York will grab Pan Am stadium if Hamilton dithers, organizers say

If the two sides in the Hamilton stadium standoff can’t get their act together, 2015 Pan American Games organizers will pull the plug and build the new facility at York University, wrote columnist Dave Perkins in the Toronto Star June 10.

The Toronto Argonauts would be the long-term tenants of a new 25,000-seat stadium to hold Pan Am track & field events, plans for which are moving ahead as the alternative if Hamilton stalls out. Allegedly, the [Spadina] subway will be extended to York by 2015.

York was in the running several years ago for a combined soccer/football stadium, the one later built soccer-only at the Canadian National Exhibition in order to enrich Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. With another $32 million from each of the federal and provincial governments earmarked for the 2015 stadium, York is anxious not to miss the boat again.

Such a stadium, one that would come with warm-up facilities, would solidify York as one of Canada’s premier athletic universities, wrote Perkins. Travel times for track athletes from the Ataratiri athletes’ village wouldn’t be ideal, but would be better than training to Hamilton.

  • Pan Am Games CEO Ian Troop confirmed that York University is potentially a “viable alternative” if Hamilton can’t resolve its stadium dispute, wrote The Hamilton Spectator June 10. Troop said York University is a location whose full potential hasn’t been explored. “They’ve got the tennis and if there is something else in the future, they’re a very viable alternative.”

Elections Canada fights to reject Tory GST refund

An appeal in a Toronto courtroom by the independent elections watchdog is one of two currently underway that pit the Tories against Elections Canada over interpretations of election financing law, wrote The Canadian Press June 10.

“There’s a lot of gaming that goes on with the rules, and that’s clearly what’s happening,” said Professor Robert MacDermid, an expert in political financing who teaches in York University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies. “This is a rather rare case where the (governing) party is not in the majority, so it has to play the game through the courts or through attacking Elections Canada. If it was a majority government, quite frankly it would just change the rules.”

MacDermid, who has studied campaign financing at the municipal, provincial and federal levels, says parties of all partisan stripes “have always gamed the rules… And the Conservatives have been particularly astute about wringing advantages for themselves out of the campaign finance law.”

The GST rebate case works to their advantage, said MacDermid, “through being able to spend more or handicapping the other parties…. They know they’re playing from a position of great strength because they have been so successful at raising money in comparison to the other parties recently. They have a huge edge.”

Oil giant mocked for directing Web traffic to site

The company responsible for what is being called the biggest ecological disaster in US history is facing a flood of criticism being spread through social media and there doesn’t appear to be any end in sight, wrote the Toronto Star June 10 in a story about efforts by the company to redirect Web traffic to its own sites to convey positive messaging about the cleanup effort.

Alan Middleton, a marketing professor with the Schulich School of Business at York University, said communicating with consumers through options that appear to cost very little is an important part of BP’s strategy at this point. “If they are seen to be wasting their money on fighting back too hard that is going to trigger a whole new wave of opposition,” said Middleton. BP has purchased space in newspapers to spread their message, but they are being selective, said Middleton.

“The trick is you can’t be seen as spending too much because it is going to result in the very obvious question,” which is why aren’t you using the funds to improve safety procedures or support fisherman about to lose their livelihoods, he said. At this point the best BP can do is to appear transparent and attempt to moderate what is being said about them online, he said.

BP must be seen as apologetic and responsible but remind consumers there were two other companies involved in the crisis, he said.

Fiat CEO and Osgoode grad looks at Brampton for Alfa Romeo 

Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne (LLB ’83) has said he’s weighing whether to manufacture Alfa Romeo-brand vehicles in Brampton, which currently builds the 300C, Dodge Challenger and Dodge Charger, wrote The Canadian Press June 9 in a story about an announcement of a new Fiat product to be built at the plant.

The deal [between Chrysler and Fiat] raised plenty of speculation about what Fiat’s involvement would mean for Chrysler’s Canadian operations. Marchionne spent much of his youth in Canada, attending Osgoode Hall Law School at York University, the University of Windsor and the University of Toronto.

In April, Marchionne said he hopes the combined Chrysler-Fiat will build six million cars annually by 2014 with revenues of US$86.3 billion.