Apologies + video

January 27, 2007

Apologies to everyone that expected the regular posts on here this past week. For different reasons I haven’t been able to post; a few other commitments, and then I was in Boston for a couple of days. I should be posting regularly now, however.

And just for fun, here’s what the “other commitments” sometimes involve. I’m the one playing bass:

Update: For those interested, I’ll be posting more of these kinds of video posts over at a new blog, Bitter Music.


Nick Primiano faces FACE

January 16, 2007

Montreal, Quebec — Former FACE school principal Nick Primiano met with FACE students, teachers, and parents at Christ Church Cathedral on Monday night. The event, organized by SOS FACE, was the first opportunity for members of the school’s community to speak to Primiano since his suspension in September and his subsequent resignation in November.

Having signed a confidentiality agreement with the Commission Scolaire de Montréal (CSDM), Primiano gave the best explanation he could, by providing anecdotes from his encounters with school board officials over the years. The most notable example was a phone call that the then-principal received from a CSDM functionary concerning media reports of parents camping outside the school to register their children there. Primiano expected a word of congratulations, but instead was chastised for creating a “spectacle” that left “people with questions.”

Alluding to the allegations brought against him by the CSDM, the former principal did not deny bending rules when it came to administering the school.

“Want to find me guilty of putting the students first? No problem…Sure, I didn’t respect some rules,” said Primiano. “Nobody can say that I didn’t serve the students.”

Addressing his November 1 resignation, Primiano provided three reasons for the decision: age, family and the school’s best interest. At age 54, and near the end of his career, Primiano didn’t feel he had the health to fight a court battle which would take several years to complete; it would also put FACE in limbo, if his situation continued to be unresolved. He also felt that his presence at the school was doing more harm than good, with the CSDM often targeting him for what he was doing with “his” school, as officials often put it.

Sylvie Tremblay, who had served on the school’s governing board for several years, supported Primiano’s claims, saying that the school faced daily battles with the school boards.

When asked by reporters about the CSDM’s suspension and the charges of wrongdoing which he accepted as part of his agreement with the CSDM, Primiano dismissed them as ridiculous. According to Primiano, an inventory that is not up-to-date is not uncommon for a school the size of FACE. As far as the budget of the school’s daycare program is concerned, the school’s daycare usually runs a surplus; last year it was around $43 000 CDN.

“Principals use those surpluses differently. Some during a year, some at the end of the year…Apparently there’s a rule that you can’t touch it until the end of the year,” said Primiano.

When the evening concluded, the former principal thanked all present and reminded students that the school belonged to them, the teachers, and the parents who volunteer a reported 3000 hours during the school year. He was also optimistic about the new administration and the potential for FACE to reach new heights.

Montreal, Quebec — FACE School’s former principal Nick Primiano will be addressing FACE students and parents this Monday, followed by a Q&A session. The event will take place at the corner of Ste-Catherine and University streets at Christ Church Cathedral at 6PM.

Despite students’ and teachers’ requests, the Commission Scolaire de Montréal (CSDM), which administers the school, has refused to allow the popular principal to address his former students at the school.

This fall, Primiano was suspended by the CSDM under dubious and secretive circumstances, and later resigned.

A group of FACE parents and alumni, dubbed SOS F.A.C.E., is organizing the event. Created after Primiano’s suspension, SOS F.A.C.E. has been active in monitoring CSDM practices vis-à-vis FACE, as members believe that the suspension — and Primiano’s subsequent resignation — may be part of the CSDM’s larger agenda for reforms at the bilingual arts-driven school.

In its thirty year history, FACE has had only two principals, founder Philip Baugniet and Nick Primiano. After Primiano’s resignation, former vice-principal Christine Besson was appointed as the school’s principal.

For more, see F.A.C.E. School: Principal Suspended or visit SOS F.A.C.E..

Montreal, Quebec — On Wednesday, three Montreal organizations called on Canadian media and the Canadian government to look at the situation in Lebanon objectively. Tadamon! Montreal, Al Hidaya Association and the Council of Lebanese Canadian Organizations (COLCO) held a joint press conference explaining the situation in Beirut.

Speakers for the groups stressed that contrary to media coverage, the popular uprising is not a coup, but is an attempt to form a national unity government, which would accommodate different factions. Moreover, the protest is not a Hezbollah-only enterprise, with Hezbollah representing only a third of protesters.

