“Unity”: Biden’s message for America

The new administration’s pipeline stance not evidence of Trump’s lingering aggressive diplomatic strategy, says former U.S. diplomat

“The will of the people has been heard and the will of the people has been heeded,” said Joseph R. Biden, Jr., the newly sworn-in 46th president of the United States in his inauguration speech on Jan. 20, while overlooking Capitol Hill.

Sitting adjacent to the president, Vice President Kamala Devi Harris made history as the first Black and South Asian American woman to hold the position, along with her husband Doug Emhoff, the Nation’s first Second Gentleman.

Two weeks earlier, riots engulfed the government building, with right-wing protestors seeking to disrupt Biden’s electoral ballot certification, in an attempted coup to keep former president Trump in power.

Trump’s inaugural speech in 2017 told Americans they were witnessing “the birth of a new millennium,” where, “a new national pride will stir our souls, lift our sights and heal our divisions.”

After refusing to attend the new president’s inauguration, Trump departed Washington D.C. on Air Force One the same morning before official ceremonies began, leaving behind a nation unhealed.

In his inaugural speech, Biden acknowledged the violent insurrection at the Capitol that left five dead and dozens injured, the rise of civil unrest, political extremism, economic inequality, and a public health crisis that has killed over 400,000 Americans.

Instead of “America First,” Biden called for the nation’s commitment to progress and “that most elusive of things in a democracy: unity.” Reminiscent of John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech, Biden asked to not solely rely on the government, but to do their part in healing the country’s strife.

Just over 39 million people watched Biden’s inauguration across major television networks. For the international community watching on, Biden said, “America has been tested, and we have come out stronger for it. We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was one of the first world leaders to congratulate the Democratic party’s win, both during election week and after the inaugural ceremony. Over the past four years of the Trump administration, diplomatic tension rose between the two countries.

“Unprecedented, and a bit chaotic,” said Sarah Goldfeder, former U.S. diplomat and fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, on the previous administration’s relations with Canada. The “America First” policy marked an aggressive international stance, where the former administration sought to undo unilaterally beneficial agreements, to give preferential treatment to U.S. interests.

The former U.S. ambassador to Canada during the Trump administration, Kelly Craft, came with a mission to implement this new vision, Goldfeder explained.

“When she came in, there was a very distinct kind of focus to what she was here to do — and it ended up being NAFTA.”

While not completely overriding other countries’ interest as Trump initially promised, the administration did manage to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the new United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) in March 2020, which included giving Americans an increase to 3.6 per cent from 3.25 per cent of the Canadian dairy market.

After a mere 22 months as ambassador, with a third of that time spent away from her post, Craft was moved to serve as Washington’s ambassador to the United Nations. During that time, there was no U.S. ambassador to Canada, causing a rift between the countries’ communications.

“That’s a big level of … connectivity, kind of a sub-political level that just wasn’t there,” said Goldfeder, on the lack of U.S. Ambassador to Canada.

With Biden promising to return to normal relations between countries, it came as a surprise to Canada when the new administration repealed the Keystone XL pipeline permit.

According to Goldfeder, this seemingly aggressive stance was not a continuation of Trump’s diplomatic practices, but a decision to return to former Democratic policies under the Obama administration.

“I think [what] Canada forgets [about] the Keystone presidential permit is that that decision was actually made initially, in 2015, to not grant the presidential permit by the Obama administration,” said Goldfeder.

Initially proposed in 2008, it took more than 10 years of conflicting political debate for the pipeline to come to end, with Obama’s vetoing of the project in 2015. In his decision, Obama acknowledged the pipeline would not contribute to the administration’s work towards sustainability and the fight against climate change.

Overall, Goldfeder has high hopes for the new administration.

“I think that what you’ll see with the Biden administration is a return to professionalism.”

Also in agreement is Graham G. Dodds, professor & associate chair in the department of Political Science at Concordia University, who feels that the new administration “will likely be a welcome change for Canada.”

The past four years hurt Canada’s close relationship with the U.S.; however, “common interests and shared values” is the bedrock of the two countries’ relationship, not who is leading the respective countries, said Dodds. But it doesn’t hurt to work with someone you see eye-to-eye with either.

“As someone well acquainted with facts, reason, and civility, Biden will likely be much easier for Canada and other allies to deal with than his erratic and caustic predecessor,” said Dodds.


Graphic by Lily Cowper


100 seconds to midnight

What does the Capitol Hill siege mean for us?

It’s 100 seconds to midnight. Last year, the symbolic Doomsday Clock assessed that we are closer to a global man-made catastrophe than ever since the clock’s creation in 1947. The decision was made on account of the climate emergency, rising nuclear tensions, growing distrust in governments all around the world, weaponization of technology… and all this before the whirlwind that was 2020.

