A rare glimpse into Canadian Stalinism

National Post writer Robert Fulford focused on York political scientist James Laxer’s newest book, about growing up communist, in his Sept. 11 column. Laxer “made headlines in 1969 as part of the Waffle faction that threatened to turn the New Democrats into a militant socialist party. He lost that fight and many others, but at age 63 he keeps the faith. A York University political science professor, he’s written 15 books with titles such as The Undeclared War: Class Conflict in the Age of CyberCapitalism and In Search of a New Left,” wrote Fulford. “This month, in a book less predictable than his others, he describes his shadowy, awkward and embarrassing childhood. He’s written a memoir of family communism, the sort of book familiar in America but rare in Canada. Red Diaper Baby: A Boyhood in the Age of McCarthyism (Douglas & McIntyre) describes growing up in Toronto with parents who drew their children into a web of political lies.” Laxer, continued Fulford, “provides a rare glimpse into the tiny and now mostly forgotten milieu of Canadian Stalinism.”

Love in Venice

The National Post printed an excerpt Sept. 11 from York humanities Professor Susan Swan’s soon-to-be-released new novel, What Casanova Told Me. Her fictional story plumbs the mystery behind the legendary Casanova’s last great love. In this excerpted scene, Yankee heroine Asked For Adams meets Casanova for the first time:

“Seeking fresh sea breezes, I went and stood between the two granite pillars on the Molo. Venetians avoid this place because executions once took place there but I am not concerned by superstition. I gazed about me, imagining myself a kind of executioner’s victim, and the hand holding the noose that of my own father. Slowly, I became aware of a man by the landing where the gondolas are tied for the night, his face and body hidden in the shadows cast by the Ducal Palace. I looked to see if he was someone I knew but I couldn’t make him out. I felt rather than saw him, felt his gaze, curious and compelling. I moved away a little, taking a few steps towards the north, and he did the same. I took a few steps backwards into the Piazza and he too took a few steps backwards. I could see that he was wearing a coat and large hat shaped like a black fan. Its width marked it as a Kevenhuller.”

Higher-level learning pairs with real estate

In the GTA we not only have the largest home-building market in the country, we have the only academic program in Canada geared to students wishing to specialize in one or more areas of the development and real estate industries, reported the Toronto Star Sept. 11. It’s called the program in real property development and it’s been offered by the Schulich School of Business at York University since the early 1990s. “The need for higher-level learning in the real estate industry is not a luxury, it’s a necessity,” said George Carras, president of RealNet Canada Inc., a leading provider of real estate information services, and a member of the advisory council to the program in real property development. “The role real estate plays in our greater community is growing in importance. As an investment class, it’s probably the most important one I think we have today,” said Carras. In year two of their MBA studies, Schulich students have the option of taking courses specializing in the development, investment and finance side of real estate. Graduates receive a diploma in real property development as part of their MBA degree.

St. Clair resident fights for streetcar lanes

Daniella Molnar (MES 2004) is canvassing on the streets, handing out petitions, arguing at city hall for a new St. Clair streetcar right-of-way, reported the Toronto Star Sept. 13. She sees it as a cure for St. Clair’s ailments. “This is exactly what my community needs,” Molnar said, heading up the steps of another house to beseech yet another neighbour to join her cause one evening last week before the first special tri-committee debate on the divisive issue Monday at city hall. “This is a major investment in a community I’d like to stay in,” she said. Molnar founded SCRIPT (the St. Clair Right-of-way Initiative for Public Transit), a group of residents who want the city to go through with the plan.

On the same subject, a Toronto Sun story Sept. 12 quoted city councillor Joe Mihevc, whose ward includes a big stretch of St. Clair West: “If we screw up St. Clair, we’ll lose credibility with senior levels of government. You’re not going to get money for expensive and complicated projects like a subway to York University if you can’t even do the cheap and easy projects.”

Combined MBAs can shorten the path to success

In a guest column in the Toronto Star’s Careers section Sept. 11, Sharda Prashad wrote that combining an MBA with another degree or professional designation saves time and gives graduates an edge in the job market. She is completing her Joint Kellogg-Schulich executive master’s of business administration at York University. She is a chartered accountant with a master’s degree in education.

Weathering Hurricane Ivan in Jamaica

Jamaicans breathed a huge sigh of relief at the last-minute wobble that sent Ivan west into the Gulf of Mexico, reported the Toronto Star Sept. 12. “That took a lot of prayer, but we did it,” said Jean Brown, who weathered the storm at her home in the hills above Kingston. She and her daughter, Leah Brown, who completed a masters in environmental studies at York University in 2003, were able to stay in touch with relatives and friends in Jamaica and in Canada by telephone.

On air

  • Howard Daugherty, professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, and Becky McKinnon, president of Timothy’s World Coffee, discussed a report examining the unique partnership between York University and Timothy’s to develop an ethical coffee, one that supports farmers, the environment and biodiversity while remaining commercially profitable, on Global TV’s “Moneywise” Sept. 10.