A new Toronto stadium ‘would go nicely’ at York

“Why is it that when there is talk of building a new stadium in Toronto (for the Argos, the CSA and Rugby Canada) the automatic focus is on Exhibition Place?” asks Chris Pakkidis (York ’03) of Richmond Hill in a July 15 letter to the Toronto Star. “Your editorial mentioned that Exhibition Place is ‘centrally located.’ Centrally located to what? York University is truly centrally located in the GTA, has abundant parking, access to public transit (both TTC and GO) and already has a world-class hockey facility, the Toronto Track and Field Centre and a soon-to-be-built Tennis Canada complex. A 35,000-seat stadium would go nicely on campus and serve all of the GTA much better than a stadium at Exhibition Place.”

Iranian dissidents often disappear into ‘unofficial’ prisons

As officials try to piece together how Montreal-based freelance journalist Zahra Kazemi died, Iranian-Canadians such as Saeed Rahnema, a political science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts and Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, are using her death to shed light on Iran’s complex prison system, reported The Globe and Mail July 15. With anticlerical demonstrations in full gear, the Islamic Republic has arrested more than 4,000 students in recent weeks. “It’s anarchy. Different groups and institutions have their own jails and detention centres, which can be different from the official prisons,” said Rahnema. “If someone is detained, it can be very hard to find out his or her location. It can also be very difficult to find out what’s happening to them.”

Official and unofficial prisons exist, Rahnema said, because of the way Iran’s security forces are structured. The police, military and other security forces often have private, informal henchmen who enforce the government’s more unpopular legal norms. At student protests, for example, it is often plainclothes zealots called hizbullahis, not police, who beat up demonstrators and break up rallies. These militias are funded by hard-line Islamists, but their existence allows the government to declare its hands clean of responsibility when events spiral out of control, he said. Many times, when political dissidents are apprehended by informal agents, they spend time in unofficial incarceration buildings before entering the formal prisons. They are denied such right as daily phone calls, regular family visits, and other privileges afforded to official detainees. “They go to the formal ones at the end of the process.”

On air

  • Robert Drummond, dean of the Faculty of Arts and a political science professor at York, discussed the Town of Markham’s decision to allow advance online voting in the November municipal election, on CBC TV’s Canada Now” in Toronto July 14.