Media seek business prof’s opinion about Air Canada

As Air Canada tried to reach a life-saving deal with its unions, Fred Lazar, airline expert and economics professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, was in great demand for informed commentary.

CBC TV national news programs, “Saturday Report” and “CBC News and Current Affairs,” sought his opinion May 15 as Air Canada’s crucial deadline approached for reaching a deal with its unions to cut $200 million in expenses or lose the backing of Deutsche Bank.

In the wake of Air Canada’s unions refusing to agree to the annual cuts, Lazar told the Toronto Star in a May 17 story that a carrier of Air Canada’s size should have more than twice as much cash on hand as it does to weather downturns in the market. “One billion dollars is not the comfort level in this industry,” Lazar said. “You can burn through that cash pretty fast. A company of this size, you probably want about $1.5 billion to $2 billion.”

And in a debate waged in the letters section of the National Post, Ron Hyde from Richmond, BC, challenged Lazar’s solution to airport management. He was responding to Lazar’s May 10 letter in the Post arguing that the government should regulate Pearson, Vancouver and perhaps Montreal and/or Calgary airports. “The thought of Vancouver’s award-winning airport, which was developed on a business model, being turned over to the likes of Air Canada, who can’t even operate their own airline, sends a chill down my spine,” wrote Hyde. “Vancouver’s award-winning facilities have been financed by the airport management, user fees and revenues without any federal government assistance or largesse, and our terminal still pays the largest rental fee back to the feds of any such facility in Canada.”

Maclean’s names law student among 25 ‘faces of future’

Every year, Maclean’s magazine profiles 25 young Canadians to watch. This year, Michelle Dagnino, a first-year student at Osgoode Hall Law School, was one of them. Dagnino tells how in high school she started Aspire, a mentorship program whose roster of guest speakers included, among other prominent women, the late author Carol Shields. “With Aspire, Dagnino also launched a career in making the world a better place,” wrote Maclean’s. “That was seven years ago, when she was in Grade 10.” Dagnino was interviewed “near the Toronto office of Youth Action Network, a national social justice organization where she works part-time,” continued Maclean’s in the May 24 issue. “The group helps young people organize conferences, produce videos and write articles, among other things…. But get Dagnino talking about the things she’s done – kick-starting an annual anti-racism conference for youth, or speaking to governments around the world as the first envoy on child labour for the Brussels-based International Confederation of Free Trade Unions – and the passion of her views can’t be missed,” said the magazine.

Lawee on CBC bias

Eric Lawee, humanities professor with York’s Faculty of Arts, commented on CBC bias in this May 17 letter to the National Post: “To the Post’s superb exposé of CBC reporter Neil Macdonald [CBC Admits Error In Report On Iraq Prisoners, May 15] there needs to be added only that Macdonald routinely violates provisions in CBC’s own code of Journalistic Standards and Practices. For example, when he states in an interview on the CBC TV news program ‘Foreign Assignment’ that ‘having George Bush define terrorism sends chills up the spine of much of the world, and rightly so I think,’ he violates the prohibition on the public broadcaster’s journalists ‘publicly identifying themselves in any way with partisan statements … on controversial matters.’ As long as Macdonald’s overt and covert on-air editorializing continues to go unpunished, there is little reason to celebrate Tony Burman’s admission of error regarding Macdonald’s latest acts of journalistic malfeasance.”

Disruptive students have been held to account

Nancy White, York University media relations director, responded to Vancouver Sun writer Barbara Yaffe’s May 13 column “Rising anti-Semitism a concern on campus” with a May 17 letter. White said Yaffe “misrepresents the situation at York University. The incident to which she refers was a premeditated event by both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli students. Both groups know they were at fault and have been held accountable. Our primary duty is to protect York’s academic life and not to allow a handful of students of whatever persuasion to disrupt classes. Our 47,000 students deserve nothing less.”

On air

  • David Noble, a social science professor with York’s Faculty of Arts, explained the problems inherent in distance learning, such as Internet plagiarism, in light of Alberta Premier Ralph Klein’s term paper for Athabasca University praising Chile’s former president General Pinochet, on CBC TV’s “Canada Now” in Calgary and Edmonton May 14.
  • Earth scientist Keith Aldridge and physicist Scott Menary, both professors with York’s Faculty of Pure & Applied Science, discussed the provincial math and science competition, the 25th Science & Engineering Olympics, held at the University, on CBC TV’s “Canada Now” in Toronto, May 14.
  • Ananya Mukherjee-Reed, political science professor with York’s Faculty of Arts, talked about how the opposition party won a stunning election in India despite an improving economy, on CBC Newsworld’s national “CBC News: Business Weekly” May 15.
  • Alan Young, Osgoode Hall Law School professor, discussed the Liberal government’s attitude towards marijuana law reform, on the “Stirling Faux Show” (CHED-AM), Edmonton, May 16.