A call for ‘responsible and reasonable’ advocacy

The key business of any university is teaching, research, and professional accreditation, not militant campus politics, wrote Joanne Cohen in the Canadian Jewish News (CJN) April 22. None of the on-campus Jewish organizations at York University and other universities are “legally empowered nor professionally credible to advocate on behalf of individual secularized Jewish students or faculty who may be facing informal and insidious anti-Semitic marginalization, harassment or discrimination in the classroom or workplace,” she said. “These conditions ought to be our top priority as a matter of long-term professional and communal interest, and not the sensational and damaging theatrics of amateur undergraduate student politicians and their community and staff supporters,” wrote Cohen, a former York University doctoral student in social and political thought.

The CJN rarely seeks comment from moderates on campus, she said. “My recent meetings with non-Jewish academic colleagues at York, including [President and Vice-Chancellor Lorna R.] Marsden, have found them to be much more professionally supportive and welcoming than many within our insular and militant Jewish campus groups,” Cohen wrote. “My consultations revealed that moderate Canadians at York frequently regard Jews and Israel with suspicion, given the poor optics presented by militant Zionist initiatives and speakers, which have been poorly strategized for a militant leftist and demographically diverse campus climate,” Cohen wrote. “At this point, both the small minority of pro-Palestinian militants and the small minority of militant Zionist activists are viewed with equal disdain by the average Canadian and many Jews on campus.

“Ultimately, as in the wider community, we will be better served by responsible and reasonable Jewish advocacy, and quiet diplomacy with Canadians on campus, not hysterical tit-for-tat campaigns against pro-Palestinian militants and exploitative recruitment of moderate Muslims,” suggested Cohen.

Subway to the airport? More likely to York

Toronto City Council tossed Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti a bone this week, approving 41-2 his motion that the TTC submit a report to council on “extending Toronto’s subway system through the northwest pocket of the city to Pearson International Airport,” reported the National Post April 22. This is highly unlikely; the TTC has far more advanced proposals extending the Spadina line to York University and points north, said the newspaper.

High airport fees threaten Canadian airlines

Ottawa desperately needs to rework its airport policy and stop using the airline industry as a “cash cow” to extract money for its fiscal purposes, an academic paper warns. Otherwise, the government runs the risk of Canada being one of the few countries without an international airline, reported the National Post April 22. The warning from Fred Lazar, an economics professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business, was issued just as the group representing Canadian carriers sent a letter to Tony Valeri, the transport minister, asking him to review federal policies that have dramatically driven up the cost to run an airline.

The Lazar study, published by the Canadian Institute of International Affairs, is a stunning critique of federal transport policy, said the paper. It singled out the national airport policy, which leaves the task of managing airports to not-for-profit authorities, as a massive failure. Developed in the early 1990s, the intent was to get the federal government out of the airport business because it didn’t have the money needed to invest in much-needed infrastructure. But as a result, the initiative has created “unregulated and largely uncontrollable monopolies” in the form of airport agencies that are levying higher-than-needed user fees. “To the extent that they are higher than they need be, they are a disincentive to the efficient operation of the Canadian airline system, particularly in short-haul markets,” Lazar said.