Event listings for week of February 25

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Diversity and multiculturalism expert discusses ethnic identity.

  • Today, 4-6pm. Free!
  • Academic Resource Centre Room 227, Scarborough Campus (1265 Military Trail)
  • triadaf@utsc.utoronto.ca


Images from the Republic of Congo by Eddie Gerald of the WFP.

  • Today through Feb. 29.
  • Trudeau Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (15 King’s College Circle)
  • www.wfp.org


Interactive cooking demonstrating with practical tips.

  • Tues. Feb. 26, 1pm. Free!
  • International Student Centre (33 St. George St.)
  • Mandatory advance registration at www.familycare.utoronto.ca


Lecture exploring 18th-century clash of disciplines.


Pansit and adobo cooked up by the Filipino Students’ Association.


Play imagining the relationship between Oscar Wilde and his Black American valet.

  • Thurs. Feb. 28 through March 8. $12 for students.
  • Hart House Theatre (7 Hart House Circle)
  • www.uofttix.ca


Contemporary films dealing with sexual exploration.


Story of love affairs and unexpected journerys presented by Rainbow Trinity.


Multiple Juno Award-winning Latin Jazz group performs.


Latin performances with all proceeds to SOS Children’s Village Bolivia.



Testing out the newest art, music, and dance on a curious audience.


How can you get involved in maintaining urban forests?

They built it, we didn’t come

The Varsity Centre bubble may soon deflate. U of T will put a plebiscite to students in the first week of March, asking whether they want to fund the facility’s operations.

The UTSU plebiscite will finally resolve the debate that has been ongoing since the bubble was proposed about a decade ago. The issue flared up last year, when the Council on Student Services rejected the Varsity Centre budget before finally deciding to temporarily adopt it until a student vote. For any ancillary fee to be implemented, it would have to first be approved by COSS.

Voting will happen between March 4 and March 6.

“By voting Yes on the plebiscite, students will have guaranteed 75 per cent of the facility use,” said Masha Sidorova, co-chair of the Council of Athletics and Recreation. “The popularity of this facility is evident through filled stands during Varsity [Blues] games, increased participation during recreation times, long waiting lines at the free golf driving range, and about 1,000 new students participating in intramural sports.”

“We are already paying for the Varsity Centre!” countered Arts and Science Students’ Union president Ryan Hayes, who is organizing the No campaign. Hayes claims that students cover costs for the centre through steeply rising athletics fees.

A proposal to fund the construction and operation of the facility was brought to the students in 2002, but was overwhelmingly rejected. The university then raised $24 million and built the centre itself, hoping students would agree to fund it after having used it. COSS rejected that proposal, preventing it from ever going to a vote.

“While it is an excellent facility,” said Michal Hay, UTSU VP university affairs and member of the No Levy campaign committee, “students made it clear in 2002 that this was not a priority and that they did not want to pay any more than they were through their current incidental fees.”

COSS will approve or decline the Faculty of Physical Education and Health budget based on the plebiscite. If the levy fails, operating costs will have to be covered through other sources such as renting out the facility, said Sidorova.

Sidorova was confident that the students will sympathize with the Yes campaign. “We are not trying to change peoples’ minds,” she said. “We are simply giving students an opportunity to express their desire to maintain Varsity Centre as a student-priority facility.”

While plans for the CHPS are a long way from being finalized, a May 2007 preliminary project proposal presented to the university’s Planning and Budget Committee stipulated that students would pay 75 per cent of the annual $2.8 million operational cost.

Universities hope cell phones will keep students safe in emergencies

With last week’s shooting at Northern Illinois University fresh in the public’s memory, Canadian universities and colleges are continuing to prepare mass-messaging security systems as a way to alert students in the event of similar emergencies on campus.

Last week, U of T signed a contract with Aizan Technologies, a Richmond Hill-based company that provides a mass text-messaging system. At a cost of $30,000 per use, Aizan can notify an entire university of a suspected threat or emergency through its phone, email, and text-messaging capabilities.

