Indian protesters will not back down till their demands are met

Indian farmer protests explained

Tens of thousands of Indian farmers have been protesting against three new farming bills for almost seven months now. Around 60 per cent of India’s population works in the farming industry and many are living in poverty. They fear these new laws will make their current situation even worse.

The new bills seek to reform India’s current farming system by:

  1. Allowing farmers to sell directly outside of Mundis (state-owned markets)
  2. Allowing farmers to enter into contracts with the private sector by allowing orders on future crops
  3. Removing hoarding regulations, allowing traders to stockpile food

The Modi government claims that these new regulations will “liberate” the farmers; however, farmer’s unions believe that the government is “throwing them to the wolves.”

Farmers claim that these laws will put them at the private sector’s mercy, since their obligations are to their shareholders and not the farmers’ wellbeing.

In the state-owned Mundis, there are currently Minimum Support Prices (or MSP) in place, which guarantee the farmers a minimum price to sell their crops. These new bills will remove MSP pricing since the private sector’s goal is to increase profitability.

Additionally, nearly 70 per cent of Indian farmers are small producers, which means they will have little to no bargaining power against big corporations.

The only way Indian farmers and farmers’ unions can spread their concerns is by protesting. This is why tens of thousands of farmers from the Punjab and Haryana regions marched to India’s capital on January 26th. They have been protesting in the region for over 100 days.

Farmers have set up camp, brought food, and are ready to stay for as long as needed. They have already stated that they will not leave until the government rectifies the bills.

Overall, the farmers protest civilly and peacefully per their rights in the Indian constitution. However, the Indian government has been using “war-like measures” to disperse the protesters and stop them from exercising their rights.

Indian officials have put up barricades and nail strips around the Delhi region to prevent farmers from entering the area. Additionally, police have used tear gas and water cannons against the crowds. Some protesters have reported being beaten with batons. At one point during the protests, the government even cut off internet access.

Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations, even called out the Indian government by saying, “People have a right to demonstrate peacefully, and authorities need to let them do so.”

With the Indian government refusing to rectify the farming bills, the protests could last several more months.


Graphic by @the.beta.lab


Age gap relationships: Why we should stop judging and let people love each other

Who are we to judge what a “socially acceptable” relationship is?

I will start this article with my own personal experience. I’ve been in an agegap relationship for the past three years and I’ve never been happier so as a full disclaimer, I may be a little biased. My age gap with my boyfriend is 18 years; he’s 39 and I’m 21. For many, this may appear as an unacceptable relationship.

When we first started dating I had just turned 18, so you can say we received a lot of backlash and negative opinions about our relationship. To make matters even more controversial, he has two kids, ages nine and eleven. You probably just did the math in your head; I am closer in age to the children than to my boyfriend. Shocking, you might be thinking, but to me, everything is completely normal because we are a family just like any other.

I understand that it’s an unusual situation, and one study has shown that only seven per cent of married heterosexual couples have over a 10 year age gap (where the man is older), making my relationship quite uncommon. On a side note, women are older in only one percent of 10-year age gap relationships. It’s also understandable that you may have questions for me such as “How do your parents feel about it,” or “Do his kids like you,” or “What about when you want to have kids?”

Curiosity is an essential part of human nature and my current situation sparks the curiosity of many. Most of the time I’m open to answering these questions when they come without judgment because if I weren’t in this relationship, I too would be curious.

Knowing myself, I would be intrigued to know how a couple with an 18 year age difference can be so successful.

At the beginning of my relationship, it wasn’t always easy for me. All I knew was that we were two people madly in love, as cliché as that sounds.

The backlash I received was brutal. I lost most of my friends at the time (looking back, they definitely weren’t real friends) and he received a few negative comments from his entourage. To make matters worse, the people I was “friends” with at the time did everything to try and sabotage my relationship with him —  it went as far as inventing defamatory stories about my boyfriend. Also, they constantly tried to tell me that I would be missing out on my “young adulthood” by being with an older man. I was also constantly told that people would judge me when we go out in public because our age difference is obvious. For a while, I wouldn’t even hold his hand in public in fear people would judge us or think negatively of me.

