York student stresses need for rural awareness

When she’s at home on her family’s Milverton dairy farm, York student Brittany Graul usually throws on jeans and an old shirt to help with the milking and haying, wrote The Record (Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo) Aug. 21. But on Sunday the 19-year-old donned a pink formal gown and took to the stage at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto to talk about the importance of educating urban folk on what farmers do.

The speech won over the judges and helped earn her the crown as the 2007 Ambassador of the Fairs. The competition got its start at the CNE back in 1972 as a way to promote youth and agriculture, wrote The Record. Graul will be busy for the next two weeks, appearing at CNE events promoting Ontario agriculture. Then she’ll head off to start her second year of political studies at York University. She’ll have more engagements throughout the year to promote agriculture. She said she plans on using the $3,500 in prize money to help pay her tuition.

Schulich professor pans imminent sale of federal buildings

An announcement on the sale of nine major federal government buildings, including Edmonton’s Canada Place, is expected shortly, wrote the Edmonton Journal Aug. 21. Published reports indicate that unloading properties in Canada’s six largest cities will fetch upwards of $1.65 billion for Ottawa’s coffers. That could represent a "profit" of $250 million to $350 million based on an initial valuation of $1.4 billion.

On the other side of the equation, some union leaders and the federal New Democrats have declared that the deal doesn’t make financial sense and could end up costing taxpayers double the amount the government will make from a sale. And they are not alone: In an interview with CanWest News, James McKellar, director of the Real Property Program at York University’s Schulich School of Business, maintained that the deal stinks. "It looks like the government’s doing the right thing today, but it’s really short-term gain for long-term pain," said McKellar.

Something wrong in Hogtown

Anne Golden’s defence of Toronto Mayor David Miller’s budgetary practice is wrong on at least two counts, wrote Sally F. Zerker, York professor emerita, in a letter to the National Post Aug. 21. One, she dismisses the small stuff like staff lunch expenditures when discussing the city’s financial problems. Fine. But she fails to pay attention to some terrible large expenditures, like $100 million spent to ruin St. Clair Avenue against the wishes of every concerned group. And now the mayor is again fighting against the wishes and interest of the people to transform Lansdowne Avenue to his desire. Again at big cost, much more than lunches.

Secondly, Toronto’s revenue has not been static, wrote Zerker. There have been tens of thousands of new condominiums built that are taxed at exorbitant rates (higher than tax rates on single houses), and all of that money has been pouring into Toronto’s coffers. I think we need an independent auditor to review where and how these new monies have been spent. There’s something amiss in Toronto, and we need answers.

Greenpeace report slams forestry industries

A new report that slams the forestry industry’s destruction of Canada’s boreal forest, and names 35 companies who profit from that destruction, has an intriguing Cornwall connection, wrote the Cornwall Standard-Freeholder Aug. 21. Cornwall native and York alumna Kim Fry (BES ’99), who ran locally for the federal NDP in 2000, is one of the key authors of the investigative report, released Monday by global environmental organization Greenpeace.

The report singles out four pulp and logging companies who together have cut down nearly 200,000 square kilometres of Canada’s boreal forest: Abitibi- Consolidated, Bowater, Kruger, and SFK Pulp, wrote the Standard-Freeholder. It also draws attention to a number of well-known companies who use those forestry products, including Best Buy, Sears, and Coles/Indigo.

The report doesn’t call for shoppers to boycott those companies, said Fry. Rather, she hopes that by naming them in the report, those companies would, in turn, pressure the forestry companies to clearcut smaller areas and be more sensitive to wildlife and other ecosystems. “Right now, brand means a lot, and companies are very sensitive to their brand,” said Fry. “It’s worth it, for their bottom line, to be as green as they can.”

The forestry industry is one that Fry, who grew up in Cornwall before leaving to take environmental studies at Toronto’s York University, knows first- hand.

York Lions add ex-Argo

Former CFL all-star Clifford Ivory has been hired by the York University Lions to be the team’s defensive co-ordinator, wrote the Toronto Star Aug. 21. The long-time Toronto Argonauts defensive back joins the Lions coaching staff after a seven-year playing career.

On air

  • Adriana Molina (BBA ’06), a graduate of York’s Schulich School of Business, spoke about student debt on BNN’s “Workopolis TV” Aug. 20.