheartedly agrees. That “abortion seems to be the only choice” is truly unacceptable in a society that so highly values the freedom to choose. No woman should ever feel that due to her financial situation she must end the life of her child. Indeed, this is the philosophy of Feminists for Life, a group that challenges pro-life student leaders to put themselves in the shoes of a pregnant or parenting student and try to find the basic resources she would need. Mary Meehan, the speaker that Choose Life hosted in January, expressed her support for its work and provided a list of resources for those in attendance. This list, along with information on other resources for pregnant and parenting students, is available at ssmu.mcgill.ca/chooselife. An essential part of our mandate is to ensure women know that they do have a real choice, and that they can find the assistance they need. We do, however, recognize the necessity of vastly improving the current support system, and are committed to working toward this goal. No matter where you stand on abortion, I urge you to join us in creating a community where abortion is not something any women feels she has to “choose.” Natalie Fohl U2 Biology & Political Science Choose Life President
Apathetic publicity to blame
Re: “No one...campus” | News | January 29 & “Bring tampon... Shatner” | Commentary | January 26 OK, so I read this little ditty in the Daily about the alleged Reclaim Your Campus meeting which “attributed the low turnout...to general student apathy.” Yeah, it’s probably more due to the fact that no one knew it was happening. If “advertising remains minimal,” you probably shouldn’t expect inauguration-type numbers of people to show up. This is totally the kind of thing I would be into attending if I knew about it. In fact, I happen to know a small group of students who are about to embark on a beautiful journey into the world of democratic engagement and activism on campus. So they probably would have gone too, if you had publicized it a little more. Maybe try the bathrooms – without the tampon machines there’s nothing good in there anymore...except maybe the hand dryers in Shatner; those are pretty cool. Incidentally, that article by Sarah Mortimer was the best thing I’ve read in this paper in a long time. Jenna Gogan U1 Sociology
Send your non-offensive letters to email@example.com at 300 words or less, and include your year and program. Please. We like it a lot. (See cover.)
A look into the heteronormative values of public space
The McGill Daily, Thursday, February 5, 2009
Why don’t we do it in the road?
Stephen Davis / The McGill Daily
ey asshole, here’s a good rule of thumb: if you stumble upon two girls doing it in a public space, and you’re not invited, the most appropriate response is to leave. That’s right, get out. It is not: hang around, tell everyone what you just saw, make rude comments, or take pictures. Did your mother teach you nothing? You’d be surprised at how many people don’t get this concept. The first time the lady and I ever hooked up was at a high school party. Some fortunate soul stumbled upon us, and instead of leaving, the response was something along the lines of, “Hey, I’m gonna watch this for a while and then tell everyone at the party that there is lesbian sex going on upstairs so they can come and take a gander.” I’m not sure how many people witnessed the consummation of our relationship, but that bedroom certainly seemed to employ an opendoor policy that night. That night
gave way to two major themes of our coupledom: great sex alongside some non-consensual voyeurism. In the years since that fateful night, I’ve looked up from a street corner make-out session to: cat calling, guys asking if they can join, people telling us “not to stop,” grandmother’s gaping, and – on one particularly memorable occasion – a group of bros in a car videotaping us with their cellphone camera. Real classy, guys. I haven’t exactly compiled the data, but I’m pretty sure this doesn’t happen to straight couples. At least not with the same regularity. While anyone doing their business in public should expect a rude aside or two from passersby, I feel like this kind of spectator sport is reserved for queer public displays of affection – particularly the lesbian kind. After all, guys watching girls kissing is the makings of a really good beer commercial. The whole cultural acceptance of guys thinking lesbians are hot
is a homophobic one. It’s a way for the patriarchy to assert control over something it has no place in: women-only sexuality. By appropriating these displays for men, lesbian sexual expression is once again safely contained in a heterosexual domain. When a guy catcalls my lesbian PDA, he’s inserting himself into my sexual experience. But buddy, this shit ain’t for you, it’s for us. What’s more, such reactions reestablish public space as heteronormative. Physical space is not some weird apolitical twilight zone. It is actually inscribed with cultural values that everything around us – from architecture to design to our moral codes of conduct – serves to reinforce. This could mean something obvious, like the fact that stairs restrict wheelchair users from accessing a building; or it could mean that our normative values code the majority of public space as heterosexual. Of course, this demarcation is invisible. Heterosexuality is generally considered the dominant and naturalized form of sexuality in our culture, which means that it often gets a free pass. Thus, heterosexuality can flit through cafés and parks unscathed. It is only when our friendly heterosexual space is disrupted by a queer act that the heterosexuality of public space becomes apparent. For instance, just last May, a lesbian couple was asked to refrain from kissing at a Seattle Mariner’s
Game because some mother complained that “there were children around.” Honey, those kids are downing corn dogs filled with toxins and who knows what percentage of rat remains, and you’re concerned about some same-sex tongue-on-tongue? Get your priorities straight. What exactly is so harmful about the meeting of sex and public space anyway? Sure there are real dangers to sex – such as STIs or throwing out your back – but there are also real dangers to that “fork in the eye” magic trick where you put a creamer close to your eye and stab it with a fork and then you pretend that you stabbed your eye....yeah, that shit’s weird. Anyway, I digress. Public sex laws, designed to protect unsuspecting citizens from the danger that created them, often specifically target queer sex. Yet, the fact is that queers have a historical alignment with public sex. Before urban gaybourhoods were created, cruising grounds were often situated in public spaces such as cemeteries, parks and, most famously, bathrooms. As recently as 1998, George Michael was arrested for giving the cockeye to a police officer’s private parts in a Beverly Hills bathroom. Sure, straight couples get arrested for having public sex, but I’ve never heard of a guy getting arrested for staring at a girl’s chest. Public sex is queer sex – in every meaning of the word.
Sex, in its conventional definition, is private. Moreover, the gradients of acceptable public displays of affection for straight and queer couples diverge in the fact that queer acts cross over into the realm of exhibitionism much more readily than hetero ones. Exhibitionism is akin to fetishsm, and, in my book, fetishes are covered under that big umbrella term of queerdom. What we’re really saying when we talk about moral decency and public sex, is that we want to maintain public space as heteronormative. It comes own to our culturally ingrained need to keep all these disruptive queer acts of girls kissing girls and George Michael ogling a fellow’s privates away from the public sphere, where they may make passersby question the norms and values written on the space. As such, public sex of any kind should be regarded as a political act. It’s certainly still a dangerous one. In 2005, a lesbian couple kissing on the corner of St. Denis and Mont-Royal were gay bashed in broad daylight. I think it’s time we all answered the Beatles’ age-old question “Why Don’t We Do It In the Road?” by taking our sexuality to the streets in order to redefine public space as a safe one for everyone. Guttural Mind will be back with more mind-blowing norm-bashing next week in the Mind&Body section.
The McGill Daily, Thursday, February 5, 2009
The few, the proud, the drunken
Does fanaticism toward one beer mean it is truly worthy of merit?
