Canada out of step on say on pay

Three years after Canada’s banks first started giving their shareholders a non-binding vote on the remuneration of their senior officers in response to pressure from investor activists like Médac and Kitchener, Ont.-based Meritas Mutual Funds, say on pay remains something only the largest firms are doing….Still, the practice has had an impact, argued Richard Leblanc, a corporate governance specialist at York University, in the Financial Post April 15. “The effect of say on pay has been more shareholder engagement as opposed to voting down pay packages,” said Leblanc, adding that regulators everywhere are grappling with compensation regimes, including questions like the proper ratio of executive pay to that of the average worker. “We’re not through it yet and this is not a solved problem.” Read full story.

Supreme Court becoming ‘Charter-averse,’ expert says
Constitutional experts are questioning whether the Supreme Court of Canada still has the stomach to guarantee fundamental rights. Not only is the court hearing fewer Charter cases, they contend, it increasingly releases timid, confusing judgments that confound lawyers and restrict the potential of the Charter. Of the 70 appeals the court heard last year, only 10 involved Charter claims – and the claimants succeeded in just two of them, said Jamie Cameron, a professor and constitutional expert at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, in The Globe and Mail April 12….Cameron said there wasn’t a single decision that stood out for “its importance, its foresight or its insights on the Charter and its protection of rights.” Read full story.

RBC apology tough sell in weak economy, experts say
RBC chief executive officer Gord Nixon did the right thing by issuing a public apology to the banks’ employees for the way it handled the decision to outsource their jobs, business and brand experts said….“He had to do something. You can’t just let it lie there,” said Schulich School of Business marketing Professor Alan Middleton in the Toronto Star April 12, adding Nixon’s apology struck the right note. “It was an attempt at balancing ‘We’ll look into this’ with ‘We’re not doing anything illegal’.” Read full story.

Margaret Thatcher, Kathleen Wynne, Alison Redford and the politics of conviction
“This week saw the passing of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, one of the most influential politicians of the 20th century and probably the greatest female political leader of modern times,” wrote Eugene Lang, teacher in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at York’s Glendon College, in the Toronto Star April 13. “It is a truism that Thatcher led a revolution in the U.K. and beyond, one of the hallmarks of which was the notion that cutting taxes should be a central goal of modern government.” Read full story.

Life on the fringe: Leadership underdogs short on hope but long on ideas and aspiration
When Jim Laxer ran for leader of the federal NDP in 1971, he was a 28-year-old student of history at Queen’s University and he was certain of only one thing. “I never expected to win,” said Laxer, now a York University political science professor, in the National Post April 13. At the time, he represented the Waffle movement, a cadre of young, radical, feminist NDP supporters who were trying to push the party further to the left. “What we were interested in was putting those ideas forward and influencing the party and we concluded that when Tommy Douglas stepped down as leader[…]that the leadership race was the ideal time to put forward political ideas.” Read full story.

Men’s rights movement sees resurgence among millennial males
Even as this traditional prototype of masculinity endures, the realities of being a man have shifted, said York University Professor Miriam Smith in the Huffington Post April 15. There was once a clear transition for men from education to a breadwinner career, but with the economic downturn and the rise of women in postsecondary education, that path has faded. “If you were a C student way back in the day, and you were a white male, you just kind of cruised into a good job. And now, you can’t do that anymore,” said Smith. Read full story.

Tires or feet? Chief Planner’s Roundtable on next generation suburbs
Last week I attended the Chief Planner Roundtable, hosted by our celebrity civil servant Jennifer Keesmaat. The topic, the Next Generation Suburbs, is of great importance to Toronto….Everyone agreed that suburbs are changing; but only York University Professor Roger Keil painted a positive picture, reported Spacing April 14. With too many great lines and comments to list, he silenced the crowd and left moderator Keesmaat impressed. He even accused Jane Jacobs for leaving an anti-suburb legacy. In defence of these areas, Keil proclaimed, “[M]any downtowns are now Disneyfied, predictable and uniform. The inner suburbs are raw, unpredictable and diverse, full of neighbours and strangers alike.” Read full story.

Discuss fees up front
“Transparency is the key to boosting your levels of client satisfaction,” said Alan Middleton, professor and executive director of York University’s Schulich Executive Education Centre, in Investment Executive April 2013. “Be honest and clear about what you charge. Lots of advisors won’t, so it is a way to stand out from the rest.” Taking a value-driven approach, Middleton adds, will help you to build a greater sense of loyalty with your clients. Read full story.