Centre for Gender Advocacy to sue Quebec

The Centre for Gender Advocacy and the Clinique Juridique Juripop will sue Quebec to revoke a law that infringes on the rights of trans people by enforcing restrictions for changing one’s sexual identity.

A photo of Gabrielle Bouchard by Jocelyn Beaudet

The organizations announced the lawsuit on Nov. 20, the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

The centre filed a human rights complaint to the Commission of Human Rights and Youth Rights in August regarding article 71 of the Quebec Civil Code. This article requires that every person who wants to legally change their gender identity must be a Canadian citizen, over the age of 18, and undergo surgical structural modification of the sexual organs.

While the commission responded saying the centre had a strong case in challenging this law and was in good standing to represent trans people, they refused the complaint based on technicalities.

“The law makes it mandatory for [them] to have a real victim of direct discrimination, so it means that we can’t just address a systematic discrimination, we have to have people who have actually lived it,” said Gabrielle Bouchard, the centre’s peer support and trans advocacy coordinator.

To move forward in challenging this law, the centre will require at least one person to claim they’ve been a victim of discrimination in not being able to change their gender marker due to any of the three restrictions outlined in article 71.

The centre is waiting to officially send forth the lawsuit, since on Nov. 26, the National Assembly voted on an amendment to Bill 35 which would remove the surgical requirements for anyone wishing to change their gender marker, Bouchard explained. The bill should be passed into law by the end of this session, before Christmas.

“Right now, there’s the potential that one of the three things that we wanted off the law by going to court might actually be done just by legislation,” said Bouchard.

The centre is waiting to see if the amendment will include further barriers that infringe on trans people’s’ rights, or claim that the law only be applied in several years.

“We have to wait before we celebrate anything,” she said.

Even if the amendment lifts the regulation that surgery is required for a sex-change, the Centre will go forward with the lawsuit against Quebec since discrimination will still exist against non-Canadian citizens and trans people under the age of 18.

Before the proceedings are filed in the coming weeks, founder and Executive Director of Juripop, Marc-Antoine Cloutier, has asked the Minister of Justice, Bertrand St-Arnaud, to take responsibility and change the Civil Code of Quebec in order to respect the rights of trans people.

“The Minister of Justice is doing the best he can within the situation he’s in,” said Bouchard.

Juripop and the Centre for Gender Advocacy have also launched a fundraiser for the lawsuit to raise money for trans people who may need to testify in court.

“They’re already in precarious situations so we want to be able to provide for them,” said Bouchard.

The centre is the plaintiff since they have the means and necessary resources to push this lawsuit forward, but many other transgender-rights groups are working alongside them and Juripop.

“We’re not doing this in a vacuum,” said Bouchard. “We’re doing this in concert with other organizations.”

To learn more or to make a donation, visit


Concordia student launches Liberal Party campaign

Concordia political science student, Jordan Gentile, launched his campaign on Nov. 20 to become the official candidate for Member of Parliament of the Pierrefonds-Dollard riding for the Liberal Party of Canada.

Press photo

Over 50 people were in attendance at the launch. The goal of the launch was to enable members of the community to become better acquainted with Gentile. Gentile is the current Riding President for the Federal Liberal Riding Association of Pierrefonds-Dollard.

“I was very happy with the result of the launch,” said Gentile. “The people who attended were both optimistic and encouraging and I had the opportunity to make some valuable contacts.”

As a Member of Parliament, Gentile would represent each person of the Pierrefonds-Dollard district in Ottawa.

“[I’d] ensure that they have their collective voices heard,” said Gentile, who described this as the most important task. He wants to represent his riding in Ottawa rather than have Ottawa represent them in the riding.

“The only way to properly represent your citizens is to know them,” said Gentile. To ensure this, Gentile said he’d meet with them on a regular basis and spend all the time he could in his electoral district.

“A Member of Parliament does not just attend fundraisers or meetings, they need to bring policy from the riding level to the national level and I vow to do that from the first day I am elected,” he said.

Gentile explained his experience has been rewarding thus far with the support of his family and friends who have helped to get the campaign going.

Working as the Riding President of Pierrefonds-Dollard for the past two years, Gentile said he realized the people in his riding deserve better.