All hopped up
n February 9 in the small seaside town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a beer will be placed on tap in the Portsmouth Brewery. It reception will ripple through the sea of beer aficionados across America. Portsmouth Brewery, which only produces about 1,000 barrels of beer annually (for comparison, Boréale’s brewers produce around 60,000), releases this beer so infrequently and in such small quantities that the Internet is buzzing with anticipation of its arrival. Kate the Great, as the beer is called, wasn’t such a hot topic before December 2007, when the readers of BeerAdvocate Magazine rated it the number one beer in America and the number two beer on Planet Earth. The magazine is the periodical of the popular web site beeradvocate. com, which has over 175,000 members, most of whom are self-labelled beer geeks – lovers, defenders, and sometimes, to a fault, crusaders of craft-brewed beer. Such an accolade for Kate the Great created enough hype to give rise to Kate Day, the name given to the not-to-be-missed celebration of its release. Kate, an Imperial Russian stout, named after the Russian Empress Catherine II (an old style which lent the term “Imperial” to the extreme beer movement) connotes a beer more concentrated in flavour, character, and alcohol. These extreme styles of beer are often given very limited releases because their market base is composed of exactly the type of craft drinkers who would make such a big hype. The beer-drinking public is not
typically drawn to such beers. Yet, on Monday afternoon, a line will form around the block at the Portsmouth Brewery, with people travelling from afar to secure one of about 900 bottles. If the most recent Kate Day this past June is an indication, they’ll sell out within 24-hours. The anticipation for Kate the Great is bred at online beer-rating web sites like beeradvocate.com and ratebeer.com. Their member forums overflow with predictions on changes in ranking (currently the stout is number five overall online), the distances travelled to make it to Portsmouth, and even arguments as to the motives of beer geeks. “I am fascinated with the modern beer geek who has to have everything – at any price usually – just because it has been deemed the latest and greatest on the Internet,” writes one member of beeradvocate.com about Kate the Great. The buzz that a high ranking generates appears to be the main draw for many drinkers, who respond to such cynicism with validation – “I want [Kate the Great] because of the hype around it. I haven’t had it yet so I want to try it.” However, others say that it’s as much about the journey as it is about the reward. As much as these beer geeks believe in drinking locally and supporting regional brewers, the thrill of attaining a bottle they have heard much about is a major draw. Whether time and money is expended in trading for these limited-release beers – there is an intricate trade network made possible by these web sites – or great lengths are undergone to acquire the beer at its
source, beer geeks find the search fulfilling. Montreal’s own Dieu du Ciel! brewpub once had its own buzz-worthy beer. Another Imperial stout, Péché Mortel, elicited as much clamouring as Kate the Great – that is, before Dieu opened a large-scale bottling
brewery and saturated the market. At 16th overall on beeradvocate.com, Péché Mortel holds its own, but after seeing it in a beer store on the West Coast, I knew that it was no longer in the same league. It’s hard to say if Kate the Great will follow Péché Mortel’s path. So
long as the Portsmouth Brewery maintains its rarity and there are still beer geeks jonesing for that ultimate Imperial stout, the hype will live on. All Hopped Up appears every other Thursday. All grail-related mail can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The problem with following The Rules
The McGill Daily
n a recent girls’ weekend, a friend of mine handed me what she promised would become my Bible. She entrusted me with a copy of Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider’s The Rules?: Time-Tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right, a bestselling dating guide published in 1995 but still widely circulated among single women. I cracked it open and began to read aloud. What I found within this popular tome truly shocked me: “the basic premise of The Rules: man pursues woman.” This opening revelation was followed by a litany of rules that scandalized every remotely feminist bone
in my body. “Don’t call him back;” “If you are in a long-distance relationship, he must visit you at least three times before you visit him;” “Don’t meet him halfway;” “Don’t ask him out;” “Don’t cut your hair short – men like long hair;” “Don’t leave the house without lipstick;” and so on and so forth. By rule 43 (“Always follow the rules”), I was so incensed that I threw the book across the room. “Why’d you do that?” my friend asked, “you know, this stuff works.” She was confident that by following these rules she’d have a serious boyfriend within the year. The scary thing is that she might be right. The Rules has sold two-million copies worldwide, is translated into 26 languages, and was number one
on the New York Times Best Seller list. People Magazine calls it a “mustread” and Mademoiselle touts it as “empowering.” Even Oprah endorses the thing. As much as the rules are appalling from the get-go, what’s frightening is the idea that they may hold some truth; maybe men are actually attracted to women who don’t call, who let men make all the moves, who are mysterious and play it cool, and who, in short, do absolutely nothing in order to entice or entrap the opposite sex. Though The Rules purports to be about helping women be proactive (“The Rules book can give you control of your dating life,” according to Mademoiselle), these rules are in fact all about passivity and the ways to make yourself seem appealing with-
out actually doing anything. According to The Rules, I shouldn’t talk so much, or be so funny – men don’t like women who are sarcastic. I should leave him wanting more. I shouldn’t have sex on the first date, or the second, or the third. The Rules tells me that men will like me because of “the way you smile (you light up the room), pause in between sentences (you don’t babble on out of nervousness), listen (attentively), look (demurely, never stare), breathe (slowly), stand (straight), and walk (briskly, with your shoulder back).” Really? This model of womanhood sounds eerily like one straight out of the Victorian age: one who never oversteps her place as a sweet domestic ornament. I’ve always thought that we were past the time when a woman’s life
consisted of waiting for a man to roll along and marry her. Yet that style of waiting, albeit attractively and within view of men, is exactly what The Rules seems to be recommending, and, more shockingly, what many men who I’ve spoken with recently on the subject seem to desire. “Guys like to make the first move,” a male friend recently told me. So, for the sake of science, I tried to follow The Rules. I tried to smile sweetly and let men talk over me, let them call me and kiss me. And it was fun for a bit. But, truthfully, I think that these rules of dating are outdated. As a modern woman, every other aspect of my life demands that I be a go-getter and actively pursue what I want. Why should dating be any different?
Sasha Plotnikova / The McGill Daily
A deadly double stan
A 2007 policy change in Harper’s Department of Foreign Affairs has endangered Canadians facing capital punishment abroad
The Link (CUP)
t’s not the circumstances of Ronald Allen Smith’s crimes or trial that make his case noteworthy. A native of Red Deer, Alberta, Smith killed two men who stopped to pick him up while he was hitchhiking through Montana in 1982. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death for his crimes. Nor does Smith’s sentence make him unique. Since 1980, 1,136 people have been executed in the United States. The death row population today is more than triple what it was in 1982. Smith’s case stands out from others because it represents the first time the Canadian government did not seek clemency for one of its citizens condemned to death on foreign soil since the practice was instated in 1976. Until 2007, the government would automatically advocate on behalf of Canadians sentenced to die abroad. In late October of that year, the Conservative government’s Department of Foreign Affairs changed the policy, stating it would no longer seek clemency for Canadians on death row in democratic countries where they could expect a fair trial – neglecting to specify what qualified as a “democratic country” beyond the U.S. The decision to request clemency is now decided on a case-by-case basis. Prime Minister Stephen Harper stated that on the basis of his government’s strong initiatives to tackle violent crime, seeking clemency on behalf of acknowledged murderers would “send the wrong message to the Canadian population.” The following month, the Conservatives announced they would not be co-sponsoring a United Nations resolution calling for an international moratorium on the death penalty, even though Canada has consistently sponsored similar resolutions every year between 1998 and 2005. Conservative spokesperson Catherine Gagnaire explained to the Associated Press that her government believed the resolution had adequate support already, and Canada would not vote against it when it came before the General Assembly. Harper has said that his government is not interested in resurrecting the
debate to reinstate the death penalty in Canada – that these decisions are just a reflection of his government’s tougher stance on crime. Amnesty International has argued that decisions such as these represent a regression in Canada’s ongoing struggle to promote human rights. They fear the introduction of grey areas in Canada’s stance on capital punishment could endanger Canadian lives.
he struggle to abolish the death penalty in Canada spanned over 60 years. Robert Bickerdike introduced the first abolitionist bill in Canada in 1914, arguing that capital punishment was essentially state murder, a blot on Christianity, an ineffective deterrent to crime, and a brutal and unnecessary punishment. While Bickerdike’s argument failed to compel his contemporaries and a motion for adjournment quickly defeated the bill, he remained a lone voice of dissent in Parliament, stubbornly refusing to accept defeat. He tried to get his bill passed for three more years, and never succeeded. Despite rejecting an all-out ban on capital punishment, the Canadian government did begin to limit offences punishable by death, striking rape from the list of capital offences in 1954. Following this move, pressure against the death penalty increased in government. For almost a decade, every session of Parliament included an abolition bill. This resulted in the first major debate about the death penalty in 1966. The debate was lengthy, emotional, and resulted in capital punishment being limited to murder, the killing of officers of the peace, and certain stipulations under the National Defence Act. On July 14, 1976, after a 98-hour debate, and despite death threats against abolitionist members of Parliament, MPs voted to abolish capital punishment from the Canadian Criminal Code, retaining it only for the extreme cases of mutiny or treason – charges that had never been pressed against a Canadian. The last vestiges of capital punishment were erased from Canadian legislation on December 10, 1998, when the remaining passages making reference to capital punishment were removed from the National Defence Act. Only once in the gradual
erasure of the death penalty in Canada has the possibility of reversal presented itself. In 1987, under the leadership of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, the Progressive Conservatives tried to hold a free vote for the reinstatement of capital punishment. The bill was rejected. Many feared that the loss of the ultimate punishment would unleash crime and destruction upon the Canadian public. Contrary to predictions, the homicide rate did not increase after 1976. According to statistics compiled by Amnesty International, the homicide rate in Canada began to fall for the next 20 years, reaching an all-time low of 1.9 homicides per 100,000 people in 1998. Yet, the homicide conviction rate nearly doubled in the decade after abolition, possibly, according to some, because Canadians were more willing to convict individuals when they weren’t required to decide between life and death.