The evening of Jan. 6 saw “As a Canadian” trending on Twitter, as so many of us bemocked America’s fate, yet again turning a blind eye to our own run-ins with white supremacy in favour of our ‘it’s not as bad here’ façade. All of a sudden, we forgot that the founder of the Proud Boys is a Canadian man, or that there was a group of Montrealers who organized to participate in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017.

So let’s get this straight: the civil unrest in the US is especially concerning to us as Canadians.

Civil wars are started when a population loses trust in its government, and feels strongly enough that their issues can’t be solved by other means than organizing and taking arms. Statistically, poorer countries are more at risk of entering wars because of their inability to improve the economy, and financial and political inequality also often spark conflict.

Far-right groups have invented all kinds of conspiracies to discredit the media, Democrats, and basically anyone who doesn’t worship Donald Trump. They believe he’s the only one who can properly handle the American economy and save them from the looming threat that is socialism. They have expressed their anger at the dilution of (white) American culture through the apparent invasion of immigrants.

From what we’ve witnessed through their behaviour in recent years, which culminated with the attack on the Capitol, these far-right groups have shown that they aren’t scared — and are in fact proud — to take arms and uphold their views through violence.

On the left, the increasingly vocal contenders for the Black Lives Matter movement have shown their persistence to take to the streets and protest — rain or shine, through tear gas and pandemic. Left-wing groups have also demanded universal healthcare, erasure of student debt, more money towards climate action, and defunding the police and the army in the last few months.

Though I don’t mean to sound like an alarmist, this seems to me a clear recipe for civil war.

Our economy, national security, military strength, foreign relations, everything down to the results of our elections depend on how the United States is feeling. There’s a reason people say “When America sneezes, Canada catches cold.” Nine days after Trump was sworn in as president, six Quebecers were killed in a Sainte-Foy mosque, a clear message that we haven’t been able to escape Trump’s anti-Islam rhetoric.

Many have also wondered how Justin Trudeau will be expected to handle this. Will officially recognizing the Proud Boys as a terrorist group give the federal government reason to increase our military budget? As political unrest becomes inevitably more violent in the US, will it allow our federal government to take preventive, but invasive measures like increased surveillance and armed law enforcement?

For the past two years, I’ve been saying that I predict a civil war in the United States by 2025, and that I’d be surprised if it didn’t happen in the next three years. I think this is the most sinister ‘I told you so’ moment I’ll ever have.


Feature graphic by James Fay @jamesfaydraws

Poli Savvy: The clock is TikToking

There’s trouble in paradise as Americans’ beloved entertainment app is threatened to be banned

It seems like every week, the U.S. government is threatening to ban TikTok, everyone’s favourite entertainment app.

Though the removal of the app was originally set to happen on Sept. 20, the confusing ebb and flow of Chinese-American politics has unsurprisingly decided against it, pushing it back to this Sunday.

Unsurprisingly though, after weeks of suspense, the ban was finally suppressed by a federal judge.

As of now, we don’t know if the Trump administration will go through with this decision, or if it will be pushed back (yet again).

But the restraints applied to TikTok go beyond preventing young Americans from watching and making viral videos: it has implications with censorship, data privacy, discrimination, and economic relations as well.

A quick 15 second recap

In recent months, the Trump administration has grown increasingly suspicious of TikTok’s soaring popularity, with members of each major party questioning the security of the app, especially after a long investigation into Russian involvement in the American elections.

Though its U.S. headquarters are in Los Angeles, TikTok’s mother company, ByteDance, is Chinese-owned. The same is true of multi-purpose app WeChat, which is owned by China-based Tencent.

Right now, TikTok has an estimated 100 million monthly American users, to WeChat’s more humble 3.3 million (though the latter has recorded around 1.2 billion monthly users across the world).

With a combined usership equating to a third of the US population — or almost three times the population of Canada — the proportions and allegations concerning this decision are huge.

What’s going on with the apps?

Legally, the government of China is entitled to all the data owned by Chinese companies.

For a while now, the U.S. government has been concerned about ByteDance sharing private information, including location and contacts with the Chinese government, which earned them a lawsuit last year.

This comes after other scandals involving TikTok in regards to censorship: leaked documents about their algorithm policies showed they removed videos that were considered “controversial,” including any post which referred to the liberation movement in Tibet, the camps of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province, or the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre.

On another occasion, some of the apps’ discriminatory policies were also exposed, showing that their algorithms tended to hide the content of “unattractive, disabled, or poor users.”

For some time, the only way for the Trump administration to let TikTok off the hook was to sell it to an American company, which would solve its information-sharing habit.

The top contenders have been Microsoft — but the deal fell through a few weeks ago — Walmart, and Oracle, who are now in talks to buy huge amounts of shares in TikTok, but not enough to please Trump, who won’t rule the ban off the table until the app cuts all ties with its Chinese owners.

Ultimately, prohibiting the operation of these apps seems to be a proxy for the friction in the U.S. and China’s relations.

