All Posts Tagged With: "Universite de Montreal"
Yalda Machouf-Khadir named in ransacking suit
There are more legal problems for the daughter of a prominent Quebec politician who already faced charges following last year’s raucous student protests.
Yalda Machouf-Khadir, the daughter of Quebec solidaire’s Amir Khadir, is among six protesters being sued by the Universite de Montreal for a group total of $100,000 in damages.
The university is seeking compensation after a security guard was injured and dozens of rooms at its campus were vandalized on April 12, 2012.
Court documents say it started off as a peaceful protest by Quebec student associations fighting tuition increases.
But they say there was a deliberate plan to ransack the university, hatched by a number of individuals who did not belong to the student groups.
Windows were shattered and doors were smashed when about 300 protesters forced their way into the university.
Eight universities’ departments among top 50 worldwide
The QS World University Subject Rankings 2013 are out now. The London-based company’s report offers a rare peek at how our school’s history, engineering and law programs—30 subjects in all—are viewed internationally.
Unsurprisingly, the top three universities from the Medical Doctoral category of the Maclean’s University Rankings—the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia and McGill University—are also the top Canadian schools on the list. Those three are top five in Canada in 29 of 30 subjects and top 50 worldwide in many.
The highest ranked Canadian subject is geography at the University of British Columbia, which is tenth globally. There are also several subjects in the top 15: environmental science at UBC along with medicine, philosophy, linguistics, mathematics, sociology, geography, education, English and history at University of Toronto.
Liberal candidate weighs in on language bill and free tuition
Liberal leadership favourite Justin Trudeau waded Tuesday into two areas of provincial policy, at one point even taking shots at the Parti Quebecois government, while visiting Quebec.
Trudeau offered his opinions on Quebec language legislation and on tuition fees, while also reiterating his promise to increase federal involvement in education.
He delivered speeches and answered student questions at three schools on Tuesday, two of them English institutions and one French.
The crowds were similarly large at every stop — but the level of warmth of the reception varied from one official language to the next.
At the English-language Dawson College students asked him to sign autographs and pose for photos after the event. At the French-language Universite de Montreal later in the day, he was grilled on the Constitution and one student approached him afterward to debate the subject.
His first stop of the day took him to his alma mater, McGill University, where he offered indications that a Trudeau prime ministership would be a marked departure from a Harper era defined by a hands-off approach to provincial issues.
160 arrested in Gatineau
In Quebec, where many students have boycotted classes for months, attempts by universities to hold classes and exams are being severely tested.
More than 160 protesters were arrested on Wednesday at the Université du Québec en Outaouais’s Gatineau campus, after an injunction ordered protesters off campus for two weeks starting Monday. The adults among them were charged hundreds of dollars each for blocking the highway to campus, reports the Montreal Gazette.
Also on Wednesday, the province’s biggest school, the Université de Montréal, called off classes in departments whose student associations have held successful strike votes, despite having earlier encouraged willing students to return to classes this week. The capitulation followed incidents where protesters blocked students from entering and leaving buildings and set off fire alarms during exams, reports the Gazette.
Student groups reject gov’t offers as deadline approaches
The student strike in Quebec, ignited by a $1,625 tuition increase over the next five years, is now the longest in provincial history—and participants may soon pass a point of no return.
Professors’ contracts require the semester to end by June 15 and some universities are hinting that the entire semester will be in jeopardy for students who don’t go back in time to meet that deadline.
The Université de Montréal, Quebec’s largest, announced Wednesday that it will extend the term into May for students who have already returned to class.
At the same time, it said it can no longer guarantee students who haven’t returned that they will be able to finish their semesters. Groups representing around 25 per cent of U de M are still on strike.
Residents of bordering area say they were left out of public consultations
Community groups in the Montreal neighbourhood of Parc-Extension are upset after the City of Montreal approved zoning changes which will allow construction of a new Université de Montréal campus to go ahead.
The university, the second largest in Canada, says it needs to expand. But with a large cemetery on one side and a residential neighbourhood along the others, the school says there’s no more room on or around its campus.
In 2006, the university purchased an old rail yard in the borough of Outremont, where it intends to build a second campus. The city’s office of public consultations held several sessions and the borough has also held its own information sessions.
But residents in the neighbouring area of Parc-Extension say that because the majority of public consultations were held in Outremont, they haven’t been heard
They’re concerned because the proposed site runs along the border between Outremont and the borough of Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension. So, even though parts of the campus will literally be across the street from Parc-Extension, the residents of Outremont have had more say.
