September 13, 2016
I have to dig deeply into my bag of newspaper clippings to find articles that go back to my 1970 s days when I was writing for The Uniter, the University of Winnipeg’s student newspaper.
Don’t get me wrong. I wrote a lot of articles for this paper during the school year of 1978 to 1979. I just didn’t save many of them. I had not yet realized the significance writing would have in my life so I did not clip and save too many of them.
The article I am sharing with you here is related to the movement in Quebec to separate from Canada. I wrote that last sentence in the present tense because, surprisingly enough, there is still a significant number of the Quebec population who want to leave the country.
What is different is that back then those who championed the movement tended to be left leaning working class and liberal people. Today, those Quebecois who want the province to become its own country tend to be more right-wing business people.
Here is the story from 1979:
January 31, 1979
Exposure: Intent and result incongruent
by Tanya Lester
Some members of the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association (UWSA) feel the original intent and the final result of last week’s Exposure were incongruent.
“Exposure will provide a genuine open forum where the various points of view can be discussed,” Barry Weisleder, Exposure program director, was quoted as saying in the University of Winnipeg’s Inside Info pamphlet. Weisleder was hired by the UWSA to organize Exposure.
But, during the week Shelley Greschuk, Director at Large (DAL), questioned Weisleder wearing a ‘Defend Quebec’s Right to Independence’ button throughout the week. “He should have remained apolitical,” said Greschuk.
When questioned about the button, Weisleder replied, “If the festival expressed anything this is what it expressed.”
“Quebec as a nation has the right to independence,” said Weisleder. He added that he had worn the button to make the speakers “feel more at home.”
Although the UWSA did , not define the nature of Exposure, Harvey Thorleifson, UWSA president, said, “I’m sure people assumed it would support Canadian unity.”…..
(Paragraph missing as the article was torn.)
Weisleder said that at any time before Exposure he was open to and took suggestions from anyone who approached him. He used as an example, the person who came to him wishing to have a speaker talk on the subject of Jews in Quebec. This resulted in the bringing in of Abe Arnold to talk on ‘Quebec Jewry’.
Some students expressed negative feelings about the number of Revolutionary Workers League (RWL) speakers.
“It looks like there may have been bias,” said Thorleifson, ‘but I can’t say because it was Barry (Weisleder) who did the research.”
Weisleder said only four out of the forty-one speakers at Exposure were RWL party members. He said there were other leftist parties, such as the members from the Communist and NDP parties, and other parties represented at the forum.i
“The operative Principle (at Exposure) was freedom of speech,” said Weisleder.
When asked about the question periods, which, after several speakers were disrupted by members of the RWL and various Communist parties, Thorleifson said, “I had the feeling it was overdone but maybe it was justifiably so.” He added that perhaps it was the fault of other people in the audience who refrained from asking other speakers questions.
” A form like this is a people’s ( torn newspaper),” said Weisleder. He said people who weree offended by the question periods, were used to “Chamber of Commerce” and “non-democratic” kind of forums.
On last Thursday evening, some UWSA members asked Weisleder to remove the posters he had put up for Armand Vaillancourt, who spoke on ‘Behind the Crisis of October, 1970’. Translated into English, Greschuk said the posters read ‘Free the political prisioners of Quebec.’ The UWSA members wanted the posters taken down because they did not reflect the organization’s views.
Sheila Palmquist, UWSA business manager, said Weisleder informed her that Vaillancourt would not speak if the posters were removed and there “was a possibility the speaker would use his influence to have other events cancelled.”
As a compromise, chairperson Hart Schwartz told the audience the UWSA was not responsible for the posters after introducing Vaillancourt.
“I was dismayed that anyone could object to putting up the banners,” said Weisleder. He felt the incident was an attempt at “a kind of petty censorship.”
There was also confusion about the setting up of tables during Exposure. Greschuk, who is also a Young Liberal member, said “Barry (Weisleder) gave us such a hassle about being there.” She was refering to the table she set up, for her party, at the festival.
Also, Sarah Edwards, from the Canadian Unity Information office based in Ottawa, questioned the fact that her table was located at the far east of Lockhart Hall.
“From what I could see that was not a big traffic area,” said Edwards, “I was questioning it.”
Weisleder said the “tables were assigned on a first come first serve basis.” He said the National Unity group was the last organization that applied for a spot, which was the reason for its location in Lockhart Hall. When other groups did not set up tables in their allotted spots, Weisleder allowed the National Unity table to be moved.
Palmquist said the worst complaints she received from students “was the fact the pamphlets and newspapers were sold on campus.” The UWSA has a clause in its constitution prohibiting soliciting on campus for monetary gain.
“I expect as a result of this we will be reviewing our regulations on groups setting up tables,” said Thorleifson.
When asked about future Exposure festivals, Palmquist replied, “The lesson the UWSA lealearrned would be to have a formalized system of authorization.”
Tanya’s other posts on this blog can be viewed by going to tealeaf56.wordpress.com and writingsmall.wordpress.com
She is also a psychic, specializing in tea leaf readings and tarot, as well as a housesitter and a reiki master. Her website is teareading.wordpress.com and she has pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and Twitter. Her email is email@example.com and her cell phone is 250-538-0086
She is the author of four books: Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader, Friends I Never Knew, Dreams and Tricksters and Women Rights/Writes.