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Student Life

I ♡ MTL: the cross on Mount Royal reigns

It is a guiding sign, an icon as old as the city itself

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News

Glenn Greenwald on security in the internet age

Hundreds of students and community members attend Concordia Student Union-hosted talk Oct. 24

Canada was still mourning. Only two days earlier Michael Zehaf-Bibeau shot Canadian reservist Cpl. Nathan Cirillo while he stood on honour guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa. Struck by grief, a dark nimbus enveloped Canadian skies. The shock of that day hung over us, we were all symbolically targeted and could each empathize with the fallen soldier. But that was not the theme for Greenwald’s talk at Concordia on October 24. Possibly all too experienced with grieving nations, Greenwald came to Concordia with a narrative that countered the excess of pained panegyrics.

“Obviously the events of this week have been pretty tragic and horrible to watch. But at the same time they actually provide what I could almost describe as the perfect framework for talking about the … way in which Western governments have been able to shape and manipulate their citizenries in the name of terrorism in order to dismantle the civil liberties and other legal protections that have long come to define how we think about ourselves in Western democracies,” Greenwald said as he began to address an auditorium humming with anticipation.

Hours before that first shot, the action that deluged our nation with outrage, Greenwald published a controversial article. He offered a reminder to those confused why Canada would be targeted by an ideologue, by a “radicalized muslim.”

Photo by Keith Race.

“Canada has spent the last 13 years proclaiming itself a nation at war. It actively participated in the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and was an enthusiastic partner in some of the most extremist War on Terror abuses perpetrated by the U.S. … Regardless of one’s views on the justifiability of Canada’s lengthy military actions, it’s not the slightest bit surprising or difficult to understand why people who identify with those on the other end of Canadian bombs and bullets would decide to attack the military responsible for that violence,” Greenwald wrote.

But in Parliament, in newspapers and across live broadcasts the ISIS was on display. It biased our thoughts and new tools to address the issue were propounded—increased surveillance and preventive detention are the anodyne prescribed by Justice Minister Peter MacKay and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Greenwald’s article hit a raw nerve. There was the expected twitter backlash and his inbox was filled with furious emails. It was no real surprise that Greenwald’s causal link between engaging in war and terrorist attacks was poorly received. Some critics called the move “too soon,” that it was inappropriate to comment on the tragedy while it was still fresh in our psyche. It was published the day of a shooting on parliament hill and though it wasn’t directly written about Wednesday’s events, the crux of the article may as well have been.

Canada had built a strong reputation as a participant in international diplomacy. We weren’t seen as an army of occupiers, we had a reputation as a friendly peacekeeping nation. Many Canadians still see ourselves through these rose-tinted glasses, but our nation has changed whether we realize it or not, and Greenwald argues there can be no “too soon” when talking about the ways we exert our wealth and power around the world. A crisis is a pivotal point for any nation’s long-term direction. In the hours and days after a critical event, when an entire nation’s attention has been joined and focused, very important decisions are made.

Before Greenwald spoke in Auditorium H-110, I asked him about Prime Minister Harper’s address on Wednesday night where he called on Canada to “redouble our efforts and those of our national security agencies to take all necessary steps to identify and counter threats and keep Canada safe here at home,” and to “strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts to work with our allies around the world and fight against the terrorist organizations who brutalize those in other countries with the hope of bringing their savagery to our shores.”

Greenwald told me that, “it’s what Western governments have been doing for the last 12 years, which is immediately seizing on all of the emotions generated by these kinds of attacks, the surge of anger and fear and patriotism in order to justify whole new powers for themselves, and it’s just a pattern that goes without end. Here we are, 13 years after the 9/11 attack where governments around the West have continuously increased their own powers. And every time there’s one of these attacks, no matter how limited they are—and these are extremely limited in nature, the two that took place here—they immediately seize on it to try and justify powers that they wanted previously and whole new ones that they wanted.”

