Voter boycott in Iran sends regime a message

Iranians have lost faith completely in the possibility of reform within the present power structure, wrote Saeed Rahnema, political scientist with York’s Faculty of Arts, in a Toronto Star opinion piece June 17. There were massive campaigns to boycott Friday’s presidential election, and the turnout was expected to be low. This is not voter apathy, as many are actively involved in convincing those eligible not to vote. This is a sort of passive participation (along the line of passive resistance), said Rahnema. The Iranian electorate wants to send a message to the regime that it has lost its legitimacy.

Regardless of who becomes the next president, no major changes in internal and external politics is expected, suggested Rahnema. Hardliners will continue to control the main levers of power. Without an organized opposition, the establishment will suppress any real efforts toward democracy and reform. Yet, the more they continue to rule in this manner, the more the Islamic regime is rotting from within and the less it is capable of pretending to be a legitimate popular government.

This will eventually make them vulnerable to the constant push of the Iranian people toward establishing a truly democratic and secular regime. Unless there is an uncalled for foreign intervention, which will rejuvenate this ailing dinosaur, Iranians will eventually succeed in replacing this regime. We should only hope that Americans under the Bush administration understand this simple truth, wrote Rahnema.

  • In The Globe and Mail June 17, Rahnema described a leading presidential contender Mustafa Moin as a reformer, but only within a political structure that is tightly controlled by the clerical hierarchy. “Moin wants to reform but this is a very minor, gradual reform within the framework of the Islamic regime,” Rahnema said. Outgoing president Mohammed Khatami “was a charismatic leader, an important figure, but he proved indecisive and he didn’t want to move beyond the limits set within the Islamic constitution, which is under the leadership of what is called the absolute sovereignty of the jurists, the supreme leader,” Rahnema said. “Within that, you cannot have a truly open election, you cannot have democracy.”

Toronto immigrants’ tale gains acclaim

Hogtown Blues, a short film made as a graduating project by York University 2004 film grads Hugh Gibson and Carl Elster, has made its way into 10 film festivals, from Whistler to Bilbao, since it premiered last year at the Toronto film festival, reported the Toronto Star June 17. A strong entry in the Canadian competition at the Worldwide Short Film Festival, Hogtown Blues shows the ugly side of immigrant life. The male character is a hard-drinking Russian brute who steals from his mates in a meatpacking plant and calls his daughter a “whore” for consorting with a Muslim man. “I’m interested in the juncture where documentary and fiction meet,” said Gibson, a 2004 film grad who got searing performances out of actors Vladimir Radian and Araxi Arslanian. The filmmakers got a lucky break when casting director Jenny Lewis, who studied film at York for two years in the late 1980s, agreed to send their script around.

Abella says Jewish and other immigrant groups helped ‘transform Canada’

The contributions of Jewish Canadians will be highlighted in a new University of Ottawa program made possible by a $1-million donation, reported The Ottawa Sun June 17. “Ottawa students will now have an opportunity to appreciate the role of the Jewish community and other immigrant groups in helping to transform Canada from the close-minded, restricted, bigoted society we once were a half-century or more ago to the wonderfully admitting, welcoming, decent, culturally diverse Canada we are today,” said Irving Abella, a history professor in York’s Faculty of Arts who spoke at the program’s inauguration.

There’s power in all that garbage

Closing the municipal waste loop is an attainable way to provide power to the people and cleanliness to our air, wrote 1973 York environmental studies grad Fred Schwartz, vice-president of Intellergy, a California energy company, in a Globe and Mail opinion piece June 16. We now have the technology to take garbage, turn it into hydrogen gas, and feed it to a fuel cell to create clean electricity and heat, with virtually no emissions, no greenhouse gases released, and no combustion, period. Garbage to gold, pure and simple, wrote Schwartz.

Grads reach for the stars, literally

Reaching for the stars has become a tired cliché for graduating students. But for two small-town York Region graduates, it takes on a special meaning, reported York Region’s Era Banner June 16. East Gwillimbury residents Janina Zuchlinski, 22, and Tim Munsie, 23, the first two graduates of York University’s new space engineering program, are over the moon and hope to have a hand in future missions there. During the four-year program, the two studied orbital mechanics, spacecraft systems, mission design, rocket technology and astrophysics. The two received their degrees Tuesday.

York grad wins prestigious medal

Debbie Eaton, a mother of two who earned a BA in sociology from York in 1984, graduated Wednesday with a 95.7 per cent academic average in Niagara College’s educational assistant/special need support program, reported The Standard in St. Catharine’s June 16. For her efforts, Eaton received the Governor-General of Canada’s Academic Award.

On air

  • Toronto Transit Commission general manager Rick Ducharme now doubts subway expansion to York University can be constructed due to allocation of federal gas tax funds based on population not ridership, reported newscasters at CFTR’s  “680 News,” CJEZ’s “EZ Rock News” and CFRB’s “News” in Toronto June 16. Ducharme said the first five cents of the gas tax formula is based on population while the other two cents is based on ridership. Nevertheless CFRB’s “Six O`Clock News Hour” also reported that TTC plans to run a subway track to York University are right on track.