Municipal elections are coming up, but will students be heading to the polls?

Concordia students spoke with The Concordian about the upcoming municipal elections, and whether or not they will be casting their votes

With Montreal’s municipal elections right around the corner, some Concordia students say that casting their vote on Nov. 6 and 7 has never felt more critical.

In the past, first-year Concordia student Roxanne Tesar, 22, did not consider herself as someone interested in municipal politics. This year, she headed to the polls.

Tesar says that she wants to see change when it comes to municipal politicians’ priorities in Montreal.

Questions surrounding Bill 96 — a bill looking to recognize Quebec as a nation with French as its official language — and systemic racism in Montreal are issues that feature prominently on Tesar’s mind this election season. 

“I’m connected because I’m not bilingual, I’m anglophone and I’m a person of colour,” said Tesar. “Issues regarding racism and language affect me.”

Issues concerning language rights and inclusion, public safety, and systemic racism were among those tackled during Montreal’s English-language mayoral debate on Oct. 28.

While Tesar is participating in this year’s municipal elections, she says that she understands why some students may not feel as inclined to do so.

“It’s harder to get involved when you feel like you’re in the dark,” said Tesar. “If you think that it’s pointless and then stop becoming informed, you’re not going to want to be involved.”

Julia Lecompte-Robbins, 20, said that she does not feel invested in the upcoming elections. “I’m not very involved in it I guess,” she said. “I’m not very political, that’s pretty much it.”

Driving past vibrant posters of different councillors in her riding of Beaconsfield is the limit of her awareness of municipal politics this election season, she said. While Lecompte-Robbins voted in the recent federal elections in September, she felt that the scale of Montreal’s elections has impacted her willingness to vote.

“[The municipal election] is very small,” she said. “I don’t find that it has that big of an impact as it would if it was provincial or federal.”

For Lecompte-Robbins, encouraging young people in particular to vote in this election and being politically aware feels unnecessary.

“We’re young and it’s not like we own a house, most of us live with our parents,” said Lecompte-Robbins. “It’s mostly our parents that deal with the stuff that happens, so it’s not much of a concern for ourselves.”

Béatrice Soucy, 23, a political science and human relations student at Concordia, said that she feels discouraged by the low number of young voters in her age group.

“Our generation is the future,” said Soucy. “It’s sad to see young people losing faith in politics.”

Concordia graduate journalism student, Duncan Elliott, 25, believes that participating in the municipal elections is important now more than ever.

“The municipal decisions directly affect your street, your home, your community,” said Elliott. “I see that a lot of people don’t vote in their municipal elections, but I think it’s the one people should vote for the most.”

Municipalities are responsible for close to 60 per cent of Montreal’s public infrastructure. From bike paths and community centres to road signage and the police department, the City Hall plays a critical role in managing key services of everyday life. Municipal elections historically have low voter turnout. In 2017, only 43 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot. During Canada’s federal election later in September of this year, 62 per cent voted. 

“The fact that not a lot of people vote in [municipal elections], I think is where younger people can really have their voices heard in the community,” said Elliott. “A lot of people complain, but not a lot of people do anything about the complaints that they’re issuing. Now is the time to do something about it.”

Lack of voter participation among young people is nothing new to overall voting trends. There is a significant gap in voter turnout between younger and older age groups in Canada. Half of Montrealers aged 56 or older cast their ballot in the 2017 municipal elections, compared to only 29 per cent of those aged between 18 and 35.

According to the 2015 National Youth Survey from Elections Canada, a lack of motivation and access are the two key barriers preventing young people from voting.

“I think it’s because they don’t think they can effect change,” said Elliott. “Not only do I think that it’s important for people to have their voices heard, they should try to be more involved in the community so they can make more well-rounded decisions.”


Graphic by Madeline Schmidt


“It’s about time”: Historic municipal debate takes place in Montreal’s Chinatown

On Saturday, municipal candidates go head-to-head in Montreal’s famous and neglected neighbourhood

This past Saturday, Montreal’s Chinese community had their voices heard in the first-ever municipal debate in Chinatown. With the municipal election coming up on Nov. 7, participants and candidates discussed solutions to protect the last Chinatown in Quebec.

On Oct. 16, the Progressive Chinese of Quebec (CPQ), Chinese Family Service of the Greater Montreal Area (CFS) and the Chinatown Working Group (CWG) hosted the debate in the Chinese Community & Cultural Centre of Montreal on Clark St. at 11:30 a.m. Almost 100 community members of all ages poured into the conference room, with media organizations interviewing them at every corner.

The goal of the debate was to hold the municipal government accountable for the responsibility of Chinatown. CWG member and event organizer May Chiu expressed her excitement for this historical debate. “We’re hoping that community members will come out and ask questions to the candidates and get them to commit to their promises,” she said.

Community members were overwhelmed with emotion as they felt recognized by the municipal government. “It’s about time,”* activist Janet Lumb told The Concordian. “We’ve been fighting for many years to have the recognition and acknowledgement [from the municipal government] of the fact there are some serious issues that need to be confronted and dealt with,” she explained.

Candidates who were present include Mouvement Montréal’s mayoral candidate Balarama Holness, Ensemble Montréal’s candidate councillor Aref Salem, Projet Montréal’s Robert Beaudry, and Action Montréal’s candidate councillor Robert Sévigny along with Jean-Christophe Trottier, who left the debate before it started, due to his refusal to comply with health safety guidelines.