he international community has been moving toward death sentence abolition since the mid-1940s. In December 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which detailed the rights and freedoms of individuals (including the “right to life”), was adopted and ratified. Since the declaration, 118 UN-member states have abolished the death penalty; only 78 countries and territories still retain it. The initial declaration has sparked numerous additional declarations, covenants, conventions, and optional protocols to encourage the elimination of the death penalty. Adopting numerous resolutions to abolish the death sentence internationally and still refusing to extradite people who will be facing the death penalty upon return, Canada has always been a solid backer during the international push for abolition. n the surface, the changes made in 2007 seem minor. Harper has assured Canadians that the death penalty is no closer to being reinstated in Canada than it ever was. But there may be serious ramifications for our non-interference in international cases. After the Conservatives’ decision not to advocate on behalf of Ronald Smith, Irwin Cotler, a McGill professor, ex-minister of justice, and international human rights
1914 Robert Bickerdike introduces the first abolitionist bill in Canada. The bill is defeated for four consecutive years.
1954 As part of a slow move toward death penalty abolition, rape is removed from the list of crimes punishable by death in Canada.
The McGill Daily, Thursday, February 5, 2009
lawyer, spoke out to the media.“Why would we now refuse to intervene to protect a Canadian citizen sentenced to death in an American state, thereby effectively reinstating capital punishment for Canadians?” he asked in an interview with the Associated Press. Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, heaped criticism on the decision about Smith, telling the CBC that Canada was adopting a role as an “active bystander,” and pointing out the international effects that the decision would have on Canada’s reputation as an upholder of human rights. Dan McTeague, one-time secretary to the minister of foreign affairs and an influential player in William Sampson’s release in 2003, who faced beheading in Saudi Arabia after being accused of planting a bomb under a car, openly criticized the double standard set up by the Conservatives. “Foreign policy is always a mirror of our domestic values,” he told the Associated Press. Critics see the contradiction exposed by McTeague as the sticking point. It’s not weak to have tough standards for Canadian criminals while still protecting them from punishment abroad that is deemed too inhumane and abhorrent to be practiced in Canada. It is, however, inconsistent to condemn a practice on ethical and legal grounds at home, but condone it when another nation perpetrates it. The ambiguity of the term “democratic country” itself could pose a threat to Canadians whose lives hang in the balance. Where historically, Canadian intervention in another nation’s decision to use the death penalty was standard, it has now become a judgment of that nation’s commitment to democracy or the state of their legal system. Conservative MP Stockwell Day asked the media: “[Why] intervene to bring murderers who have received due process in democratic countries back to Canada?” But as Lorne Waldman, a member of legal team for Maher Arar – a Canadian imprisoned in the U.S. Guantanamo Bay – pointed out after the Smith affair: “You don’t create policy based upon one individual case. [The death penalty is] either acceptable in all cases or it’s not acceptable. And if we reject it, we reject it for everyone, even the most difficult cases.”
1976 After a 98-hour debate, Parliament votes to abolish capital punishment from the Canadian Criminal Code.
1987 Brian Mulroney’s Progressive Conservatives attempt to reinstate the death penalty with a free vote. The bill is defeated.
1998 Passages citing the death penalty in the National Defence Act are eliminated, completely erasing capital punishment from legislature.
2010 2007 The Department of Foreign Affairs, under Stephen Harper, states that it will no longer seek clemency for Canadians facing the death penalty in so-called “democratic countries.”
1976 The government adopts a policy to automatically seek clemency for Canadians sentenced to death abroad.
Aquil Virani / The McGill Daily
Through destruction, reform
The Shockwave and its purgative effects
The McGill Daily, Thursday, February 5, 2009
think it’s natural for people to feel an aversion to destruction and destructive forces. Let us consider the shock wave: a sudden and extreme increase in the temperature and pressure of a medium most often due to an explosion, or of an object travelling faster than the speed of sound. What’s more, the intense heat and pressure that accompanies the shock wave can feed exothermic chemical reactions between the highly reactive materials in the vicinity of the shock wave. Such chemical reactions, in turn, create a detonation wave, additional explosions that drive the shock wave further. The fear of explosives and of their subsequent effects is an understandable fear, fuelled by the natural inclination toward survival and a century or so of modern warfare. Mechanical Engineering professor Evgeny Timofeev, who specializes in high-speed flows and shock waves at McGill University, explained that a force as destructive as a shock wave can be used constructively. Shock waves can act to clean microscopic electronic equipment by blowing out the accumulated dust that can harm its inner-workings. Shock waves also hold increasing potential for the
field of Medicine. They can be used to destroy gall stones, and localized shock waves created by a small laser can even be sent through arteries to break up blood clots, thus preventing strokes. Talking with him, I began thinking about blockages in their many forms, both physical and psychological, both literal and figurative, that I experience quite often. And I began thinking that perhaps a little destruction is good thing, although it might temporarily leave a zone of intense pressure and heat, and a chain of unpleasant chemical reactions in its wake. Modernist poet, Mina Loy would have agreed. Although she may have had fascist affiliations, she was also a passionate feminist, believing that the only route to freedom of thought and an independent identity for women required blowing-up traditional ideas of womanhood and relationships. In her Feminist Manifesto, she expressed such an idea: “lies of centuries have got to go.... There is no half-measure – NO scratching on the surface of the rubbish heap of tradition, will bring about Reform, the only method is Absolute Demolition.”
Stephen Davis / The McGill Daily
Mechanical Engineering professor Evgeny Timofeev explains the benefits of destructive shock waves.
Her ideas were radical, but not unsound. And as clots need to be destroyed by the shock wave to let the blood flow freely through the artery, so sometimes do old ideas need to be destroyed, blown out of corners, to let the new ones flow freely into our consciousness. Rosie’s column appears every other Thursday. Send your blown-up bras to email@example.com.
The XYZs of the economic crisis
Part II of The Daily’s guide to absurd financial realities
arrest in his $7-million home. I’m told that devouring a baby would net him three months in a minimum security prison. N is for Naked Position – When you go naked, you take a position. For instance, owning 500 shares of General Motors that isn’t protected from loss or hedged. It’s a fairly common practice. When an institution like AIG insurance goes naked, it loses about $100-billion. Believe it or not, I did not just put this here to make a cheap sex joke. O is for Overnight Rate – Whenever you hear or read something about interest rates being lowered or raised, it’s referring to this – the rate at which commercial banks can borrow money from the central bank. P is for Pieces of Paper with No
is for Lehman Brothers – Think of this as the story, “The Little Engine that Could.” Only in this case, instead of the engine completing the seemingly impossible task of dragging a large shipment over treacherous terrain, it accumulated a total debt of $700-billion and nearly destroyed the economy. I think I can, I think I can! M is for Madoff – As in Bernard Madoff, a modern-day Charles Dickens villain, who through a giant pyramid scheme stole over $50-billion from his clients. Some of his clients include big-time Hollywood directors, multinational banks, universities, and charities. While awaiting trial, he was sentenced to house
Intrinsic Value – According to the critics of the economic bailouts, this is something produced by the institutions we have bailed out. According to me, this perfectly describes a university degree. So that being said, where the fuck is my bailout? Q – How many words in the English language begin with “Q?” R is for Real Estate – “Also a synonym for risk-free investment because of the relative safety and stability of real estate. Real estate investments rarely fall making them the best place to put your money.” – A dream I had last night where I was speaking to a financial advisor from 2003. S is for Stimulus Package – A large sum of money invested by the government in things such as public works projects and job creation initia-
tives. A stimulus package is like taking a mixture of drugs that may give you an amazing high, but if mixed improperly might do nothing, cause a bad trip, or kill you. Let’s hope the Obama Speedball, err $819-billion stimulus package, doesn’t kill us. T is for Too Big to Fail Policy – There are certain things in this economy that depend on the existence of a few large firms. Problem is, which firms make up that list? A more apt analogy perhaps would be like deciding which member of a pretentious indie rock band to eliminate without compromising their indie cred. The monotone lead singer, the weird chick in the back who does nothing but clap, the triangle player with the asymmetric haircut, or the bassist who’s always wearing shirts that make reference to early nineties pop
culture? The rest of the letters don’t have words or terms I can use, so I’ll end it off with a thought. We are now living in a world where the various governments of the world have spent $10-trillion on bailouts to rescue their respective financial sectors because it’s too big to fail after years of telling us that they’re isn’t enough money for education, health care, or the environment. Instead of placing blame or trying to argue who should get how much, maybe the question we should be asking is should anything be allowed to become “too large to fail” in the first place. Duong Pham is a U3 Economics student. Send him your alphabetic solutions at firstname.lastname@example.org. ca.
