How to save Quebec: The solution lies in bilingualism

Why one student believes that our differences should ultimately unite us

Quebec is a province of political strife. I think that’s been made obvious in recent months. As long as I can remember, English and French were seen as two different species of people in Quebec. They mostly live together peacefully, but when push comes to shove, it’s always French pitted against English. That is why Quebec is stalled as it watches its neighboring provinces flourish.

An ideal future for Quebec would involve coexistence for anglos and francophones. Graphic by Jenny Kwan.

In Quebec, there are a few who laugh at what is going on, deeming it ridiculous and childish. They laugh at the OQLF and their mission, they laugh at the so called Charter of Values that will supposedly unite Quebec, and they laugh at the anglophones who refuse to learn French. These are the bilingual citizens; and with any luck, they’re the ones that will save Quebec.

Quebec has been blessed with an opportunity: we are a French province within an English country, with an enormous allophone population. These are factors that are blissfully ignored by closed-minded, unilingual people that bring this province down. They fail to see the potential that Quebec could have. Imagine a Quebec where everyone embraced bilingualism, and where everyone would speak two languages. Is this difficult to achieve? Absolutely not.

I learned to speak English, French, and Greek before going to elementary school. I didn’t know or cared why (or how) I knew three languages, I just knew them. It was only when I got older that I realized what knowing more than one language could mean. I was marketing myself without even knowing it. It has also allowed me to look at the political situation in Quebec from a neutral eye and try to understand the mindset of the ongoing conflict, and how it can be resolved without another referendum.

“As Canada teeters on the verge of fracturing, I am sometimes subject to fits of sentiment about this cockeyed country I grew up in and still call home. Impatient with our two founding races, I wonder why, instead of constantly picking at the scabs of their differences, they couldn’t learn to celebrate what binds them together,” wrote esteemed Canadian novelist Mordecai Richler, a Montrealer with a particular interest in Quebec’s language policies, in his book Oh Canada! Oh Quebec! Requiem for a divided country.

Anyone who has grown up and lived in Quebec loves Quebec. They’ll always complain about it, though. But despite the oppression felt by both sides, they still call it home. So for people that are trying to make it something its not, why not just let it be? Let Quebec flourish in two languages, and let us anglophones live in peace. Quebec will always be unique, whether it’s a country or a part of Canada. Every allophone and anglophone living in Quebec would kid themselves if they said Quebec didn’t have their own unique culture. However, this unique culture is also the drive behind separatist Quebecers. Sure, maybe Quebec was meant to be a country. But after having preserved the French language, and even having it flourish within Canada, separating now would only be a greedy, idealist win that would ruin Quebec.

I can’t stand watching the province I grew up in be consumed by so much negativity towards the so called other side. Instead, let’s encourage everyone to learn Canada’s two official languages and watch this province flourish. Lead by example and who knows, maybe the rest of Canada will speak French one day.


Pauline Marois’ electoral gamble will amount to a loss

It would be untrue to say that Quebec’s political scene isn’t wildly entertaining. This zoo we call our political system has been embarrassingly inadequate for the past few years, no matter who has been running it.

Graphic Jenny Kwan

When it came time to hit the polls last year, it was none other than Pauline Marois, infamous leader of the Parti Québécois, that took the vote by a mere one per cent, ousting the corruption-laden Liberal Party.

After over a year of watching Pauline Marois and her minority government struggle to make any valuable contribution to Quebec, Quebecers were eagerly awaiting to see whether she would call an election at the end of this year.

The answer is a resounding no. It seems 2014 will be the next time we’ll be choosing a provincial leader.

“The government doesn’t want general elections in 2013,” Marois told the press on Oct. 26. “The population gave us a mandate and we will continue to assume it. In the next few days, we will present our governmental orientations for solidarity because we think a responsible government must take care of people. We will also present our electrification strategy in transportation because we want Quebec to be a leader in that technology.”

Most importantly for Marois, it gives her a bit more time to convince voters to let her stay, no matter how unlikely that seems when you look at the facts.

