AUKUS Pact: How Will Canada Be Impacted?

The military dealings of Canada’s allies in the Pacific Ocean might play a large role in the future of Chinese-Canadian diplomatic relations.

On Sept. 15, the heads of state of Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States unveiled a trilateral security pact that will serve to expand the three nations’ military influence in the Indo-Pacific region. The pact is more commonly known by its acronym AUKUS.

This deal comes after years of Australia’s tiptoeing on a diplomatic tightrope between American and Chinese partnerships, cementing the nation’s relationship with the U.S. for the near future. The agreement will put into place the construction of tomahawk cruise missiles, extended range joint air-to-surface standoff missiles, long-range anti-ship missiles, and most notably, nuclear-powered submarines, which will all be sent to the Australian military.

According to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the country “received overwhelming support when it came to Australia moving ahead to establish a nuclear submarine fleet for Australia to ensure that we could contribute to the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific.”

This deal will make use of British and American technologies and resources to build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines, vessels Australia has not acquired until now. The increase in size of Australia’s fleet will make patrolling the Pacific and Indian oceans easier as it looks out for what it perceives to be its biggest threat: China’s growing military presence in the region.

According to Dr. Julian Spencer-Churchill, Concordia political science professor and former Canadian Forces captain, “The issue AUKUS is attempting to solve revolves around power and values. Xi Jinping differs from his predecessors because he is dramatically more totalitarian: he’ll stop at very little to achieve some sense of greatness. Whether that’s the Spratly Islands, Taiwan, or the Uyghurs, he wants it all. These countries [involved in AUKUS] are trying to curtail his influence and get him to back down through military buildups.”

Due to the most prominent feature of AUKUS being Australia’s submarine program, many countries have reacted in a variety of ways, ranging from excitement to condemnation. For instance, the Indian government, which has been in heated armed disputes with China in the Himalayas, welcomed this partnership. The Japanese government has reacted with similar satisfaction due to its disputes with China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands.

On the other hand, one of the harshest critics of AUKUS has been France, which saw its nearly $66 billion contract with Australia for the construction of diesel-electric submarines scuttled with little notice before the new deal was announced. Another more obvious detractor of this deal is China, which views the trilateral agreement as an impediment to its influence in the Pacific.

On the day AUKUS was announced, many were quick to notice Canada’s absence in the deal. While the Conservative Party was eager to take a stance in favour of joining AUKUS and criticizing Trudeau for not signing on, the Prime Minister stated that Canada had no interest in acquiring nuclear submarines, and that the country had nothing to offer in this matter.

Canada remains a member of the Five Eyes partnership, meaning it will still receive tactical information from the three nations involved in the pact. Critics of the AUKUS deal view it as a stern finger-wag at China, but its long-term impact remains to be seen.

While the tension between the Chinese and Canadian governments is still present, all hope for diplomacy and civility is not lost. On Sept. 24, it was announced that Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the two Canadians trapped in China for over a thousand days, will be returning home. In return, Meng Wanzhou, a Huawei executive trapped in Canada for just as long, will also be returning to her home country. If the AUKUS nations and their allies choose to pursue a more diplomatic approach, much could be in store on the global political stage.


Graphic by James Fay


Growing from the success of March Madness

The Loyola-Chicago Ramblers had gained popularity since Final Four appearance

Any Concordia student who watched the 2018 March Madness—the national tournament for university men’s basketball in the United States—probably remembers the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers for its similarities to Concordia. Their maroon and gold colours replicate those of the Stingers, and like Concordia’s Loyola College, Loyola University Chicago was also founded by Jesuits.

Head coach Porter Moser (centre) celebrates the Ramblers’s appearance in the Final Four. Photo by Hanako Maki / Loyola Phoenix.

Despite the connections between the two schools, what the Ramblers did on the court is what they will be remembered for the most. They upset everybody as an #11 seed in the South Region to make the tournament’s Final Four, before losing to the eventual finalists, the Michigan Wolverines.

“There are days when it doesn’t feel real,” said Loyola Phoenix sports editor Nick Schultz, who has covered the team since the 2016-17 season. “I’m from a town of about 4,000 people in central Illinois, and there I was in the Alamodome in San Antonio [for the Final Four] with 70,000 of my closest friends. It was wild.”

The Ramblers, who won the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) championship last year and played in their first March Madness tournament since 1985. Being in a city like Chicago, with one team in the NHL, NFL, and NBA, plus two teams in the MLB, the Ramblers lack coverage from mainstream local media.

“I was the only one there every game last year,” said Schultz, who saw the Ramblers’s popularity grow throughout the season. “Then the Chicago Tribune started coming when Loyola beat the number five team in the country [Florida Gators] in December. Then they started winning through conference play and the Chicago Sun-Times started showing up, then all the TV stations, then ESPN. It was weird seeing the evolution.”

