It’s time to recalibrate Canada’s mission, says Laxer

In the aftermath of the deadly bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul earlier this month, as well as other developments, Canadians need a reality check to counter Ottawa’s soothing message that steady progress is being made in Afghanistan, wrote York Professor James Laxer, of York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, in an opinion piece for The Globe and Mail July 22.

Both the Pakistani government and the Karzai government in Kabul have been negotiating with elements of the Taliban to reach their own peace deals. The truth is, the regime we are supporting in Kabul is not committed to a version of the rule of law that is remotely compatible with our own.

The Kabul government is the author of repeated atrocities against prisoners who fall into its hands. It is riddled with corruption and its officials have been repeatedly linked by reputable observers to the country’s poppy trade, the source of more than 90 per cent of the world’s heroin.

Contrary to the Harper government’s claim that the war in Afghanistan is going well, there have been repeated and authoritative assessments that reveal that the opposite is true. When a settlement does come in Afghanistan, and one is certainly possible between the Karzai government and elements of the Taliban, it will not create a country that is firmly on the road to democracy and a regime based on the rule of law and respect for the rights of women as the Harper government would have us believe.

Hasn’t the time come for us to end the bleeding of our soldiers in a conflict in which our vital interests are not at stake and the side on which we are fighting upholds values that are remote from our own?

York alum lands influential clerkship at US Supreme Court

Yaakov Roth is from Toronto, wrote the Toronto Star July 22. After he graduated from York University’s Faculty of Arts in 2004 – with a perfect grade point average, a degree in economics and three years of experience in conservative and pro-Israel politics – he “didn’t have anything to do next.” So, in a decision that was “not well planned out at all,” he applied to law school.

He was accepted at Harvard. Last June, he was the only member of his class to graduate summa cum laude. The month before, he was accepted into an elite club few Canadians have ever penetrated.

Yesterday, the 23-year-old Roth walked into the US Supreme Court as one of Justice Antonin Scalia’s four clerks, making him one of fewer than 10 non-Americans ever to hold one of the ferociously coveted Supreme Court clerkships, which give law school graduates unparalleled influence in the court’s decision- making and near-automatic elite jobs afterward.

Roth is not yet licensed to practise law.

“I try not to think about it too much. It’s a little scary,” he said. “I’m one year out of law school, so it’s not like I have a wealth of experience to contribute. So I’m obviously thrilled, but I try not to think too much about the responsibility.”

Since the judiciary is officially apolitical, Roth did not want to talk in detail about his political views. He did say he is “comfortable” with Scalia’s philosophy of “originalism,” which holds that the meaning of the US Constitution does not change over time, and with the justice’s famous conservatism.

That would be unsurprising to his classmates at York. As provincial vice-president of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives’ student organization, the campaign manager for a right-leaning York student council slate and the founder of groups for campus Canadian Alliance supporters and Zionists, Roth sparred frequently with liberals and pro-Palestinians.

Teacher college applications down nearly 20 per cent

Teachers’ colleges in Ontario attracted the fewest applicants since 2002, according to statistics available at the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC), wrote Maclean’s online news July 21. By July, the University of Ottawa had received the most applications (6,202), followed by the University of Toronto (5,627) and York University (4,837).