Markham forum in works to address developer donation issue raised by York prof

Should Markham politicians stop taking corporate donations for their election campaigns? Depends on who you ask, wrote the Markham Economist & Sun March 19.

Unionville Ratepayers Association president Richard Talbot thinks so. He’s currently organizing a debate on the issue and plans to invite local politicians and ratepayer group executives. He’s likely to get varying opinions on the matter, which hit the news this winter when York University Professor Robert MacDermid, a political scientist in the Faculty of Arts, released a study on development industry donations in GTA municipal campaigns.

Calling for a quit to development industry money – something some have insinuated could sway politicians’ decisions – may be a matter for debate, but it’s not a matter for local decision. It’s allowed by the Municipal Elections Act, thus the province would have to revise the law to disallow it. However, there’s been some movement by individual candidates to not accept corporate contributions.

Deputy Mayor Jack Heath said he tries "my best not to take donations from developers. But who are developers is open to interpretation." He pointed out MacDermid’s interpretation differs from his own, since his study shows Heath as accepting some donations from development-related industries. Councillor Erin Shapero took only one corporate contribution and neither she nor Councillor Logan Kanapathi show any donations from development-related industries, according to MacDermid’s report.

Legacy community resident Al Pickard said the development industry contribution situation is "a perception issue." He recently appeared as a panellist on a “Focal Point with Dave Tsubouchi” show on the subject. Pickard expressed concerns about MacDermid’s report. "He’s created a theoretical thesis based on a broad brush approach," he said, adding the professor doesn’t point out one specific decision to support his claim.

But Talbot said he believes banning corporate contributions would increase the transparency and would provide a level playing field for candidates who don’t take developer donations. He said the forum, which MacDermid is supposed to attend, will tentatively be held this fall.

Hard work pays off

The University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa and York University give students with 95 per cent $3,000 a year for four years if they keep their grades up. Grades of 90 to 94.9 per cent earn $2,000 a year, noted the Toronto Star March 20 in a companion piece to a story about competition among universities for stop students.

 NOW Magazine likes The Bundle

Caught Theatre@York’s production of The Bundle, directed by the talented Alan Dilworth, wrote reviewers Jon Kaplan and Glenn Sumi in NOW Magazine March 19. Edward Bond’s intellectually meaty play looks at public and private morality, how and why people choose to put themselves or others first. In a Brechtian fashion, the playwright breaks the fourth wall and asks the audience the very questions that trouble his characters. Set in rural China, the piece follows the fortunes of Wang, an abandoned infant who, saved by a kind ferryman, grows up to be a revolutionary.

Dilworth honed the production wonderfully, presenting the play’s poetry and moral dilemmas clearly and getting some fine performances from his company of graduate students. He cast Cherissa Richards as Wang – usually a man plays the part – and she had some strong scenes where the character, struggling with choices, makes life-changing decisions.

We also liked the work of Chris Karczmar as the charitable ferryman, aware of his human frailty, who knows he’s courting problems at home when he takes in another mouth to feed; Matthew Thomas Walker as the poet/judge Basho, who opts for personal enlightenment instead of caring for others; and Jack Grinhaus as the one-handed Tiger, a dangerous, monosyllabic robber who’s nevertheless a skilled storyteller.

First lady of salsa

Mention Rubén Blades’ name to former York student Yeti Ajasin – a.k.a. Lady Son – and watch her face light up. Mention 1992’s The Best of Ruben Blades CD, and you’ll likely have a spirited conversation on your hands about the popular Panamanian political singer.

Not only did that album blow Ajasin’s mind, but it inspired her to embark on an amazing journey that’s culminated in her solid debut album, something she never predicted. While Blades’ album turned her into a Cuban music fiend, it was a cultural exchange program that she participated in when she was in Grade 11 in Toronto that sowed the seeds for her love of the music.

"I returned from my first trip to Cuba with a passion for the culture, the people, the music and the language," Ajasin says. "I was determined at that point to master Spanish and I did that via cassettes and formal academics."

Ajasin, who double-majored in French and Spanish at York University’s language program, says she’s always had a gift for picking up languages. She says she has "an acute ear which has aided me in my ability to sound authentic while singing in a language that is not my first."