Marois’ time in office has been a laughing affair. All the good she’s done politically has been almost completely shunned and overshadowed by a few major stunts that changed her reputation from separatist leader to separatist wacko.

Regardless of when the elections are held  the hole Marois and the Parti Québécois have dug themselves will barter the same result:  a change of heart politically for Quebecers. Whether it’s the reformed liberals, with Pierre Couillard now holding the reins, or the newly formed Coalition Avenir Quebec, it is highly unlikely that Marois will ever lead this province again.

QMI Agency political analyst Jean Lapierre said the PQ realized it didn’t have the poll numbers to win a majority government.

“Marois got spooked,” Lapierre said, according to The Toronto Sun. “Marois has been preparing for months to open a window for an election, and she choked.”

The truth is that as a province this isn’t what we need at the moment. Like the rest of the world, Quebecers all over the province have real issues that need fixing.

Our education system is in debt and needs more funding, our construction system is a mess, and our province is falling apart economically, mirrored by the economic plan the Parti Québécois announced last week.

“The economic plan announced last week signals a shift away from fiscal austerity, along with a hefty dose of interventionism in industrial policy that is destined to be rejected by the opposition parties at the first possible opportunity,” said Pierre Martin, a professor of political science at the Université de Montréal, in an article for The Toronto Star.

We took a gamble when we gave a separatist party a chance, and we lost our chips. Truth is, Quebec is a diverse province with an amazing population, and preserving the French language is an incredibly important issue. That being said, the party in place is simply too immature to lead. You cannot focus all of your attention and energy to language and “identity issues,” and ignore other pressing matters. It’s especially disconcerting that the one issue they are focusing on is being handled incorrectly.

The people in this province need to be united, and all the Parti Québécois has done is create issues to separate us. It’s time for a change.


The curious case of keeping up with online classes

In an age where the simplest of tasks are being made easier through online access, it would only seem natural that even our education would adopt a place online. Well it has, for a while now, with online classes. Although it does have its advantages, it also has certain issues that have some students, including myself, thinking twice before registering for them.

Graphic by Jennifer Kwan

There are two types of students who take online classes. There are the disciplined ones, the ones that set a day to complete assignments and go over the weekly chapter. Then, of course, there are the ones who can’t learn a thing without teachers constantly reminding them what their homework is.

“Courses delivered solely online may be fine for highly skilled, highly motivated people, but they are inappropriate for struggling students who make up a significant portion of college enrollment and who need close contact with instructors to succeed,” said a New York Times editorial from earlier this year.

Online classes are much more difficult for the second kind of student. A lack of discipline when taking an online class is like travelling down the most slippery of educational slopes. Therefore, it isn’t recommended if you have trouble staying on top of assignments, even when you have a teacher to constantly remind you.

Getting in touch with the teacher can sometimes be exceedingly difficult. Due to the fact that there is no face-to-face contact throughout the semester (except perhaps during final exams), getting questions answered is more difficult than one may think. Teaching assistants become overwhelmed with the number of emails they receive, and some may end up going unanswered. The last thing a student really needs is to end up on a wild goose chase looking for their TA or their teacher for a simple question that can be answered in two minutes.

Also, what if a student has connection issues during a quiz and ends up failing because of it, despite their best efforts? This is a serious issue that deserves the professor’s attention, and yet can take weeks to fix.

“I’ve had so many issues with online classes, I don’t think I’ll be taking one again any time soon,” said JMSB student Panagiota Papagrigoriou, who enrolled in Concordia’s “Chemistry in our Lives” (CHEM 208).

“I missed a quiz once because of scheduling issues, and didn’t get an answer for weeks,” she said. “It’s stressful not knowing what’s happening with a huge chunk of your grade.”

Montgomery College located in Maryland, just outside Washington D.C. recognizes the disadvantages to these classes, and makes them known to those interested in enrolling in an online class through a top “Ten Disadvantages of Online Classes” list on their website. This type of precaution is a good idea for classes that are still somewhat new to our education system. On this top 10, the warnings vary from procrastinators beware, to the fact that these classes often create a sense of isolation for the student. The main warning is to be careful what you do with the excess freedom these classes give you.

