Category Archives: Politics

Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Policy Recommendations to Repair Relations between Aboriginals and Canadian Government

Below is a summary of key policy recommendations made recently by the truth and Reconciliation Commission:

  • HEALTH: An acknowledgement that the current state of aboriginal health is a direct result of previous government policies and the implementation of health-care rights for aboriginal people.
  • EDUCATION: The creation and funding for new aboriginal education legislation, which protects languages and cultures and closes the education gap for aboriginal people.
  • JUSTICE: A commitment to eliminate the overrepresentation of aboriginal people in custody and in trouble with the law, along with the collection and publication of data on criminal victimization of aboriginal people.
  • PUBLIC INQUIRY: The creation of a public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls.
  • MONITORING: The creation of a national council for reconciliation, which would monitor and report on reconciliation progress, as well as the introduction of an annual State of Aboriginal Peoples report delivered by the prime minister.
  • LANGUAGE: The government is asked to implement an Aboriginal Languages Act and appoint a language commissioner in order to preserve and promote it.
  • FUNDING: The report calls for $10 million over seven years from the federal government for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
  • COMMEMORATION: The creation of a statutory holiday to honour survivors, their families and communities – and to ensure “public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”
  • MEMORIALS: The report asks for funding for memorials, community events and museums, including a museum reconciliation commemoration program, to be launched in time for Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017.

With files from the CBC.

Your Need-To-Know for Students Voting in the Upcoming Election

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U of T students, did you know that you can vote on campus in the upcoming federal election regardless of your home address? No need to travel home to vote!

(First off, check if you are registered to vote. If not, find more information on registering here.)

As the Elections Canada website states,

  • Advanced polling offices will be open Monday, October 5 to Thursday, October 8.
  • Anyone can use these offices, even if they are temporarily away from their riding (for example, an eligible voter who has moved to a new city to attend university or a student from a different campus).
  • Voting will be by special ballot. Votes will count in the riding where the voter’s home address is located.

At the St. George Campus, here are your poll locations:

University of Toronto Graduate Student Union
Gym and Records Room
16 Bancroft Avenue
Toronto, ON  M5S 1C1
10:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m.
University of Toronto University—Rosedale Returning Office
316 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON  M5S 1W5
10:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m.

To vote, you must provide identification showing your home address. Find the full list of accepted documentation here.

As for students living on residence:

  • You can prove your identity with your student ID card.
  • You can prove your address with any document issued by your school that shows your home address.
  • Ask the residence administrator for a Letter of Confirmation of Residence that says you live there. You can use it to prove your address.
  • Happy voting!

#UofTfeministstrong: Feminists March in Solidarity Against Anonymous Threats


 is now trending on Twitter. This follows a march in solidarity against graphic anonymous  threats made in comments on blogTO against the lives of feminist students and teachers at U of T. A Women’s Studies class at UTM will be cancelled this week following Professor Hae Yeon Choo’s decision to take this time instead for a “moment of serious reflection” surrounding the nature of the threats in relation to past and present discrimination against feminists. Yet as the National Post reported, one student commented on her professor’s decision by saying  “My personal way of protesting (against the violent threats) would be to go to class. I don’t think we should stand down or miss our education for something like this.”

This seems to be the line of thought students at UTSG took to heart today as they rallied along Bloor, Spadina and St. George streets this afternoon. As one spokesperson for the demonstration put it, “Violence that seeks to silence feminist voices cannot and will not succeed in its goals.”

With files from the National Post and CBC.

Hilary Clinton vs Bernie Sanders: A Policy Guide

Your one-stop-shop article comparing the politics and policies of American Presidential candidates Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

With files from

Hilary Clinton

  • Iraq War authorization– supported
  • Wall Street Bailout (TARP)– supported
  • Breaking Up Big Banks-n/a
  • Patriot Act 2001– supported
  • Patriot Act Re authorization 2006– supported
  • Foreign US Military Intervention– supports
  • Trans-Pacific Partnership– supports
  • Death penalty– supports
  • Keystone XL Pipeline– supports
  • 2006 Border Fence Legislation– supported
  • Offshore Oil Drilling– supports

Bernie Sanders

  • Iraq War authorization– opposed
  • Wall Street Bailout (TARP)– opposed
  • Breaking Up Big Banks-supports
  • Patriot Act 2001– opposed
  • Patriot Act Re authorization 2006– opposed
  • Foreign US Military Intervention– opposes
  • Trans-Pacific Partnership– opposes
  • Death penalty– opposes
  • Keystone XL Pipeline– opposes
  • 2006 Border Fence Legislation– opposed
  • Offshore Oil Drilling– opposes

Sana Is Gone – Now What?

