Latin American pope brings joy, debate to Argentina

For Argentines, and for Latin Americans in general, the cardinals’ choice will likely be greeted initially with joy, said Argentina-born Viviana Patroni, a Latin America expert and the coordinator of York University’s International Development Studies program, in CBC News March 14. “It’s a recognition not only of Latin America but of the need to address the major social problems that Latin America faces in a world that has grown increasingly unequal and unfair,” she said. Patroni adds that she wishes “the church would become more receptive of the demand for change from all sectors of society, including gay rights and women’s rights.” Read full story.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper introducing more bills through the Senate than past prime ministers
Since the May 2011 federal election, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has introduced more legislation in the Senate than any other prime minister has over the past 30 years….Ironically, the Tories, who back Senate reform, may be giving the chamber more legitimacy than its detractors would like by introducing more bills in the red chamber. This takes away from the arguments for abolition, said York University Professor Emeritus Daniel Drache in the Ottawa Citizen March 13. “It’s just part of the governance revolution of Harper to do things by stealth…because he has this larger goal to change the Senate and its relation to the House of Commons.” Read full story.

It’s time for Ottawa to walk the talk on skills training
“Finance Minister Jim Flaherty thinks the provinces are wasting $2-billion in federal funding to support worker training, and says skills training will be ‘a priority of the budget.’ While employers tend to exaggerate the real extent of skills and labour shortages, there is no doubt that dealing with the growing issue of ‘jobs without people’ is of central importance,” wrote Andrew Jackson, the Packer Professor of Social Justice at York University, in The Globe and Mail March 13. “As I have argued before, Canada desperately needs an up-to-date labour market information system that identifies genuine skill shortages by detailed occupation and by region.” Read full story.

Compliance with U.S. tax law may violate Charter of Rights
While the Harper government conducts clandestine negotiations with the United States over a new tax information exchange agreement, Canada’s leading constitutional legal expert is telling the federal government such an agreement risks major violations of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, reported the Vancouver Sun March 12….“In my opinion, the procedures mandate by the Model IGA are discriminatory in a way that would not withstand Charter scrutiny,” said Peter Hogg, constitutional expert and former dean of Osgoode Hall Law School, in a five-page letter to the Finance Department. “These procedures effectively treat individuals differently, and adversely, based on an immutable personal characteristic, specifically citizenship.” Read full story.

Critics want changes to York U bus plan
Expected to be ready by fall 2016, the Spadina Subway Extension will remove the current TTC, York Region Transit/Viva and GO Transit buses from the York University grounds and redirect them to the new Steeles West and Hwy. 407 stations….Transit users will be able to access the subway from there, but Vaughan Regional Councillor Deb Schulte is worried about those who will have to make the trek on foot, due to the location of their classes, and is hoping for a compromise on the University’s plan, reported the Vaughan Citizen March 13. Read full story.