“I truly believe that I possess all of the qualities to represent Pierrefonds-Dollard to the level they deserve,” said Gentile.

As he explained on his website, Gentile’s main objective as Riding President is to show his community that the Liberal Party is still alive and relevant in the district.

“I realized the hard work needed to begin rebuilding this party and began to rebuild the party from the ground up—starting at my local constituent level,” wrote Gentile. “I will put just as much muscle into winning this nomination as I have in rebuilding this riding,” he continued.

Besides his role as Riding President, Gentile is Regional President for West Montreal for the Liberal Party—part of Justin Trudeau’s Leadership program—and was chief organizer for Équipe Denis Coderre candidates in the Pierrefonds-Roxboro district during the 2013 municipal election.

Gentile said his political science courses at Concordia helped him gain a wide understanding of the political field, including both the academic and personal aspects.

“The greatest help has been the teachers. Having professors who are experienced in the field of political science has allowed me to understand what it takes to be a politician and what adversities I might face.”

The next step for Gentile is to meet and sign up Liberal Party members from the Pierrefonds-Dollard district, as this is required for anyone presenting themselves for nomination. Once the date of the nomination election is announced, Gentile will bring his members to vote. The nomination candidate with the most votes then becomes the official candidate for the Liberal Party of Canada in Pierrefonds-Dollard for the next federal election.

“I am also going to take this opportunity to get even more known in the area because people need to know who their Member of Parliament will be,” said Gentile.

Those wishing to know more about Gentile can visit his website:


Movember team JMo’SB returns for its second year

CASA Cares, Concordia’s non-profit segment of the Commerce and Administration Student Association at the John Molson School of Business (JMSB), aims to raise $12,000 for its second consecutive year partaking in the Movember campaign.

Last year, JMo’SB raised close to $11,000, coming in eighth place out of all participating Canadian universities. Press photo.

The national Movember movement aims to change the face of men’s health by raising awareness and funds to combat prostate and testicular cancer and mental health challenges. CASA Cares encourages JMSB students, both Mo’Bros—male participants—and Mo’Sisters to join their Movember team, JMo’SB.

Last year, JMo’SB raised close to $11,000, coming in eighth place out of all participating Canadian universities.

“Everyone really got together and made big things happen,” said Melissa Payette, CASA Cares president. “It was such a successful year.”

The Movember campaign at JMSB was officially launched Oct. 28, 2012 by the director of campaign development for Movember Canada and Quebec representative, Vincent White.

White came to speak at the CASA Cares’ launch for this year’s Movember campaign on Oct. 28, after which many in attendance signed up for the JMo’SB Movember team.

“Most of the people in attendance, especially the guys, came to me later and told me it was really inspiring to hear him talk about men’s health so openly, and they realized it is important to raise awareness,” said Payette.

While JMo’SB has not yet raised nearly as much money as last year, Payette has ensured that CASA Cares executives are working hard to promote the event in order to impact and inspire the student body to help the cause.

“A lot of our big Mo’Bros from last year graduated and so this year it’s been a new round of people signing up and seeing what we’re about,” said Payette. “But a lot of people have signed up [and] come out to our various events throughout the month.”

Payette explained this campaign has also helped to raise awareness of CASA Cares and its other events, as not all students know about this charity committee on campus.

“To me, that’s another form of success all on its own,” said Payette.

At the end of the month, CASA Cares will host a gala at Le Cinq to highlight the efforts of Movember participants.

“The entire executive team has been pouring their heart and soul into our closing gala,” said Payette.

Press photo

At the gala, CASA Cares will be holding a raffle and will be giving out five big prizes. The first prize, the Ultimate Mo, will go to a Mo’Bro judged purely on the intricate grooming and style of his moustache.

Mo’Sistas also have the chance to win, as the Miss Movember prize is awarded to the Mo’Sista judged to have the best dressed and most impressive Movember spirit.

While the campaign demands a lot of work from the CASA Cares executive team, Payette expressed how much she’s learned about organizing large campaigns, among other lessons.

“The biggest lesson, by far, is that no matter how much work you put into a campaign, the people who make it happen are those who sign up and help us raise money,” said Payette.