The McGill Daily, Thursday, February 5, 2009
Scorned by my journalistic sisters
A search for career advice results in help from male friends
myself until I read the third response from one of the women. She wrote that it wasn’t all free hockey tickets and good-looking athletes. On the bright side, she noted, if I was hot, I could always go into sports broadcasting. Capping off the patronising email, I was horrified to find a “lol.” Why not shoot an emoticon through my very heart and soul? It was not so much the use of the expression but its context. I was hoping for serious answers and her reply was discouraging. She criticized the broadness of my questions and when I sent another, more specific email, I received no reply. Thus far, the two other women that I contacted have yet to answer. Here’s to inspiring a future generation and gender solidarity. Is it possible that brilliant women in their fields avoid helping fellow women? I cannot imagine why the prospect of being my Yoda does not entice these women to help out a young Skywalker such as myself. Why wouldn’t they want to help change the face of their profession? Perhaps my interest is a threat, but it seems ridiculous that the prospect of a young woman with a modicum of sports knowledge could strike fear in the hearts of established women with successful careers. And could it be that this happens in all professional fields? All I was looking for was a little hope in email form. It is absurd that the male Baby-Boomer-aged journalists were more willing to help out than the thirty-something women. Also, I sent these emails from my McGill email address, not something silly like email@example.com. I am concerned about my findings; women should be sticking out for each other, regardless of age, profession, or looks. We should spend more time helping each other. So I must go down this path pseudoalone, without the guidance of my journalistic sisters. However, if this crazy pipe-dream does take me anywhere, let this article decree that if a future inquisitive young’un sends me an email, I will most definitely help a gal out, without the “lol.” Kelly Albert is a U3 English Literature student. Contact her at kelly-marie. firstname.lastname@example.org, especially if you’re a female sports writer.
Evan Newton / The McGill Daily
Raising a finger to both sides of the fence
y brother was in southeast Jerusalem when an elderly mother yelled from her window, in Hebrew, “This isn’t a place for you; you should leave.” He’d been there a thousand times before and so he paid her no mind. Soon after, a group of kids began crowding around his car, laughing, making it impossible to open the door without them getting in. After getting handfuls of pebbles chucked at him, he finally managed to get inside the car, but was trapped since they continued to surround it. He didn’t dare move the car because if a single one of those kids even so much as skinned a knee and started crying, they wouldn’t be kids anymore. They would be adults – adults with guns and rocks and a cause larger than them – and my brother is just a short brown kid from the wrong side of the West Bank. He finally got out, locked the car, and pleaded with them to let him get home to his family in peace. It has been about four years since my last visit to Israel, but I still remember riding my bicycle through that neighbourhood and buying fresh laffa at the bakery. I remember going there with a fella’ just like fifties American sophomores going to the drive-in. I remember people play-
ing backgammon on the street and drinking tea brimming with mint leaves and copious amounts of sugar that precipitated out at the bottom of the glasses. Most of all, I remember feeling safe, and as soon as I heard this story I felt like I came face-to-face with the Intifada for the first time. You see the wall, and you see the security, but you just don’t get the visceral feeling of being in danger until you experience something like my brother did. Those children didn’t see my brother as a person, and as a result of his story, I have a mistrust of the area’s residents, a sense of hurt about our predicament, and a feeling that I am no longer safe. This isn’t because the news tells me so, or the army shows me so, but because I’ve seen the real casualties of war. It is not lives lost, but the children who are growing up, being taught that there are two kinds of people – us and them. To all of those people spouting on about Palestinian and Israeli conflicts like experts with solutions, beginning criticisms with, “If it were up to me,” and sharing opinions based on books that get published faster than one can physically write them or reports from journalists in bulletproof vests with perfect command of twelve languages; to all of you who think for a moment there is right and there is wrong and that the hands of one are bloodier than the next or that cause and effect can be defined
and acted on, I have something to say: While over the years I have sat silently through what feels like eons’ worth of armchair diatribes and PoliSci studies activism, I am hereby registering my middle finger to the rhetoric on all sides of the fence retro- and proactively. The true casualties of war are not necessarily those people killed in traffic by some nut-job with a tractor, or those open-sewer-dwelling folks bombed in Gaza. The real damage is that done by the propaganda and the hate, and the fact that each child born into the ideology that we expound represents 80 more years of burden that the rest of us peace and freedom-loving folks must shoulder. On these terms, each child is a sprout in a fertile ground that will one day be a forest of nettles through which traverse will be impossible and freedom will be stopped cold in its ambling and self-righteous tracks. I hope that one day we can all forgive each other and ourselves for what is ultimately the persistence of myopic vision. It is not some deep understanding of the circumstance and history that will bring peace, but rather an appreciation of how little we can know and how utterly naive we have sounded thus far. Elinor Keshet is a U2 Cultural Studies student, and can be reached at eli. email@example.com.
he prospect of graduating in May has led me to a self-examination crisis. I like sports and writing: why not sports journalism? So crazy it just might work. I am fascinated that sports connect both local and international communities. Especially in Montreal, where la ville est hockey. Montreal has a large community of sports journalists, many of whom are female. These women probably also wondered once about the obstacles of working in a male-dominated field. They ought to remember their own hardships and have advice about what to expect. Of course they would share their experience with a brighteyed young woman to whom they could pass the torch. Or not, as I soon found out. I took a shot in the dark. I emailed four prominent Montreal-based sports journalists, two male and two female. The emails were polite and inquisitive. I asked broad questions, hoping for whatever answers I could get. I asked about their experience and the volatility of the profession. Sports journalism is a field predominantly occupied by men; as a woman, I framed my queries realistically. I wanted to know what adversities I could expect and whether credibility was an issue. Within the hour, my inbox had three replies. The two male journalists offered to meet to discuss the finer details of sports journalism. Neither believed that credibility would be an issue if I worked to always be at the top of my game. One even provided better email addresses for one of the women that I had already contacted and another female sports journalist. My chutzpah paid off! I was feeling pretty good about
We can write if we want to, we can leave your friends behind, ‘cuz your friends don’t write, and if they don’t write, well they’re no friends of mine.
Make friends with The Daily! Write a Hyde Park. firstname.lastname@example.org.
The McGill Daily, Thursday, February 5, 2009
Extreme makeover: greening the PM
tephen Harper needs a makeover, fast. Since last October’s federal election, things have been going from bad to worse for our Prime Minister. His public image needs to change, or he risks being kicked out of 24 Sussex Drive for good. From the fall budget update, to the prorogation of Parliament in December, the appointment of a convincing opposition leader, and now the awkward unveiling of an essentially Liberal budget, Harper has found himself in a precarious situation that few would have imagined possible last October. Although it might seem artificial and somewhat unorthodox, Harper’s greatest chance at reinventing himself could be by taking a page out of Stéphane Dion’s “Green Shift.” With Dion’s exit as Liberal leader last December, the award for most environmentally conscious prime ministerial candidate is now up for grabs. Not that being green pays electorally. Indeed, Dion’s very poor showing last election can be explained in part by the Canadian electorate’s lack of commitment to environmental causes. We would rather vote for a candidate who exudes confidence, leadership skills, and delivers on the basics like the economy and health care. Sadly, the environment still ranks below the personality of our political leaders. This is exactly where Stephen Harper has the greatest deficiency. When it comes to lacking personality, he pretty much takes the cake. And this is where the environment comes in: Hollywood stars can all attest to the fact that there is nothing that can gain public sympathy like going green. Harper’s popularity levels could greatly benefit from the construction of a couple of high
Mike Rakowski for The McGill Daily
-speed trains, the slowing of development, and the imposition of cleaner extraction procedures on the Alberta tar sands, or even by simply befriending Al Gore. What’s most important is that he comes off looking human. More than ever, the leader of the Conservative party gives the impression of being an ideologue who cannot be trusted at the head of a majority government. Harper’s obvious misgivings about providing a significant stimulus package to ward off a possible depression has only
contributed to this negative perception. Fortunately for him, conservatives of all stripes – such as David Cameron of the British Conservative party and Brian Mulroney, believed to be Canada’s greenest PM ever – have become some of the greatest advocates for environmental causes. In fact, the environment provides Harper the perfect opportunity to reach out to a majority of the population without alienating his Reformist/Alliance supporters. What’s left to be seen is whether
our federal government will adopt responsible environmental policies in an effort to appease international eco-critics, or whether Conservatives will have to be forced down that ecopath by the Obama administration. The possibility to provide popular leadership is too great for Harper to pass on. That being said, one should not expect Harper to undergo the green makeover any time soon, despite its limited risks and obvious political benefits. By positioning environmen-
tal interests as inherently contradictory to economic ones in the last federal election, he has made any reconciliation with the former highly unlikely. This is unfortunate from an environmental standpoint, but also represents a lost opportunity for Harper, one that may be sorely missed in the upcoming months.