Once the Ramblers got to the national tournament in March, one person was stealing headlines, and it wasn’t a player. Jean Dolores Schmidt, known as Sister Jean, is a 99-year-old team chaplain for men’s basketball. She travelled with the Ramblers throughout last spring’s tournament and offered her support.

“We know how special she is and how much she means to our program,” said Bill Behrns, the assistant athletic director of communications. “It was great to let the world know how much she means and everything she brings to the university. She’s a truly special individual with an unbelievable passion for life.”

Sister Jean was on hand to witness the Ramblers’s unbelievable finishes to their first two games in Dallas, Texas. In their round of 64 match-up against sixth-seeded Miami Hurricanes, after Miami missed a free throw with less than 10 seconds left, the Ramblers were still down a point. Instead of going for an easier two-point shot, guard Donte Ingram made a three-point attempt to win the game with no time left.

Clayton Custer (on the ground) watches his game-winning shot go in against the Tennessee Volunteers. Photo by Ralph Braseth / Loyola School of Communication.

Two days later on March 17, 2018, the Ramblers played the third-ranked Tennessee Volunteers. The Ramblers moved on to the next round, the Sweet 16, after Clayton Custer’s shot with three seconds left took a lucky bounce off the rim to fall in.

Schultz and the other staff members of the Loyola Phoenix had to quickly plan to cover the next rounds in Atlanta, Georgia. “It was the first NCAA [National Collegiate Athletics Association] tournament game any of us had ever been to, let alone covered,” Schultz said. “It was a unique experience to be there for that buzz-beater [Ingram’s three-pointer], and that’s when we looked at each other and realized this could be a thing.”

When the Ramblers returned to the university after their upset wins, Behrns saw a different morale amongst the students. “The good thing for us was to see the amount of school spirit and pride people had on campus,” he said. “It was something we had struggled with for a while, so that was fantastic. It was good to see people wear Loyola gear for the first time in a long time.”

The Ramblers went on to beat the Nevada Wolf Pack in the Sweet 16 on March 22, 2018 and the Kansas State Wildcats in the Elite Eight to clinch their spot in the final weekend in San Antonio, Texas. There, they lost to a strong Michigan team, but it was a magical run that will forever live on in the school’s history.

“During the run, what the country saw and what the world saw from our players and staff, that was genuine,” Behrns said. “That’s really how those people are on and off the court; it wasn’t an act or anything that they were putting out there.”

Since last year’s March Madness, Schultz has seen his school’s popularity grow nationwide. He said he’s talked to first-year students, who aren’t necessarily basketball fans, but had heard about the team’s success.

When head coach Porter Moser joined the Ramblers prior to the 2011-12 season, he wanted their home court, Joseph J. Gentile Arena, to be loud every game.

“At that point in time, when he said that, we laughed at him, because they [weren’t] going to sell out and Loyola is not a sports school,” Schultz said. “They just had their sixth sellout of [this] year, and they never had six sellouts in a year. Because of the attention they got in the Final Four, people are coming to games.”

With new recruits coming in, the Final Four appearance will help the Ramblers in the long run. Schultz said Moser is considered a top recruiter, but national exposure motivates high school players to play at Loyola.

“It gets your foot in the door with recruits,” Behrns added. “Now people know who we are; they know our brand and our style of play.”

The Ramblers lost in the semi-final of the MVC championship this past weekend and will not play in this year’s NCAA tournament. But their magic from the 2018 March Madness will live on forever.

Main photo by Hanako Maki / Loyola Phoenix.


Concordia PhD student is not welcome in the US

After a year of research comparing construction modules in Canada and the US, Concordia PhD student, Mohammadgavad Arabpour Roghabadi won’t be able to present his findings at a conference in California this June. Why? Because of where he was born.

Arabpour Roghabadi applied for a United States conference visa, after his building engineering paper was accepted for presentation during the American Association of Cost Engineers’ international conference happening from June 24 to 27. Cost engineers oversee the management and costs of building projects he explained.

After completing his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in construction engineering in Iran, Arabpour Roghabadi began his PhD at Concordia in January 2017, under the supervision of professor Osama Moselhi. “I wanted to work with Moselhi because he is well known in the world of engineering and has had a lot of contributions to the field,” said Arabpour Roghabadi .

After he applied for a visa as an Iranian citizen with a Canadian student visa, Arabpour Roghabadi received a letter from the United States consulate explaining he was not eligible for a visa under the Presidential Proclamation 9645, also known as the “travel ban.”

Arabpour Roghabadi felt frustrated and sad he couldn’t take part in a scientific conference simply due to his place of birth.

Per this executive order, citizens from Iran, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Iraq, Yemen, and Somalia, can no longer obtain a visa to the United States, with some exceptions. According to the proclamation, Iranian citizens may obtain a student visa or an exchange visitor visa on a case by case evaluation. The letter also informed Arabpour Roghabadi that his case was to be further reviewed by the consular office.

