Extending a helping hand

As the boatload of Tamil refugees approached this July, Amnesty International urged Canadians to “honour [our] international human rights obligations.” Given that Tamils “suspected, even if wrongly, of being LTTE [Tamil Tigers] supporters have been routinely imprisoned and tortured” by the Sri Lankan Government, Amnesty was concerned “to hear some public comments that seem to follow this lead by labeling Tamil asylum seekers as ‘terrorists.’”

The boat landed in British Columbia August 12, whereupon Public Safety Minister Vic Toews voiced his concern about “suspected human smugglers and terrorists” among the refugees, who intended to “abuse” our “very generous…refugee legal system.” Likewise, Prime Minister Harper derided the refugees for seeking asylum “not through any normal arrival channel,” while simultaneously threatening to “strengthen” laws to keep them out.

Harper is surely aware that the UN refugee convention states explicitly that “contracting states shall not impose penalties [on refugees] on account of their illegal entry” into the state party. He must also be aware that, as one distinguished Canadian refugee specialist points out, “there isn’t a legal way [for refugees] to come to Canada.”

Nevertheless, these comments affect public opinion — which likely prompted Amnesty’s warning. 63 per cent of Canadians believed the Tamil ship “should have been turned back” to float the seas in squalor; 48 per cent would “deport [them] to their country of origin.” Illustratively, Harper’s misinformed statements about imaginary arrival channels are directly influent; 83 per cent of Canadians think “the migrants are jumping the immigration queue and should apply like any other foreigner” – as all other foreigners, surely, are fleeing the horror of ethnic war.
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These are refugees, not migrants. After Colombo defeated the LTTE in 2009, it locked hundreds of thousands of displaced Tamils in :overcrowded and unsanitary, detention camps”, without “basic human rights or basic legal safeguards and, of course, without charges, for an indefinite period of time.” The internees faced constant “disappearances, abductions, arbitrary arrest, and sexual violence,” according to an Amnesty report. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon reported after visiting the camps that, although he had “travelled around the world and visited similar places,” the conditions of the camps were “by far the most appalling [he had] ever seen.”

The Sri Lankan government has committed virtually all of the crimes for which the Tamil Tigers are rightly considered a terrorist organization, and many they have not. These include: political assassinations, hostage-taking, use of child soldiers, forced disappearances, executing international aid and relief workers, systematic rape, ethnic cleansing, settler colonialism, extermination, and genocide. In 2004, the government blocked tsunami relief aid to the country’s Tamil province. In a brazen act this past June, a government minister incited mobs to take UN staff hostage until Ban Ki Moon called off investigation of government war crimes.

Canada’s hands are hardly clean of Colombo’s crimes. In 2009 Canadian trade with Sri Lanka totaled $456 million, not including $52.37 million in development assistance. Trade continued as the government was bombing trapped civilians and letting them fester in the camps. The fact that massive trade is not done with the LTTE may help explain why Ottawa classifies only one of these groups as a terrorist organization.

Human smuggling is among the uglier aspects of the reality in Sri Lanka, and the Tigers, though fighting for a just cause, are as hideous in their methods as any terrorists. Concerns that transport fees could fund human-smugglers or the LTTE are justified and serious. That said, there is a simple way to prevent millions of dollars from being extorted from desperate refugees in exchange for passage to Canada: provide it for free. After the Vietnam War, Canada absorbed over 56,000 Vietnamese refugees and this had no impact on economic growth. Absorption of Tamil refugees would, furthermore, be supported by sponsorship from the highly-organized Canadian Tamil diaspora of around 200,000 (the Vietnamese diaspora in 1975 was only 1,500). Ottawa’s itinerary plan for 2010 plans for 265,000 immigrants, with only 9,000 spots for “Humanitarian and Compassionate/Public Policy” admittance. A significant number of Tamil refugees could be granted asylum simply by balancing this ratio slightly.The Harper government’s ideas for cracking down on human smuggling, however, are less than generous. How Canada treats the refugees that arrive on our shores will surely be an indicator of our humanity and respect for international law.

U of T beats number-two ranked football team in the country

It would be hard to pinpoint who was caught most off-guard by this one.

See, the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, easily one of the most farcical football teams in the OUA these past few years, sent the media into a frenzy, their coaches into shock, and the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees home in a state of embarrassment Saturday afternoon at Varsity Stadium.

No one expected the Blues, notorious for their appalling league record, to squash the second best team in Canada 40-35 in their second consecutive win of the season.

In fact, when the Gee-Gees came to town last year, they slammed the Blues and went home with a 35-15 win to their name and are 11-0 over the Blues since 1972.