Erin Lemon, of U of T’s strategic communications department, said that the system will be a subscriptionbased service that students and staff can sign up for on a website expected to be up and running in late March.

“One of the reasons why we chose Aizan, in addition to the system itself— which is very good—is that all the data will live here in Canada.” said Lemon. “So that means we won’t be sending student, faculty, or staff information to live on servers in the U.S.”

A number of universities have shown interest in text messaging security systems, including McMaster, Dalhousie, and UBC.

A research group has launched a three-year study to determine whether the security systems are an effictive notification tool for campus emergencies. The Campus Emergency Messaging Research Group, established in the wake of 2007’s Virginia Tech Shooting, was formed last November by Simon Fraser University, the University of Alberta, and the University of New Brunswick.

Gordon Gow, CEMRG’s lead investigator and U of A professor, said the study looks at the impact of new technology, such as emailing, paging, voice mailing, and text messaging.

“Students are now able to communi- cate directly with each other through mobile phones, able to take pictures, upload images on the internet, and they use Facebook and Wikipedia for real time reporting of incidents,” said Gow.

“We will look at how peer-to-peer and social networking technology have both positive and negative impacts on universities who are trying to manage or deal with a crisis on campus.”

The study also looks at behavioural responses and the social dynamics of a mass alert, and policy and legal aspects. Recent campus shootings and scares have led Canadian institutions to rethink their current security and safety plans. American universities have seen a string of high-profile shootings, but Canadian schools are no strangers to crisis.

In 2006, a shooter at Dawson’s College in Montreal killed two students, including himself, and injured 19.

On Dec. 6, 1989, Marc Lepine, 25, shot and killed 14 female students at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique, screaming “I hate feminists” before firing at the women, whom he separated from their male classmates. The anniversary of the Montreal massacre is now observed as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

In 1992, Montreal was again the setting of a school massacre, when a former Concordia University engineering professor went on a shooting spree, killing four faculty members and injuring a fifth.

On Jan. 30, UBC’s Biological Sciences building went under lockdown after someone phoned in a threat. One week later, another threat was made. However, no particular building was named during the second incident and the two threats are still under investigation by the RCMP.

UBC purchased Aizan’s system last December, and are currently testing and inputting information into the system.

According to Scott Macrae, UBC’s public affairs director, the university’s recent threats have increased student interest in the system.

“When the students came in September, they were asked to volunteer their cell phone numbers, in the event that we got such a system,” said Macrae. “About 38 per cent of students volunteered to provide their cell phone numbers.”

SFU has also signed up with Canadian mass messaging company 3N.

“Mass messaging has the ability to reach a lot of people fast,” said Don MacLachlan, director of SFU’s media relations. “Certainly if you are in a situation like a chemical spill, an explosion, a fire, or some maniac on campus has a gun, you need to be able to reach a lot of people fast.”

However, not all universities are considering text messaging as a campus notification tool.

Acadia University equips a Blue Light emergency phone system. The University of Lethbridge is implementing an IP phone system that can make an announcement or break into any phone conversation in any classroom. The University of Ontario Institute of Technology relies on its PA system and plasma television screens.

Kim Carr, UOIT’s public safety manager, pointed out the flaw in mass text messaging.

“What they’re finding is that using cell phones all at once can crash and override a system,” said Carr. “It happened at Dawson, in Virginia Tech. In fact, in Northern Illinois, it even crashed the telephone system.”

“So text messaging, yes, is a viable option, but it’s not the only option.”

Queen Street fire reveals city’s many layers

Last Wednesday a huge fire consumed 14 buildings on Queen Street West, demolishing homes and businesses, and leaving dozens of people homeless. Among the 14 lost buildings was independent stereo store National Sound, and Duke’s Cycle, which had operated on the site since 1914. The disaster saddened many Torontonians for whom Queen Street, which spans the entire downtown core, often seems to emblematize the heart and spirit of the city itself.

