Commentary  Letters

Concerns with pro-private Couillard’s place at McGill

It has come to our attention that McGill has recently cross-appointed Dr. Philippe Couillard to the faculties of law and medicine (McGill Reporter, “Philippe Couillard Joins McGill Ranks,” January 8, 2009). This is an issue of significant concern, as Dr. Couillard is currently under active investigation for possible conflicts of interest during the last few months of his term (, “Philippe Couillard sous enquête,” January 9, 2009). The Lobbyists Commissioner, André Côté, has come out and said that he has reason to suspect that private healthcare industry lobbyists had several illegal contacts with Dr. Couillard prior to his resignation in June 2008. Less than two months after his resignation, Dr. Couillard was hired by Persistence Capital Partners, a firm with aspirations of investing in private healthcare in Quebec.

Legal investigations aside, we feel it is unseemly for an academic institution to hire an individual whose political actions contradicted the prevailing evidence-based policy research. The majority opinion and the amalgam of scientific studies in medical and health economic literature support public healthcare as the most equitable, efficient, and cost-effective method of delivering healthcare. Private, for-profit healthcare systems favour the rich over the poor, result in unnecessary duplication of services, lengthened wait times, inflationary salaries and expenses, and the siphoning of patient and taxpayer dollars into private pockets.

McGill is a public university. This appointment sends the wrong message to McGill staff and students, to its five affiliated teaching hospitals, to its faculties of medicine and of law, and to the general population that relies on McGill to provide high quality, equitable, and unbiased health services.


Adam Hofmann

MDCM ‘05, Clinical Fellow, McGill Faculty of Medicine

Cory Verbauwhede

Law ‘06, LL.B./B.C.L., M.A.

Jews, Muslims, and Arabs should stand together

Re: “Tadamon! is no paragon” | Commentary | January 12

I was surprised to see that I had become Blinkovitz on page 12 of the recent issue. Then I realized the extra “l” had just wandered over there from the “athough” in the first line on page 19. Aside from pointing out this sadly displaced letter, I do have a few thoughts about the topics covered by Kreitner, Abukhdeir, and Kideckel in their neighbouring articles.

I am sad to see the degree to which discussion over the war in Gaza is polarized. I both agree and disagree with aspects of all three articles. But I’ll try to reduce the level of detail to save space. Rather than try to explain all the reasons why I oppose Hamas, oppose the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) bombing and invasion of Gaza, and oppose both CUPE’s and Tadamon!’s (with QPIRG funding) proposed boycott of Israeli academics, I will instead raise an often undiscussed outcome of this conflict and the international reactions to it: heightened ethnic tensions for diasporic Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities.

I implore all those engaged in protests or other forms of advocacy to take special care to avoid dehumanizing, stereotyping, or otherwise denigrating innocent civilians and their diasporic counterparts. Though I agree with many of the points made by those protesting against Israel, I am concerned by the acts of intimidation and vandalism that have been directed against diaspora Jews in Paris, Chicago, Strasbourg, and many other cities. I am concerned that rising economic unease will play into the hands of hateful racists.

The characterizations we Jews, Muslims, and Arabs create of one another can very easily be redeployed by racists (of all political persuasions) against all of us. Though we may try to emphasize our differences from one another, a caricature of a Jew and a caricature of an Arab look about the same to Joe Schmo, who may well say, “fuck ‘em all.” As absolutely miniscule minorities in countries like Canada we must at the end of the day be able to stand together against racism in all its forms, especially as we head toward what may be a very tumultuous era.

Isaac Binkovitz

U3 Geography (Urban Systems)

It’s a partly Daily par-tay

Re: “MUNACA, McGill prepare for strike” | News | January 12

So I was reading through the latest edition of The Daily and marvelling at how even with the current brouhaha about your journalistic objectivity, you still managed to publish a fairly non-combative and dry interview with our esteemed HMB. I then turned the page to read the also seemingly non-combative and dry piece on the current failing negotiations between MUNACA and the administration and saw this sentence: “Currently, MUNACA is requesting ten per cent over three years…while McGill is presently offering a paltry 8.5 per cent.”

