Justin Trudeau announces full, costed Liberal platform at UTM Town Hall

Plan includes tax cuts, increased student grants

Justin Trudeau announces full, costed Liberal platform at UTM Town Hall

Liberal Party leader and incumbent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled his party’s full platform at a town hall event held this Sunday at UTM. In it, he set out a “real plan for the middle class.” The platform is set to increase spending on student grants, child benefits, and the environment by billions of dollars, at the expense of the wealthiest one per cent of Canadians. He also took questions from students, community members, and the press.

Restructuring of student grants

In introducing his plan to support students, Trudeau brought up Premier Doug Ford’s changes to education in Ontario.

“Doug Ford slashes education funding and makes it near impossible to pay for tuition.”

Under a Liberal government, Trudeau vowed to increase the Canada Student Grants by another 40 per cent, a move he claims will provide students with an additional $1,200 per year for tuition, books, and rent. The maximum Canada Student Grant will be raised to $4,200, up from $3,000.

He will also institute a two-year interest-free grace period with a minimum $35,000 income requirement, which is an increase from the previous six-month grace period. This means that even after the two-year grace period elapses, students will not have to start their student loan repayments until they are making at least $35,000 a year. Parents with student debt will also have the option to freeze their loan payments until their child reaches the age of five.

When asked about her thoughts on Trudeau’s plan for students, UTM student Maha Taieldien said in an interview with The Varsity, “I think it’s a step in the right direction. There’s obviously a lot more that they can do, but it’s baby steps.”

Tax cuts for the middle class

Trudeau kicked off the event with a scathing criticism of conservative politics, both federal and provincial.

“When he was campaigning, Doug Ford said that not a single person would lose their job to pay for his massive cuts. Well, tell that to the 10,000 Ontario teachers who are losing their jobs. Andrew Scheer is asking you to double down on Conservatives. That’s twice the handouts for big polluters and the wealthy, and twice the cuts for you and your family.”

In response, he promised to make Canadian lives more affordable. He plans to achieve this with tax cuts for the middle class — cuts that he claims will save the average family $600 a year and lift 38,000 Canadians out of poverty.

In addition, the platform, which was titled “Forward: A Real Plan for the Middle Class,” aims to cut phone bills by 25 per cent, provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 for families who wish to retrofit their homes, and boost the Canada Child Benefit so that families with newborns will receive up to $1,000 more in payments.

On climate action

Trudeau said that Canada will reach net zero emissions by 2050 under his government, and that fossil fuel subsidies will be phased out by 2025.

“In the process, we’ll become world leaders in clean technology.”

He also defended his Liberal government’s move to greenlight the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, promising that profits from the pipeline will go directly back to funding clean energy projects and an initiative to plant two billion trees in the next decade.

“I’m glad that they’re doing something about it but I just feel like 2050 is very far into the future,” noted Taieldien.

Emphasizing the point of her fellow classmate, UTM student Amanda Hammad said, “especially based on how much limited time we have, I agree, it’s something that needs to be done sooner.”

Media response

When taking questions from the press, Trudeau faced multiple queries regarding how he plans to fund his tax cuts and benefits for students and the middle class, while continuing to work toward a balanced budget.

His answers often repeated the same sentiment that increased investment in the middle class would result in greater economic output. These answers weren’t well received by journalists who were looking for specific plans on when and how Trudeau might curb his spending.

Trudeau also faced scrutiny for continuously mentioning Doug Ford, a provincial politician. One journalist asked if Trudeau was attempting to associate Ford with Scheer. In response, Trudeau noted that, “Mr. Scheer is the person who has associated himself with Doug Ford.”

UTSU September board meeting: remuneration policy, microtransactions, opt-outs

Changes also made to CFS–O media policies

UTSU September board meeting: remuneration policy, microtransactions, opt-outs

The University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) held its September Board of Directors Meeting last Sunday. It discussed the upcoming second semester opt-out period for incidental fees that were deemed non-essential by the Student Choice Initiative, new endeavours to support financially-insecure students, remuneration policy, and changes to Canadian Federation of Students–Ontario (CFS–O) media policies.

Opt-out period for the winter semester

The university set an opt-out period for the second semester which is a little less than three-months long, from November 1, 2019, to January 20, 2020. This opt-out period is 14 days longer than the fall period, which gives students more time to choose their opt-out selections.