“We can motivate everyone and plan the most amazing events, but as far as charity goes, our goal is to raise awareness among the student body, and it’s because of them that we’ll be successful and keep Concordia in the top ranking schools, making an impact in our community.”

The CASA Cares Movember gala will be held Friday Nov. 22 at Le Cinq located at 1234 De La Montagne.



ASFA byelections begin today

Photo from jasonparis on flickr

Byelections for the Arts and Science Federation of Associations are taking place from Nov. 12 to 14, with six candidates in the running.

“Large organizations like ASFA are meant to represent student interests and rights at Concordia,” said ASFA’s CEO Trevor Wilkinson. “Voting, for me, is like a statement to the organization and the University about who we believe is best suited for the job of representing our rights, managing the funds we give them, and ensuring that our interests and voices are heard.”

The positions up for election are Vice-President of Finance, Vice-President of External Affairs and Sustainability and Independent Councillor.

Stefanie Broos and David Ness are the two candidates running for VP finance. Broos is a second year communications student who’s volunteered in past ASFA events and worked as news editor of Dawson’s newspaper The Plant. If elected, Broos promises financial accountability, transparency and availability to all students concerned with ASFA and its finances. She strives for organization and professionalism.

Ness has worked in the financial service industry over the past 3 years. “I have learned a lot about how to run a business, to be frugal, efficient, proper accounting and how to successfully manage a team,” said Ness.

His goal as VP Finance is to help all students by being available as much as possible and hopes to be completely transparent. Ness considers his financial literacy, availability and honesty to be among the characteristics that make him well suited for this position.

Ivan Makhrov and Alexa Hinves are both running for VP external affairs and sustainability. Makhrov is majoring in urban planning and is currently part of the ASFA Social Committee. He is one of the founders of the event planning company TTBA Event-lab where he’s gained marketing and management of information systems experience. Among Makhrov’s goals would be to attract more public attention and sponsors to the university, create new social and entertainment opportunities for ASFA students and create a new Concordia radio show.

Hinves has worked for the Concordia Campus Sustainability Assessment where she became motivated to bring change with regards to sustainability at the university.

“It has also enabled me to learn about some very positive initiatives this university has implemented that I want to promote,” said Hinves.

These initiatives include Divest Concordia and the Food Coalition. Hinves also wants to implement a rideshare program at Concordia and hopes to create new relationships with both large corporations and local businesses to secure potential sponsors next year. Hinves feels suited for this position due to her interpersonal skills, work ethic and dedication.

“I believe I am a very approachable person and am always willing to look at various perspectives of any problem while always taking the time to talk with individuals,” said Hinves.  The candidates running for independent councillor are Tarik Shukr and Melina Ghio. Shukr is a second year student double majoring in political science and philosophy. If elected, Shukr would strive to represent the voice of the entire federation of students. He would do this by striving to improve communication, ensure ASFA is financially responsible and that students benefit from the federation by creating more opportunities for students to connect with ASFA.

Ghio is working on her second degree at Concordia, majoring at the Liberal Arts College and minoring in English Literature. Ghio would bring her experience from the professional world to this position, as when she worked in mortgages she learned to manage stressful situations. “The position itself requires a non-biased perspective so council meetings run smoothly and the by-laws and annexes are respected so one of my goals is to maintain the non-biased attitude expected of me,” said Ghio.

She would also like to inform students about what ASFA does and hopes to get people more engaged with the federation’s activities. Ghio believes her diplomacy, attention to detail and the ability to put up with a lot of pressure will help her in this position.

Polling stations are located at both the Sir George Williams campus, on the first and fourth floor of the Hall building and first floor of the Library building, and at the Loyola campus in the SP building.  



Quebec gelateria to appear on Dragon’s Den in 2014

Steffanos, an Italian gelateria in the Eastern Townships, won first place in the Love Your Local Business Contest on Oct. 31, granting them an audition on Dragon’s Den in 2014.

Press photo

Opened April 25 by Concordia student Karen Côté and Stéphane Boivin, Steffanos won the second edition of this contest by receiving the highest amount of votes.