But Toronto was riding the tides of a 24-19 victory that was secured over the York Lions on Sept. 18, and had fresh legs as they were off last week with a bye.

Apparently, the break in their game schedule served the Blues well, and Head Coach Greg DeLaval admitted that it was “the best week of practice in a long time.”

Someone should have given Gee-Gee’s Head Coach Jean-Philippe Asselin a heads-up.

In a pre-game statement Asselin said, “If Toronto is supposed to be a weaker team, I would like to remind the guys that they have blocked eight or nine punts since the beginning of the year in four games. Also, Guelph beat Queen’s easier than we did, and Guelph only beat Toronto by two points; so there is nothing to take for granted.”

Good advice, but unfortunately for Ottawa, it was lacking on follow-through. With the win, U of T scored their first victory against a nationally-ranked team since 1997, when they defeated the Waterloo Warriors 21-15.
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Although Gee-Gee’s receiver Matthew Bolduc opened the scoring with a touchdown just over a minute into the game, it only took Blues rookie running back Aaron Milton five minutes to get the home team on the board. Milton’s 105-yard touchdown run ties the U of T record set by Maurice Doyle at McMaster in 1979 and ranks fourth in the CIS for longest rush.

Quarterback Andrew Gills connected with sophomore receiver Paul de Pass on a 24-yard pass for the second Blues touchdown of the game and Toronto wrapped up the first frame in the lead.

Gee-Gees receiver Cyril Adjeitey responded early in the second quarter when he caught a 57-yard pass from quarterback Brad Sinopoli, and kicker Matthew Falvo converted his second extra point of the game.

Eager to hold on to the lead, Blues quarterback Jordan Scheltgen was brought off of the bench to score on one- and two-yard rushing touchdowns respectively. Despite a rouge from the Gee-Gees three minutes later, the Blues were up 27-15 at halftime.

As the Blues gathered out of the public eye to assess their tactics, “Rolli – one of our players – said, ‘Coach you don’t need to say anything,’” smiled DeLaval, who responded with a simple, “There’s nothing to say.”

Early in the third quarter, a seven play 73-yard driveand a one-yard run from Franck Ngandui led the Gee-Gees to their third touchdown of the game. The Blues remained one step ahead, however, and Gillis connected with receiver Michael Prempeh on a five-yard pass to put his team up comfortably by 12.

As the Gee-Gees coaching staff paced angrily up and down the sidelines talking furiously into their headsets, the Blues continued their climb up the scoreboard. Third-year kicker Andrew Lomasney scored 13- and 30- yard field goals respectively.

With just a minute left in the game, the Gee-Gees decided to show the home team why they are ranked second highest in the league and made a desperate final attempt to bring home the win.

An eight yard pass from Sinopoli to receiver Bogdan Raic brought the Gee-Gees up by a touchdown. With less than ten seconds to go, Steve Hughes connected on a three-yard reception for another one.

And as the Blues rejoiced emotionally on the sidelines to a final score of 40-35, it was clear that they couldn’t have cared less that Ottawa had come within five points of knocking them off their high horses.

“This is a big win for us,” said DeLaval. “We had a little bit of luck today.

“They gave us some things we could take advantage of. We made interceptions at critical times.”

Although DeLaval admitted that the team wasn’t under a lot of pressure going into the game – honestly, no one really expected them to win – Milton, who has quickly become one of the most impressive standout rookies in the league confessed he was a little nervous.

“But I knew what our team could do,” said Milton. “Most teams underestimate us. The plays we were calling right off the bat were plays we were comfortable with and it just carried over.”

But it was Gillis, who was named Player of the Game, that was the real story at Varsity Stadium. The fourth-year quarterback threw 28-for-45, recorded a career-high 343 yards and two touchdown passes.

“We had a game plan coming in,” said Gillis, always quick to credit his teammates. “We knew we were capable of doing something like this.”

“Andrew is probably one of the hardest working guys on the team,” said DeLaval of his star.

The Blues will be suiting up in Kingston next Saturday to take on the reigning national champions, the Queen’s Gaels.

To prepare for what Delaval described as a “tough game,” the team will be mixing up their practice tactics. The field at Richardson Stadium is actually grass, unlike the artificial turf at Varsity Stadium, so the Blues will be moving their training to the back field of Trinity College in order to further prepare for the game.

For now, the home team will be focused on celebrating their victory.

“We were due,” said DeLaval.

New book criticizes U of T fundraising

In 2007, a group of U of T professors wanted to name the health studies program after Tommy Douglas, commonly referred to as the father of Canada’s public health care program. Administration told them to raise $2 million.

