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Letters to the Editor

Wedge needs balance

Ben Wedge is at it again. One of his latest articles, “How not to protest,” should cause concern among readers. His unprecedented far right bias is being allowed free rein in The Gazette, with no articles from a different perspective challenging his radical views.  This letter is a modest attempt to correct that.
In his article, Wedge argues that the fundamental issue surrounding recent protests against government inaction on climate change is not government inaction on climate change but the protesters themselves. Indeed, Wedge concludes that “we should all take the time to view the footage (of the protest), to research what really happened, and form our own opinions.”
He says that recent allegations of police brutality are exaggerated, and he hopes that the police can be vindicated and the protesters can be sent “a strong message that theatrics will not be tolerated in protests.”
The problem is not the catastrophic consequences of inaction on climate change, but an alleged affront to the reputation of the police.
Did your readers see how Wedge completely avoided engaging the issue of climate change? For Wedge, the problem is not climate change. It is protesters challenging the powers that be.
I will concede that Wedge has been consistent in his articles in this respect: at root, his articles are always a defence of the rich and powerful, and always critical of non-elite groups promoting change, particularly change that threatens the established order. His argument is inherently antidemocratic and authoritarian. The incipient catastrophe of climate change is of secondary importance for Wedge when police officers are allegedly being slandered – no doubt a greater threat to humanity.
If Wedge supports action against climate change but does not support the protesters, where are his positive suggestions for effective political activism? So far as I can tell by reading this article, it is nothing more than an attempt to admonish the protesters for their excessive behaviour. Is that contributing anything other than doublethink into the discourse of climate change?
Gazette readers beware. Opinions Contributor Ben Wedge is propagating a radical vision of the world that is not clear upon a glance at his articles. The Gazette should refuse to publish his opinions without a response from someone who is not a Conservative Party sycophant.

— Kevin Johnston, second-year arts and history

Power Shift true to its name

I am writing in response to the Power Shift feature in the last issue of the Gazette. The article outlined certain aspects of the recent conference in Ottawa with deep subjectivity and dubious accuracy. The negativity inherent in Joel Tichinoff’s article is not only wholly counterproductive to the climate movement, but it is a negativity not shared amongst vast majority of youth in attendance. In fact, I have heard the conference described as inspirational and incredibly motivating by dozens upon dozens of attendees and have seen similar sentiments from hundreds more in writing.
For the more than a thousand youth who attended, who engaged with fellow delegates and with the issues, Power Shift was a truly inspiring event. Ask any of the 41 other members of our delegation. I fail to see how an individual who neglected to attend a single conference workshop is at all qualified to be passing judgment of the kind expressed in his despondent article.
I would therefore like to present a different, more widely held view on some of the points covered in Tichinoff’s feature. The pessimistic picture of the Oct. 24 Fill the Hill event painted in this article is essentially inaccurate. If over 2,500 demonstrators cheering until their voices became hoarse can be described as “tepid,” then Tichinoff was bang on.
Additionally, I am forced to wonder by what frame of reference Mr. Tichinoff judged speeches as being ridden with “time-worn words and catch phrases” given that this was, but his own admission, the first climate rally he had ever attended. With regard to the coverage of the opening ceremonies and ensuing entertainment there are a number of inaccuracies to be amended.
First, the keynote speakers were far from unknown. Majora Carter, for example, is one of the foremost activists on environmental justice on the planet. Those delegates expecting, say, celebrities with no real connection to the movement had perhaps come to the wrong conference. These opening ceremonies were about substance and issues.
The goals of Power Shift were to understand the magnitude of both the challenges and opportunities presented by the climate crisis; to push the federal government to pass bold, comprehensive energy and climate legislation; to prepare our leaders and our movement for the international climate negotiations in December; to develop a comprehensive strategy for continued political pressure among young Canadians and to strengthen the bonds between concerned youth nationwide. An immense amount of work went into achieving these goals. Each was pursued with passion and conviction.
Aside from briefly mentioning that Canada performs poorly on issues of climate, the feature article neglects the issues that organizers and delegates work so hard to publicize.
The seriousness of climate change, especially to developing nations, could scarcely be more real; rising sea levels, fresh water scarcity, desertification and destruction of biodiversity are but a sampling of effects already beginning to occur. Thus, Tichininoff’s article is weak not only for the inaccuracies and irrelevancies that he chose to include, but also for the crucial issues he chose to omit.
If I were a young person thinking of joining the movement on climate and environment, Tichinoff’s article would all but crush my ambitions. After reading this piece, the image of Canadian environmental activists I am left with is one of weakness and apathy. This could not possibly be further from the truth. We are strong, we are active, and we will persevere until the necessary policies are in place. In actively choosing the path of overcritical negativity, Tichinoff has done a disservice to a hard working and deeply passionate movement whose sole goal is to ensure a sustainable future.

— Will Horne, recruitment support for Power Shift Canada

Gazette unfair to Schulich, corporate endowments

Calls for de-commercializing Dal, breaking contracts with corporations, and removing advertising have all been subjects of recent stories. For members of organizations such as NSPIRG and SMAC (as well as a small minority of unaffiliated students) one of the biggest problems on campus is the in-roads they see as being made by private commercial interests. They stridently argue that the university is going to hell in a hand-basket.
These comments are unfair and closed-minded. Businesses and corporations are part of the community and contribute millions of dollars in scholarship and research funding to Dal. Many students will graduate and work for businesses one day very soon, and our interests are closely aligned.
Laura Merdsoy can complain about the “old boys” on the Board of Governors (though eight of 20 members are women), but the truth is that the board has worked hard to bridge the divide between both public and private sectors, successfully raising money to strengthen the school’s reputation and to make it more accessible to students. Sadly, the relentlessly negative tone of a small minority of students belies the gratitude many others feel. There are many fine businesses and business leaders who choose to give back and to participate in the life of the university—and they don’t deserve this kind of coverage.
A perfect example of this abuse can be found in a recent Gazette article under the headline “Billionaire buys himself our faculty of law.” In this story Julie Sobowale writes about Seymour Schulich’s $20 million gift to the Faculty of Law. More than $10 million of this money is designated for new scholarships and financial aid, which will eventually allow as many as one-fifth of laws students to attend tuition free. But not even this is enough to get a positive review.
Instead of embracing a gift of $20 million, which will dramatically increase the accessibility of legal education in Nova Scotia, Sobowale emphasizes that Schulich is a “capitalist” and that he is “buying” the school. But his gift involves no interference whatsoever in the curriculum or day-to-day operations of the law faculty. This is typical nattering negativism.
The Gazette is a vessel filled by those who wish to write for it. The problem is that people who believe that businesses are a vital part of our community are not voicing their opinions in these pages. Not enough people who believe in the full spectrum of community and who understand the economic reality of student government are participating in the debate.
When and if that happens, The Gazette will more accurately reflect the views of students – not just the nattering nabobs.

— Richard Norman, president of the Dal-King’s Conservatives


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