Out of this destruction, some are seeing an opportunity. Once the rubble is cleared away, archeologists are hoping to gain access to the site, believed by local historians to be the location of a 19th-century army barracks, built to afford the British government some protection after William Lyon Mackenzie’s 1838 rebellion. It may turn out that the fire has uncovered a telling historic layer in the fabric of Toronto, but it’s also revealed the social dividing lines that criss-cross our city.

Since the fire, Facebook users have created groups to coordinate donations to the victims, benefit concerts have been organized, and even the illustrious Fairmont Royal York Hotel opened 10 of its rooms to those who had lost their homes.

One might suspect the fire would have elicited cheers instead of charity if it had occurred 20 metres down the street on the northwest corner of Queen and Bathurst. A few weeks ago, the Globe and Mail ran a lengthy feature on the Queen-Bathurst intersection, reportedly responsible for more 911 distress calls than any other intersection in the city, except one. The Globe article, entitled “At the corner of crack and pizza” lamented the problems caused to the area by drug traffic, which mainly centres on the northwest corner at the Meeting Place, a dropin centre for homeless Torontonians. Neighbourhood residents believe the Meeting Place and its homeless clientele are a menace to the community. It’s hard to imagine the Royal York issuing invitations if the Meeting Place went up in flames.

Sure enough, just hours after the blaze began on Wednesday morning, news outlets were already speculating that drug addicts living in the apartments above National Sound were responsible. Rumours—apparently unfounded—of a drug lab accident quickly circulated. The CBC evening news actually used the word “crackheads” to describe the suspected culprits.

But as chatter spread across Toronto blogs, suspicion was also cast on another Queen Street menace: gentrification. Reportedly, a number of corporate interests have eyed the properties on that stretch of Queen Street for years, because the now-demolished buildings stood next to a parking lot too small to allow for any substantial development. The buildings that housed Duke’s Cycle and National Sound were recently declared historic sites, and could not be knocked down. But since the fire has left the properties in ruins, there might be enough space for someone to build a condo or a big box store. After all, most of the property owners had no insurance, so who else has the money to build on Queen Street besides Best Buy or Home Depot?

The multiple explanations for the blaze reflect the different faces of Queen West. From the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health at Ossington, to the addicts at Bathurst, to the boarded-up bars at Spadina, the dangerous and the unseemly always seem to linger on the margins. Further down the street at the Drake Hotel, and the $500,000 condos at the Bohemian Embassy, gentrification threatens to suffocate the independent spirit of downtown’s west end beneath a tide of $10 cocktails.

Then there are those who consider themselves the “real” residents of Queen West: the independent store owners, the artists and musicians, the young and stylish families, all of whom bought their first bicycle at Duke’s, and are determined to defend their way of life against drug crime and corporate encroachment. Toronto’s young urbanites will foster a sense of community at charity events and fundraisers in the coming weeks, but there’s something else going on here than attempts to recover from this fiery calamity. There is an ongoing struggle being waged on Queen Street’s battleground to define the nature of life in our city.

Nine things the TTC could learn from Vancouver

I spent my reading week in Vancouver: land of sushi, mountains, killer weed, and incredibly effective environmental measures. After walking around the city, it was hardly a surprise when BC’s Premier Gordon Campbell, frontrunner on green policy, announced a carbon tax in the province last week. The city is well-served by their transit system—buses run on time, traffic is less of an issue, and people generally seem happy to ride public transit; a change from the blank stares, grunts, and arguments you’ll find on the TTC.