UTSU President Joshua Bowman criticized the university’s decision. “I am extremely disappointed with the university administration for this decision,” said Bowman.

“This decision displays to me that they do not care about student societies, and quite frankly, the groups that are most affected by these opt outs.”

He noted that the UTSU had been in contact with the administration while preparing for the fall opt-out period, and said he will be holding an emergency meeting with the Office of the Vice-Provost and representatives from student groups.

Microtransactions initiative

Avani Singh, Vice-President, University Affairs, spoke briefly about her microtransactions initiative, which aims to support students whose classes require the use of third-party academic tools, such as Top Hat, WileyPLUS, and McGraw-Hill Connect. She has negotiated a number of free access codes from Top Hat to give to students in need, and is continuing dialogue with the university about the issue.

A study conducted by the previous Vice-President, University Affairs found that the biggest problem with these mandatory online programs was their financial inaccessibility. Singh’s initiative was launched on September 13, and received around 30 applications. “We received a lot of positive feedback on it,” said Singh.

Remuneration policy

The Board of Directors discussed the remuneration policy, which would have allowed executive members to receive pay at their hourly rate if they work over 40 hours a week, rather than having their paid hours capped.

Lina Maragha, University College Director, said, “A lot of the concerns [with the policy] stemmed from false statements being published by The Varsity. The Varsity did put out that it was overtime, which is literally the wrong word.”

The UTSU has criticized The Varsity’s decision to use the term “overtime“ since under Ontario law overtime pay must be allocated at time and a half, and that was not the policy’s intention.

However, according to the Government of Ontario, “overtime pay” is a general term that encompasses multiple forms of compensation. The Varsity’s initial article defined overtime pay according to the UTSU’s meeting minutes as “any additional hours worked shall be compensated at the same hourly honorarium.”

Earlier in the meeting, Maragha questioned multiple UTSU executives on their reported hours, saying that she was concerned about the optics.

The consensus was that criticism of the policy arose because of concerns from U of T community members that the policy was being passed secretively, as well as in an untimely manner. “A lot of people were just disappointed with the fact that it happened during the Student Choice Initiative,” said Bowman.

“Moving it through the executive committee may have been perceived negatively,” said Bowman, but he maintained that every policy is created “with the intention that it does go to the Board of Directors.”

Bowman and a handful of others voted in favour of repealing the remuneration policy. A majority abstained, and none voted in favour of keeping the remuneration policy.

The remuneration policy was then struck down.

CFS–O media policies

Vice-President External Affairs Lucas Granger reported on the CFS–O Annual General Meeting. He proposed five motions at the meeting on behalf of the UTSU. Two media proposals passed, one requiring that the CFS–O begin to publish minutes.

Recognized student media groups are also now able to attend plenary sessions and tweet about them. Another proposal by the UTSU was a low-income constituency group, which failed.

The UTSU’s Annual General Meeting will be held on October 30.

Editor’s note (September 9, 11:36 pm): The article has been updated to clarify The Varsity‘s position on the term “overtime pay.”

NDP, Green Party MP candidates for University–Rosedale discuss climate at Sidney Smith

UTEA and APSS host Melissa Jean-Baptise Vajda, Tim Grant

NDP, Green Party MP candidates for University–Rosedale discuss climate at Sidney Smith

The University of Toronto Environmental Action (UTEA) group and the Association of Political Science Students (APSS) hosted University–Rosedale’s MP candidates Melissa Jean-Baptiste Vajda of the New Democratic Party (NDP) and Tim Grant from the Green Party, to discuss their parties’ approach to the climate crisis. The Liberal and Conservative Party candidates for University–Rosedale were not invited to the discussion, as UTEA only invited parties with climate as a central part of their platform.

Keith Stewart, a senior strategist with Greenpeace Canada, was one of the speakers for the event. He criticized “petro nationalism,” the rhetoric of oil companies where they attempt to connect the extraction of fossil fuels to a Canadian identity.

Speaking on each party’s environmental plans, Stewart described the Green Party as being more focused on the reduction of greenhouse gasses than on environmental justice, which he defines as “transforming relationships” between society and environment. He described the NDP as being more focused on environmental justice.

“We don’t have to be very nice. The thing is this is actually a fight,” said Stewart on Greenpeace’s approach to environmental issues.

