Point/Counterpoint: The G20 Summit

Point: The G20 Summit will benefit Toronto, Canada and the rest of the world

The G20 summit is set to take place in Toronto from June 26-27. This is a valuable opportunity for this city and all of Canada. The G20 is comprised of the heads of government, central bank governors, and the finance ministers of the 20 largest economies in the world. Together, these nations account for 85% of the global gross national product, and nearly as much of world trade. The stated purpose of the G20 is, “[t]o bring together systemically important industrialized and developing economies to discuss key issues in the global economy.” This meeting will bring the eyes of the world to Toronto.

This summit’s themes include reform of the financial sector in the wake of the world credit crisis. Its participants will endeavor to enact reforms to combat weak the banking regulations that encouraged risky behavior from the banks and corporations. This is an important first step towards recovery in the current economic crisis. Canada is a prime venue for this discussion as our own banks were some of the strongest in the wake of this crisis due to our conservative regulations. In essence, we knew how much money we could loan people. The summit will give Canada a stronger voice than an economic committee of the United Nations would otherwise allow. Being a founding member of the G20, Canada has long held a prominent role in the organization.

Additionally, a global stimulus plan will be discussed, so the major economies can coordinate their reactions to the credit crunch without fear of falling into the trap of protectionism. If such a plan were to be enacted, governments could coordinate much more effectively. These irregularities in stimulus, could, in the worst case scenario, be detrimental to world economic recovery. The G20 was created in the wake of the Asian economic crisis of 1997 to deal with global economic problems. At the 2008 Washington Summit, the G20 understood the cause of the world financial crisis and agreed on an action plan for combating it. This tradition that will continue at the Toronto summit.

The G20 will push for the lowering of tariffs and economic liberalization. This will lower the costs of imports and will act as a counter-weight to the stimulus plans. Without the lowering of tariffs, nations would inevitably move towards protectionism, one of the factors which lead to the Great Depression of the 1930s and a situation we are dangerously close to in these turbulent times.

The G20 also has promising opportunities for young people. In conjunction with the official meetings there is a “Young Entrepreneurs Summit” which brings aspiring business leaders from the ages of 18-40 from across the G20 countries. This summit creates opportunities for delegates to make contacts and expand their fledging companies. It will also encourage new businesses and will lead to job creation and fuel the revival of the world economies. This is an invaluable opportunity for these entrepreneurs, who are the force that keeps capitalism strong as without new businesses competition would stagnate.

As students, we will want to know how the G20 summit will benefit us on a personal level. For a start, the summit will add luster to our long-standing political reputation, as images of the U of T campus will be broadcast all over the world. In addition, it promotes awareness and interest in world economic issues and the recovery plan. These are important matters which must be addressed despite being markedly less prominent than Darfur or cancer. In short, the G20 will benefit Toronto, Canada, and the world.—Patrick Langille

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Counter-point: The G20 Summit is a waste of time, money, and resources

As you may be aware, Toronto is holding the G20 summit on the weekend of June 26 – 27. The meeting is a gathering of world leaders and finance ministers from the largest 19 national economies (the 20th member is the European Union) in the world. In fact, the 19 member countries represent, according to the official G20 website, 85% of the world’s gross national product, 80% of the world’s trade, and two-thirds of the world’s population. The productivity of the member nations is promising, but in the ten years since its conception the organization has barely accomplished anything at all.

Despite efforts to freeze funds for terrorist organizations and to implement a system for combating abuses against member countries’ financial systems, the organization somehow missed out on avoiding the economic meltdown that has been affecting the world for the past three years. This is where the lack of progress begins.

The G20 does not represent or include developing nations when deciding on policies or directives. It is, in essence, dictating its terms to the developing world while allowing it little input. The only real voice developing nations have in the G20 meetings is through representatives from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the United Nations (UN) and the Financial Stability Forum – all organizations basically run by G20 member nations to begin with.

