Controversial new taxes approved

Toronto city council recently voted in favour of two new controversial and much debated taxes. Originally, council was set to vote on these taxes this past July, but narrowly voted to wait until after the Ontario provincial elections that took place on Oct. 10.

The first is a vehicle registration tax. People with a car registered in the city of Toronto will now have to pay an annual tax of $60 and motorcycle owners, $30. Toronto mayor David Miller has announced he expects the tax will provide the city with an additional $56 million per year. To put this tax into perspective, if a student purchases a car and keeps it for five years, then that will cost them a total of $300. No other city in Ontario currently has such a tax in place.

The second, a land transfer tax on any sale of land, including houses, is more controversial than the first. First time home owners are exempt from paying the tax on the first $400,000 of their new home.

The mayor’s office caused a furor earlier this year by announcing sweeping cuts to city services, including libraries and community centres, if the taxes weren’t approved. In the wake of these cuts, the TTC announced a hike in the cost of its metropass to $109. TTC authorities have not said whether they will cancel the fare hike now that city council has passes the new taxes.

Freshly pressed: New CD Reviews

Tin Bangs – My Wife is so Bored (Independent)

On their new EP, My Wife is so Bored, Tin Bangs encapsulates all its Brit pop and ’70s punk influences into a brief ten minutes. For a local band, Tin Bangs has left a considerable impression on the indie music scene internationally, opening for bands like Art Brut, the Killers, and Editors. My Wife is so Bored consists of three songs, all with repetitive guitar riffs and fast drums. “Shit Disco” provides an energetic start with dominating guitar chords from the first second to the last. “Animal Mother” has a catchier chorus, and incorporates even heavier guitar riffs. “Nervous Now” ends the short EP with three minutes of pent-up energy and the Marco Polo shouting of “Are you nervous now?” Even the most unconscious listener is forced to anticipate what’s ahead, but the song ends abruptly. What just happened? With the popularity of Arctic Monkeys, Art Brut, and Tokyo Police Club, it’s not surprising that Tin Bangs has quickly emerged onto the alternative music scene. Listeners will like this EP for its high energy, but probably won’t put it on if its influences are within reach. —JACQUELINE CHAN

Rating: VVV

Keren Ann – Keren Ann (Blue Note)

After having spent seven years perfecting her art in locations around the world, Keren Ann returns with her fi fth solo album, the self-titled Keren Ann. With a rawness analogous to Cat Power, and electronic mixes comparable to those on Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Keren Ann’s latest is an emotional journey through heartache, anger, and understanding. The album begins with calculated movements, precise and accurate, as Keren Ann conceals her desperation. As the album progresses, she diverges into emotional heartache in “Lay your head down” and “The Harder Ships of the World.” The journey advances into resentment nicely represented with heavy drumming in “It Ain’t No Crime.” The second half mixes static sound and feedback, with piano and echoed vocals. “Caspia” concludes the album and is the only up-tempo instrumental. Wrap up the tears, ’cause it’s time to go.—JC

Rating: VVVV

‘United’ front sweeps UTSC council

UTSC’s recent college council election was a clear win for the group dubbed “United Together Scarborough Campus,” which won 15 of the 16 council seats available to students during the fall by-election.

The highest governing body at UTSC, college council has been described by some as the “rubber stamper” for the campus, taking advice from a wide range of working committees and making key administrative decisions.

College council consists of 46 undergraduate students, faculty, staff representatives, administrators like the deans, UTSC’s principal, alumni representatives, and graduate representatives. While student representatives make up a very small minority at college council, the low actual attendance of non-student representatives at such meetings would, in many cases, accord the 16 students a large majority at any given meeting.

At college council, undergraduate student are elected to two-year terms. Usually elections are held in June, when college council sessions officially start, but by-elections take place to help fill in any empty spots.