The Trouble with Billionaires is a 250-page book published last month and written by Toronto Star columnist Linda McQuaig and Osgoode Hall tax law professor Neil Brooks.

Their main idea: creative tax restructuring can replace a culture of gluttony. McQuaig and Brooks argue that public funding has eroded in the past three decades, leading to a profit-driven society where some are massively rich while others have no power.

Seven pages of the book focus on U of T, which were summarized in an abridged excerpt in the Star and discussed in a Wall Street Journal blog. Using U of T as an example, the two argue that universities and other public institutions, under-funded by governments, are forced to seek private sector funding, resulting in influence and praise for the rich.

The co-authors cite an increasing number of buildings being named after donors as opposed to intellectuals. Their prime example involves the new Munk School of Global Affairs.

Earlier this year, businessman Peter Munk, the founder of mining company Barrick Gold, announced a $35 million donation enabling U of T to open the school. But his donation will only be $19 million or less after tax deductions, allowing for a school to be named after him despite only funding less than a third of its $66 million cost.

In multiple interviews, U of T administrators have stressed that academic freedom will not be compromised by such donations. But the co-authors insist future donors will be discouraged if research unfavourable to contributors is pursued.

McQuaig spoke with The Varsity about her concerns, claiming she saw a copy of the agreement between Munk and U of T after the book was sent to print.

“[It] indicated pretty clearly that Munk will, if he wants to, have some influence over the [School of Global Affairs],” alleged McQuaig. “In the agreement, it shows that the director has to report to the Munk ward every year, and kind of account for what’s going on.

“A very significant [quantity] of the money that Munk is giving is going to be given down the road; U of T doesn’t get it all right away. So that gives Munk a great deal of potential leeway because he has the right to withhold that payment if the school doesn’t meet his standards.”

David Palmer, VP advancement, the office that manages donations, wrote a rebuttal to the book’s excerpt in the Star, criticizing its “utter disregard for the fact that philanthropy has been a cornerstone of public institutions” while ignoring the “lives and opportunities [being] transformed as a result of the selfless generosity of others.

“Every donor agreement includes this clause in its preamble: ‘Whereas the parties affirm their mutual commitment to the University’s Statement of Institutional Purpose, which includes a commitment to foster an academic community in which the learning and scholarship of every member may flourish, with vigilant protection for the rights of freedom of speech, academic freedom and freedom of research.’”
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Last Tuesday, McQuaig and Brooks presented their arguments and responded to questions at an event held at Ryerson University.

“I did suggest the event to U of T as well, but they did not express interest,” said Barbara Bower, the book’s publicist. “Perhaps it was a clash of ideologies.”

The university’s spokesperson declined to respond to Bower’s comment.

Biology professor Paul Hamel is quoted in the book as one of the organizers of the 2007 Tommy Douglas renaming campaign. The group was told they need $2 million in pledged donations in order for a renaming to be approved. Hamel lamented that U of T used to name its buildings after prominent intellectuals, “but now universities know that they have to reserve those places in order to help the funding.”

Hamel said his department wanted to name itself after Douglas to convey its social justice focus. He said donors with altruistic intentions should mimic Hal Jackman, a former U of T chancellor and continuous donor who has never had a building or program named after him.

Hamel admitted that universities are not receiving enough government funding. “I don’t agree with their approach, but I understand it,” he said.

Viva la revolución?

When I went on a two-week backpacking trip to Cuba this past summer, the friend who accompanied me kept reminding me that this would be one of the last chances to visit the old Cuba. That is, Cuba before an imminent, inevitable, and fundamental shift of control and policies within the government and economy takes place. Cuba is rapidly changing, my friend believes, and had we decided to make our trip the next summer instead of this year, we might have stepped into a country very different from the one that has existed for the past 50 years.

Cuba is at a crossroads. Within the next few months, it will undergo sweeping economic reforms that will undermine all that has defined the Cuban system ever since the Revolution in 1958. A centrally-planned economy with public ownership of the means of production, and highly subsidized (and sometimes free) goods and services available to the entire population, have defined life in the Cuban Republic for the past 50 years. It seems that this economic system may gradually be replaced by a system much more adaptable to capitalism and much more open to the world market and foreign investments.

Less than a month ago, Granma, the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party, published a statement announcing the new measures that will be taken as a means of dealing with the serious economic crisis facing the country. 500,000 public sector workers are going to lose their jobs in the next six months as part of government’s plan to cut one million public sector jobs. In a country where the public sector makes up more than 85 per cent of the workforce and the total number of public sector employees adds up to 5 million, this could be devastating.