The big problem is that Outremont and Parc-Extension are very different neighbourhoods and the residents have very different concerns about the project. While Outremont is relatively wealthy, Parc-Extension has a high population of immigrants and lower rents.
In Parc-Extension, the concerns are a little more serious. Some residents are worried that an influx of students will push rents up and drive them out. They’re also worried that local businesses won’t be able to compete with businesses that move into the area to serve students.
The project has the support of Montreal’s Mayor, Gérald Tremblay, whose Union Montreal party has a majority on City Council. So, as long as U de M is able to secure funding for the development, it’s highly unlikely that the city will get in the way.
The next step for the city is the creation of an urban development plan for the campus and surrounding area, which Tremblay has said will include social housing. The creation and approval of that plan will involve further public consultations.
There’s another hospital project in Montreal that’s also behind schedule and over budget
The recent story about construction on a new Montreal hospital being a decade behind schedule and massively over budget, before ground has even been broken, has me feeling some deja vu.
Last spring, construction began on a new McGill “superhospital.” That project was originally proposed in 1992 and at one point was scheduled to open in 2005. Now it’s scheduled to open in 2014. It’s over budget and you know what else is familiar, most of the delays were due to political meddling.
While many of the delays caused by Quebec City have affected both projects, some may have been for different reasons.
While the Université de Montréal project has been plagued by delays from the start and has struggled to find a site, the McGill project has had fewer problems. But that may have been the problem, that it would look bad for an “English” hospital to be built before a “French” one. While Premier Jean Charest has denied this, he’s not exactly the most trusted man in Quebec.
The U de M project on the other hand is somewhat higher profile, in terms of Quebec politics, which has led to the projects’ location being the subject of power struggles both between the government and the university and within the government.
Why Montreal’s new research hospital is a billion dollars over budget and a decade behind schedule
Late last March, Quebec Premier Jean Charest went to the site where the Université de Montréal’s new teaching and research hospital will eventually be built. Mugging for the cameras, he dug a shovel into a pile of dirt. Finally, a groundbreaking to kick off construction of what has become the province’s most elusive medical facility? Of course not. That ceremony simply marked the start of the research-centre portion of the CHUM, as the project is known to Quebecers. And although officials boasted that it represented “a turning point” in the planned hospital’s tortured history—and while it may have been a relief for the provincial Liberals to see something resembling construction get under way—it’s unlikely many in the province will soon forget the countless delays and cost overruns that have marred the project over the years.
The Charest government promised in 2004 that 2010 would mark the end of the CHUM’s construction, not its beginning. Since then, nearly $1 billion has been tacked onto the original $1.1-billion price tag. And yet, more than 15 years after it was first proposed by Jacques Parizeau’s PQ government, the hospital is nowhere in sight. Revised estimates now put the end of construction at 2019, though the CHUM’s Annie-Carole Martel says the bulk of the work will be done by 2015, when 486 of the hospital’s 772 beds will be operational.
Robert Lacroix, the rector of the Université de Montréal from 1998 to 2005, blames the protracted debate over the hospital’s location for the delays that have turned it into a provincial laughingstock. “It’s inconceivable,” says Lacroix, the co-author of Le CHUM : une tragédie québécoise, published last fall, “that it would take 25 years to build a 700-bed hospital.” Until the Liberals came to power in 2003, the CHUM was destined for a lot in the Rosemont neighbourhood of Montreal, northeast of downtown, and was expected to be completed by 2007. The decision to put it there was made by the Parti Québécois government in 2000. According to Lacroix, there was pressure inside the new Liberal government to put the hospital elsewhere.
In 2004, a government-appointed commission headed by former prime minister Brian Mulroney and former Quebec premier Daniel Johnson gave voice to that pressure, recommending the province build the hospital in the heart of downtown Montreal and push back its deadline for completion to 2010. Lacroix, for his part, promoted a third alternative: an abandoned CP rail yard near the university’s main campus in Outremont, extending the debate over the hospital’s location into 2005. Charest himself was on board with the Outremont site, Lacroix insists, but the premier lost a power struggle inside his government to health minister Philippe Couillard, one of the chief proponents of the downtown site. “It’s a patent case of a project going adrift because of politics,” he says.
Couillard, who left politics in 2008, denied having so much influence in a letter published in La Presse last September. He dismissed Lacroix’s claims as a “sinister conspiracy theory.” One thing, however, is indisputable—the project now ranks among the most unwieldy in the province’s recent history.
