Clean up political funding

“Companies giving political donations and getting contracts is a problem. The public should be justifiably wary about these kinds of donations,” said York University Professor Robert MacDermid, political science, Faculty of Arts, reports the Ottawa Citizen Jan. 28 in a story about how Ottawa hospital bidders donated to Ontario Health Minister Tony Clement’s failed leadership campaign. “This is another example of why we need to clean up the funding of our political election financing. In this case, it is wrong to have a health minister making decisions which will affect donors to his own political fortunes…. This is not about crude payoffs; it’s about arranging influence and access so that the tender process is approved, drawn up and decided before the public finds out what the terms are.” The story was also carried by the National Post.

Difference of opinion

Two letters to the Toronto Star Jan. 28 carried differing opinions about Daniel Pipes’s invitation to speak at York. Michael Diamond wrote: “There is no doubt that having academics such as Pipes speak, whether we agree or not with their positions, is a critical aspect of not only any valid university, but of any democratic society…. York is to be complimented for taking a position on the matter.” Tariq Amin wrote: “I was appalled by your editorial in support of [Daniel] Pipes’s talk. Your editorial has essentialized the notion of ‘free speech’, ignoring the issues of power, privilege and ideology.”

RRSP-paid houses a double whammy

Canadians are borrowing record amounts of their retirement savings to help finance the purchase of their first homes, reports the National Post Jan. 28. “They could face a double whammy,” said Moshe Milevsky, a professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business. “In a down market, this looks appealing. In two or three years, equities will be back up and house prices will have burst. In 15 years, you have the same $20,000 in your RRSP, while your neighbour who has kept his $20,000 in his RRSP has watched it double.”

Outcome of war unpredictable

“The imminent American war against Iraq is part of the Bush administration’s desire to recast the world,” writes historian Gabriel Kolko, distinguished research professor emeritus at York University, in the Toronto Star Jan. 28. “The war in Iraq is just the beginning and the fundamental issue confronting Ottawa is whether the US should be encouraged to pursue this dangerous, vainglorious route…. The political and social outcome of America’s interventions cannot be predicted…. If Canada stays out of the Iraq war it will not only serve its own vital interests but also those of its vainglorious neighbour.”