Nelson Mandela and South Africa’s flawed freedom

“Has the time come when it might be possible to move past the well-deserved praise-song phase of the marking of Nelson Mandela’s death in order to strike a more careful balance-sheet on the meaning for present-day South Africa of his storied career?” wrote York University Professor Emeritus of political science John S. Saul in the Toronto Star Dec. 15. . . . “He was, in fact, a leader of real substance, dignity and power, a giant among other politicians of his time – coming, as much as anyone in South Africa, to exemplify uncompromisingly the strength of the popularly-held conviction that racist rule, with all its enormities, could not be allowed to stand. And yet his latter-day role – as he moved from prison into the presidency of an ostensibly ‘new’ South Africa – was a much more debatable one.” Read full story.

Time to deliver a stronger CPP
“As 2013 comes to a close, Canada’s federal-provincial finance ministers will meet to determine how the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) can safeguard a secure future for retiring Canadians. The meeting just before the holiday season is an ideal time to announce plans for enhancing the CPP – a major pillar of the income security system for most Canadians,” wrote York University political science Professor Thomas Klassen and Schulich School of Business taxation Professor Amin Mawani in The Globe and Mail Dec 11. Read full story.

Nothing sustainable about mining
“I was disappointed to see Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne promote mining in Ontario (the Ring of Fire development),” wrote Paul York in his letter to the editor in the Toronto Star Dec. 11. “The world does not need more economic growth or extraction industries right now. There is a growing movement for a no-growth, sustainable society and more green jobs, articulated by economists such as York University’s Peter Victor or the U.K.’s Tim Jackson, and pioneered by Christian economist Herman Daly in the 1970s. That is what Ontario should be pursuing.” Read full story.

Provincial and federal governments expanding opportunities for skilled immigrants
Recently, the provincial and federal governments announced that they will be “expanding and enhancing” the Ontario Bridge Training Program over the next three years, reported Yonge Street Dec. 11. . . . Mamdouh Shoukri is president and vice-chancellor of York University, which runs a certification program for skilled immigrants, and which hosted government officials for the announcement. “These important programs are helping to build a globally connected economy and to support diversity in our communities,” said Shoukri, addressing an audience of dignitaries and skilled immigrants. Read full story.

‘Global education must for next-gen leaders’
No conversation with Mamdouh Shoukri, president and vice-chancellor, York University, Toronto, Canada, ever goes by without a mention of his love for India. “Those memories are still cherished when I, as a schoolboy born and raised in Egypt, stood on a road in Cairo waving the Indian flag to greet a motorcade in which the then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru was travelling with Egyptian president Abdel Nasser during the former’s visit to Egypt in the 50s,” said Shoukri in the Hindustan Times Dec. 11. . . . A great advocate of international education, Shoukri believes the “next generation that leads the world after us will need a global education.” Read full story.

Top five things you didn’t know about Nelson Mandela
The University of Lesotho conferred an honorary doctorate of law on Nelson Mandela in 1973. He also received honorary doctorates from Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria during 1985, the Karl Marx University in the German Democratic Republic in 1987, Venezuela’s University of Carabobo in 1988 and Toronto’s York University in 1989, reported Times Live Dec. 11. He was only set free in 1990. Read full story.

Majority of York Region residents will miss Canada Post service cuts: YRMG poll
Canada Post’s money-saving proclamation to phase out home delivery within the next five years is an election ploy by the federal government, said Alan Middleton, executive director of York’s Schulich Executive Education Centre, in the Newmarket Era Dec. 12. The federal Crown corporation’s announcement yesterday it will replace foot delivery with community mail boxes, eliminating up to 8,000 jobs and saving up to $900 million a year is “a consciously clumsy, worst-case scenario to get people furious”, he said. Read full story.

Markham moves on from NHL arena dreams
GTA Sports and Entertainment, along with other interested partners, have six months to provide the city with proof of $325-million funding. . . . It’s possible some good came from Markham’s arena issue, said York University political science Professor Robert MacDermid in the Markham Economist & Sun Dec. 12. The silver lining is divisive issues, such as the GTA Centre, are good for democracy, in that it grabs the attention of residents on either side of the fence. “It’s good to have issues,” said MacDermid. “It brings people to the polls.” Read full story.

Confession key to convicted killer’s appeal
Legal mistakes resulted in a compromised trial and the wrongful conviction of a man accused of brutally killing his friend and occasional lover, his defence lawyer told Manitoba’s Court of Appeal Monday. Michael Pearce, 45, returned to court to fight his manslaughter conviction for the killing of Stuart Mark inside an Alfred Avenue home in January 2007, reported the Winnipeg Free Press Dec. 17. . . . The judge hearing the case barred Pearce from presenting expert opinion evidence from York University psychology department chairman, Timothy Moore. Moore found Pearce’s confession to be “extremely unreliable” based on a review of it and other case materials. The judge found Moore appeared to be more of an advocate for Pearce than an impartial expert and refused to allow the evidence in. That was an error, defence lawyer Gerri Wiebe argued Monday. Read full story.

BC Hydro restarts push for Site C dam plan approval
Public hearings that began in Fort St. John Dec. 9 mark the resumption of the decades-long battle over BC Hydro’s contentious Site C Peace River dam proposal, reported Business in Vancouver Dec. 17. . . . “Our report shows much of the mature forests, rivers, wetlands and other elements of natural capital in the Peace region have already been severely impacted to date by human land use within northeastern B.C.,” said York University adjunct Professor Faisal Moola to the panel Dec. 11. The report from Moola studied land use changes in the Peace region over the past 40 years and the pressures industrial development has placed on the ecology and environment of the Peace River Valley, much of which has been lost due to the cumulative impacts of natural resource development. Read full story.

The real Canadian heroes of the anti-apartheid struggle: Siddiqui
Canada’s stellar role in ending apartheid in South Africa got lost in the bigger story of Nelson Mandela and his funeral, reported the Toronto Star Dec. 14. The pioneering work of John Diefenbaker, Brian Mulroney and Joe Clark was cited. But little was said about the real heroes of the anti-apartheid struggle – the thousands of Canadians in churches, universities, labour unions and NGOs who toiled at what was a lonely struggle for years. . . . York University Professor John Saul of the Toronto Committee for the Liberation of Southern Africa and Ryerson Professor Joanne Naiman of Canadians Concerned about Southern Africa were tenacious. By 1981, the City of Toronto was boycotting banks dealing with South Africa. By 1983, the North York and the Metro boards of education began boycotting such firms. By 1985, Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec had banned South African wines. Read full story.

Fighting the good fight is a proud memory: James
As the world buries one of mankind’s finest sons on Sunday, four Canadian prime ministers will stand beside presidents and monarchs in saluting Nelson Mandela, the Lion of Africa, reported the Toronto Star Dec. 13. Our political leaders knew they spoke with the backing of Canadians. So add the names of Torontonians to the list of ordinary folks who landed on the right side of history, walking and marching and protesting through a time when the verdict wasn’t as clear and unanimous as it is today. . . . University of Toronto and York University were at the centre of anti-apartheid debate and activity. Ryerson would later confer an honourary doctorate on Mandela and his widow, Graca Machel, in 2001. Read full story.