“We hear about Hezbollah demonstrations, but Hezbollah makes up only a fraction of opposition forces. One of the major forces in the opposition coalition is the CPL which is a laic group largely supported by Christians,” said Ziad Najjar of COLCO.

The groups denounced Canada’s unambiguous support of the Siniora government, saying Canada should stay out of Lebanon’s internal politics and let Lebanon decide its own fate. May Hayder of Al Hidaya spoke of a double standard vis-à-vis Lebanon, comparing the movement in Lebanon to the Cedar Revolution and the Orange Revolution. “On Sunday the 10th…2 million people clogged central Beirut and all the roads and bridges that lead to it,” said Hayder. “Over 40 percent of the population was on the streets — much larger than the ones which toppled their governments in Georgia and Ukraine.”

Finally, Tadamon! Montreal made available a poll by Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, which indicated that 73.1% of the Lebanese population desire a national unity government.

Quebec, Canada — Much was made of newly-elected Liberal Party leader Stephane Dion’s reputation in Quebec. Having authored the Clarity Act which makes it harder for Quebec to separate from Canada, the former Environment Minister has enjoyed popularity in English Canada and criticism in Quebec.

However, an Angus Reid poll shows that Canada’s Liberal party is barely behind separatist Bloc Quebecois in the province. The Bloc leads Quebec with 37% of the vote, with the Liberals at a close second with 35%. It is notable to mention that in January’s federal election, the Bloc had received 42.1% of the vote.

The poll goes to show that Quebec’s separatist ambitions may be changing, as Dion’s election as head of the Liberal Party do not seem to have put a dent in the party’s popularity in Quebec. In fact, the poll can be seen as a success for the Liberals, as the scandal-laden party was far behind the Bloc in January.

The Angus Reid polling also follows a much-publicized Conservative motion passed in the House of Commons which recognized Quebec as a nation within a united Canada. At an announcement in Montreal on November 24, Conservative leader Stephen Harper said the Bloc’s raison d’être was defeated with the motion, because the Bloc had for years demanded the recognition of Quebec’s unique status within Canada.

Montreal, QC — British artist Victor Burgin is in town to launch Voyage to Italy, an exhibition which was commissioned by the Canadian Centre for Architecture. For the exhibition, Burgin took an 1860 photograph of the Basilica at Pompeii by Charles Fratacci as his point of departure. Burgin went back to the Basilica and took his own photographs recreating the ruins at Pompeii and the remains of the Basilica. He also put those photographs together into a video and added a narrative. Below is an interview I conducted with Victor Burgin on the eve of the exhibition’s opening:


Tonight at 6PM the CCA is hosting a free event, which will have Victor Burgin and Hubertus von Amelunxen speak about the formal and conceptual framework and the implications of Voyage to Italy.

The exhibition starts today and runs through March 25, 2007.

Montreal, QC — Quebec Premier Jean Charest was in Montreal today to announce the government’s initiative to spend an additional 888 M$ on research an innovation. Development Minister Raymond Bachand explained that the government’s new strategy is meant to ensure that research can be brought to a commercial market which can then compete with the growing economies, like that of China and Alberta.

“Quebec is doing good, better than the average. But this is today,” said Charest alluding to the strategy’s goal of creating future growth in Quebec’s economy.

The strategy is based on the idea that the strength of Quebec’s economy is in its high-tech exports. With a population of 7.6 million, Quebec is certainly not a big domestic market nor does it have the population numbers to be a manufacturing leader. Thus, the funding announced is aimed at getting researchers into the marketplace. The aeronautic sector was given as an example of Quebec leadership.

The spending announced includes grants for researchers, funding of research infrastructures (including equipment and buildings) as well as tax credits for companies doing research. It also includes money for Quebec’s student population with 32 M$ in bursaries for Masters, Doctorate and Post-Doctorate candidates.

“The policy comes too late in Charest’s government’s mandate. The strategy contains interesting measures for students, but it lacks a part for humanities and social sciences,” said Philippe-Olivier Giroux, President of CNCS-FEUQ. The president of the Graduate Students’ wing of the Quebec Federation of University Students (FEUQ) also said that the money announced was too little because Charest’s government had cut bursary spending for several years in a row.