The discussion then turned its focus to the two MP candidates. The NDP wants to make emissions reduction targets legally binding. “We will establish a climate and accountability office that will be outside of the government,” said Vajda.

On environmental justice, Vadja commented that the NDP plans to put Indigenous people “on both sides of the table,” referencing the fact that the NDP is putting forward Indigenous candidates in the election.

Speaking on her housing plans, Vadja said, “We’ll build 500,000 more units all across Canada. We will build more affordable housing, social housing, co-ops — all of that impacts the ability for people to remain in their communities to live safer and healthier lives. It’s all intertwined and connected with a green new deal.”

Green Party candidate Tim Grant emphasized the importance of working with other parties and increasing political engagement from young voters. As 18–24-year-olds are the biggest demographic of non-voters, “your ability to reach out to your friends and get them engaged is critical,” said Grant.

Moving into possibly a minority government, Grant said, “the Greens and NDP I think quite reasonably are going to be pressing hard on climate and other files.”

What makes the Green Party stand out, according to Grant, is that they do not whip votes, a practice he criticized other parties for. “And that means you have to wilt the same way and you can’t speak out even though you may, on various issues, feel differently than the party mainstream, and you can’t speak out otherwise.”

UTGSU Finance Commissioner announces November resignation

General Council votes to de-affiliate with OISE GSA at September meeting

UTGSU Finance Commissioner announces November resignation

During a lengthy General Council meeting on September 27, University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU) Finance Commissioner Branden Rizzuto resigned from his position effective November 1.

At the same meeting, following extensive debate, the council voted to de-affiliate with the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education (OISE) Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) on the recommendation of the UTGSU’s Ad-hoc Committee after it found 20 constitutional violations in April’s GSA elections.

Rizzuto’s resignation

“It is my personal opinion that the UTGSU has, for quite some time, suffered from a lack of accountability in its internal operations,” said Rizzuto, announcing the end of his fourth term as an executive elected to the union.

The commissioner cited an inability to continue properly executing his duties due to “multiple personnel and bodies in the UTGSU [neglecting] their duties and responsibilities for excessive periods of time.” He further described an inequitable and unsustainable workload. With the developments of the UTGSU’s legal challenge against the Ford government, and the Student Choice Initiative, Rizzuto intends to remain until November 1 to ensure that particular duties are fulfilled before his departure.

“I feel that, while I have made earnest attempts to address and resolve the issues I have stated in this letter, I have ultimately remained unsuccessful,” concluded Rizzuto, who read from a letter. Council members thanked Rizzuto for his work, but also sought to know more about his allegations — to which Rizzuto also declined to specifically name any individuals.

The Finance Commissioner position will be filled through a process voted on by General Council, which will be held at a future Council meeting, according to an email from the UTGSU Executive Committee.

Rizzuto and the Executive Committee declined to comment on the announcement.

De-affiliating with the OISE GSA

On the recommendation of the Ad-hoc Course Union Investigation Committee (adCUIC), General Council voted to de-affiliate with the OISE GSA, following an investigation that found a total of 20 constitutional violations in the April GSA elections. Out of four recommendations made by the adCUIC, the union passed the only punitive measure in the last 30 minutes of the meeting. Heated debate preceded the vote, which saw disagreement between advocates for de-affiliation and concerns from members that felt they did not know enough to vote.

Effective from the time of the council’s vote, OISE GSA’s four representatives on General Council are no longer allowed to vote; they do not have representation on council in any course union, but all students will remain UTGSU members with access to the union’s services.

Desiree Sylvestre, on behalf of the outgoing OISE GSA executives, wrote to The Varsity in an email: “The issues we are presented with at the OISE GSA are multi-layered and complex, involving different approaches and expectations regarding the priorities and style of student governance.”

While the UTGSU Executive Committee abstained from the vote to de-affiliate, Sylvestre maintains that the Committee did not reach out to mediate following the election investigation. The outgoing GSA executives also alleged that the Committee “exponentially aggravated” tensions when suggesting that the GSA rejoin the union as a course union, which would cut down the amount of union dues that the GSA collects from its members through the UTGSU. The UTGSU Executive Committee asserts that its members “[remain] pointedly separate from any discussions happening internally at OISE or elsewhere within the University.”