The 500,000 public workers who are going to be fired by April 2011 are expected to find jobs in the private sector. The private sector in Cuba is presently very small, with only 170,000 self-employed people having licenses for their work. The government, moreover, is planning to reduce social spending and subsidies, relax restrictions on foreign investment, and expand self-employment licenses.

So, is Cuba becoming capitalist? Is this the last we will see of the welfare state system that provided all Cubans with subsidized goods, housing, transportation, health care, and education? If so, what will the results be?

Let us be clear: Cuba is not China. Cuba cannot go the ‘China Way.’ It does not have the vast resources, the enormous territory, nor the labour pool found in China. Cuba is a small island with a small population and even fewer resources. If Cuba were to abandon the planned economy, allow foreign investment in all sectors, and let the world market penetrate the roots of its economy, it would inevitably suffer neo-colonial domination and consequent humiliation, much like it did prior to the revolution. Massive social injustices would follow, and all that was accomplished through decades of collective struggle and sacrifice on the part of the Cuban people against the brutal embargo of the United States after will simply be destroyed.

But is quite evident that Cuba cannot continue as before either. The corruption and mismanagement existing at all levels of government, which go back to the existence of heavily bureaucratic elements in the party as well as various state positions, are the main factors causing the degradation of the Cuban Revolution. The current system in Cuba, labelled by some (more jokingly than seriously) as ‘tropical Stalinism,’ lacks a genuine workers democracy and, despite the socialist elements that exist, the most important goal in socialism — workers’ control of production — has not been fully realized. This, coupled with a corrupt bureaucracy, diminishing standards of living, and the shrinking purchasing power of wages, undermines the morale of the Cuban people and their faith in their government.

During my two-week trip in Cuba, I met and talked to many Cubans of the younger generation, and I was intrigued to find that most regarded Castro as a genius and were deeply proud of what their small island has been able to achieve despite the demoralizing and crushing effects of the embargo. Though none of the Cuban students I met claimed their system is perfect — they were painfully aware of its shortcomings and were not afraid to talk about them — none wanted to do away with it altogether.

With such conflicting and contradictory elements present in its economic structure, Cuba will sooner or later have to swing one way or the other. The only viable solution that would ensure the Cuban people’s social and economic prosperity is a complete break with the corrupt bureaucracy and the implementation of a genuine workers’ democracy in which all Cubans can participate in the management of the state and economy, and no one has to sacrifice more than the others. The realization of this will be closely tied to the fate of the rest of the continent. As Cuba itself has shown us, it is impossible to build socialism in one country alone. Only the success of revolutionary movements throughout Latin America, including those in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela (from which Cuba has already drawn great benefit) will be able to guarantee the survival and advancement of the Cuban Revolution.

U of T helps with Wellesley fire

U of T hosted tenants after a six-alarm fire at 200 Wellesley St. rendered 1,200 Toronto residents temporarily homeless on September 24.

U of T’s exam centre at 255 McCaul St. was used to shelter some residents, as well as the Wellesley Community Centre, St. Michael’s Hospital, and a Toronto Community Housing seniors building on Christie St.

The decision to lend the exam centre to the victims of the Wellesley fire incident came from Paul Young, Vice President of Research, who was the on-call executive at the time the fire broke out.

“U of T has a plan for eventualities like this,” said Young, referring to the Emergency Preparedness and Crisis Management Plan released in May 2009.

According to the plan, the role of on-call executive requires a senior representative of the university to be available at all times in the event that an emergency situation arises. The position rotates between university executives on a weekly basis. If the incident is non-life threatening and does not require the attention of the campus police, the on-call executive often handles it.

The Wellesley fire proved to be such an incident for Young; he was contacted by Toronto Community Housing for help.

“We didn’t take very long to respond as the people involved were the most vulnerable,” he said. “It was our civic duty and the decision was easily made. We were delighted we could help.”

Students who had exams scheduled at 255 McCaul on Saturday, Sept. 25 were relocated to the Sanford Fleming Building.

“I went down there on Saturday morning and met with several people. The Red Cross and Social Services were there and had the beds set up. The children were sleeping and the parents were awake. Donuts and coffee were in supply,” he said. “There was some rearranging of things because of the exam scheduled there, but the students were great and agreed to move.”

The 100 or so residents were moved from the exam centre on Wednesday to alternative locations.

Firefighters have described the incident as one the worst apartment fires they have seen. Fourteen people were hospitalized including three children after the fire broke out at 5:00 p.m.

The apartment building, which consists of 711 living units is located in the centre of St. James Town, Canada’s most densely populated community.

According to a Toronto Star report, the fire is believed to have started in unit 2424, belonging to tenant Stephen Vassilev.