The goal of the contest, launched by the Community Economic Development and Employability Corporation (CEDEC), and Small Business Support Network (SBSN) is to promote small business owners in Quebec and to highlight their economic impact on communities.

“I still can’t believe we won,” said Côté.

Earlier in October, when Côté and Boivin discovered they were in 13th place out of 102 businesses, they put more energy into gaining voters. Up until the end of the month, they contacted local businesses and visited their local elementary school, high school, hospital and prison in Dunham, Quebec—where Steffanos is located—to get support.

“The entire community got behind us,” said Côté.

The Concordia Student Union (CSU) also supported Steffanos by urging people to vote through posts on their Facebook page.

Besides voters in the small town of Dunham, Boivin explained that people voted from Belgium, France, Columbia and South Korea.

“It went global,” he said.

To celebrate, Boivin and Côté gave out free gelato and muffins the following Sunday and set up a donation box, where the community didn’t stop showing their support.

“One young couple even put in an envelope with $400,” said Côté.

On Nov. 5, the five finalists appeared before the Love Your Local Business jury that will decide the winner of an additional prize: a 30-second commercial to air on CBC Television for four weeks between December and January 2014. The winner will be announced at the awards gala on Nov. 21, while Steffanos will audition for Dragon’s Den in about four months.

Côté and Boivin will present a business plan to the Dragon’s Den judges. “We’re trying to develop a prototype [and] get a patent with no money and no time,” said Côté, who explained that Boivin and herself see Steffanos as a springboard to expand their business and do more in the future.

Steffanos is located in Boivin and Côté’s home.

“Every time [customers] open the door, it’s like we have friends coming in the house,” said Boivin.

They cater the music to customers’ preferences and often open their doors to customers before and after their business hours.

“It’s not your typical ice cream place,” said Côté.

Their personalized, welcoming attitude is what sets them apart from similar businesses.

“We treat every single person that walks in like we’re so happy they came, and we are. We’re just thrilled,” said Côté.

Boivin first thought of creating this business last March, while he and Côté were working at a factory in Knowlton, Quebec, during a heatwave. After deciding to pursue the plan, Côté received funding from a program with the Quebec government that helps start businesses.

While Côté didn’t know what gelato was when Boivin first suggested the idea, the two now make a wide assortment of eclectic flavours including chocolate, spinach and mint, avocado, and bacon and maple syrup.

Boivin and Côté have never started a business before and only have a few years of experience making gelato.

“It’s a first for everything,” said Boivin. Still, Steffanos has received praise on websites like for their homemade products. They attended gelato training sessions in Toronto and after buying their house in Dunham, they spent about a year buying second hand equipment.

“I think it’s a great business model: doing something small and doing it with passion,” said Côté.

Since Boivin and Côté have studied as mature students in Concordia’s creative writing program, and are both published authors, a book about their current business is a possibility for the future.


Parti Québécois aims to electrify Quebec

In a speech on Nov. 1, Premier Pauline Marois announced the Parti Québécois’ plans to electrify transportation in the province.

The PQ released a 113-page public document outlining a three-year plan that would cost $516 million.

Among other expenses, the government will invest $35 million to create the Institut du transport électrique, $50 million to attract companies in the field of electric transportation and spend $220 million to foster the electric transport industry.

“The goal is to make Québec a world leader in electric transportation,” said Marois, as quoted on the Quebec government website. “With this exciting project, we can create wealth here in Québec while reducing our greenhouse gas emissions in order to attain our ambitious targets by 2020.”

The PQ claims the project will play an important role in creating new jobs; in her speech, Marois stated the plan will create 2,000 jobs.

The government believes the Institut du transport électrique would attract world class researchers to the province. As it states on their website, this institution would also encourage “research teams from Québec universities and specialized centres to participate in the research and build ties between researchers and industry in Québec and abroad.”

The plan’s objectives consist of making Quebec a global leader in the transportation electrification field, capitalizing on Quebec’s expertise in electricity, building the future around a high-performance sector and making Quebec a model to follow.

The major projects of the plan include adding more than 12,000 electric vehicles to the current 4.4 million personal vehicles in Quebec, over three years and incorporating an electric trolley-bus network into the province. Funding will also be made available to add 525 electric taxis to the roads.