For my boyfriend, one comment he received from a friend was in regards to a calculation you can do to see if your relationship is “socially acceptable.” You divide the oldest person’s age in two and add seven, and the answer is the age of the youngest person you can date. If we would have followed that calculation, the youngest person my boyfriend could have dated would be 25.

For a while, we were so afraid of what society thought about us. Every time we would go out we would feel ashamed for being together when we had absolutely no reason to be. I always think back on how I would have missed out on this amazing relationship if I would have listened to what is socially “acceptable.”

After asking people on social media how they feel about age gap relationships, to my surprise, lots were “pro-age-gap.” Many believe that if both parties are legally consenting adults, the relationship should not be an issue to anyone. I am in complete agreement, but some believe otherwise.

Many people are misinformed about age gap relationships. They believe the narrative that the older man is a “creep” or a “perv” and the younger girl is a “gold digger” or has “daddy issues.”

“We can’t make generalizations about all relationships,” according to Kristen Finn,* who I spoke to through my survey on social media. Kristen and her husband have a 21 year age gap —  she’s 35 and he’s 56 —  and they have been together for almost 11 years; married for six.

Another woman surveyed stated that “It’s just not right” for couples to have a significant difference in age and “The older person in the relationship is predatorial on the younger person who is impressionable.”

“I don’t think people should judge on what’s right for other people’s relationships as long as both people are consensual adults, they should decide what’s right for themselves,” said Isabella Hernandez. Isabella and her boyfriend have a 14 year age gap and have been together for over a year.

The definition of the word predatorial is “(someone) seeking to exploit or oppress others.” Calling someone “predatorial” is a serious accusation and it could be seen as defamatory if not backed up by evidence.

I have never felt my boyfriend has been “predatorial.” Since the day we met, he has been nothing less than kind, loving, supportive, and respectful.

“We don’t decide who we fall in love with,” said Romane Bocquet. She and her boyfriend have been together for over two years and have a 23-year age-gap.

I believe that people need to be educated on what it means to be in an age-gap relationship.

Love is love and that fact is independent of gender, sex, race, or age.


*This name was changed to protect the identity of this individual


Photo collage by Christine Beaudoin


A memorable Halloween night for children across the province amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Kids and parents kept their “spirits” up on Halloween

A few weeks ago, Quebec Premier François Legault gave children the OK to trick-or-treat on Halloween despite the current pandemic.

However, the premier stated during a press conference that there were two rules to follow. One: “Children will have to stay with the people they live with,” and two: “People who give candies will have to stay at two-metres [distance from trick-or-treaters].”

Social Distancing Rules

For the most part, people respected rule number one that night. Most kids seemed to be with their immediate family members. Additionally, families kept a two-metre distance while anxiously waiting in line to get candy.

A few older kids bent the rules and went trick-or-treating with friends that did not live at the same address as them.

“The cases are already high, it doesn’t change anything if we go together or not,” stated 11-year-old Grace* who went trick-or-treating with two of her friends from school. She also added, “It’s really hard not to see my friends on Halloween.”

Outstanding Creativity

“Houses found incredibly original and ingenious ways to give out candy without having to get close to the children,” stated David Bruno, a father of two who resides in Town of Mount Royal (TMR).

Many stood on their porches and used PVC pipes to shoot candy down the tube as kids collected it in their bags. Some created DIY candy scoopers using shovels and other household tools. One lady even rolled up an old carpet and shot the candy down that.

Some households left bowls of candy in front of their houses for the children to take, and a few created creepy displays for children to interact with as they grabbed their treats. These displays featured scary carved pumpkins, frightening props, and even fog from smoke machines. Some households spoke to children via their doorbell speaker systems to spook them as they took candy.

“My favorite display was a house where a couple dressed as fishermen and gave out candy with a fishing rod,” said Bruno.

