Party’s over for Canada’s Progressive Conservatives

I recently attended a University convocation ceremony [at York] at which an honorary degree was given to Joe Clark, celebrating his many contributions to Canadian politics and public life, wrote Arthur Haberman, University Professor Emeritus of history and humanities in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, in a letter to the Toronto Star July 17.

Clark’s remarks reminded me of something that has been missing in Canadian political culture for the last decade or so: a progressive conservatism – some call those who follow its tenets Red Tories – that has its roots in Edmund Burke and Benjamin Disraeli. It has been overwhelmed and taken over by the conservatism of the Blue Tories, and our Conservatives have made it clear there is no room for the Joe Clarks of our country in their party.

In progressive conservatism there is a belief in acknowledging the importance of tradition in organizing politics and society. This used to translate into an anglophile posture and a loyalty to the monarchy. But since the 1980s, Clark and others have not only acknowledged the role of diversity in Canadian society, they have repositioned progressive conservatism on the side of multiculturalism and bilingualism. Now we can have multiple identities, follow our own traditions and be Canadian. Indeed, one of the ways we define ourselves is as the most successful society in managing diversity on the planet.

Neo-Gothic gem may become casualty of economic crisis

Completed in 1854 for $12,000, [a] medieval-style building – complete with former jail cells in the basement – was Paris, Ont.’s first town hall and is widely believed to be the oldest of its kind in the world, wrote the National Post July 17 in a story about efforts to save the structure.

Malcolm Thurlby, professor of medieval and Canadian art and architecture in York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts, agrees. He said the old town hall is “unbelievably special”.

Thurlby said he was shocked when he realized the “particular attention to authentic medieval detailing” in all aspects of the building, including the mouldings over the doors, windows and arches.

He explained that the old town hall is in the tradition of Gothic revival, which began in England in the mid-18th century but didn’t take hold in most of the world until 100 years later. He said the building was a “beacon to civic ambition” at the time it was built.

Majority of break-ins go unsolved: police stats

There’s a simple explanation why so many break and enters go unsolved, said Paul Baxter, a professor of criminology in York University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, in a story in the Aurora Era-Banner July 16.

People committing break and enters are often looking for money, jewellery or other items that likely don’t have records of ownership attached to them and can be converted quickly into cash, Baxter said. “The closure rate is low for that reason. The material stolen quite literally disappears. It’s a daunting task, when you think about just how much consumer goods disappear during break and enters.”

Break and enters can result in psychological, financial and physical health consequences, Baxter said. The initial shock and disbelief of discovering a burglary will often turn to anger, rage and then fear. “This is what motivates people who have been victimized to spend money on security measures,” he said.

Employers remain ill-prepared for flu

The price tag in lost productivity and business interruptions [from worker illnesses in a pandemic] could exceed the $2-billion hit the economy took thanks to SARS, says Amin Mawani, acting director of the Health Industry Management Program at the Schulich School of Business at York University, wrote The Globe and Mail July 17.

He views pandemic planning as insurance: All companies buy fire insurance, even though the likelihood of a fire is 1.8 per cent for every 100,000 square feet of space, he says. “You won’t find a single company without fire insurance, and yet here’s another threat where there’s an 8 per cent chance your employees will be absent and disrupt profits. Most banks insist on fire insurance as a condition for a business loan. Maybe they should insist on a pandemic plan as well.”