Two York grads vie for Danforth riding

Two local candidates are exciting particular interest, both politically and personally, in the riding of Toronto-Danforth, reported the Toronto Star Jan. 12. Politically, NDP incumbent Jack Layton (MA ’71, PhD ’83) draws attention as a party leader desperate not to get squeezed between the Liberals and Conservatives. Personally, he creates excitement as one half of an attractive power couple, with Olivia Chow, both running for the same party, she in Trinity-Spadina.

Liberal contender Deborah Coyne (LLB ’79) holds the distinction of having had a daughter 14 years ago with Pierre Trudeau. She is a graduate of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School and of Oxford University in England, and for seven years served as a commissioner of the Immigration and Refugee Review Board, helping to decide who is accepted or rejected as a refugee claimant.

Poverty and tax cuts are election issues

York professors have weighed in on tax cuts and poverty, two major issues in the federal election:

  • Dennis Raphael, a professor in York’s School of Health Policy & Management, wrote a Toronto Star op-ed piece Jan. 12. “Despite the House of Commons unanimously passing an all-party resolution on Nov. 24, 1989 to achieve the goal of eliminating poverty among Canadian children by the year 2000, Canada’s child poverty rate continues to be among the highest in the developed world,” he began. “The appreciation of the importance of poverty by public health professionals and civil servants at Health Canada is present. So why,” he asked, “is nothing being done?” Raphael reported that in 14 developed countries between 1946 and 1990, the best predictor of low child poverty rates was a high proportion of left party members in cabinet, or “left cabinet share”. Even in Canada, the influence of the NDP on minority governments had led to “most of the progressive changes such as medicare and public pensions.” He concluded: “The electoral implications of these findings are clear.”
  • Neil Brooks, a professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, was cited by the Ottawa Citizen’s Susan Riley, in her Jan. 12 column (also in the Edmonton Journal) comparing election tax-cut promises. A longtime advocate of tax fairness, Brooks explained that Canada has a flat tax regime overall: Most Canadians pay between 30 and 35 per cent of their income in tax whether they earn $10,000, $100,000 or $1 million annually.

Martin doing ‘best he can’

York politics Professor Fred Fletcher says Prime Minister Paul Martin had his work cut out for him from the start, reported The Toronto Sun Jan. 12 in a story about voters embarrassed to admit they vote Liberal. “The government is always under attack – especially after 12 years in power – so they would likely be in trouble anyway,” Fletcher said. “Martin is playing his hand the best he can.”

‘Nothing criminogenic’ about drug trafficking

Alan Young, a professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, said linking gun crime to drug use and trafficking is a valid but “very simplistic” view of the problem, reported The Globe and Mail Jan. 12 in response to religious leaders’ appeal to candidates to drop any plans to decriminalize pot. “There is nothing inherently criminogenic or violent about drug trafficking,” he said. “It is the prohibition of [drug trade] that creates violence.”

Jazz guitarist happy to be outside mainstream

“I like to be an outsider,” says Tim Posgate. “And I always want to be challenged, to find different ways of expressing my music,” he told the Toronto Star in a Jan. 12 “What’s On” item. Posgate is a guitarist. In his busy pro career since 1989, after graduating with a bachelor of fine arts in jazz performance from York where his teachers included guitarist Lorne Lofsky, saxophonist David Mott and pianist Bill Westcott, he’s had a number of bands that mostly steer outside the mainstream.

On air

  • Saeed Rahnema, a York political science professor, joined a panel to discuss Iran’s nuclear program and US and British sanctions against it, on TVO’s “Studio 2” Jan. 11.
  • Scott Fielder, who teaches chemistry in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, discussed the science behind a hangover, on TVO’s “More to Life” Jan. 11.
  • York’s Osgoode Hall Law School was named number 1 in Canada, reported “A Channel News” on CKVR-TV in Barrie Jan. 11.