With constant quarrels about trade, national security, and just the general values of each country’s leader, it is clear that TikTok and WeChat have found themselves at the forefront of yet another political conflict.



Poli SAVVY: Is pushing for traditional values in a modern world the way to leadership?

BREAKING NEWS: There are still entitled men in politics.

On one side, we have potential Conservative candidate for the leadership, Richard Décarie who, during an interview with CTVs Power Play on Wednesday, said “LGBTQ” “is a Liberal term” and that being gay “is a choice.” He then said Canadians must encourage traditional values that have served us in the past, encouraging the defunding of abortion services and reinforcing the idea that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Then, on Friday, not too far from us, Trump became the first U.S. President to walk in the largest annual anti-abortion rally, the 47th March for Life in Washington.

I’m sorry, I didn’t know this was the 18th century?

While Trump’s decision might actually help him win the 2020 election, as a big part of his electoral voters are evangelical Christians who stand firmly against abortion, a Pew Research Centre survey conducted in the summer revealed that 61 per cent of Americans believe abortion should be legal and are concerned that some states are making it hard to access.

And over here, Décarie just gave a quick crash course on “how to lose an election in Canada.”

Federal elections have displayed over and over again that the Conservatives’ weak spots are their social values being out of tune with Canadian ones. More recently, Scheer’s stance on such topics hasn’t quite helped him win voters––au contraire.

A few Tories, such as frontrunner for leadership Peter Mackay, were quick to denounce the comments on Twitter. Still, Décarie’s reductive and ignorant remarks highlight exactly how replacing Scheer won’t necessarily erase the mentality that runs deep within the Conservative Party. Last October, in a post-election analysis, the co-founder of the anti-abortion group RightNow, Alissa Golob, proudly said they were able to elect at least 68 “pro-lifers” out of the 121 current members of the Conservative caucus.

What’s that expression again? Beware of who’s pulling the strings. 


Graphic by @sundaeghost


World in Brief

The Amazon forest has been burning for the past four weeks at an alarming speed. In July only, areas of the forest were being cleared at a rate of five football fields a minute according to The Guardian. While there is only a portion of the forest on fire, experts estimate that 2019 might be the most destructive year for the Amazon in 10 years.

Tension rises as two drones crashed in Beirut’s southern suburb on Sunday, according to Reuters. While Israel has not claimed responsibility for the drone strikes, Lebanese president Michel Aoun claims the attack as “a declaration of war.” The Hezbollah also warned Israeli soldiers at the border to await a response.

President Donald Trump proposed nuking hurricanes before they made landfall in an attempt to neutralize the storms. However, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) suggest the results would be “devastating,” according to the BBC. “Radioactive fallout would fairly quickly move with the tradewinds to affect land areas,” said the NOAA. Trump denied making this proposition in a Tweet.

Chemists will be gathering in San Diego this week to present latest research on chocolate and cannabis. According to new research, chocolate’s properties can throw off potency tests, leading to inaccurate labeling in states where marijuana is legal, according to the Associated Press. Chocolate edibles may contain a way bigger dose of THC than their label, sometimes sending consumers into unexpected trips.


Graphic by @sundaeghost


Speaking your mind in the spotlight

Kanye West’s support for Donald Trump highlights a larger conversation about famous people’s opinions

We all have a right to voice our opinions. In fact, I’ll be voicing mine throughout this article. It doesn’t mean you need to agree with it, but it’s always nice to open our minds to a different perspective. Oftentimes, I think people say things without expecting repercussions. But if your words were more powerful than other people’s, would you be more careful about what you said?

In my opinion, a celebrity’s words have a big impact on their fans. People can be easily influenced by their role models and, therefore, swayed to agree with something solely because of the person who said it. Or, people can also completely disagree with any statements made by celebrities and withdraw their support as a result.

When rapper Kanye West tweeted a picture of his “Make America Great Again” cap in April, people did not react well. West later tweeted, “You don’t have to agree with Trump, but the mob can’t make me not love him.” Although West has the right to be a Trump supporter, there are obvious reasons why so many people do not support the President and were so shocked when West revealed he did. I believe Trump is blatantly racist, sexist and quite childish. It’s obvious to me that this isn’t someone who should be spoken highly of by other famous people.

Although West said on Twitter that he wants to be open about his opinions and thoughts rather than be controlled by the popular opinion, it can be argued that he should be more cautious about the things he says because of his influence on the public. If he openly states that he supports Trump or supports a specific statement Trump has made, this may sway West supporters to think something that’s problematic is not so bad if West supports it.

Things can often be misread or taken out of context, so celebrities should be used to thinking twice about anything they say. We all have a right to express our opinions, but when your words have a larger impact on the public, that right needs to be exercised with more caution. I’m not saying things should be purposely left unsaid, but words travel fast, and with the popularity of social media nowadays, it’s easy for something to be seen or read by many more people than anticipated and for its impact to be far-reaching.

