Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Barry Lazar Presentation ~ Assignment

250-word article on Barry Lazar presentation

Sikander Ziad Hashmi
Jour 201, Concordia University

War and elections – there’s nothing more editorial cartoonists Aislin and Chapleau could ask for. That just one of the many facts Concordia’s first year journalism students learned last Tuesday.

The guest at the weekly series of Tuesday conferences was Barry Lazar, co-producer of “Nothing Sacred”, a NFB/ONF documentary focused on the Gazette’s Aislin (Terry Mosher) and La Presse’s Chapleau (Serge Chapleau). It explores the role of the artists as journalistic court jesters.

Lazar began by explaining the documentary-making process. He said that each documentary is unique in the approach it ends up taking.

In his 14 years of making documentaries, he has yet to use the same approach twice, said Lazar.

After about 10 revised proposals, the NFB/ONF finally approved the required $100 000 in funding.

Following the introduction, students were treated to a screening of the film, about half of which was in French with English subtitles.

Since the documentary is centered on Aislin and Chapleau, it brought to light many of their human qualities that aren’t apparent through their drawings. Students learned about Mosher’s life crisis, as well as his and Chapleau’s feelings towards the politicians they often ridicule.

Another mystery that was solved was how Mosher got the penname “Aislin”. It turns out that it’s his daughter’s name. She too is featured in the documentary.

One of the most interesting aspects of the documentary is that Lazar managed to interview some of the politicians that the cartoonists often depict. He was able to present their feelings about the depictions.

After the screening, Lazar took questions from students, which brought some interesting facts to light, such as the fact that aides for Stephane Dion (who Chapleau always characterizes as a rat) didn’t respond to Lazar’s repeated efforts to include him in the documentary.

Quebec Municipal Mergers/Demergers ~ Assignment

250-word write-up on Quebec municipal mergers/demergers

Sikander Ziad Hashmi
Jour 201, Concordia University

In January 2002, 212 Quebec municipalities were forced to merge into 42 new cities by the then-PQ government.

Referred to as ‘forced fusions’ by opponents, the move was opposed by many who thought the level of services they were receiving would diminish as a result of larger municipalities. Proponents predicted savings due to amalgamation of duplicate administrative positions and coordination of services.

The government’s move was unpopular, as was demonstrated by the defeat of the PQ at the hands of Jean Charest and the Liberals in April of 2003. Although he had supported the mergers, Charest had promised to hold ‘demerger’ referendums to give citizens a chance to reclaim their former cities.

After seven months, the government passed Bill 9 and set the rules for demerger. It called for a minimum of 10 percent of eligible voters to sign a register in a (former) municipality to trigger a referendum. 89 former municipalities garnered enough signatures to hold a vote. The referendum was set for June 20, 2004.

In the vote, 32 former municipalities (15 in Montreal) voted to demerge, despite the tough conditions laid out in Bill 9. Instead of a 50 per cent plus 1 formula to decide the winner, the bill stated that for a former municipality to demerge from the megacity, more ‘yes’ votes must be cast and their number must be equal to or greater than 35 per cent of eligible voters.

Although Charest had warned that the municipalities would not go back to their former state, break-up negotiations are now on-going and the demergers will become reality on January 1, 2006.