Throughout the pandemic, Montreal’s Chinese and other Asian communities experienced a rise in hate crimes, ranging from vandalism, robbery and physical assaults. In addition, most of Chinatown’s properties are at risk of gentrification and businesses are struggling to make ends meet. Around 108,000 Montrealers claim Chinese ancestry, with many more a part of the general Asian community.

Last year, Mayor Valérie Plante proposed an action plan to help preserve and improve the cultural integrity of Chinatown by adding more green spaces in the area, increasing pedestrian access to the neighbourhood and building social and affordable housing units.

The debate began at 12 p.m. with words of appreciation by May Chiu and the Tiohtià:ke land acknowledgement in French and English, followed by the Mandarin and Cantonese translations.

The two-hour debate covered five topics:

  • Protecting Chinatown’s heritage
  • Social and racial justice
  • Arts and culture
  • Climate justice
  • Economic development

In Holness’ introduction speech, he discussed his familiarity with the neighbourhood and his appreciation of Chinese culture by retelling his memories of visiting Chinatown as a child and living in China. He also threw in a couple of words of Mandarin, which took the audience by surprise.

Holness said Movement Montréal would establish a registry in the neighbourhood where businesses receive wage subsidies and tax breaks for their rent to protect Chinatown’s roughly 150 businesses, emulating similar initiatives used in San Francisco for its Chinatown and other heritage sites, he argued. 

Ultimately, Holness concluded that the debate helps people “collectively improve the lives and livelihoods of Chinatown.”

Projet Montréal’s Beaudry said Valérie Plante’s party has close relations with arts and cultural organizations to help boost financing BIPOC art programs in the neighbourhood, as communities continue to face funding disparity from the provincial government. This initiative supports the cultural integrity of the neighbourhood.

He said the decisions made in Chinatown should go through the Chinese community first. “We want you to show us what you want to happen in Chinatown. It’s not a top-down situation, it’s a bottom-up situation.”

Salem said Ensemble Montréal will implement social housing for the homeless shelter near Chinatown, as well as provide social resource centres throughout the neighbourhood. “We need social housing [to] bring more people to this part of the city and we need to have some cultural events in the city so people can visit, and live, here in peace and harmony,” he added.

Action Montreal’s Sévigny mentioned protecting the environment, regarding the neighbourhood’s demand for green spaces in public and private areas. Before being required to leave the debate, Trottier said they will demand the provincial government to grant Chinatown as a heritage site, improve the infrastructure of Chinatown and impose stricter bylaws to prevent further construction, as well as creating a better dynamic with the Chinese community.


Photograph by Mohammed Khan


The ethical dilemma of animal testing: are animals equal to humans?

Are animals equal to humans?

People often say, “Dogs are a man’s best friend.” We always value and cherish dogs, and I wonder why we don’t do the same for other animals. Sure, dogs and cats are domestic animals, but what differentiates them from other animals? If we would never think to hurt our pets, why are mice, rats, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and more used for research?

Animals have been used for research since the dawn of medicine. Early Greek physician-scientists such as Aristotle, Erasistratus and Galen didn’t view this as immoral. On the contrary –– they believed that humans were of a higher status than animals and used animal testing to further understand anatomy, physiology, pathology, and pharmacology.

Thomas Aquinas, one of the most influential Christian theologians of the Middle Ages, had a similar point of view. In his famous book Summa Theologica, Aquinas writes that God made animals for man and that animals can’t reason. This justified the use of animals for human purposes, whether it be eating or research.

René Descartes, a famous French philosopher, mathematician and scientist during the Age of Enlightenment, also believed that animals were mere “mechanisms” or “automata.” Descartes viewed animals as complex physical machines without experiences, souls and minds.

However, these notions started to change when Charles Darwin questioned animal testing, when he introduced his famous theory of evolution. Darwin advocated for animal rights because he argued humans come from monkeys and have evolved through natural selection. This changed his view on the relationship between humans and animals.

In recent years, animal testing has become an ethical debate. 

Some may justify the use of animals for research to make safer products for human use and consumption.

“For me, animal experimentation is an ethical dilemma. This is because we should not use animals for this purpose, but on the other hand, animal experimentation has brought great benefits to mankind,” said Coman Cristin, a veterinary and senior researcher at the Unit of Animal Experimentation Cantacuzino Institute in Bucharest, Romania.

I believe using animals for scientific purposes to be unethical and unnecessary. Just like dogs feel emotions, so do other animals, and no animals should be used for testing.

The ideas that animals can’t feel emotions is outdated. It is scientifically proven that animals have emotions. 

On July 7, 2012, a group of scientists signed the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness at Cambridge University in the U.K.

This declaration states, “The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states. Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviours.”

The statement further says, “Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non-human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.”

It is estimated that more than 115 million animals worldwide are used in laboratory experiments every year. Not to mention, animal testing rarely guarantees a product’s safety for humans.

The Canadian Centre for Alternatives to Animal Methods (CCAAM) and the Canadian Centre for the Validation of Alternatives Methods (CaCVAM) were founded in 2017 and are based at the University of Windsor. These centres “aim to develop, validate, and promote non-animal, human biology-based platforms in biomedical research, education, and chemical safety testing.”

In a TED Talk titled “It’s time to think outside the cage,” Charu Chandrasekera, founding executive director of the CCAAM and CaCVAM, points out that 95 per cent of drugs tested and found to be safe and effective in animals fail in human clinical trials. Of the 5 per cent that are approved, half of those are withdrawn due to unpredicted side effects in humans.