Kanye also argued in a tweet, “I don’t agree with everything anyone does. That’s what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought.” Though this is true, being a celebrity does come with the responsibility of keeping in mind how your words influence your fans. Explanations must often be given to justify words and actions. If you give your opinion with no justification, it can be taken the wrong way. With an explanation, people can at least understand the reasoning behind your thinking and be considerate of it.

We do not have to agree with everything a person says, but we can respect their words. Or, if we do not want to accept them, we can at least acknowledge the fact that there is a reasonable explanation behind their opinions. Whether our words will be heard by one person or thousands, we should always be aware of the possible repercussions. Everyone can disagree with something or be disagreed with.

Everyone has a right to their opinion, and to speak it, no matter the size of their audience. However, those in the public eye should always be more conscious of how their words and actions will be received.

Graphic by Wednesday Laplante



The focus should not be Trump’s tweets

The 11th shooting in the United States this year must be addressed more humanely

Two students were killed and 18 were injured when a fellow student opened fire at a high school in Kentucky on Jan. 23. It was the 11th shooting in the United States since the beginning of the year. Although the shooting gained major news coverage, the conversation turned to the fact that President Donald Trump seemed to take his time addressing the attack, only acknowledging it a day later on Twitter.

This slow, nonchalant response caused people on social media to question whether or not Americans are becoming numb to mass shootings. I believe many people in the United States have become desensitized to gun violence, but I don’t think they realize how deep this numbness permeates their lives.

When I visited my family in Minnesota for Christmas, I was reminded of the possibility of danger everywhere I went. When I entered malls or movie theatres, there were signs labeling the area as a gun-free zone, which I didn’t think needed to be put in writing. Even the pre-show message during movies in the United States tells you to turn off your cellphone, don’t talk during the movie and report suspicious behaviour or packages.

This paranoia is understandable, given the numerous shootings that happen in public spaces in the United States. Yet, when I pointed out how weird this was to my American relatives, they all seemed to shrug it off. I believe most Americans don’t realize that they don’t have to live their lives in fear.

In my opinion, if Americans truly wanted to protect themselves, they would proactively implement much more rigorous gun-control laws. If people were truly angry or sad about the number of shootings that occur in their country, you’d think they would feel emboldened enough to take action. Instead, we hear the same phrase whenever a shooting occurs: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.” Then everyone seems to move on.

Meanwhile in Canada, when a shooting occurs, I believe we are not as numb to this issue because we aren’t inundated by these kinds of atrocities. We don’t have to live in fear of attacks, because most Canadians have limited access to weapons. That being said, I do think we experience a level of numbness to crimes as well.

When reading about the Kentucky shooting, I was able to empathize much more with the victims’ statements than with the basic details or the political ramifications of the shooting. Yet, too often when tragic events are reported in the news, victims are reduced to numbers and the story shifts to political debates and finger pointing.

In order to revive people’s empathy towards tragic events, the human side of these stories should be the focus. We should be talking about the human beings who experienced these tragic events, the families that will never be the same and the communities that have to put themselves back together. When these stories are told, it becomes nearly impossible not to feel some kind of connection to the story and the people involved.

I believe once connections are made, we are more likely to see people taking real action and trying to make meaningful change. Teenagers died, families were broken and people were physically and mentally scarred by the events that took place on Jan. 23. That should be the focus of these stories—not the fact that the president took too long to tweet his condolences.

Graphic by Zeze Le Lin


Politicians and policies are no laughing matter

Putting a humourous spin on current affairs distracts the public from serious issues

It seems like a natural human reaction to downplay upsetting situations with humour. It makes them seem less scary. We watch funny movies to cheer up, we joke about our stress and make light of our procrastination even though these actually make us want to cry, and we laugh at our mistakes and embarrassments.

However, when the world’s political climate is so bad that we have to cover it up with humour, that’s when I believe the perception of politics can get dangerous.

Lately, I believe the media, including news outlets and social media platforms, have been taking a comedic approach to politics. More and more headlines make readers laugh rather than worry about what’s going on in the world.

Think about it. A little over a week ago, the media erupted because U.S. President Donald Trump drank from a water bottle in a funny way during a press conference—the response was heightened by the fact that Trump mocked Senator Marco Rubio in 2016 for doing the same thing, according to CNN.

While this story succeeded in making people laugh, it holds no importance in political discussion. There is no way that Trump drinking water was more important than the content of the press conference. As specified on the White House website, Trump made remarks about his trip to Asia and commented on his plan to rapidly reduce the nearly $800-billion annual trade deficit the United States has with other nations. Yet no one talked about that. Using humour to distract the public from the real issues is no joke. In my opinion, it minimizes their importance and severity.

