York University

Pat Quinn, 1943–2014

Mural by Rick Cordeiro

Hamilton native and York University alumnus Pat Quinn played nine seasons in the NHL as a defenceman, first as a Maple Leaf, before retiring due to an ankle injury. Quinn then shifted gears to coaching, first with the Flyers, the Kings, the Canucks, the Maple leafs, and then the Oilers. Twice coaching teams to the Stanley Cup finals, Quinn’s Canucks famously defeated in five games the 1993-94 Maple Leafs, arguably the strongest Leafs line up since 1967. Of course, Quinn made up for that by leading Team Canada to Olympic gold in 2002. Quinn would win golds again at the World Cup (’04), IIHF U18 (’08), IIHF U20 (’09).


re: Can you afford to be a writer?

Can you afford to be a writer?” by Deborah Dundas (Toronto Star)

IMHO, even if the book market in Canada wasn’t as small as it was, the average writer in Canada would still be paid less than the minimal wage because even in Britain and the US the average writer is also paid beneath the minimum (see: Alison Flood’s “Authors’ incomes collapse to ‘abject’ levels“).

Then again, it could be argued that the average English language writer simply doesn’t write enough.

My two favourite living Canadian writers are Barbara Gowdy and Miriam Toews. Both are popular award-winning novelists. However neither publishes that much.

Toews, a hilarious and insightful writer, has only published a full-length novel on average of every 2–3 years. Gowdy, meanwhile, hasn’t published a novel since 2007. And before The English Patient was published, Michael Ondaatje, then an established poet and two-time novelist, spent nearly twenty years teaching English at York University. Of those decades, 16 of those years separate Ondaatje’s  first book and his third, the one that made him internationally famous.

On the other hand, many top tier writers wrote constantly during their career. Mordecai Richler wrote constantly: novels, short stories, essays, book reviews, he even had columns in both The Gazette and The National Post. And Richler did this though his novels and children’s stories were annual bestsellers and were adapted to film. Meanwhile Yukio Mishima, the most successful Japanese writer of his time and a man of Balzacian energy, published two full-length novels, 4–12 short stories, a full-length play, several one act plays, essays, newspaper articles, and gave lectures from his twenties to his forties, every year.

Quals and Comps

For some reason, I received in my email PDFs of the questions for the PhD qualification exams in my department. I went through those questions and I found them laughably easy. (Perhaps, they were only practice questions?) Ever the procrastinator, I considered doing one of them right then and there to simply make three hours disappear.

Obviously, it is not a question of intelligence that I am barred from the PhD program in my department. Nor is it a question of skill. Speaking for the Canadian politics section, which I was a part of—and because a Canadian-born person like myself would be naturally concerned with Canadian politics—non-official reasons would disqualify me from getting a PhD and actually getting a job in my field. That is, there are one or two people in charge of the Canadian politics section in my department who ignorantly and openly believe that the only Chinese-Canadians who have clean clothes and who are fluent in English must be super-wealthy foreigners who must be punished for being “super-wealthy foreigners.”

But even then for these people, a Chinese-Canadian’s English fluency is a fake, a fraud, and is unfair. That fluency and learned talent is unfair for gatekeepers because they believe, like many insulated and ignorant whites, that English language fluency among minorities is something borne out of imitationunfair wealth-accumulation, and swindle, rather than hard work or inspiration. That such institutional gatekeepers will openly resort to the same swindle and bullying via their wealth or power—through a denial of services and privileges—that they falsely perceive others have committed are indicative not just of their racism, but of their mental illnesses.

To further underline this, when I openly brought up these charges and my supporting evidence, the administration censored me and then found some rich token Asian guy to replace me.

While certain racist institutional gatekeepers might not like how certain Chinese-Canadians who grew up on the dole/welfare and unemployment insurance can write with class, eloquence, grace, and with righteous indignation—like Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, F. Scott Fitzgerald or Voltaire—rest assured, that while those poor people can be crushed, or killed, or crushed into a poverty worst than their parents’ either here or back in the old country, they will be heard, eventually and nonetheless for the truth will always out.

Nay, indeed, if you had your eyes, you might fail of
the knowing me: it is a wise father that knows his
own child. Well, old man, I will tell you news of
your son: give me your blessing: truth will come
to light; murder cannot be hid long; a man’s son
may, but at the length truth will out.

from The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, 1596

To M.K. (Nov. 29, 2012)

In response to a flurry of assaults perpetrated against York University students at Keele Campus in the Fall and Winter of 2012, several students took to Facebook to discuss the issue. Some students criticized the communities of Jane and Finch for the assaults. Other students decried the lack of Toronto Police presence at the campus. Some students even argued that York University should fortify itself from the surrounding communities. However, I disagreed and I too took to Facebook to make my thoughts clear.

I will also point out that before this correspondence and the subsequent solidarity protest, no official news organ of York University or its president had addressed the issue in all of its variations and its vicissitudes. Likewise, the largely independent student newspaper, Excalibur, which I was a volunteer of at the time, was largely silent on the crisis. Why? I don’t know.

I did find it strange that Excalibur didn’t give me a regular column after the affair.