Deficit hurts Ontario Conservatives

In a story Nov. 3 on the $5.6 billion deficit left behind by the Ontario Conservatives, Daniel Drache, senior research fellow and associate director of York’s Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies, told The Globe & Mail that the public feels deceived by the ousted provincial government. He said former premier Ernie Eves ran on the premise of a balanced budget and the insistence that there was no deficit. “I think lying on such a major issue…angers voters and increases their cynicism,” said Drache.

Chrétienism: The true north, senseless and happy

The Globe & Mail’s Doug Saunders cited York English Professor Bruce Powe’s 1993 A Tremendous Canada of Light (since republished as A Canada of Light) in a column Nov. 1 about Jean Chrétien’s election as Prime Minister 10 years ago. “Powe gave us a fresh and promising vision of Canada, one that could have been the anthem of the Chrétien years. In the book’s final chapter, he argued that the chaos and senselessness of the time was perhaps the best thing about Canada, ‘the enigma of the country, and how its variety and frictions could be its enduring qualities.’ In a very good paragraph,” wrote Saunders, “Powe addressed the country’s future, then-unknown leader: ‘Let us tell whomever comes to power to let the country be light, not weighted down by 18th- and 19th-century concepts of nationhood, theoretical grids and templates, the formal apparatus of a homogenizing economic system and legislation that attempts once and for all to resolve the disparate elements and paradoxes that make up this society. Leave it to its ambivalences, its anonymity, its mystery, its slow unfolding; leave it to the debate, the haggling and wheedling and coaxing. Drop the need to find lasting solutions for what may not be a problem.’ Ten years later,” concluded Saunders, “there is no inkling that anyone wants to resolve Canada.”

Integrating campus and community

The Village at York University, a new housing development on 14 hectares of land sold to Tribute Communities, is part of a master plan to better integrate the University campus into its community, Gary Brewer, York’s VP finance & administration, told the National Post in a story Nov. 1. York University has been looking for a residential developer to buy the land since the late 1980s, he said. “As well, there are obviously financial outcomes, and what we are looking at doing is taking the proceeds of the sale and adding it to our endowments. That will be used to support meeting the academic needs of the university.”

Blowing the whistle risky for Canadians

“We should be moving more quickly to protect people who want to bring unethical behaviour to the attention of their organizations, but who are afraid to do so for fear of censure, for fear of losing their jobs,” Wes Cragg, director of the Business Ethics Program at York’s Schulich School of Business, told the National Post in a Nov. 1 story on whistleblowing in Canada. “There are very few examples where someone who blew the whistle on their organization survived with their job. Those people face, not only the prospect of being fired, but of being blackballed in their industry unless there is protection,” he said. A few Canadian companies have enshrined protection for whistleblowers in corporate ethics codes. Among the most notable is General Electric Canada which instituted the provision following a corporate scandal in the 1980s – but most ignore the issue, Cragg said.

Shrinking fleet of fighter jets a ‘breathtaking loss’

“There has been a breathtaking loss of capability,” said Martin Shadwick, defence analyst with York’s Centre for International & Security Studies, about Canada’s shrinking fleet of fighter jets. His comments were published in a CanWest News Service story published in the Edmonton Journal Nov. 1. The story focused on Canada’s sale of some of its CF-18 fighter aircraft to the Czech Republic and its older CF-5 jets to Greece. Defence analysts such as Shadwick said the surplus planes are a sign of how far Canada’s air force has been reduced.

Bulls, bears, sheep

Canadian investors not only missed the boat on the current stock market surge, they jumped on an airplane and headed inland, reported the Toronto Star Nov. 2. Retail investors tend to act in herds, refusing to act until everyone else does, said Moshe Milevsky, finance professor at York’s Schulich School of Business. “When will you get in? When you see enough articles in the newspaper and enough people in the neighbourhood and at the golf club say it’s time to get in.”

Problem is, by then it’s usually too late, Milevsky added. “Education is the only answer. You have to become informed.” Of the mutual fund industry, he said management fees are too high in Canada. Part of the reason, he said, lies in the fact Canada has too many individual funds, thus lacking economies of scale needed to bring costs down.

Non-English meetings banned in Depression-era Toronto

According to Michiel Horn, a historian at York University’s Glendon College, it was during Sam McBride’s watch in the late 1920s and early 1930s that the police commission took the remarkable step of unilaterally banning public meetings conducted in any language but English, wrote Oakland Ross Nov. 3 in his Toronto Star series on the city’s mayors. At the time, authorities were deeply anxious about what they saw as the threat of communism. They were particularly worried by Jewish labour organizations, especially in the Garment District around Spadina and King, where meetings were often conducted in Yiddish. “Like all mayors at that time,” says Horn, “McBride was strongly pro-British and anti-communist. This was Protestant, Orange Toronto.”

Inner-city church fights against closure

The parishioners of St. Chad’s are fighting to save the future of their 94-year-old house of worship at St. Clair Avenue West and Dufferin Street from being closed by the Anglican Diocese of Toronto, reported the National Post Nov. 1. “Some churches have better architecture or more elaborate music, but the fellowship doesn’t get much better than at St. Chad’s,” said Richard Anderson, a geography professor with York’s Faculty of Arts, who, with his wife, is a parishioner. “We have money in the bank to do the repairs. We’re scheduled to be in the black for the next couple of years. We’re not costing the diocese anything…. It’s premature to close this inner-city ministry,” Anderson said. “New people are coming in. We’re growing. This place is alive. We’re being forced to close against our will.”

On air

  • Jamie Cameron, professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, joined other experts in a conversation Nov. 2 on CBC Radio’s “Sunday Edition” about one of the more perplexing issues facing modern democracies: the conflict and tension between the judiciary and the legislatures.
  • Paul Delaney, astronomy and physics professor with York’s Faculty of Pure & Applied Science, explained strong solar flare activity on CBC TV’s “CBC News” Nov. 2. He said understanding the sun is pivotal to life on Earth, because of the tremendous dependence people have on it.
  • The Much Music VJ search was hosted at York University, reported CityPulse TV’s “CityPulse News” Oct. 31 and “Evening News” Nov. 2.
  • Nick Rogers, history professor with York’s Faculty of Arts and author of Halloween: From Pagan Rituals to Party Night, discussed how more and more adults are taking part in Halloween festivities every year, which is good for retailers, on CTV’s national “Newsnet Morning” Oct. 31.