When political affairs boil over, a tweet or a funny anecdote often take the spotlight rather than the issue at hand. For example, Trump tweeted “covfefe” in the middle of the night back in May. According to CNN, he was tweeting about bad coverage from the press concerning the Russia investigation, but he accidentally typed “covfefe” instead of “coverage.” This particular tweet was posted a few days after the FBI announced concerns about Jared Kushner’s ties to Russia and one day before Trump withdrew from the Paris agreement, as reported by The New York Times. Yet, stories and speculations about the meaning of “covfefe” seemed to be all anyone was talking about.

The negative consequences of unnecessary and misdirected coverage are profound. I believe one example would be the role this type of coverage played in the 2016 United States election. According to the Washington Post, Trump did not spend any money on television ads for the first 202 days of his campaign. This was possible because of all the free publicity he got from the media for the most ridiculous reasons. This attention made everyone familiar with his name and, in my opinion, definitely affected his popularity when it came time to vote.

However, we should stop pointing fingers across the border and begin examining our own issues here in Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau receives a lot of global media attention, but I don’t believe it’s for his policies. In my opinion, most of the attention he gets is based solely on his good looks. For example, he appeared on the cover of GQ magazine in May 2016 and was listed as one of Vogue’s “10 Unconventional Alternatives to the Sexiest Man Alive.” While this is not a form of humour, it is still a distraction from the policies and current affairs that impact Canadian citizens.

Politics is starting to seem more like a reality TV show. When reading or listening to the news, media consumers should be asking themselves: “Will this matter in a few years?” Reporters should be focused on politically relevant information that the public needs to know. In my opinion, if something won’t matter in a few years, it isn’t important and shouldn’t be published in the first place.

News media producers should also think twice before taking a comedic approach to politics. A journalist’s job is to inform the public about national and international affairs and keep citizens informed. By turning these important issues into jokes, they aren’t equipping citizens with the tools needed to be active members of our democratic society.

Politics is not a topic we should be covering up with humour because, unfortunately, it’s usually no laughing matter.

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth


The real reason behind gun violence in the U.S.

Blaming mental illness for shooting massacres is offensive and misleading

Blaming mental illness for gun violence is not okay, and I believe President Donald Trump is only causing more harm when he encourages the use of guns to supposedly prevent gun violence.

On Nov. 5, a gunman opened fire at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, reported The New York Times. The shooter was later found dead in his car and identified by authorities as Devin Patrick Kelley. He killed 26 people.
Trump, who was in Japan at the time, blamed the shooting on mental illness. He called the tragedy “a mental health problem at the highest level” and described the shooter as a “very deranged individual,” according to The New York Times. I believe Trump is using mental illness as a scapegoat for acts of violence. He also specified that “this isn’t a guns situation,” according to the same source. This further proves his incompetence as president.

In my opinion, Trump is unable to tackle this nationwide issue in an objective fashion. He is turning away from the real issue destroying the lives of many Americans each year. According to the not-for-profit corporation Gun Violence Archive, approximately 13,286 people were killed in the United States by firearms in 2015.

Not only is blaming gun violence on mental illness largely false, it is also offensive and misleading. Doing so increases the stigma around mental illness and perpetuates the incorrect assumption that mentally ill people are violent. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the majority of people with mental illness are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. Only three to five per cent of violent acts in the United States can be attributed to individuals with serious mental illness, according to the same source.

Not only does Trump fail to assign fault where it is due, I believe he is promoting gun violence. Two days after the Texas shooting, the president praised another man in the church who shot Kelley. “If he didn’t have a gun,” Trump claimed, “instead of having 26 dead, you would have had hundreds more dead. That’s how I feel about it,” reported NBC News. With his pro-gun stance, Trump is fostering the view that gun ownership helps prevent massacres, and gun misuse is due to mental illness.

While I do believe mental illness and the availability of psychological services in the United States needs to be addressed, I think it is clear that gun control is what will prevent so many mass shootings from happening. The best way to prevent these tragedies is to ban the weapons that are used to hurt so many rather than promote equally violent retaliation. In the aftermath of the 2006 Dawson shooting here in Montreal, the college built a garden to promote a peaceful, safe space and began offering a non-violent communication course for students to take as an elective. I strongly believe this is the type of attitude the American president needs to have if there is any hope of lessening the number of tragedies his country regularly faces.

Following Trump’s response to the Texas shooting, the hashtag #LivingWithMentalIllnessIs began trending on Twitter. This is a positive step towards something bigger. This hashtag gives people who live with mental illness a platform where they can share their stories and disprove Trump’s views of why gun violence takes place. I also hope this hashtag promotes peaceful communication between people and ends the stigmatization of mental illness as a dangerous or violent disorder.

Graphic by Zeze Le Lin


“Make Racists Afraid Again” protest

An SPVM window was smashed, anti-Trump protesters were cleared with tear gas

Approximately 300 demonstrators protesting the inauguration of President Donald Trump marched down Ste-Catherine Street West in downtown Montreal on Friday evening.

