Lac-Megantic disaster shows Canada needs a national oil-transport plan

Only a few short months ago, the rush to move crude oil onto rail cars in North America was described in The Globe and Mail as a “giddy procession of profit”. No one is laughing any more. Saturday’s derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Que., in which 73 rail cars loaded with highly flammable cargo thought to be heavy crude oil careened out of control and exploded destroying a small town and resulting in a horrific loss of life, has already been deployed as a slam-dunk argument in favour of pipeline expansion and the expedited approval of the Keystone XL. Yes, pipelines represent a safer alternative to carrying crude oil by road and rail. But the pipelines are jammed, and production in the oil sands is far outpacing the capacity of our national energy infrastructure, writes York Professor Dayna Nadine Scott of Osgoode Hall Law School and the Faculty of Environmental Studies in The Globe and Mail July 10. Blame for the delay in getting the necessary conduits in place cannot rest on the shoulders of the ‘radical’ environmentalists and First Nations that federal ministers would point to. In fact, the oil producers have not put a priority on striking fair deals with bands whose territories they wish to cross; they have not put forward credible spill prevention and response plans; and they have not made a genuine effort to confront the problem of greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change – a major concern of most Canadians. Read full story.

Cicadas are going, but they’ll be back, like clockwork
Entomologists have learned a great deal about how insects measure smaller units of time, such as days and seasons, and those findings may be relevant to the cicada’s 17-year cycle , reported The Washington Post July 8.“Insects have internal biological clocks,” says Colin Steel, a biologist at York University in Toronto. “They are mostly located in specialized cells in the brain, known as clock cells, used for measuring 24-hour cycles of time.” Further research has shown that clock cells are present in the brains of other animals, including humans. Steel’s research has helped reveal the genetic basis of time measurement. Read full story.

The business case for responsible capitalism
What do India’s Ratan Tata, Canada’s Ed Clark and Paul Polman of the Netherlands have in common? Aside from their extraordinary business successes, they are believers in responsible capitalism. For these global executives, the driving focus for Tata Industries, Toronto-Dominion Bank and Unilever NV revolves around balance sheets that not only calculate financial results, but the environmental and social impact of business as well, writes Paul Tsaparis in The Globe and Mail July 9. Tsaparis is executive-in-residence at York University’s Schulich School of Business, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard Canada and a director of numerous private and not-for-profit boards, including Indspire. Read full story.

Pembroke mayor rejects Algonquin community’s tax revolt
The mayor of Pembroke says everyone must pay taxes, despite a decision by a non-status Algonquin community that they will no longer pay municipal taxes since Renfrew County sits on unceded Algonquin territory. Bonita Lawrence, an author and researcher who has written about non-status communities in Ontario in her recent book, Fractured Homeland: Federal Recognition and Algonquin Identity in Ontario, told the Ottawa Citizen July 9 that the group, which is also in court defending against provincial hunting charges, is challenging the jurisdiction of the province and the municipality, saying only the federal government can deal with them, as a First Nation. “If you understand that Algonquins were here before Canada was here, and well before the provinces or municipalities were here, then you start to understand why Algonquins feel justified in challenging the authority of both the provinces and the municipal governments – and, for that matter, why they expect a nation-to-nation relationship with Canada,” said Lawrence, who is a Mi’kmaw professor of indigenous studies at York University. Read full story.

‘The end of men’ in the workplace is far from reality
Last year there was a lot of discussion of Hanna Rosin’s best-selling book, The End of Men and the Rise of Women, begins an opinion piece in The Globe and Mail July 9 by Andrew Jackson, Packer Professor of Social Justice at York University. Rosin’s basic thesis is that changes in the economy and the educational system play to the strengths of women, and that power is decisively shifting away from men in the job market. However, women are still a long way from equality, writes Jackson. Read full story.

Shakespeare double-bill headed to High Park’s Amphitheatre
York University students have played a significant role in helping to set the stage for Shakespeare in the Park, reported July 9. Professional and emerging artists in York University’s Department of Theatre are involved in almost every aspect of the shows, from direction and performance to behind-the-scenes production work in set design, set and costume construction, and stage management. Read full story.

Treaty Disputes Roiled by Bias Charges Amid Perceived Conflicts
Guido Santiago Tawil, a Buenos Aires lawyer, has worked over the years with attorneys at King & Spalding LLP, recently as co-counsel on two major cases. So when a company represented by the U.S. firm picked Tawil for a tribunal to decide whether Venezuela should pay for company property the government seized, Venezuela’s lawyers objected…“The power they [arbitrators] have over the purse strings of countries is unprecedented,” said Gus Van Harten, an associate professor at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto who recommends a court with tenured jurists be created to erase “lingering blemishes” left by the questions raised about arbitrators’ independence. “They are kind of like the supreme court judges of the world,” he told Bloomberg Business Week July 10. Read full story.

Men save woman caught in Toronto flood water
Adrian Chan was out for a bike ride in the rain after a ball hockey game on Monday when he got a far bigger workout. The York University student came to the rescue of a woman caught in rapid moving water during a flash flood unleashed by Monday’s monster storm. Read full story.