The most significant flaw is that the host nation sets the agenda. This allows the domestic politics of the host country to stifle worldwide progress on international issues. With the summit being hosted in Canada, this means that Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has already received criticism for promoting right-wing politics, sets the agenda. For example, Harper’s government is refusing to fund safe access to abortion for women in countries such as Rwanda or Burkina Faso. Also, despite calls by almost all member nations to impose a world bank tax, Harper refuses to add it to the agenda, all the while sending teams of cabinet ministers across the developed world to fight the policy and keep it off the agenda.

Another flaw is the way in which delegates congregate for the meeting. Simply put, they become a target for protesters, both violent and non-violent, and potentially for terrorists. As a result, the host city becomes virtually a city of martial law.

The G20 meeting this year has already had a tremendous effect on the citizens of Toronto, specifically in the downtown core. University of Toronto students are being inconvenienced with the full closure of the St. George Campus for the entire week that the meetings are taking place, forcing students living in Innis, New, University, Trinity, and Woodsworth College residences to move to alternate locations.

Further, Toronto’s Gay Pride Week has been postponed until after the meeting, and even the Toronto Blue Jay’s weekend series with Philadelphia at the Rogers Centre has been moved to Philadelphia.

Another point of contention to the G20 meetings is its price tag to Canadian taxpayers. Presently, the estimated total cost sits at $1.1 billion. This figure is more expensive than the past nine G20 meetings put together. Opposition parties and the Canadian media have already dubbed this as a “billion dollar boondoggle.” The billion dollar price tag seems incomprehensible in the face of the current federal deficit. This money could have been better spent on health care initiatives or other social programs, all of which have had their funding slashed under the Harper regime.

The G20 summit is a waste of time, money, and resources and is only a burden to the cities that host it.—Jon Foster

Toronto Women’s Bookstore finds new owner

The future of the Toronto Women’s Bookstore has been uncertain since December. Facing budgetary constraints the Harbord Street shop launched a fundraising campaign with a target of $40,000 in order to last until the end of their financial year, May 31. The store received another breath of life in May when it announced it had found a new owner, Victoria Moreno.

“I am really, really excited to have taken on this project,” Moreno told a gathering at TWB, “having made the Toronto Women’s Bookstore survive. But I will still need all of your support.”

Moreno’s strategy to revitalize the TWB includes creating a cafe, installing WiFi, and building a backyard garden. Plans also include hosting social nights to build the store’s role in the community. The store has acted as a community resource for Moreno since the late 1980s when she started as a staff member.

“I was really excited about coming to work at the bookstore for various reasons,” she says. “It was a point in time when I was deciding what my sexuality was. I had moved out of my parents’ home and started university. Being here was quite a phenomenal experience.”
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In December the bookstore announced it was not receiving enough revenue and donations to carry on. Two months later a second call was issued looking for owners for mid-April to keep the store from closing at the end of May. Moreno says that purchasing the bookstore was an opportunity that presented itself to her after approaching the store to help work through their financial struggles.

“I was worried about the bookstore. I approached them when they had their fundraising event earlier this year… I never thought I���d be taking it over. I just thought maybe I could help with some consulting, see if there was a way I could volunteer my time.”

The bookstore is currently closed until in June due to legal issues. The official re-launch will take place in the late summer or early fall.

TWB underwent inventory and Moreno took over officially on June 1. The bookstore’s financial difficulties are far from over.

“I’m not too sure. I think the idea is that it will be at a point where it’s pretty close to zero, but we won’t know until the inventory is done.”

Moreno also recognizes the need to regain the trust of Toronto Women’s Bookstore oldest patrons: University of Toronto professors. The bookstore had lost confidence among professors in the recent past with late delivery for course materials and problems with availability.

Want to be a Prof? Stay at UofT

University of Toronto full professors earn the highest salaries on average in Canada, according to a report released by Statistics Canada.

