Incoming students divided on flat fees

Reaction to flat fees is mixed among incoming first-year Arts and Science students, the first in their faculty on the St. George campus to be billed for five credits if they take as few as four.

“To my understanding, this compulsory flat fees is contradictory to what U of T has previously said: that students are recommended to take four courses in their first year as they’ll adapt into the new environment,” said Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School senior Daniel Bao, who turned down U of T’s offer of admission, and is planning to attend University of British Columbia instead.

However, incoming Qatar Academy student Tariq Hussein isn’t bothered about flat fees.

“To be quite frank, I’m a Canadian and $5,000 per year is still a relatively low amount to pay, thus the flat fee proposition did not affect my decision at all,” he said.

The universities that Hussein had refused were all outside Canada with higher tuition fees. Even with flat tuition fees, U of T was the cheapest option on his list.

“However, it did affect some of my friends’ decisions as they are now considering other universities,” he added. “I was not aware of the implementation of the flat fees till May; as the university did not share this vital piece of information with me until after I accepted their offer.”

The university informed students with offers of admission about the new flat fee structure on May 23 after the Governing Council meeting where the proposal was approved. The university justified the timing of the announcement saying that students would not be required to commit to their choice of university in Ontario until May 28. Starting in September 2011, all incoming full-time Arts and Science students will pay for five courses, where the threshold for full-time status will be lowered to three courses.

“I don’t agree with flat fees, purely because of the financial strain it puts upon part-time students,” said incoming Humberside Collegiate Institute student Tori Hoszka.

Though she wasn’t aware of flat fees when she accepted her offer, Hoszka concludes that they won’t affect her as she plans to take a full course load anyway.

Students taking fewer than three courses, designated as part-timers by U of T, will continue to pay on a per-course basis. However, the part-time students’ union has argued that those taking between three and 3.5 courses, who were formerly categorized as part-timers, still share the same needs as those taking less than three courses, as many are part of the same demographic: often parents and mature students.

During the GC meeting where the flat fees motion was passed, Dean Meric Gertler reiterated the main argument in support of flat fees: the precarious financial condition of Arts and Science, which has incurred an accumulated deficit of almost $40 million. Provost Cheryl Misak assured the council that revenue acquired from flat fees will be re-invested to benefit students.

The application of flat fees is contingent upon the July 11 decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on the legal case advanced by the University of Toronto Student Union, former Arts and Science Student Union president Colum Grove-White, and sociology professor Judith Taylor.

For more on flat fees, check out thevarsity.ca

Jays soar beyond expectations

This year’s Toronto Blue Jays could perhaps be taken as a parable for baseball itself: completely surpassing all expectations, experiencing crushing disappointment during a horrendous losing streak, finding unexpected superstars seemingly from nowhere, and getting continuously dominating performances from star players.

The Jays tore out of spring on top of the always competitive AL East. Impressive as their early season play was—a .666 winning percentage for most of the first two months—the biggest shock comes from putting those results into context. Heading into the season, team officials publicly talked down expectations for 2009, referring to it as a rebuilding year and stressing that fan focus should be on 2010. It was tough to blame early cynics as the Jays’ only certain starting pitchers heading into spring training were Roy Halladay and Jesse Litsch.

Perhaps even more surprising is the list of players who have stepped up and made the Jays a winning team. Twenty-nine-year-old rookie Scott Richmond, who not so long ago was playing semi-pro baseball out west and working on ships in Vancouver, has been phenomenal, racking up Cy Young-calibre stats against right-handed hitters and giving the Jays a chance to win nearly all of the games he has started. Brian Tallet, a career reliever, was thrust into the starting rotation by injuries and has been outstanding, dominating some very good offensive teams, and, like Richmond, keeping the Jays in the game in the majority of his starts.

Ricky Romero, a long-developing yet highly touted prospect, was spectacular before hurting himself in late April. Despite looking shaky after coming back from his injury, he put up solid numbers in his last start against Kansas City and could still contribute greatly.

Offensively, Aaron Hill has emerged as the superstar many thought he could be. Prior to slumping badly for the past week, Hill’s batting average was a surreal .350 for most of the season, and he is on pace to obliterate his career highs in all offensive categories. Marco Scutaro, a utility infielder for many years, has inexplicably turned into a starting shortstop and everyday leadoff man.