Just before Christmas, the Liberal government announced it would push ahead with a controversial plan to have the facility built and operated by a private-sector company, which will be selected in March. Construction can then begin in earnest this spring. That’s the plan, anyway.
In a new course, a Montreal professor equates devotion to the Habs with religion.
Almost every religion has its sacred places of worship. For Tibetan Buddhists, it’s the Jokhang temple at the foot of Mount Gephel in Lhasa; for Hindus, the shrines of Varanasi on the Ganges River in northern India; and according to one professor, the Bell Centre in downtown Montreal for the pious and devoted followers of the Montreal Canadiens.
The idea that the Canadiens are a religious institution, with the Bell Centre serving as its cathedral, came to Olivier Bauer, a theology professor at the Université de Montréal, as a “divine inspiration,” he says, when he first arrived in the city to teach at the faculty of theology and religious studies in 2006. He decided to write a book to explore the subject, The Religion of the Montreal Canadiens, that coincided with the team’s 100th anniversary last year, and he started a course on the subject to further examine Quebec’s century-long bond with the city’s legendary hockey club.
Bauer, who was born in Switzerland and played goal when he attended the Université de Neuchâtel, has some overwhelming evidence to support his assertion. “It starts with the jersey,” he says, “which is often referred to as la Sainte-Flanelle, the Holy Flannel.” He then points to the media and general public in Montreal who often assign religious names to certain players: Guy Lafleur was affectionately known as le Démon Blond (the Blond Demon); Patrick Roy was St. Patrick—until demanding a trade in 1995 got him labelled a heretic; and Carey Price, the team’s young goaltender, is hailed as Jesus Price. The mercurial Andrei Kostitsyn is Frère André.
And who might be God? “Maurice Richard, for sure,” says Bauer, and “Don Cherry is Lucifer because real Habs fans don’t like him. But if they want to be honest, they have to admit that he brings light to the dark world of hockey.” The fans, meanwhile, are the “priests celebrating the liturgy,” some of whom climb Saint Joseph’s Oratory on the northern slope of Mount Royal before important games to pray.
Bauer’s inaugural class last year drew theology students in the pastoral stream along with hard-core Canadiens fans. Taught in three parts, its first section addressed relics. As an example, Bauer points to Maurice Richard, considered by some to be a sort of divine entity possessed of healing qualities. Legend has it that a mute man began to speak after seeing Richard score a goal. The second segment looked at rituals, including whether or not there are similarities between a Canadiens game and a religious mass. (Apparently one student thinks so: he showed Bauer a picture of his living room complete with an altar adorned with pucks, red candles and a miniature Stanley Cup. A seat from the old Montreal Forum is his chair of choice when watching playoff games.) The final section addressed certain pastoral questions, such as: “If I’m in charge of a religious community, how do I deal with the Habs religion?” Assignments ranged from studying media coverage of the team and examining religious metaphors, behaviours and ethics, to drawing links between these religious elements and devotion to the Habs. When the course starts up next semester, Bauer wants to bring in guest speakers to share their own ideas about the Canadiens religion. Don Cherry is tops on Bauer’s list of potential candidates.
Surprisingly, Bauer doesn’t ascribe to the religion of the Montreal Canadiens, despite promoting its existence. “It is a very tribal religion and could be a violent religion because if you are a fan of the Canadiens you have to hate the Bruins or the Leafs, and I don’t think that is a value that religion should promote,” says Bauer, who before coming to Montreal worked as a Protestant pastor in Washington. “I think religion is love and it’s important to remember that you play with someone, not against someone.”
Set for release next month is Bauer’s latest book, A Theology of the Montreal Canadiens, in which he further explores the unfavourable aspects of the Habs religion. In addition to its tribal nature, Bauer feels that it’s too exclusive because only fans who can afford the pricey tickets can attend games, and average players are largely ignored. He also thinks it plays too much into human frailty. “Fans think that performing some rituals will convince God to do exactly what they want,” says Bauer. “I prefer to let God be free to surprise me and give me what I really need.” In June, Bauer will present a paper in Buffalo at an international scholarly conference, Hockey on the Border, where he will argue that the province’s passion for the Canadiens walks a fine line between faith and idolatry.
As for the Canadiens biggest rivals, the Toronto Maple Leafs, Bauer says the faith of their followers is being tested as the team approaches a 43-year Stanley Cup drought. “Cheering for the Leafs,” he adds with a devilish laugh, “is like going to church when you know there is no God.”