Vassilev, who said his apartment was full of law books and legal papers pertaining to a dispute over 18 townhouses he once owned in Elliot Lake, suggested the fire was a result of arson.

As of Friday, Oct. 1, tenants were allowed back to their homes in groups. The first groups comprised of 200 tenants. It is expected that the second group scheduled will include 140 tenants.

Peace of mind through science

In the claustrophobia-inducing basement of University College, an unassuming office smaller than most tutorial rooms houses the headquarters of Science for Peace, one of the most vocal academic organizations in Canada.

Containing only a few chairs, a desk, and several filing cabinets, it’s surprising that this is the headquarters for an organization that is a registered NGO at the United Nations and calls hundreds of Canadian academics, from a diverse range of disciplines, its members.

Science for Peace was founded in 1982 by a small group of mathematics and science professors at the University of Toronto with the common aim of researching issues and educating the general public in order to promote peace. The group now has chapters at post-secondary institutions across Canada. It holds conferences, public forums, and publishes research with the aim of affecting change in government policy not only within Canada, but around the world.

The Responsibility of the Scientist

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Chandler Davis, professor emeritus of mathematics at the University of Toronto, aptly describes the founding members of Science for Peace who are still living — physics professor (emeritus) Derek Paul, chemistry professor (emeritus) John Valleau, and himself — as the ‘nucleus’ of the group. However, it was Eric Fawcett, a physics professor and the organization’s first president, who Davis considers to be the originator of Science for Peace.

“He was a remarkable man. He has since passed away, but Eric was in it from the beginning and was extremely active for his remaining life,” says Davis.

Science for Peace is now governed by an executive composed of six positions — a president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, and two members-at-large — as well as a board of directors.

When the organization was officially founded in 1982, the ongoing Cold War meant that the threat of nuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union hung ominously over the world.

“We found ourselves in a situation where the danger of nuclear weapons and space-based nuclear weapons was not appreciated by the general public,” Davis reminisces.

“We were inspired by the idea of ‘the responsibility of the scientist’ to educate the public.”

Although he laments that the public is still not as concerned about the issue of nuclear weapons as the group would like, he considers it an important topic to accentuate within the public discourse.

“When nations build and store nuclear weapons, it’s a drain on society. It increases the hazard of nuclear accidents and increases the danger of accidental war. One of our original leading efforts was to explain the extent and nature of the danger to the public and the government. That was a main motivation for starting Science for Peace and it remains a vital issue to the organization today,” says Davis.

Three decades have now passed since the group’s founding and although their stance on nuclear weapons has not changed despite the end of the Cold War, the list of issues that Science for Peace addresses has grown exponentially.

“The moral issue of the responsibility of the scientist remains the same, but the specific policy questions and the specific scientific questions have broadened. We don’t consider ourselves outside our domain when we take up climate change or oil dependency,” says Davis.

They’ve got issues

Last December, the group drafted a letter urging the Harper government to take immediate action to curb Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. The letter was published on the Science for Peace website and was signed by nearly 600 faculty members from a wide range of disciplines and institutions across Canada.

More recently, Science for Peace organized a climate change talk at the Faculty of Music’s MacMillan Theatre. The talk featured the presentation of revered and controversial climate scientist Dr. James Hansen of Columbia University and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, as well as Canadian activist and author Naomi Klein and environmental and aboriginal activist Clayton Thomas Muller.

Science for Peace has also lobbied the Ontario government to act quickly to reduce the province’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“We arranged a meeting with provincial legislators, along with Dr. Hansen, to speak about climate change. Premier McGuinty dropped by. I wouldn’t say he necessarily had a great learning experience, but some of the legislators who were there were very much clued in and aware of the issues,” says Davis.

Like many other organizations that lobby for political action against climate change, Science for Peace’s experience with the government, at both the federal and provincial levels, has frustrated some of its members.

Davis shares a disheartening anecdote about the plight of the climate change scientist attempting to convince the government that something must be done quickly.

“I can’t recall if it was Hansen or one of the other emissions control advocates who said he’d been told by a contact within the government that the trouble with trying to influence politicians is when you tell them that there’s a serious problem with emissions and something must be done or the change will be irreversible in 50 years, the politician’s response is going to be ‘Come back in 49 years.’”

We’ve found out relatively recently that the time scale to do something about climate change is much shorter than we had initially thought, but that’s still not enough to impress some politicians,” says Davis.

Although the scope of Science for Peace has broadened, with climate change research and advocacy taking up a considerable amount of the group’s time and resources, the danger of nuclear weapons is still one of its central issues.