There have been a few disappointments, both on pitching and offence. David Purcey, another long-anticipated prospect, was sent to Triple-A after he seemed to lose the ability to throw strikes. He was expected to be a consistent contributor throughout the year. Litsch, despite projecting as the Jays’ number-two starter, strained his forearm during the third series of the season back in early May and won’t be back until July.

Vernon Wells and Alex Rios—both fresh off signing mega-contracts and widely considered essential to the Jays’ success—have struggled badly. Wells’ offensive numbers are nothing short of awful, and his lack of home runs (he has only five) has surely cost the Jays a few games. Rios has been very streaky this year, with far more bad than good. Both players are usually better in the second half of the season; whether or not it will be too late for the Jays by then remains to be seen.

A bright spot has been the performance of Roy Halladay. The first pitcher in the majors to win nine games this year, “Doc” has dominated opponents and has been as reliable an anchor for the Jays rotation as ever. Many American commentators now readily identify him as the best pitcher in baseball.

It is not difficult to identify why the Blue Jays sit about three games out of first place as of press time. After sweeping the Chicago White Sox at home in a four-game Victoria Day weekend series and looking poised to take off, they hit the road and a nasty skid—one that saw them lose nine straight games in total, including a three-game sweep at the hands of divisional rival Boston. If there had managed to muster only a couple wins on that road trip, there is a good chance the Jays would currently be in first place.

Another point of concern is their 3-6 record against the Yankees and Red Sox, the teams they must beat to make the playoffs. Jays fans can take heart in the fact that they historically play far better against those two teams, and with many games remaining they will almost certainly pick up ground in the standings. All in all, it is tough for fans to complain too loudly. True, some players have badly underperformed, and with a bit of dumb luck and crisper play here and there, the team could well be in first place rather than third. But nearly everyone would have expected the Jays to currently be in fourth or fifth place and well out of contention at this point in the season, so the surprise thus far has been pleasant. There is also every reason to believe the team will get better: Wells and Rios will contribute, the starting pitching should stabilize, and they will play better against Boston and New York.

It could well be that by the time The Varsity is publishing regularly in the fall, there will be a playoff race to report on.

Feds fund new UTSC building

U of T at Scarborough announced plans for a new $70-million Instructional Centre, to be funded from the $151 million handed to U of T through the Knowledge Infrastructure Program. The facility will be the first building in a planned development of the northwest area of the UTSC campus, said UTSC principal Franco Vaccarino when he announced the project on May 25. Vaccarino said that the project allowed the university to “build on the exciting momentum” caused by the “unprecedented growth” in programs and community on campus. He boasted that UTSC would now lead the burgeoning innovation economy of the region.

Wayne Arthurs, MPP for Pickering-Scarborough East, also attended the announcement. He said that the investment would provide a dramatic short-term economic stimulus to the region.

The 13,990 square metres of the planned Instructional Centre will increase teaching and research space on the Scarborough campus by 25 per cent, and will include classrooms, labs, study areas, offices, and social spaces. It will also facilitate an expansion in co-op and other high-demand programs.

Additionally, the centre is designed according to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design “Silver Standards.”

Vaccarino expressed his gratitude to the federal and provincial governments, and was enthusiastic that this would strengthen UTSC’s role in the tri-campus U of T system.

Ryerson gets $32,900,000, and the University of Ottawa $112,500,000 from the $1-billion Knowledge Infrastructure Program.

The inscrutable Iggy

Canadians could predict the Conservative “Just Visiting” attack ads long before Ignatieff took the Liberal leadership. The Internet smear campaign, venomous even by the standards of most attack ads (and, for some reason, hosted by a server in Montenegro) features a stern looking Ignatieff on the cover of a magazine entitled Me! with the headline “Elitist Exclusive.” A Youtube video charges, “Why is Michael Ignatieff returning to Canada after 34 years? Does he have a plan for the economy? No…he has no long-term plan for the economy, he’s not in it for Canada, he’s just in it for himself.” There are usually self-damaging consequences for running such ads before an election campaign has even begun.

On one hand, the ads are effective. The most dangerous element of the Tory campaign is the suggestion that Ignatieff is a “visionless” dilettante, incapable of fixing the Canadian economy or leading the country. This is ironic, given the Conservatives’ economic blunders. Throughout the last election, Prime Minister Harper insisted there would be no recession, dismissing warnings to the contrary; in January, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty conceded there would be a $34-billion deficit, and in May, revised this figure to “more than fifty billion.” It’s clear that opposition parties must present real alternatives to Conservative fiscal policies.