The report showed that most Canadian universities pay salaries above $100,000 to tenured Professors. UofT averages $150,381 for Full Professors, including dental and medical. The University of Calgary came in second with full professors paid an average of $146,809. The University of British Columbia followed with $146,422.

The 2007/2008 report also listed the average salaries for Associate Professors and Assistant Professors. All ranks combined, including Deans, UofT still made the top of the list, averaging $122,159.

James Turk, Executive Director of the Canadian Association for University Teachers, thinks UofT’s lead in the report is owing to their endowments, prestige and international standing.

“Large research universities pay the highest salaries,” Turk said. “The faculty at large at a research university are better known and in a more competitive situation.” This, he says, leads to a more select pool of professors, who are highly paid for the institution they represent.

Alex Greco, a third year Political Science student at UofT thinks that the high salaries are qualified by the education level he receives. “It hasn’t been perfect [though],” he adds. “I’ve had the odd professor […] especially those on tenure who like to [just talk] when lecturing, don’t care how students progress […] and only care about the research.”

Turk does not think there is a particular relation between high salaries and better professors. “It’s not that they are better or worse [at other universities] it is just a [matter of] prestige which equals more competition in general.” He added that professors at many universities could be just as good.

Aled Edwards, a UofT Professor at the Banting and Best Department of Medical Research, agrees that salaries will be higher in an institution that ranks so highly in Canada. UofT, he says, attempts to put together a dream team. To recruit the best, salaries are a big incentive.

However, Edwards thinks that a simpler explanation for the salary levels is that Toronto is one of the most expensive cities in Canada to live in.

The StatsCan report, conducted by the federal agency’s Centre for Education Statistics, did not include the salaries of contract staff in its report.

Hiwot Telaye, a first year UofT economics student thinks contract staff should have been considered for a more accurate portrayal of the allocation of salaries. She finds her TAs much more approachable, adding that “If we could get the chance to build similar relationships with our professors we would get so much more out of our degrees than just the one way information transfer we get now.”

Turk thinks it is important to recognize that universities will also want to lower costs and cheapen labour and therefore poorly pay contract staff.

The report states that many factors can influence salaries, including qualifications and number of years teaching.

University of Toronto faculty with the highest salaries

1. Roger Martin – Dean of the Rotman School of Management, $388,335

2. Catharine Isobel Whiteside – Professor of Medicine, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, $381,876.96

3. David Naylor – President of the University of Toronto, $380,100

4. Glen Whyte – Professor of Organizational Behavior, $368,265.96

5. Peter Pauly – Vice Dean of Research and Academic Resources, $362,886.90

6. Janice Stein – Professor of Political Science, Director of the School of Global Affairs, Professor of Conflict Management and Negotiation, $360,417.54

7. Aled Edwards – CEO Structural Genomics Consortium, Professor of the Banting and Best Department for Medical Research, $359,140.34

8. Richard Florida – Professor of Business Economics and Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute, $352,102.98

9. Cristina Amon – Professor and Dean of Applied Science and Engineering, $345,206.04

10. David Palmer – Vice President and Chief Advancement Officer, $339,191

Source: Ontario Ministry of Finance Public Sector Salary Disclosure 2010

Not all Canadians welcome

When Osgoode Hall Student Hassan Ahmed received a prestigious fellowship to work in New Dehli this summer for the Human Rights Law Network, the U of T alumnus never expected the great lengths that he would have to go to get a visa.

“It was at the point that everything was done except the visa,” he says.

When Ahmed went to the Indian Consulate’s main office in North Toronto he was told, after an hour of waiting, that his application could not be processed. The Indian Government had implemented a new policy in March stating that those of Pakistani origin would have to wait at least a month and a half to have their application processed.

According to Indian consul M.P. Singh, this rule applies to all people of Pakistani origin, regardless of whether they have ever been to the country itself.

Ahmed was born and raised in Canada. He holds a Master’s in Economics from UofT and is a first year law student at Osgoode Hall. His parents emigrated from Pakistan in the late 1970s. They have never returned to visit.