As reported in The Gazette and on CTV news, Marois said that consumers will be eligible for grants of up to $8,000 for electric or hybrid cars and $1,000 to install a charging station at home.

Furthermore, a section of St. Michel would be electrified with 25 trams, the blue metro line would be extended, and a light rail — an electric railway system — would be created on the Champlain Bridge.

Marois noted only $30 million for this plan would be new money, while the rest would come from the Green Fund. Created in 2006, this fund’s goal is to support environmental measures aimed at promoting sustainable development.

While the intentions of this plan are valuable, several Quebecers have expressed their concern over the cost and budgeting. Coalition Avenir Québec economy critic, Stéphane Le Bouyonnec, told CTV Montreal,

“To try to accelerate the electrification of transportation could be very costly and we know our government is broke.”


Concordia professor wins Prix du Québec

Concordia professor and economist Marguerite Mendell will receive the ‘Marie-Andrée-Bertrand Prix du Québec’ award for social

“I’m very lucky that I thrive on my work,” said Mendell. “I’m passionate about the work I do.” Press photo.

innovation on Nov. 12 at a special ceremony to be held at the Assemblée nationale du Québec.

The Prix du Québec honours individuals who advance knowledge in their fields over their lifetime which benefits the culture and expertise in Quebec.

Maka Kotto, minister of culture and communications, and Pierre Duchesne, minister of higher education, research, science and technology revealed the award recipients on Oct, 28.

Of the 13 recipients this year, Mendell is the only professor at Concordia University to be recognized.

“I was thrilled, there’s no other way to describe it,” said Mendell. “It’s a remarkable recognition of many years of hard work.”

Concordia University nominated Mendell for the award.

“The great source of pride for me was the fact that my university thought that highly of me,” she said.

Besides teaching at the Concordia School of Community and Public Affairs, where she engages her students in community based research, Mendell has collaborated with practitioners in community economic development, social economy and the finance sector.

“I continually enjoy bringing my research to bear on my teaching and as often as possible to engage students either as research assistants or to accompany me on trips,” Mendell explained.

Mendell was not able to bring her students on her most recent trip, however, as she left for Korea on Nov. 2 to attend the 2013 Social Economy Global Forum, co-hosted by the mayor of Seoul and the Government of Quebec.

The GSEF is an international event, where more than 1,000 participants are expected from more than 30 countries around the world. This year’s program will focus on the concept of social economy.

Mendell will be the keynote speaker and present an additional series of lectures.

“I’m going to address the role of the social economy in urban regeneration and also in societal well being,” said Mendell.

Earlier this year, she gave a presentation at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development in Geneva on social and solidarity economy.

In 2012, Mendell was awarded the inaugural ‘Prix Pierre-Dansereau’ from the Association francophone pour le savoir, for her commitment to improving society.

Mendell is also the co-founder and director of Concordia’s Karl Polanyi Institute of Political Economy, established in 1988. With Polanyi’s daughter, she co-created the Karl Polanyi Archive, a research tool for scholars in all disciplines interested in Karl Polanyi’s work, who is known for his opposition to traditional economic thought.

She also co-founded the Montreal Community Loan Association, the first microfinance organization in Canada, in 1990.

“I’m proud that I’ve been able to combine my research, my teaching and my involvement directly in organizations,” said Mendell.

While having contributed to the development of Quebec society, Mendell expressed how much she has learned from the province as well.

“Quebec has been my school,” she expressed. “Quebec is a very dynamic place and we always have things to think about and discuss, to get irritated about […] It’s a place where dialogue is important and a lot of the initiatives that I work on are the results of dialogue.”

Her published work on the social economy in Quebec has gained international attention in the global effort to create economic initiatives to reduce poverty.

“I’m very lucky that I thrive on my work,” said Mendell. “I’m passionate about the work I do.”

Concordia Student Union News

CSU regular council meeting in brief

At the Oct. 23 regular council meeting, the Concordia Student Union planned to deal with upcoming matters including using stickers as promotional material and whether a student-run initiative should take over the Java U space in the mezzanine of the Hall building.