Canada’s leading universities want to, but big dreams call for big changes
There’s a paradox to being the president of a large Canadian university: on most days you get to feel more influential and more powerless than most people can imagine.
In next week’s Maclean’s, we’ll talk with the presidents of Canada’s five largest universities about the challenges they face, and what they think needs fixing in our university system. It’s first worth examining, however, just how big a footprint these five make in Canada, and how Canadian universities in general stack up internationally. The institutions in question—the University of British Columbia, University of Alberta, University of Toronto, McGill University, and the Université de Montréal—are an elite bunch. They have nearly 22 per cent of Canada’s undergraduate student enrolment and produce nearly 45 per cent of the country’s doctorates.
There are nearly 100 universities in Canada, depending how you count it, but these five alone receive 46 per cent of all the money Canada’s main granting councils disburse for research every year. They receive an even larger share—47 per cent—of the money the Canada Foundation for Innovation pays to build new labs and research infrastructure.
At their best, Canada’s largest universities—call them the “G5” as they sometimes refer to themselves in private—have shown a dedication to quality, not just quantity. All by itself, the University of Toronto counts 17 of the 27 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences who serve on Canadian university faculties, and nearly half the country’s Gairdner International Award winners and Guggenheim Fellows. The future is built in these institutions.
Which is not to say they are immune to the headaches of the present. First, they face the problem every university president faces, which is that the extent they can be said to “run” anything is open to debate. Universities are highly decentralized organizations dedicated to the free pursuit of knowledge. Almost all their cherished conventions—tenure, peer review, academic freedom—are designed to safeguard against central control. Within the university gates, presidents must contend with faculty associations, student unions, and boards of governors; beyond the gates they are buffeted by the whims of city, provincial and federal governments.
But the challenges of academic administration are eternal, as are the fiats of governments. The bigger, institutional challenges facing Canada’s big five universities could perhaps be divided under two big topic headings.
First, they are hobbled by one-size-fits-all rules and mandates even as they have begun to try to compete, not against other Canadian universities, but against the best in the world.
Second, they have begun to realize that it matters little how well universities perform their role as incubators of new ideas if those ideas never take root in a broader, innovative society.
David Naylor, the deceptively soft-spoken medical researcher who has served as the University of Toronto’s president since 2005, has been a leading spokesman on both sets of issues. In a December 2006 speech to the Women’s Canadian Club of Toronto, he called for Canada to unabashedly seek to have some of the world’s greatest universities. And since they can’t all meet that goal, Naylor said our generic distribution of roles and resources has to end.
Valère serves beer, which is stored next to the impressive selection of Jell-o
Located in Pavillon Jean-Brilliant, a monolithic slab of a building at the base of Mount Royal near Côte-des-Neiges, Chez Valère looks a little like a feeding hall for the Borg: dull, unadorned and utilitarian. Though it was renovated five years ago, Chez Valère remains a product of another time, when cafeterias were replete with stainless steel fridges, metal counters and plastic trays that would come in handy in a jailhouse brawl. The attempts at modernization—primarily the salad bar and sushi options—are successful, if limited.
The caf has two daily specials that are hit and miss: the cumin chicken was surprisingly tangy and flavourful given the pile it came from, while the beef bourguignon had an Alpo-grade texture and taste. Whoever made the pizza managed the dubious feat of making the cheese crustier than the crust itself, which was spongy and damp. Raccoons have likely passed up better pie in dumpsters out back.
Thankfully there’s always poutine. The dish is advertised loud and proud, clogged arteries and swollen guts be damned, and it lives up to its billing. The sauce is thinner without the chunks that doom lesser poutines, and the chefs use real fromage en grains, not the grated variety familiar to most Upper Canadians. Plus, Valère serves beer, which is stored next to the impressive selection of Jell-o. Not coincidentally, the desserts look like they haven’t changed since Duplessis, and are about as appetizing. The good news: everything, even the nasty pizza, is trans-fat free, and only equitable coffee is served.
Valère is university-run and non-profit, which makes it easy on the wallet: the daily special, complete with potatoes and steamed vegetables, goes for just over $5. A hearty helping from the salad bar, which is priced by weight, is about the same. The staff encourages recycling, and will charge you an extra 15 cents to use a paper plate, or five cents for a plastic fork. Considering it has 5,000 visitors a day, that’s a lot less landfill.
— Martin Patriquin