Day by day, the state of our environment worsens. In an increasingly plastic-based and pollution-emitting world, being environmentally conscious is becoming more and more difficult. As we make our way through the first few months of 2018, many begin to break New Year’s resolutions regarding efforts to help fight climate change. Like most resolutions, these are quickly abandoned in the first few weeks of the new year.
Traditionally, there have been three topics of conversation to avoid when talking to strangers, or people outside your immediate family: money, politics, and religion. Up until the 1960s, talking publicly about sex was so unthinkable that the authors of etiquette guides would only add this fourth category to their repertoire in the decades that followed. But today, one of these topics stands out among the rest. The election of Donald Trump has definitely stoked the miasma of watercooler debate, but political discussion (often leading to friendly debates, and not-so-friendly arguments) has increased significantly over the past few years, matching the growing amount of partisanship and polarization. This is happening in Canada and Europe as well. Alt-right groups are less afraid to openly parade their racist and distorted ideologies in the streets (see: Charlottesville), and radical leftists are willing to circumvent freedom of speech/expression and even the criminal code to counter their political enemies (see: “punch a Nazi”).
En tant que belge, au sein de l’Union Européenne, nous sommes souvent considérés comme les habitants du pays du surréalisme! En effet, la Belgique, par sa complexité institutionnelle et linguistique, est souvent moquée par ses voisins. Je pensais donc être préparé aux structures de gouvernements lourdes et complexes dues à un fédéralisme centrifuge mal organisé. Et pourtant, au Canada, j’ai découvert un sérieux concurrent à notre casse-tête chinois belge! En étudiant des cours axés sur les politiques locales canadiennes, je me suis aperçu que le Canada était un concurrent de taille face à la Belgique en ce qui concerne la complication de son système politique! Comment arrivez-vous à vous retrouvez avec autant de gouvernements et de niveaux de pouvoir différents? Je crois qu’il faudrait passer un vie entière à essayer de comprendre qui gère réellement les transports en commun à Toronto…
Glendon jouit d’un mélange tout à fait hétérogène d’étudiants et de membres du personnel anglophones, francophones, hispanophones, et venant des quatre coins du monde. Situé au sein d’une métropole, d’une province et d’un pays vastement anglophone, Glendon se démarque de par son emphase sur le bilinguisme et sur la francophonie. Cette dernière y est mise en valeur, perçue à juste titre comme un avantage pour les étudiants et non pas comme un fardeau. Mais au-delà des murs de ce havre, le concept malgré tout complexe de la « francophonie » canadienne et mondiale demeure flou, mystérieux, et ce pour de nombreuses personnes non seulement non-francophones, mais également pour celles venant de France et du Québec. En effet, plusieurs québécois et français perçoivent les canadiens francophones venant d’autres parties du Canada de manière limitée et erronée.
I woke up this morning to hear that the President of the United States believes that I come from a “shithole” country. Delightful. Despite his subsequent denials, Trump criticised immigration to his country from El Salvador, Haiti, and the African continent, by calling them all "shithole countries" at a meeting with members of Congress at the White House on January 11th. Instead, he called for more immigrants from places like Norway, a predominantly white population that modern white supremacists still look to as a model of racial purity. Typical.
When you first heard about the Ontario Liberal Party's idea to increase minimum wage back in 2014, your first reaction was probably to be ecstatic. I know mine was — then I realized what a horrible misfortune it would really be for this legislation to pass, which it ultimately did. On January 1st, the minimum wage in Ontario increased to $14 an hour. But what about people not earning minimum wage? Did their salaries also increase $2.40 an hour? The answer is absolutely not, and that is a major issue.
Invité au Collège Glendon de l’université York en 1990 à Toronto, Roger Garaudy nous annonçait, avec grand enthousiasme, que l’avenir appartenait à l’Islam. Je lui avais donné tort à l'issue d'un petit débat qui s’en était suivi. Avait-il raison?
#MeToo began as a tool of healing, a lever of agency traditionally withheld from women, but the hashtag quickly forged a heavy hammer of indictment in the world of celebrity. As women (and men) shared their experiences of sexual violence by the dozen, Hollywood untouchables were nailed via public condemnation and a groundswell of anger erupted into a desire to take action. “Time’s Up” is the latest extension of this effort — a coordinated endeavour by women in entertainment to tackle sexual misconduct and inequity in the workplace. But as the campaign debuted at the 2018 Golden Globes and thrust the cause into the hands of society’s rich and famous, dangerous patterns of elitism threaten to derail the movement’s progress.
Governments can have a major effect on the way its citizens use the internet. China is notorious for its pervasive legislation on internet censorship, so much so that its system has been popularly dubbed the ‘Great Firewall of China’. This system blocks foreign websites including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and many other online platforms popular in the West. In addition to the websites themselves, a large amount of online content is blocked every day by the Chinese government, ranging from sensitive material, such as pornography, to articles stating political opinions. According to the watchdog organization, Freedom House, China was ranked the worst nation for promoting Internet freedoms between 2015 and 2016. This lack of internet freedom in China serves as an important reminder to Westerners of how important it is to monitor any efforts to curb or control our own freedoms — whether perpetrated by governments or companies.
