Tories’ negative spin threatens to boomerang

Advertising experts say the minority Conservative government’s attack ads against Liberal leader Stéphane Dion are not only extremely unusual and expensive, but they are so negative they could backfire, noted a story in the Edmonton Journal Jan. 30. An accompanying sidebar by Canadian Press quoted an expert from York. "They are classic attack ads. The overall strategy of worrying people about the new leader is correct but it’s premature,” said Alan Middleton, marketing professor at York’s Schulich School of Business. "Canadians have always demonstrated that they want to give people a chance. I’m not sure I’d be doing it right now…We’re talking at least six months, more likely nine months to a year, before the next election and they don’t have the money to sustain this for that long a period of time. So there’s only one scenario I can see under which this would have tremendous effectiveness and that’s if they were about to call an election."

Story of a better way

Jason Young, a first-year PhD student in history at York, who is studying the birth and growth of the Toronto subway system, was featured in the Toronto Star’s “Deep Thoughts” column Jan. 30. Young’s exploring what impact having a subway in our city has had on both interactions between people and the underground landscape of Toronto. He says Toronto is unique in North America because, in the post-World War II period, instead of just building huge numbers of freeways, the city fathers looked to the future and built the first subway system in Canada. "The TTC advertised that men and materials from across Canada had helped build it," says Young. "There was a real sense of nationalism in the construction."

Michael Brook returns to solo work

If you’ve seen the recent documentaries An Inconvenient Truth and Who Killed the Electric Car?, chances are they left you feeling galvanized, wrote the National Post Jan. 30. Chances are, as well, that you didn’t take much notice of the soundtracks. But talking heads, Power Point presentations and statistics won’t sway audiences by themselves. Unobtrusively but skilfully, Michael Brook‘s atmospheric music works its movie magic.

The former York music student learned this discipline from the "very vigilant" Brian Eno, whom he met through working as an engineer at Daniel Lanois’ Hamilton studio in the early ’80s. He also learned that a piece of music that doesn’t work in one context may fit perfectly in another.

On air

  • Alan Young, professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, said he intends to sue the federal government to legalize prostitution in Canada in light of the Robert Pickton murder trial. Young made the announcement on three news radio stations in Halifax, Moncton and St. John, NB, Jan. 29.

  • York economics graduate Jeremiah Sulunteh (MA ’01), who was recently appointed Liberia’s transport minister, spoke about his hopes to ship donated buses from Ontario to help the recovery of his war-torn country, on CBC Radio news Jan. 29.