Ottawa feels heat over Israel stand

As the bombing of Lebanon enters its third week, the Conservative government is facing one of the greatest tests of its short life: charting a course through the dangerous waters of Middle Eastern politics while refusing to keep to the safe centre of the stream, reported The Globe and Mail July 28. The offices of some Conservative MPs have been inundated, first as Prime Minister Stephen Harper termed Israel’s attack on Lebanon a “measured response”, then as he refused to condemn Israel – and suggested UN culpability – in the presumed death of a Canadian peacekeeper. Saeed Rahnema, director of York’s School of Public Policy & Administration, said, “Canada built a reputation about the world, and particularly in the Middle East. Canada was so respectful – and this is the product of 50 years of successive governments – and unfortunately, overnight, Mr. Harper and [Foreign Affairs Minister] Peter MacKay have damaged that reputation. And I honestly don’t know how long it will take to repair it.”

In related coverage, Rahnema discussed how Syria and Iran, who support and sponsor Hezbollah, could help broker a deal to end the current crisis, in a CBC Radio interview aired on Toronto’s “Here and Now” and regional programs in Vancouver, Whitehorse and Montreal July 27.

How much are ‘green’ features worth?

Sure, everyone wants to save the environment. But how much will you pay to be green? Mattamy Homes is trying to answer that question with a public experiment, reported The Globe and Mail July 28. The company’s two new model homes at its Hawthorne Village development in Milton boast every environmental bell and whistle the builders could imagine — from programmable thermostats to bamboo floors to power-generating windmills on the roofs. “When you can show upfront that certain savings can be made, it’s been shown people are prepared to pay,” says Anders Sandberg, associate dean of York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies. For most home buyers, he adds, items such as bamboo floors and power-generating windmills “are still luxury items.” Sandberg says he believes it will take government regulation to make environmentally friendly features the norm in home building. “If you want to see it work on a larger scale, you cannot merely appeal to the goodness of people’s hearts when it comes to saving the environment,” he says.

Playwright writes about black immigrants in Scarborough

His acting and writing career is picking up steam, but Toronto-based Joseph Jomo Pierre still thinks of himself as an “outsider” and an “underdog”, and views local theatre as a “foreign” land, reported The Globe and Mail July 28. “I do the writing, I do the acting, but I don’t necessarily live in that world,” says Pierre, 31, who shot to fame last fall with the double bill of Born Ready and Pusha Man at Theatre Passe Muraille. The world he writes about is that of black, immigrant Scarborough – a place that’s impossible to conjure up (for those who live outside it) without stories of gun violence, drugs and communities held hostage to one crime wave after another. A variation of that culture surfaces in his scorching new work Hip-Hop (Who Stole the Soul?), part of the 16th SummerWorks Theatre Festival. “I guess from early on I realized there’s a voice that isn’t there. I wanted to represent that voice,” says Pierre, who earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in theatre from York in 1999.

School named after astronaut

Two Ottawa-Carleton District School Board elementary schools will carry the names of a pair of living Canadians, part a growing trend welcomed by education officials, reported the Ottawa Citizen. One of them is Steve MacLean Public School, named after the Ottawa-born astronaut who earned a BSc in 1977 and a PhD in 1983 in physics and an honorary degree in 1993 from York.

Prince’s wife files for divorce

The Canadian wife of rock star Prince has filed for divorce, reported July 26. Manuela Testolini sought to end their marriage on May 24 in Hennepin County District Court in Minnesota. Testolini, 29, was born in Toronto and went to work for the singer’s Paisley Park Studios in Minneapolis after graduating with a BA in 1998 from York. She and Prince, who have a sprawling estate on the Bridle Path in Toronto, were married on New Year’s Eve of 2001 in Hawaii.

On air

  • Lora Patton, an adjunct professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, joined The Stafford Show on CFMJ-AM in Toronto July 27 to comment on a court ruling upholding a school board decision to expel an 11-year-old boy from Sacred Heart Catholic School for threatening two girls with a knife without taking into account his special education needs.