“Last year we organized a conference on nuclear weapons, where we focused on the need for nuclear states and the international community to strengthen the treaties on nuclear disarmament,” says Davis.

“The issue remains extremely alive and complex,” he adds. “The major nuclear powers have not disavowed the objectives of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which states they must gradually disarm, but at the same time they have not set a timetable for disarmament. It’s not as much of an uphill struggle as some of the initiatives we support because we’re just asking most governments to do what they’ve contracted to do.”

While nuclear weapons and climate change are the two principle issues that concern Science for Peace, current president Judith Deutsch asserts that the organization’s relatively small size allows members to easily bring issues to the attention of the group that they have researched and believe to be important.

“Our members are concerned about many different issues, so because it’s small, it calls for a lot of personal initiative and requires members to keep an open mind towards a lot of issues. It offers a very good avenue for working on a range of hugely critical problems,” explains Deutsch.

“I think in many ways this is very advantageous,” she adds. “People have a lot of individual responsibility to investigate and research issues. People enter into this organization and sometimes there will be an issue they feel strongly about, that Science for Peace has not worked on before and inevitably, they can find others to collaborate with. It’s quite possible, as a group, to develop some kind of position.”
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Peace and Conflict

The organization has members who are well-known and respected inside the scientific community as well as members who lack formal scientific training, but have been tremendously influential and successful within other disciplines and professions.

Famed Canadian diplomat and former chancellor of the University of Toronto George Ignatieff was president of Science for Peace from 1986 to 1988.

Davis cheerfully recalls Ignatieff’s tenure as president as helpful in bringing much needed public attention to the group.

“George was not a scientist, but his sympathy toward the aims of the organization was so clear. His public statements were so useful and we were really delighted to have him as president,” he says.

Other past presidents have not been notable Canadian public figures but have nevertheless been extremely influential outside of their disciplines.

Another founding member of Science for Peace, mathematical psychologist, Anatol Rapoport also founded the University of Toronto’s prestigious Peace and Conflict Studies program.

“Following his retirement and without a salary, Anatol erected and taught the program in peace studies at University College,” explains Davis.

“It’s now called the Peace and Conflict Studies program,” Davis adds, “and the director Ron Levi has a regular salary, but it was started by Science For Peace and was very successful which is why it has continued to this day.”

Gray Matters

“Science for Peace was founded by a group of people in their forties. A lot of the same people are still around and they’re not in their forties anymore,” Davis jokes.

To ensure that their glory years are not behind them, the Science for Peace executive have been actively recruiting younger faculty members and undergraduate students to combat the noticeable graying of their membership.

“We’ve added new, younger members to the board and we’ve had a number of people interested in new activities, including some at the undergraduate level,” says Davis.

“We have many students who are active so there may eventually be an undergraduate chapter, but that’s a bit premature to announce.”

“We’ve been able to bring in people from many different fields and backgrounds, people from different countries and ethnic groups,” adds Deutsch.

“Over the next little while we’re also going to try and involve students a lot more and hopefully have some open meetings that students can attend and learn about the issues that we focus on.”

Whether Science for Peace will successfully recruit younger faculty members to carry on their tradition of “the responsibility of the scientist” and continue to grow and remain relevant as a research and education organization has yet to be seen. However, as the climate change debates rage and disputes over nuclear weapons treaties continue to intensify — their message seems as relevant today as it did three decades ago.

Rotman top business school in Canada

“We are one of the most innovative business schools on the planet and recognized as such,” said Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management. Martin’s comments come after the Financial Times ranked the school 45th among the top MBA programs in the world, placing it above all the others in Canada.

Martin attributes part of this success to staying ahead of the curve. “At a time when business is changing and the need for innovation in the business sector is high, most business schools are sticking to traditional content and pedagogy,” said Martin. “Instead, we are innovating in both areas.

“We are teaching Integrative Thinking and Business Design so that our students learn a genuinely new and better way of thinking. We are producing creative problem framers and solvers, not simply analysts. It is a very exciting time for business education and we are happy to be a part of inventing the future of the MBA.”

Martin claims that the recession in the U.S. has helped Rotman to attract top talent from American schools. “The U.S. recession has caused a number of American business schools to impose faculty hiring freezes. This has created a more favourable opportunity for hiring young scholars from US PhD programs than might normally be the case.”

“I like that [Rotman] is growing rapidly because such growth creates space for creativity and innovation in how we teach,” said associate professor of strategy Sarah Kaplan. Kaplan joined Rotman from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, one of the top business academies in the world. “I joined the Rotman School because I was attracted to the focus in integrative thinking and the school’s desire to innovate in the MBA curriculum.”

