Statement by Canadian economists against austerity

We, the undersigned, strongly urge the federal government to stop implementing fiscal austerity measures just to achieve its political goal of budgetary balance by 2015, begins a statement by 70 Canadian economists – including York University professors Andrew Jackson, John Smithin and Brenda Spotton Visano – disseminated Feb. 11 by Canada NewsWire. Not only are cuts in government spending completely inappropriate in the current context, but also the primary macroeconomic concern of the federal government ought to be the achievement of high levels of incomes and full employment for all Canadians, rather than the attainment of an elusive political target of budgetary balance that condemns the Canadian economy to remain stuck in a state of long-term stagnation. Read full story. 

Federal budget promises teeth for wireless code
The federal budget is adding teeth to the Wireless Code of Conduct, reported the Toronto Star Feb. 12. It also promises $305 million over five years for broadband access in rural and northern communities. “I am not sure what prevents the government from moving much more quickly,” said Schulich School of Business professor of economics Fred Lazar. “Access to the Internet is important and to deprive people for up to five more years seems unreasonable.” Read full story.

Dealing with defeat
Going for gold, and coming home empty-handed. What happens when Olympic athletes fall short of expectations? CBC Radio’s “Metro Morning’ guest host Helen Mann spoke with Paul Dennis Feb. 11. He is a professor of sport psychology and a high performance coach at York University. Hear full interview.

In the ‘state space,’ religious symbols have no place
I was recently involved in an incident at York University in Toronto in which I refused to accommodate a student who, for religious reasons, did not want to interact with female students in his class for the completion of a group assignment, wrote York sociology Professor J. Paul Grayson in an opinion piece published in the Montreal Gazette Feb. 12. As a result of this incident, I have been paying close attention to the debates surrounding Quebec’s Bill 60. In my view, it can be argued that just as it is reasonable to expect that when visiting “holy” places people engage in behaviour expected by the religion, it is reasonable to assume that when religious people interact in the state they will leave their religious behaviours and symbols at the door. The beliefs, practices and symbolism of secularism are no less worthy of respect than those of various religions. Read full story.

Plus-sized pressure
A study by Eileen Fischer, marketing professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business in Toronto, and Daiane Scaraboto, a former Schulich graduate student and now assistant professor at Pontificia Universidad Catòlica de Chile, looks at how consumers of plus-sized women’s fashions are agitating for change, reported The Globe and Mail Feb. 7 in its roundup of research from business schools. The study examines the growing clout of bloggers, or self-styled “fatshionistas,” who are fashion-lovers that wear plus-sized clothing and the strategies they use to demand more product choice. Read full story.