Ban corporate donations in municipal elections, says prof

The stranglehold by corporations on the municipal election process has prompted calls for reform. None is more welcome than Robert MacDermid‘s recommendations, wrote Kevin Werner in the Ancaster News July 9. “We have terrible disclosure,” said MacDermid in an interview. The professor of political science in York University’s Faculty of Arts recently completed the Final Report of the Toronto Election Finance Review Task Force investigating corporate influence in the Toronto municipal election. It can be found on the Web site Corporations, for instance, cannot vote, nor can they run for office or form a political party. Yet they are allowed to contribute to a political candidate. “Why?” asks MacDermid. “It allows one group of citizens holding wealth in the form of a corporation to make multiple contributions,” he said.

MacDermid is also incredulous that councillors, who are the recipients of campaign donations, are also the enforcement agency that regulates the guidelines. If a citizen asks for an audit, the councillors have to decide whether to agree to it or not. “This is an incredible conflict of interest,” said MacDermid. “And it can be very expensive. The whole enforcement is complaint driven.” Despite protestations that eliminating the influence of corporations in municipal elections and reforming the election act is futile, MacDermid rejects them as nothing more than hot air. Quebec banned corporate donations as far back as the 1970s, and Manitoba followed suit in 2001. “It can be done,” he said. Toronto council will debate banning corporate and union donations later this month. “It’s time Elections Ontario changed the guidelines,” said MacDermid. “There is reform in the air.”

Why cut funding to VON?

“I am devastated by the recent decision by Community Care Access Centre to reject VON’s contract to serve and care for the clients they have tended to for 85 years,” wrote fourth-year York nursing student and Victoria Order of Nurses summer employee Jennifer Krah, in Welland’s Tribune July 9. “I am worried about all of our nurses, including myself. What happened to the decision to improve community care? Wasn’t the government going to put more money into funding community care? It makes me question our system. Why does CCAC feel VON is not suitable? And why do they get to be the deciding factor in who delivers quality care?”

Grad’s new album influenced by gypsy roots

Lisa Patterson’s new album Roam is full of a global esthetic that brings together many different sources, said a review in suburban Vancouver’s North Shore News July 9.”I just want to bring the sound of many cultures together,” said the former York University music student. The BC-born musician was given a taste of cultural nuances at a young age. Her mother’s parents emigrated to Canada from Romania and brought their love of gypsy tunes with them. “At every family gathering there was always music and dancing,” she said. “It was when I went to York University [1993-98] and I was studying different world musics, including south Indian music, that I got turned on to the movement of all the Roma people up the Balkan strip. I saw the path and realized why I’m so attracted to Middle Eastern music and those rhythms and modes – I’d heard them as a kid. I just vibrated with the sound so much and then I travelled and got to see first hand a lot of Egyptian and Indian music I realized that there is a big connection – we can trace it all back.”