According to Columbia University’s Community College Research Center, which has completed nine academic studies on online classes, results show that they do not provide a better education than traditional classes, and that online classes aren’t more advantageous for low-income students.

Overall, make sure you know what type of student you are before you enrol in one of these ever-popular online classes. It just might be the opposite of what you expected.


Zombie apocalypse level: hide-and-seek

You would be ill informed if you said it was nonsense and perhaps ill advised if you still haven’t taken the necessary precautions when it does come. Despite the fact that it may seem childish and untrue, it is only a matter of time before the zombie apocalypse does terrorize our planet. Now, we may still have some time, but like many fearful Americans during the Cold War, we too should take exaggerated precautions to survive our most dangerous war yet.

Graphic by Jenny Kwan

For now, here is a list of the 10 best places to hide and survive when the zombie apocalypse hits Montreal.

1. Prison

Yes, maybe I have been watching too much of The Walking Dead, but who are you to judge? It’s an excellent simulation of what our world would become when subjected to these ruthless beings. That being said, I think a prison camp, such as the one on Montreal’s North Shore, would be a good place to shotgun. The already established high security as well as access to food and water, and more importantly, heavy artillery, heighten your chances of survival.

2. Costco

If you asked 100 people where they would hide during a zombie apocalypse, 98 would say Costco. They make a valid point. Costco is a vast market that sells basically anything you would need to live there permanently — survival 101. However, it may be easy for zombies to gain access to the lower floors. Therefore, I would suggest building a fortress with all of your necessary products on one of the shelves, like Dane Cook and his buddies did in the mediocre comedy, Employee of the Month.

3. Wal-Mart

Similar to Costco, Wal-Mart would also be an excellent place to settle when the worst comes. As an avid zombie connoisseur, I’m ready to take it a step further: Wal-Mart in Plattsburg, New York. Why there? Well, Plattsburg is home to the closest Wal-Mart south of the border. Let’s be honest, if you were trying to survive something as dangerous as zombies, you’d probably want to be in an American Wal-Mart, where access to food and necessities is doubled. And let’s not forget guns, lots of guns.

4. Pierre Elliot Trudeau Airport.

The mere size of the airport is enough to make it a gem of a hiding spot. There is access to food, as well as weapons and ammo taken from the numerous security guards. However, what I really like about the airport is the diversity in hiding. If ever you need a plan B, you can simply find refuge in an abandoned airplane, hide in the cockpit, and use tramcars for occasional food and ammo runs.

5. Police Station

Please be warned: not all police stations would be suitable for zombie survival. For starters, most are badly located in the busiest parts of town and might already be infested beyond cleansing. That being said, a well-located police station would be a good place to start. Guns would be at hand, as well as other weapons, and in times of serious desperation, when all hope seems lost, you can lock yourself up in the mini-prison cell they have in most stations and fight your way out safely from there.

6. Hall Building

This is the only valid reason to go back to school during a zombie takeover. This 13-floor massive structure on de Maisonneuve St. can be an ingenious spot if necessary steps are taken to make it impenetrable. First, block all access to the higher floors however you can. Then, proceed to take the elevator to the highest floor with all of your necessities. Make your home there, while making sure you find a way to keep the elevator on your floor. When runs are necessary, take the elevator down cautiously.

7. Cinemas Guzzo – Marché Central

What’s unique about this particular movie theatre is that it’s on a second floor. The only way to access it is through escalators at the front of the theatre. In similar fashion to the Hall Building scenario, block off the entrance completely. You then have a few options, like making a home in one of the movie rooms, on the top floor, preferably. Also, you’ll have access to the wonderful cinematic experience Guzzo offers while blood-thirsty zombies are at your doorstep looking for your head.

8. McDonald’s playground

This may seem like an odd suggestion at first, but think of the possibilities: barricading yourself in this glass room, climbing on top of the jungle of fun and having a 360-degree view of your surroundings. Nothing says ‘safe’ like having eyes everywhere, and that’s what McDonald’s can give you. They also have fries.