Vancouver may have the upcoming Olympics to boost funding, but that’s no excuse for the TTC’s slow, boring, and inefficient past. We could learn a thing or two from our western cousins. Giambrone, here’s a few tips:

Pay more to get farther

In Toronto, it costs the same outrageous fare to travel two city blocks as it does to travel from Etobicoke to Scarborough. TransLink, Vancouver’s transit system, makes more sense: until 6:30 p.m. on weekdays, the city is divided into three zones. If you want to travel within one zone, it costs a lower fare. If you move between two or three zones, it costs more. People who travel farther along the system—using more gas and other resources—have to cough up extra cash. It’s only common sense.

Time-based transfers

Does anyone actually understand how the TTC’s transfer system works? We get a half-shredded piece of newsprint, and we can only transfer at specific, designated points. Half the time, the driver doesn’t even look at your transfer, and the other half, you get hassled. In Vancouver (alongside other more enlightened transit districts, such as Ottawa), transfers have a time limit. You have unlimited access to transit for the hour and a half after you pay your fare. Imagine getting on the streetcar, hopping off at your favourite coffee shop to grab a quick drink, and then getting back on, towards your final destination. These kinds of transfers would not only make getting around less restrictive, they’d encourage more exploration and spread cash around the city.

Let’s go sailing

Fully integrated with Vancouver’s transit system is the SeaBus, a ferry that takes you across the Burrard Inlet between downtown Vancouver and North Vancouver—at a high speed and with no added cost. Our own ferry system is slow and expensive, dividing the islands from most of the city. Why not integrate it with the TTC?

Rule through fear

Forget turnstiles and change-booths— Vancouver’s SkyTrain lets you simply walk on. However, once you’ve made it to the station or on the train, you’re in a “fare paid zone” and must produce a proof of payment (which you can buy from spiffy futuristic machines) if the transit cops ask you for it. Otherwise, you face a fine. Imagine how much faster it would be to get on the subway if you didn’t have to line up to get change. This helps employee morale too: would you rather be trapped in a suffocating glass change-box, or play badass traffic cop, busting people who don’t respect the honour system?

Electric busses

Streetcars may be an eco-friendlier alternative to buses, but don’t you wish they could dodge that slow car in the middle lane? Picture the hybrid baby of a bus and a streetcar, and you’ve got Vancouver’s trolley buses—made with Back to the Future-like hooks that can connect to overhanging wires for power, but also move to get to places faster.

Embrace the web

Who hates the TTC’s horrid website? It’s outdated, unintuitive, and should have been replaced years ago. Not only does TransLink have a sexy streamlined website, complete with its own trip planner, it’s also integrated with Google Transit, which lets you plot a multi-stop transit route, itinerary and all, on Google Maps, the greatest thing since Google was created.

Federal funding

The Government of Canada logo is everywhere on Translink, and it shows. We’re Canada’s largest city, couldn’t we use a bit of cash from Ottawa to implement some improvements to the aging TTC?


All students at UBC and Simon Fraser receive a U-Pass: a spiffy card that gives them unlimited transit access for the school year. Like the proposed TTC U-Pass, Vancouver students pay a mandatory fee on top of their tuition. However, what UBC students shell out figures at about $20 a month, a third of the cost of the TTC’s current proposal. The pass has increased transit use among students by 63 per cent since implemented, and also lets students explore the city, spreading cash way beyond the student ghetto.

Wallet-sized day passes

The TransLink day pass is the size of a credit card, and to validate it for the day, you just scan it on a bus or at a station. Seriously, who thought it was the good idea to base our day pass on scratch-and-win lottery tickets?

Dr. Joseph Schatzker appointed to the Order of Canada

Many of the new members of the Order of Canada may not be known to you, but each has made a significant contribution to Canadian society. Dr. Joseph Schatzker is no exception. Instrumental in developing a revolutionary technique for treating bone fractures, he has played a crucial role in bringing this technique to North America. The story of his success is one of serendipity. While completing his residency in the orthopedic program at U of T, Schatzker was one of the few German speakers in the department, and so was asked to accompany visiting professor Maurice Mueller around Toronto as translator and tour guide.