Then again, the Conservatives may find that their attacks achieve the exact opposite of their intent. In their attempt to play up Ignatieff’s elitism and American pedigree, they might bolster his image as a cosmopolitan figure: educated, refined, and tastefully aristocratic. Politicians of this nature have enjoyed great success (particularly in Quebec, which has been the key to forming any government since the days of Brian Mulroney). The most common criticism of Ignatieff in the press is that he always speaks in the abstract and has yet to reveal what kind of a Prime Minister he would be. But the appeal of an attractive figurehead—a reliable face upon which to project national ideals—is considerable. Recent examples have shown that abstraction can be vital to a politician’s career.

Politicians and policymakers around the world scrupulously followed the U.S. presidential race of 2008 down to the most peripheral of details. Of the many lessons learned from this grand example of representative capitalist democracy, the most significant was the need for balance and inclusivity. For all its opulence, the greatest triumph of the Obama campaign was in the lucid vacuity of its promise for “Change.” Though there was commendable substance to elements of the campaign—the promise of multilateral diplomacy, the closing of Guantanamo Bay, etc.—it was the blankness of this slogan that prompted so many in the ranks of the apathetic and indifferent to realize the potential of their involvement in the political system.

Most importantly, it provided voters with a blank slate upon which to project their dislike of George W. Bush and the Republicans, as well as their hopes and desires for the future. Ultimately, the tremendous failure of the McCain campaign lay in its inability to match these strategies with either tangible policy alternatives or an equally abstract counter-response. Rather, it desperately adopted the conventional strategy of loutish fear mongering, anti-intellectualism (as evidenced by the selection of Sarah Palin), and parroting populist right-wing orthodoxy. It remains to be seen whether the Ignatieff camp is attempting to repeat the success of Obama’s strategy.

The long and winding road

Canadian politics has seen its share of improbable figures since the end of the Chrétien/Martin dynasty: Belinda Stronach, the western entrepreneur turned kingmaker, Stephen Harper, the right-wing ideologue turned Prime Minister, and Stéphane Dion, the professorial federalist turned party leader. The first played a vital role in unifying the social and economic factions of Canadian conservatism, only to change parties and then leave politics altogether. The second has held this uneasy alliance together with ironclad discipline and staunch intransigence through three elections and two minority governments. The last failed to counter Harper’s obstinacy, suffered a crushing defeat and then came within a monarch’s breath of leading a nation even as it was writing his epitaph. Emerging unscathed from the nightmarish affair of last December was perhaps the most interesting, most enigmatic figure to appear in Ottawa for some time: newly crowned Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff.

Ignatieff’s initial leadership campaign was unsuccessful. The Liberal Party had no heir apparent following Paul Martin’s departure and eight candidates entered the race, including several with vastly superior credentials: Gerard Kennedy, who had served as Minister of Education in Dalton McGuinty’s cabinet, Stéphane Dion, who had been federal Environment Minister and authored the Clarity Act, and Ignatieff’s friend and college roommate, former New Democrat Premier Bob Rae. Though he remained frontrunner throughout the convention, Ignatieff never secured more than 34 per cent support. He was eventually defeated by a series of alliances and endorsements.

Outside of the party, he received a lukewarm response. While his international credentials were a draw to some, his critics dismissed him as an outsider intruding upon the Canadian political scene. After attending the University of Toronto’s Trinity College, he moved to Oxford and later Harvard where he finished his PhD in 1976. Two years later he returned to the United Kingdom, where he would remain until the turn of the century. He then became Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Both his support for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and the publication of his book The Lesser Evil reinforced the conviction within the Canadian Left that he was an opportunistic interloper, a pragmatic defender of American empire, and a sinister apologist for Bush-Blair policies.

For a while, it appeared that Ignatieff’s faults could prove fatal to his ambitions. But it seems that when held in contrast to the Conservatives, Canadians are willing to see past Ignatieff’s earlier American intellectual ties.

The tabula rasa

Ignatieff’s career as a correspondent, author, and internationally prominent public intellectual is both prolific and diverse, spanning from the dungeons of Victorian Britain to the Balkan battlefields in the twilight of the twentieth century. His family history literally speaks volumes. His paternal grandfather, Minister of Education in the court of the last Tsar, was a liberal who resigned his post on the eve of the Bolshevik Revolution and escaped to the West. His uncle was conservative nationalist theologian George Parkin Grant, whose influential 1965 work Lament for a Nation predicted the collapse of the traditional, communitarian Canada and its eventual absorption into the United States through the forces of modernity and the rampant individualist tendencies of liberalism. George Monroe Grant, principal of Queen’s University from 1877 to 1902 and colleague of Canadian Pacific Railroad prospector Sir Sandford Fleming, was Ignatieff’s great grandfather.