David Searle is a U1 History student. Send green tips to david.searle@ mail.mcgill.ca.
Budget recklessly neglects foreign aid
n some ways, the budget process was heartening; the threat of a coalition forced the Conservatives to deliver a centrist budget, which – though woefully inadequate – is a step in the right direction. Sure, I’d like to see a united majority coalition with a backbone, instead of a Liberal spine snapped in half like a broken reed. As a student of the “what the hell have we gotten ourselves into” environmental school, it’s nice to see that the popular press and the two opposition parties with balls – the NDP and the Bloc – have pointed out that
a budget which refuses to address the medium-term environmental crisis is simply unacceptable. Ditto for the many issues of social justice exacerbated by pretty much everyone having less purchasing power. However, the above indignation lies firmly in the “bitch with my friends between classes” category. There is another omission from the budget which lies firmly in the “reading this makes me so pissed off I just have to post it to Facebook, and angst over whether my friends share the same sense of white-hot rage” category. The price of nutritional staples is going up all over the world. For most students, it means that food prices are
increasing faster than inflation, leaving a feeling of being ripped-off at the grocery store. For some Canadians, it means trips to the food bank become the only option. If you’re one of seven million people surviving on World Food Program aid in Zimbabwe, it means that your ration is about to be cut in half. It means that your already inadequate 10-kg per month supply – still below the recommended minimum of 12 kg per month – is getting cut in half to about 600 calories per day. All this, while the average North American eats about 3,000 calories per day. Of course, the Zimbabwean dilemma is just one of the most egregious and visible examples.
So when Gilles Duceppe sends me a brochure about “le coup” of Parliament and Jack Layton harps on about how the most vulnerable aren’t receiving a huge boost in employment insurance, I agree – but I’m not burning with indignation. If our politicians really want a shining image of caring for their fellow man, why don’t they bring up the fact that we, as Canadians, have a duty not just to out-of-work Ontario auto workers and laid-off Quebec forestry workers? This is, after all, the same government which promised to devote 0.7 per cent of its budget to foreign aid. Last year, it also promised to double aid to Africa by 2008-2009 and to
double total international assistance by 2010-2011. Why aren’t Jack, Gilles, and Iggy pointing out that the 2009 budget doesn’t make any reference to foreign aid? Looking south of the border, we see a country in far worse economic straits than we, but one that is still excited to renew its engagement with the world. Here, the government, opposition, and the fifth estate apparently don’t realize that Canada once did pride itself on being an international leader. Kyle Bailey is a U3 Environment student, who like to hear from you at email@example.com.
The McGill Daily, Thursday, February 5, 2009
An economic boycott of Israel?
Debate over the Middle East has filled these pages since the Israeli offensive in Gaza began over a month ago. Below, two students debate the roots and utility of an economic boycott of Israel.
The world’s lacklustre response to a humanitarian crisis
hat happened recently in Gaza? Since this is well-tilled soil, I will deal with two pressing issues in its aftermath: the humanitarian response, or lack thereof, and an important talking point in the media post-Gaza offensive, the Hamas Charter. The current thrust of European “diplomacy,” post-Gaza offensive, is focused on weapon smuggling to Hamas. While some weapons could have been leaked through the tunnels between Gaza and Egypt, the tunnels were primarily used to stave off the imminent starvation of a captive population – which has endured three years of international sanctions for exercising its democratic right to vote for Hamas – and to deliver basic supplies, such as oil. A people must survive somehow, and they will find ways of doing so. Last year, the UN deemed the tunnels a “vital economic lifeline.” The mainstream media’s current attempts to reduce the tunnels to weapon conduits is at odds with the facts of the situation, and contributes to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Rather than applaud the bombing of the tunnels as a key plank in the reduction of Hamas’s retaliatory capacity, it should be acknowledged for what it was – the garroting of the people of Gaza, cutting off the last tiny air pocket in the depths of the sea of misery created and approved of by the international community. Normally, the global community is expected to band together after the dust has settled to impartially tend to the wounded civilians, the homeless, and the hungry on both sides of any given conflict. But the BBC has just recently refused to air a Gaza humanitarian aid appeal because it fears compromising its impartiality. And France, led by Nicolas Sarkozy – the onetime European Union’s Prince Charming – has directed a French frigate into the waters off Gaza, not to deliver food aid, but to prevent weapon smuggling from Iran to Hamas. Has anyone taken note of the death toll, which stands at approximately 1,300 Palestinians to 13 Israelis? Has anyone taken note that it is more logical to demand an end to U.S. shipments of arms to Israel, in violation of its own laws which prohibit the use of these weapons against civilians? Or the imminent starvation of the Gazans? Justice is so far removed from the international community’s response, it’s incredible that we remember what it looks like. Second, the Hamas Charter. The argument is that Hamas is inherently a terrorist organization, given its Charter’s express goal of eliminating the State of Israel. Let us examine this Charter. “Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors.” Pretty dire material.
Five things to ignore before boycotting Israel
But what about the Israeli constitution? A State for Jews – “Every Jew has the right to come to this country as an oleh.” The 1950 Law of Return states that dead people of Jewish heritage are granted the right to return, but livingPalestinian refugees are not – this is equally problematic. And let’s not forget that Canada’s Constitution defines the Queen as the Head of State. People seem to be completely incapable of considering the diplomatic realities of the here-and-now, and are focused on Hamas’s Charter as though it were white phosphorus: burning to the touch, and solely responsible for placing Hamas into the category of terrorist organization. Unless people have been getting paper cuts on copies of Hamas’s Charter lately, it escapes me how this document has been harming Israel of late. It was Israel that broke the ceasefire which led to the tragic Gaza offensive. On November 4, 2008, Israel attacked Gaza and killed six Hamas fighters. This was reported widely, in the Guardian newspaper and even, albeit reluctantly, by CNN. Hamas has extended the olive branch to Israel, and is willing to consider a two-state solution. And I am searching the horizon desperately for any glimpse of a strong Palestine, member-state of the United Nations, with a strong, happy, un-oppressed populace. Israel has made it its aim to prevent the establishment of Palestine, and has actually implemented this aim. Now who’s the terrorist? And finally, it seems a little rich to me that the incendiary language of an oppressed people is used to paint their movement as a movement of terrorists. As someone from Africa, during the liberation struggles of the sixties, very incendiary language was used against the oppressors. This isn’t the point. Stop the oppression. Then it may make more sense to expect polite conversation. But I am pragmatist at heart – I am in favour of a two-state solution, which will only be achieved by taking the wind out of the belligerence and oppression of the Israeli Government. That is why I am in favour of a boycott of Israel. Not Israeli people, or academics – I believe in free speech, and such a boycott would be unfair. But I am in favour of a blanket boycott of all Israeli goods and economic dealings. It is high time to force Israel back into the fold of international law, order, and justice, and even to welcome it back as a positive member of the world community alongside a hard-won new Palestine.