Just as Greenwald described it, that week in Parliament Justice Minister MacKay brought up the government’s intent to table new legislation that would enable preventative detention, or as he put it “pre-emptive measures,” to stop would-be terrorists. Preventative detention counters our entire judicial system. The belief of innocence-until-proven-guilty will never apply in this new world envisioned by our government. As Greenwald put it, “vesting the power with the government to imprison people without charges, which is what preventative detention is. Or to imprison people based not on crimes they’ve actually committed but acts the government anticipates or predicts they might engage in in the future is a complete dismantling of the core precepts of Western justice that have existed since thirteenth-century British subjects rebelled against the king and demanded the most basic protections of due process.”

Perhaps the most powerful moment of Greenwald’s speech came near its beginning. He spoke about the intense and detailed coverage of the two Canadian victims of last week. How the media delved into their histories and ambitions. We listened to their grieving relatives and were allowed to emotionally connect to these two men. Because of that, their loss affected us in a visceral way. But Greenwald made a bet with us. Despite Canada’s involvement in multiple wars across seven predominantly muslim nations, Greenwald “bet [us] that almost nobody in the auditorium can know the name of a single one of any of those many thousands of women and children and innocent men that our own governments have killed.”

He went on to say how, “they’re simply rendered invisible. We don’t hear their names, we don’t know about the lives that have been extinguished, we don’t hear from their grieving relatives. So what this does, is this creates a very imbalanced perception on the part of those of us who live in the countries where this kind of coverage takes place, which is that we are continuously the victims of violence that is horrific and that kills innocent people. And we forget, by design, that we perpetuate a huge amount of that violence as well.”

Greenwald encouraged the audience to take a piece of that emotion tied to the recent acts of violence in Canada and extend it to those who are made invisible. Mohammed Daoud Sharabuddin was also shot and he also died. Jeremy Scahill —a cofounder with Greenwald of their new media platform, The Intercept— chronicled the killing in his book, Dirty Wars.

Daoud died in his home in the village of Khataba, Afghanistan. His family had two dozen guests over to celebrate the naming of Daoud’s newborn son. It was a night raid that tragically mis-targeted a family of allies instead of Taliban insurgents. They weren’t shooting Daoud, they were shooting the enemy before they could shoot first. But it was Daoud, the police commander, who fell. Him and his fifteen-year-old son were shot by NATO snipers as they exited their home. The victims of that night totalled seven people, two of which were pregnant women. These people were allies. Daoud’s home was decorated with photos of him and american soldiers. He had gone through dozens of American training programs and was helping to combat the Taliban insurgency in the area. What happened after the soldiers discovered their night raid had unwittingly murdered their own allies is especially unsettling. On realizing the mistake they began to cut out their bullets from the women’s bodies in order to cover up their mistake. When the soldiers left, they took several of the still living guests with them for interrogation and held them for days. The story itself deserves much more detail than I can go into here; Daoud and his family members were subjected to inhuman terrors that night. Without Scahill’s detailed reporting of the incident it’s likely that the government narrative, the cover up, would have never been exposed. No one except those villagers still alive in Kataba would have known the real war in Afghanistan.

This is now the war that is unfolding in Iraq. There is no mythic battle between good and evil. When we arm our young men and women, fly them across the ocean into the unknown and put them into impossible situations, we are setting them and ourselves up for tragedy, for terror. The last decade has been one war waged across interchangeable battle fields.

As Canada prepares to send approximately 600 Canadian Armed Forces personnel to Iraq, Greenwald offers only so much comfort in the face of an uncertain future.

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News

Glenn Greenwald to talk state surveillance at Concordia

Man behind Snowden’s leak to reveal extent of the modern surveillance state

On Friday, Oct. 24, Glenn Greenwald is coming to Concordia. For the uninitiated—or those living under a rock for the last year and a bit—Greenwald is one of the two journalists who brought the Edward Snowden leaks to the world and proved that America’s NSA was engaged in a massive, worldwide data-dragnet, scooping up every bit of information they could eavesdrop, buy, coerce, wiretap, or hack their way into.

