Is ethics the new bottom line?

The high-profile business debacles of the past five years – Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, Parmalat and Hollinger, to name a few – have set business schools scrambling to revamp curriculums on corporate governance and business ethics, reported The Globe and Mail March 8. The exposure of high-level frauds at several big-name companies has sparked both tighter regulations on financial accounting and disclosure and a heightened interest in ethical leadership issues in general, said Pat Bradshaw, a professor of organizational behaviour and industrial relations at York’s Schulich School of Business. Students want better courses on these topics and this has become an area of competitiveness among schools, she said. “The context that’s driving these changes is the same profound shift. There’s no way to avoid these issues now.” Bradshaw is part of a team teaching a compulsory 13-week Master of Business Administration course titled Skills for Leadership and Governance. “As future business leaders, students must learn that after they’ve established a strategic direction for their company, they must step back and make sure they are doing the right thing – for their employees, for society and for the environment,” Bradshaw said.

Freezing bank assets may not be about money

In one of the largest money-laundering inquiries in Israel in recent years, authorities there froze $376 million in assets yesterday at Bank Hapoalim, the country’s largest bank, and may be questioning clients as far away as Russia and France, reported The New York Times March 8. “Many politicians there are financed by organized crime, and Israeli politics has been penetrated very deeply by Russian money,” said Jonathan Nitzan, a political science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts and coauthor of a book on Israel’s economy. “So I don’t believe this is a serious attempt to clamp down on money laundering, nor is it a signal of change of direction.”

 Liberals’ hasty transparency legislation contains wide loophole

The Globe and Mail’s Murray Campbell cited research by York political scientist Robert MacDermid in a column March 8 about new provincial legislation that would allow voters to know within 10 business days who is donating how much money to which political party. Campbell points out that Attorney-General Michael Bryant’s bill contains an enormous loophole in that donations to individual constituency associations are not covered. The maximum allowable donation to a provincial political party is $8,400 a year and while it’s true that the maximum to a riding association is just $1,120, an individual or company can make five such donations for a total of $5,600. This money can then be passed on to the central party. Imagine a myriad of numbered companies making $5,600 gifts and you get an idea of the magnitude of donations that could be hidden, wrote Campbell. MacDermid, who studies political giving, estimates that 25 to 30 per cent of the money flowing to the Liberals and the Conservatives in the past decade came through constituency associations, pointed out Campbell.

Soccer pros eye York stadium

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment has no financial stake in the football/soccer stadium going in at  York University for 2007, but it’s still hoping to enter a team there, reported the Toronto Star March 8. Richard Peddie, president and CEO of the ownership/investment group, confirmed Monday that MLSE has been talking with Major League Soccer about locating an expansion franchise here for 2007. “We’ve done a fair amount of work on this,” Peddie said. “Enough that we’re going to keep looking at it.”

Aboriginal judge supports native jurist on Supreme Court

The only Aboriginal judge ever to sit on a Canadian appeal court calls it “absolutely essential” that a qualified Aboriginal jurist be appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada, reported CanWest News Service March 8. Ontario Court of Appeal Justice Harry LaForme echoed the weekend remarks of one of Canada’s preeminent constitutional law experts,  Peter Hogg, former dean of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, suggesting that indigenous laws and traditions are on the same constitutional footing as Quebec civil law and English common law. But unlike Hogg, LaForme did not go so far as to urge that a Supreme Court seat be reserved for an Aboriginal jurist on the nine-member court, as three positions are guaranteed by law for Quebec civil law judges.