By the boards: business governance gets an overhaul

Canada’s largest companies have made major improvements to their corporate governance practices in the past year, driven by new US regulations and growing pressure from shareholders for greater accountability. In The Globe and Mail Sept.12, Richard Leblanc, York Schulich School of Business professor of policy specialization and consultant on corporate governance, said he believes good board processes are critically important, and companies must move beyond adherence to formulaic standards. “I think the tide has turned and a lot of companies want to make substantive change and they want to make changes to board culture,” Leblanc said. “The better companies and the better boards go beyond compliance. They see that board structure is a minimal level of compliance.” 

Private school perils

In the September issue of MoneySense, Paul Axelrod,dean of the faculty of education at York University, warns about over-rated “private school” reputations when it comes to getting into university. “There are private schools now that are fly-by-night places. The universities don’t even know much about them,” said Axelrod. “Kids who go there are kids who are trying to bone up on their grades or their language skills, and their records show that they did very poorly in the public system. Then they go to one of these private schools, and all of a sudden their grades balloon.”

Sticks and stones: Are attack ads effective?

Robert MacDermid, York political science professor, was quoted in the Ottawa Citizen Sept. 20, regarding the Ontario Tories withdrawing negative attack ads featuring Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty. He said pulling them was still an admission of failure. “When you pull negative ads, you more or less admit that they haven’t worked. But this far into the campaign it is difficult to reverse that image,” he said. On the question of whether attack campaigns ultimately pay off, Jody Berland, York humanities, communication and culture professor, was quoted in The Hamilton Spectator Sept. 20, saying she felt Canadians had an aversion to adopting the American model of anything, particularly politics. Part of public reaction to negative campaigning is “concern over whether our whole system is going to become more Americanized,” she said.

On air

  • Bruce Ryder, professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, said a Supreme Court ruling in favour of the Metis near Sault Ste. Marie when it comes to the Aboriginal right to hunt is an historic victory, in an interview aired on CBC Radio in Thunder Bay and Edmonton, Sept. 19.
  • Alan Middleton, professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, commented on the difficulty booking free trips on Air Canada’s Aeroplan, on CBC Newsworld, Sept. 20.
  • Paul Delaney, astronomy and physics professor in York’s Faculty of Pure & Applied Science, discussed the end of NASA’s Galileo probe to Jupiter, which was launched in 1989, in a piece aired on “CTV National News” Sept. 20 and CFCN-TV in Calgary Sept. 21.