Though there were a handful of leaks and even some class action lawsuits against the NSA’s operations before Greenwald published a single document, the American political and judicial system was doing a pretty good job at denying and suppressing the scope of its espionage industry.

A perfect example of the pre-Snowden environment lies with Mark Klein. In 2006, Klein blew the whistle on AT&T and their secret backdoor into customers and many other’s data. In a secret room the NSA had installed splitters to the backbone of the internet and was vacuuming up troves of data. The unclassified documents he supplied to a class action lawsuit against AT&T were undeniable proof of a wiretap unprecedented in scope, yet the U.S. Supreme Court, in 2012, upheld the immunity granted to the corporation by an appeals court, refusing to even hear the case.

The world had not yet tuned into the abuses by national security apparatus, and government officials were still considered honest and reliable sources. Some argued that Greenwald revealed very little that was not already known, at least in the early days of the leaks, but the true power of his revelations were in the government documents he could hold out as proof of the government’s perfidy.

The story of how Greenwald actually came into possession of NSA’s secrets unfolded like a spy novel full of clandestine meetings and intrigue.

Snowden flew to Hong Kong in late May and met with Greenwald and Laura Poitras in secret on June 1, 2013. Poitras was actually the first journalist to receive any documents from Snowden and was crucial to bringing Greenwald on board, as he had failed to take previous attempts at communication by Snowden seriously. Greenwald hadn’t taken the time to learn and install encrypted communication software that was a precondition for Snowden to talk about anything substantial, but Poitras did and she arranged the initial rendezvous.

The meeting itself took place in a high-end hotel in downtown Hong Kong where the trepidatious team of two — three if you include the producer that The Guardian foisted onto Greenwald and Poitras as a condition for their support though he was mostly kept in the dark — met with Snowden for the first time. They were shocked to meet, not the old and disenchanted bureaucrat of their imagination, but a 29-year-old man with access to America’s most secretive organization.

Four days later, after a battle with their publisher against the traditional restraint in reporting national security leaks, Greenwald published the first of his pieces on the surreptitious activities of the unrelenting agency known as the NSA.

Since that first article, Greenwald has started his own publication called The Intercept (www.theintercept.org). The project is funded by Pierre Omidyar, co-founder and chairman of eBay, and its founding editors are Poitras, Jeremy Scahill, and Greenwald.

Greenwald’s book, No Place To Hide, chronicles the complete odyssey of Greenwald obtaining, discovering the true depths of the documents, and fighting to publish his articles at a practically unprecedented speed. Not to mention the retribution by the government, who, according to his book, broke into his Rio de Janeiro home to steal laptops they believed to hold the leaked documents.

In all, Greenwald’s visit to Concordia should be, at very least, interesting if not altogether edifying.

Hosted by the Concordia Student Union, Greenwald’s speech, entitled “State Surveillance and the Assault on Civil Liberties,” will take place Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. in the H-110 auditorium. Tickets are $5 to $10 and can be purchased at the CSU offices. For more information, visit the CSU’s Facebook page.

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Student Life

Suzuki: a healthy environment is a right

A first-hand account of this week’s Blue Dot event

A tiny blue dot. A speck in the infinite cold darkness of space. All we have to live, all we need to live comes from this little rock to which we’re anchored. What would we do without it?

If there is no air for three minutes, you’re dead. If there is no water for three days, you’re dead.

We can all agree that we need these elements of life, these essential resources. And that is the message David Suzuki’s Blue Dot Tour is bringing to Canada.

The sun shone unobstructed, and a crisp autumn wind blew. Trees with leaves of orange, gold-green, and umber framed the stage as musicians played. French folk music flowed through an enthusiastic crowd of more than 2,000. Artists performing included Les Cowboys Fringants, Lisa Leblanc, Paul Piché, Gilles Vigneault, Eléanore Lagacé and Ian Kelly.

Children and parents. The young and the old. Students and retirees. There were at least four  generations out for fun. With everyone smiling and milling around, food trucks sold snacks off in the background.

