Why Canada should get out of Afghanistan

Canada should pull its troops out of Afghanistan, wrote James Laxer, political science professor in York’s  Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, in the Globe and Mail’s online edition March 3. The West’s mission there is no less a “march of folly,” to use historian Barbara Tuchman’s phrase about the US war in Vietnam, than was the Soviet attempt to impose a regime in Afghanistan with its invasion in 1979, said Laxer. In Afghanistan, Canadian troops are not engaged in peacekeeping. They are involved on one side in a civil war. The mission now entrusted to Canadian and other coalition troops in southern Afghanistan, under the command of Canadian Brigadier-General David Fraser, is no less a war mission than the campaigns being fought by the British and Americans in Iraq.

If Canada and the other Western powers pull out of Afghanistan, what will be the consequences for that country? The struggle involving the government in Kabul, the remnants of the Taliban and regional warlords will continue, wrote Laxer. At the end of the civil war, the regime that emerges is unlikely to look much like a democracy that practises human rights. It could even be a fascistic theocracy. On the other hand, the presence of Western powers, perceived in this region of the world as the forces of imperialism, will never succeed in imposing a Western-style system in the country. Not least, Canada should pull its troops out of Afghanistan for an old-fashioned, even politically incorrect, reason. It is not in our interest to put our young men and women in harm’s way in a struggle that will not be won.

Summer job hunt: why internships are crucial

It’s that time of year. Not only is coursework piling up but summer job hunt season has hit a fever pitch, wrote Richard Bloom, in the latest in a series of columns for The Globe and Mail (March 3) on his life as an MBA student at the Schulich School of Business at York. In my program, said Bloom, as in many business schools nowadays trying to cater to students’ desire for flexible studying schedules, internships aren’t required. But while early graduation is an attractive proposition, especially for those of us floating around the age of 30 and with some years of work experience under our belts, a summer internship may have much more value.  At the Schulich School of Business, a program [to pay stipends] is in place for students in the arts and media specialization because administrators realize that getting experience in the field is essential – and because there are very few recruiters from those sectors looking for MBAs-in-training. I’m hoping to be able to use one of those bursaries to fund a summer job in the media sector.

Historians form group to save 19th-century heritage building

One of Toronto’s oldest buildings has brought a group of heritage preservationists – including York historian Craig Heron – and the developers that would build a high-rise over it to City Hall to battle over its future, reported the National Post March 3. Bishop’s Block, a building on the northeast corner of Adelaide and Simcoe Streets that was built between 1829 and 1833, has been labeled one of the city’s first hotels by historical experts who have started a coalition called the Bishop’s Block Social History Project. They are not satisfied with the developers’ plans to build a $340-million, 750-foot-high, mixed-use complex of hotel rooms, condo units and restaurants called Shangri-La, while only restoring the exterior of the heritage building. Before taking the issue to the Toronto Preservation Board yesterday, Heron talked about the long history of Bishop’s Block – named after John Bishop, the butcher who had it built – and its many incarnations as a hotel under names such as O’Connor House and Pretzel Bell Tavern. The building has been dormant since the 1980s. “This building does not just represent architectural details but should reflect the interior, social and cultural life of a building,” Heron said of the coalition’s desire to have the interior restored as well. The board deferred a decision on its recommendations until April.

Will Centre Block doubts shelve library?

The boss of the Kitchener Public Library attributes claims of declining support for a new central library downtown to the way the city is pursuing the redevelopment of Centre Block, which is bounded by King, Young, Duke and Ontario streets, reported The Record (Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo) March 3. The city wants that redevelopment anchored by a $64-million project that includes a new 130,000-square-foot library and underground parking garage. James McKellar of the Schulich School of Business at York was retained by Kitchener to give advice to the Centre Block committee. When it comes to specialized, public-sector buildings, McKellar is not a fan of the design-build approach the committee is pushing. “What you are doing in design-build is essentially passing certain risks off to the developer and you pay for that,” McKellar said. “It is not the magic bullet. It is not a panacea. It doesn’t mean you are going to get something better for less.”

PM acted wisely in appointing former Osgoode dean Peter Hogg

The appointment of Marshall Rothstein to the Supreme Court is a multi-faceted win for the new Conservative government, reported The Edmonton Journal March 3.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper wisely asked the nation’s foremost constitutional expert, Peter Hogg of Osgoode Hall Law School, to act as a sort of moderator in the Feb. 27 judicial hearing review and to lend his enormous credibility not just to the day, but to the process itself.

York-trained performer leads Brockville students in a re-enactment of disaster

Alumna Deborah Dunleavy (BA ’74), a Brockville storyteller and the founder of the 1000 Islands Yarnspinners, is leading a Grade 9 class in putting together a dramatization of the J.B. King drillboat disaster, reported the Brockville Recorder and Times March 2. Dunleavy will be helping the drama students develop and stage a skit which tells the story of the disaster, in which 30 men died when the drillboat the J.B. King was struck by lightning and exploded more than 75 years ago in June 1930. Dunleavy has had an active and successful career specializing in the performing arts for well over 20 years. The author of several books, Dunleavy’s repertoire of stories comes from personal experience, family truths and lies, and history.

On air

  • Ben Richardson, professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, and Osgoode student Laurie Mishibinijima, spoke on CBC-Radio’s “Metro Morning” March 2 about the 2006 National Aboriginal Rights Moot taking place in Toronto and hosted by Osgoode.
  • Debra Pepler, psychology professor with York’s LaMarsh Centre for Research on Violence and Conflict Resolution, was interviewed on CITY-TV March 2 about the effectiveness of anti-bullying programs.
  • Scott Fielder, chemistry professor with York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about the science of pesticides on TVO’s “More to Life” program March 2.
  • Ashwin Joshi, marketing professor with the Schulich School of Business at York, was interviewed on the A Channel’s CKVR-TV (Barrie) March 2 about the impact on the home building industry of new Canadians’ requests for modifications to their homes for religious reasons.