The protest, called “Make Racists Afraid Again,” started peacefully in Phillips Square, but as demonstrators marched against the flow of traffic on Ste-Catherine, windows of commercial stores were vandalized. Montreal police, dressed in riot gear, used tear gas and shields to disperse the protesters after several people started throwing stones, smashing a window at the SPVM station on the corner of Ste-Catherine and Bishop Street.

Protesters mobilize against Trump as he was sworn in as the new president of the United States. Photo by Ana Hernandez.

The protest was organized by the Anti-Racist Resistance Collective of Montreal (CRAM) and Resist Trump Montreal, in partnership with DisruptJ20—a group that organized many large protests throughout the United States on Friday.

Protesters held banners denouncing Trump, the United States and fascism. Organizers used megaphones to chant ‘No more Trump, no more hate, America was never great!,’ as the march moved along the downtown thoroughfare.

Activist and organizer Eamon Toohey said the protest—meant to be “a show of solidarity with protesters in Washington”—was a success.

“We wanted to show that the rise of the far-right as represented by Trump isn’t welcome in the States and it isn’t welcome in Canada,” said Toohey.

When asked about the vandalism that took place during the march, Toohey said he didn’t have sympathy for the SPVM or businesses like American Apparel, which were targeted during the protest.

“I’m not going to condemn protesters smashing the window of the police station,” said Toohey. “The police are the armed wing of the state and serve [to] enforce the policies that place people in jeopardy. No condemnation there.”

According to The Montreal Gazette, Montreal SPVM said they did not ticket or arrest anyone.

However, Concordia student Maidina Kadeer said she was arrested while waiting with her friends following the protests. “[The police] grabbed me and slammed me against the window and began handcuffing me,” Kadeer said.

Police officers are seen in front of the broken glass. Photo by Adrian Knowler

“They, at no point, told me if I was being arrested, for what—[they gave] no reason as to why I was being handcuffed and arrested,” said Kadeer. Her other friend began filming the scene, but the officers then pushed him, threw his phone out of his hands and stomped on it, she said. “They held me like that with no explanation.”

Student Stéphane Krims came directly from McGill’s music school to march, carrying his double bass the entire way. Krims said he is worried Trump’s election has made hate more widely tolerable in America, adding that he was alarmed by “the [racist] behaviour that some people exhibited when they found out that Trump was going to be president.”

Blake Hawley, an American citizen at the Montreal protest, said he was embarrassed by the message Trump’s election sent to the rest of the world.

“[The United States] already didn’t have a great image, but it’s definitely worse now for sure,” said Hawley. He said he’s afraid American-Canadian relations may suffer during the Trump years.

“The whole idea of the American government isn’t taken seriously anymore,” said Hawley. “The U.S. is going to lose allies as we go into this administration. [Trump] might be as bad as everyone thinks. If he is, the U.S. will lose a lot more respect than it already has.”

Toohey said he is concerned that Canadians are not taking the election of Donald Trump seriously enough. “There’s a sense here in Canada of, ‘Oh, we’re not America,’” Toohey said. “But injustices and abuse of police power are happening in Canada too.”

“Things are going to get as bad [here in Canada] unless they’re challenged,” he added. “It’s not just the United States, it’s not just Trump. It’s what he represents and what he was elected on.”

Be sure to check out an audio piece on this protest on The Concordian Radio Show on CJLO 1690 AM on Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.


Understanding the 2016 U.S. elections

Concordia political science professors explained why the elections unfolded the way they did

Professors from Concordia’s department of political science broke down the domestic, international and economic implications of a Trump presidency and the factors that led to his election at the “Understanding the 2016 U.S. Elections” roundtable in the Hall building on Nov. 16.

The speakers included professor Graham Dodds, who specializes in American politics and law, professor Michael Lipson, who specializes in international relations and international organizations, professor Harold Chorney, who specializes in political economy, urbanization and globalization, and Guy Lachapelle, who specializes in public policy and political communication.

Trump won 290 of the 270 electoral college votes needed to become president of the United States. However, Hillary Clinton won 232 of the electoral votes and surpassed Donald Trump by more than 1.7 million popular votes, said Dodds.

To explain the disparity between the electoral college votes and the popular votes, Dodds said some people looked at the characteristics of Clinton’s supporters.

One such characteristic was that her supporters were too densely located in particular cities, rather than dispersed in key locations throughout the country.

In addition, low voter turnout was another factor used to explain why the election unfolded the way it did, said Dodds.

“Some 100 million people eligible to vote in the U.S. federal election didn’t,” said Dodds.

More than five million Americans voted for a third party candidate rather than for Clinton or Trump, according to CNN. This could have impacted the outcome of the election throughout the country, said Dodds.

According to CNN, the 2016 election saw the lowest voter turnout in a presidential election since 1996. Only 58 per cent of eligible voters actually voted in this election, versus the 62 per cent who voted in 2008, said Dodds.

