1. Winning

Ah, Mount Allison University.

Perhaps you can take a class in the new Purdy Crawford Centre for the Arts, opened in 2014 and funded entirely by private donors, such as Power Corporation of Canada, whose investments include Total S.A., one of the “seven supermajor oil companies in the world” (last seen paying fines for bribing Iranian officials) and natural gas company Engie, formerly GDS Suez (last seen privatizing and poisoning water).

Or perhaps you could be inspired at Chancellor Peter Mansbridge’s (last caught giving paid speeches to the oil sands lobby) Manbridge Summit, “generously funded by the John E. Irving family.”

Hey, remember back when the university was razing war memorials to make way for the new arts building?

“We appreciate the concern,” said Gloria Jollymore, vice-president of university advancement. “But as stewards, we need to balance the honour owed to the past with the needs of the present, without encumbering the future.”

Weird, stewarding the present without encumbering the future — that seems kind of like the mission of Divest MTA. But that was just a memorial to crappy veterans, after all.

After a two-day occupation of the quad, the students, prompted by an email from university president Robert Campbell (you know this article “Mount A’s President is Cooler than You” is framed in his office) to the Board of Regents assuring them that “the University had no plans to engage with Divest MTA directly or negotiate the camp-out’s presence,” moved the occupation to the president’s offices at Centennial Hall, where Campbell, cooler than you, promptly locked the doors and hid.

After students negotiated for approximately two hours with assistants, two students were finally permitted to meet with the president and vice presidents. As Bruce Wark reports, the conversation did not go well:

“Thank you for being so passionate about [divestment], but I disagree,” Campbell said, adding that as president, he must listen to all constituencies, including students, faculty, alumni and donors.

I’m going to guess that when the Irving family comes calling, Campbell doesn’t lock the doors and hide in his office, forcing the majority of them to listen to the meeting from outside an open door when he finally emerges, though.

Seems like “donors” might be the most important constituency on a campus drenched in oil and gas money.

Here’s the president meeting with the CEO of Genstar Development Company — last seen attempting to destroy the ecosystem in British Columbia —  donors of $250,000 towards the arts centre:

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Here’s the president stepping over and occasionally on students as he exits the divestment meeting:

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Slight difference there in reception is all I’m saying.

The students don’t seem to have been given a cozy scarf.

Silly students, you should have come with a quarter-million dollar cheque if you wanted your concerns to be heard. But then, there’s winners and losers in capitalism, right? That’s just how it is:

“We live in a society where not everyone agrees,” Campbell said. “You have not got the result you wanted. You win some, you lose some.”

After informing a woman of colour that she was a loser, Campbell exited the meeting, walking over the bodies of students (just as he habitually walks on top of the donors, of course) to go to class, an urgent commitment he had allegedly missed in the past to attend a Drake concert, but that’s because Campbell is a winner and cooler than you.

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Campbell claimed it’s “not his role” to make a recommendation to the Board of Regents. Of course, the President’s Executive Group didn’t hesitate to “indicat[e] its intended recommendation to the Board of Regents that the board not approve a tuition rebate for Mount Allison students following a three-week disruption to classes” following the faculty strike, but again, that’s just the money of loser students and the university needs those fees to invest in oil and gas, sillies!

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Naturally, people are of course blaming the students for being in the way where powerful white men need to walk. Expressions of sympathy abound for the poor president having to be inconvenienced in his foot placement, because we all know that any minor obstacle in the way of a rich white man is ten-thousand times more tragic than, say, Indigenous communities having their water poisoned by fracking.

As if anything illustrated capitalism in this age more than people empathizing with the powerful having to actually move aside through space to walk out of their imposing offices while picking their way through the bodies of students who average $40, 000 in debt.

You see, not everybody always agrees in society. And some of those people are 20-year-old undergrads, and some of those people are the fourth-richest billionaires in Canada with a media monopoly, but you know, everyone gets a equal “voice in decisions.”

And of course President “no plans to engage with Divest MTA directly or negotiate” Campbell is giving an equal and fair hearing to both sides, it’s just the ultra rich billionaires are somehow more convincing and more deserving and better at democracy. As Drake said, “Oh well, I guess you lose some and win some, Long as the outcome is income.”

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2. Outrage

In the greatest injustice facing our times, Troy Grabher, son of Lorne Grabher, is “checking his rear-view mirror more often after a storm of controversy about his family name on a licence plate,” unlike, say, Black people who have to check their rearview mirrors constantly in fear of being pulled over and police checked.

But enough about that inconsequential issue, far more important is the issue of a white man being denied vanity plates:

“Where does the province of Nova Scotia and the government of Nova Scotia get the right to discriminate against a person’s name?”

Oh, you mean like when Black people apply for jobs and get rejected because they have a Black last name? Or how resumes with “foreign-sounding” names have far less of a callback rate than those with white names?

This is of course a tragedy of epic proportions, unlike Asian people who of course never face any kind of widespread mocking or discrimination over their names.

Wow, I bet he wouldn’t be allowed to have a vanity plate. But never mind that, the House of Commons has more urgent business of defending the oppressed minority of white men:

The brouhaha got mentioned in the House of Commons Friday when Peace River-Westlock MP Arnold Viersen made a statement: “Let us nip this out-of-control political correctness in the bud,” Viersen said, asking Canadians to consider the case as important for free speech.