But despite the richness of his family’s history—with its shades of Tolstoy and echoes of Robertson Davies, and the contemporary recognition of his own work—Ignatieff remains an unresolved figure for some and a complete blank for most. His sudden and audacious entry into the Liberal leadership race in 2006 electrified much of the party, still reeling from Paul Martin’s defeat and the ensuing power vacuum left by 13 years of unencumbered primacy. To the most fervent of Liberal zealots, he was the reincarnation of Pierre Eliot Trudeau: the globally renowned public intellectual, the cosmopolitan internationalist, and the outspoken defender of social justice and human rights. One Liberal enthusiastically declared “It’s like Garibaldi returning to Italy.”

Ignatieff was born into history, and has the regal bearing one would expect of a man of his lineage. Ignatieff the politician is natural. Ignatieff as policymaker is a question mark. His latest book, True Patriot Love (released on the eve of the Liberal Leadership Convention), is full of illustrious talk of nation-building and the meaning of Canadian identity, but absent from the book’s elegant prose are any mention of the recession, the environment, or the failures of the Harper Government. True Patriot Love is, by its own declaration, a family memoir and not a piece of pre-campaign literature such as Barack Obama’s treatise The Audacity of Hope—a discussion of national identity in the tradition of Ignatieff’s past work on ethnic nationalism, interwoven with his passion for studying his family. This does little to offset the Liberal leader’s remarkable blankness, as the national press has observed. The Globe and Mail, for one, dismissed the book as “a shameless attempt to promote [Ignatieff’s] apparently unquestionable Canadian pedigree.”

This frustration is shared by many of the political commentators in Ottawa: apart from demands that the government institute a national standard for Employment Insurance and several more minor policies, Ignatieff has yet to release an alternative platform. The pundits in the national press are essentially correct in this regard—the Ignatieff Liberals have yet to reveal themselves outside of the abstract—but this may be indicative of a calculated strategy and not a lack of vision.

Curiously enough, Ignatieff laid a similar charge against Pierre Trudeau in his youth. Writing in The Varsity in 1968, he says:

“My trouble is that I’m tired of talking about Trudeau, but somehow can’t seem to stop. Anyone who went to the convention or who worked in the election has discussed The Wit, The Charm, The Elegance, The Arrogance, The Just Society, The Women-In-His-Life themes for about 8 months…

I know why I can’t stop playing Trudeau-scan. He always wins. He remains inscrutable after eight months under the hot klieg lights of innumerable ‘InsightProbeAnalysisTheWayIt IsHere’sTheRealMan’ interviews. But we have probably been going about it the wrong way. Instead of attempting to rip off the inscrutable mask in search of the ‘real’ man beneath, we should accept the mask as part of the real. We should accept his inscrutability as the one solid piece of personal data upon which to base further analysis. We should regard the fact that we know nothing about him as significant.”

Ignatieff’s friend Bob Rae (who at the time attended University College) disagreed, writing in the same issue: “But the victory of style has been an empty, if not totally disillusioning one. The conservatism and legalism of this swinging new government have become an almost unbearable reality.” Just as some today maintain that the Obama presidency will be a triumph of rhetoric over substance, Rae viewed Trudeau’s perceived mysteriousness not as a great strength but as a sinister flaw. Whether Rae was right or wrong in this regard, Trudeau’s strategy made him one of the most successful and resilient political figures in Canadian history.

Return of the king

The ascendance of Michael Ignatieff to the podium at the Liberal Convention on May 2 marked a new era for the party. Gone was the tribalism that kept it divided under Chrétien and Martin, gone were the leadership posters and delegate blocs of 2006, and gone was the sense of abject frustration felt under Dion. The Harper government, suffering from its self-inflicted wounds, is seeing its support at an all-time low. Ignatieff, on the other hand, has shown great competence in reconciling and rebuilding the Liberal Party. In allowing his Newfoundland MPs to vote against the Conservative budget, he revealed his capacity for moderation and compromise. By not forcing an immediate election he has shown shrewd political judgement. Unlike John Turner and Paul Martin, he has ascended to leadership with a clean slate. And like Trudeau, he wears an “inscrutable mask.”