“Paltry?” Seriously? The Daily’s pledge to represent alternative viewpoints has led to some fascinating insights you wouldn’t find in the other journalistic outlets at the school – although I do occasionally enjoy the nearly Baghdad Bob level of optimism about McGill that The McGill Reporter provides. The problem is just that even if it is a deserved sentiment about McGill’s offer, to use such a blatantly loaded and unnecessary term is so beyond the pale of respectable journalism it seems bizarre to let it go to print. Surprisingly enough, I know next to nothing about pay scale increases of university-based unions in Quebec. I have no idea whether 8.5 per cent over three years is paltry, enormous, overdue, undeserved, or some combination of the preceding. The only evidence given in support of the school’s stinginess is a vague statement made by a MUNACA member about a “similar” Concordia union getting 20 per cent over four years. Is that below average? Above average? I can’t know, because you didn’t tell me.

I realize that I might come off a bit like a bitter old man, writing angry letters to the paper about the usage of a single word in an article on page five of the paper, but little things do make a difference. Please, please limit the application of your principles to the objects and subjects of your coverage and try to avoid gratuitous digs at the “authorities.” It just reinforces all the negative stereotypes about your paper and makes an interesting article seem, well, paltry.

Alex Silver

U2 Psychology

Everybody, just quit it already

Re: “I’m so over it, really”

| Commentary | December 1

Lisa Miatello is so right. We should immediately stop undertaking studies that risk producing results she disagrees with.

Mookie Kideckel

U1 Political Science

What the world doesn’t know about Israel

Re: “Israel’s moral high ground” | Commentary | January 12

How unexpected and refreshing, I thought, to see the words “Israel” and “moral” in the same line. It didn’t take long before my contentment faded and I found myself shocked and appalled at the many incorrect, incomplete, and distorted “facts” in this article. This also seems to be the trend in most of the world’s highly “trusted” media such as the BBC, CNN, and even The Globe and Mail. Additionally, the strategy of downplaying one side’s suffering (Israel’s) and using emotional vocabulary and highly graphic descriptions and images (of the Gazans) with the purpose of pulling at the emotional heartstrings of the reader – is one that has no place in respectable journalism.

In this article, the author fails to make mention of the weapon smuggling property of the tunnels (“reduced to smuggling bare necessities of food and fuel”). There is also no mention of any humanitarian aid that Israel has indeed offered the Gazans both before and during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. In terms of freedom of movement between Gaza and Israel, the world seems to be unaware of the dozens of cases in which Palestinians took advantage by using health reasons to try to carry out terrorist attacks in Israel. That Israel is targeting bureaucrats, police, rescue workers, and aid convoys is entirely twisted. If the world chooses to call Hamas terrorist leaders “bureaucrats” or the terrorists “police” then yes, Israel is targeting them. But the unfortunate deaths of rescue workers and aid convoys have in no way been the intention of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The deaths of innocent civilians seeking shelter in the UN-run school is also tragic, however, the world fails to recognize that, once again, Hamas strategically hid among them with the expectation of IDF fire, and consequently innocent deaths that would lead to strong international condemnation.

Every country has an explicit obligation to do the utmost in protecting its citizens – and Israel is currently practising what most countries claim to preach. The IDF, unlike Gaza’s Hamas terrorists, make every effort to target the threat and warn and protect innocent civilians prior to action. It is Hamas, not Israel, who is responsible for the deplorable conditions in Gaza where they store weapons among innocent Gazans, and use women and children as human shields. Let the world not forget that Hamas refuses Israel’s right to exist and to cease terror attacks (including suicide bombings and shootings within Israel, in addition to constant daily Kassam rocket fire from Gaza into Southern Israel that are now within the reach of over one million Israelis). Both Israelis and innocent Palestinians are the victims of Hamas – and until terrorism stops, Israel will continue to fight for its right to live in peace and quiet, with the same morals as any other Western democracy.

Eden Sagman

U3 Management and Political Science