NDP leader’s strategy on Rae Days is ‘paradoxical’, says York prof

During the [provincial leaders’] debate, Dalton McGuinty tried playing to [Bob] Rae’s poor Ontario reputation during a discussion about the steep cost of post-secondary education, wrote The Canadian Press Sept. 28, in a story about NDP leader Andrea Horwath’s campaign strategy.

“Horwath’s party, when they were in power, eliminated (student) grants,” McGuinty said.

“Isn’t that guy your federal leader now?” an impish-looking Horwath interjected.

Greg Albo, who teaches political science at York University [Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies], called Horwath’s strategy “paradoxical”.

Rae turned off voters with his turn toward “neo-Liberal” policies later adopted by former Tory premier Mike Harris and kept on by McGuinty himself, he said. “Under Horwath, the NDP has moved even closer to the policies of Bob Rae than they had before,” Albo said. “He’s the ghost that everybody likes stalking but he’s there behind all the political parties in a sense.”

As a result, Albo said, deriding the Rae legacy may be electorally smart for Horwath, but it misses some essential truths. “It obscures more than it reveals of the actual policy shifts.”

Are job creation promises realistic?

A government can take about as much credit for creating new employment as a rooster can for making the sun rise, according to York University political science Professor Thomas Klassen [Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies] , wrote the Aurora Banner Sept. 28 in a story about the provincial leaders’ promises to create more jobs.

Klassen recently co-authored a report for the Mowat Centre entitled “Improving the Governance of Employment and Training Policy in Canada” and has written extensively on the Canadian labour market. He was also a senior policy advisor in the Ontario government for a decade.

In general, governments don’t do a good job of creating new private sector employment, he said, but, what they can do, is help people acquire new skills and additional education so they themselves have a better chance of navigating the frequently unpredictable sea that is the job market. "If you ask a bunch of economists, ‘How do you create jobs?’, they will all tell you the same thing: ‘I don’t know’," he said.

"It isn’t something the government does very well, so, if you want to reduce unemployment, one thing you can do is keep people in school or send them back to school. That’s why all of the parties are proposing reductions in tuition fees."

Bob Dylan paintings in New York gallery look just like photos

The art world is crying foul over Bob Dylan’s paintings at the Gagosian Gallery in New York, wrote the Toronto Star Sept. 29. Since Dylan’s Asia Series show opened on Sept. 20, allegations have surfaced that at least three of his paintings look exactly like photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Léon Busy and Dmitri Kessel.

Musicologist Rob Bowman says the sheer celebrity of Dylan has made him a target for criticism (just as it pulls people into the show, which runs to Oct. 22).

Bowman, a professor at York University [Faculty of Fine Arts], said, "The art of Bob Dylan creates business for the gallery, whether it is good or not. We are talking fame and celebrity here. You will get people taking shots at him."

Bowman says he thinks the gallery blew it by not acknowledging the sources and that the exhibit would have benefited from posting the photos beside the paintings as added information.

Caribbean candidates gear up for provincial election

Margarett Best [LLB ’95] was elected a member of provincial parliament in the riding of Scarborough-Guildwood on Oct. 10, 2007, and appointed to cabinet, as minister of health promotion and sport, wrote gleanerextra.com, Sept. 29, in a story about Caribbean candidates in the provincial election. A lawyer, advocate, mentor and dedicated community volunteer, she is running again for the Liberal Party in her riding. She is an alumnus of…[York University’s] Osgoode Hall Law School.

Canada wins student nuclear promotion event

Canadian students won the first-ever International Nuclear Energy Olympiad, beating out nine other two-person national teams with their report on the demographics of public support in their home country, wrote The Korea Times Sept. 28.

Hosted by the Korea Nuclear Energy Promotion Agency and the World Nuclear Association, the competition asked the students to conduct a public opinion survey, analyze the current promotion efforts by respective national associations, share lessons with each other and finally suggest future directions.

First-place winners Alex Wolf, a second-year MBA candidate at York University, and James Harrington, first-year master’s student in health and radiation sciences, said they found publicity campaigns should cater to specific groups and focus on fighting misinformation targeting the as-yet-undecided majority of the population.

“They get caught in the crossfire between those who support and those who oppose strongly,” said Wolf, in the roundtable interview after the ceremony. “Their questions are left unaddressed.”

York grad was a gifted teacher and outspoken advocate for the disadvantaged

Leo Smits [BA ’74, MA ’77] was very much a renaissance man, wrote his partner Sally Humphries in a Lives Lived column for The Globe and Mail Sept. 29. Always forthright, he never flinched in speaking truth to power, whatever the consequences.

Smits died July 23 in Guelph at age 63.

Born in the Netherlands [in 1947], Leo immigrated to Canada in 1954 with his family. They lived in rented basements in Toronto until 1958, when they moved into one of the first units erected in the city’s newest housing project, Lawrence Heights.

At 24, Leo enrolled in social anthropology at York University, which permitted entry to mature students without Grade 13.

After completing an honours degree in anthropology, Leo did a master’s, focusing his research on Toronto’s methadone program. Throughout university, he supported himself with part-time work as a social worker and, later, as a crisis worker with Children’s Aid. At York University he met Sally Humphries [BA ’80, MA ’84, PhD ’89], a mature student who would become his life partner.

In 1980, Leo began a 30-year teaching career, first in the community worker program at Humber College and later at the University of Guelph-Humber, where he served as head of the family and community social service worker program.

On air

  • Leo Panitch, distinguished research professor and Senior Canada Research Chair in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, took part in a discussion about the budget debates at Toronto City Hall and the provincial election campaign, on AM640 Radio, Sept. 28.
  • Rob Tiffin, York’s vice-president students, spoke about a meeting to discuss issues in The Village, on CBC Radio’s “Metro Morning” Sept. 29. Tiffin, Robert Cerjanec of the York Federation of Students, and York student Alastair Woods, also spoke about the meeting on CBC TV Sept. 28.