Speakers On Campus
‘Violence is Not A
Senator Anne Cools Speaks on Conjugal Violence
Canadian Senator Anne Cools spoke to Concordia University students on Oct. 22, seeking to “expose the reality of domestic violence” by eliminating stereotypes of men being the primary abusers of women in conjugal disputes.
“Violence is not a gender characteristic,” Cools said before the speech. “It is not the patriarchy at work—it is the pathologies of intimacy and intimate relationships.”
The Senator, who does not consider herself a feminist, said she believes in the equality of the sexes, and contended that much of the legislation about domestic violence favours women—a stance that has put her at odds with feminist groups across Canada.
Notably in a speech she gave on International Women’s day in 1995, the senator said, “Behind every abusing husband is an abusing mother.” This comment, she said, “broke the dam” in upholding women as passive victims of abuse.
The backlash Cools received from women’s rights groups tested her resolve as a politician, but the senator did not back down from her opinion. Instead, she cited studies that showed, in child abuse cases, that women are more often abusive than men.
These findings were central to her mission to change the way Canadian courtrooms and police handle domestic violence, and helped pave the way for programs like marriage counseling.
Cools contended during the speech that understanding the complexity of family relationships is essential before an intervention or legal action is taken on a specific case of violence. She added that years of social work allowed her to see “a spectrum of different causes” behind domestic disputes.
“We are better off to look at the dynamics [of the intimate relationship] to understand domestic disputes, rather than impose a one-solution-fits-all approach,” she said to the crowd of roughly 50 students who came to see her speak.
Through her social work with many couples over the years, Cools believes that an “interventionist approach” is more successful than “simply arresting one person and charging them.”
A forerunner for bringing domestic violence into the open for public discussion, Cools said she wanted to change the phenomena of domestic violence being “seen as a private matter.”
Since her appointment to the Senate in 1984 by Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Cools has fought to eliminate policies like “zero tolerance” that favour the woman’s story and push for convictions of the male partner.
“I think this is a topic that is not discussed at Concordia,” said Marvin Coleby, president of the Concordia Caribbean Student Union, whose organization invited Cools to speak.
Cools was born in Barbados in 1943 and moved to Canada at the age of 14. She was the first Caribbean-Canadian ever appointed a seat in the Senate.
Talk, Talk, Talks
Host of Daily Planet Addresses Sustainability
“Tell people something they know already and they’ll thank you for it. Tell them something new and they’ll hate you for it.”
This is how Daily Planet host Jay Ingram summed up his speech on sustainability last Wednesday in the Hall Building’s H-110 auditorium.
Ingram has hosted the Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet for the past 15 years. Prior to that, he hosted CBC Radio’s Quirks and Quarks science show from 1979-91. Ingram holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alberta in microbiology, as well as a master’s degree from the University of Toronto.
Ingram spoke of the “actual data” of climate change before a crowd of several hundred Concordia students. He said that when it comes to climate change, people employ what’s called confirmation bias. People, he said, will find a way of making a research paper’s findings confirm their own beliefs rather than letting the paper speak for itself.
Scientists would like to think that everyone would believe global warming if they just understood all the information, but that’s not necessarily the case, said Ingram.
“You could dump data on someone with nauseam,” he said. “And they still wouldn’t end up agreeing with you.”
Ingram’s speech was a collaborative effort between the Concordia Student Union and the Arts and Science Federation of Associations to help promote Green Week.
The CSU is organizing an additional three Green Weeks, with each week featuring a new speaker.
Chad Walcott, the ASFA Vice-President of External Affairs and Sustainability who organized the speech, did it in an effort to expand on something his predecessor Adrien Severyns started last year. “I figured I’d expand on that and take it further and touch on things. Not only just a general idea of sustainability, but also touching on things like water, air and earth quality,” he said.
Ingram said he was happy with the CSU’s plan to ban water bottles on campus.
“Most and maybe all municipal water supplies in Canadian cities are perfectly good,” said Ingram. “Why would you take the equivalent of that and put it in a bottle? It makes no sense to me.”
In his 45-minute speech, Ingram touched on a few key issues involving the acceptance of new ideas for
sustainable technologies. The evening’s reccurring theme, however, was evaluating sources on information
involving climate change. To prove his point, Ingram spoke of an experiment where he concluded that “people don’t use the source for the consistency of an argument or the liability of the data.”
Ultimately, according to Ingram, people are hearing what they want to hear.
This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 11, published October 26, 2010.