Osgoode grad bids for leadership of Saskatchewan NDP

Younger candidates such as Regina-based lawyer Yens Pedersen (LLB ’97), may be ready to start the debate over whether their party needs to explore a whole new direction, wrote The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon, Sask.) Feb. 24 in a story about the race for the leadership of the Saskatchewan NDP.

The 35-year-old political novice hasn’t exactly set this race on fire and particularly has struggled with his messaging. That said, his label as an “empty vessel” – the choice description of a New Democrat from a rival camp – might be a bit premature.

Although Pedersen’s carefully measured, sometimes-ponderous answers, which are reflective of his background as a successful Osgoode Hall Law School-trained lawyer, aren’t yet creating fiery political discourse, a recent interview suggests he’s at least thinking about the big-picture issues.

For example, asked about what he thinks are the most important issues that face Saskatchewan, Pedersen cites the energy debate and the need to explore alternative sources such as solar, wind, hydro and biomass. While that’s predictable from a left-of-centre New Democrat, he takes the issue a step further by suggesting that this is the time to consider putting money into research that’s specific to our needs.

CUPE ‘intolerant’ of Israel, Tories charge

The Harper government is accusing one of Ontario’s biggest unions of taking an “intolerant” stance against Israel, wrote The Canadian Press Feb. 23.

Citizenship, Immigration & Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney says a CUPE Ontario resolution urging a boycott of Israeli universities is intolerant and contributes to a bad atmosphere on Canadian campuses.

He says the CUPE resolution has an unfortunate effect on campuses and suggests the attitude may have helped spark a recent incident at Toronto’s York University, in which anti-Israel slogans were shouted at Jewish students.

“This reinforces the whole, extreme, unbalanced rhetoric about Israel as an apartheid state, Israel as a racist state – to quote the Canadian Arab Federation – this creates an opinion environment which makes it acceptable to start shouting at Jewish kids who probably also happen to support Israel.

“It’s creating the opinion environment which has become very, very uncomfortable for Jewish students on many of our campuses.”

Kenney says there’s nothing the federal government can do about CUPE and he suggests the union leadership may be out of step with the membership.

CUPE national president Paul Moist issued a statement Monday saying the national union does not support the CUPE Ontario resolution. “The resolution does not represent CUPE National policy,” the statement said. “As a national union, we are governed by policy resolutions adopted at our national conventions.”

  • The head of one of Canada’s largest labour unions has created in environment on Canadian campuses that could foster verbal attacks on Jewish students, Citizenship, Immigration & Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney charged yesterday, wrote the Belleville Intelligencer Feb. 24.

Kenney cited the example of a recent incident at York University where Jewish students ended up taking refuge in the campus Hillel office after a clash with other students. “This stuff is getting out of control,” said Kenney.

Kenney called on the members of CUPE Ontario to get rid of Ryan. “The consequence, I would hope, is that ordinary CUPE members who believe their union dues should be going to support the advocacy of their rights as workers will fire Sid Ryan.”

What’s in an EMBA for employers?

Executive MBA programs do seem to pay off for graduates , wrote André deCarufel, executive & academic director of the Joint Kellogg-Schulich EMBA Program in the Schulich School of Business at York University, in the National Post Feb. 24. Those who successfully completed one of the six Canadian EMBA programs ranked in the Top 100 by the Financial Times of London in 2008 received an average salary of $135,000, an increase of over 55 per cent after three years.

Sponsoring organizations as well as EMBA graduates have a great deal to gain from EMBA programs. For graduates, the benefits are clear – increased salary, promotions and the knowledge base to be more effective. For sponsoring employers, there are important benefits as well. These can be realized almost as soon as the employee begins the program, provided the employer chooses the right candidates, ensures that the EMBA is integrated into a career development plan for the individual, and decides where the EMBA fits into their overall plan for employee development.

We have to break our reliance on economic growth

Everyone agrees we are in difficult economic times, wrote Peter Victor, professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, in The Vancouver Sun Feb. 24. What’s in dispute is whether the best way forward is to continue to rely on economic growth to solve our problems.

Vancouver Sun columnist Harvey Enchin thinks it is (Feb. 11). Others, myself included, are looking at becoming less reliant on the continual expansion of the economy. Why?

First, and most important, there is compelling evidence that the resources and natural systems of our planet cannot sustain unlimited economic expansion. Peak oil, climate change, accelerating species extinction, fresh water scarcity and nuclear power risks are among the more widely discussed threats.

Second, the disconnect between rising incomes and happiness is more apparent than ever, even to economists.

Third, economic growth has not delivered as promised on full employment, eradication of poverty and environmental protection.

For all these reasons, economic growth looks less and less viable as a long-term strategy, especially for rich countries. Economies are embedded in and dependent on the biosphere for energy, materials and a host of indispensable ecosystem services.

On air

  • Debra Pepler, Distinguished Research Professor in psychology in York’s Faculty of Health and in the LaMarsh Centre for Research on Violence & Conflict Resolution, spoke about a bullying incident at a Mississauga high school on Global TV Feb. 23.