“Others said that U.S. polling was atrocious, and others claimed the economic decline in the Midwest as a factor behind Trumps support. Where underclass whites in the rust belt felt scared of the slipping of their privilege and did not share the incredible economic [boost] since 2008,” said Dodds.

Lachapelle discussed the impact of populism and the implications Trumps presidency might have on Quebec and Canada, as well as Americans’ unhappiness with the current U.S political system.

“Many Americans were disappointed with Obama and Obamacare, and 30 million Americans are still not covered,” said Lachapelle. “Obamacare was not what Obama had intended at the beginning of his presidency.”

“Minorities were unhappy with the current system, which could help account for their low turnout,” Lachapelle said.

“Many of Trump’s supporters hoped that, at end of the day, he would break old divides,” Dodds added. “[However], his new appointments, such as Mike Pence as vice president, don’t follow this. [They’re] elevating not the new way but the hard way.”

“Trump won despite deep divides in his own party,” Dodds said. “It is difficult to tell what will happen now because Trump provided few details of his plan and, when he did, he often contradicted himself.”

For example, Trump announced that he no longer plans to go forward with building a large wall across the U.S and Mexican border, instead he now plans to have a smaller fence, said professor Dodds. In an interview with 60 minutes, Trump has also announced that he will reduce the total deportation of all illegal immigrants to only immigrants who have criminal records.

Lipson discussed the potential international implications Trump’s presidency could have.

“Trump plans to back out of the December Paris Treaty,” he said. “ Americans abandoning the Paris Treaty would be catastrophic for the global environment.”

Lipson also discussed how president-elect Trump’s stance on foreign policy has been consistent throughout past decades.

“Trump believes international economics should not be about cooperation but [rather] bargaining, where one side is the victor and the other sides’ lose,” Lipson said. “In addition, Trump’s preference for authoritarian regimes, such as Vladimir Putin’s, has been consistent throughout Trump’s adult life.”

Chorney discussed the positive economic consequences Trump’s presidency could have.

Photo by Alex Hutchins.

“Trump plans to change the tax code dramatically from six-seven brackets down to three,” said Chorney.

During Trump’s presidential campaign, he proposed to decrease corporate taxes by 20 per cent, setting them at 15 per cent compared the 35 per cent set by Obama’s administration.

“The impact of [tax cuts] would result in less tax revenue for the government,” Chorney said.

“Trump wants low rates of interest and he has stated that he wants to [remove the] head of federal reserve, Janet L. Yellen, and spend $1 trillion on infrastructure,” said Chorney, highlight that this is positive.

In contrast, “Hillary wanted to spend $300 billion on infrastructure, which, in the size of global economy, would be too small,” said Chorney.

In addition, he confessed Trump’s brilliance as a “New York City realtor who worked with people from all cultural backgrounds.”

Chomey stated that 75 per cent of Canada’s exports are from the U.S which makes up 35 per cent of our Gross Domestic Product. (GDP), enforcing how important of an ally U.S. is to Canada.

Furthermore, Dodds suggested that some people believe Trump’s presidency would closely resemble Richard Nixon’s third term.

“Nixon came from an early wave of an era of conservative dominance,” he said.

During his presidency, Nixon notably donated $100 million to help the urban poor and was also notorious for embracing racism and law and order through his War on Drugs Program.

The roundtable organized by Concordia Political Science professors helped to provide context on the potential implications Trump’s presidency may have.


Concordia responds to the U.S. elections

University students mobilize in Montreal after Trump wins the U.S. elections

Since the results of the U.S. presidential election were announced, university groups, such as the Quebec Public Interest Research Group at Concordia (QPIRG Concordia) and Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), have hosted events in opposition of the win of president-elect Donald Trump.

“When I say fuck, you say Trump!,” shouted SSMU president Ben Ger to the crowd gathered outside of Redpath Museum on the McGill campus on Thursday, Nov. 18. “Fuck,” shouted Ger. “Trump!,” shouted the crowd of about 20 students in response. “Not my president!,” Ger yelled back.


Concordia community members from all sides of the political spectrum react to the winning of Trump in U.S. presidential elections. Graphic by Florence Yee.

“After the election, I noticed that some of my friends supported Donald Trump,” said Charles Keita, a participant at the event, a McGill student and Florida resident. He said while this is not an issue, as a person of colour, it is concerning to see some of the statements his friends have shared in support of Trump. However, he mentioned there is a need for dialogue between both political spectrums.

“As a society, we should keep in contact with those with differing opinions because it’s the only way we can make the conversation continue,” said Keita. “By communication, we can still make a difference and that’s why we shouldn’t be silent—not today, not tomorrow—because our voices are needed.”

On the morning of the U.S. election, QPIRG Concordia announced a public community meeting to be held the following day, said Jaggi Singh, the programming and working groups coordinator for QPIRG Concordia. “There were more than 100 people who showed up—all of whom were in some way critical of or opposed to the policies of Trump and what Trump represents.”