Montreal throws thousands of concerts in a year. Actually it’s likely closer to hundreds of thousands. But last Sunday wasn’t for culture, or dancing, or alcoholism. It was a social  movement.

Or at least that’s what Suzuki is trying to start. Suzuki is travelling across Canada bringing people together and asking a pretty simple question: isn’t it about time to enshrine the fundamental human right to a healthy environment in our constitution?

At first I was a bit… well, not dismissive, I guess I’d call it cynical. Achieving a constitutional amendment is one of the most difficult political tasks. And that’s something of an understatement! The bare minimum requires an agreement between seven provinces representing at least 50 per cent of the country’s population. Our last federal election couldn’t even muster 40 per cent for a single party, and only 61 per cent of us even bothered to show up.

But that is starting from the end. That sunny Sunday afternoon was all about beginnings.

From Sept. 24 to Nov. 9 Suzuki is crisscrossing Canada putting on free concerts, fundraising benefits, and political soirées. The theme of the tour is bringing together all generations of Canadians to sing and dance and laugh and listen — listen to ourselves, the

citizens of this nation who overwhelmingly agree that a healthy environment is essential to our lives.

“85 per cent of Canadians in polls say [they want] to enshrine the right to a healthy environment in the constitution,” Suzuki said on stage.

He urged anyone interested to visit the website bluedot.ca where there’s a petition for  Canadians to sign, as well as a video that elucidates the three step, bottom-up method of action the tour is advocating. Starting at the municipal level, he urges every one of us to pressure our representatives to make declarations recognizing a healthy environment as a fundamental human right. The next progression is for cities across Canada to use their declarations as a model and pressure their provincial assemblies to pass an environmental bill of rights. Finally, and this is realistically a long way down the road, the goal is to amend the Charter of Rights to recognize the fundamental human right to a healthy environment.

It’s not an overnight solution. It’s not a quick fix. Suzuki, the Kyoto crusader, worked long and hard to convince nations across the world to sign the Kyoto Accord. Now he’s focusing on his home, our home.

There are many more stops on the Blue Dot Tour, the next one being Wednesday, Oct. 15 at the Corona Theatre right here in Montreal. It’s a fundraiser with an impressive list of talent: Emily Haines and Jimmy Shaw from Metric, Montreal’s own Half Moon Run and Patrick Watson, and many more.

When I saw Suzuki walk out on stage full of enthusiasm and vitality it was hard to believe  he’s already 78 years old. He’s been a champion for the environment for over 50 years and hopefully for more still to come. But he’s just one man and that’s why he’s trying to start a movement. It takes all of us to spur on real action, not just a few. And it won’t come from one  person or one group, we all need to have a conversation about what is really important in the long run and the short. Our economy doesn’t have to suffer, it needs to be redirected.

“But this is the challenge, I believe. That we have to come together as human beings and map  out what are our most fundamental needs, and THEN build an economy and a way of living on top of that,” said Suzuki. “Surely a healthy environment should be a fundamental right of all Canadians. It should be in our constitution!”

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Music Student Life

Igloofest in pictures

Igloofest has become an institution. It’s that time in winter where checking the weather report fires me spiralling through the stages of grief. Christmas has passed, the snow keeps falling and hoofing it through the streets is left exclusively to excursions of necessity. Right when I’ve polished my skills at finding excuses to stay home, hiding away from the snow and cursing the evanescent daylight. Right when I’m ready to give up on the season and turn grizzly; eat and sleep and curl up in a dark hole of extended hibernation. Right at this moment Igloofest comes along and reminds me, reminds us all, that there’s no amount of accursed hypothermia-incarnate that can kill this city’s party.

So we collectively bundle up. Adorn ourselves with neon, Mardi-Gras-esque costumes and an environmentally disastrous stockpile of chemical hand warmers. Welcome to the only festival that I’ve ever heard of where the beer isn’t chilled but warmed to just above zero Celsius.