Since all three opposition parties must vote against the government to bring it down, an election might occur at any time. It could strike during the summer or elude us until fall, winter, or spring. Whatever the political climate of the next few months turns out to be, Canada’s latest enigmatic politician is poised to play a vital role in this country’s future.

No more Ms. Nice editor

I usually fight fair. I figure, if you want some one to take you seriously, you must speak to them in a rational, calm, and well-spoken manner. Yelling, swearing, put-downs, and name-calling never convinced anyone to do anything. I’ve found it’s been a good negotiating strategy, and it has often yielded results. That was until U of T’s Governing Council passed the flat fees proposal on May 20. Apparently, no one in a position of power listened to the legitimate and thoughtful arguments from students.

So fuck ’em all. That’s it! If fighting fair doesn’t work, then they can suck my … well, you fill that one in. What a bunch of BMW-driving, north Toronto living, United Colors of Benetton wearing d-bags. Voting members have shown no consideration for students by passing this proposal, so there’s no obligation for me to continue printing respectful articles.

The parade of polite protests in the past few months has been long. A widespread Facebook campaign began a few months back, resulting in a barrage of dissenting emails to voting members of FASC, the Business Board, and Governing Council. Over 100 students and staff peacefully protested outside Con Hall on April 27, urging the Business Board to vote down the proposal. UTSU and ASSU are taking U of T to civil court, claiming administrators ignored recommendations from committees and used questionable procedures in an effort to get the proposal through. Despite police presence, students assembled outside the May 20 meeting, which was conveniently located at UTM. And then there was the legendary action taken by Alison Martell, when she calmly placed an eloquently written letter in the hands of U of T president David Naylor himself while receiving the Gordon Cressy Award for student leadership on the stage of Con Hall.

But the powers that be have not listened to these cries. The likes of Naylor, Meric Gertler, dean of Arts and Science, and Cheryl Misak, VP and Provost have remained arrogantly unreceptive to students. Instead of considering their arguments, these ivory tower assholes have gone ahead with a plan that punishes U of T’s foundation, the undergraduate experience.

Faculty members that voted in favour of flat fees are just as shameful. They’re the ones who are charged with the privilege of sharing knowledge with students, yet by voting for the proposal, they’ve demonstrated their willingness to appease the upper ranks, while hanging their own students out to dry.

And the four student governors who were absent from the May 20 meeting should be embarrassed to show their faces on campus, as they refused to even participate. Indecision is the greatest cowardice of all.

Those responsible for the proposal’s implementation are wrapped up in their own little worlds, far removed from the time when they were trying to find the precarious balance between getting an education, keeping food in the fridge, and having a bit of a social life along the way. Apparently, fat cheques make memories short. If I ever find myself in a corner office overlooking the sprawling downtown metropolis, I’ll never forget what it’s like to be in a position of vulnerability, where someone else determines your means of education.

What’s most disconcerting is that this university (a place where ideas are supposed to be explored, cultivated, and discussed) closed all doors to other solutions. Scott Mabury, chairperson of the Program Fee Implementation Committee, expedited the voting process against the recommendations of his own committee. Thus, there was no time to consider and weigh other solutions to the university’s financial woes. Sneaky move, Mr. Mabury! With the refusal to explore other options, U of T has made it very clear: their priority as an institution is no longer to nurture knowledge and experience, but rather to pad their corporate pocket books.

The study to be conducted over the next three years, designed to test the effects of flat fees, will likely yield the results many have predicted. Students who are not able to take five courses a year due to financial or lifestyle restrictions will be forced to drop down to under three courses a year, sacrificing their OSAP grants. And those determined to get what they pay for and take a full load will likely experience depreciation in their academic and extra-curricular life. Yes, there are those who can maintain a high GPA and sustain their social lives while juggling five credits, and to you I say good on ya. But there are thousands of students who simply don’t have that capacity, and will suffer as a result.

Reason was nowhere to be found in this process. Those who voted yes to flat fees are sentencing the undergraduate student body to a rushed four years of devalued education here at U of T, and have further degraded the university’s reputation. You should all be absolutely ashamed of yourselves.

Yours truly,

Alixandra Gould

Comment Editor

Bolt thunders to U of T

The world’s fastest man will run at U of T this week. Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt set a world record 9.69 seconds for the 100 metre sprint at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He’ll be chasing that time as he competes against fellow world class Olympians at the Festival of Excellence, hosted by the Faculty of Physical Education and Health, on June 11 at the Varsity Centre’s track.