Kaplan adds that the Canadian economy might also attract more competitive students. “The strength of the Canadian economy relative to other economies may be a reason more students from around the world might be interested in coming to Canada and therefore to Rotman.”

Martin is quick to emphasize that being the top business school in Canada is just the beginning for Rotman. “First, I don’t care how we rate in Canada. Our goal is, and the goal of great Canadian organizations should be, to be globally competitive. So our focus is global. Second, the rankings are useful in some senses and not in other ways.

“Every student or faculty member or recruiting corporation faces a different context and has different interests. Having a news organization add up a number of factors and come up with a singular ranking isn’t the most useful thing for such a varied user base.”

Martin goes on to praise the FT rankings, which he claims is “highly transparent” and publishes 20 categories for 100 schools, creating a total of 2000 data points.

Yet Kaplan claimed that the program’s direction is not affected by metrics. “So, while the school pays attention to rankings, it isn’t governed by them. We are always trying to do better, but doing better means executing on our strategy to lead in innovating in the MBA curriculum. There are lots of ways to game the metrics. We don’t do that, and we don’t let our strategy get dragged around by rankings.”

Kaplan notes that rankings of this kind are always problematic. “Rotman is a top Canadian business school but it is important to remember that the market for MBA’s is global not national. Rotman [not only] competes with schools in the U.S. but also with [University of] London Business School in the UK, INSEAD in France, IESE in Spain and Bocconi in Italy, for example.”

Kaplan added that the FT rankings may penalize Rotman because they take into account the salaries of students as they leave the program. “Because many students stay in Canada, and because Canadian salaries tend to be lower than in places like London, Paris or in the U.S., Rotman falls lower than it should in the rankings.”

One of Rotman’s challenges continues to be educating potential students and employers about the MBA program. “Schools have to work extra-hard to help students get jobs outside their home markets. We have focused very intensively over the past five years on raising the profile of the Rotman School and making contact with recruiters in markets that are important to the students — particularly New York, San Francisco, London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Mumbai,” said Martin.

“We are pleased with the progress. One measure of our growing international profile is that [the] Rotman School is mentioned in the international press an average of twice every day, up from about one a month a decade ago.”

Rotman plans to expand the program by 50 per cent when its current expansion project is completed.


There’s an old joke. Um, two elderly women are at a Catskills mountain resort [clears throat] and one of them says, “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” The other one says, “Yeah, I know. And such small portions.” Well, essentially, that’s how I feel about life. Full of loneliness and misery and suffering and unhappiness, and it’s all over much too quickly. The other important joke for me is one that’s, uh, usually attributed to Groucho Marx, but I think it appears originally in Freud’s Wit and its Relation to the Unconscious, and it goes like this, I’m paraphrasing. Um, “I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member.” That’s the key joke of my adult life.

“When I was looking for some of his quotes that I could share,” says the film festival programmer to the Elgin Theatre audience, “I came across this one: ‘Eighty per cent of success is showing up.’ Then, further down on the page, I saw, ‘Seventy per cent of success is showing up.’”

The little man waits in the wing.

“I’m not sure how to account for that ten per cent difference, but I do know that we’re one hundred per cent lucky he showed up today to introduce his wonderful new film. Please welcome…Mister Woody Allen.”

The little man appears. He walks to the podium in his usual manner, shoulders slumped forward and arms stiff, swinging with just a bit too much exaggeration. There is a standing ovation; he looks up, and gives a timid wave. The applause continues as he takes to the podium, where he nods, gives a tiny smile, and mouths, “Thank you.”

The audience finally quiets, and the little man looks down. There is tittering. His eyes widen, and his hands dart up to accentuate his first word. “Genius…” he says, in his New Yawk voice. Laughter fills the hall.

“…is a word that’s thrown around a lot in this business, BUT…” — his left hand rises and falls to punctuate each syllable — “…every once a while, the term applies.”

There is again much laughter. The little man looks down, and smiles very slightly. He raises both hands in mock alarm. “I’m referring, in this case, to my cast. Not myself…” More laughter. “And I would like to introduce them to you, before you see the film.”

“The first person I would like you to meet is a woman that I didn’t know before I made the movie, but who turned out to be…” — he raises both hands — “…just a startling, startling…contributor to the movie…”

He raises both hands again. “You’ll see what I mean when you see the movie, I don’t wanna oversell it. I WOULD like to, but…” his voice trails off and everyone laughs. It’s the trademark self-deprecation. He gives the audience a little smile. “So, first I would like you to meet Gemma Jones.” His smile is unusually wide as she joins him onstage.