However, a few houses still gave out candy the old fashioned way, where kids rang the doorbell. Some wore no masks, despite public health recommendations to wear a mask when you’re not socially distancing.

Halloween Traditions Continue

Annie Dupe, a mother of two from TMR was not too worried about letting her kids trick-or-treat this year, saying, “I feel confident because lots of people are taking adequate measures to avoid contaminating others.” She also expressed that, due to the difficult circumstances, it was important to celebrate Halloween this year.

“It’s a beautiful celebration. We need to celebrate it to keep our spirits up.”

During this challenging time, children could have fun, be kids and forget about all the horrible things happening in the world.

“I think this Halloween was super fun. It was the funnest one,” stated four-year-old Carl enthusiastically.

Overall, the spirit of Halloween is still alive despite the pandemic. It’s great to see that people are willing to adapt to keep Halloween traditions alive while respecting government safety regulations.




*This name has been changed to protect the subject’s identity.


Photo by Kiana Gomes

Inside the mind of an anti-masker

How QAnon conspiracies, religion, and anti-maskers come together

Since the pandemic hit North America, many have been criticized for their public refusal to follow government lockdown orders and, most notably, for not wanting to wear masks. These people have been identified as “anti-maskers.”

Some anti-maskers are part of a movement linked to far-right ideologies involving religion and an internet conspiracy group called Qanon.

Qanon is an online conspiracy group that claims that a cabal of sex trafficking satanic pedophiles run the world. The group was started in 2016 on sites like 4chan by an anonymous user. They now have a worldwide following.


“There is no second wave. There wasn’t even a first one,” stated Richard Décarie in an interview with The Concordian. Décarie is a former Conservative politician who was banned from running as the Conservative Party leader for saying controversial things like “being gay is a choice.”

Décarie is also a firm believer that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is part of Agenda 21, a UN resolution signed by governments in 1992 with an action plan for future sustainable development. QAnon and other conspiracists have included Agenda 21 as part of a complex and elaborate conspiracy theory.

In a nutshell, the conspiracists claim the UN has a plan to impose a “world government” by 2030, meaning they want to get rid of all the sovereign countries and have one global government for the entire world. Essentially, they’re saying the UN and other “deep state” members want a globalized communist government where we would have no individual rights and freedoms.

“The government is favouring large global companies and disfavouring small businesses,” stated Décarie. According to him, this plan has been in the works for years. He claims the COVID-19 pandemic was created to distract us from what’s happening: a world takeover which is only advantageous for the “world’s elite” and big corporations.

Décarie is also avidly against wearing a mask. He claims that “Wearing a mask is a sign of submission.” Décarie is convinced that masks are a control mechanism to see how submissive the population is to the government. Meanwhile, the CDC and other scientific organizations provide significant data showing that wearing a mask can reduce the spread of any virus, including COVID-19.

With no scientific evidence to justify his arguments, Décarie still assumes that he is doing the right thing by spreading his message.

Many other conspiracists like Décarie are sharing their theories on social media platforms, believing they are doing the “right thing.” Facebook, in particular, recently banned all QAnon-related content from its platform.

Even when asked if he’s a “conspiracy theorist,” Décarie instantly said he is a “truth finder,” a label consistent with the QAnon narrative.

Décarie believes we will find a way out of the deep state’s plan and our “faith in God will make us see what they are doing and they will not succeed.”

Religious Matters 

It’s no surprise that Décarie is very religious. Many unsuspecting Christians go down the “rabbit hole,” a term used to describe the altered state of those who go so far into the QAnon conspiracies that it takes over their lives.

Many religious leaders in the United States, such as Danny Silk, have been preaching QAnon-related narratives to their followers and encouraging them to vote for Trump. However, this isn’t only limited to the USA; some Canadian ministers and preachers have also been preaching similar narratives, such as Pastor Jean-Francois Denis.

Many unsuspecting Christians are vulnerable to following QAnon because the interpretation of the conspiracy theories can be similar to their beliefs and interpretations of the Bible.