Chandrasekera also highlights that diseases such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart failure, ALS, and Parkinson’s have been cured in mice, but not in humans. 

Also, drugs such as Raxar, Trasylol, and Rezulin have been withdrawn from the market due to lethal consequences in humans, but they were safe and effective in mice.

When asked if animal testing is necessary for scientific progress, Hope Ferdowsian, a physician with expertise in ethics and public health, and CEO of Phoenix Zones Initiative, said, “We can ask what is necessary? Well, a lot becomes less necessary when we use our imagination, and we push innovative methods forward.”

Ferdowsian also emphasizes a need to “push this old and outdated way of animal testing and research and more toward innovative ways that rely on, for example, human cell lines or computer modelling.”

Knowing this, shouldn’t animal testing be banned?

As previously stated, all animals have feelings. Why test on mice, rats, frogs, hamsters if dogs and cats aren’t used for animal testing?

Considering the new initiatives and alternatives, scientists and researchers should reconsider animal testing with the latest advanced science of the 21st century. More specifically, our relationship with all animals and the way we view them has to change.

After all, Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”



Graphic by Taylor Reddam.


Who’s the greatest fighter of all-time?

Comparing the illustrious careers of Khabib Nurmagomedov and George St-Pierre

UFC 254 was headlined by the highly anticipated unifying title bout between lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0-0) and interim-title holder Justin Gaethje (22-3-0). While competitive matchups against the Eagle are tough to come by — as his undefeated record indicates — many Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) enthusiasts predicted the contest would be Nurmagomedov’s most threatening challenge to date.

The undefeated fighter exerted his unmatched pressure early and often, eventually winning by way of submission due to a triangle choke in the second round. Nurmagomedov won the UFC championship belt after dominating an overwhelmed adversary once more.

However, the excitement was short-lived as a mentally-fatigued Nurmagomedov crumpled to the octagon canvas post-stoppage and ultimately proclaimed his retirement from the sport, vacating the belt and liberating the UFC lightweight division from pending onslaughts.

At the peak of his athletic prime and one-win shy of the fabled 30-0-0 record, the decision was nonetheless fathomable given the passing of his father earlier in the year. Nurmagomedov shared an immeasurably close relationship with his dad, who acted as his mentor in life and in sport.

The news rekindled the Greatest of All Time (GOAT) debate in MMA. Nurmagomedov already cemented his status as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters prior to his latest performance at UFC 254, but the conclusion of his storybook MMA career has drawn wildly differing sentiments as it pertains to his individual greatness.

While it’s impossible to distinguish a bonafide greatest, the discussion boils down to the now former UFC lightweight champion Nurmagomedov, active and former UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones (26-1-0), and the retired former UFC welterweight champion George St-Pierre (26-2-0).

Jones is currently at the peak of his supremacy at 33 years-old and can improve his claim at the throne in the coming years. His sole loss came by way of disqualification due to an illegal elbow he threw against an underqualified opponent in Matt Hamill that was seconds away from defeat.

In addition, Jones has 11 title defenses, and, despite having two separate title reigns at 205 pounds, he never lost the belt inside the octagon. His stacked resume includes victories over former champions and legends such as Cormier, Gustafsson, Shogun Rua, Rampage Jackson, and Lyoto Machida.

Jones’ biggest challenges have come outside the octagon; a history of arrests and drug-related issues has damaged his reputation for some in what is otherwise an undeniably boundless MMA career.

St-Pierre’s longevity and consistency were unmatched in a sport where mistakes are common and a single slip-up can influence the trajectory of an entire career. As a result, he was the UFC welterweight champion for several years and his reign spanned multiple generations of 170 pound fighters.

As a combatant, the Montreal native could do everything. His early years were characterized by youthful energy and explosive finishes that resulted in dominant victories over staples in the sport such as Matt Serra and Matt Hughes. He was a masterful tactician in his prime years that was displayed through his historic run of consecutive rounds won (recently overtaken by Nurmagomedov).

He cemented his case for the GOAT when he returned from a four-year hiatus by moving up a weight class and challenging Michael Bisping for the UFC middleweight championship. St-Pierre won by theatrical submission in the third round and became the fourth UFC fighter ever (at the time) to hold a belt at two different weights. Finally, his only losses were emphatically avenged, and his clean career slate removes most, if not all notions of doubt.

Nurmagomedov being listed amongst MMA immortals like Jones and St-Pierre is a testament to his sheer dominance. He defended his UFC title only three times, and yet, he tops many people’s lists.

The ability to “maul” his opponents and make title contenders look like amateurs is something that only a handful of fighters can do. Meanwhile, Nurmagomedov has never failed to assert his dominance. He’s never bled in the octagon, and he’s only lost two rounds on the judges’ scorecards in his entire career: once against Conor McGregor in 2018, and the other in his final bout with Gaethje. He proceeded to finish both opponents in the ensuing round.

Most importantly, much like St-Pierre, Nurmagomedov has been a role model and ambassador for the sport through his tenure. He meaningfully contributed to the popularization of MMA and the UFC into mainstream culture through masterful performances, opting to let his actions do the talking.

Nurmagomedov has openly pushed for a bout against his perceived greatest of all time St-Pierre in the past. The fight never materialized despite both parties expressing interest out of mutual respect, and Nurmagomedov’s recent surprise retirement has made the dream matchup unlikely to occur.

Regardless of who ranks higher on a largely subjective and unserviceable all-time UFC standing, both fighters boast unparalleled legacies that will surely stand the test of time.