A bacchic festival of electronic music and ice sculptures, Igloofest is unique to Montreal and is gaining world recognition. Last year over 70,000 revelers took part in the open-air festival of frost, and judging by the crowd in attendance on Saturday its rise in popularity is not slowing.

More Igloofest:

Breaking down the frozen fashion at Igloofest

Opinions: The upsides to having a winter music festival in Montreal

 

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News

Audience at Concordia enthralled by Chomsky

Noam Chomsky came to Concordia on Sat, Oct. 26 as part of the Concordia Student Union’s ongoing speaker series, delivering an oration to an enthralled audience on the topic of his choosing; the neo-liberal assault on the population.

Photo Keith Race

Concordia students were so eager to hear Noam Chomsky speak that the event sold out in under an hour.

On Facebook alone there were 1,190 people confirmed as going, and considering the D.B. Clarke Theater seats a maximum of 387, it’s no surprise the seminar was a quick sell. There was so much disappointment about the limited seating that the CSU set up a live video feed to accommodate both an overflow room on campus and live streaming at home.

Those in attendance, in person or as part of a digital audience, listened as Noam Chomsky advanced his theory that the canons of contemporary politics are in dangerous disharmony with the general population and pose an existential threat to the entire world. He proposed that the high-minded rhetoric of our western democratic institutions is merely a veil that shrouds the plutocratic manipulations of our system.

He terms  the factual state of our political system as “Really Existing Capitalist Democracy,” or RECD —pronounced “wrecked”— for short. The audience was enthralled. Several times during the speech bursts of laughter rolled through the auditorium. One instance came at the off-hand comment that western democracy is more aptly defined as a kleptocracy.

The crowd was absorbed by Chomsky. After its end, and after a standing ovation, students filed through the auditorium foyer, buzzing and star-struck.

Kristifer Szabo, a geography major at Concordia, has been reading Chomsky since he was fifteen. It was his first time seeing Chomsky in person and he felt the seminar was a worthwhile endeavor, calling it, “Probably the single best use of Concordia’s resources in recent memory.”

“I know you shouldn’t be so concerned with the personality of the person, it’s the ideas that matter, but I’m just struck by his breadth of knowledge and the way he can relate contemporary problems to things that were happening hundreds of years ago, because its all the same themes,” said Szabo.

His description of the status-quo is antithetical to the conventional narrative and his often adversarial tone has been known to deflate passions more often than it inspires. Often, Chomsky’s detractors describe him along the lines of a delusional academic who offers only criticisms without hope or solutions. This was not the case on Saturday.

“He was more optimistic than I thought he would be when he was answering the questions, and very down to earth as well,” UdeM student, Emilie Rochon-Gruselle said, “Some people think that his theories are kind of out there, that you can’t really implement them in real life and I thought that he really had that kind of optimism and that fundamental belief in human nature; that we’re capable of change all while being realistic.”

Another UdeM student, Olivier Jacques, shared the same sentiment, saying, “I prefer when he speaks about incremental change than revolutionary change. I think it’s more realistic, and I was surprised and happy that that was what he said.”

An online video of the seminar will be made available soon on CSU’s youtube at youtube.com/CSUmtl.

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News

Canada’s access to information system not up to par

This October, Canada’s Information Commissioner released a critical report of the country’s access to information system, stating that there is significant deterioration in the federal access system and institutions are failing to meet their most basic obligations.

There was a nine per cent increase in complaints lodged against institutions who failed to properly address Access to Information (ATI) requests compared to the year before, bringing the number of new complaints to 1,596.

Complaints responded to in the 2012-2013 year were down 12 per cent, however the average turnaround time for closing an ATI request complaint is 380 days.

The report catalogued almost two dozen instances of what it characterized in a subheading as an “All-round failure to meet the duty to assist.”

National Defence took a 1,100-day extension on a request for information about the sale of surplus military assets to Uruguay. Broken down, that’s a total of two years, one week and one day for the institution to fulfill its legal obligation to the public.

The extension included 230 days to process approximately 3,000 pages, and 880 days to consult other government institutions.