Sylvestre concluded, “I am truly disappointed in the UTGSU, they operate in a punitive environment with no hope for solidarity. My hope is that OISE students will become more involved and take steps to successfully challenge the systems that exist within the UTGSU, beginning with their Executive Elections.”

Due to only getting through a quarter of the agenda items for the September 24 meeting, the next General Council meeting will occur before the October 29, according to the Executive Committee.

In the Spotlight: Kerry Bowman

Bioethicist talks to The Varsity about conservation efforts, Amazon forest fires, Indigenous rights

In the Spotlight: Kerry Bowman

“Moved and horrified” is how Dr. Kerry Bowman described himself when he found that he was the only Canadian able to report from the Amazon rainforest fires in August. Now, he is trying to raise awareness for the situation with his research, arguing for protecting Indigenous land to promote both human rights and climate protection. Currently, Bowman teaches in the human biology department at U of T, though he is also cross-appointed at the School of the Environment.

Bowman’s work has seemingly pulled him in all directions, from Toronto to the Amazon to the Congo, and his research has attempted to put human well-being at the forefront of various issues, whether the backdrop is a Toronto hospital or the Amazon rainforest.

Along with his environmental work, Bowman worked for many years as a clinical bioethicist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, and he still consults as a bioethicist.

Bowman wrote his PhD on cultural differences in bioethics, focusing on Chinese-Canadian attitudes toward end-of-life treatment. “We all acknowledge them, and then we tend to ignore them,” Bowman said of the prevailing attitude about cultural differences.

A lot has changed throughout Bowman’s career in bioethics. “I really watched the whole movement of the care of dying people move from completely supportive care to now being in a position where people, if they meet the criteria, could say, ‘in fact, I want to hasten my death’ and they would be allowed to do it. So in my working life, I’ve seen that. I’ve been a part of it.”

But before he was bioethicist or social worker, Bowman started his environmental work studying the behaviour of the orangutan, a project he volunteered on while traveling around the world in his twenties. He said that he learned through his work with great apes that “none of this is relevant if you do not factor in the human realities of the environments that any animals or ecosystems live within. And that the key to [a] healthy environment is almost always human-based.”

Bowman cites renowned primatologist Jane Goodall as an inspiration and a friend. “She really, really taught me just how much an individual can do.” Goodall also taught him that when dealing with global issues like the climate crisis, “you’ve actually really got to get out and talk to everybody… you’ve got to go way beyond academic journals.”

The connection between environmental and human rights is the line of Bowman’s work in the Amazon and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). During the most recent war in the DRC, Bowman witnessed how the guards at Kahuzi Biega National Park remained dedicated to protecting the land. “I was very moved by the fact that people really, really stuck to the protection of the park, knowing that it matters to their survival as well as everything else. Even in war conditions.”

Now, the Canadian Ape Alliance, founded by Bowman, works to fund an environmentally-focused school for children in the region. Many of these children will follow in their parents’ footsteps and work in the park themselves, on the front lines of protecting the critically-endangered eastern lowland gorilla.

Bowman had to consider the ethics of cultural differences as he worked to ensure equitable access to the environmental school for three groups that are often excluded: girls, those with albinism, and the subjugated Pygmy people.

Indigenous people are also at the centre of Bowman’s work in the Amazon. For the past eight years, he has been studying the benefits of protecting Indigenous land in the Amazon region. Protecting this land deters deforestation and promotes biodiversity. “What I’m really interested in is the fact that you can create essentially a climate shield and again, climate health, by protecting large areas of the Amazon forest [and] by protecting Indigenous people.”

Currently, he wants to raise awareness of the “profound human rights issue” occurring in Brazil, with Indigenous people and environmental activists being targeted. Maxciel Pereira dos Santos, a protector of Indigenous land and a colleague of Dr. Bowman’s, was assassinated earlier this month.

Explaining that much of the rise of Brazil’s exploitative attitude toward the Amazon is due to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Bowman called for greater intervention of the international community. “He’s really creating a climate where the laws of the nation — the nation being in Brazil — are not being adhered to,” said Bowman.

For combatting a problem such as the climate crisis, Bowman criticized the lack of a global infrastructure for decision-making. Bowman argued that “we have a heightened responsibility in wealthy Western nations like Canada to do something,” as those who are the most disadvantaged will continue to experience the worst effects of the climate crisis. Fires are set every year to clear land for other uses, although 2019 saw the highest number of Amazon fires in the past couple of years. The fires are a risk to the whole ecosystem, but the Indigenous people who live in the Amazon are particularly at risk.