The Community Food Coalition had requested a question on ballots for the November byelections at the CSU special council meeting on Oct. 16, asking whether a student-run co-operative can take over the current Java U location. The café’s contract at this site will expire in May 2014.

At this meeting, council voted to pass a second referendum question to the Judicial Board, asking whether they mandate the CSU to establish a co-operative café or restaurant at this site that’s mainly controlled by students either through membership or through the board of directors.
While members of the CFC are involved, this initiative is separate from the CFC in order to gain support from other student and faculty associations.

“I don’t want to listen to two hours of council playing junior lawyer and discussing this,” said CSU Councillor Wendy Kraus-Heitmann, regarding who should consider this question. “It’s their job […] I really would like [the question] to go to JB, they can think about it and get back to us.”

The JB’s role is to interpret the validity of the CSU’s regulations and bylaws and to settle disputes between members.

Council then discussed the question of whether stickers should continue to be used as promotional material, though not all executives considered it to be an urgent matter.

Upon being asked to approve CSU spending on stickers, VP Finance, Scott Carr prepared and sent a document to council members that addressed ethical questions regarding stickers as a source of communication, and where the proper usage and sustainability concerns were outlined.

“We used [stickers] for our campaign and me seeing that they were all over the place and vandalizing things doesn’t really make me super comfortable or super proud that those were our stickers,” said Carr.

Carr explained it should be discussed since referendums are coming up in which stickers could be used as promotional material and that the opinions of council members on the issue were important.

He proposed for the council to decide whether to continue using stickers as promotional material, find other ways of promotion, or to use stickers with weaker adhesives that did not require a toxic cleaning product to dissolve, as they do now.

“With many campaigns promoting sustainability, our credibility once again comes into question,” Carr wrote in his summary.

The CSU adopted the amendment to expand the scope of this referral to the campaigns committee and Concordia’s Sustainability Action Fund. The union chose to put a hold on sticker purchases and reimbursements until the next meeting, where these groups would make a report for promotional material similar to stickers.

During the lengthy closed session of the meeting, several students were appointed to committees such as the Sustainability Action Fund, the events committee, the policy committee and the external and campaigns committee. Three students were appointed to the JB.


Federal Health Minister re-introduces bill that aims to impede supervised injection sites

Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose has defied the Supreme Court of Canada by reintroducing a bill on Oct. 17 that aims to prevent the existence of new supervised injection sites (SICs) in Canada.

Photo by Rae Pellerin

Ambrose introduced Bill C-2 as an amendment to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, and is identical to Bill C-65, tabled in Parliament on June 6, which spurred organizations such as the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition to release a statement calling for SICs to be recognized as life-saving services.

In these statements, the organizations described the bill as “an irresponsible initiative that ignores both the extensive evidence that such health services are needed and effective, and the human rights of Canadians with addictions.”

The bill itself states that a supervised consumption service can only exist in exceptional circumstances. Thus far the only exemption granted was in 2003 to Vancouver’s Insite, the first legal supervised injection site in North America. Despite the Supreme Court’s declaration that ‘Insite saves lives. […] [And] its benefits have been proven,’ it remains the only SIC in Canada, in contrast to over 90 worldwide.

In 2011, the Supreme Court similarly declared that the federal health minister had violated the Charter rights of people who needed access to such facilities and ruled against the federal government’s decision to withhold offering services like Insite.

“Bill C2 is an attempt to circumvent the Supreme Court Ruling of 2011,” said Connie Carter, senior policy analyst of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition.

The organizations called on Ambrose to take into account the benefits of supervised consumption sites and outlined the benefits they bring, such as a decrease in drug-related deaths, injuries, and infections (like HIV), and decreases in public drug use and risky behaviours associated with HIV —  all without increasing the negatives associated with drug use, like crime.

Earlier, on Sept. 30, the aforementioned health organizations co-wrote an open letter to Ambrose, backed by over 50 other Canadian health organizations.

“It is unethical, unconstitutional and damaging to both public health and the public purse to block access to supervised consumption services which save lives and prevent the spread of infection,” the letter read.

They urge Ambrose to “stand up for people’s lives and take the leadership to ensure that supervised consumption services become a part of the continuum of care for people who use drugs in Canada.”