“And also with Gemma is a young woman who I didn’t know at all before I made this movie. She had to…” — his hands rise, and move in circles with the rhythm of his sentence — “…audition, and beat out many, many formidable actresses for this role.” He raises his left hand and looks straight at the audience. “And again, as you’ll see when you see the movie, is quite an astonishing discovery…Lucy Punch.”

“The third female that’s here this evening, uh…you probably know from Slumdog Millionaire, uh…” Scattered cheers from the audience.

“This was an easy decision. We needed someone…as you’ll see when you see the film, who had an…exotic, and…beautiful quality. And the first time her name came up, it was a done deal as far as I was concerned. Freida Pinto.” The Bombay actress takes the stage.

“When I was writing the film, I had no idea who would be in it.” His left hand now waves more or less continually. “But as I was halfway through, it occurred to me that the guy I was writing about could not be played by anybody else but Josh Brolin. And I called, and it turned out he was available and interested, so I consider myself very blessed…” — both hands rise and fall in a circle at this last word — “…that I was able to get him for this movie. And he, you will see, did not disappoint for a second. Josh Brolin.”

Brolin walks onstage in a perfectly-fitted suit jacket, top buttons undone, his face styled with a symmetrical Vandyke. He flashes a Movie Star grin and waves. The photographers compete for ideal spots to shoot the little man’s latest on-screen surrogate.

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“Chapter one. He adored New York City. He idolized it all out of proportion.” Er, no, make that, “He romanticized it all out of proportion.” Better. “To him, no matter what the season was, this was still a town that existed in black and white, and pulsated to the great tunes of George Gershwin.” Uh…no, let me start this over. “Chapter one. He was too romantic about Manhattan, as he was about everything else. He thrived on the hustle-bustle of the crowds and the traffic. To him, New York meant beautiful women, and street-smart guys who seemed to know all the angles.” Ah, no, corny — too corny for a man of my taste. Let me try and make it more profound…

The Borscht Belt Philip Roth. The child of Chaplin, Groucho, and S.J. Perelman. The neurotic Jewish pseudo-intellectual from Manhattan. “When I was kidnapped, my parents snapped into action — they rented out my room.” Mia Farrow. “The early, funny ones.” Soon-Yi Previn. “Bergmanesque.” How his movies were so much smarter and more sophisticated than everything else I was seeing at age 13.

The way that every man has, at one point or another, considered himself Alvy Singer to someone else’s Annie Hall. The personal disappointment I’ve felt from all those Jade Scorpions and Hollywood Endings. The queasy feeling that Alvy Singer and Harry Block might be the same person. The fact that I see his movies every year without really knowing why anymore. How strange to see this man who has meant so much to me, so far from Elaine’s, or Michael’s Pub, or any of the coffee shops, bookstores, revival theatres, and high rise condos of his Upper East Side.

“I have nothing more to say to you except that I hope that you like the film very much. I was blessed with this cast. If you do like the film…” — the little man shrugs and waves his arms around — “…y’know, give it all to them, they made me look good. You know, do your best to sit through it…” The cast grins on cue, and everyone laughs.

“I’ll be on a plane back to New York.” I get goosebumps hearing how he says this: “New Yaawk.”

“I’ve seen the film, I know how it ends. Low grosses.” Much piteous laughter. “And…” — his hands reach out and his shoulders shrug — “…enjoy yourselves.”

Y’know, lately, the strangest things have been going through my mind, ’cause I turned 40, and I guess I’m going through a ‘life crisis’ or something, I don’t know. And I’m not worried about aging, I’m not one of those characters — although, I’m balding slightly on top, that’s about the worst you can say about me. I, uh, think I’m gonna get better as I get older, y’know. I think I’m gonna be the balding, virile type, as opposed to, say, the distinguished grey. Unless I’m neither of those two. Unless I’m one of those guys with saliva dribbling out of his mouth, who wanders into a cafeteria with a shopping bag, screaming about socialism.

The film begins. It’s another of his light, slight comedies about the upper-middle-class, where love is lost and gained in a sunny city free of cell phones, computers, the Internet, television, pop music, and other modern irrelevancies. The narrator reminds us of the frightening void that awaits us, and once again we are told that the great self-delusion of spirituality, and the unreliable emotion of love, are all that stand between us and nothingness. “Whatever works,” as the little man might say (or was it, “It’s just like anything else”? These things blur together sometimes.).

But before that, the little man leaves the podium. Brolin opens his arms, and the little man comes in for a hug. Then the little man hugs Anthony Hopkins, then Pinto, and gives one more timid wave as he exits the stage. White hair aside, he looks nearly identical to his 40-year-old self. The more things change, the more Woody Allen stays the same.