Graphic by Carleen Loney


Western political discourse needs to evolve

The debate surrounding the hijab should be seen as more than just conservative versus liberal

As the debate about the place of hijab rages in Western nations, Arab feminists and scholars are still rarely consulted or referenced when analyzing this important issue, especially in Western public spheres. As a highly political Arab in Canada, every single time I participate in a debate about the hijab, I feel that I’m sorted into one of the camps that dominate Western political discourse: liberal vs. conservative.

When I tirelessly try to convince the debaters that Arab intellectuals and feminists have dealt with the issue of the hijab from every standpoint possible, long before it started gaining momentum in the West, and that their intellectual endeavor was neither liberal nor conservative, the reaction I get is shock, and most commonly, disbelief.

The question is how can Western people believe that there are other theories, which can extend beyond the fruitless debate between “people should wear whatever they wish to” versus “the state and public spaces should be religion-neutral”? Meanwhile, the media is using these lines of thought to provide a Western framework for cultural translation of a non-Western issue.

Yes, I am writing this article because I refuse to be “Westernly” dichotomized, with all the preconceptions that are attached to each camp. The issue is deeper than this though, and it is very layered and nuanced. One can infer from this forced dichotomy that Arabic intellectuals are not sophisticated enough to empirically and scientifically analyze a social phenomena like this. Or, at least, analyze it to the level of complexity needed to relax the political anxiety that people in the West have. The focus on complexity is perhaps connected to the focus on academia as a source of intellectual authority in the West.

When I was able to get over the dispiriting part of this feeling of intellectual inferiority, I started looking for ways to further analyze this Western belief, and then professor and literary critic Edward Said came to my aid. His famous concept of Orientalism teaches us that Western colonialists planted the idea that the East is primitive and needs rescuing, but not in the traditional sense; they need to be rescued intellectually.

Therefore, Orientalism can explain why Western media rarely quote famous Arab feminists, such as Nawal El Saadawi, who adamantly argues against wearing the hijab and supports the French ban on religious garments. Nawal gives a nuanced and complex analysis of the idea of choice, and how religion, with all its pressures, can prevent Muslim women from taking an independent choice. Be it political, economic, spiritual, or even the societal and state pressures, which she faces on a daily basis in Egypt—she was imprisoned multiple times for being a radical feminist.

Nawal has been dubbed the Simone de Beauvoir of the Arabic/Islamic world due to the sheer amount of research and work that she has done on the topic of women’s rights. In spite of this, she among other Muslim/Arab feminists, will continue to be excluded at worst and marginalized at best from the Western political discourse. This will continue as long as the political climate and discourse does not go beyond the subtle Orientalist thought, which prevents Westerners from achieving a successful cultural translation. It is about time to start thinking outside the box of liberal vs. conservative. This is where change happens.

Graphic by @spooky_soda


Changing minds or useless conversations?

Steven Crowder’s YouTube series falls flat in debating serious issues and sparking real discussions

Set up a table, two chairs and a mic. Finish off the video with a strong statement, and you’ve got yourself the key ingredients Steven Crowder needs to engage in conversations with strangers. In his YouTube series “Real Conversations,” the comedian, actor and political commentator sits in public spaces and invites people to change his mind on “hot-button issues” as he calls them. But, does he really want his mind changed?

Obviously not. Crowder’s “change my mind” statement is just a way to capture an audience’s attention. The goal is clearly to defend his own point of view by confronting people and winning the argument. It seems like a clever way of presenting his ideas. The concept of the videos would be quite impressive if his intent was sincere and fair, but it’s not.

First of all, it’s his own show. Crowder is comfortable in front of the camera and microphone. He is much more relaxed than the people he confronts; he often makes jokes to get the upper hand and mocks the person he is arguing with. As for the content, Crowder obviously knows the topics in advance, since it would be difficult to argue as he does otherwise. He often brings up points that were clearly researched beforehand. He also memorizes statistics and figures. If each person Crowder faced benefitted from the same preparation, it would be fair. But when he is the only one with the chance to prepare, he is simply showing off. Furthermore, Crowder could easily reveal his sources in the description below the video, but they are nowhere to be seen.

In the “Male privilege is a myth” episode, a woman in the crowd claims his numbers are wrong, but she isn’t invited to talk to Crowder. Herein lies another problem. Although the conversations are unedited and uncut, we can presume Crowder chooses which arguments make it online. It’s likely only winning arguments will be posted, not conversations that show him in a bad light. Given Crowder’s obvious intent with these videos, why would he upload one of him losing an argument? As he states in one of his videos: “Sometimes people will not change their mind, and there is nothing you can do.” Crowder seems to be one of these people.

Watching someone who has an opposite point of view to yours win an argument with such obvious advantages is incredibly frustrating. So it must be really satisfying to those who share Crowder’s views. However, I don’t think his videos bring us anything more than this frustration or satisfaction. If you take a look at the comment sections of his videos, many people point out Crowder’s unfair rehearsal and some even take the time to debunk several of his arguments. To me, these videos are not “productive” debates as Crowder describes them. He’s playing a game and merely trying to look smart.

Talking with people who hold different views can be interesting and is necessary to bridge gaps and broaden our understanding of the world. However, to actually be productive, both sides have to be honest about their intentions. Being right should not be the goal of the conversation, because it forces people to adamantly defend their ideas instead of learning and understanding another person’s perspective.

The subjects Crowder tries to cover are complex and involve a broad spectrum of ideas, elements and facts. I don’t think a single one-on-one conversation without sincere intentions and verifiable facts would help in any way. I don’t see Crowder’s series of videos as productive in any way—I see them as useless.

