Grey Cup a political football

Through the ages, Canadian politicians and the Grey Cup have gone hand in hand, reported the National Post Nov. 17. “It’s always been a matter of national unity,” said Frank Cosentino, author of A Passing Game: A History of the CFL and professor emeritus of kinesiology at York. “It has always been felt by the federal government that the Grey Cup was an exercise in nation building.” Which is probably why prime minister-elect Paul Martin decided to invite the provincial premiers to Sunday’s game, said the Post.

“I think he [Martin] would watch the Grey Cup regardless, but it represents a tremendous opportunity for him just to be informal and go and see how many bridges he can build,” said Cosentino, a quarterback in the Canadian Football League for 10 years who captured two Grey Cups with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1963 and 1965. “It’s a good chance to meet each other in an informal situation where a lot of things happen outside of business meetings. You are more likely to be more casual and talk a little more informally.” Certainly Martin, who played football in college and dreamed of a career in the CFL, would not be out of place performing the ceremonial kickoff, but for others, it can be a daunting challenge. Pierre Trudeau took lessons on how to kick the ball.  “No politician wants to look like a fool,” said Cosentino, who retired from York in 1997.

What merger role did Belinda Stronach play?

Robert MacDermid, political science professor with York’s Faculty of Arts, countered Brian Mulroney’s assertion that the glamorous, rich and mysterious Belinda Stronach, the 37-year-old  who inherited the CEO job at Magna International, played a key role in finally bringing the Progressive Conservative Party together with the Canadian Alliance, on CBC TV’s “CBC News and Current Affairs” Nov. 16. “To think that Peter MacKay and Harper would be suddenly moved by Belinda’s involvement in the issue to merge after, what, a year or two of trying to merge the two parties is a little on the incredible side.”

Then why are the parties giving Belinda credit? asked the CBC. “It’s better to have Belinda Stronach, a female, a CEO of a large company with a good reputation, than Brian Mulroney out front, that political figure who left with the feelings of dislike by so many Canadians,” said MacDermid. What’s in it for Belinda’s company? “If you can bring two parties together, successfully construct a new political entity, and then eventually get it into office, the chances for all sorts of things are there. The opportunity to affect policy is clearly there,” said MacDermid.

Canada not facing fact of underground economy

Unlike the United States, Canada still has relatively little public discourse about the extent to which illegal immigrants make up the labour market, reported The Globe and Mail Nov. 15. “In the US, people are talking openly about the issue. They realize they depend on these workers in a whole range of industries,” said Luin Goldring, a sociologist with York University’s Faculty of Arts, who has proposed a research project on the topic with a number of community organizations. “In Canada, that is not yet the case. We can’t even whisper the word ‘amnesty.’ “

York prof translates autobiography of an ‘untouchable’

Arun Prabha Mukherjee, a professor of English with York University’s Faculty of Arts, translated from Hindi Joothan, the story of an Indian “untouchable,” known now as a Dalit, reported The Calgary Herald Nov. 15. In her introduction, Mukherjee writes that Omprakash Valmiki’s autobiography gives voice to a people always considered mute and portrays a life seldom recorded in Indian literature. It is also a story of the “transformation of the stigma of being an untouchable to the pride in being a Dalit,” she said.

TV ads brew up thirst for lite beer

The current Bud Light campaign in Canada has lasted four years and plays to widespread acclaim from viewers and ad industry professionals, reported the Toronto Star Nov. 16. But the longer a campaign goes, the harder it gets. “The most difficult job in advertising is to keep a long campaign fresh,” says Alan Middleton, a marketing professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business.

York honours lieutenant-governor

The North York Mirror featured a front-page, colour photo Nov. 14 of Lt.-Gov. James Bartleman receiving an honorary degree during the fall session of York University’s convocation ceremony.

On air

  • James Laxer, political science professor with York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, spoke about his new book, The Border: Canada, US and Dispatches from the 49th Parallel, on “Books: Speaking to Primeau,” (CHED-AM), Edmonton, Nov. 14.
  • First-year administrative studies student, scholarship winner and paraplegic Tamara Gordon discussed how to make Toronto a better place to live, on “News” (CP24-TV), Nov. 16.