o you want to advocate for an economic boycott of Israel? I’m not going to try to convince you otherwise, but I would like to prepare you for the obstacles you’re bound to face. They will be nagging, but pay them no heed and they’ll often disappear. In particular, there are five things you must ignore, or you risk derailing your entire mission. 1. Ignore the fact that your proposal has no moral legitimacy. This one will be tough, but the results are worth it. Your adversaries may point out to you that, since one of the primary concerns of those in favour of a boycott has been the economic blockade of Gaza, it is hypocritical to advocate economically crippling Israel. They may further insist that since you don’t advocate boycotts against states with more dire humanitarian situations, such as Sudan or Sri Lanka, you’re applying an unfair double standard to Israel’s actions. They may conclude that because of these things you do not have a leg to stand on. Just tell them they’re racist and read the wrong media, and that leg will grow back faster than Pinocchio’s nose. 2. Ignore the fact that this boycott is completely unnecessary. You don’t need to convince me that the only reason people defend Israel’s existence is because they’re brainwashed victims of the conspiracy between CNN, George Bush, and the Elders of Zion. But some people may not be totally sold on this. They may dig into their propaganda archives and point out that Israel is not the only aggressor in the region – that since 1948 Israel has faced armed invasion, plane hijackings, suicide bombings, and rockets. They may methodically recite to you the dominant ideological message that Israel is not even solely responsible for the suffering of Palestinians – Jordan and Egypt have killed Palestinians, Hamas has used civilian facilities for military operations, and Fatah and Hamas killed over 100 people in their 2007 battle. Once they tell you that a boycott is therefore totally mis-targeting the incredibly complex origins of the Middle East conflict, turn up your satellite feed of Al-Aqsa TV really loud and drown them out. 3. Ignore the fact that even if there was a necessity, an economic boycott would fail to address it. We both know that the people directly responsible for making Israel’s primary exports – including jewelry, textiles, and electronic, communication, medical, and scientific equipment – are similarly responsible for setting Israeli government policy.
And by further impoverishing poor labourers and by pushing into new poverty whitecollar workers, the only possible outcome is increased tolerance and amicability. When someone points out that this doesn’t make any sense, start reading Green Eggs and Ham loudly and ask them if they would not also rise up if they had to eat their green eggs and ham in a box. 4. Ignore the fact that even if a boycott did address the issue in theory, in practice it would not. For this step, just remember that South Africa is the only country that has ever existed. When naysayers point out how sanctions in Iraq failed to stop Saddam Hussein, or how sanctions against Cuba left Fidel Castro thriving and in fact just pushed him closer to the U.S.S.R., or how sanctions against North Korea have not stalled Kim Jong Il’s nuclear program, yell “But South Africa!” and walk away. 5. Ignore the negative consequences that could stem from a boycott. Remember, our society is not at all reliant on electronic communication devices, computers, or medical technology, and we don’t need to buy these things. When people remind you that the Stone Age sucked, just give them some popcorn, turn on The Flintstones, and walk your car home. Once you master these five simple things, you’ll be well on your way to effective demagoguery. Soon you will be able to spread your message far and wide. Or, you know, you could not.
Mookie Kideckel is a U1 History student. Send pleasant ideological suggestions to mookie. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Idil Issa is a U3 Philosophy and Political Science student. He can be reached at idilissa@gmail. com.
Murder most foul at Tuesday Night Café Theatre
The McGill Daily maintain for two hours, but the cast pulled it off successfully: of all the laughs, only one felt guilty, and for all the dramatic lines, not a single one felt forced. Deserving much of the credit, of course, is the playwright. John Logan’s extensive examination of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb – two brilliant young men, whose twisted, passionate love affair compelled them to murder – consistently refuses the path of least resistance towards condemnation. The play would prefer to understand the two killers. That it does so at such a fluid pace – cycling through 27 scenes in the span of two hours – is a remarkable achievement. And there to give that achievement justice was Stephanie Shum’s direction, underpinned by Andrew Robert Martin’s (Leopold) and Peter Farrell’s (Loeb) striking interpretations of the two central characters. Sharing the stage throughout most of the play, the two actors displayed an exceptional chemistry, ably conveying the symbiotic relationship that united the killers. In particular, praise to Farrell for skilfully skirting the overacting that Loeb’s extroversion – not to mention mood swings – sometimes prescribed. Robert Martin’s introverted Leopold, meanwhile, stood as the play’s strongest display of subtlety, making such bashful expressions as to make me wonder what his parents were like (I assume very nice). Adding to their chemistry was Julien Naggar – succeeding against all expectations in portraying a 67-yearold Matlock figure – as well as Kyle Foot, who played the prosecution straight: bloodthirsty and righteous. And just as praiseworthy were Kate Sketchley, Rachael Benjamin, and
The McGill Daily, Thursday, February 5, 2009
I could hate the sin, but never the theatre
f you haven’t yet caught wind of TNC Theatre’s latest production, John Logan’s Never The Sinner, chances are you’re either dead, in a hermitage, or like the rest of us. And that’s a shame, because what these stalwart theatre kids have put together is a most captivating foray into the minds of two amoral young killers, thoroughly worth our time. Now, if only it could find an audience. Not that the cast and crew haven’t been trying; in fact, they’ve been pulling out all the stops. But it’s an obvious struggle: how to get college students excited about nudity-free theatre – the cultural equivalent of non-alcoholic beer? Common sense suggests staging a high-profile public execution, but they’ve settled for the next best thing: a press stunt. Indeed, the past two Wednesdays saw the cast, dressed in full 1920s regalia, attract student attention by enacting a fictive scene from the Leopold and Loeb trial, the historical event that Never The Sinner draws its story from. Though the happenings were poorly attended – some blame the cold, others our collective disdain for culture – the actors frankly expected as much, conducting the stunts primarily for their own amusement, and in hopes that it might give rise to some word-of-mouth action. Be that as it may, the scene’s amusing era throwbacks (dopey haircuts, beige suits, the use of a notepad) and strident dramatics served as an excellent entrée to the main attraction, whose darker tones are offset by its endearing 1920s flair. That balance – between entertainment and art – is a hard one to strike, let alone
Arts steps turn into the mise-en-scène for 1920s murder tale Never the Sinner.
François Macdonald, who each inhabited a whole panoply of stock characters with rare ease and fluidity. But strong as the performances were, Never The Sinner achieved much of its success through its meticulous mise-en-scène, which firmly kept its audience absorbed by the play’s inquiries into human psychology. The lighting, elegantly handled, could alter the stage at a moment’s notice, turning the courthouse setarrangements from a jail to a car – or anything else the script required. Meanwhile, actors would quietly slip from one scene to another, flashing back and forth through time, without losing sight of their roles or failing to keep our attention. But not everything was perfect. Risks were taken with the seating arrangements, which divided the audience along both sides of the theatre – probably so as to overcome spatial constraints. Though it gave the players more room to move, and effectively created two focal points along the stage, it also offered both halves of the audience the chance to stare right at each other. I would recommend our most attractive readers to cover themselves up prior to
Stephen Davis / The McGill Daily
attending, as they run the risk of distracting the opposite sex for the entire duration of the play. Still, considering the strength of the performances and the engrossing quality of the production, it’s an issue that most will look past, and some may not even notice. Truth is, you’ll probably all be too busy questioning the moral character of the two killers, and the twisted Nietzschean ethics they weakly embody. It’s a consuming concern, one that holds the play together and – most importantly – ensures that the viewers will have a memorable time.