In the commissioner’s investigation, it was discovered that intergovernmental consultations would only take approximately 160 days; well short of the 880 days claimed necessary. The investigation found that National Defence could not justify the extension, and its actions were determined to be wholly unreasonable and invalid.

Transport Canada took a 540-day time extension on a request which they made zero effort to pursue for almost a year. Its claims that the request constituted a large volume of records and that it would unreasonably interfere with operations was determined to be invalid by the commissioner.

In attempting to resolve Transport Canada’s outstanding information request, the commissioner appealed directly to the Transport Minister to obtain a response within the legislated due date after standard avenues failed.

The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) disposed of documents requested in an active information request. The institution refused an information request citing the obligation to withhold documents under the mandatory exemption for personal information.

The CSC was determined to be guilty of irremediable harm to the rights of a requester as delineated in the Access to Information Act. The documents were never actually retrieved or analyzed before the refusal, as the law requires, and were disposed of during the commissioner’s investigation.

Criticisms included in the report questioned if the access to information process was meeting the intent of the program.

The Information Commissioner has pledged to issue reform proposals to parliament in 2013 in hopes of resolving the litany of failings plaguing the access to information system.

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Arts

Utter beauty and humanity’s monstrous truths

Decayed and motionless, a corpse floats in a liquid, rippling sky. Its only companions are a disposable coffee cup and some piece of unidentifiable, discarded garbage. This is the World Press Photo exhibition: impressive, iconic, and incredibly removed from the idyllic.

World Press Photo is open daily, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., from September 4 to 29 at 350 Saint-Paul Street East, in the Old Port of Montreal. Ticket prices are $12. Press photo.

The World Press Photo is an annual exhibition of the most iconoclastic images from the preceding year… with some sports, nature photography, and a few topical and less soul-crushing news events like the Olympics or an American presidential campaign thrown in as a buffer between your lunch and the pavement.

The corpse suspended in the pool of leaking oil comes from Sudan. The photographer, Dominic Nahr, captured the image in the aftermath of a battle in the contested town of Heglig. Heglig, which lies in the oil-rich border region between what is now Sudan and South Sudan, had seen some of the area’s worst fighting in recent years as the conflict between the Sudan Armed Forces and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (now the army of the Republic of South Sudan) intensified over disputed oil fields and resources. It was one more battle in a struggle that spanned more than half a century. This soldier is not the first victim, and he is far from the last; faceless and discarded, this is the portrait of an oil struggle.

Alongside conflict zones and war-ravaged, blood-splattered streets, this year’s exhibition also features several sets from photographers that confront you with the brutality perpetrated against women.

A shocking mother-daughter portrait by Ebrahim Noroozi displayed the monstrous results of a vindictive patriarchy. Somayeh Mehri, 29, and daughter Rana Afghanipour, 3, were attacked, silently, as they slept by a husband and father who frequently beat and locked Somayeh away and promised revenge should she carry out her divorce. One night he carried out his threat and poured acid over the two while they were tucked in their beds, considering it just retribution for her attempts at leaving him.

The duo avert their gaze from the camera. Rana smiles, though the smile is only discernible through her left eye. The rest of her face, and that of her mother’s, has been transformed into something horrid. Burnt, deformed, and shrouded in bandages that cover the purulent skin, these two women represent a microcosm of the oppression foisted onto women in many parts of the world. These photos draw you in. They are taken in black and white and the textures of seared, melted flesh form a visual tapestry of struggle and spirit; these living corpses are filled with more life and capacity to endure than any asinine simile. This is the life of two women living in Iran.

All in all, the exhibition leaves you with conflicting emotions. The photos, gory and horrifying, are real moments; unadulterated fractions of seconds, caught on celluloid or digital sensors across the world. They stand there, frozen and presented without frames or pretense, but the artistic and technical precision, the conscious editing and manipulation of reality that is photojournalism, can be overwhelming. How can depictions of the most acrid slices of humanity bear so much painterly beauty? Could it be the only recourse open for journalists: to interpret brutality with bokeh and saturation, to turn it into something disturbingly beautiful? Or is it simpler than that –  are we so enamored with war that we find excuses to stage traveling exhibitions? Whatever the reasoning that founded and propagates its success, this exhibition is a portrait of the human condition. This is World Press Photo.