In the USA, there are many fundamentalist Christians. Some fundamentalist Christians believe that everything written in the bible is factual and true. Many still believe in concepts like creationism, which has since been proven incorrect by scientific evidence that supports the theory of evolution.

In this current pandemic, some fundamentalist Christians support QAnon’s theories, which, like their own religious beliefs, are contrary to what is proven by science.

Why would Christians start believing in science at a time like this where their lives have been turned upside down and everything is so uncertain?

In a word, comfort.

By maintaining their beliefs in spite of scientific evidence, they gain comfort in these turbulent times. It’s easier to adhere to a narrative like QAnon, which promotes unproven theories that they assume are correct. Based on their interpretations, some even believe the Bible predicted COVID-19.

In one of his videos, Denis stated to “Never let anyone take away your right to question things, be critical, and find the truth.”

Although critical thinking is good, and we shouldn’t always believe everything we hear or read when it comes to public health… wear your mask, wash your hands, and stay home!


Feature graphic by @the.beta.lab


University students have mixed emotions about the COVID alert app

While some students are happy to use the new app, others have privacy concerns

Earlier this month, the COVID Alert app went live in Quebec. Many Quebecers were eager to have a new tool to slow the spread of the virus. However, some still aren’t willing to download the app.

The COVID alert app works with Bluetooth and random codes. Essentially, the Bluetooth signal detects phones that are near yours. Then the phones send each other random codes. If you contract COVID-19, you will have to enter a code into the app, which will notify all the people you came into close contact with that they may have been exposed to the virus.

“We have to use the application massively for it to work,” said Edith Joly, a family doctor in Montreal. “If not many people use it, it destroys its purpose.”

Despite her concerns about the app not having enough users to function correctly, over four million Canadians have already downloaded it, including university students like Marc-Olivier Gagné, an Engineering student at the Royal Military College of Canada who normally resides in Montreal.

“I think it’s a great tool to help combat COVID.”

Ashlee, a recent University of Ottawa graduate who lives in Gatineau, also believes this app could be beneficial to public health and safety.

“I think this app could help lower the cases if we all use it.”

However, many students aren’t as eager as Ashlee and Gagné to download the app due to privacy concerns such as the government tracking their location, or collecting personal information.

“I don’t know if they’re tracking my phone,” said Isabella Hernandez, a second-year HEC student. “I don’t know if the government is trying to issue tickets with this new app or collect my personal information.”

Contrary to Hernandez’s concerns, a Health Canada product manager asserted the app is “not tracking any of our data … There is no breach of privacy because the app is using Bluetooth and codes.”

The Government of Canada also stated, “The COVID Alert app creates a random code, so that no one will know your name, or your location.”

Some students who have already downloaded the app believe that those who aren’t willing to download it should consider what they are already doing on the internet.

“I don’t know how much of your liberty you’re conceding when you use this app considering your bitmoji appears on the Snapchat map,” said Gagné.

Gagné is referencing the feature on Snapchat that tracks users GPS location and displays it on a map featuring a cartoon version of the user.

Those who use Facebook and not the COVID Alert app are also criticized.

“I find it hypocritical to argue that you don’t want to use the COVID Alert app when you’re on Facebook and other social media,” said Ashlee. “I would rather the government have my information than private companies.”

Facebook has been criticized in the past for sharing user data with third-party companies for advertising purposes.

However, privacy concerns are not the only thing preventing people from wanting to download the app.

Some students believe the app wouldn’t work because people wouldn’t put in the effort to get tested or quarantine upon getting the app’s notification that they were exposed to the virus.

After hearing all the reasons people don’t want to download the app, retired health practitioner Dr. Judy Flecknell doesn’t understand why people won’t download the app if there’s a possibility it may help keep people safe.

“I think people have a responsibility towards others within our population,” stated Dr. Flecknell. “Downloading the app is not an invasion of your privacy, and keeping your loved ones safe is what’s important.”

The ongoing reluctance of so many to want to download the app could indicate that the government needs to find a better way to demonstrate that they aren’t collecting any user information.

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