It’s all about ethics

Throughout the Chrétien era, there’s something the federal Liberals, including the new Prime Minister, seem unable to get a handle on and that is the issue of ethics, said the Vancouver Sun Dec. 13. David Shugarman, professor of political science at York University and author of Honest Politics: Seeking Integrity in Public Life, said that it would be best if governments had two kinds of ethics specialists. One should offer advice to politicians, Shugarman said in an interview from Toronto. The other should act as an external watchdog (like an auditor-general), reporting directly to Parliament, not the government in power. Barring this two-pronged system, Shugarman admires how, more than a decade ago, BC and Ontario set up the most reliable ethics commissions in the country.

Libations, ho!

The Toronto Star featured a 1,300-word review of York History Professor Craig Heron’s new book, Booze: A Distilled History. Here are excerpts from writer Ann Perry’s Dec. 14 article:

“There has always been a strange alliance of dissenting voices in the debate over alcohol: Establishment Anglicans who viewed the teetotalling zeal of evangelical churches with suspicion; working-class men whose main social outlet was the tavern; francophones and European immigrants who saw temperance as an attack on their cultures; and an economic elite who simply enjoyed a glass of wine with dinner. Heron, a history professor at York University, sets out to capture these tensions in Booze: A Distilled History, a comprehensive bender through 400 years of Canadian history….

“From colonial drinking rituals to the introduction of such mass-market beers as Labatt 50, Heron tries to free booze from the moralizing clutches of both camps to present ‘a broader social history of the role of alcohol in Canadian society with a more complex story line than good versus evil, or prudery versus fun.’ In the process he produces a dense but wonderfully illustrated account of the ways in which Canadians have tried to ‘balance the pleasures and dangers of the ever-present, ever-seductive John Barleycorn’.”

 On Air

  • Film and Video Professor Seth Feldman, also director of the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies, appeared on the TVOntario program “Studio 2” Dec. 12 to discuss the new film The Statement by Canadian director Norman Jewison. The film tells the story of a Nazi collaborator in Vichy France.