Graphic by Zeze Le Lin


The French-English language debate… again

Opting out of “hi” is demeaning to the thousands of English-speakers in Quebec

On Nov. 30, 111 votes were submitted to the National Assembly endorsing the use of “bonjour” as a substitution for “bonjour, hi” among businesses and the retail industry in Quebec, reported the Montreal Gazette.

Soon after, the hashtag #bonjourhi flooded social media to support keeping the former greeting. Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard also made a former federal civil servant, William Floch, the new English-language community secretariat to “rebuild bridges with an estranged English-speaking minority,” reported the Montreal Gazette.

In my opinion, it is totally understandable to use Bill 101 and French immersion to promote French among the children of immigrants and Quebec citizens as a whole. However, asking merchants to omit the word “hi” from store greetings discriminates against anglophones and their right to speak their native language. According to the 2016 census, a total of 286,275 people only speak English in Montreal compared to the 1.4 million people who only speak French.

I believe it is offensive to these citizens because it risks alienating them and making them feel unaccepted when they arrive at a store and are not greeted in their spoken language.

While it is true that French is the official language in Quebec, it is also true that multiculturalism and diversity are celebrated within the province. Therefore, I believe that, in order to be true to our values and avoid hypocrisy, we ought to keep the “bonjour, hi” greeting to maintain an inclusive environment for both francophones and anglophones—not to mention allophones who might still be learning either language.

Giving customers the choice to speak either French or English is much more convenient than leaving them with only one option. Many people are not comfortable speaking French or they feel self-conscious about their fluency. Therefore, stripping away someone’s choice to speak a language is wrong because it goes against their freedom of expression and risks leaving them uncomfortable.

I believe there are other ways to encourage Quebecers to speak French that do not infringe on their freedom of expression. These alternatives can include playing more French radio stations in certain retail stores and businesses, and the promotion of French advertisements on public transit and in shopping malls.

We must allow the members of our society to decide which language they prefer to speak because it’s a personal decision. Choosing one language over another shouldn’t be forced on customers. We should allow the client to decide, especially in a customer service environment where their needs should be heard and met. It completely defeats the purpose of customer service when you are putting the customer in an uncomfortable position.

In addition, many anglophone customers are less likely to return to a store if they feel unwelcomed. Therefore, this change could negatively affect a business’ sales in the long-run. We need to remember that Quebec is a province within Canada—where the official languages are both English and French.

Lastly, Montreal is a very tourist-friendly city, and we must maintain our hospitality towards visitors by showing how bilingual and multicultural our city can be. I believe this push towards bonjour-only would discourage English-speaking tourists from travelling to Montreal.

This discrimination will only hurt the government in the long-run because many citizens who feel threatened by this rise of a French-speaking environment may choose to leave the province and make a new life for themselves elsewhere. According to CBC News, 10,175 anglophones left Quebec between 2011 and 2016. Although the economy was a large factor in that change, we can’t ignore the possibility that anglophones might feel uncomfortable living in a province that doesn’t respect their language preference.

Do we really want to foster an environment where anglophones, immigrants and tourists are not accepted in a city that strongly promotes diversity?

Graphic by Zeze Le Lin


The mayoral candidates face off at Concordia

Plante and Coderre talked construction, Montreal 375 spending and Bill 62

Montreal mayoral candidates Denis Coderre and Valérie Plante faced off on Monday in the campaign’s only English-language debate.

The Oct. 23 debate was organized and hosted by CJAD, CTV Montreal and the Montreal Gazette at Concordia’s Oscar Peterson Hall. Host and moderator Leslie Roberts presented the candidates with questions based on those submitted to each outlet by Montrealers.

Roberts first asked the candidates how they planned to ease the burden placed on Montrealers by construction. Incumbent Mayor Coderre said his administration’s investment of more than $21 billion in infrastructure over 10 years is “short-term pain, long-term gain,” and “a necessary approach that we have to do for the future generation.”

Plante—the leader of Projet Montréal—criticized what she called “a lack of organization, coordination and communication” in construction projects. She said the city needs a “quality squad” to ensure projects are done properly and efficiently.

Both candidates promised compensation for business owners who have been negatively affected by construction.

On the topic of public transport, Plante said her proposed pink metro line from Lachine to Montreal North could transport up to 250,000 people per day. Coderre said the light rail system, the Service rapide par bus (SRB) and an extension of the blue metro line are better transit alternatives.

Mayoral candidate Valérie Plante spoke in favour of her proposed metro line at the English-language debate on Oct. 23. Photo by Alex Hutchins

Coderre later responded to criticism about the pit bull legislation he introduced in 2016, saying it’s not about loving or hating dogs but “a matter of public safety.” Plante denounced the legislation, claiming breed-specific legislation creates “a false sense of security,” adding that the legislation is “not even based on science.”

The candidates were then asked about their positions on the renaming of landmarks named after controversial historical figures. Although Coderre said “there are some times where we have to take that kind of decision to recognize the bad things that happened in the past,” he also spoke out against removing John A. MacDonald’s name from buildings and landmarks, saying Canada’s first prime minister “did some great things too.”

Plante said any name changes must be undertaken by “listening, understanding history, connecting with the different communities and finding the proper place for a proper name.”

