No quick fixes for Canada after US election

Canadians shouldn’t expect quick fixes on the cattle ban or other major trade issues in the aftermath of the US election, reported Canadian Press Nov. 3, before the final result was known. Democrat John Kerry has appealed to potential US voters worried about jobs going overseas by saying he’d review all the country’s trade deals, including the North American Free Trade Agreement, to make sure they’re fair. “Kerry’s rhetoric is actually frightening but you’ve got to take it with a grain of salt,” said Bernie Wolf, an economics professor at York’s Schulich School of Business. “What people say before they’re in office and what they do in office is very different.”

Having spent his eight-month campaign emphasizing his intention to rally international support in Iraq, Canada would be be on Kerry’s list if he won. “He’ll be knocking on the door,” said James Laxer, a political science professor in York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies. “There will be pressure to get involved and Canadians aren’t going to like that.” Kerry would provide some wiggle room on a contentious issue in Canada – the US missile defence program. “It would be harder to say no to Kerry,” said Laxer. “But it will be a lower priority for him.”

  • Wolf was also interviewed Nov. 2 by CTV’s “Canada AM” and “CTV News and Current Affairs” about the impact of the election on Canada. He told CTV News: “I think that Kerry provides more for Canada than does Bush. But it’s more on attitude as opposed to specifics. I think that a Kerry administration would be likely to be more conciliatory, not likely be, as my mother used to say, trying to impose ‘put your head through the wall’ kind of policies where ‘the US is right, we’re going to do it’ kind of thing. So I think there will be more give-and-take. And I think that’s very good for relations between Canada and the US.” Wolf also said “a Kerry win would probably tend to be better for the US dollar, better for the US financial system.”

Lawsuits fail to stop music downloads

The music recording industry’s best efforts to stop those who use peer-to-peer networks to download music files have failed to deter people with the threat of lawsuits or criminal prosecution, reported The Globe and Mail Nov. 2. The reason people continue to download free music files is because they do not feel they are at risk, says a four-year study, called Rethinking Consumer Risk: Cultural Risk, Collective Risk and the Social Construction of Risk Reduction. It was carried out by Markus Giesler, a professor who teaches marketing at York’s Schulich School of Business.

“There is a growing sense of strength in numbers,” said Giesler, a former music label owner who left the recording industry following the rise of music file-sharing. “The greater the number of people who engage in the practice, the less likely they are to feel at risk of being sued or prosecuted.” Many downloaders, especially teens and adults in their early 20s, do not believe it is unethical or illegal to download music, Giesler said. “This is a generation that has grown up believing that digital information available on the Internet is free.”

  • A CBC news item about the study was aired on regional radio newscasts in Montreal, Sudbury and Saskatchewan Nov. 2.

Text messaging allows deaf students independence

Preliminary research shows that two-way pagers help improve both the social skills and the independence of deaf students, reported The Globe and Mail Nov. 3. Connie Mayer, a professor in York’s Faculty of Education, said her research, now in the second of its five-year term, will have implications for education policy in terms of making a case for different technologies to be funded by the government so that deaf students stay on par with their peers. Mayer said the next phase of her research will focus on how students using pagers improve their literacy skills. Studies have shown that on average deaf students graduate with Grade 4 literacy skills, primarily because the English language is phonics-based, she said. “This may be technology that opens a lot of doors for our students around independence, and we hope around literacy,” she said at a press conference Nov. 2.

Black beats tactical retreat

Conrad Black has resigned as chairman and chief executive of Hollinger Inc., just as a lawyer for a major shareholder began arguments in Ontario court aimed at ejecting him and all but two of Hollinger’s directors, reported the National Post Nov. 3, using files from Bloomberg News. “If he pays the shareholders fair value and they agree to it, this is certainly a legitimate transaction,” said Mary Condon, a professor who specializes in Canadian securities regulations at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School. “The issue of whether he has motives we don’t approve of is a separate issue.” The Toronto Star picked up the same quote from Condon in a story Nov. 3.

Latin fever moves beyond the merengue

There are no Andean folk singers in sandals and ponchos or brightly-painted pinatas inside Orale restaurant in Yorkville, at the heart of Toronto’s most affluent shopping district, began a Globe and Mail feature Oct. 30 about a new wave of Latin American immigrants who are promoting a more sophisticated Latino culture in Toronto. Earlier Latino immigrants were divided by their own internal rivalries, and too preoccupied with the everyday struggles of adapting to a new culture to promote their own. “The earlier Latino immigrants were working-class primarily and driven out by civil war and had very little preparation for coming here,” said Alan Simmons, a sociologist in York’s Faculty of Arts.

On air

  • Dennis Raphael, professor in Atkinson’s School of Health Policy & Management at York, was interviewed about the health implications of child poverty, on Rogers TV’s “Medical Intelligence” Nov. 2.
  • Daniel Drache, a political science professor with York’s Atkinson School of Social Sciences, discussed what Canadians think of the United States and how the next president will affect that view, on “Global News” Nov. 2. He told “CHNews” in Hamilton that Canadians don’t like Bush because of his unilateralism.