Many strings attached to Harper’s family tax cut plan

Income-splitting for families with dependent children under 18 is a huge policy initiative for Stephen Harper’s majority-hungry Conservative party, wrote the Financial Post March 28, in a story outlining the details of the plan. So huge, you wonder why it wasn’t the centrepiece of last week’s dead-on-arrival federal budget.

In a blog Monday the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) cited Osgoode Hall Law School tax law expert Lisa Philipps to the effect [that] the biggest winners from income-splitting are higher-income male breadwinners: “A man can reduce his taxes by shifting them to the primary caregiver in the family, but he has no legal obligation to give her the actual income.” The CCPA warns this “tax giveaway for affluent couples” will put a big dent in federal finances.

Osgoode adjunct prof runs for Liberals in Oshawa

The Oshawa riding race is shaping up to be a good one, with four candidates who bring a mix of political, labour, health-care and community experience to the table, wrote Oshawa This Week March 28, in an election preview story.

James Morton is a lawyer and founding partner at a mid-sized Toronto law firm, as well as a lecturer and faculty member at Osgoode Hall Law School and Humber College. He is past president of the Ontario Bar Association.

Morton lives in Thornhill and recently signed a lease in Oshawa. He has been active with many non-profit organizations as well as holding several leadership positions with the federal and provincial Liberal parties.

Are daily deals destroying your brand?

Online coupon books like Groupon, and so-called clones like LivingSocial, TeamBuy and WagJag, are hot properties these days, wrote The Globe and Mail March 28. It’s not hard to find merchants who have been impressed with the number of customers a group-buying promotion can bring in…. Meanwhile, critics of the online coupon model cast are asking whether coupons really benefit certain kinds of businesses – especially bars and restaurants, which feature prominently in coupon listings.

The foibles that the Groupon model encounters in the restaurant market aren’t universally applicable. Robert Kozinets, a professor of marketing at York University’s Schulich School of Business, points out that coupons represent a great deal for businesses with fixed costs. Theatres, for instance, don’t incur any extra costs for filling up empty seats at a discount.

Kozinets says that, if anything, the present fascination with online coupon sites is overblown: It’s really “low-tech, old-science retailing,” he says – the coupon books of yore, moved online.

Whatever their downsides, few observers see the popularity of online coupon sites ending anytime soon. If anything, Kozinets says, the fierce competition between sites will lead to better terms for merchants – as well as an inevitable consolidation in the industry. “I think the bigger players like Groupon will survive. They’ll probably eat up some of the middle-sized players. A lot of the smaller ones will drop off the map.”     

York researchers speak at Grey Bruce Woodlot Conference

Cory Sheffield, research associate at York University [Faculty of Science & Engineering], and PhD student Sheila Colla talked about forms of pollinators other than bees that could be found in a typical woodlot, wrote The Owen Sound Sun Times March 29, in a story about the annual Grey Bruce Woodlot Conference & Exhibition.

Canadian MBA programs draw foreign students

There are a number of factors behind the growing popularity of Canadian business schools [among foreign students], wrote the National Post March 29. One is world recognition of the high quality of business education in Canada. The Financial Times, for example, consistently ranks such schools as the Schulich School of Business at York University…among the top 100 in the world.

But Canada’s student visa rules, the country’s diversity and welcoming reputation also help to give Canadian business schools a vital competitive advantage over schools in the UK and the US, which are the world’s top recruiters of foreign students. Both these countries have moved toward more stringent student visa rules in recent years, with the UK currently looking at removing the two-year post-study work permit for graduates with a bachelor-level degree or higher.

In contrast, in 2008, Ottawa extended the postgraduate work permit to three years. A student’s spouse in Canada is also allowed to work.

Elmes’s Quintet CD ‘chortles’ with invention

Toronto jazz percussionist and York University Professor Barry Elmes [Faculty of Fine Arts] celebrates the 20th anniversary of his Quintet with album No. 5, a neatly swinging collection of nine arrangements (seven originals), wrote reviewer John Terauds in the Toronto Star March 29.

Steve Wallace’s bass is a friendly, humpy harmonic and rhythmic force to lean on all the way through. As you would expect from a rhythm master, Elmes’s arrangements chortle with time-shifting invention. My favourite is the playful, Dixieland-ish Reincarnation of Ratboy, which features delicate flutework by Kelly Jefferson, sassy trumpet by Kevin Turcotte and Mike Murley’s assured sax. The only piece that is out of place: a foursquare rendition of the old hymn Abide With Me, saved by the noodly bass and percussion and some soaring sax work that bridges the bookend verses.