Zuhair Syed, Alexandru Rascanu, Hamza Khan, Huzaifa Dohadwala, Sasha Ebrahimi, Amir Balkhi, Reza Hajivandi, Tina Wang, Ateet Kapadia, Masoud Hotaki, Shahenur Ali, Janene Singh, Chia Barsen, Haipeng Tian, and Sean Kanjilal were all elected to the position of undergraduate student representatives as part of the “UTSC” slate, each having received a minimum of 100 votes. Samad Bakhtbolland was the only member of the group not elected.

Jemcy Joy, the current vice-chair of the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union, was also elected in the by-election, running as an independent candidate. However, Joy received the fewest votes of any of the successful candidates, tied for last place with “UTSC” slate member Kanjilal.

The slate’s most prominent member, Alexandru Rascanu, has a long history in student politics. Last year, the former SCSU VP operations was disqualified after winning the presidential seat on SCSU, due to multiple election infractions. He is currently a student governor on U of T’s Governing Council. Candidates learned the results of the by-election by email on Oct. 19.

With files from Gillian Reiss

Kicking it into high gear

With their first playoff match-up slated against Carleton, the second-seeded women’s soccer team from Toronto is full of confidence and optimism as they prepare for a Saturday showdown with the Ravens: “We have nine wins on the year and only one loss,” said Blues coach Beth McCharles. “We have a couple more ties than I would like, but our confidence is high. The girls believe they can do it and that’s what you want as a coach.”

The team ended the season on a strong note with a win and a tie over the weekend, clinching second place in their conference (9-1-6) just behind the top-seeded Ottawa Gee-Gees (13- 2-1). The Blues are lead again this season by second-year midfielder Erica Basso, who is tied for second in the OUA with nine goals, including one in the team’s win over RMC over the weekend. Against the Paladins, the Blues faced an early deficit as two questionable calls helped put the team down 2-0. But Toronto would remain patient and follow their game plan, scoring five unanswered goals to take the contest. Briony Demott would score the go-ahead goal for the Blues in the thirty-eighth minute of the game, giving her four on the season (second most on the team).

The win showed a lot of character on the part of the Blues, which should certainly serve them well as they face the high pressure situations of the post-season.

“You know it was a great game to go into the playoffs with,” said Mc- Charles. “We weren’t playing three of our starters because of yellow cards and injuries and just resting. We had some good moments and not-so-good moments, but the girls played with heart today.”

It is this combination of talent and drive that has led to much of the team’s success this year. Standout performances by Basso, as well as third-year goal keeper Mary Anne Barnes, who finished the year with a nil-nil shutout of Ottawa in the weekend finale, have given the Blues a strong core of players to build from. For Barnes it was her eleventh shutout of the year, helped along the way by a great defence, including Blues captain Katie Hill, who earned much praise from her coach following the Ottawa game: “Katie Hill played a great game. She’s really stepped up as the leader of the team in her final regular season match for Toronto.” Sunday’s game against Ottawa was a tight defensive affair, which allowed Hill and the Blues back-line to shine again. It was also an excellent test of how far this team has come since the beginning of the year. The Blues started the season with a five game unbeaten streak only to fall to the Gee-Gees in the sixth match 2- 0. This time around, the Blues showed they were just as good, and perhaps better, than the conference leaders: “Ottawa placed second in the OUA and they’re one of the top ranked teams in Canada,” said Hill. “They’re a hard team to play against, but today for the most part we outplayed them and we could have easily come up with the win.”

This is Hill’s final season with the Blues, as she plans to apply for teachers’ college next year. How the team will be able to replace her leadership is not something they have much time to think about now. Their focus will be on making sure Hill’s swan song is a memorable one. After all, what would be a better memento than an OUA gold medal in women’s soccer? In order to achieve the gold they will most likely have to go through the same Gee-Gee’s team they played to a draw just this past Sunday, a challenge McCharles welcomes:

“In the past, Ottawa played a possession style of game, but this year they’re playing through the back a lot more, and more of a direct style. It’s not a big problem for us because we have a good defensive line, and our back-line plays well with the ball in the air.”

