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Talk is cheap, but words matter: This week, our bloggers uncover hidden truths in common narratives

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Talk is cheap. This much is obvious, with our culture of mass communication and constant connectivity. But it’s not always right to discount our words simply for their abundance. Too often, the plentiful words of our leaders, institutions, industries, and politicians are used to grease the wheels of privileged projects, obscure human rights abuses, misdirect public attention, or marginalize the voices of those straining to be heard. That’s why this week, our bloggers have investigated some of Canada’s most common narratives and uncovered the truth within.

Yves Engler gets the ball rolling with a look at Canada's atrocious human rights record in many African countries. From mass graves to the shooting of hundreds of villagers, it’s a telling narrative that the Canadian mining industry doesn’t like to share. Of course, to tell a story you need receptive ears, and Canada has been lax about that aspect as well: the Harper government actively opposed legislation that would have allowed international lawsuits against Canadian mining companies.

It's not the only instance where Canada and its allies have turned their backs on the global south. As John Dillon explains, despite our government's rhetoric, we've been equally reluctant to provide developing nations with realistic funding for projects to mitigate climate change. Also building on environmentalism in the lead up to COP21, Brent Patterson critiques the role of the tar sands in Canada's climate change objectives. Though Obama may have vetoed the Keystone, the fight for clean fuels is far from over. In fact, if the CBC is to be believed, the talks might be just the PR break big fossil has been looking for --that's bad news for the rest of us.

Brenna Owen brings us Queen's Pub in Kingston, Ontario, where we chat with a Queens University alumnus who firmly believes tackling climate change just isn't going to happen.  The resulting conversation is a remarkable look at how, even in the light of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, commonly reported misconceptions about Canada's role in combatting climate change continue to thrive in public discourse.

Keeping within the bounds of academia, Graeme Stewart delivers an uncomfortable truth about Ontario's universities: collectively, they have the worst student-to-faculty ratio in Canada. It's all part of a long-overlooked trend that stems from a lack of provincial funding -- and culminates in a sliding educational experience for faculty, staff, and students alike. Undergrads, get ready: with resources stretched to the limit, 100-person classes are popping up like dandelions in springtime.

Finally, we head to British Columbia, where Michael Stewart sheds light on UBC's continued dismissal of reports of sexual assault. Despite repeated complaints about a serial abuser, the university has consistently failed to take action at every level. But why take action when you can simply apologize and move on?

And there you have it, folks. Another week gone, and another few truths uncovered. Yes, talk is cheap upfront. But it has a cost to pay down the road.  

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