9. St. Joseph’s Oratory

Considered one of the most majestic structures in Montreal, the oratory is advantageous to the hider for many reasons. First, it’s situated on a hill, making it difficult for slow moving zombies to get there. Also, if in possession of a sniper, which I suggest, the dome of the oratory offers an excellent shooting point for some long distance zombie killing. With adequate barricading at key points, the oratory would be an excellent stronghold for quite a few people.

10. Laval

Simple, because nobody likes going to Laval. Nobody.

Please make sure you print this out and hold a copy at all times. The time has come for mankind to defend itself against its biggest foe yet. Let’s make sure we’re prepared, and let the games begin!


Stingers fall hard in first game of the season

The Concordia Stingers failed to get the result on Sunday afternoon as they fell 5-1 in the first game of the season against the Montreal Carabins.

“I don’t think the score dictated the way we played. I think we played fairly well,” said Concordia Stingers head coach Greg Sutton. “We had some mistakes and some mental breakdowns that led to almost all of their goals really.”

Concordia came out stronger against the Montreal Carabins at the start of the second half, finally pressing offensively instead of playing a strictly defensive game. Photo by Keith Race.

Both teams had excellent opportunities early on, but most of the first half was in a deadlock in the midfield, both teams playing an excellent defensive game, leaving no room for movement in the back four. The Carabins did have a slight edge, as their best opportunities came off partial breaks, both stopped by amazing last-minute sliding tackles from a scrambling Concordia defense.

“We wanted to come in here and get a result so we knew we had to defend well,” said Sutton.

It seemed like the game would go into the break even until Concordia’s Jose Prida tackled a Carabins player in an excellent position right outside the box. Carabins’ Maxime Laurey stepped up and put it away perfectly over the wall and under the crossbar, keeping the keeper rooted on the spot with no choice but to watch it sail by him into the back of the net, giving the Carabins a 1-0 lead after one.

Concordia came out stronger at the start of the second half, finally pressing offensively instead of playing a strictly defensive game. As a result, the game opened considerably and Concordia was able to create a few chances.

It didn’t take long for Concordia to answer back. In the 49th minute, a beautiful give and go through ball between Stingers Mohamed Omar and Jose Prida saw Omar behind the defense, easily tucking it away passed a surprised Kenan Morina.

The possibility of a tie seemed to affect the Carabins, as they exploded offensively. It took a mere ten minutes for the home team to regain the lead, when Adama Sissoko placed a perfect cross into the back of the net with the back of his head. Concordia had to come back yet again.

The rest of the game was signed Samuel Leblanc. It started in the 69th minute, when a streaking Leblanc received the ball on the edge of the Concordia box, and easily tapped it over the keeper who had come out to play it. Concordia was two goals down with 20 minutes remaining in the second half.

Concordia’s best chance of the half came from Sam Tork, who chipped the keeper only to see it parried by a flying hand and go out of play.

Leblanc shined as he easily chipped the keeper on a breakaway to slot his second goal of the game, a mere dozen minutes after his first one. He then completed the hat-trick off a penalty shot in stoppage time to easily secure a 5-1 win for the Carabins and a disappointing loss for the Stingers.

Catch the Stingers next game against the UQAM Citadins  Sept. 13.


Carabins serve Stingers second loss of the season

The half was close to ending when the Carabins came near to doubling their lead. In the 39th minute, Virginie Labossiere’s shot was stopped by Dagenais. Photo by George Menexis.

The Concordia Stingers came close to a tie but fell short against the Montreal Carabins, losing 1-0 in their second game of the season, Sunday, Sept. 8.

After losing 2-1 in their opening game of the season on Friday, Sept. 6 against Bishop’s, the Stingers came to the Cepsum Centre looking for results against the Carabins.

“We’re a young team that came off a really disappointing result on Friday, we really shouldn’t have lost, and if played like this on Friday, we would’ve won,” said Stingers head coach, Jorge Sanchez.

They knew it would not be an easy game, with the Carabins being one of the highest ranked teams in the country. Still, they came in as an attacking force and were able to keep up with the high-seeded team.