Despite the policy, Ahmed continued all attempts to expedite the process for a month, hoping to convince upper echelon Consuls to grant him a visa before May 7, his date of departure.

“I called my sister and my brother-in-law, who happen to rent two of their condominiums to Indian consulate members. In the past, issues getting visas were usually dealt with by talking to our connections and then it would no longer be a problem.”

His sister’s efforts were also futile.

Meanwhile, Rachel White, a fellow classmate of Ahmed’s with the same placement in New Dehli received her visa in two days.

The estimated waiting time give to Ahmed also varied from between one and three months. The consulate website is vague on the matter, stating “it can take several months before a decision can be conveyed on visa requests by Pakistani nationals and persons of Pakistani origin.”

The details of the policy have not been published and was communicated to Ahmed only verbally by consulate members.

The Varsity contacted consul M.P. Singh to elaborate the basis of the policy but he did not reply with comment.

“Their hands are tied too,” says Ahmed in reference to the consulate, “if they could help us they would, they’ve done it before.”

Since the policy was enacted in India, it is a matter that Ahmed would have had to take up with the Indian government. Since the 2008 attacks in Mumbai by Pakistani nationals, relations between India and Pakistan have been terse.

Unable to go to India, Ahmed found another placement in South Africa to research HIV Law.

According to Bruce Ryder, a professor of constitutional law at Osgoode Hall, the policy is clearly discriminatory as defined in the Canadian legal system. Ryder and other legal experts advised Ahmed to file a claim upon his return.

“The policy is insane and I don’t know what it is based on,” says Ahmed. “I’ve had no issue of racism in Canada, but the fact that I was discriminated against by Indians was shocking to me.”

Word on the street: What do you plan on doing during the G20 summit?

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Felix, 5th Year Architecture and Urban Studies:

I plan to pretend that I think it’s Pride and show up with my friends dressed really extravagantly, draped in rainbows, etc. That was my girlfriend’s idea. I also plan to avoid a Molotov to the face.

Olivia, Alumnus ‘06:

I’m not protesting. Most likely I’ll be working. I do costumes for film and TV.
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Zee, High School Student:

I plan on smoking as much weed as possible. And what exactly is the G20?

Eric, Alumnus ‘09:

Buying earplugs.
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Steve, Irish resident of Morrison Hall:

For the G20 they were going to relocate us to 89 Chestnut or give us a certain amount of money for rooms for those four days. Honestly though, the protests are going to be peaceful. I don’t understand why they have to close down campus.

Mili, 3rd Year Mechanical Engineering:

I’ll be working downtown so I’ll have no choice but to be there. What bothers me is that they can spend a billion dollars on security for the G20, but 180 Million for Transit City is too much. There is nothing about this that is good for students.
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Majier, 1st Year Commerce:

I’ll be going out of town, taking a break, and visiting friends for the weekend.

Cynthia, 4th Year Political Science:

I’m prep cooking at the G20! I’ve been prep cooking this summer for a temp agency and it’s just one of the events that I’m working.

Three professors, two alumni among Top 40 Under 40

Three U of T professors and two alumni are among those honoured for the 2010 Top 40 Under 40 competition. Professors Dr. Ike Ahmed, Dr. Subodh Verma and Dr. Daniel Durocher and Alumni Robert Normandeau and Dr. Eve Tsai were selected from over 1200 nominees by an independent advisory board. This is the fifteenth year the program has awarded 40 professional Canadians for excellence in leadership, innovation and community involvement.

Subodh Verma

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Born in Vancouver and raised in India, Dr. Verma returned to Canada to complete her Masters and PhD at UBC before completing her MD at the University of Calgary. Dr. Verma is now associate professor in the deparmtents of pharmacology and surgery and a cardiac surgeon at St. Michael’s Hospital. Verma too attributes her mentors with her success.