Coderre was challenged by Plante and moderator Roberts on the lack of English signage on Montreal roads and public transit. Roberts suggested the lack of English signage on Camillien-Houde Way may have contributed to the death of 18-year-old cyclist Clément Ouimet who was struck by a car making an illegal U-turn on Mount Royal on Oct. 4. In response, Coderre said the pictograms along the road were sufficient. “There’s no reason not to understand that a U-turn is illegal,” he said.

On the subject of Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations, Plante criticized what she called a “lack of transparency” in the way money was spent. “Right now, it is a non-profit organization that manages the money, and so we don’t have access,” she said, referring to the Society for the Celebrations of Montreal’s 375th Anniversary. “We don’t have access to information, we have no idea where things are at. And so people feel like it’s just this big hole that we’re just throwing our money into.”

Plante pressed Coderre to reveal the total ticket sales for the Formula E electric car race that took place over the summer. “Everybody wants to know, and you have the ability to tell us how many tickets were sold,” Plante said. According to Coderre, a report would be released and “it will show that everything is well transparent.”

Incumbent Mayor Denis Coderre was criticized by candidate Valérie Plante for the lack of organization and coordination at Montreal’s construction sites. Photo by Alex Hutchins

Roberts also asked the panelists about the possibility of baseball returning to Montreal, a project Coderre has been advocating for since his election in 2013. Plante said no such initiative would be undertaken by the city without a city-wide referendum.

Both candidates spoke out against Bill 62, which prohibits the wearing of face coverings by anyone giving or receiving a public service. “To provide services with an unveiled person is OK,” Coderre said. “But to receive services, I think it’s ludicrous, and it won’t pass the court.” He also criticized Plante for not speaking out against the legislation more immediately. Plante said the law is “ill-conceived. It is not connected to Montrealers’ reality. It is not applicable.”

The candidates also had the chance to ask their opponent one question. Coderre asked Plante whether she was for or against the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). Without taking a clear stance, Plante responded with: “I think it is important to understand the international context of this,” adding that it was something that needed to be discussed with “the whole team.”

Plante asked her opponent whether or not he would serve as leader of the opposition if she won the election. “I’m running, and I’m going to be the mayor,” Coderre responded.

Photos by Alex Hutchins


Whether or not violence can affect positive change

Understanding the place of violence and its usefulness in North American politics

Is violence an effective way of achieving systemic change in our society? This question has been one of particular interest to anyone involved in current North American politics.

The discourse of far-right and even mainstream media outlets have demonized the radical left for some of its recent approaches to political protests. Take for example Donald Trump’s response to the Charlottesville protest, in which he condemned the violence of Nazis and those who protested against them in the same breath.

For the record, violent leftist protestors are a much smaller group than the media would have us believe. According to The Atlantic, “of the 372 politically-motivated murders recorded in the United States between 2007 and 2016, left-wing extremists committed less than two per cent […] right-wing extremists committed 74 per cent.”

However, there is a valuable conversation to be had about the effectiveness of violence—ranging from the destruction of property to the physical harm of individuals—as a response to hateful groups on the extreme right. This article will mostly leave out the question of morality because I believe that pacifism under a state that supports systemic violence is at least as immoral as taking up arms against it. I will instead consider whether violence is an effective means of dismantling the oppressive systems and groups in society.

One positive effect of violence from the left is that it sends a message to hateful ideologies that they are unwelcome in society. This was seen on the UC Berkeley campus where student protesters prevented Milo Yiannopoulos, a British political commentator for the extreme-right, from speaking in February, and again only a month ago, led to the cancellation of a right-wing event.

The cancellation of extreme-right gatherings for fear of counter-protesters has become a trend in American politics lately, which, in my opinion, is likely sending an unwelcome message to both supporters and anyone susceptible to these ideologies.

In a foreword to political activist Ward Churchill’s essay, Pacifism as Pathology, Dylan Rodriguez, an author and political activist himself, pointed out that violence against “a toxic social order has life-affirming possibilities for disempowered people.” It has the power to show these people that the social order can indeed be challenged and that they have the power to do so.

Consider what is being asked of the dominant class in society, when we say that we want to “change the system,” or “overthrow the social order.” It’s calling for an end to systemic oppression and inequality, which would require those powerful groups to give up their dominance over disenfranchised groups. Rodríguez has claimed the goal of these powerful groups is to preserve their own power. In the contradiction between their goal to maintain all of their power, and activists’ goal of redistributing the power in society lies the need for violence. Pacifism only represents tolerance of the current social order.

There are, however, convincing arguments against the left’s tactical use of violence. First, it could cause others to associate the left with violence, resulting in a loss of support among the more mainstream, less radical public who are turned off by such behavior. Right-wing news sources love when the left acts violently, because they can use it to discredit the morals—and thus the politics—of the entire group.

Violence is a chaotic force, and it can be difficult to control and use productively. It is my opinion that violence, when it is excessive and not properly thought out, does more harm than good. It should be reserved for times when it will positively benefit political goals—as an exclamation point to political rhetoric that won’t be heard or properly addressed through other tactics.

Violence may also prove tactically effective when openly hateful groups are preaching their ideologies. In these instances, violence will positively associate the left with an ideology that will not tolerate racism. I think that if no one is listening to a particular political group, then violence can be the only way to be heard, thus it would be unwise to completely rule it out as a method.

The challenge lies in using violence infrequently enough that it continues to be taken seriously, doesn’t spiral out of control and doesn’t soil the reputation of the left. For me, the question of violence is not whether we should use it or not, but rather when.

