York doesn’t tolerate racism

Richard Fisher, York University’s chief communications officer, responds to criticisms made in The Jewish Tribune’s March 13 issue about York following an anti-war protest. In a letter to the editor March 26, he says in part: “York University does not tolerate acts of racism or assault against Jewish students or any other members of our community. York has always and will always welcome people of all nations and creeds. The students cited in your article have now come forward to the University in the last few days and made their complaints relating to the events of March 5…. The University is now in a position to conduct a thorough investigation with the full cooperation of the complainants. If their allegations are upheld, those concerned will be held to account for their behaviour. The University is quite willing to shoulder its responsibilities for ensuring free speech and tolerance as was shown during the Daniel Pipes speaker event. Nothing has changed.”

Dishonest “racism” charges

Concerning Neil Braganza’s letter (NOW, March 20-26) on the setting of “security” fees for events at York. “Graduate student and OCAP agitator Braganza must think poorly of NOW readers if he expects us to believe his absurd charges against York,” writes reader George Cook in a letter in the current issue of NOW Magazine. “The liberal left is very active at York and on other Toronto university campuses…. Dishonest charges of “racism” linked to meaningless accusations of “corporatization” form one of their most demagogic ploys. But students and university workers aren’t falling for it; we know when agitprop outfits such as OCAP, International Socialists, New Socialists and the like are trying to manipulate us.”

Canuck navy may yet fight

While Canada has not explicitly endorsed the war in Iraq, its naval presence in the area may wind up backing the US and British effort as part of a separate mandate, says Martin Shadwick, defence analyst at the York Centre for International & Security Studies, reports The North York Mirror March 26. “Our government was enthusiastic to go back into Afghanistan to command peacekeeping forces there,” he said. “That way, they could tie up the army and if the US came to them for help, they could say there wasn’t an army to send as they were already engaged.”

Forum at York tackles issue of mixed ethnicity

York University student Serena Thomas and graduate Steve Simpson are taking steps to give a voice to those who are doubly marginalized due to the fact their parents each come from a different race or culture, reports The North York Mirror March 26 in a story about difficulties faced by those of mixed ethnicity. They have organized a workshop titled “Breaking the Silence: The Politics of the ‘Mixed’ Experience”, to allow people from all backgrounds to come together, learn and share their stories. “There has always been a silence because people don’t discuss what it means to be mixed,” Thomas said. “Racial discussions are often polarized into a black and white issue.” Discrimination often comes from all sides. “Some people, for instance, are told that they’re not black enough if they grew up in a white area or if they don’t speak in certain ways.”

Anti-terrorism bill an “instrument of racism”

“Bill C-36 is a direct result of Sept. 11 and is an instrument of racism, just as racial profiling is. How is that acceptable in a democratic society? It’s incredibly intrusive,” Grace-Edward Galabuzi, a York University doctoral candidate, told an anti-racism forum, reports The Scarborough Mirror March 26. He said minorities are particularly vulnerable to the federal government’s anti-terrorism bill, which he said restricts their freedoms.

Scare talk

“There’s been a lot of talk from various people about the possibility of American retaliation against us for the position we’ve taken on Iraq,” writes James Laxer, political science professor at York University, in a letter to NOW Magazine. “Frankly, when it comes to the economy, I just think that’s scare talk. In a number of areas where we have problems with the US, like softwood lumber, they haven’t been doing us any favours anyway…. The argument that the US has been a great neighbour to us when we have been threatened is just total nonsense. The Americans have pushed for the advantage in every single dispute they’ve ever had with us.”

White House spin gets a C

“The administration’s propaganda coming out of the White House has been, at best, about a C or C-plus. It’s incredibly sophomoric and naive,” says Garth Jowett, director of the School of Communication at the University of Houston and a York University grad, in a Toronto Star story March 27 on the propaganda war between Iraq and the US. He says the White House Web page qualifies as “propaganda” (as would Iraqi newscasts urging resistance or showing PoWs) but stresses that he defines the word as a “neutral technique” that can be used, positively or negatively, to influence how people think. The problem, he says, is that Washington’s approach has lacked the kind of sophistication he would expect at this level. He also says, from a propaganda perspective, that could be a double-edged sword. “Unless there is a strong modicum of truth to what you’re saying, you will eventually be found out and that will shoot down your whole credibility.”

Grants to boost robot research

Precarn Inc., a national consortium of corporations, research institutes and government partners supporting the development of robotics and intelligent systems (IS) technologies, says it will provide $1 million in scholarships over three years to 57 graduate students working on robotics and IS projects at Canadian universities, including York, reports The Globe and Mail March 26. The funds will be channeled through the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Systems (IRIS), a federally funded Network of Centres of Excellence (NCE) managed by Precarn.

MBA grad heads Scotiabank

Rick Waugh, who earned an MBA from York University, has been elected director of Scotiabank following his appointment as president of the bank in January, reports the National Post March 27. Waugh has risen through the ranks since he joined Scotiabank in Winnipeg in 1970.

Helen Johns handles post with flair

Helen Johns, Ontario’s first female minister of agriculture and food and a York grad, has demonstrated that a touch of feminine glamour, blue-ribbon academic credentials and an ability to compromise are a pretty good mix in the portfolio, reports The Ottawa Sun March 27. The news was that farmers were breathing easier, because she had stepped back from the Nutrient Management Act implementation schedule.

On air

  • James Porter, York University sociologist, discusses the strength of the anti-war movement and whether or not it is having an impact, on “Stafford” (CHED-AM), Edmonton, March 25.
  • Daniel Drache, political science professor at York University, discusses Canada-US relations and Canada’s position on Iraq, on “The Bill Good Show” (CKNW-AM), Vancouver, March 26.
  • Fred Lazar, business professor at York University, comments on the federal government’s promise of a financial bail-out for Air Canada, on “Morning Edition” (CITV-TV), Edmonton, March 26.
  • Sylvie Arend, political science professor at York University, comments on Ontario Premier Ernie Eves’s decision to present the budget outside of the legislature the day before it is set to be introduced, on “Ce Soir” (CBLFT-TV), Toronto, March 26.