Opinions shared in this post belong solely to the author and do not reflect the opinions of the blog.

I’m probably not the only one who was left feeling discontent following last week’s lackluster UTSU election campaign period. We only had one slate running, the debate was so unremarkable that, even after sitting through the whole thing, I had nothing to say about it, and the platform was typical. Team Renew was trying to renew the campus, no doubt, in the same way you would renew a library card. Same books, new card.

I’ve said before that it seems like Team Renew isn’t keen on talking to anyone, especially since they have no real reason to. Well, now someone is talking, and that someone is ex-VP External Candidate, Sana Ali.

Here’s a quick summary of her letter:

  • Her job wasn’t to use her brain (her words), but to fulfill a predetermined set of mandates that haven’t changed much over the years.
  • The team runs supreme, and everyone part of it must find a way to conform, apparently without question.
  • Different opinions will not be tolerated.
  • Most importantly: the people are well-meaning and progressive, but the system is corrupt.

So what does this mean?

Well, first is that there are serious communication issues within our student government. It should be no surprise to most of us that the hottest student politics topic this year is the push for defederation by three colleges and one faculty. The biggest reason for is because many of those college and faculty unions think the UTSU is incompetent and unable to meet their needs (that’s the nicest way I can put it). It’s one thing to have other groups criticizing the big guy, but to have one of their own? That’s huge.

Second, it goes far beyond ideology. She talked about being stifled, and the suffocating nature of groupthink. She talked about how her statements were reviewed, and how everything was submitted by the same person. What she said isn’t anything new, but she was the first to say something about it. By doing so, she exposed the inner party politics that exists within our union. Does this make UTSU any different than any other political body? Or any other organization, for that matter? I don’t think so.

I thought it was very nice of Sana to not point anyone out and criticize people explicitly. As far as I can tell, a major reason why she’s pulling out is that her beliefs didn’t match up with the rest of theirs, and that led to undesirable circumstances. She was kept from talking to her friends and conversing meaningfully during the campaign. But even through all that, she doesn’t name any names. That was very classy of her.

Finally, with all the buzz Sana’s letter is generating, I am hoping that this will get more students interested in how our university works. As harsh as this may sound, this kind of press is exactly the kind of thing that gets people going. Team Renew and UTSU will be forced to address this and, if they don’t, it’s indicative of how our unions are run. I want them to take this chance to really review and think critically about what has happened, and what is wrong with the system.

For Team Renew, I want you to consider just how effective and novel your slate is. Is your platform really a bunch of antiquated mandates, and is there really no plan other than to “work together”? That seems sort of flaky. And are you really not letting your candidates talk to “one of them“? Are you five?

For UTSU and all the bodies under it, I want you to take this opportunity to put it all out in the open. The spotlight is on you now, and if things go the way I think they should go, then more people will be asking questions. Your communication skills are lacking. You need to review your agenda. I know you implemented many suggested changes this year, but most of us don’t know about them, and that’s a problem. If you want to address the discontent that is definitely spreading among our colleges and faculties, that’s the least you can do.

For all defederating student bodies, no doubt you think this as a major victory. It really isn’t. First, if you’re going to defederate anyway, whatever happens with UTSU doesn’t matter to you so you shouldn’t spend your time caring in the first place. If your referenda go through, then focus on making your colleges and faculties a better place, not on rubbing it in the UTSU’s face. Second, if you don’t defederate, then you’re just like the rest of us – we don’t have a VP External. I’m not sure how that will play out but, either way, you’ll be just as worse off as the rest of us.

And to all of you, are you really doing this for us, the students, or are you doing this for your bruised egos, as Sana suggests?

Critical thinking doesn’t mean just being critical of others, but being critical of yourself as well. I dare all of the parties and teams I mentioned about to criticize themselves. Seriously. Can you do it?

There’s this one line Sana wrote that didn’t sit well with me:

The day of the All-Candidate’s Meeting when it was revealed that nobody would be running against the team, I was really upset because I saw it as a massive call for reform. When I brought this up, I was told that it did not mean no-one had faith in the system, it simply meant that people were too lazy to put in the work.