After a few chances on either end, it was the shot from Chloe Malette in the 14th minute that was unluckily deflected off a Concordia defender and into the net that had Concordia keeper, Saby Dagenais, jumping the wrong way.

“Considering it’s one of the best teams in the country, the only difference was a deflected goal,” said a disappointed Sanchez.

Concordia continued to press, not letting the fluke goal bring down their morale. In the 32nd minute, after a few easily stopped free kicks, Concordia’s Alexandra Dragan had the keeper beat but couldn’t beat the swarm of defenders that came rushing in to protect the net.

The half was close to ending when the Carabins came near to doubling their lead. In the 39th minute, Virginie Labossiere’s shot was stopped by Dagenais. Laurianne Garant-Saine grabbed the rebound and shot off the crossbar. The game went into the break with a 1-0 score.

Concordia continued to press in the second half. They completely outscored the Carabins on corners and on free kicks, and came close to equalizing in the 79th minute when the cross was headed onto the crossbar by Stingers Gabriela Padvaiskas.

Dagenais had an exceptional game, making two key saves in the second half that had the crowd gasping at the Cepsum Centre, and that kept the Stingers in it until the very end.

The home team also missed quite a few chances because they were offside, something they had a hard time avoiding for most of the match. At the end, it was quite frustrating for the Carabins offense, which resorted to crosses in order to avoid the trap.

“The second half they didn’t really do a lot, we just missed very opportunistic chances around the box,” said Sanchez. “The other team was resorting to grabbing shirts and pushing, which shows that we have the pace to keep up with anybody.”

The Stingers next game will be Friday, Sept. 15 at home against UQAM.


Opinions: The curious case of texting and driving

A growing problem in the so-called ‘smart phone era’ is the presence of mobile devices in vehicles. Despite hands free technology, texting and driving is becoming exceedingly difficult to curb. Year after year, statistics keep growing as police give away tickets, with over 21,000 tickets given out in 2012 alone for using a cellphone while driving.

“Distracted driving has always been a major factor in collisions, but it’s been a result of electronic technology that has really brought it to the forefront,” Ontario Provincial Police, Sgt., Pierre Chamberland, told CBC.

The current penalty in Quebec is a ticket ranging from $115 to $154 and three demerit points,a penalty fairly similar to the one for speeding or burning a red light. However, considering the danger it poses, authorities are beginning to question whether or not the penalty should be more severe.

Every province has put laws into place against handheld devices in vehicles. The problem is more severe than ever, with collisions due to texting and driving going up by 17 per cent between 2006 and 2010, according to Statistics Canada. In Nova Scotia, it is officially the primary cause of death while manipulating a vehicle, surpassing driving under the influence.

The statistics clearly show that more needs to be done to address this major issue on our roads. Our society is becoming more demanding, and people’s stress levels are skyrocketing. When you combine people’s hectic lifestyles with the fact that technology allows us to conduct most of our business on our phones, it becomes evident that it won’t be an easy task.

“There are different ways you can be distracted, either visually, manually or cognitively,” Christine Yager, a researcher for Texas A&M University, told CBC on May 30. Yager conducted research to measure the dangers of texting and driving by having a group of people drive a closed course without cellphone use at first, and then with a series of texting exercises. The results were crystal clear.
“No matter which texting method was used on the cellphone, the response times were approximately two times slower than the no texting condition,” said Yager.

Stricter laws are in desperate need here, at least for a start. Take the state of New York as an example. If you are caught texting and driving in the Empire State, your license will automatically be revoked for a period of 60 days, and for a period of six months for repeat offenders. That’s taking the long claw of the law and using it to your advantage. Although it may seem harsh, perhaps even cruel, it’s a penalty severe enough to actually have positive effects on this problem.

Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, who signed the legislation into law, told WRVO Public Media that,“those two, three, four, five seconds that you look down to answer the text, that period of inattention is all the time in the world.”

The governor is right. To have the ability to drive is to have a responsibility for your safety and the safety of others. Ultimately, banning cellphones entirely may be the only valid solution to a problem that is this consistent.


