Merged Conservative party could face problems

Canadian Alliance Leader Stephen Harper would be more a liability than an asset as leader of the new Conservative Party, says James Laxer, a political science professor with York University’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, reported Canadian Press Dec. 3. “I think that it’s very inept for the party to choose Stephen Harper as its leader, if indeed it ends up doing that,” Laxer said. “There will be no sense of a genuine merger between two political cultures in that case.” Laxer added that it was already becoming evident that the cultures of the two parties are not as compatible as might have been first thought. “As soon as you put these parties together,” he said, “traditional PC supporters who are kind of middle-of-the-road people are going to start looking around for a new political home.”

Crucibles of open debate

In a letter to the National Post Dec. 3, John J. Furedy, University of Toronto psychology professor wrote that he shares York University humanities Professor Eric Lawee’s negative view of the pro-Palestinian group Al-Awda, as expressed in a Dec. 1 letter to the Post. But Furedy wrote that he thinks Lawee “is mistaken in condemning the University of Toronto’s reversal of its earlier refusal to allow this group to hold a conference on campus. As an institution, a university’s primary commitment is the search for truth, and this commitment requires that as long as they are open to criticism, all views are entitled to consideration. In other words, the academic community (students and faculty, and the organizations that represent them) should control the form, but not the content, of the discussion.

When in March, 2003, York University President and Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden ensured that Daniel Pipes would be heard on campus, she was following this principle. In contrast, York’s Federation of Students and its Faculty Association advocated preventing Dr. Pipes from being heard on the grounds that he had a ‘racist agenda.’ I hope that as individuals, both students and faculty understand the content/form distinction, and deal with positions they consider not only mistaken but immoral by censuring rather than trying to censor them.”

Curator starts ‘with a bang’

Toronto Star entertainment critic Rob Salem led his “tonight in t.o.” column Dec. 3 with a note and a photograph publicizing What It Feels Like for a Girl at the Art Gallery of York University. New curator Philip Monk “is getting his stewardship off with a bang” with the show, which features works in paint, print and music video by a wide range of female voices, including songstress Peaches and artist Karma Clarke-Davis. Salem reminded urbanites they could get a lift on the “performance bus” in front of the AGO at 6pm to attend the opening bash.

Air Canada share structure ‘dreadful’, says Lazar

As Air Canada emerges from bankruptcy, 31 per cent of its equity will be sold to billionaire Victor Li, and the rest will go as non-voting and voting shares to creditors, General Electric’s aviation financing unit and management, reported The Globe and Mail Dec. 3. The non-voting shares help to ensure that Air Canada doesn’t go afoul of federal foreign ownership restrictions. But the structure gives the airline the ability to raise equity in either Canada or the United States. “I don’t like the dual-class structure,” said Fred Lazar, a professor of economics at York University’s Schulich School of Business. “I think it’s dreadful governance policy, and I’m not sure if it ever works for the other shareholders.”

Student ‘global leader’ boosts youth participation

York Region community newspaper The Liberal profiled York University student and Thornhill resident Jennifer Corriero Dec. 2. Corriero founded TakingITGlobal, a non-profit organization whose 30,000-page Web site provides an invaluable resource for people 13-30 around the world who want to start or participate in community projects. Time magazine recently chose Corriero, who is currently doing a master’s degree in environmental studies at York, as one of Canada’s future leaders and the World Economic Forum named her a Global Leader for Tomorrow.

New business-help centre offers referrals to York

Small and medium businesses in Markham, ON, have a new place to turn for help – the Innovation Synergy Centre – which opened recently, reported the Markham Economist & Sun in its Dec. 2 issue. The non-profit facility, a partnership between the National Research Council, Royal Bank, the Town of Markham, York University and the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development & Trade, is run out of Lucent Technologies on Rodick Road in Markham. The centre’s mandate is to help businesses grow and develop. The centre offers small and medium sized businesses access to a variety of knowledge networks including York University, the York Technology Association, the Canadian Technology Network, the Association of Ontario Medical Manufacturers and Seneca College.

On air

  • Theodore Peridis, policy professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business, discussed how airports are hooked on extra fees as a source of revenue for expansion, on Global TV’s “Global National” Dec. 2. He said, “No government, no city, no airport authority can shed that habit once they get hooked to it because it’s good money.”