“I feel Canada has given much more to me than I’ve given back. The wisdom and generosity of mentors let me move forward.”

An expert on vascular biology and endothelial dysfunction, Verma appreciates the reward of the clinical component of the position.

“If you can do the research while having the honour of operating on human hearts, and fixing damaged hearts on a daily basis, then I think it’s a unique privilege being both a scientist and a clinician.”

Daniel Durocher

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Dr. Durocher completed his PhD at McGill University and post-doctoral studies at the University of Cambridge before starting his lab at U of T in 2001. Now an associate professor in the department of molecular genetics, he focuses on how cells maintain the integrity of their genome in cases of cancer. Durocher was humbled and taken aback by the award.

“For an academic, being recognized outside the academic world is often a little unsettling. I am not keen on publicity. However, the whole experience has been enriching. I am especially delighted for the members of my lab, they are working so hard, it is really their honour as well.”

Ike Ahmed

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Upon completion of his undergraduate studies at McMaster University, Dr. Ahmed graduated from University of Toronto’s medical school and is now cross-appointed as an assistant professor in the department of ophthalmology and vision sciences and as a clinical assistant professor.

A recognized cataract, glaucoma, and anterior segment surgeon who has presented over 550 scientific lecturers worldwide and sits on boards for six ophthalmology journals, Dr. Ahmed attributes his success partially to his family and colleagues.

“For me it took mentors and people who thought big and beyond…. This is also recognition for my parents, my family, my colleagues, my student, and researchers. It’s recognition for all of us but it’s also something to build on.”

Dr. Ahmed urges his students to think big and take advantage of the opportunities UofT has to offer.

“Always challenge, always ask why, and try to expand your mind. We live in a global world, it’s important to learn by learning from others who are outside our locale.”

All 40 successful recipients were featured in the Globe and Mail on June 8.

It’s news to me

Anonymous UBC forum has admin in arms

University Counsel, the UBC legal department, and UBC Security are investigating UBC Life, a new online forum launched anonymously on Wednesday.

“The University is definitely not behind [UBC Life],” said Scott Macrae, Executive Director of Public Affairs at UBC, in an interview with The Ubyssey, “there is an ongoing investigation.”

University concern was rooted in the site’s misrepresentation as a university supported project. The forum was made to look like an official UBC site and the initial launch email was designed to look like a broadcast message sent from the administration.

Jens Hausser, Director of Strategy in the Office of the Vice Provost commented on the story through Twitter, saying “the forum would be just fine if they hadn’t forged a broadcast message to advertise it, or attempted to make it look like a UBC site.” Before it was taken down, the site included discussions on issues such as loans, life in residence and exams.

Source: The Ubyssey

University of Ottawa budget makes big cutbacks

Amid cries of “shame” and “lies” from student audience members, the University of Ottawa Board of Governors approved a budget that includes $23.1 million in cutbacks.

Controversy centred on an optimization report presented to the Board that recommended $31.1 million in cuts. The report, taking one year and $160,000 to complete, had the stated mandate of balancing the budget and enhancing the student experience.

The budget accepted most of the optimization report suggestions to reduce expenditures save for student fee increases, cancellation of classes, reduction of assistantships, and cancellation of scholarships and financial aid.

Included in the budget was an average 4.3 per cent tuition fee increase. Increases ranged from four percent for returning students to eight percent for medicine, management, and law students.

Source: The Fulcrum

York University student dies in police pursuit

Third-year student Alexander Manon, 18, died of a heart attack while being pursued by police. Police pulled over a a car Manon was driving on May 5 at approximately 6:30pm after which the York student fled on foot and was pursued by officers. Local community members, including Manon’s family, suspect police brutality.

“How does a healthy 18-year old end up dead in a pool of blood with ribs, head and neck injuries?” asked a statement from Manon’s family.