OHIP+, the Liberals’ appropriately named expansion of Ontario healthcare, came into effect on January 1st. The new program allows anyone under 25 in Ontario already covered by OHIP to access more than 4400 common prescription drugs for free. Parents and students couldn’t be happier, and the polls show high support for the initiative. Sounds great, right?
From evil computers such as HAL 9000 in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), to romantic creations like Samantha in Spike Jonze’s film Her (2013), artificial intelligence has gained popularity in today’s film and entertainment industry. With developments in modern cybernetics — the understanding of how information signals and messages work within systematic boundaries — society’s fear of domination by machines has grown significantly. Many people are concerned about how much influence computers and artificial intelligence will have on future society, as our current levels of reliance are growing exponentially.
In the 2015 Canadian federal election, 57.1% of persons between the ages of 18 and 24 fulfilled their civic duty to vote - a dramatic increase from 38.8% in the 2011 election. This increased participation in the electoral process suggests that youth are becoming more civically engaged in the political sphere of Canadian society. Now the question must be asked: is it worth revisiting the debate regarding lowering the voting age? Earlier this year, the New Democratic Party (NDP) announced their stance on lowering the voting age to 16, which was met with plenty of controversy. Many argue that the maturity of 16-year-olds falls short of that which is required to participate in the voting process, and that opening the door to younger voters would fail to engage an already apathetic subset of society.
In the Spring of 2017, Agriculture and Agrifood Canada (AAFC) Minister Lawrence MacAulay announced that the federal government will introduce legislation to create the first ever Food Policy for Canada. This sparked an intensive summer of consultations with various stakeholders scrambling to offer their input on what such a food policy should resemble when it is tabled in the Spring of 2018. However, it remains unclear if these consultations have provided the necessary conditions for designing and implementing a national-level food policy which can foster just and sustainable food systems–or whether such national policy is desirable at all!
#MeToo was a collective unearthing, understanding, and uprising – the after-effects of which continue to reverberate. In early October, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted, “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too.’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” Survivor stories soon flooded social media, spawning a number of firings and criminal investigations of high-profile men. Most importantly, #MeToo shook loose accounts of abuse that women have long kept secret out of shame, fear, or disillusionment and reinvigorated an ongoing conversation about sexual violence. But especially as feminism has become en vogue, it is important to beware of how such discourse is constructed.
Earlier this month, 26 young girls — some of whom were pregnant — drowned in the Mediterranean Sea, crossing over from Libya on their way to Italy. The girls (who started their journey in Nigeria) were between the ages of 14 and 18. They sought ‘a better life’ and believed that the best way to achieve this goal was through migration. Although the exact circumstances of their journey are not known, officials speculate that the girls were being trafficked.
Un Islamique (Islamiste) roule au volant d’une camionnette sur des piétons, ce 31 octobre à New York, faisant huit morts et plusieurs blessés, en soutien à l’État islamique, déclare-t-il fièrement. Un autre avait fait de même au mois de mai, dans cette ville. Le 15 septembre, c’était à Londres, cinquième tentative d’assassinat collectif depuis le début de l’année rien qu’en Angleterre. Le 17 août, c’était en plein coeur de Barcelone, écrasant, une fois de plus, l’humanité au nom d’Allah.
York University, like many other post-secondary institutions, works to promote a diverse and inclusive environment for students to safely learn and grow. However, in our pursuit for environments free from stigma and aggressions, we often don’t realize the insidious byproduct that manifests itself in the process. When these “safe spaces” are developed, we must ask ourselves: who are they made to protect? Indeed, these areas are places in which students are safe from homophobic, transphobic, islamophobic, fat-phobic, and a plethora of other “phobic” language that could potentially cause students emotional distress. The issue here is that this blanket-protection against what some deem as “problematic” speech, or even “hate speech”, has begun to smother intellectual debate. It is becoming increasingly hard to express one’s opinion without the accusation of being something-phobic or violating another student’s emotional safety.
When it comes to the issue of homelessness, and more specifically the contemporary topic of hidden homelessness, not much light is shed on it. This in turn leads to more confusion and misunderstanding regarding this sensitive and pressing societal issue.
On January 13, 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) expropriated the Syrian city of Raqqa. The organization would maintain effective control of the city for a further two and a half years. This era was marked by numerous atrocities including ethnic cleansing, public executions, and torture of the civilian population belonging to this once influential city. This ISIL stronghold quickly became a priority target for opposing forces as the city provided numerous tactical, defensive and strategic advantages.
The recent mass shooting in Las Vegas by lone gunman, Stephen Paddock, has once again raised the controversial issue of gun control in the United States. On Sunday, October 1st at the “Life is Beautiful” country music festival, 58 attendees lost their lives and another 500 people were wounded, in what is being described as the worst mass shooting in modern US history. There are substantive lessons regarding gun control to be learned from such a high-profile attack, but the partisan nature of American politics will likely have a negligible impact on the prevention of future acts of mass murder.
