Monthly Archives: April 2012

(In which I opine on the idiocy of university student government at McGill)

“The SSMU General Assembly last week was the latest installment of an institution at McGill showcasing both the theoretical promise of direct democracy and the reality of its own illegitimacy. The theoretical promise comes from the reasonable idea that the student body of a university should have a say in how the university is run. This runs head on into the reality of direct democracy at McGill, which is that it is highly unrepresentative of the student body at large. While I had taken a passing interest in watching how our student government works, seeing that the assembly was debating a painting of Karl Marx—satirically or not—was what motivated me to actually attend.”

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(In hindsight, the title is a bit ironic, seeing as columns do run in the “Opinion” section)

“These past few years have been a time of tumult for most journalistic organizations. Various forms of modern media, such as the Internet and cable television, they have challenged the dominance of print and network television, and have also challenged the orthodoxy of whether “the news” should express an opinion. The ratings successes of Fox News and conservative talk radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh, to speak nothing of the Internet, have led to much soul searching among both journalists and political observers about the role of objectivity, and where the line can be crossed (if at all).”

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(admittedly my “least good” column of the year)

“Last week, a group of activist students delivered a petition to the offices of McGill VP Finance  Michael Di Grappa. “‘We’ demand an end to this administration’s undemocratic and opportunistic use of the McGill listservs for the dissemination of propaganda,” it read. At 677 signatures, chances are this ridiculous petition does not represent any sort of widespread student will or opinion, and probably won’t lead to any action. However, it does shine a light on a problem growing in our society—our willingness to throw certain words around so much in argument that these words lose their meaning.”

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(In which I wade into the student strike issue, against my better instincts)

“This week, students will decide whether an important fee will be raised, in the words of those who support this increase, to “maintain the current level” of service. The fee increase I refer to, of course, is the SSMU dental plan…From an economic standpoint, not raising tuition is folly because of inflation. Quebec’s tuition in real dollars is substantially less than it was in 1968. With inflation, the costs of running a university are significantly higher than in the past. “

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(In which I discuss the equity complaint situation at Queer McGill. Perhaps my most controversial column of that year.)

“The latest flashpoint of tension at Queer McGill (QM) revolves around the dismissal of Brian Keast, the former treasurer of the club, after an equity complaint filed by Libby Bouchard, the club’s Political Action Co-ordinator. The complaint alleged that Keast, an executive of the group, had violated QM’s anti-transphobia mandate. Some of the detailed aspects of the complaint included not being attentive enough to the complaints of transgendered members and not attending a “Trans Allyship” workshop for QM executives because, Keast claimed, he had to study.”

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The piece attracted a fair amount of controversy, and in the interests of full disclosure, a correction was added to it several weeks later. One of the involved parties adds some context to the article in a letter to the editor published two weeks later. That can be read here:

(In which I discuss the misguided nature of pedestrian safety enforcement in Montreal)

“Jaywalking is a practice that is only nominally illegal in most North American cities. However, Montreal seems to be taking a different approach.

The Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) has begun its annual pedestrian safety campaign. Like most measures by government to raise “awareness” of a problem, there is a punitive stick as well as a pamphlet, and as usual, the stick is the traffic ticket. Police are now giving out $37 traffic tickets to leave an impression upon scofflaws. But whose fault are traffic accidents, and is jaywalking even a major problem?”

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(my first column for the paper this past year, published in mid-October)

“The Supreme Court may rule that the government can make its citizens buy health insurance later  on in its term when it rules on the healthcare bill.

The recent bill, the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” has stirred up a tempest of controversy. While there are portions of the bill that are up for legitimate complaint, such as its continued reliance on the employer provided insurance model, the “individual mandate” is not one of  them”

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