Manon was later pronounced dead at York Finch Hospital. The family’s lawyer, Selwyn Pieters, told the Toronto Star that he spoke with three witnesses who were at the scene. One witness, a friend of Manon’s who was also in the car, alleges the death was not caused by a heart attack but rather by a beating.

On May 7 Manon’s family were outside the Toronto coroner’s office demanding answers and memorializing their son.

“[He was a] charming, wonderful young man” sister Amanda Manon told the Toronto Star on May 7. “Very motivated, funny, kind and generous. We’re just in pain right now.”

Source: The Excalibur

Carleton students and administrators compromise over frosh week

Carleton’s administration is partnering with students for this year’s frosh week after student outcry greeted an April decision by administration to take over the event.

In an email to The Charlatan Suzanne Blanchard, Associate Vice-President, said that the administration would once again work in partnership, with a few caveats.

“The University will have the final say on a number of aspects of the week,” said the email. The administration will focus on coordinating activities that help students adapt to the university while the student body will be responsible for volunteer coordination and social events.

Following the administration’s announcement that it would have sole authority for this year’s frosh week, rallies protesting the decision were held on April 14 and 20. Blanchard has told The Charlatan that the protests had no impact on the decision and rather that the university had planned to work in consultation with the student body from the beginning.

Source: The Charlatan

University of Ottawa student activist not guilty of trespassing

University of Ottawa graduate student Joseph Hickey has been found not guilty of trespassing charges after occupying uOttawa President Allan Rock’s office. A trespass notice was issued last December after Hickey allegedly wrote graffiti on a school billboard wall that read “these walls belong to students.” He still faces mischief charges.

Hickey, who is also a physics teaching assistant at uOttawa, said he was in Rock’s office on December 11 to make an appointment to speak with the president about revoking the trespass notice when police arrested him.

“I needed to be on campus everyday and I had a right to be there,” said Hickey. “[The university] has a mandate to serve in the best interest of the community. The trespass notice was removing me from my community and intellectual pursuits.”

The university later revoked the trespass notice after warning Hickey that he will be given a longer period notice if he repeats the offence.

President Rock and Vice President Diane Davidson were subpoenaed to appear in court on June 2 as witnesses. However, the prosecutor phoned Hickey’s lawyer and said she was not going to present evidence at trial. The case was then dismissed.

“The trespass matter was resolved before the trial date, making the appearance of those who had received subpoenas unnecessary,” said University of Ottawa spokesperson Vincent Lamontagne in an email.

Hickey said the prosecutor had first tried to negotiate a guilty plea with his lawyer. “I am a vocally outspoken student and the university is trying to remove critical students from campus,” he said.

Sean Kelly, the internal commissioner of the graduate students association said trespassing notices should only be used in cases where the person represents a danger to themselves or to others. “In Mr. Hickey’s case, this danger did not exist.” Kelly added that the university officials have refused posting some political messages while the school uses space for internal and external advertising.

Hickey did not confirm whether or not he wrote on the walls but said he doesn’t believe “writing a political message on a campus wall that was intended for messaging is damage to property.” He said he will plead not guilty to mischief on his February 2011 court date.

“When I first saw the graffiti on the walls outside the library, I secretly cheered to myself. Our campus doesn’t have enough in it which exhibits the student culture,” said fourth year linguistics student Nandini Thaker. “But I wonder if, apart from holding rallies, there’s a powerful and effective way for us to express ourselves without actually getting into trouble.”

Although student activists can be “confrontational,” Thaker said President Rock’s admin is “adamantly tight-lipped when it comes to issues of alleged infringements of student rights.”

President Rock served as Canada’s ambassador to the UN and ran the industry, justice and health ministries in Jean Chrétien’s Cabinet.

Another student, Marc Kelly, was also arrested for trespassing in February. Student Federation of University of Ottawa President Seamus Wolfe, who demanded a warrant from the police, was also arrested moments later for “disturbing the peace” after he swore at an officer. Hickey witnessed and videotaped the entire incident which can be viewed on YouTube.