The meet includes a wide range of track and field events featuring a star-studded cast of Olympic medalists. The festival will be televised live on TSN, and temporary seating has been set up on the other side of the track, bringing the total capacity of the Varsity Centre to around 7,000. Ticket prices range from a discounted $75 for U of T faculty, staff, and students, up to $250 for choice seating, making it the most expensive Toronto track and field event ever.

Other star athletes to compete include Olympic medallist Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, Perdita Felicien, Tyler Christopher, decathlon champion Bryon Clay, 100-metre silver medalist Shawn Chambers, and Toronto’s own Massimo Bertocchi.

Shots at Ignatieff backfire

For several weeks now, fiery attack ads aimed squarely at leader of the official opposition Michael Ignatieff have peppered the evening programming of Canada’s major broadcasters. Prime Minister Steven Harper and the Conservatives have launched a series of 30-second ads that question Ignatieff’s commitment to Canada and portray his return to home soil as an easy power grab.

The new Liberal leader has spent well over 30 years working abroad in England and the United States, and his foray into the Canadian political scene has been well-received by members of the battered Liberal party, but condemned by Conservative critics.

Recent polling conducted by the Toronto Star and Angus Reid shows the Liberals’ popularity among voters steadily rising, but only ahead of the Conservatives by two per cent. Still, that represents a significant upswing for the Liberals from several months ago, when they trailed in the polls and lacked any formidable leadership. The public may be slow to warm up to the new Liberal star, but Harper has more troubles of his own. Opinion polls now suggesting that the ad blitz has hurt Harper’s favourability. Voters are sending him a message: sleazy character assaults say more about Harper than his opponent.

The allegations put forth in the videos suggest that Michael Ignatieff is entirely unsuited for the position of Prime Minister because he has lived outside the country for over 30 years. On the surface, it seems like a fair argument, but the underlying message is much more venomous. To debase an individual for seeking opportunity and further advancing one’s academic or professional career abroad is a slap in the face to thousands of Canadians who have studied and worked internationally. To suggest that Ignatieff is detached from Canadian affairs is dishonest. And above all, to insinuate that Ignatieff is somehow less patriotic or less connected to his national origin is insulting and truly below-the-belt.

Unfortunately, these types of insidious political schemes don’t come as a surprise to many seasoned voters and political observers, who have come to expect engaging and meaningful public discourse being perverted or sidestepped altogether by partisan attacks. The easiest way to distract the public from a sound discussion about policy is to smear one’s opponent with manufactured lies, launching a campaign of misinformation and mistrust.

Nowhere has this strategy been better exploited than in the United States. South of the border, attack ads are the cornerstone of any political campaign, and have often contributed to the outcome of elections and policy initiatives. They were successful in defeating health care reform in 1994, and in derailing the presidential campaigns of Democratic contenders Michael Dukakis in 1988 and John Kerry in 2004. Just last year, then-candidate Barack Obama was subject to multi-million-dollar Republican attack ads that labeled him as an elitist, terrorist-loving Antichrist, playing into the racial bigotries and suspicions that have underscored the American psyche for centuries. Despite these juvenile (and often baseless) critiques repeated over and over again in the media, the election of Barack Obama demonstrated that negative advertising has quickly lost its desired effect, especially among young, tech-savvy voters, Obama’s most enthusiastic constituency.

Ignatieff’s early support for the Iraq invasion and certain elements of harsh interrogation for detained suspects are troubling, but could certainly be clarified in a good-natured, spirited dialogue. Attack ads are not on the verge of disappearance, but political capital would be better invested in open forums and online interactions that have gained momentum in the United States, and that would engage Canada’s own young population.

Stephen Harper should take notice of the changing tide in the United States. The Prime Minister shouldn’t be setting standards for Canadian patriotism, but rather appealing to Canadians’ appetite for more goodwill and transparency from the government. Ignatieff brings a wealth of outside experience and international acclaim, and should not be discounted because of that.

Missing York student’s body found

A three-week search for 19-year-old York University student Shane Fair ended when his body was recovered in Lake Ontario last weekend.

Fair’s body was identified off of Ontario Place on Saturday, not far from where he was last seen on May 16. He had disappeared following a formal year-end dinner and dance at the Atlantis Pavilion, organized by his York residence Calumet.

Only weeks away from graduation, Mr. Fair was anticipating a career with the Canadian military.

Fair was the second university student to drown in Lake Ontario this month, after missing teen Mason MacPhail was discovered near the Docks nightclub.