The letter explained he would only be granted a waiver if “denying [his] entry would cause undue hardship, that [his] entry would not pose a threat to the national security or public safety of the United States and that [his] entry be in the national interest of the United States.”

“I was asked to give the consular office all of the usernames I have on social media, all of the phone numbers I have ever had, all of the addresses I’ve had, even my family’s information,” said Arabpour Roghabadi in an interview with The Concordian. He was even asked to provide the consulate a list of all his travels in the last 15 years, as well as a certified police check. The PhD student also provided a CV and information regarding his financial standing.

Finally, he was not granted a waiver. “I was sad when I was refused [a visa] because of where I was born. In my perspective it’s a kind of racism, which should be condemned. I’m proud to be Iranian,” said Arabpour Roghabadi.

He added, “It doesn’t matter where I’m from or what my [religion is]. What’s important is how I can make contributions to the world.” With that in mind, he wrote a heartfelt letter to Justin Trudeau to thank him for being the leader of such an open and diverse country. “I wish to send a message to all students about how racism can affect the future of young people who want to make contributions, but also how Canada has the perfect platform for young people to make contributions. I’m thankful for that,” said Arabpour Roghabadi.

Moselhi will be attending conference to present his and Arabpour Roghabadi’s findings of the comparative study in building engineering, which would help give a more accurate estimation of the cost of construction.

The state of Hawaii is leading an effort to overturn the travel ban. The Supreme Court of the United States is looking into the constitutionality of the proclamation versus the question of national security, and will rule on the case by the end of the month.

Ultimately the travel ban bars over 150 million people from entering the United States. Arabpour Roghabadi ended his interview with The Concordian by reading a verse by Iranian poet, Saadi Shirazi: “Human beings are members of a whole in creation of one essence […]. If you have no sympathy for human pain then the name of human you cannot retain.”

Photo by Mackenzie Lad


Montreal inauguration protesters resist Trump

Protesters disperse with the remains of a burning paper-mâché Trump left in front of the U.S. consulate

As Donald Trump was sworn into office on Friday, repeating his promise to “Make America Great Again” during his inaugural speech,  protesters in Montreal were mobilizing to express their outrage, proclaiming “America Was Never Great.”

Hundreds gathered at the corner of Jeanne-Mance and de Maisonneuve for the Resist Trump and the Far-Right rally, where organizer Eamon Toohey delivered an opening speech shortly after 11 a.m.

“The days of polite protest, of waiting for the next Jon Stewart sketch to limply chastise an emboldened enemy—those days are far gone,” he said.

Photo by Kirubel Mehari.

“To those clamoring for love, [saying] that love trumps hate—resistance is the greatest act of love that you can muster. We need to continue to resist, to take disruptive, direct action until we’ve resigned fascism to the annals of history.”

The march was organized by the Quebec Public Interest Research Group at Concordia (QPIRG Concordia), a left-wing organization with a nearly 40-year history of supporting social and environmental causes. According to QPIRG Concordia’s website, it has previously coordinated demonstrations against apartheid, climate change and the nuclear arms race.

This protest was organized in solidarity with similar, much larger protests in Washington D.C. and throughout the United States, and was followed by another demonstration later that evening.

Protest signs read, “No legitimacy for fascists” and “Trump is evil, Trump is nuts. People hate his fucking guts.” The latter was designed by Kerry McElroy.

Photo by Kirubel Mehari.

“My biggest concern is that he’s going to bring down the country and bring down the institutions and bring about civil war,” she said. “I think he’s an authoritarian and I think he’s a fascist and I think he’ll take whatever power he can.”

One protester, Jonathan Ouzariman, brought a paper-mâché effigy of the new president. When asked if he would burn it, he replied, “Absolutely.”

Journalist Ian Down interviewing protester Jonathan Ouzariman, who made paper-mâché effigy of President Trump. Photo by Kirubel Mehari.

Protesters marched east on de Maisonneuve, and then back west on René Levesque. Order was kept, but the threat of violence was ever-present. Police circled the crowd on bikes. Others formed a blockade in front of the U.S. Consulate as protesters marched by. Shopkeepers watched warily as the crowd poured into the Eaton Centre, their final destination. A small marching band, instruments adorned with political slogans, accompanied them.

“The demo has two aims,” said organizer Nicole Leblanc. “One: A show of solidarity with folks in the United States who will be directly affected by Trump’s policies. Two: To call attention to the fact that what Trump represents is a larger, far-right ideology that advocates a set of racist, islamophobic, sexist, transphobic and anti-immigrant policies that absolutely must be opposed and resisted everywhere it occurs.”

Photo by Kirubel Mehari.

When asked if racists should be afraid to express their opinions, Toohey replied, “Honestly? Yes.”

“We want racists and right-wing extremists to fear and to expect repercussions and backlash if and when they openly express such ideas,” said Leblanc.

By 1 p.m., the crowd had dispersed completely. All that lay in their wake was a smoldering figure dumped in front of the U.S. Consulate—the charred paper-mâché effigy of the American president.

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