What your momma never told you
Montreal’s biggest sex trade show aims to celebrate the nasty-nasty
Culture Writer and running for three days, the show is now in its 15th year. It is the longest-running adult consumer and trade show in Montreal, and is as eccentric, exciting, and electrifying as ever. The show offers a plethora of stimulating sexperiments combined with a healthy dose of education. “Salon de l’amour et de la séduction offers a unique blend of entertainment, education, and shopping that you can’t get anywhere else,” says Michael Singer, the show’s manager. “It’s a whole package, and for $15 you’re getting a great experience – fashion show, toys, and a seminar all in one day.” A variety of seminars, offered in both English and French, cover such hushed topics as “the truths and lies of anal sex.” From information on the taboo realms of bondage, domination, and sadomasochism, to the ever-popular we-vibe (you’ll have to attend to find out how it works), this show exposes that which is often discussed in hushed voices – if at all. The show provides an open space where individuals can contemplate their sexuality and new forms of sexual expression without fear of judgment. Singer highlights the show’s open and accepting atmosphere, explaining, “a lot of people are nervous and shy about asking questions. 20,000 people sharing the same experience makes people feel more comfortable with their sexuality.” Though the show may not revolutionize society’s attitudes toward sex, it begins to renegotiate and challenge the ways in which sexuality is understood, controlled, and repressed. Contrary to the mainstream view that equates sexual openness with pornography and pathology, this show promotes the notion that sexuality should be embraced, developed, and celebrated. Salon de l’amour et de la séduction encourages the exploration of intimacy and helps sexual partners establish connections with each other in sensually fulfilling ways. “Once people come to the show and realize what is done, people are excited,” Singer adds. “No one is born a perfect lover. Sitting in on seminars like this gives people a chance to be in a comfortable space.” The taboos that pervade the subject of sex are deeply rooted, and for some, the cloak of secrecy cannot be easily removed. But the show’s organizers take this into consideration. If you’re preoccupied by fears of sexual activity, swathed in guilt from parental or societal voices, or simply looking to enjoy an open, casual, sexy event, the Salon de l’amour et de la séduction show will satisfy your curiosity and open new avenues to sexual health, romance, and intimacy. Salon de l’amour et de la séduction runs from February 6-8 at the Olympic Stadium. Admission is $15 for each day, and attendance is restricted to those 18 years and older. For more information, visit amouretseduction.com.
n the midst of our long, cold, and dreary winter, there is a place of warmth – or perhaps to be more accurate, heat. This is a place where choosing the right vibrator is as important as selecting the perfect smartphone, and where discussing anal sex is no less common than talking of yesterday’s weather. It’s a world that is real, yet rarely explored. Starting February 6, Salon de l’amour et de la séduction creates a safe and erotic space in which you can unearth the world of sexuality and spice up your love life at the same time. Located at the Olympic Stadium
The McGill Daily, Thursday, February 5, 2009
Making nothing from something
Silvia Kolbowski’s reimagining of French New Wave classic lacks potency of the original
Culture Writer lence, and love. Atop of this continuous mesh of script and simplistic interpretation – Kolbowski at one point refers to the female protagonist’s decision to leave Hiroshima as “common cowardice” – are a series of reconstructions of important scenes in the original film. These contain extremely sparse dialogue, and make up the artist’s most successful articulation of an idea in the work. The actors, though their delivery is occasionally quite dead (especially in English), bring a truly modern and international feel to the work, exporting the message of Hiroshima Mon Amour out of Japan and into the entirety of the modern world. And rightly so: the horror of war isn’t limited to its impact on a specific place and people, but is rather a universal tragedy. Yet the inconsistency in the dialogue in these scenes, linguistic and otherwise, makes the adaptation all that much less convincing – nevermind the artist’s too-direct and less-than-poetic articulations. Unfortunately, Kolbowski does not seem to think these devices in and of themselves are enough for her to make her point, and in a further attempt to modernize the film, footage from post-Katrina New Orleans and war-torn Iraq are interspersed quite frequently. The difficulty that arises from putting footage of a natural disaster into a film that wants to make a statement about war weakens the overall message, turning a potentially powerful statement about war into just another critique of the Bush administration. Furthermore, the almost visually offensive shades of purple, yellow, and red that colour the piece are simply too jarring to be taken seriously. This weekend, if you’re thinking about walking over to Concordia for the installation, save yourself the disappointment: rent Resnais and Duras’s brilliant film in the original, curl up on the couch, and make an evening of it. No middleman artistic interpretation necessary.
n the world of film, there are few things more dangerous than the remake. The decision to take an artistic accomplishment and reinvent it to serve one’s own purposes – as an homage to the original work, to make it more “current,” or for any number of other reasons – is a risky one at best. While there is, of course, much more incentive to remake films of great fame and stature, the original brilliance will inevitably make it difficult to produce an adaptation of merit. And this is the risk that artist Silvia Kolbowski takes in her short film adaptation, After Hiroshima Mon Amour. The original picture is one of the pioneering works of the post-war period and arguably the most crucial film in the inception of the French New Wave. Marguerite Duras’s powerful screenplay, coupled with Alain Resnais’s visionary use of time and flashback, creates a work that was revolutionary at its release and has maintained its reputation to this day. How does one remake something such as this? Kolbowski’s approach is intriguing. Her 22-minute video composition mixes the screenplay and visuals of the opening sequence with reconstructions of pivotal scenes in the work and interjections of video footage taken from Iraq and postKatrina New Orleans. She supplies a relatively constant script thst alternates between lines from the original screenplay and statements of her own – reducing Hiroshima Mon Amour in its entirety down to less than a quarter of the length of the antecedent. While Duras’s lines seem just as potent and profound when extracted from their original context, Kolbowski’s words seem to gloss over the complexities of the earlier work. She force-feeds her interpretation of the original to her audience in an attempt to set the stage for her somewhat predictable statements on war, vio-
Courtesy of MAI
Exhibit at the Montréal, arts, interculturels uses wood and earth to evoke themes of exile and loss.
Artist José Luis Torres dishes the dirt on displacement and nostalgia
Culture Writer filled wooden casts strewn across the room to depict the effect that displacement and reminiscence have had on him. Although the interactive exhibit had not yet been finished when I visited, it was still possible to see how Torres planned to use the enormous casts to convey his ideas on immigration. It was perhaps a personal reaction, but the warm, bright light, combined with the smell of earth and wood did lend a feeling of nostalgia to the gallery. Speaking French with a thick Argentinean accent, Torres tells me that his inspiration did indeed come from his immigration, specifically the problems concerning identity and culture. “The earthen casts are a sort of metaphor,” he told me. “I employ traditional Latin American construction techniques but the material, the earth, is universal; it represents me.” To Torres, it is the act of making a cast that symbolizes the displacement of travel, although the lighting, layout, and smell also play important roles in the exhibit, determining how viewers will interact with it while contributing to the contrast between wood and earth, past and present. Perfectly melding space and art is a distinct priority for Torres, as he tailors each show based on the specific venue he uses. When asked why he chose the MAI, he responded that he found its architecture exciting and was “very drawn to the structure of the place.” He was also very much attracted to the openness and lighting of the space and the possibilities that these characteristics offered him. Another factor that immediately appealed to Torres was the multicultural profile of the MAI, as he felt it lent itself to his transnational themes. He also told me how this exhibit compared to his previous work. “Each exhibit is a consequence of the previous one,” he said. “It’s an evolution of art and images. I take the conclusions I’ve formulated from the previous exhibit, my reflections, as well as feedback that I’ve gotten and I use them in the next exhibit. I continue the evolution.” Two of these exhibits, En trànsito and Nomade, were both recently shown in Montreal, where Torres has been steadily gaining recognition. Whether interested in contemporary art or not, I would suggest paying this exhibit a visit, to walk through the displays and venture into the mind of a displaced man.
omorrow at Montréal, arts, interculturels (MAI), Argentinean artist José Luis Torres’s new exhibit, Continente, will open. My outing to meet with Torres did not have an auspicious start, seeing as I got lost seconds after stepping out of the Metro station. A good half an hour later, and thanks to a very helpful old Frenchman, I was making my way to the MAI. I finally got to the beautiful stone building, complete with bright purple door and window frames, and walked inside. Torres, who came to meet me as I entered the centre, is a kindlooking man with a ponytail of frizzy hair and round glasses à la John Lennon. In addition to holding a Masters degree in Fine Arts, he really did look the part of the artistcarpenter as he showed me around in jeans and work boots. Hailing from Argentina, Torres has lived in Montreal for the past five years and his entire approach to art since then has been based on such concepts as space, exile and memory. In Continente, Torres uses earth-
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The McGill Daily Either greeting will make you wish you catalogued the roommate’s full daily schedule before selecting your ex-partner. The second thing you might not have considered when you chose Person X, was why it was a bad thing that you shared similar interests. Sharing similar interests with a romantic partner who goes to the same school means that you’ll probably be spending a lot of time together after things between the two of you have fizzled out. You’ll still attend the same extracurriculars or at least the same events. This can be good if it leads to lots of post-break up sex. But it can also end up with one of you, changing your interests – say, quitting Hillel for Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights – or, like Nicks and Buckingham, turning your post-break up resentment into EX-tracurricular success, but at the expense of other group members having to endure what would have been private moments of awkwardness or volatility. Worse than making your club environment unpleasant, is making your social environment unpleasant. Due to the composition of my circle of friends, I will probably have to endure numerous gatherings where both my friends and I try to ignore the fact that ManX is now fucking someone else and vice versa. Sacre-bleu. In order to avoid the ghosts of old lovers, I can really only offer one solution: date someone from Concordia. If I can tell you one thing about the birds and the bees, it’s that when that “thing called love” dies between them it doesn’t make any zombie resurrection. Neither will a romance with that guy from St. Viateur bagels if you’re prepared to go to Fairmont once things end. But let me just emphasize again, don’t date another student from McGill. No matter how clean your break is, a messy ending is fated from the start.