Other organizations supporting SICs are the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Nurses Association, the Public Health Physicians of Canada, the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, and the Urban Public Health Network.


Highlights from board of governors meeting

On Oct. 16, Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology Pierre Duchesne unveiled the Parti Québécois government’s new National Research and Innovation Policy.

“The government will invest $3.7 billion over the next five years in research and innovation across a number of sectors that Concordia would have real strengths in,” said Concordia President Alan Shepard at the Oct. 16 board of governors meeting. “We’ll be looking at those opportunities quite closely in the weeks and months to come.”

The money will be spread among different sectors of research in Quebec, of which Concordia’s share represents about 11 per cent, explained Shepard. Besides universities, colleges and businesses, the government will invest $25 million in public school laboratories in disadvantaged areas.

The government will also invest in sectors including aerospace, public health, biotechnology, energy, creative industries, communications and sustainability.

“Probably for the first time, a research and innovation policy has also created space for researchers in the humanities, social sciences and the fine arts.This plan has cast a wide net and really captured the whole research community,” said Concordia Vice President of Research and Graduate Studies Graham Carr.

The government will issue calls for proposals in intervals over the next five years and Concordia will compete among other universities for funding. Shepard explained that judges won’t know which universities have submitted what inorder to maintain impartiality.

Though the research areas for the competition have been revealed, Carr stated Concordia is still a long way from knowing exactly how they will compete.

“We are very well informed of opportunities and very ready to participate,” said Shelley Sitahal, associate director of Research Partnerships and Innovation.

Minister Duchesne spoke at a conference on health innovation hosted by Concordia on Oct. 21. The conference helped to kick off  MEDTEQ, the Quebec Consortium for Industrial Research and Innovation in Medical Technology’s project.

In light of the funds the government will invest in research and innovation, the question of whether Concordia should review their Policy on Intellectual Property with respect to students was raised at the board of governor’s meeting.

Concordia’s current IP Policy, which was established in 2011, has come under discussion this past spring as more undergraduate students engage in research, largely due to the emergence of District 3, an innovation centre at the university. Students also engage in research for Capstone projects which must be completed by undergraduates in engineering programs to earn their degree.

Shepard explained the issue of who can claim ownership and owns the intellectual property  — whether it is the student who’s come up with a new idea or the university which provided the necessary resources — has arisen at many universities.

“It’s important that we have an IP policy that helps us be innovative,” said Dr. William E. Lynch, professor and chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the meeting. “I don’t think the IP Policy as it stands promotes innovation in my faculty.”

Bram Freedman, secretary-general of the Board of Governors, explained at the meeting that he and Shepard have discussed doing an overall examination of the current policy in how it affects students and mapping out IP policies in other Canadian universities.

“The existing policy is working extremely effectively,” said Freedman. He explained the issue in respect to undergraduate student projects has been resolved with the faculty of engineering and computer science to everyone’s mutual satisfaction by making exemptions for these students so that Concordia will not claim IP ownership.

Speaking with the Concordian, Carr and Sitahal confirmed that Concordia has not, in fact, changed the IP policy for undergraduate student projects. He stated there’s the perception that the policy is inflexible, when this is not the case.

“It’s a framework document,” said Sitahal, explaining why the policy allowed Concordia to deal fairly with students working at District 3 or on Capstone projects. “It anticipates there will be special circumstances so the policy allows us to deal with those initiatives in a special way.”

Sitahal explained the IP policy mirrors the collective agreement between the university and Concordia University Part-Time Faculty Association. She clarified that according to the policy, a faculty member has full control over what happens to their intellectual property.

“[This] was a negotiated position between the faculty association and the university, so we presume that everybody’s happy with it,” said Sitahal.

Carr explained the purpose of establishing an IP policy is to ensure research activities entail legal structural agreements in the ownership of ideas

“Our IP policy has worked very successfully in terms of our establishing partnerships with external organizations and at the same time, protecting the rights of researchers at Concordia,” said Carr.

Since IP policy can be complicated to grasp, Carr said students need to make informed choices when deciding to claim ownership rights or when signing any agreements.

