Digging the maple leaf on Canada Day

Newspapers turned to York professors for Canada Day observations about the flag — and gardening. To British-born Schulich School of Business marketing professor Alan Middleton,  Canada’s current flag design is “brilliant.” Middleton was quoted in the Toronto Star June 30 in an article on the history, branding power and design of the maple leaf standard. “I can’t think of another nation that sells so many flag pins,” he said. “You see bowls of those little Canada flags at airports and they’re there because there’s a market for them. You don’t see that in the U.S. or the U.K.” Middleton said the design work so well because it stands out and isn’t the “endless stripes of other nations, just clear, distinctive, relevant.”

Biology professor Dawn Bazely, a botanist whose specialty is plant ecology, was quoted in the Globe and Mail June 28 in an article on what native plants to put in your garden for that nationalistic touch on Canada Day (and beyond). Bazely, who works on landscapes that have been damaged by overuse, said look at our provincial flowers — Ontario’s trillium, Alberta’s wild rose, Prince Edward Island’s Lady Slipper. They are emblems for good reason: they say something about each province. Bazely also recommended two shrubs that like to live in dry sandy soil and will take a bit of shade: Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) and Fragrant sumach (Rhus aromaetica). 

Lazar makes the right call on pilots

In an article in the Globe and Mail June 28, Fred Lazar, an economics professor who specializes in the airline industry at York’s Schulich School of Business, pondered whether mainline Air Canada pilots would accept or reject a crucial new labour pact in the wake of a contentious seniority award that gave a big boost to former Canadian Airlines pilots. The two sides are so far apart that “there isn’t a solution that’s going to satisfy the two parties ‑‑ it’s impossible,” said Lazar. He predicted the seniority conflict would persist “for many years to come,” but figured the pilots would ratify the agreement. “It’s not going to be 100 per cent, but they’ll get the support they need. What good is seniority if the company fails?”  Lazar was proved right: on June 30, the pilots ratified the deal.                

Mapping the Middle East road

Commenting on the Middle East peace “road map,” York political science professor David Dewitt talked about the conditional ceasefire announced by militant Palestinians for a story in the Globe and Mail June 30. “If it works, it signals that the Arab community has got to the Palestinians,” said Dewitt. “If that’s true, it’s a really important breakthrough.”  

Terrorist threat on the sea floor

Defence analyst Martin Shadwick, a strategic studies professor at York’s Centre for International & Security Studies, was quoted in the Ottawa Citizen June 29, saying that the navy is being prudent in taking precautions against the potential of a sea mine threat. Ottawa has launched a program to keep close tabs on the seabed beneath vital commercial shipping lanes, as a precaution against terrorists. “These mines are relatively cheap and surprisingly small,” said Shadwick. “Even the threat of putting a couple of these things in our waterways could cause massive [economic] dislocation.”

The conundrum of wealth

In an editorial on the conundrum of wealth, whether it be nobler to honour the creator of wealth or the distributor of it, The Vancouver Sun June28 quoted Leo Panitch, York political science professor, who said those who think socialism is in its grave “have no sense of history” and are making premature judgments. Panitch pointed out that even socialist Soviet Union and China managed to create a lot of wealth in the early part of their history. While these socialist societies used some unsavory means to create wealth, Panitch said, so did early capitalists.