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth


NDP leadership candidates take on Montreal

Candidates talk to The Concordian about the leadership race before their debate at Club Soda

Charlie Angus

The Timmins—James Bay MP wants to tackle housing issues across the country. Referencing his “Housing is a Right” platform, Angus said “the right to adequate housing has to be considered a fundamental human right because the amount of resources that are spent by the state because of homelessness is outrageous.” He said he plans to use the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s $4-billion surplus to finance his housing platform.

As part of his urban agenda, Angus wants to make post-secondary education more accessible. “Bombardier gets interest free loans — why don’t students?” Angus asked. He said the level of interest the government forces young people to pay is “nuts.” Angus also proposed a ban on unpaid internships. Speaking about their use at CBC/Radio-Canada, Angus told The Concordian he “was appalled by the abuse of unpaid internships.” He acknowledged they could be allowed, but that they would “have to be done in a very specific context with an objective for education.”

His campaign also addresses the need to ensure digital inclusion in Canada. Angus said many people in marginalized communities, where inhabitants don’t have internet access, are part of a “growing digital divide.”

Guy Caron

According to Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques MP Guy Caron, climate change refugees are not a problem of the future. “We can already talk about it,” he said. “Climate change is caused by industrialized countries and those nations have a responsibility towards people who are displaced.”

The NDP leadership candidate said he wants to establish better relationships with communities in all regions of Canada and specifically send organizers to Quebec where the NDP lost more than 40 seats in the 2015 federal election. “We missed a big opportunity when we were the official opposition,” Caron told The Concordian. “We should have done a lot of organization.”

Caron’s platform also includes electoral reform. He said that voters might doubt that a candidate can bring about reform, but said Canadians will only be able to confront the challenges of electoral reform if it’s a priority for the government. “Under an NDP government that I will lead, the first draft legislation will be to establish a mixed-member proportional representation system,” said Caron. The economist also told the The Concordian he wants to prevent a destabilization of the Canadian economy, which he predicts will happen due to the automatization of various industries.

Niki Ashton

Churchill—Keewatinook Aski MP Niki Ashton is the only candidate still in school. The candidate’s Ph.D thesis, at the University of Manitoba, is about millennial feminism. “It has influenced my work in the platform we’ve put together as part of this leadership race,” Ashton told The Concordian. She stated that her campaign’s racial justice platform, she said, “makes it very clear that the federal government needs to play a leadership role in addressing the systemic barriers that racialized and Indigenous communities face in our country.”

Ashton’s “Justice for LGBTQ2+ Persons” platform also includes “the repeal of discriminatory blood [donation] ban on gay men” and better access to gender-affirming surgery. “Montreal is the only place one can come to in Canada for [gender-affirming] surgery,” Ashton pointed out in an interview with The Concordian.

Ashton also wants to offer tuition-free post-secondary education across Canada. “It’s unacceptable that we’re indebting a generation for simply doing what is asked of them, which is to get an education,” Ashton said. Her plan also includes ending discrimination against international students by regulating the cost of tuition so these students “do not face exponential rate increases year over year.”

“Institutions are making a profit off of people who are coming — yes, getting an education — but contributing immensely to Canadian society,” Ashton explained.

Jagmeet Singh

Singh is the only candidate who is not currently an NDP federal MP. The former Ontario NDP deputy leader is an MP for Bramalea—Gore—Malton in the Ontario Legislative Assembly. It’s unclear if Singh will run as a federal MP if he loses the leadership race. When asked by Charlie Angus during the debate what his plan was if he lost, Singh answered: “With respect, I won’t lose.”

Singh’s “Temp Agency Workers” platform demonstrates that he wants to “ensure that all workers employed through a temporary job agency under federal jurisdiction receive the same wages, benefits and working conditions as permanent full-time workers.” The Ontario MP wants to launch an LGBTQI2S+ Youth Housing Initiative “because services designed to assist homeless youth are often unsafe or inaccessible to members of that community”. Like fellow candidate Niki Ashton, Singh wants to repeal the blood donation ban for gay men and transgender women.

The candidate’s platform also includes establishing a basic income for Canadians with disabilities, which will receive funding from multiple sources such as “new tax brackets on high income earners” and by “closing corporate tax loopholes.”

Photo by Kirubel Mehari


Burkini backlash

This past week, images surfaced from Cannes, France where four armed police officers surrounded an innocent woman on the beach. They forced her to remove her garments amongst a bevy of bystanders and issued her a hefty fine for defying a new ban that prohibits her apparel.

The burkini is a swimsuit that essentially covers the entire body and is worn by Islamic women around the world when swimming or sunbathing. It adheres to their religious beliefs regarding veiling, while also allowing them to enjoy typical aquatic activities, such as going to the beach on a sweltering summer day.

Several French municipalities banned the religious swimwear, with the French Prime Minister saying that the swimsuit symbolizes “the enslavement of women,” according to the CBC. However, this past Friday the ban was overturned by a French high court, ruling that municipalities cannot issue fines, according to another report by the CBC.

Nevertheless, the debate has even spread overseas to Quebec. CAQ MNA Nathalie Roy recently advocated for a province-wide ban of the burkini, and linked the religious garment to radical Islam, according to the CBC. Meanwhile, Parti Quebecois leadership candidate Jean-Francois Lisée said to CTV that the hijab and burkini represent “the ultimate symbol of oppression of women.”

These remarks are reminiscent of Pauline Marois’ mandate back in 2012, when her government tried to introduce the draconian Charter of Quebec Values, which drew upon the dark underbelly of Quebec’s xenophobia. Although the charter was never passed, it stirred up quite the controversy and casted many religious minorities—including Muslim women—to the peripheries of society.