Feeling the impact, and it feels good

Image via Flickr

Thousands of people eagerly left their houses two Saturdays in a row to witness a revolution in Montreal. The buzz around the usually empty Olympic Stadium was magical — the chants worthy of a European championship game — as thousands joined in singing “Montreal, Montreal, Montreal, olé olé olé.” The deafening crowd erupted with joyful cheers as Italian star Marco Di Vaio scored a goal during two back-to-back games. The reasoning for our joy? The Montreal Impact was in town.

Montreal’s sports scene is going through a change. Where it was until very recently dominated by our beloved Habs, the Impact’s debut in Major League Soccer was met with flying numbers and die-hard fans. Not to mention, the acquisition of two star Italian players in the likes of Alessandro Nesta and Di Vaio have Montrealers feeling as if they’re actually attending a real European soccer match.

The truth is that soccer is a European sport. ‘Fútbol’ is to Europe as hockey is to Montreal. They live it and breathe it every day. Therefore, seeing soccer succeed in Montreal is attributed to the fact that our city has the true characteristics of a mixed European city. We are a melting pot of international cultures that enjoy this sport more than anything. It is therefore reasonable to say that some of our residents have probably never even heard of hockey prior to living here, although they end up getting engulfed in our passion. However, give them a good soccer team, a sport that is internationally renowned and successful, and you have yourself a serious moneymaker and a lot of room for growth.

Now that we finally have a team in a respectable league that we can support, it’s no wonder the Impact is becoming a team stars will want to play for. Our fan base is incredible, our city passionate and winning here will be glorious for any athlete.

The players are feeling it and the fans are feeling it; a soccer team that will soon have the entire city behind it.

Last year, the Impact broke a Canadian record in attendance for a soccer game when David Beckham and the L.A. Galaxy came to the Olympic Stadium for the first time, beating Toronto and Vancouver’s attendance for their opening games when they first joined the MLS. Although there’s no doubt in my mind that soccer can succeed in these two other Canadian metropolises, it’s clear to all that Montreal has a soccer flare that these two haven’t quite grasped.

Finally, Montreal can boast about having multiple sports teams, especially one that can survive at the same time as the Montreal Canadiens. More than 38,000 showed up to watch the Impact’s 2-1 victory over the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, despite the Canadiens playing only 20 minutes after the game finished.

If you would have told me 10 years ago that Montreal would have a world class soccer team playing in the MLS, led by a star Italian forward, no less, I would have laughed and shook my head. But this is the reality for all sports fans: Montreal is a booming soccer town, and it will be for the years to come.


Confessions of a bitter, trilingual Quebecer

As a Montrealer of Greek origin who is fluent in Greek, French and English, I look at Quebec and all the incidents that have occurred in the past few months and I ask myself this one, simple, question: what the hell is going on?

But there’s another question Anglophones and Francophones should be asking themselves: why can’t we embrace bilingualism in this province? Why can’t we accept that Quebec is a province of two official languages and both will be equally represented from now on? Why do we insist on pointing fingers at each other and accusing the other side of undermining the other’s language?

Since the election of the PQ government, things have seriously worsened. The Office quebecois de la langue française found new life after receiving unnecessary funding from the provincial government and have put it to absolutely no use by attacking restaurants like Buona Notte, ultimately making a fool of themselves and of the PQ in the process. These are old school techniques that the younger, more open-minded generation of Quebecers simply don’t understand or appreciate.

We’ve come an extremely long way since the creation of Bill 101 and the last thing we need is for Premier Pauline Marois to reignite that good-for-nothing fire. No matter how hard you try, no matter how much you push, Quebec has unofficially been branded a bilingual state since then and all you’re doing is tainting your already-tarnished image straight out of politics.

The younger generations of anglophones and francophones in this province have accepted the fact that Quebec is and will be an open-minded province that is accepting of two official languages. There certainly remains an older generation of anglophones and francophones who are extremely bitter towards each other, but like it or not, they will disappear as the next generation comes along.