“It was a marvelous week; it opened my eyes to a great many things,” says Schatzker. “There was a whole world of orthopaedics that we knew very little about and certainly held immense promise.” The young Schatzker was about to embark on a year-long fellowship overseas. Inspired by the sense of promise that the older doctor instilled, Schatzker asked Mueller if he could spend the fellowship with him in Switzerland.

His first task upon arrival was to translate a textbook on new principles and techniques for early surgical treatment of fractures by means of internal fixation. In order to properly understand the concepts he was translating, Schatzker was invited to participate in its development, with Mueller as his mentor.

The Manual of Internal Fixation opened the Swiss AO group to the English-speaking world, spurring controversy in orthopedic surgery. Traditional techniques for treating bone fractures had involved setting the bone in a cast, or placing the patient in traction for up to four months. Surgery wasn’t considered until all other avenues had failed, or if complications were too serious for non-surgical methods.

The new technique, called the “AO method” after the pioneering Swiss internal fixation association (the Arbeitsgemeinschaft fuer Osteosynthese Fragen), uses more assertive surgical techniques. Surgeons implant plates, nails or screws into the injured bone, stabilizing it while allowing the patient to regain mobility. Being mobile soon after the injury is imperative, not just for patient comfort, but also for preventing muscle and cartilage wasting and joint stiffness. Most importantly, it allows patients to be dismissed from hospital after only 10 days.

Although it is now clear that the AO method is more successful than previous methods, at the time, older surgeons were not eager to learn dramatically different techniques or change their conceptions about fracture healing. As a champion of change, Schatzker says he was “looked upon as a sort of maverick.” Since the AO method failed to garner praise from the old guard, Schatzker appealed to younger surgeons. He began speaking at conferences throughout North America, surrounded by a crowd of enthusiastic doctors with questions about the new technique.

In addition to spreading the word, Schatzker demonstrated the new method on patients. Many orthopedic surgeons had patients whose injuries just wouldn’t heal, or were complicated by infection. Schatzker offered to take these patients on, and after two years was able to present over 40 cases healed using the AO method. The tides eventually turned, and Schatzker received recognition as more surgeons adopted the method.

His appointment to the Order of Canada came as a great surprise. When he received the call from the Governor General’s office, his first thought was, “What on earth have I done?” His surprise quickly changed to happiness. “It was a very happy day; not only for me, but for my family.” The Order, which began as a commemoration of Canada’s centennial in 1967, honours Canadians whose lifetime achievements have made a difference to Canada.

While the AO method has revolutionized orthopaedic surgery, improved the quality of patients’ lives, and saved many others, Dr Schatzker recognizes the existing hurdles. Many challenges remain, especially in treating osteoporotic bone in elderly patients and with healing large gaps in bone. He expects that new advances will come not from mechanical solutions, but from biologic ones.

At the end of a successful career, Schatzker offers some advice to young researchers: “I was fortunate to be able to see things from a broader perspective. If you’re doing research […] you may discover something that has far greater implications than you realize.” He stresses the importance of keeping your eyes open for opportunities, but this doesn’t preclude hard work. “If you’re young, and you believe in something, don’t give up easily.”

Jumping Jacques

The Cinematheque Ontario guide’s introduction to the Jacques Demy retrospective, Bitter/Sweet, makes for interesting reading. Of the acclaimed French filmmaker James Quant writes, “Demy was too often treated as stylish and insubstantial, a director whose love of artifice and ornament resulted in an art of arabesque— operetta rather than verismo.” This program seems pitched as part celebration, part defence. As hinted in the Bitter/Sweet moniker, Demy’s films are exuberant, swooning displays of cinematic virtuosity on the surface, and sad stories about loss and regret underneath.