There are plenty of reasons why Trump’s win would anger people and create fear, said Singh. “Trump is someone who ran a campaign on demonizing and marginalizing migrants,” Singh said, adding that he openly proposed to ban an entire minority group and bragged about sexually assaulting women.

SSMU president Ben Ger photographed outside of Redpath Museum on McGill campus following the Trump mobilization event. Photo by Ana Hernandez.

Singh said there were many ideas put forth by community members to QPIRG Concordia, including monitoring hate crimes and using popular education to inform people about the policies being implemented, said Singh. Popular education is described as education aimed at empowering those who feel marginalized and encourage them through their learning to generate social change.

“Some people emphasized being able to [converse with] some people who might be empathetic to Trump’s ideas,” said Singh. “We, as Canadians in general, can’t live in this bubble. People just can’t be like, ‘Well I’m not that type of person so I’m just going to ignore them’—we need to engage people.”

Concordia journalism student Julian Krajewski, who is eligible for an American citizenship, said he feels QPIRG is not providing that opportunity to develop dialogue between the left and right, as he was banned from commenting on QPIRG Concordia’s first post-election “Resist Trump!” event on Facebook.

“I got banned from one of the events for just asking a question about my safety if I showed up in a MAGA hat,” said Krajewski, referring to his Make America Great Again (MAGA) hat.

“It sounds troll-y to them—I wasn’t trying to be troll-y. I was just asking what would happen if I showed up because, in their description of the event, it just says they are organizing to come together in resistance against the Trump movement.”

Student mobilize on McGill’s campus on Friday, Nov. 18. Photo by Ana Hernandez.

Singh responded to The Concordian about the instance, stating the “Resist Trump!” community meeting was for people who oppose Trump and his far-right, anti-immigrant, racist and misogynist policies. “Julian Krajewski clearly supports Trump and openly expresses far-right, anti-immigrant views, so it makes no sense for him to join the group except to troll it,” said Singh. “He is, of course, free to set up a “Support Trump” Facebook group for people who share his views, or to try to organize a public debate about Trump.” Singh said he does not recall Krajewski trying to join the group.

“I have serious concerns about the safety of my ideas and my ability to openly express them in the very institution of our society that is supposed to house and encourage such discussions,” said Krajewski. He said the QPIRG members he has interacted with have treated him with hostility and unjustified skepticism and belittling. “The attitude that anyone who doesn’t [agree] with left-wing politics on campus needs to be resisted or ignored or excluded is the very same attitude that they are accusing Trump supporters of,” he said.

“There are definitely very quiet Trump supporters on campus. I’m definitely the most vocal that I’ve ever seen,” said Krajewski.

Krajewski said the Trump movement has been labeled as racist due to the media. Trump himself has been identified as a racist, a white supremacist and a misogynist, which Krajewski said is because the media attempted to find anything to portray him negatively, and denied manipulating video and audio footage of him. “In all his rallies, he has said ‘I want to help Americans, if you pay your taxes—doesn’t matter what skin colour, what gender you are,’” said Krajewski.

“Trump is the pro-American guy and he’s the first pro-American politician to actually have a chance to be elected [in my lifetime],” said Krajewski. “It was the great American resurgence, the way I see it. We’re going to have to see how it plays out.”

Protesters bear signs in protest of Trump on McGill’s campus. Photo by Ana Hernandez.

Graham Dodds, an associate professor from Concordia’s political science department, offered his opinion on the U.S. election results, particularly on how Trump’s win will affect Canada-U.S. relations. He said, while it will not be like the “bromance” portrayed between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Barack Obama, the US-Canadian relationship is more institutional than based on leaders and their political leanings. “Presidents and prime ministers come and go, but the strong Canada-U.S. relationship largely persists,” said Dodds. “Even though Trump might greatly strain the relationship, the relationship is strong enough that it will endure, hopefully.”

“Trump is going to be inaugurated on Jan. 20. He is not perceived as the actual president of a huge segment of the population, so there’ll be protests,” said Singh. “I think it’s fair to say Montreal [will] join into those protests.”

Singh said Prime Minister Trudeau extended an invitation for Trump to come to Canada. “It’s fair to expect Trump to be in Ottawa or the Ottawa area in the early months of 2017,” said Singh.

Singh announced yesterday QPIRG will be visiting Ottawa if Trump accepts Trudeau’s invitation. Though the details have not been finalized, as Trump has not yet responded to Trudeau, QPIRG plans to mobilize if a visit from the future president is scheduled.

QPIRG Concordia will be hosting the next “Resist Trump!” community meeting on Nov. 23 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at QPIRG Concordia, at 1500 de Maisonneuve. If there are too many attendees, they will meet in the CSU lounge on the seventh floor of the Hall building.

Exit mobile version