What really presses my buttons, however, is the fact that Quebec has the potential to be the greatest province in Canada if we set our mind to it. Imagine a Quebec where everyone is bilingual and most are trilingual considering the fact that we already are a melting pot of diverse cultures. Imagine the businesses we could attract, the growth we could instigate and the money we would save by exterminating useless organizations like the OQLF, by not researching the possibility of separation from Canada and by stopping the creation of discriminatory bills such as Bill 14.

I am a bitter Quebecer and I’ve had enough. Not bitter against the French or the English exclusively, but bitter against the tension that still lies between the two after all these years. To all who still have a problem, grow up, embrace your neighbour and work on living in a bilingual Quebec, and not a unilingual one.

Whether its being forced to order pasta and other foods in French, or be forced to walk if I can’t buy a metro ticket in French, so be it. I will walk, straight out of this province, to the excess of open-minded provinces and states that surround Quebec. Just like so many did after the referendum. Quebec is coming dangerously close to that once again. It’s time for the younger generation to step up and put an end to this.

Student Life

Wine, dine and Instagram me

(Graphic by Jennifer Kwan)

It seems the true meaning of date night has changed in recent years. A night out used to be a means of escape for most people, where one’s company can be enjoyed over a bottle of a restaurant’s finest wine with no distractions. These days it seems like people go from one distraction to another, browsing their smartphones, failing to remember the wonderful, conversation-filled evening they were supposed to be having.

Most are keen on tweeting how their night is going rather than enjoying it; Instagramming their foods and posting their location on Facebook with an endless list of social media responsibilities. This, according to a study done by the University of Essex in England, is directly linked to a decrease in interpersonal connections. In the study, couples who conversed with a phone close by reported lower relationship quality.

Countless examples of technology taking over our social lives have been studied, argued and discussed as companies find different ways to attach us to their products and this is a serious problem. Restaurant owner and chef Mark Gold, who currently owns Eva restaurant in Los Angeles, has come up with an innovative technique to help all who dine at his restaurant avoid that “lower relationship quality” reported by the study.

His idea is simple enough: get five per cent off your bill if you leave your cell phone at the door.

“People have tweeted us, emailed us saying ‘Oh my God, thank you for doing something,’” Gold told the Huffington Post in an interview.

Once the news of Gold’s new concept began circulating, the story went viral. Numerous media stations began contacting him and he had an endless stream of emails from other restaurateurs congratulating him on such a great idea and informing him that they, too, would put forth this initiative in their restaurant.

This idea has me curious and excited for what the future can possibly hold for culinary establishments in the city. Montreal restaurant owners don’t seem to think it’s such a bad idea either.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Elixor restaurant owner George Prontzos. “I can’t tell you how many people are glued to their phones sometimes.”

Some may argue that because we’ve become so dependant on our phones, taking it away from people would actually worsen their dining experience. At least, that’s what Baton Rouge manager Christina Fegitis thinks about the idea.

“I don’t think it would enhance the dining experience in the least,” she said. “Everyone is so dependant on their phones for business and for pleasure, taking it away from them would probably just stress them out.”

Who knows how life works sometimes. Somebody, maybe very close or maybe hundreds of miles away from Eva, will be inspired by chef Gold and his quest to improve the dining experience. This person will then inspire another and that one another and one day, maybe, the future of the restaurant industry will have been changed forever — a dining revolution. Now excuse me while I go Instagram my sandwich.





Eliminating homophobia, one commercial at a time

Graphic by Jennifer Kwan

Our provincial government has been criticized quite often since being elected — and rightly so — for various reasons, among them spending public funds on a government institution like the Office de la Langue Française and creating bills that have most scratching their heads in anger or confusion. However, credit must be given where it is due. Quebec has once again proved that it is an innovative province with just the mindset to come up with excellent, unique ideas.

The Quebec government has launched a $7.1-million ad campaign that will last five years and will look to crack down on homophobia in Quebec. The commercials will show normal situations between couples, in which the viewer has no idea until the very end of the ad that it is between a same-sex couple. The narrator will then proceed to ask, at the end of the commercial, “Does this ad change what you were thinking about 20 seconds ago?”

