The year the right turned pink

“There is a profound change occurring with voters across many jurisdictions,” says Daniel Drache, a political scientist at York who has analyzed what he sees as a worldwide shift in the global political centre for a forthcoming book, wrote Doug Saunders in a Jan. 7 Globe and Mail column. “The centre is moving left,” he says, but not in the old sense – that is, voters are not simply aligning themselves with left-wing parties. Centrist voters, he says, have become much more activist and mercurial. “The left has to win the centre to its values and agenda.” Drache analyzed the 22 elections that have occurred in 11 wealthy nations since 1996. He divided parties into “market” parties – those that devoted their major pledges to cutting taxes and regulations and boosting the private sector – and “public” parties – those that mostly promised to increase social spending, rein in business and boost the public sector. In only three of those elections (Brazil in 1998, Spain in 2000, and the United States in 2004) did the “market” parties attract more votes than the “public” parties.

Criminal prosecution can deter financial-market fraud

A lobby group for seniors and investors is calling for some pre-election commitments on such issues as jail time for financial advisers and other market participants who defraud investors, reported the Toronto Star Jan. 10. A thirst to see more people sent to jail has been sharpened by the prosecution of a handful of top United States executives on a variety of offences that led to investor losses. Professor Poonam Puri of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School argues in a recent paper for the Capital Markets Institute that criminal prosecution can act as a significant deterrent to abuses in the financial markets. She predicts that more criminal offences will be prosecuted as a result of amendments to the Criminal Code enacted last year, setting out new offences for tipping or trading on inside information, and for taking retaliation against whistle-blowers. Puri argues that criminal prosecution should be saved for the most egregious offences, and that regulators should expand their focus from enforcement of regulations to providing assistance to investors to receive compensation for losses.

Internet creates challenge for TV

The unrelenting migration of teens from traditional television to the Internet creates challenges for companies that see young people – with their high levels of disposable income and slavish trend-worshipping – as a prized, though difficult to reach, demographic, reported The Globe and Mail Jan. 7. “Teenagers’ bedrooms increasingly look like aircraft cockpits, with computers, cellphones, MP3 players, video game consoles and televisions – all of which allow them to aggressively multitask,” said Alan Middleton, a marketing professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business and a former advertising executive. “In order to catch their interests, either as an advertiser or a programmer, you’ve got to work a lot harder because they literally have the attention span of a flea because they’re doing five other things at the same time,” he said.

University of Guelph fires football coach

The University of Guelph fired football coach Tom Arnott on Monday, reported Canadian Press Jan. 10. He had coached the team for five years. Arnott, who starred as an offensive lineman for the Gryphons in the late 1970s, took over the Gryphons in 2001 after 11 years at the helm of the York University football team. During his tenure at York Arnott was twice named Ontario University Athletics coach of the year.

Figure skater adjusts to new judging system

A new system of judging figure skating that places more emphasis on artistry suits Tyler Cochrane just fine, reported The Kingston Whig-Standard Jan. 10. “I like it,” said Cochrane, 21. The Glenburnie skater – and second-year York kinesiology student – began competition Tuesday at the national senior men’s championship in Ottawa. “It made me have to improve everything rather than only having to focus on the jumps.”Cochrane was to go into Tuesday’s qualifying round with essentially the same long program as the one he skated last year, when he rose one spot in the final round of competition to finish 17th. This was Cochrane’s eighth national championship.

Prof publishes new Scarborough magazine

A new quarterly magazine, 54 East, which launched in December, celebrates some of Toronto’s overlooked neighbourhoods – the ones you can see out the windows of the 54 Lawrence East bus, which trundles from Yonge Street to Pickering, much of it through oft-maligned Scarborough, reported The Globe and Mail Jan. 7. Rafael Gomez, a professor of economics at York’s Glendon College and the magazine’s publisher, says Toronto’s inner suburbs have been “undervalued and underappreciated.” A pedestrian-unfriendly road like Lawrence certainly has drawbacks: It’s windswept and difficult to cross, and the bus can take its sweet time arriving in the dead of winter – but Gomez says the power of suggestion can go a long way. “It’s hard to change your environment physically,” he says. “But you can change your perception of a neighbourhood.”

On air

  • The York University Jazz Ensemble performed on CBC Radio’s “Here and Now” Jan. 9.
  • York political scientist Ian Greene was asked about preparing to watch the English-language federal leaders’ debate, on “A Channel News at 6” on CKVR-TV in Barrie Jan. 9.
  • First-year York dance student Sky Fairchild-Waller joined York’s FM 89.5 CIUT’s “Evi-dance” host Ted Fox Jan. 8 to talk about dance therapy and receipt of the national RBC Royal Bank Financial Lifeskills Scholarship.