World Press Photo is open daily, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., from September 4 to 29 at 350 Saint-Paul Street East, in the Old Port of Montreal. Ticket prices are $12.

 

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News

Student protest cut short

Photo by writer

A commemorative demonstration against the tuition indexation fell flat early Friday night when Montreal Police quickly shut it down.

Students gathered at Place Émilie-Gamelin for the one-year anniversary of the March 22, 2012 protest. Last year over 200,000 students exercised their democratic right to free assembly and flooded Montreal’s streets to protest a tuition fee increase of $1,625 over a five-year period by then-Premier Jean Charest.

Police have taken a heavy handed approach to student protesters and the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal seemed intent on shutting down the public assembly early Friday when it marked the third consecutive protest to be immediately declared illegal and kettled in under a week.

Kettling is tactic during demonstrations that forces protesters into a small space, sectioning them off and leaving them with a single exit usually determined by police.

The SPVM declared the demonstration illegal as a violation of municipal bylaw P-6 which states that groups must provide an itinerary.

“Police partout, justice nulle part, [police everywhere, justice nowhere]” cried protesters.

In squads, the SPVM surrounded Place Émilie-Gamelin. There were lines of cops blocking off Ste-Catherine St. and St-Hubert St. where police were quick to section off the small group that had gathered in commemoration and dissent.

The protesters were defiant but there was a relaxed air to the scene. Volunteers were handing out sandwiches and a man played the snare-drum. It resembled a parade more than a protest if it weren’t for the brigades of police.

The crowd marched up St-Hubert St. and turned east on De Maisonneuve Blvd.. As the protest neared St-Timothée St. police rushed in and forced them back. Before they could backtrack down a different path another line of police swept in and cut them off.

“Those last few protests; arresting people for nothing [except] exercising some rights even though they’re not strictly legal,” Mary Davis said, referring to Bill 78, “It is just a money grab to get $600 to pay for all the trouble that’s being made by the students but without trouble being made nothing will ever change, nothing will ever happen.”

Sandwiched between scores of flak jackets, batons, polycarbonate shields and jackboots, the bulk of demonstrators as well as journalists present were arrested and fined. Those not kettled were shooed and shoved away.

The protest was quickly over with over 150 protesters detained and fined for being part of an illegal protest.

Categories
Music

New Music Canada: KAPRI

Shoot it. Throw it online. Wait and see how people react. Online publishing platforms like Youtube and Facebook are putting success into the hands of talented and motivated individuals. I got to watch the process as KAPRI, singer-turned-art-director, danced and sang for the making of her new music video, “Jake Sully,” which she also co-directed.

I sat down and spoke with KAPRI about the video and life as a performing artist in general. Apparently she’s been busy, to nobody’s surprise. As an independent artist, she’s taken on a lot and has been going strong for a year and a half.

KAPRI – By Keith Race

“It’s been a short time. A very short space of time. I’m really pushing things,” she said. “The way the world is with social media, you have to move fast. Our audience has a very short attention span and is a wider audience. There are so many of us trying to do the same thing now, so you’ve got to keep moving. Have to keep moving!” she explained, smiling and snapping her fingers for emphasis.

“Now you’re really on your own,” she continued. “Put out your Youtube videos, let’s gauge how many hits you get and then we’ll sign you. Obviously it’s not that easy, but that’s what they’re looking for now . . . And that is such a benefit for a lot of people who don’t have the financial means to do it. You can get a camera, create covers and do it yourself.”

Though she’s about as independent as it comes, KAPRI has intentions, or at least hopes, that her determination will score her a chance to experience the benefits of working with a more traditional label.

“I’m working on my online presence because I’m not the biggest fan of Twitter and Facebook and fan pages and everything . . . I would love to work with [a label] and a team and we start something from the ground up and we build,” she said.