Homophobia is not a joke. Approximately 78 per cent of us, according to an 800-person survey conducted by the provincial government, are comfortable with diverse sexual orientations. Despite Quebec being an open-minded province in regards to sexual orientation, homophobes still exist. Although we say that we are open to people having different sexual orientations, this ad campaign will try to see how open we really are as a province.

“We learned in our research that Quebec is viewed as open to sexual diversity—but homophobia still exists and it still exists in Quebec,” said Martine Delagrave, who works for Cossette Communication, the firm that developed the ads. “Our idea for a first campaign was to shed some light, to have some awareness about how open we really are.”

The truth is that a lot of us aren’t as comfortable with sexual diversity as we would like to think. Although we have come a long way since then as a people, there is still a long way to go and whoever says otherwise is kidding themselves.

That’s why I think the provincial government was spot on with these ads. They’re looking to put a positive light on diverse sexual orientations by shocking or surprising us towards the end of the ad. As we’re watching, we realize that there’s nothing odd about the situation; a woman finding a note from her partner, her partner being a woman at the end, or a man arriving at the airport, looking for his lover, who is another man. What’s good about these ads is that it makes the homophobic viewer think about why he or she is homophobic in the first place by portraying the couples in an everyday situation. This, for me, is a starting point in eliminating homophobia. The next batch of ads will probably go even further in proving this particular point.

In a 2006 census conducted by Statistics Canada, it shows that there are over 45,000 same sex couples in Canada, 18.4 per cent of those residing in Montreal. These numbers cannot be ignored, and we must move forward in completely eliminating homophobia from our societal ranks.


Realigning the cash flow

Image via Flickr

We all know of the popular expression, “why fix something that isn’t broken?” Well, it seems the NHL does not. Broken or not, if there’s a way to make more money, than it needs to be fixed.

The National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association have agreed on a deal that would see the current two-conference, six-division setup become a two-conference, four division format.

“The NHLPA has given consent to realignment, to be re-evaluated following the 2014-15 season,” said NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr to the New York Times.

According to the NHL, teams will now be more geographically aligned, cutting down on excessive travel time for certain teams. Teams living in Eastern time zones such as Columbus and Detroit will now be moved to the Eastern Conference, simplifying their travel schedule.

With the new alignment, the top three teams in each division will automatically qualify for the playoffs, with the remaining four spots going to the teams that have the best record in each conference.

The current alignment didn’t need changing. It consisted of two, 15-team conferences, with the first eight of each conference making it to the playoffs. Simple enough for anyone to understand. The new format does nothing to improve it.

Let’s be honest: the new alignment has its good side, but it definitely has its bad. With this new look, the Eastern Conference boasts two more teams than the Western Conference and has therefore been criticized for being unfair by some players. This discrepancy implies that teams in the Western Conference would have a better chance to make the playoffs than teams in the Eastern Conference.

When looking at the bigger picture, the ends justify the means, especially in monetary terms for the NHL. The fact that teams will now be travelling less miles is an enormous money saver. Also, putting small market teams like Florida and Tampa Bay in the same conference as most of the Canadian teams such as Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal means that their stadiums will be filled with our tourists when winter comes.

Not to mention that for the first time in years the NHL can seriously consider expanding. Considering the fact that one conference has two fewer teams than the other, a possible two-team expansion doesn’t seem that far-fetched.

A similar deal to realign the league was proposed in 2011, though it was turned down by the union due to the fact that it wasn’t organized correctly or well thought out. Why, then, accept such a similar one?

To be honest I think the NHLPA was simply thinking ahead. After having just recently come to an agreement with the NHL on terms that would see a shortened hockey season — but a season nonetheless — played after months of negotiating, would it be smart to veto the realignment and cause yet another stir? Let’s not forget that although it likely will happen, the NHL has not decided whether or not they will send their players to the Olympics next year. Vetoing the realignment might have pushed the NHL to retaliate.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the realignment is a valuable moneymaker. Not only will most teams travel less, but a likely expansion as well as more tickets sold make it a profitable choice for the NHL.

So let’s see how this pans out for the NHL. After all, they’ve agreed to revise the new alignment by the 2014-15 season if it doesn’t work out.

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