Why Canada has to wait for its Obama moment

Many Canadians shared in the sweet sense of pride as they watched the first black U.S. President take his oath of office. That moment, still lingering, symbolized an opportunity for Americans to feel free of their racial demons.

Watching the inauguration, it was hard not to long for an Obama moment of our own – for the emergence of a transcendent figure who could help Canadians move past their own racial troubles. In our country’s case, it would mean the election of an aboriginal person capable of unifying and representing all Canadians. Unfortunately, this will not happen any time soon.

A comparison between the political progress of African-Americans and Canadian aboriginals is not necessarily intuitive. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that each became their country’s most maligned and disenfranchised citizens. Why then has their recent experience been so different?

Read more in the Globe & Mail

Bring on the Bandwidth

Students expect more Internet access than ever, and universities need to involve everyone in deciding how to provide it

Universities accustomed to gripes about classroom and office space had better get ready to deal with complaints over another scarce resource. As they welcome young people who have spent more of their lives on the Internet than watching television, Canada’s universities will be expected to provide bandwidth – lots of it – to their incoming students.

Read the full editorial in University Affairs

Why not a Scholarhip for White Men?

Official gender discrimination on campus is supposed to be a thing of the past. It is curious then to discover an aspect of university life where blatant gender bias is permitted to survive conspicuously and unchallenged. The discrimination in question concerns the many scholarships which are granted only to female students.

A quick perusal of the awards page at the University of Ottawa reveals that there are at least a dozen scholarships available only to women. Historically, such awards could be justified on the grounds that female students were underrepresented and frequently confronted with institutional sexism. Today, they are simply unfair.

Consider that on a typical Canadian campus, women make up over 60 per cent of the undergraduate student body and that their presence is no longer restricted to traditionally female disciplines like arts and education. Today, women make up a majority in law and management. In medical studies, the numbers are particularly striking. At one Quebec university, a recent first-year medicine class was 80-per-cent women.

Read more in the Ottawa Citizen

What to make of the Anarchists?

The hillsides ring with “free the people”/Or can I hear the echoes from the days of ’39?/With trenches full of poets/The ragged army, fixin’ bayonets to fight the other line.

-The Clash, “Spanish Bombs”

Now fading out of memory, the Spanish Civil War was the most romantic of conflicts, when literary greats like Hemingway and Orwell joined thousands of volunteers from around the world to fight fascism. It was a war for idealists, intellectuals, and the confused. Today, icons and signs from that conflict continue to flicker in Montreal, as a new generation searches for symbols of a better world.

During last month’s protests, small but lively bands of communists and anarchists punctuated the long processions filing down Sherbrooke. Some waved red flags, others black ones, in a mini-re-creation of a Spain from long ago.

Read more

Let Muslims Buy Space to Pray

Like it or not, McGill University is correct in saying it has no obligation to provide a campus prayer space for Muslims. This is issue is a prickly one at the university, and it is back in the news after Muslim groups have challenged McGill decision to create an archeology lab in what is now a temporary prayer space.

Before getting into the harder questions, let’s reiterate two facts that are more or less incontrovertible.

Read more in the Montreal Gazette (pdf)