It’s just a matter of distrust

What fraudulent New York Times reporter Jayson Blair did – fabricated facts, plagiarized material and lied about his whereabouts right under the nose of his editors – was “unfortunate, sad and irritating,” David Shugarman, director of the York University Centre for Practical Ethics, told the Globe and Mail in a May 28 story on trust in the workplace. Shugarman said there is something companies can do to ward off destructive meltdowns on this scale – implement “institutionalized distrust,” which Globe writer Judith Timson interpreted to mean adding either another layer of bureaucracy or an atmosphere in which superiors grill employees far more thoroughly about their work. Shugarman talked about “retroactive transparency” in which you can look back and see the steps that were taken to guarantee authenticity of work or legality of transactions.

Son of ex-shah not politically legitimate

Saeed Rahnema, an expert on Iran who teaches political science at York University, says Reza Pahlavi, exiled heir to the Peacock Throne in Iran, appeals to both wealthy exiles who fondly remember the regime of his father and to Iranians too young to remember those days, reported The Globe and Mail May 28. Rahnema said the shah’s son has no actual political legitimacy in Iran. Should the United States intervene for “regime change,” Pahlavi would be “some sort of Ahmed Chalabi, nothing more” – a reference to the Pentagon-backed exiled Iraqi leader now struggling to carve out a power base in Baghdad. “But the royalists have lots of money, lots of support and good relations with Americans so they have a good chance – and Reza Pahlavi plays the part, he speaks the language of democracy.”

Universities unready for double cohort

First-year university students are in for a sharp reality check come September, said Henry Jacek, president of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, in an opinion piece printed in the Toronto Star May 28. The time constraints under which universities have to build and adequately equip new classroom and residence space to accommodate 70,000 Ontario high-school graduates are unreasonable. For example, he argued, York University has indicated its 3,175 new spaces will not be ready until 2005, clearly too late for the incoming class of 2003.

Pro-pot crusader cool to reform

Toronto lawyer Alan Young, a law professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School and a major figure in the marijuana legalization movement, calls the pot-decriminalization bill a watered-down proposal which preserves the status quo, reported The Toronto Sun May 28. “I think what it will result in is confusion; on one hand they are liberalizing the law, on the other they are telling people using cannabis is wrong,” he said. “At first I was ready to support it but the more I think about it, the more upset I get,” he added.

Lack of IT skills stalls e-business growth for small businesses

A lack of broad technical expertise may be stalling the growth of e-business in Canadian small and medium enterprises (SMEs), despite having the infrastructure in place to do it, reported Computing Canada May 23. This is according to a pair of recently released reports, including “Fast Forward 4.0: Growing Canada’s Digital Economy,” published by the Canadian e-Business Initiative (CeBI), in which York University President and Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden is involved. “The kind of technical talent we produce [in Canada] is more consumable by large firms,” said Ron McClean, professor with York University’s Schulich School of Business and also involved in CeBI. “They tend to be highly specialized – not generic business people – so they fit better with large firms. There is a lot of unemployment in the technology sectors probably because they’re too focused for the SME space.”

On air

  • Space: The Imagination Station featured a segment on the York Science & Engineering Olympics May 27.