The NDP: Not your father’s socialism

As the NDP prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary at a convention next June, senior staff are busy rewriting the preamble to the party’s constitution – a move that was approved with little fanfare by the rank and file at the last convention in Halifax in 2009, wrote columnist John Ivison in the National Post Oct. 8.

James Laxer, a political science professor in York University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies and a former NDP leadership candidate, said the preamble changes reflect a longer-term evolution in the party under current leader Jack Layton. “The party has moved a long way from any real critical stance about the present economic system and a formal commitment to changing it…. People say right now, ‘What does the NDP stand for?’ It is hard to distinguish between them and the Liberals and some people are asking why we need two parties.”

However, Laxer played down the prospect of a merger between the Liberals and the New Democrats. “Organizations have their own culture and part of the NDP culture is that they hate the Liberals,” he said.

Remember when you used to smile for your passport?

Political science Professor Robert Latham, director of the Centre for International & Security Studies at York University, says that while American security has gone to great efforts to be welcoming to visitors, most everyone is subject to a “culture” of distrust and suspicion, wrote the Toronto Star online Oct. 8.

“The question becomes at what point does any given individual weigh the cost of the experience against the benefit of the visit,” says Latham, adding that several factors, including the training and experience of the border guards, can impact the experience for an individual. Latham said he is against the aggressive approach to security and believes it is possible to stop the few bad apples without alienating the majority of good people.

“We know the percentages are very, very low of people who are up to no good, creating some kind of deception in order to commit a crime or engage in terrorism,” says Latham. “So the question becomes what does the ‘culture’ of mistrust get you if you end up alienating a large number of people who are only interested in vacation, visiting family, or engaging in legitimate business.”

Canada intends to expand trade with Asia-Pacific region

Canadian International Trade Minister Peter Van Loan expressed the country’s willingness to promote free and open trade with the Asia-Pacific region on Monday during a workshop at York University, wrote China’s People’s Daily (English edition) Oct. 5.

Van Loan delivered remarks and participated in a panel discussion in the workshop, which is for Canadian businesses on accessing opportunities in the region and anticipates November’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Meeting in Yokohama, Japan.

  • Cher Xia (MBA ’02), a grad of the Schulich School of Business at York University and chief Canadian representative of the Balloch Group in China, also spoke about the workshop on OMNI-TV’s Cantonese news, Oct. 4.

York grad head Canada’s national chess team

Leading Canada’s national chess team at this year’s Olympiad of chess in Siberia is Mark Bluvshtein (BA ’10), 22, a recent York University grad and Newtonbrook Secondary School alumnus, wrote the North York Mirror Sept. 21. This will be the fifth Olympiad for Bluvshtein, who became Canada’s youngest ever grandmaster at the age of 16.

Bluvshtein, who was born in Russia and lived in Israel for several years before moving to Canada in 1999, is one of three competitive Canadian grandmasters. However, the other two now live and work outside the country and declined to participate in the Olympiad, said Armstrong.

Former York Lions skate at Orillia Tundra tryouts

Last Wednesday, the Orillia Tundras senior men’s hockey team held their first open tryouts, wrote The Midland Free Press Sept. 22. Coach Wayne Crawford [is looking at], former York Lion goalie Dave Davenport…and last year’s co-rookie of the year, York University grad Jesse Cook (BA ’10).

On air

  • Fred Fletcher, University professor emeritus of political science in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, spoke about a study of journalism and the news, on CBC Radio Oct. 7.
  • Robert MacDermid, political science professor in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, spoke about the municipal election in Peterborough, on Durham Region’s CHEX-TV-2 Oct. 7.