Lazar is the star in Air Canada coverage

Aviation expert Fred Lazar, an economics professor in York University’s Schulich School of Business, has been in high demand for comment on Air Canada’s financial woes. He told The Globe and Mail May 31 that Ottawa could help the whole industry in one fell swoop by proceeding with a parliamentary committee’s recommendations for a temporary holiday from airport rent charges, air security charges and fuel excise tax. “If you do all of these, on an annualized basis you are probably going to be saving Air Canada…about $350 million,” he said. On June 2, he predicted in the Globe that airport fees will rise to make up for shortfalls in the charges Air Canada would normally pay. For example, he said, Toronto’s Pearson International Airport will likely double the fee it charges departing passengers – to $20 from $10. He saw little hope for the airline’s stock price. “I don’t understand why Air Canada’s shares haven’t dropped to zero,” he said. “The paper won’t be worth the cost of the paste you’d need to turn it into wallpaper.” Lazar also spoke to the Ottawa Citizen June 2 about regaining public trust. “Air Canada has to come forward and say we are an ongoing entity and we’re going to continue to be one and we have no reason to expect otherwise.” He also talked with the Toronto Star June 1 about difficulties in negotiations with the airline’s pilots.

The rise of female violence in pop culture

The June 1 Toronto Star looked at the trend in movies and TV shows toward more fighting by females – from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Charlie’s Angels and The Matrix Reloaded – as violence is equated with sexiness. Women, the Star noted, are also flocking to martial arts classes. “We’re living in a political culture that sees violence as the solution to all human problems,” commented Bob Hanke, a professor of media and cultural studies in York’s Faculty of Arts, Division of Social Science. “Now, in order to appeal to female viewers, one can recode the role of [the hero] as female. Violent action can be injected into any drama to make it more interesting. This has worked for male audiences for a very long time. Why not apply the same logic to women?”

The Complete Idiot’s Guide for Dummies

In a Toronto Star story May 31 examining the success of the two self-help book series, “For Dummies” and “Complete Idiot’s Guide,” cultural studies Professor Christopher Dewdney of York’s Faculty of Fine Arts said it’s because we live in a competitive society, constantly comparing ourselves to so many know-it-alls. These guides have become a quick route to mastery, or at least convincing cocktail chatter. “Everyone wants to be in the loop,” Dewdney said. While he doesn’t own any of the books, he does have photocopied pages from Wine For Dummies. “Only very snobbish Mensa members don’t need such guides.”

The politics of SARS

The May 31 Guelph Mercury reported comments by Jeff Shantz, a York teaching assistant in the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts, at a panel discussion called The Politics of SARS, hosted by the Guelph chapter of the New Socialist Group. “What did [Prime Minister Jean Chrétien] do at the height of the outbreak? He had lunch at a Chinese restaurant in Toronto,” said  Shantz, who spoke about the economic fallout of SARS. “It’s the capitalist cure for whatever ails you – go shopping, do lunch.” Shantz said while government money went to subsidize package deals to encourage tourism, “those subsidies did not extend to the hotel workers who lost their jobs because of SARS.”

HR and corporate ethics

A Globe and Mail story June 2 talked about how human resources departments can gain ground in companies due to the need for greater attention to corporate ethics. While it cannot prevent Enron-like debacles by itself, “HR can capitalize on this current need to have a more commanding role,” said Ronald Burke, a professor at York’s Schulich School of Business. “Organizations want to stand out as being beyond reproach, and HR can have a significant role in putting values top of mind,” he said. “There are disseminating, communication and training aspects. Ethical values need to be espoused, reinforced, made real.”