Demy’s first full-length feature, Lola (1961) is superficially different from the projects that would gain Demy his largest audience—it’s a low-key black and white drama strictly in the new wave style—but it establishes many of the themes that would recur throughout his filmography. Anouk Aimee plays the title character, a burlesque singer who longs for her lover, a sailor with whom she had a child. Lola introduces Demy’s fascination with lost love, and his recurring motif of the sailor.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) is Demy’s most famous film: a lavish musical that made Catherine Deneuve an international star. Her character, the daughter of a poor store owner, falls in love with a mechanic. Shortly after he joins the army, she finds out that she’s pregnant, and ends up marrying a rich man who has fallen in love with her.

All of the dialogue is sung, the music a little monotonous at times (heresy, I know), and it goes without saying that reading a French song subtitled can sometimes be a very depressing experience. At one point a woman is actually subtitled as singing, “The situation in which we find ourselves is such that we cannot, for the time being, take any rest.” Try dancing to that.

But The Umbrellas of Cherbourg sure looks great. It’s modelled after the MGM musicals of Vincent Minnelli, but it looks like it could also have been inspired by comic books. Pinks! Greens! Reds! Blues! Oranges! And that’s just the wallpaper. It is also strangely satisfying for its unusual air of melancholy. James Quandt notes in the Cinematheque guide, “everyone smilingly pretends to be content with second best,” part of Demy’s tendency to end his films with a feeling of “too-lateness.” The ending of Umbrellas is haunting stuff.

Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (1967), another musical of the MGM variety, places dialogue in between the singing. Chicago Reader critic Jonathan Rosenbaum picked Les Demoiselles as his all-time favourite musical, and if it can warm the heart of a sourpuss like Rosenbaum, it defi- nitely has something going for it.

The plot involves Catherine Deneuve and Francoise Dorleac as twin sisters, Danielle Darrieux as their mother, and a variety of love-struck men as their potential suitors, including, I kid you not, Gene Kelly. According to IMDb, Kelly is only dubbed about half the time, so if you’ve ever wanted to see Gene Kelly warble out a song in French, this is your chance.

Les Demoiselles is filled with bright colours, lush music, elaborate dance sequences, and a general atmosphere of pleasure and enjoyment. Demy’s direction is especially forceful, with impossibly fl uid crane and tracking shots on full display.

But if Les Demoiselles is sheer pleasure, Bay of Angels (1963) is the film that lingers on. It’s another black and white drama with a tone similar to the free-spiritedness of early Jean- Luc Godard. Jeanne Moreau and Claude Mann are young lovers, but spend most of their time in casinos because of Moreau’s gambling addiction. Mann wishes he could stop Moreau from gambling, but this is a difficult task, particularly when she’s winning big.

Though it ends a little too cleanly, Bay of Angels understands and effectively invokes the seductiveness of an addictive habit, in this case, gambling. When Mann tries to pry Moreau away from the roulette table, part of you wishes she would give up, but part of you wishes she would continue on. I mean, she was winning a few rounds ago, she was up $3,000; she’ll win it back the next round… yeah, the next round…

Cinimatheque’s Jacques Demy retrospective runs until March 16. Visit www.cinemathequeontario.ca for screening times.

Editor’s Pick: The D’urbervilles – We Are The Hunters (Out of This Spark)

On their impressive debut full-length, this Toronto-via-Guelph quartet often appear as the less angry, poppier younger brothers of local heroes Constantines, with spiky guitar interplay and energetic breakdowns running throughout. Often making the listener wait for the sweet payoff that occurs in every song on Hunters, The D’urbervilles employ Spoon’s trick of embracing the space within each song, opting for well-chosen riffs in between silences, the direct opposite of prog excess. The vocals are catchy and clear, breaking into addictive hooks on songs like “Dragnet” and “This is The Life.” The only real complaint is that the re-recording of “Spin The Bottle,” the highlight of their debut EP, is diminished here by frantic pacing and some other questionable production choices. That aside, any fan of smart, catchy, guitar-based indie rock will find a lot to like.


The D’Urbervilles release We Are The Hunters on March 14 at The Tranzac