Here at The Concordian, we are absolutely mortified by the conversation amongst Quebec’s political elites, and we fully oppose any ban on religious garments. Since when is it appropriate for the government to tell its citizens how to dress?

It was nearly a century ago that women were subjected to similar harassment from the police in North America, but it was because their swimsuits were too short and revealed too much skin, according to an article published in The Huffington Post. An accompanying photo featured in the article reveals a policeman using measuring tape to see if the length of a woman’s bathing suit is preserving her modesty.

It is preposterous and paradoxical to create a policy that would aim to impose that same kind of control. Furthermore, it is blatantly oppressive and misogynistic to tell women how to dress, in order to meet certain standards, or to better blend into society.

We should all have the right to wear whatever we want, whenever we want—even if it signifies our religious beliefs. The beauty of living in a secular and pluralistic society is that people have the power to determine their own destiny, and we think that wearing the burkini or practicing Islam is a part of that. We should be advocating for tolerance and acceptance, rather than resorting to divisive tactics that drive minority groups further towards the fringes of society.  


Fandom: Killing the creative for fanservice or a force too hard to ignore?

Killing the creative for fanservice

The artistic process is restricted when the only voices heard are those of the dissatisfied

By Jocelyn Beaudet

Everybody’s a critic when it comes to our favorite TV shows, movies, comics and even novels. Databases like IMDB and animedb are flooded with user reviews, ranging from a few words to several paragraphs; all this to say that fans have a voice.

Photo by writer.  Photo by M-Wade

The disturbing trend however, is that this voice has now begun shaping our sequels, new episodes and latest issues — in many cases fans are now influencing the development of the media we consume. This is a problem, and a very big one at that.

There’s a very clear breach of artistic vision being perpetrated by having fans actively alter the course of someone else’s ideas for the sake of retaining revenue from the source.

While some artists have made some decidedly questionable choices in the direction of their work — the Star Wars prequels for example — having fans directly involved in the process diminishes the value that these artists have in the expression and production of their material.

The result is having a project marred by a vocal minority, rather than pleasing a silent majority — people who don’t feel the need to change the direction of any particular piece of art will continue to sit by and consume it without a peep.

What would the “Mona Lisa” look like if everyone had their say? Where would the incredible Spiderman be if fans decided where Peter Parker ended up? How different would Lord of the Rings be if fans had a say in the direction?

Questions like these speak for themselves and easily make up one of the reasons to leave fans outside of the creative process. Whether it’s classic paintings, cult followed comic books, epic novels, or amazing TV series, these forms of media require tremendous amounts of work, and carefully calculated budgets, something that fans seldom consider when pitching their ideas for these changes.

Advent Children, a Final Fantasy movie made for fans, reinforces the point itself. The movie grossed terribly at the box office, and viewers not familiar with the franchise found themselves confused and simply taking in the sights.

While the movie did its best to accommodate a new audience, and was by no means a horrible experience, it failed to capture the same whimsy that those who enjoyed the original game had felt. The experience felt shallow, and some fans even found themselves unmoved by something so deliberately crafted by and for one another.

The artistic process is sacred, and while fans are definitely capable of wonderful, creative ideas, these are diamonds in the rough, buried in a sea of horrible fanfiction that should remain in the darker corners of the Internet.


The fandom ­— A force too hard to ignore

The fans have spoken: we want in on the creative action

By Saturn De Los Angeles

The development of the creative process in contemporary art can stagnate and even stay dry without the participation of fans in some form. They establish a community who not only rally and support the artists, but also help in pushing the boundaries of creativity.

Art is seen as an outlet of expression, whether that be a movie, a series, a video game, a song or even a comic book. It can pose a statement, provoke an emotion, or even prompt a call to action.

When people encounter a creative work and like it, they reach out to others who share the same interests. Some fans may even pursue activities to express that appreciation, including fan art, cosplay, creative fiction, and a variety of social events. This leads to the creation of communities that go beyond geographical boundaries.

This may just be how fan-­run anime conventions began to take shape over the past several decades,­ and within these congregations, creative people like voice actors, illustrators and musicians ­are noticed by production studios.

Free! Iwatobi Swim Club is a slice-­of-­life anime about a group of high school students who collectively want to start a swimming club. In early 2013, a brief clip of what would become the show was leaked on social media. The clip went viral in a short time for its ubiquitous content – attractively built guys with amazing hair and oddly effeminate names.

The clip turned heads and provoked buzz by online fans. The buzz prompted Kyoto Animation, a production studio in Japan known for producing stellar animated work such as The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and Lucky Star, to develop and broadcast a 12-­episode television series based on the clip.

Hitting a little closer to home, the podcast “Welcome to Night Vale,” produced by Commonplace Books in New York, is also a show that has developed a loyal online following in a short time. The comedy series about the small creepy desert town as told from a community radio host became a runaway hit, combining humour and a sly dash of social commentary.

The successful series is now reeling with a potential spin­off literary novel in the works. The podcast has also provoked complex and, at times, intense online discussion that intersects gender, sexual orientation, race and representation.

These two examples are a few of many instances of how dedicated and involved these fandoms can be in expressing their appreciation,­ distaste or criticism for a piece of creative work.

Indeed, fans are the driving force for contemporary art. Fandom may not yet be the most efficient machine, but it is something that we cannot just set aside. They are as important as the artists themselves in keeping the stream of creativity going.

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