“We have been approached by certain professors to come and do presentations in their classes,” said Sitahal regarding upcoming workshops on IP policy.

Concordia already offers workshops for graduate students and the university will begin providing more workshops for undergraduates.


Hall building’s largest auditorium gets a makeover

Renovations budgeted at $4.25 million for Concordia’s largest auditorium in the Henry F. Hall building are scheduled to be done by January 2014.

Photo by Keith Race

“We’ve invested a lot in that building over the last few years and this is our biggest [project] at the moment,” said Peter Bolla, associate vice-president of Facilities Management.

The H-110 auditorium seats 675, with a standing capacity of 723 and is often used for cinema projections. Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema students’ final films are projected in the auditorium and the films from the Fantasia International Film Festival have been screened there in previous years.

The auditorium hasn’t undergone any reconstruction prior to the current project.

“It’s a complete renovation,” said Bolla. “We’re changing all the seats, all the decorations, we’re upgrading all the equipment with new, fully digital projectors […] It’s a big improvement.”

These changes will improve the venue for film festivals. New projectors and screens will meet Digital Cinema Package standards, according to an article published on Concordia’s website Aug. 27. DCP standards are accepted worldwide for distributing and projecting movies in a digital format.

Bolla said Concordia is installing more energy efficient lighting and ventilation in H-110. The auditorium is also getting an improved sound system, new carpeting and improved wheelchair access.

“We’re also renovating the exterior of it,” he said, explaining why the area is boarded off in the Hall building lobby.

Bolla said Concordia is currently working within budget, and the auditorium should reopen next winter or spring.

Classes that regularly use the H-110 auditorium have been temporarily relocated to rooms in other Concordia buildings.

The university has focused on renovating different areas of the Hall building, built in 1966, in recent years.

“We’ve been renovating the Hall building as a classroom building,” explained Bolla. “Every summer, we renovate two classrooms.”

Besides classrooms, some of the university’s larger auditoriums have been refurbished, such as the H-937 auditorium which was renovated a couple years ago.

The major project over the past two years was replacing the Hall building’s 17 escalators as well as adding new stairs and escalators.

“We hope the users are happy with it,” Bolla added.

In the coming years, noted Bolla, Concordia plans on renovating research labs.


Engineers and commerce students team up

Graphic by Jennifer Kwan

Organized by Concordia students, the Engineering and Commerce Case Competition is the first of its kind in Canada. It is scheduled to take place at the university from March 12 to 16, 2014.

This global case competition combines the strengths of engineering and business students in simulating a real world product development scenario. Emphasis is placed on bridging the communication gap between the two disciplines.

“The aim of the competition is to break barriers in the industry from a communication perspective,” said ECCC president and engineering student Emran Ghasemi. “We’re enhancing the communication channel between the two faculties and making one thought process look at things from the other’s perspective.”

Ghasemi explained teaching communication skills, which students will need after graduating, is not part of the curriculum for Concordia’s engineering programs. The ECCC Organizing Committee believes this competition will help students develop the skills they’ll need in the industry.

“Most of the time, the problems in businesses is communication,” he explained.

A competing team from a given university will consist of two engineering students, two commerce students and a professor who will act as their coach.

The ECCC Committee will select 12 universities from those that apply by Oct. 31; Canadian universities that have already applied include McGill, Université Laval and the University of Waterloo.

Students participating will get the chance to work with corporations in a networking scenario and create connections. The ECCC is looking for corporate partners for the first year of the competition, which would help lead to career opportunities for students and recruitment possibilities for corporations.

While the Committee anticipates mostly Canadian universities at the first competition, they’re gaining international interest.

“Last week, we surprisingly had an email from a university in Prague that wanted to get involved,” said Ghasemi.

Ghasemi and his friend thought up the idea for the ECCC in the summer of 2012, wondering why these two disciplines haven’t collaborated before for a case competition.

“We thought about collaborating engineering and commerce together considering they’ll be working together when they graduate anyway,” he said.

The Committee is made up of engineering and business students, including industrial engineers, electrical engineers, marketing students, international business students and management students.

“The opportunity is there so we just want to capitalize on it,” said Ghasemi of the committee’s plans for the competition to take place annually.


Exit mobile version