While everyone in every profession would love a bigger budget, KAPRI seems quite adept at inspiring others and creating original works with very limited resources. The designer clothing and much of the team’s time were volunteered in the making of the video, and the project was entirely self-funded.

There is one exception to the one-woman-production: her producer.

“Dan Vallen. He’s working as my producer,” said KAPRI. “I write and come up with the melodies; I’ll hum them and he is the one person who knows how to translate my crazy thoughts into music. He is amazing, so talented and I am so happy that I found him. Really it is the two of us. We are a team.”

It was a day of choreographed dancing, wardrobe changes, racks and racks and racks of clothing and even a little bondage. The entire video took place on a 12-by-14-foot infinity wall. Two massive lights blaring towards the ceiling highlighted the action. KAPRI herself was split between performing in front of camera and the organization that surrounded it. She spoke with her co-director between takes, getting one scene finished and another established. As busy a day as it was, the mood was relaxed; everyone was running but there was plenty of time found for laughter.

“The dynamic of everyone on set that day was just so strong,” she said. “It was like everyone wanted to be there. I wanted to open the doors at this beautiful studio and just invite everyone to see what’s going on. I could feel it, literally magic was happening.”

 

The video is slated for release this April and you can find more about KAPRI on her website at www.kaprimusic.com.

 

 

Categories
News

Students to vote on Greenhouse fee levy

Photo by Madelayne Hajek

The Concordia Greenhouse Project is reaching out to students by asking for the approval of a fee levy in hopes of securing a budget in the wake of potential closure.

The Greenhouse is asking that students approve a 12 cents per credit fee levy in a referendum this month to provide funding for a wealth of services and locally grown veggies on the 13th floor of the Hall building and several community gardens.

While the Greenhouse has been around for 50 years after the merge of Sir George Williams University and Loyola, the sciences eventually moved to Loyola Campus and abandoned the initiative. When plans were made to tear it down eight years ago students, faculty and Sustainable Concordia moved in and brought it back to life under an expansive rejuvenation project.

“In a really quick amount of time we started writing grants, we created more positions, we opened up all the rooms,” said Marcus Lobb, a co-ordinator of the City Farm School. “There are all kinds of different community projects that are taking up the different rooms and we do a huge ceiling production each year. There’s a lot to it, it’s really vast.”

The Concordia Greenhouse is now looking for permanent funding. In the last academic year its expenses totaled $90,846. If the fee levy is accepted it would raise approximately $75,000 during the 2013-2014 academic year. The rest of their funding would be found through grants for sustainability programs, private donations and fundraising initiatives.

Fee levies often provide programs and infrastructure to students; many students consider them to be an effective means to provide valuable opportunities, though not every student has a chance to benefit directly from the endeavor.

Those who may not want to pay for services in which they don’t personally have a stake in have options. Every year there is an opt out period providing ample opportunity to those students who may disagree.

“I feel that [the Greenhouse] is kept a little secretive and a lot of people . . . would be thinking ‘why am I paying two dollars towards this when I didn’t even know it existed,’” said Dillon Crosilla, a geography student at Concordia. “So I can see some hesitation from people there.”

During the last two years students across the anthropology, sociology, engineering, geology and economics departments have engaged in the Greenhouse’s offerings. The Concordia Greenhouse also supplies food to Cafe X, Frigo Vert and on-campus markets for healthy and inexpensive produce.

In order to oversee operations and ensure an ethical use of the students’ investment, the Greenhouse will be forming a Board of Directors that will comply with the Concordia Student Union’s standing regulations. An annual general meeting is also held every fall where students have the binding authority to approve or reject the proposed budget.

The vote will be held across March 27, 28 and 29, between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.. A 50 per cent plus one majority of votes is needed to decide on the initiative. If passed, full-time students can expect a $3.24 yearly fee added to their tuition fees.

Similarly, Sustainable Concordia will also be holding a fee levy referendum in hopes of expanding student contribution to 15 cents per credit starting in fall 2013.

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