Are pre-election politics hurting municipalities?

Campaigning is a key component of any successful bid for politics, wrote Sept. 14. But how much time is needed for a candidate to get their name out?

“I think the campaign (period) is too long and does interfere with the functioning of councils,” said Robert MacDermid, a political science professor in York University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, who has called for wide-ranging municipal election reforms, including the need to ban corporate, developer and union contributions.

“(The) raising money mode can be a period of influence for donors,” MacDermid said, as candidates are able to collect donations from developers and others with a vested interest in the process. 

  • Ontario’s mayors and city councillors should be banned from taking election campaign donations from business and unions, says the leader of a national election reform group, wrote The Windsor Star Sept. 15.

Fair Vote Canada will urge the McGuinty government to approve legislation that forbids such donations…, says Larry Gordon, the group’s executive director based in Toronto. His group is pointing to a survey, conducted by political science Professor Robert MacDermid of York University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, of 474 city councillors and mayors within Ontario’s 42 largest municipalities which found less than 10 per cent (35) would favour such a ban.

  • In his 2009 study "Funding City Politics", published by and the Centre for Social Justice, York University Professor Robert MacDermid documented that a significant portion of municipal candidate funding in the Greater Toronto Area came from corporations, wrote The Sudbury Star Sept. 15.

In his study of 10 municipalities in the 2006 elections the percentages of disclosed campaign contributions from corporations ran from lows of 12 per cent in Toronto and 22 per cent in Ajax, up to 62 per cent in Richmond Hill, 63 per cent in Vaughan and 77 per cent in Pickering. The lion’s share of contributions came from the property development industry.

York grad’s candidacy focuses on downtown Orillia

Pat Reid (BA ’87) wants to clean up downtown Orillia. The 47-year-old lifelong Orillian is the eighth person to toss his hat into the Ward 4 ring, wrote the Orillia Packet & Times Sept. 15.

Reid is concerned about “security” and “quality of life” in the city’s core. Reid has a degree in political science from York University and has performed in Orillia pipe bands his “whole life”, he said.

York space researcher called world famous

York University space engineer James Whiteway, a professor in the Faculty of Science & Engineering, will deliver the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s (RASC) annual Paul Sykes Memorial Lecture at 4pm in Images Theatre, wrote BC’s Burnaby News Leader Sept. 14 in a story about a daylong science outreach event at Simon Fraser University. Whiteway, the Canadian science lead on NASA’s 2008 Phoenix Mars Lander project, is world famous for spotting snow on the red planet.

All fields of medicine could use more humour, doctor says

“Sorry, we’re a bit backed up,” says Dr. Woody Fisher (Hon. LLD ’08). Ha ha. That’s hilarious, doc. And the Demerol hasn’t even kicked in yet, wrote columnist Mike Strobel in the Toronto Sun Sept. 15.

It’s my colonoscopy date at Yonge Street and Balmoral Avenue, the Upper Canada Lower Bowel Clinic. Where they have heard ’em all.

Woody Fisher is not your average Joe Plumber. York University gave him an honorary law degree “for his work on behalf of humanity and the environment.”

Top researcher. Co-founder of the Canadian Liver Foundation. In 1998, he bought 133 hectares of threatened rainforest in Costa Rica and donated it to York as a living lab. Guy’s a saint.

Foley follies: Free agent says yes to Lions, signs with Argonauts

On Monday night, the BC Lions announced they had re-signed free-agent defensive end Ricky Foley, who was quoted in a team release saying he “couldn’t imagine playing anywhere else” wrote The Globe and Mail Sept. 15.

Turns out that wasn’t quite true. Less than 24 hours later, Foley is officially a member of his hometown Toronto Argonauts.

The 28-year-old York University product apparently didn’t sleep well with his decision Monday. And on Tuesday, he had a change of heart, sending him from the fold of one David Braley-owned Canadian Football League team to another.

Saxophonist wins first Oscar Peterson scholarship

A jazz saxophonist is the inaugural recipient of York University’s Oscar Peterson Entrance Scholarship, valued at $40,000 over four years, wrote the North York Mirror Sept. 14.

Eric Miller was already planning to study jazz at York when he found out about the scholarship. “I was so excited when I found out I was selected for the scholarship,” Miller said in a release. “It’s been a huge relief for me and my family. Without this award, I would likely have had to defer my studies yet another year.”

On air

  • William Gage, a professor in York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science in the Faculty of Health, spoke about the benefits of running in bare feet, on Global TV and on several cable television stations in BC Sept. 14.