McLaughlin launches its informal lunchtime talk series

McLaughlin College presents its Fall Term Lunch Talks beginning today and continuing until November 22 to consider a diverse array of topics including prospects for peace in the Middle East, the Bellamy Inquiry and the Ontario Citizen’s Assembly.

The series kicks off with a talk today, from noon until 1:15pm, titled “Current Challenges of the Canadian Forces”. The presenter is Lieutenant-General (retired) George Macdonald (left), the former vice-chief of the Canadian Defence staff. In that role, he was instrumental in coordinating Canada’s response to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US. He has also served as deputy commander-in-chief of North American Aerospace Defence (NORAD) Command in Colorado Springs, Colo. Macdonald was awarded an honourary doctorate from York University last February and is a Fellow of McLaughlin College. His presentation is based on his breadth of understanding of Canada’s military gained through his career.

On Thursday, Oct. 5, Kareem Javed, a graduate student in political science at York University will present a talk titled, “The Prospects for Peace in the Middle East”. Javed’s research focuses on the peace process in the Middle East and the democratic administration in Jordan. He has visited Jordan and Lebanon on several occasions recently, including this past August. Javed is currently a teaching assistant in the York course, “War and Peace in the Middle East.”

The talk, “Impact of the Bellamy Inquiry: The Office of the Integrity Commissioner”, will be presented by David Mullen on Thursday Oct. 12, from 2:30 to 4pm (note the change from the usual time). Mullen is the world’s first municipal integrity commissioner. The Bellamy Inquiry into the Toronto computer leasing scandal lauded Toronto’s creation of the Integrity Commissioner (the office was created while the report was being written) and recommended strengthening it. Mullen, who is also professor emeritus of law from Queen’s University, will report on this innovative municipal ethics regime.

On Tuesday, Oct. 17, the series presents “My Darling Pussy: The liaison between Lloyd George and Frances Stevenson”. Gerry Jordan, professor emeritus of history and a Fellow of McLaughlin College, will discuss the career of David Lloyd George, a prominent political figure and British prime minister during the First World War. Should politicians eschew extra-marital affairs, or can they contribute to a sense of personal balance?

Right: Frances Stevenson (left) and Lloyd George

Frances Stevenson became Lloyd George’s private secretary, and the first woman permanent private secretary in British cabinet history. After Lloyd George’s wife died, Lloyd George married Stevenson. One theory is that people with enhanced leadership capabilities also have enhanced sexual drive. If this is true, what are the moral and ethical implications?

Patrick Tomlinson is a PhD student in political science who is doing research into policies affecting francophone communities in North America. On Wednesday, Oct. 18, Tomlinson will present his talk titled, “New Orleans One Year Later”. During a recent visit to New Orleans, Tomlinson took a series of stunning photographs that show that in some of the poorer neighbourhoods, nothing has changed since Hurricane Katrina. Why? Tomlinson will display his photographs, and present an analysis of the political reasons for the neglect and disorganization.

On Wednesday, Oct. 25, Professor Ian Greene (left), master of McLaughlin College, will present his talk titled, “The Ontario Citizens Assembly”. Greene is supervising 10 York University students who are providing research support to the Ontario Citizens Assembly (CA). (See the Sept. 8 issue of YFile.) The CA, which began meeting in September in the Moot Court at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, is composed of 103 citizens chosen at random from the provincial voting constituencies across Ontario. The assembly will consider whether to recommend a different electoral system to Ontario voters (for example, a proportional representation system or a mixed system). If the CA recommends a change, the citizens of Ontario will vote on whether to adopt the new system in the fall of 2007. Greene, together with some of the students working with the assembly, will describe the CA process and comment on its impact on democracy.

Professor David Shugarman will join Greene on Thursday, Nov. 16, for a lunchtime talk titled, “The Impact of the Gomery Commission Report”. Both are McLaughlin Fellows and have completed a review of the Gomery Commission report for Canadian Public Administration. Greene and Shugarman claim that the report, with its extensive supporting volumes of research studies, is the most important milestone in Canadian public administration in decades. To what extent have the Gomery recommendations been followed by the Harper government? Greene and Shugarman argue that while some of the Harper reforms implement several of the recommendations of Gomery, others are hastily considered and are likely to backfire.

On Wednesday, Nov. 22, the talk titled, “Case Conferencing as a Model for Ethical Decision-Making”, will be presented by Professor Shirley Katz and Alan Shefman, both McLaughlin Fellows. Katz and Shefman have been working with Cheryl Munroe of the Canadian Immigration Commission to develop a case conferencing model. This model promotes ethical decision-making with regard to applications by immigrants to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, as well as other kinds of immigration decision-making. They will explain how the model works in practice, and discuss how it might be applied to other kinds of decision-making affecting the lives of vulnerable persons.

All talks will be held in the McLaughlin Senior Common Room, 140 McLaughlin College, and are free and open to the public. A light lunch is served at noon and the talks usually begin at about 12:15pm, followed by a question-and-answer session. Each session usually finishes shortly after 1pm. It’s very informal and if you can’t come until 12:30pm, or need to leave early, that’s fine.

Past lunch talks are available on the videostream from the McLaughlin Web page; the videostreams of the new talks will be posted at a later date.