Media Bytes

February 9, 2002

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A compendium of articles that appeared in the media during the last few weeks quoting members of the SFU community.

Watchdog asked to investigate Eves Globe and Mail, Feb. 1 A Liberal backbencher has asked Ontario's ethics watchdog to investigate whether former finance minister Ernie Eves had a conflict of interest while handling politicians' pensions. About 300 sitting and former MPPs were given excessively generous tax-sheltered retirement funds to compensate them when the provincial Conservatives ended their previous plan. A request to investigate someone as powerful as Eves, front-runner in the race to become the next Tory leader and premier of Ontario, will test the mettle of the commission, says SFU political science professor Patrick Smith. He says ethics watchdogs at the provincial level are a relatively recent invention. While more independent than the federal ethics counsellor, they often lack resources. "Unlike here in B.C., an office like Ontario's just hasn't faced the big ethical questions, such as 'Is the premier a crook?'" says Smith. Media giant defends itself CBC News, Jan. 31 A Canadian media giant defended itself from accusations that it muzzles its journalists. CanWest Global executives tackled the issue head on at its annual general meeting in Vancouver. The owners are under attack for imposing national editorials on their local papers. Some say it was not the editorials themselves but the way in which the policy's been implemented to prevent other people, even their local editors and columnists, from having any say on these issues. "It's also apparently about inhibiting or even stifling the expression of opposing viewpoints on three key issues at least, criticism of Israel, of Jean Chretien, and of CanWest Global itself," says SFU communication professor Bob Hackett. Labour leaders seek to deter investment Vancouver Sun, Jan. 30 Organized labour in B.C. signaled it will open a new front in its war against the Liberals, with a national campaign convincing businesses they won't get the stable business climate Premier Gordon Campbell is trying to create. B.C.'s largest public sector union has vowed it won't let up its fight against dramatic changes to labour contracts. They will also encourage the business community nationally to speak out about the instability. That kind of message will have an impact on investors, says Mark Wexler, a professor of management and organizational study at SFU. "The optics of this dispute are worse off the farther you get from B.C.," says Wexler. "Businesses need two things in order to relocate: low taxes and stability. The message they are getting from this is that they might get the low taxes, but the stability is a different thing." Debate on U.S. integration is joined Toronto Star, Jan. 27 A sharp divide is emerging in the federal Liberal party over the future direction of Canada, including the country's sovereignty and its future relationship with the U.S. SFU economics professor Richard Harris has designed a research agenda for Industry Canada, that appears to see a natural progression from a free trade area to a customs union, and on to a common market and common currency. Many orthodox economists seem to be thinking in the same direction, along with many business leaders. In his paper, Harris acknowledges that once you head down the road to deeper integration, everything is on the table. In proposing a customs union, Harris acknowledges that Canada and the U.S. would need to have the same trade policy and the same negotiating position in future international trade negotiations. In effect, Canada would have to let the U.S. set the trade policy.

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