The McGill Daily, Thursday, February 5, 2009
The incredible shrinking campus
Lies, half-truths, and Arch awkwardness
reak-ups suck. I’ve avoided them ever since my first Death-Cab romance in 12th grade. I haven’t been in any long term relationships, so the act of breaking up itself has never been that hard. I was never dodging a proposal at the time, and typically a few days of call screening helped the relationship to dissolve on its own. A few days ago, I broke up with a boyfriend of three months. The relationship was a flatline romance, without a peak to come down from or to climb towards. When I sat down to have the “conversation” with my former partner, it was met with mutual agreement, and we shook hands, parting on good terms. This is why I’m surprised that the relationship still haunts me: every Monday, Wednesday and Friday before English class, every time I want a coffee that costs less than bottled water, and every time I take the green line home from McGill metro. Though at times – for instance, in a 600-person Intro to Psychology class – McGill can seem vast and impersonal, after a breaking up with one of its students, McGill can never seem big enough. Case in point: Running into ManX’s roommate routinely at the Architecture Café. Roommates are something that you don’t always consider before selecting a partner, but should if you want to avoid post-relationship awkwardness. An ex-mate’s roommate in the early post-break-up stage is bound to rub at some fresh emotional sores. Said roommate will know exactly who screwed over who in the relationship, in which case he will either ignore you upon first post-break-up meeting (making you feel like a complete asshole) or offer an overly sensitive, “Heyyy” (making you feel like a complete loser).
Alyson Digby for The McGill Daily
Post break-up, be prepared to pack a fair trade band-aid to Arch Café.
Garden of Even
Katherine Milbers for The McGill Daily
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The McGill Daily, Thursday, February 5, 2009 EDITORIAL
Happy GA Day, everybody!
Like most before it, last semester’s General Assembly (GA) failed to reach quorum, meaning students get to debate an entire year’s worth of motions today. And with some students calling for the impeachment of SSMU’s Speaker of Council over today’s GA motion on Gaza, it seems that a certain divisive issue may just solve the forum’s persistent attendance problem. Here, we’ll give you our humble opinion on the three new motions, and suggest that you check our web site for last semester’s endorsements. Bottled Water - Yes This motion calls for SSMU to end bottled water sales in the Shatner building, and to push for McGill to do the same all over campus. It also calls on SSMU to educate students about sustainable alternatives to bottled water, including bringing their own bottle to fill with tap water, which actually meets higher purification standards than bottled water. The environmental damage caused by the bottled water industry is too cumbersome to list here, but it’s huge. The Daily believes actions like these are long overdue and strongly supports this motion, as SSMU should no longer tolerate the privatization of the most essential resource on our planet. Gaza – Yes/No/Maybe so Assuming the Speaker’s interpretation of the SSMU constitution holds, this motion will call on SSMU to publicly condemn the bombings of educational institutions in Gaza and for the Society to financially support Gazan students. The Daily suggests that the latter clause be scrapped, since the reconstruction of educational institutions is not SSMU’s responsibility – it’s up to the destructees and the international community. Leaving this clause would raise further challenges over whether motions specifically impacting SSMU’s finances be permitted at GAs. The Daily supports the specifics of this motion – such as the condemnation of the bombings of the Islamic University in Gaza – but this should not be extrapolated to our feelings regarding the larger, intensely complex issue as a whole. For instance, we also condemn Hamas’s bombings of Israeli communities, but these sentiments are not reflected in the motion, and adding them would significantly alter its spirit. We urge you to turn up for this debate, as it will be the most contentious political discussion in a public arena this year. GA reform – No This motion calls for SSMU to abandon its regularly scheduled GAs in favour of an ad-hoc process, in which GAs would be held only when students feel they are necessary, rather than twice a year. GAs are still young – only becoming semesterly affairs three years ago – and need time to mature. Students in and outside of SSMU have worked hard to improve the process’s accessibility, experimenting with times, venues, and advertising strategies. GAs are by no means perfect, but they have engaged hundreds more students with SSMU than any other political forum. Three years is hardly sufficient time to fine-tune a procedure that has potential to be powerful and important to students. Those interested in breaking the Fall/Winter binary should remember that Special GAs are always a possibility – especially if SSMU execs orchestrate a walk-out during the regularly planned event. The Daily strongly suggests students vote against this motion, since we fear that the most likely result of an ad-hoc GA schedule will be no GAs at all.
volume 98 number 32
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Police by-laws will only worsen community tensions
If anyone understands freedom of expression, it should be the Montreal police; since the summer, they’ve made their frustrations over contract negotiations clear with more red caps and bright camouflage pants than anyone should have to see. But the police are attempting to restrict citizens’ freedoms with two proposed bylaws: one to prohibit masks at protests, and another to make it illegal to insult police officers. Supposedly, these proposals aim to deter violence and encourage respect for officers, yet these draconian measures blatantly violate freedom of expression and are sure to further deteriorate already precarious relations between police and Montrealers. The bid to unmask protestors relies on the assumption that a person hiding their face is also committing dubious acts. Not only is this discriminatory, it’s also wholly unnecessary, as it serves to criminalize non-criminal acts. If someone is caught committing a crime while concealing their identity, they can be charged under the Criminal Code. Putting aside potential health risks for winter demonstrations, protestors should have every right to preserve their anonymity, for whatever reason. For example, some protestors may wish to remain anonymous if their employer holds differing political views. This proposed ban will also make it easier for police to open files on protestors, and will allow them to film protests and arrest participants at a later date. These implications will dissuade individuals from feeling free to protest and will inhibit necessary dissent in our democracy. In addition, we worry that a law regarding face coverings could be used to target religious minorities – a valid concern considering alleged racial profiling in the 2005 shooting of Anas Bennis, who was targeted for donning a skull cap and a djellabah. Members of the Mayor Tremblay’s Union Montreal party are finding the law too extreme, but police have requested that it be passed before the rowdy annual Protest Against Police Brutality in March. This would effectively shut down the protest, which is intended to combat racial profiling and political repression. Coincidentally, the law against insulting police is being fast-tracked for a second review in March. The police claim that fining citizens for calling them names will prevent confrontation between officers and rowdy drunks from escalating. We beg to disagree with this flawed logic. If an intoxicated passerby is fined for exercising their right to free speech, the situation is bound to escalate. While the law is meant to encourage respect toward officers, it will more likely serve their reputation. This law leaves officers too much at liberty to interpret what is and isn’t an insult – apparently calling a cop a pig or a doughnut-eater can be deemed illegal. Essentially, it would give officers the freedom to arrest anyone at any time. In neighbourhoods with a history of high tensions with the police – Montreal North, for instance, where clashes erupted following the August shooting of Freddy Villanueva – both laws are sure to slow or even worsen the recovery of already damaged relations between citizens and the officers meant to protect them. We urge the city to rethink these measures before their respective reviews in the coming months. It should be noted that the police are attempting to develop closer, more positive ties to communities dealing with high gang participation through their Project Eclipse program. However, implementing either of these troubling by-laws will set any progress two steps back.
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Nomination period begins Monday, February 9 at 9:00 am
Elections McGill is accepting nominations for the following positions with the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU): 1.President 2.VP University Affairs 3.VP External 4.VP Clubs and Services 5.VP Internal 6.VP Finance and Operations 7. Student Senators (one from each faculty) 8. Financial Ethics Research Committee (3 FERC Councilors) Elections McGill is also accepting nominations for Yes / No committees for the next set of referendum questions. Nomination kits are available online at www.electionsmcgill.ca or from the Elections McGill ofﬁce, Shatner 405.
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