How the money moves…

The Toronto Star quoted two persons affiliated with York University in stories May 24 on political fundraising: Robert MacDermid, a political science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts and one of the first academics to study campaign finance in Ontario, and York Chancellor Avie Bennett, who recently co-chaired the Canadian Democracy and Corporate Accountability Commission. MacDermid commented on how Ontario political parties routinely circulate hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions through local ridings, maximizing the money they can legally raise from large donors, and how Ontario laws are so broad they allow party fundraisers to collect many times the individual limit from  powerful people, companies and unions because there is no ceiling on the total donated by connected companies and union locals. “Limits are meaningless when it comes to corporations as long as they can give through their affiliated companies,” MacDermid said. “And when you are giving huge sums of money to help political parties get elected, the perception, quite naturally, is that you are expecting something in return.” Bennett predicted the provinces won’t be able to resist the push for change in election fundraising if proposed federal legislation to ban corporate and union contributions becomes law.

New building gives Schulich a leg up

The Globe and Mail highlighted York University’s new Schulich School of Business in a story May 26 about the building boom at business faculties worldwide. “For Dezsö Horváth,” the story began, “the stunning new home [for Schulich] is more than a $100-million melding of limestone, glass and carpet.” It is a competitive edge in the world market for top students, faculty and research. The dean sees this aggressive construction as part of a global shakeout separating top schools from also-rans: “We are seeing competition in all its aspects.” The Globe said the idea is that splashy buildings will attract sought-after faculty, international students and donors. “People back winners,” said Schulich Professor James McKellar, who is guiding the new building project.

Toronto YWCA honours Marsden

Lorna R. Marsden, president and vice-chancellor of York University, is one of seven women to receive a YWCA of Greater Toronto Women of Distinction Award this year, reported The Toronto Sun May 25. She receives the Y award for her contribution to education. The Y awards, now in their 23rd year, pay tribute to women who have been exemplary role models in Toronto, set high examples of achievement, show tremendous character and good will, and have made a difference in their communities and to society in general. The awards evening, May 28, will raise more than $350,000 to help fund housing, employment, shelter and counselling programs for women and girls throughout the GTA. Marsden has written two books focusing on the changing social lives of women, has taught economic sociology and chaired university women’s studies committees. She became president of two universities – Waterloo’s Wilfrid Laurier University in 1992 and Toronto’s York University in 1997. In addition to her presidential duties at York today, she is a sociology professor who focuses on the role of women in the workplace.

SARS may delay election call

While Ontario Premier Ernie Eves is now hinting at a fall rather than a spring election because of SARS, Robert MacDermid, political science professor with York University’s Faculty of Arts, said there may be another reason for the Tories to hold off, reported Canadian Press May 25. “If the polling numbers are low they’ll say that they can’t go because of SARS,” he said, noting that there have been elections held during far more serious crises than SARS. “You just do not want to go into an election campaign without any momentum.”

York grad plays Gigi at Stratford

Jennifer Gould, who graduated from York University in 1994 with a bachelor of fine arts in theatre, is one of a new generation of actors carrying many of the major roles at Stratford Festival Theatre this season, reported The Toronto Star May 24. Gould is playing Gigi, and La Esmeralda, the sultry gypsy in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Also profiled by The Ottawa Citizen May 24, Gould was heralded as “nothing short of electrifying.” From the chorus of Ottawa’s Orpheus Operatic Society at the age of 10 to leading lady at the Stratford Festival in only 20 years, her ascent is also remarkable because she has never been hell-bent on pursuing stardom, said the Citizen. “I don’t have any aspirations,” says Gould. “I just like challenging roles.” 

More companies are offering prizes to push products

The contest industry is on a roll, said The Globe and Mail May 24, with more sweepstakes, scratch ‘n’ wins and other games. Contests faded in popularity several years ago when marketers got hooked on frequent-buyer cards and other rewards programs, said Alan Middleton, professor of marketing at York’s Schulich School of Business. But some of those loyalty schemes haven’t panned out the way companies had hoped. “Contests have come back,” he said. “What they do is add a little bit of excitement to the brand.” He pointed to the Tim Hortons Roll Up The Rim contest. “Part of what makes Tim Hortons exciting and a Canadian institution is every so often I get to win neat stuff,” he said.

Prof’s study cited over for-profit health care

In a May 26 story about the freedom to choose for-profit care, the National Post cited a study co-authored by Patrick Monahan, public policy professor and associate dean at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School. Commissioned by the C.D Howe Institute, the 2002 study says in certain cases Canadians are justified in buying private care. The newspaper cited the study in light of a case before the Supreme Court of Canada concerning the right to purchase private health-care services that are also provided by the state health-care monopoly.

Skeptical about new pot law

Alan Young, a professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School who has long campaigned for reform of the pot laws, is skeptical about the Liberal approach to decriminalization of marijuana, reported Canadian Press May 25. “They’ve come up with a very confused scheme which creates the appearance of movement but really is business as usual,” he said. The Liberal government is readying legislation ensuring Canadians will no longer face jail time and criminal records for simple possession of marijuana.