Do business with ethical firms, says report

The federal government should establish clear ethics rules and demand higher labour and environmental standards from the companies it does business with, a new report on Canadian corporate responsibility recommends, reported the Ottawa Citizen Jan. 30. “The idea is to put in place corporate responsibility guidelines, and that might very well include issues about wages and labour rights,” said Wesley Cragg, a professor of business ethics at York University’s Schulich School of Business. The use of offshore tax havens could also be considered in the drafting of corporate responsibility standards, subject to existing trade agreements, he said. “The government could say that people who respect those standards will be given preference for contracts.” The report created by Cragg and a panel of business and government ethics experts says government should “embed environmental, social and economic ethics criteria into [its] procurement policies.”

National Post columnist Peter Foster cited Cragg’s report in a critical Jan. 30 column. “If there’s one thing the whole corporate social responsibility movement seeks to avoid, it is addressing the costs of its ever-growing list of demands on corporations,” he wrote. “Typical of such busybody concerns was a ‘consensus’ report this week from a mob of academics, government types, NGOs and alleged representatives of business. Titled ‘Corporate Responsibility and Accountability in the Global Marketplace,’ it alleged that Canada was in danger of falling behind on the ethical standards that similar groups had succeeded in foisting on business in the United States and Europe. The exercise was masterminded by York University’s Wesley Cragg, who declared that: ‘Business in Canada needs to understand that ethical standards are a bottom line issue.’ They certainly are!”

Recovery unsure for post-bankruptcy companies

“Companies sometimes come out of bankruptcy protection and only last for a year or two,” said Bernie Wolf, an economics professor at the Schulich School of Business at York University. He was quoted in a Toronto Star story Jan. 30 about how Stelco Inc., which just entered bankruptcy protection, has hired Hap Stephen, the veteran restructuring expert companies in financial trouble like to hire as their Mr. Fix-It.

Eliminate Muslim, Jewish stereotypes

Marty Lockshin, director of York’s Centre for Jewish Studies, spoke at a recent workshop, “Towards Peace and Reconciliation: Here and Abroad,” reported the University of Toronto’s student newspaper, The Varsity Jan. 29. “Is it worthwhile to compare the pain? Only if you’re trying to score points,” stated Lockshin. He emphasized that the aim of the workshops should not be to purge emotions but to eliminate stereotypes and build up a basis for friendship so that “maybe, just maybe, the people of Toronto can serve as a model for the greater Jewish and Muslim communities.”

Kudos to Shalom-Salam

The Toronto Star gave a laurel to York students Hina Khan and Miriam Yosowich on Jan. 24. “For trying to bring sanity to York and its clashes over Mideast politics,” said the Star. The women are co-presidents of a student group Shalom-Salam that promotes understanding between Jews and Muslims.