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It’s time to move on

Re: “The SSMU executive was decadent and depraved” | Features | September 29

Dear McGill Daily,

I found the latest feature in the McGill Daily “The SSMU executive was decadent and depraved” to be an example of exactly what it was attempting to criticize. As a current Vice President of the students’ society in question, I welcome criticism of the student union and, in fact, encourage it, as I feel, like the article’s author, that many students are too apathetic about who represents them at SSMU. However I find that this article indulges in the decadent practice of SSMU Executive gossip, and without a clear purpose. If this were meant as a retrospective of last year’s executive, it is too late and it is time for the campus press to move on. There was very little analysis in the article, other than the statement that there was an ideological divide between members of the executive, which was obvious. I am also concerned as the Daily’s Statement of Principles mandates its coverage to focus on that which is not covered elsewhere, and usually Features give a new perspective to an issue in Montreal or the region, rather than narrowing in on petty (and outdated!) student politics. I would expect to see a broader coverage of issues in future Features. Finally, the article gives an inaccurate description of the SSMU and, more specifically, the executive’s job descriptions. For example, Jack Layton actually lost the election to be VP External, and the VP Clubs and Services, as the name suggests, does more than “deal with clubs,” as the portfolio encompasses clubs, services, and the management of the Shatner building, as well as overseeing the production of the SSMU student handbook and events such as Activities Night and Culture Shock.
Please note that the views expressed here are my own, not the SSMU’s.

Carol Fraser
U4 German and East Asian Studies
SSMU VP Clubs and Services

Tadamon!’s defence of Hezbollah is wrong

Re: “Tadamon! responds” | Commentary | September 26

Dear McGill Daily,

Tadamon! states that Hezbollah plays many roles in society, like providing daycare services to poor families. I can think of a few more roles, such as using women and children as human shields, and firing rockets from densely populated areas. Hezbollah has planned and been linked to hundreds of terror attacks around the world including the truck bombing in 1983 that killed two hundred US Marines, hijacking of the TWA flight 847 in 1985, attacks on Jewish synagogues, embassies, and community centres around the world killing hundreds, not to mention dragging Lebanon into a war with Israel in 2006 after abducting and killing two IDF soldiers in northern Israel and firing 4000 rockets. Tadamon thinks Hezbollah should be de-listed as a terror group because it donates money and medical supplies to gain support from the local population who otherwise reviles it? Forgive me for suggesting that Hezbollah is on the terror list for a reason and Tadamon!’s defence of Hezbollah’s human rights record shows extremely poor judgment.

Michelle Whiteman
Quebec Regional Director
HonestReporting Canada

Hampering students’ ability to study? What do you call construction, then?

Dear Vice Principal Di Grappa,

I just finished reading your most recent update on the MUNACA strike, and as a student and member of the McGill community, I take issue with several of the statements you make.  I speak on behalf of myself and many other students who enter the campus grounds every day when I say that I have never once felt threatened or impeded by the MUNACA workers picketing at the entrances of the university.
You state that “the noise from the picket was hampering [students’] ability to study and get their classwork done.”  I then ask you, Mr. Di Grappa, what about the noise caused by McGill’s multi-million dollar renovation and construction projects that are being carried out all over our campus? These projects not only inhibit my ability to hear my professors and fellow classmates during seminars and lectures, but they also block my access to certain entrances, not to mention the fact that they create a prison-like atmosphere on our campus.  If we can deal with these kinds of temporary inconveniences for the sake of the greater good and “beautification” of our campus, why can we not deal with the grievances of MUNACA workers who form the structural backbone of this institution? Their protest, too, is for the greater good of our university, is it not? And while their work is not visible in the same way as the newly cleaned façade of the Redpath Museum, we are seeing the effect their absence everyday when we encounter delays in essential services and when we are faced with difficulties in accessing information and conducting research.  It is this absence of MUNACA workers in the university – not their presence on the picket lines – that is the real issue affecting students and staff in the McGill community.


Pria Patroni
U3 English Literature and Religious Studies

Bringin’ out the big guns

Dear McGill Daily,

Last June, we and our colleagues carried out a historic filibuster in the House of Commons against the back-to-work legislation that would force locked-out postal workers to return to their jobs  -– with a salary that was less than what the employer originally offered.  For many of us, the debate around this draconian law boiled down to a fight for the right of Canadian workers to collective bargaining.
Let us not forget the gains and improvements in quality of life that the union movement in our country has given us. We could go through the list of the things that have been accomplished by trade unionists over the years. Most of them were negotiated, perhaps in labour contracts to begin with, but became sufficiently popular with all Canadians that they became law. Some examples include weekends off, health and safety committees in workplaces, and maternal leave.
We stand in solidarity with you in your efforts to secure a wage increase for your members which reflects the increase in their living costs and to secure your benefits and pension pan.  We think that yours is a conflict among many others which will determine the future of Canadian workers. The standards set for workers now will determine the quality of life of young workers who will be entering the workforce – this is why we would encourage students who are a part of the McGill community to support MUNACA as well.
Not so long ago, MUNACA workers played a front-line role in our daily lives as McGill students. Given the kind of work that these workers carry out, we have difficulty believing the McGill administration when they claim that their absence simply means “business as usual”.  Effective labour relations in this country rely on good faith, and it is our hope that both sides negotiate with this in mind.

In solidarity,
Laurin Liu
M.P. for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles
Charmaine Borg
M.P. for Terrebonne-Blainville
Jamie Nicholls
M.P. for Vaudreuil-Soulanges
Matthew Dubé
M.P. for Chambly-Borduas
Mylène Freeman
M.P. for Argenteuil-Papineau-Mirabel

Hypocrisy at its best

Hello Mr. Di Grappa,

In response to your message concerning the strike sent out on September 29, if at all possible please mention crippling funding cuts to regional studies such as Russian and Slavic Studies and East Asian Studies when stating “there is no place where the exchange of divergent views is more important than in the context of the University.” Surely it would seem disingenuous to argue McGill, as a University, valorizes the “exchange of divergent views” when the mechanisms that promote such are being stripped away.


Joseph Henry
U3 Joint Honours Art History and German Studies
Former Daily Health&Education Editor (2009-2010)

Can we all just stop talking about Zach Newburgh now?

Re: “Newburgh requests SSMU members list” | News | October 3

Dear McGill Daily,

Because when we talk about Zach Newburgh, we talk about his website. And when we talk about his website, people go to it. And when people go to it, Zach makes money. We really ought not to reward people who use elected positions to benefit themselves financially with attention (and money).

Will Vanderbilt
B.A. & Sc. ‘11 Environment
Former Daily Design Editor (2007-2009)
Former Daily Online Editor (2009-2010)