“I would say as Canadians, we’re struggling in this country to figure out our own very dark history with Indigenous people,” Bowman said. “But what we have now going on in Brazil is this massive violation. And so for us to be silent on something like this, I would argue we’ve made no progress since colonial times because what’s happening in Brazil is no different than what occurred here.”

Looking into the future, Bowman said that he is inspired by the current climate strikes, calling it “just the beginning.”

“I think the university really has to set policies that are environmentally sound with consultation with its students and with the public. The time is here.”

What he’s learned from his own often-multidisciplinary work is that there is no single approach to any subject. “I would say to students that nobody should be leaning away from doing, things like environmental work or even bioethical work because they don’t think they have the right qualifications. These are complex problems and everyone is needed.”

Mayor John Tory calls for Toronto to declare a climate emergency

City Council set to vote on declaration adoption on October 2

Mayor John Tory calls for Toronto to declare a climate emergency

On September 20, Mayor John Tory announced that Toronto will declare a climate emergency, which the Toronto City Council will consider at its October 2 meeting.

According to a series of tweets from Tory, the climate crisis “poses a major risk to our city’s residents and businesses.” The purpose of his declaration is “naming, framing, and deepening Toronto’s commitment to protecting [the city] from climate change.”

Tory’s announcement coincided with the first round of Global Climate Strikes and follows an open call by more than 50 community organizations for the City Council to declare a climate emergency. It also follows in the footsteps of increasingly severe weather events in Toronto, according to the city’s Resilience Strategy.

If the City Council adopts the declaration, Toronto would be joining over 800 local governments that have already declared a climate emergency around the world. However, the declaration is largely symbolic, and includes no new program or initiative proposals.

Words are great. Symbolic politics is important. But the declaration of a climate emergency has to be reconciled with real climate conscious policies,” wrote Professor Teresa Kramarz, Co-Director of the Munk School’s Environmental Governance Lab, in an email to The Varsity.

Kramarz added that individuals have to “push the Mayor and city council… [to define] clear mechanisms of accountability that connect words of emergency to deeds that are commensurate with such a designation.”

Tory’s announcement also highlighted TransformTO and Toronto’s Resilience Strategy, which are two ongoing initiatives the city is using to address the climate crisis.

By 2050, TransformTO aims for an 80 per cent reduction in Toronto’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from 1990 levels. Its strategies include ensuring that constructing new buildings produces less GHG emissions, increasing renewable energy sources, instigating more walking and cycling by Toronto residents, and diverting waste from landfills.

On September 26, Tory asked that the City Council commit to accelerating the goals laid out by TransformTO, including achieving net zero GHG emissions before 2050. This, alongside the declaration of climate emergency, will be considered on October 2.

Toronto’s Resilience Strategy is a broader initiative designed to help Torontonians adapt to a number of issues, specifically the effects of the climate crisis.

“Declaring a climate emergency will only be helpful if it’s backed up by aggressive policies to reduce emissions in the city of Toronto,” wrote Jessica Green, an associate professor at the Department of Political Science and the School of the Environment, in an email to The Varsity.

She suggested that the city should start with “more public transportation at low to no-cost, congestion pricing, and zero-emissions standards for all new buildings.”

“It will seem radical to many, but inaction will be worse,” noted Green.

Leap UofT, a climate justice and activism group on campus, was one of the signatories on the open call sent out to the City Council.

“I think we can get very focused on what we’re doing on campus and not look outward into the city as a whole,” said Julia DaSilva, a co-founder of Leap UofT.

DaSilva believes it’s important for university students to get “involved in community-wide organizing as well.”

On the shifting of language surrounding “climate change” to more urgent terms such as “crisis” and “emergency,” semiotics professor Marcel Danesi said that, “Every time you change a word you’re labeling a new reality, you’re bringing it into focus.”

“If it’s a crisis then it’s something different than a change, it’s a change for the worse and therefore we need to take action. Yes, words do matter,” Danesi explained.