Last month, Glendon’s School of Public and International Affairs was honoured to host Canada’s signature two-day conference on Constitutional and Governmental Challenges After 150 Years of Confederation. Many noteworthy guests and keynote speakers were in attendance: the Honourable Louis LeBel (Former Supreme Court Justice), the Honourable Jean-Marc Fournier (Former Interim Provincial Party Leader of Quebec, and Former Minister of Revenue, Education, Municipal Affairs, as well as Attorney General and Government House Leader under the government of Jean Charest), and Dr. Peter Russell (Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Toronto). Several other distinguished professors, legal scholars and journalists took part in the conference.
The announcement by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in June that the referendum for Iraqi-Kurdistan independence would take place on September 25, 2017 didn’t garner much international attention. However, for the Kurdish community, both in the region and across the globe, this was incredible. The referendum, which has repeatedly been cancelled due to international pressure and domestic conflict, was finally going to occur. The six-year long Syrian Civil War and the overflow of conflict across its borders have created both tribulation and opportunity for the Kurdish people. Although financially taxing on Iraqi-Kurdistan, the successes of the Peshmerga (the KRG’s regional militia) and their subsequent occupation of previously Iraqi-held territory, have emboldened the Kurds. The referendum was the culmination of centuries of oppression and resistance in the quest for statehood. Despite this, the celebration following the overwhelmingly positive 92% vote in favor didn’t feel like the celebration it should have been.
Ever since I can remember, whenever anyone asked me how I self-identified, I would answer Canadian and Jewish. The Canadian part was easy for me to understand: I've lived here since I was two, I went through the Ontario curriculum, English is my mother tongue, and western values dictate my moral code. To explain my Jewish side, I would answer that I was born in Israel. And that was it. It ended there.
Cette année, j’effectue un échange à Bordeaux, une ville située dans la partie sud-ouest de la France, dans la région de la Nouvelle Aquitaine. Arrivée au début du mois de septembre, j’ai déjà eu l’occasion de découvrir certains des trésors cachés de la région, soit la dune du Pilat et les villes de Saint-Émilion et Bergerac.
We are living in a golden age of education. As of this September, the poorest youth in Ontario finally have access to post-secondary education thanks to a revamped OSAP that now includes ‘free’ tuition. At least, that’s what the provincial government would have you believe. As a matter of fact, the so-called “free tuition” is anything but. The revamped OSAP program has many flaws seldom mentioned by the government.
Over the summer break, I helped a family friend move some boxes from a storage locker into his apartment. He’s a reasonable, intelligent, highly educated man who happens to be a tenured professor at a reputable Canadian university. He is also a survivalist. In his apartment, he has enough freeze-dried food to last 10 years, along with cooking fuel and other equipment, and half a dozen legally obtained firearms. To most of us, this over-preparedness in anticipation for a post-apocalyptic scenario seems silly, verging on absurd. However, the recent series of hurricanes battering the southern United States turned my past skepticism about survivalism into a new-found curiosity. Why do most of us feel like nothing bad is ever going to happen, and why are we so unprepared when it inevitably does?
During my academic exchange abroad in Geneva, Switzerland, I had to take an oral exam for one of my courses. The course dealt with significant historical events and how they shaped literature. At the start of the exam, the students taking the oral exam received an extract of a text written in medieval French. One hour was allotted for us to read the text and make notes. Then, we each had a 30-minute session with the professor to describe how the extract related to the historic events we had studied and other literary extracts read in class. The professor assured us that it wasn't the level of our spoken French that interested him but whether or not we could comment on the text in an educated way. Sounds like an easy exam, right?
When we think about social media, most people in our generation see it as a force of good in the world. In the last decade, Facebook has allowed society at large to witness the documentation of police brutality, criminal activity, and acts of heroism alike. The creation of crowdfunding initiatives for individuals faced with insurmountable burdens is commonplace. Large corporations are now under the surveillance of their customers, and an inconsequential public relations misstep can easily spiral into a multi-billion dollar loss of equity. Twitter was especially instrumental in the mobilization efforts of protesters during the Arab Spring in 2010-2012. At its worst, social media can often seem to be a monumental waste of time, but that’s usually the extent of the criticism for our beloved social media platforms.
Ce matin, avez-vous paniqué en pensant à ce que vous vouliez porter ? Les magasins mettent en vente de nouveaux vêtements chaque semaine ; ce n’est donc pas surprenant qu’une famille normale aux États-Unis dépense 1700$ en vêtements chaque année, selon le bureau américain des statistiques du travail. Les gens achètent plusieurs vêtements dont ils n’ont pas vraiment besoin et cela cause un grand problème, étant donné que dans les pays en voie de développement, plusieurs personnes n’ont même pas les moyens de se payer une quantité suffisante de vêtements.
Everyone has a story. The story of a professor includes being organized, on time and marking assignments. The story of a student is to get good grades, go to class, be responsible, and get a job. For the most part, we as students are stuck in this story. Is it not bizarre that our stories are so similar, seeing as we are all such different people? The problem is that this story is not ours. It is, in fact, written by society. Can someone truly live the way they want if they are, in reality, living a life that is being written by someone else?