As far as the playoffs go, Ottawa won’t be the only team in the mix. Carleton (9-5-2) will surely provide the Blues with stiff competition in Saturday’s OUA quarter-final. The afternoon game will be the team’s first playoff match at the new Varsity Centre. Toronto is 2-0 in both their games against the Raven’s this season, but both were close games ending 1-0 in favour of the Blues.

In order to be successful, the Blues have to play their possession game and be strong on the back-line they’ve exhibited all year: “If we play the way we’re capable, we should have no problem,” McCharles explained. “We just need to capitalize on their wing play and we’ll be successful.”

Regardless of what happens this weekend, the season has been a success for women’s soccer. As Blues midfielder Briony Demott stated recently: “Our second-place standing is the highest in the history of our women’s soccer program. We have been nationally ranked at least three different times over the course of our season as one of the top teams in the entire CIS. This year was also one for the record books as our women’s soccer team earned the first win ever at the new Varsity Stadium, and continued our streak by being undefeated at home all year.”

In a season of firsts, Coach Mc- Charles will hope to add one more first in her four years at the helm: a medal. Last season, the Blues did not make it past the quarter-finals, losing to the Queen’s Golden Gaels 2-0. In 2007, the Blues will hope to be the golden ones.

Olympic flame war comes to campus

As the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games approach, some dissenters are less than enthused that China is playing host. In response, protestors have embarked upon the Human Rights Torch Relay.

Organized by the Global Human Rights Relay, an organization formed to oppose and publicize the abuse of Falun Gong members by the Chinese government, the HRTR is designed to mirror the ceremonial Olympic torch carrying ceremony.

The HRTR will stop in 150 cities, including Toronto in May. At 1 p.m. this Sunday, Oct. 28, GHRR will stage a meeting in front of the Chinese Consulate on St. George St. From there, participants will walk to Yonge-Dundas Square for a concert and a film screening at 7 p.m.

Organizers said the event is meant to hinder what they called the Chinese Communist Party goal of legitimizing their governance through the Olympic Games. Featured guests are to include former Olympic athletes.

“It’s not a political campaign, the focus is really on human rights,” insisted U of T student Pierre-Arnaud Barry-Camu, a Falun Gong practitioner and HRTR organizer.

Barry-Camu said HRTR’s methods, such as a boycotting, were to similar actions taken by some countries during the 1980 Moscow Olympics. He added that the “core values of the Olympics” are at odds with the CCP.

Active with Falun Gong at U of T, Barry-Camu began practicing in 2001. He expressed hope that the international relay will be able to sufficiently push the regime towards changing some of its policies towards Falun Gong.

While the Human Rights Torch Relay focuses on persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China, organizers have announced their wish to shed light on the issues facing Chinese ethnic minorities, religious groups and pro-democracy organizations who have claimed ill-treatment at the hands of Chinese authorities. The Chinese government has continually rejected the merit of such claims.

In regards to Falun Gong, the Toronto-based Chinese Consulate- General has given an official statement that declares Falun Gong detrimental to Chinese society and accuses it of pushing such ideas as ritualistic suicide and rejecting doctors and medical treatment. The statement contends that the CCP had no choice but to ban the group nationwide.

Cold Relief

Men’s hockey (1-3) has had a less-than-stellar opening season. After dropping their first three games to Guelph, Brock, and York, the Blues hoped to get on the right track against University of Ontario Institute of Technology this past Friday at Varsity Arena. Led by Mark Heatley with two goals and an assist, the Blues downed UOIT 3-1.

While the sluggish opening games may be worrisome after an OUA semifinal berth last year, coach Darren Lowe said that the slow start is caused more by team inconsistency than a lack of chemistry or experience.

“We have a lot of young players and two first-year goalies. We’ve blown a 2-0 lead and we completely outplayed York on Wednesday but just couldn’t score. Tonight we played well, which was something we haven’t been able to do for a full sixty minutes. “These guys have a lot of pride. We lost our first three but they are a resilient group and they didn’t fold in the tent. I hope this gets us rolling,” said Lowe.

The Blues played well from the start on Friday, as Heatley scored shorthanded 2:29 into the first period, setting the tempo for a strong Blues performance that put up a season-high 41 shots on net.

