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McKenzie Kibler

Speech and Solidarity

“News also reaches us from all corners of the globe almost as quickly as if we had been eye-witnesses. We are parties to an action practically at the moment it is undertaken. The nerve signals from the wound are felt at once throughout the body of mankind.” – Dag Hammarskjold, Secretary General of the United Nations 1953-1961 in an address to the Foreign Policy Association, New York, 21 October, 1953   Waking up on January 7 I felt as I did when Michael Zehaf-Bibeau terrorized Ottawa on October 22, 2014: focused, alert, attentive to — indeed even trapped within — the news coverage of the attack on satire newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris. I felt the same on December 15, 2014, when Man Haron Monis held 10 people hostage in a Sydney, Australia coffee shop. I felt the same on April 15, 2013, when the Brothers Tsarnaev laid bombs killing 3 and maiming 254 in Boston, Massachusetts. I felt  the same because I watched them unfold live on my TV and laptop screen. Rushing between classes, offices, and my home on October 22, I watched the places I knew so well become part of the national spotlight for the worst reason. I felt the same on January 7 because of those same things sociologist Emile Durkheim concluded 122 years ago: common conscience and solidarity. In the past, I have criticized the notion of solidarity in the West because of divided constituencies and individual choice. Even in seemingly patriotic Canada, regionalism separates us from sea to sea. If you are in another province other than my own, what good will my own protests and ideas do for your own aspirations against your provincial government? It is not only about how my action benefits you, but its symbiotic and symbolic value in… Read More

Obama’s speech

The President of the United States’ vigil on the Sandy Hook elementary school shootings Sunday night was very good, very comforting and very powerful. It listed by name the teachers, calling them heroes, and respected the idealism and strength of youth, the steadfastness of the community of Newtown. It had strong Christian overtones, but they were not unilateral or exclusive.He alluded to Jesus’ protection of children and listed the names of the younger victims. “God has called them all home," he said, before beginning a prayer. In an analogy of raising a child and the difficulties of parenthood, Mr. Obama described the need to impart self-reliance and confidence. However, he focused on the help of a community, a nation, and their responsibilities for every child: "they're all our parents; they are all our children.""Can we truly say as a nation that we are meeting our obligations? Can we honestly say that we are doing enough to keep our children - all of them - safe from live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?...The answer is no."He offers a seemingly simple series of questions: why are we here? What gives our life meaning?In this episode, Obama acts as both a spiritual leader and the president of the United States. In a manner very similar to the expectations on the presidential nominees around the time of Hurricane Sandy’s touchdown on the East Coast of the United States, a politically elected leader has offered comfort and conciliation to a wounded community.                                                                                                  And while the President’s message is spiritual (and his performance as a pastor would likely mirror his electoral success) it is politically opportunistic to speak to the people of Newtown in such a manner. By himself making the statement to the nation, he self-focuses attention when that attention belongs… Read More

Debunking extra-provincial solidarité with the Quebec student movement

The student movement in Quebec, in addition to challenging the government and disobeying emergency legislation has now done something else. Far and wide, it spawned the idea that non-Quebeckers should support the Quebec student movement and even generate their own home-grown political movements.On May 22, as thousands protested in Montreal, small groups marched in “solidarity” in New York and Paris. A group of students at York University in Ontario wrote a letter receiving over 200 signatures to the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS, purporting to represent 500,000 university students), calling for the CFS to engage in a “consistent and serious mobilizing effort to bring the Quebec student movement to the rest of Canada.” Even in Atlantic Canada, students at the University of King’s College sent more red felt squares – the strike’s symbol – to protesters.The question the one must ask is, why would students from the rest of Canada want to join in ‘solidarity’? What do they have to gain?Solidarity can be found in modern political movements (such as Occupy and among Italian Socialists and Communits) and is a prominent theme in French sociologist Emile Durkheim’s 1893 work, The Division of Labour in Society. Durkheim argues that solidarity is a moral phenomenon which depends on mutual consequences for action between two or more persons and relates to the “common conscience”.Thus, only if common cause and benefit exist would students would engage in solidarity.Yet, students should be wary of “cheating”, examined through game theory. Imagine two prisoners caught after robbing a bank. The investigator presents both prisoners with the same bargain: if you renege on your partner, you will go free and he will be condemned. If both prisoners submit, both are damned. If both stay true to each other and keep quiet, the investigator, for lack of evidence, must… Read More

September 19th, a day of nuclear rescindment

At what point did the way states develop weapons become an international concern?Largely throughout history the possibility of violent states creating new weapons has been a concern of other states. The passive feared the use of these new weapons would threaten them militarily, and thus politically, yet there was hardly ever a case of a state seeking to enforce a ban on the creation and evolution of particular weapons for use by another state.True, weapons of a bacteriological and asphyxiating nature have been attempted to be banned and further production thereof halted, by the 1925 Geneva Protocol. Over 130 countries have since ratified this treaty, and although many initially held reservations, nearly all of them have been withdrawn (with the suspicious exceptions of Vietnam, North Korea and India). The institution of banning armaments was forever changed by the first use of a non-conventional weapon.The nuclear age began on July 16th, 1945, when the United States tested the fruits of the Manhattan Project in Alamogordo, New Mexico. The subsequent use of atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought a quick end to the Pacific War – the justification being the cost of the alternative, invading the Japanese mainland, judged to be far greater in terms of potential human losses.Further tension following World War II created mutual distrust of intention. Following realist strategy, each superpower thus sought to strengthen its positions in case of an attack by the other.Nuclear weapons testing went on to expand with the U.S.S.R.’s test explosion of the RDS-1 bomb on 29th August, 1949. With both dominant states enjoying nuclear capabilities, the goal then became to develop a product far superior to the opposition’s. In order to test nuclear weapons, bombs were detonated at an area just above ground level on the mainland, or… Read More

Hudak gets point across in debate, but inexperience shows

Before Tuesday night’s debate even began, I was encouraged to vote for Tim Hudak. In the final minutes of programming preceding the televised debate on a CTV-Ontario station, an advertisement for PC leader Tim Hudak ran, describing how Premier Dalton McGuinty would give higher taxes and fewer jobs and that Mr Hudak would be the saviour of Ontario with lower taxes and more jobs – the perfect combination, it might seem.Moderated by TVO’s Steve Paikin, the debate was to consist of 6 questions best covering those thousands sent in by citizens from across Ontario.The forecast was for McGuinty to play the “premier dad” role, calm and collected, and – in a way – fatherly. Due to the neck-and-neck competition between the Liberal and PC parties in recent polls, which have put them at roughly 35% each, the debate could have been the place for either to break ahead; but Tim Hudak’s inexperience (it was his and NDP leader Andrea Horwath’s first leaders’ debate) sometimes showed, giving some reason to worry whether he could get through it without hurting the PC’s provincial campaign.In light of Mr. Hudak’s ad, I almost expected him to charge right through in the debate, “attack, attack, attack!” and succeed.The debate questions covered:Employment for university and college graduates (and what to do about it);What and where spending cuts would be made;What steps would be put in place to help Ontarians with fixed incomes, but who experience rising costs and taxes;What bold ideas the leaders had (in light of the apparent similarity of their campaigns);What would be done to better support post-secondary student; andWhether leaders might consider a larger role for privatization in the healthcare industry.Hudak opened the debate by discussing his 5-point job creation plan, the problem of apprenticeship candidates moving out west for employment, cutting red… Read More