Panel likely to reject first-past-post system

The Ontario government will turn to an assembly of ordinary people to take a crack at changing the first-past-the-post system that has elected Canadian politicians since Confederation, reported The Globe and Mail Nov. 19. Robert Drummond, political science professor and dean of York’s Faculty of Arts, said the assembly is likely to propose a system of proportional representation that tends to produce minority governments and party coalitions and smaller political parties, rather than comfortable majorities. “For governing parties to do this is always surprising because they’re really risking their own hold on power,” he said. “They must know it will make it more difficult for them to form a majority government. But it also makes it harder for the Conservatives to form a majority government.”

Canadian-Brazilian romance is heating up

Canada and Brazil may have finally locked eyes across the gym floor, wrote Ed Dosman, a political science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, and Ken Frankel, a director of the Canadian Foundation for the Americas, in a Globe and Mail opinion piece Nov. 19. Prime Minister Paul Martin will meet Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva Nov. 23 in an attempt by both to hasten the walk toward each other after years of misunderstanding and annoyance.

Canada’s posture on Iraq, support for the International Criminal Court and other key multilateral issues has put paid to Brazil’s concern that Canada is a US outpost, wrote Dosman and Frankel. Martin has taken it as a personal mission to enlarge the G8 to a G20, and has supported efforts to expand the UN Security Council. Brazil covets positions in both organizations. And perhaps, though neither would dare to admit it publicly, Canada and Brazil could negotiate a free-trade pact among the swirling detritus of the stalled FTAA and World Trade Organization negotiations.

Brazil and Canada would also benefit from discussions on common domestic issues such as the management of federal systems, the treatment of indigenous peoples and the sustainability of cities. This may not be instant love, but it certainly could become a lovely marriage of convenience if Messrs. Lula da Silva and Martin make the relationship a priority.

Henault champions NATO’s role

Canadian Gen. Ray Henault’s appointment to Chair of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s military committee will boost Canada’s stature in NATO at a time when its military contribution to the alliance is running at near record lows, says Martin Shadwick, a political science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, reported the Toronto Star Nov. 19. “It will raise our profile at a juncture where the direct Canadian visibility in NATO in terms of troops is the lowest its been almost since the inception of NATO,” Shadwick said.

On air

  • Bernie Wolf, economics professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, discussed why Stelco has attracted potential buyers even though it is going through bankruptcy protection, in an item aired on CBC Radio’s “Metro Morning,” “The World at Six” and “World Report” Nov. 18.
  • Jim Laxer, political science professor in York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, commented on the reception US President George Bush will receive when he makes a state visit to Canada Nov. 30, on Global TV’s “Canada Global News” Nov. 18.