Heatley netted his second goal of the night on a Blues power play, going five-hole on a two-on-one after a neutral zone feed from defenseman Brendan Sherrard.

Though the Blues only got one power play goal, they moved the puck well to the points and behind the net, keeping possession mostly in the UOIT zone.

“Our first unit is all players from last year so they are familiar with each other. The only new guy, you can say, is [Eddie] Snetzinger who is replacing Robichaud,” said coach Lowe. “We would like our second unit to get up to speed though. In the end you just got to get the puck in the net.”

Anthony Pallotta scored with 35 seconds left in the second on a onetimer pass from Heatley, who made a backhand pass from the right corner. Pallotta received the pass in the slot and went high glove side, giving the Blues a 3-0 lead going into the second intermission.

The Blues showed signs of a dominant offensive team with good puck control and pressure, but their supremacy didn’t last for the full sixty minutes. The team showed lapses, mainly on the breakout, which was sloppy at times and caused poor giveaways in the neutral zone .

Regardless, goaltender Andrew Martin picked up the victory with a strong outing, stopping 29 of 30 UOIT shots. The only way to score on Martin, it seemed, was to run him over—which Ridgebacks’ Brent Connolly did, halfway through the third on a loose puck in the Blues crease.

“Martin played sharp tonight. He’s really starting to get used to the style and level of play,” Lowe said. “We know that UOIT is a physical team and I didn’t have a problem with the crashing of the net,” Lowe added. “That’s something coaches want to see. That’s what I want our guys to do.”

The Blues look to gain some ground at their next two home games, against Queen’s on Oct. 26 and Royal Military College on Oct. 27.

Talking Heads

Clockwise from top-left

Anne-Marie, 3rd-year Life Sci: No! I’ve seen three
girls almost get hit on Spadina. Drivers need to
respect cyclists!

Jasmine, 3rd-year Religion: Keep alert and you’ll
be fine. If all else fails, a good glare at stupid
drivers will do the trick. Scare them a little.

Sam, 1st-year Probably English: Cyclists are fine.
Driving around here is more dangerous than cycling.

Tobi, 4th-year Art History: There need to be more bike
lanes, especially east-west and around Queen’s Park!

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Book Review: Paula Spencer

Paula Spencer is trying as hard as she can. She just turned forty-eight and she hasn’t had a drink in months. Her relationship with her family is strained, but she wants to fix that.

In Paula Spencer, Roddy Doyle returns to the protagonist of The Woman Who Walked into Doors. In the earlier book, Paula was coping with a horribly abusive husband by drinking heavily. Doyle’s newest novel resumes Paula’s story ten years after her husband’s death.

Set in present-day Dublin, the story follows Paula’s attempt to stop drinking and reinvent herself. As she explains it, she’s “a new-old woman, learning how to live.” With the money she makes cleaning offices, Paula opens her first bank account. She discovers cell phones and the internet. She tries to look at ease when drinking a latté in a trendy café. Paula’s battles may look small, but it’s clear how important they are to her.

As Paula grows increasingly clear-headed, she discovers that other problems are just beginning. She hasn’t been a good mother to her four children, and she tries desperately to prevent them from making the same mistakes she made. Although her son has recovered from his heroin addiction, her younger daughter, Leanne, is well on her way to becoming an alcoholic. The scene in which Paula confronts Leanne about her drinking is one of the most emotionally gripping in the book. Paula also tries to patch up her relationship with her two sisters, which was damaged by Paula’s years of drinking.

Paula Spencer is written in Doyle’s characteristically staccato sentences, with large sections made up almost entirely of dialogue. The dialogue is witty, engaging, and wholly believable. Doyle gives us insight into Paula’s conflicted thoughts—she’s torn between love and hatred for her dead husband, and between the desire to stay sober and the craving for drink. Paula’s mistakes and inconsistencies make her a truly believable and likable character. Though the subject matter is painful at times, Paula Spencer is an engrossing novel that leaves the reader with a sense of optimism and quiet triumph.