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Viersen then released another rap comparing himself as the “Cassius Clay” of anti-abortion activism, noting that since he is not “politically correct” he refuses to use the made-up name Muhammad Ali. Viersen also proposed renaming the Liberal Party to the more accurate “Government of Death.”

While of course white men should be unrestricted in their choices of vanity plates or they are having their human rights egregiously violated, women should naturally be legally forbidden to make any choices about their own bodies or reproduction.

Unlike Jewish people who had to anglicize their names to avoid anti-Semitic discrimination, the Grabhers are actually suffering unheard of levels of marginalization. Of course, the plight of Indigenous people, forcibly deprived of their language and names, pales in comparison to the tragedy of the Grabher plate.

Jeesh, the Pedo family better hope the government doesn’t come for them next.

3. Exodus

Justice Minister Diana Whalen will not be running in the next election.

This follows upon the announcement in November from Marian Mancini that she will not be running again, and the resignation of Maureen MacDonald in April.

At the time of her resignation, MacDonald cited health issues as as factor in stepping away from government. Whalen suffered from a heart attack in December and cited “balance in life” and the “all consuming work” of being an MLA as influencing her decision. Mancini discussed her unhappiness and the pressures of public life in her decision.

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There are 15 women in the Nova Scotia Legislature, only 29 per cent of the house. Female politicians across Canada have spoken up about the misogynist abuse and bullying they face. A CBC article in December detailed experiences of women MLAs in Nova Scotia of sexist harassment and body shaming:

News that colleagues are being bullied comes as no surprise to Bernard, who is also the minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women.

“I’ve worked with abusive men and women of all different backgrounds for close to 20 years and I have never, ever been subjected to the abuse I have been, that many of us have been, as we walked forward into public service,” she told CBC Halifax’s Information Morning.

Women still represent a minority in legislatures across the country and Bernard said men in politics don’t face the same type of judgment or ridicule directed at their bodies.

“We all have male colleagues that are paunchy but my god, not one of them has ever been fat-shamed like the female politicians I see. If I gain a few pounds or lose a few pounds, I hear about it on social media.”

It’s hard not to read the number of women politicians leaving office, often with severe health effects, as not connected to the pressure, stress, and anxiety that women face being public figures.

Any woman who opens her mouth online or in public, or has the nerve to be opinionated, knows of the wave of death threats and rape threats that inevitably follow. These threats are not just “trolling,” they are directly intended to discourage, silence, or actively chase away women who engage in political or social issues.

Watching women legislators leave office because of deep unhappiness, incredible stress, or the pressure of dealing with being a woman in public day in or day out, is a stark indication of the systemic barriers to women in politics, and more broadly, in participating equally in society.

4. Burn

Man, if I had known burning tires was considered “innovative,” then all my uncles should be goddamn PhDs.

That’s it. That’s the joke. Like, because Black people…ah, never mind.

5. Words

The final draft of the Centre Plan, the blueprint for the next 15 years of development for the city, has been released.

It’s 170 pages, so I haven’t read it yet, but I got my Tim Bousquet on and did keyword searches.

“Racism/Racist” = not found

“Diverse/Diversity” = 31 matches

“Discrimination” = 1 match

“Culture” = 25 matches.

“Historical/History/Historic” = 38 matches

“Preserve/Preservation” = 13 matches

“Technology/Technological” = 7 matches

“Creative” = 3 matches

“Gentrification” = not found

“Marginalized” = not found

“Crime” = 7 matches

“Entrepreneur” = 7 matches

“Poverty”= not found

“Affordable” = 35 matches

“Cat” = 152 matches, alas all in words like “location” and “indicate”

“Future” = 132 matches

“Bike” = 8 matches

“Innovative/Innovation” = 10 matches

“Bold” = not found

6. Humans

There is a project to keep invasive fish out of Kejimkukjik National Park.

And that fish is called the Grabher fish.

Just kidding, clearly the invasive species is fucking humans, as always, who are apparently “spreading the invasives by moving them from lake to lake in a bucket.”

Really I just wanted to make a Grabher joke. There’s no other point to this. This news item is old and everything too.

Humans, though, totally the worst.

El Jones is a poet, journalist, professor, community advocate, and activist. Her work focuses on social justice issues such as feminism, prison abolition, anti-racism, and decolonization.

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  1. There have been unpleasant odours wafting out of that sedate little Sackville campus for some time now. The destruction of the lovely old Cobb library was a complete disgrace, enabled in part by the pinkster Mansbridge.
    But when you’re bold, innovative, forward thinking and have old boy money coming out your ears, who cares?

      1. Go read the report of the tests. The children are in their local school and they don’t drive or fly thousands of miles using fossil fuels and polluting the atmosphere. And they aren’t pampered middle class kids.

  2. Loved this one on all counts – thanks for your well-versed outrage. Years ago I was asked to do a poverty assessment of an area of town that was seeking services. But, I was told, I could NOT USE the words “poverty” or “poor” as that was discriminatory. Instead, I had to use some strange compilation of income-disadvantaged or whatever. I fought that. I felt that a fish oughta be called a fish so that people would recognize it in the report. Most awkward of all, I interviewed people, having to use my mealy-mouthed words, and the people I talked to repeatedly referred to being poor or broke. They were not at all upset at the use of the word ‘poor’ – it was the wealthy folks who would receive the report who were. Madness.