“This is powerful. This is historic. This is unprecedented”: students lead second Global Climate Strike at Queen’s Park

Thousands gather to call for climate justice, including youth, politicians

“This is powerful. This is historic. This is unprecedented”: students lead second Global Climate Strike at Queen’s Park

Joining millions around the globe, U of T students protested at Queen’s Park on September 27 to demand action on the climate crisis. These protests marked the end of a week-long strike that started on September 20, spearheaded by 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, to denounce inaction on the climate crisis by world leaders at this week’s United Nations Climate Action Summit.

At noon, protesters left Queen’s Park to march around downtown Toronto before ending up back at the legislature for closing remarks and a concert.

“This is powerful. This is historic. This is unprecedented,” said Allie Rougeot, organizer of the strike and head of Fridays for Future in Toronto, during her remarks in front of the sea of climate activists gathered outside the provincial legislature.

“When Fridays for Future started here in December 2018, there were 30 people where you’re standing here today. Look around you now. Look how many people showed up for climate justice.”

The protests were organized by a coalition of youth and climate advocates, including Fridays for Future Toronto, Climate Justice Toronto, ClimateFast, No One Is Illegal, Fight for $15 and Fairness, Migrant Rights Network, Toronto350, Rising Tides Toronto, Indigenous Climate Action, Greenpeace Canada, and Leap UofT.

Students march and speak out

As they slowly gathered on the steps of Sidney Smith Hall, students led a march across King’s College Circle to Queen’s Park holding signs that read “How dare you,” “I stand for what I stand on,” and “Leave class,” among others. While the U of T administration supported faculties and individuals where possible, and endorsed flexibility for students who striked, the university did not close despite calls from community leaders, students, and professors.

Third-year ecology and evolutionary biology student, Sophia Fan, is the University College Literary & Athletic Society (UCLit)’s sustainability commissioner and led around 100 students to the strike.

“I’m really glad that this is becoming huge and that our generation is finally stepping up and just saying no to our futures being taken away,” said Fan.

Rougeot contacted the UCLit at the beginning of the summer asking for its participation. Since then, Fan and her commission distributed promotional material for the event, held poster-making sessions, and discussed the demands of the strike and its implications for both U of T and the wider community.

“I love nature and I wish I was only here so that I could learn more about it… but the fact that I’m researching bees because they’re dying, I’m researching plants because they have to tolerate heatwaves breaks my heart,” said Fan.

Cricket Cheng, a fifth-year English and geography student, is an organizer with Climate Justice Toronto. Cheng and colleagues have been focused on “centering various intersectional struggles” for the climate strike.

“If you look at the demands, we’re fighting for Indigenous sovereignty, we’re fighting for justice for migrants and refugees, we’re fighting for universal public services,” Cheng said.

Cheng noted that “it was a bit of a struggle to persuade people who had been doing this for years, if not decades, in one very particular way to get them to reimagine what it means to be fighting for environmental justice and justice for all.”

Cheng pointed out the environmentalism movement’s history of censoring racial justice. Elaborating on the organizational process in this context Cheng said, “we were showing up as…young racialized people and that really shifted the course, both in terms of the messaging, the policies, and also who was in the room.”

Mia Sanders is a third-year student studying history and women and gender studies and also a part of Climate Justice Toronto. Sanders has been focused on “shaping the demands to reflect the connections between different liberation struggles.”

Initially, while the demands were being drafted, Sanders encountered pushback. “We got the critique that it was distracting from the real issue to talk about migrant justice,” said Sanders. However, they are proud that they were able to get the message out in the end.

Sanders admired the strike’s strong youth presence and has respect for Thunberg’s ability to mobilize the masses. However, Sanders said, “we can also look to young people like Autumn Peltier, who’s… [an] Indigenous water defender and… [has] wisdom in her intergenerational knowledge.”

As for next steps, “I’m going to be showing up more in solidarity with frontline communities,” said Sanders.

Both Sanders and Cheng will continue their fight for climate justice on October 13 at High Park, where the Indigenous Land Stewardship Collective is holding a protest.

“They’re fighting the contract that the… city has with Monsanto and the glyphosates that they’re spraying on traditional burial grounds,” explained Sanders.

Politicians weigh in on climate action

Current and former politicians joined the climate strike, including Dianne Saxe, the former Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, who gave a speech at the pre-march rally. Saxe told The Varsity that she hopes “adults will be shaken out of their selfishness, greed, and apathy, that young people will vote and that they’ll make the climate crisis central to their vote” as a result of the climate strike. Saxe went on to describe carbon pricing as an important tool in combating the climate crisis and said that “anyone who’s against carbon pricing is stealing the future.”