Politics isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Some people just have no interest or are repulsed by politics in general, which is fair. And others, like me, like to talk about it (some much more obnoxiously than others) but would never run for it, and that’s fair too. But the least we can do is listen in once in a while, and maybe question things that our governing bodies are doing. You may not care about it now, but one day they may bring up an issue that will affect you. Show that you care in your own little way. We’re adults now, and this sort of practice will extend to “real world” things, like municipal, provincial, and national elections.

Besides, I resent being called lazy. Don’t you?

This is probably the most exciting thing that has happened during the UTSU elections in the past few years. This is even more exciting than the tragic campus bar. There is no word on what the CRO will do in response to her withdrawal this late in the game. I also have no idea what will happen to that empty position. Perhaps a by-election in the fall? Everything will likely fall in the hands of the CRO and the rulebooks.

Team Renew Doesn’t Seem So Keen

Opinions shared in this post belong solely to the author and do not reflect the opinions of the blog.

Campus was eerily quiet today. So quiet that I had to double check my phone just to make sure today was, in fact, the first day of campaigning for UTSU elections. Gone are the intense poster wars at 7am. Gone are the heated (and albeit slightly hilarious) slogans shouted with vigour in front of Sid Smith. Gone are the UTSU elections.

Okay, not really. No one can get rid of UTSU (trust me, people have tried). Without further ado, let me introduce to you the one the only slate running this year:


Executive Board Candidates:

  • President: Munib Sajjad
  • VP Internal & Services: Cameron Wathey
  • VP External: Sana Ali
  • VP Equity: Yolen Bollo-Kamara
  • VP University Affairs: Agnes So

There are two familiar names up there. Both Munib and Yolen are current UTSU VPs of University Affairs and Campus Life, respectively. Everyone else are rookies to UTSU politics, so how those candidates do remains to be seen. One thing is for sure, with two international students running, Renew is using the diversity card to push their tuition agenda.

Chances are, you didn’t know we had UTSU elections this year. That’s okay! Don’t feel bad. You probably aren’t the only one. With the way campaigning week is starting off, you probably won’t be hearing much about it anyway. This is my fourth U of T election, and so far it has been my quietest.

An election is only as engaging as the parties running. It serves both legislative and entertainment purposes. What I mean by that is, an election decides the fate of legislative directions for the coming term, but it is only as interesting as the personalities in the race. In past years, the general formula has been an “incumbent” vs “opposition” race. Slate go head to head over issues they think are relevant to U of T (incumbent) or try to take down The Man (opposition). While voter turnout has always been low at our university, there was at least a buzz on campus. Candidates used to campaign in major campus hubs, and students going to and from class would get at least one pamphlet during the week.

Since Renew is the only slate running, it seems like they have taken the half-assed approach to campaigning. And why shouldn’t they? Why should they put in the same amount of work as previous years if they’re going to win anyway, right? At this point, all executive positions will be filled. Most of the Board of Director positions – with the exception of Trinity, of course – have been acclaimed, meaning that the people running are guaranteed positions on the board. Renew’s website wasn’t up until the afternoon, and as of March 4, 9:15pm their Twitter account is still locked and inactive. The link to their Facebook Page from their website doesn’t work. Once found, it doesn’t really tell us much.

Perhaps I am being too nitpicky about their PR strategy. But think of it this way: with horrible PR, how are they supposed to get the word out? You haven’t got a campaign if no one follows it. I get it though. There’s not point in actually campaigning when there’s no one running against you. It’s practical. It’s pragmatic. And most of all, it tells you just how much Renew wants students to know about their platform.

That isn’t to say Renew is going to sweep the board. Acclaimed positions undergo a “confirmation vote”, meaning that students can vote Yes or No. If enough people vote No or cast an empty ballot, these positions will remain vacant until someone more suitable fills it. So, as decisive as this year’s elections may seem, things can still change at the turn of a dime.

We should know about our student union. It can be as simple as learning about what services and platforms each new executive team has to offer.  Look for these candidates and talk to them. Clearly, they aren’t going to talk to you. It is up to us as U of T students to step up and put running candidates on the spot.

As always, I encourage anyone and everyone to comment and share their opinions. I will be posting my thoughts here on blogUT throughout the election period, so look out for them! If you would like to contact me or you have a tip you want me to talk about, comment below or tweet me at @cjyc23.