Ontario New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Andrea Horwath and federal NDP candidate for University–Rosedale Jean-Baptiste Vajda both pointed to the NDP’s Green New Deal as an example of effective climate action.

The plan commits to cutting emissions at least 50 per cent by 2050 while creating new jobs, and also promises to be equitable and meet obligations surrounding reconciliation. As Horwath put it, “no community can be left behind, no workers can be left behind.”

Former Toronto mayor and North American Director of the climate action organization C40 Cities, David Miller, noted that in terms of effective climate action, “the plans are all there, it just requires a political decision to do it.”

Miller highlighted the benefits of updating building codes to achieve  net zero carbon buildings, eliminating the use of coal-fired generation in Alberta and New Brunswick, and the power of divestment.

“I believe our public institutions, like our universities, need to be moral and ethical in their investments… the economic system matters and institutions like University of Toronto can very easily choose other investments,” said Miller, citing the campaign to divest from South Africa as action against apartheid as an example of effective divestment.

MPP for Spadina–Fort York, Chris Glover, offered guidance to those discouraged by politics and the lack of action on the climate crisis: “It takes a lot of persistence to make systemic change because the systems are ensconced and we need to change those systems… join groups, mobilize, it takes a community to fight.”

Ontario Green Party Leader, Mike Schreiner, was impressed by the strike’s turnout, but hopes that political action comes quickly: “We need to act now to make sure we have a livable planet for these young people,” said Schreiner.

With files from Kathryn Mannie.

Fifteen sonic slices of September

For sipping martinis on your balcony alone, or for surfing with tears in your eyes

Fifteen sonic slices of September

I won’t waste your time. If you’re reading this, you aren’t here to talk. You’re here because you need end-of-September jams so sizzling that you’ll be able to fry breakfast on your turntable, or at least warm a small child’s hands with your earbuds. And you need them now.

I hear you already: “Hold it right there, Jacob. Not that I know who you are, exactly, but I don’t have time to waste. Every moment I spend not enjoying the glorious heat of September is another moment closer to midterm season and my fast-approaching deadlines. If I’m not so relaxed that my limbs atrophy, then so help me God. What’s on this list?”

Well, here are 15 scorchers hand-picked — with oven gloves — from humid climates all over the world. Be sure that the hot classrooms of U of T are empty before you plug in your headphones.

João Gilberto, father of Brazilian music style bossa nova, is on this list because his tunes would make even Brian Wilson call a waiter over and say, “Whatever I’m drinking needs a tiny umbrella in it, stat.” Sora’s recently re-issued Re.sort will have you dabbing at your eyes with your Hawaiian shirt.

You may recognize “Riot!” by Hugh Masekela from last year, when Earl Sweatshirt, his nephew, sampled it. You may also recognize the voice in Makeout Videotape as that of a young Mac DeMarco. But are you here for names, or are you here to attain catatonic levels of chill?

These tunes speak for themselves, but for best results, you’ll want the 1961 Village Vanguard performance of “My Foolish Heart” and the Mandarin single version of “Moonset.” What? Are you trying to do this halfway? Listen, if you can hear Bill Evans’ keys flutter delicately like a feather between your toes at sunrise and not be instantly reduced to half-waking bliss, maybe summer just isn’t your season.

I know what you’re thinking: “You’re still talking, Jacob. We’ve been over this. Do you have my jams or not? Where are the jams?” And to that I say that I’m at my word count now, so here you go:

1. Bill Evans Trio, “My Foolish Heart,” live at the Village Vanguard

2. Ryo Fukui, “Early Summer”

3. Lamp, “A都市の秋”

4. IU and Oh Hyuk, “Can’t Love You Anymore 사랑이 잘”

5. Little Simz, “Selfish (ft. Cleo Sol)”

6. Tyler, the Creator, “A Boy Is a Gun”

7. Taeko Ohnuki, “4:00 AM”

8. Cléa Vincent, “Château perdu”

9. Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, “Are You Real?”

10. João Gilberto, “Brigas, nunca mais”

11. Elephant Gym, “Moonset月落”

12. Makeout Videotape, “Heat Wave”

13. The Kinks, “Waterloo Sunset”

14. Hugh Masekela, “Riot”

15. Sora, “Rayuela”