Electoral reform

CBC Early Edition Mon June 27 2016

The first-past-the-post system might soon be history in Canada, and UBC political science professor Max Cameron spoke to CBC Early Edition on what comes next.

According to Cameron, one of the reasons the government is willing to change the system is the growth of strategic voting in the last election. One of the alternatives is ranking candidates rather than simply casting one vote; the single transferable vote, which nearly won in a referendum; and proportional voting.

Clip starts at 1:20:00 mark.

Anti-free trade goes mainstream

Business in Vancouver Tue June 28 2016 By: Nelson Bennett

British voters’ decision in the Brexit referendum could affect other free trade pacts like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, according to a Business in Vancouver article that quoted two UBC experts. James Brander, an economist specializing in international trade, pointed out that opposition to free trade is rising, particularly in the U.S. Political scientist Allan Craigie commented that there is growing resentment over being “dictated to” by Brussels.

A related BIV article focused on the economic fallout from Brexit. Brander offered the view that there should be no direct effect on Canada. Kurt Huebner, a political science professor at UBC’s Institute for European Studies, thought that the Canadian dollar could appreciate, if the British pound devalues significantly.

Craigie and UBC political science professor Yves Tiberghien also spoke to Roundhouse Radio. In Tiberghien’s view, Britain will be sorting out its politics first before it starts the long process of formal withdrawal from the EU.

Can electoral reform encourage better behaviour?

Ottawa Citizen Mon June 27 2016 By: Maxwell A. Cameron

The Ottawa Citizen published an op-ed by Maxwell A. Cameron, director of UBC’s Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions, on the potential for electoral reform to encourage better behaviour.

“Democracy is enriched to the degree that citizens grapple with the same issues as elected officials, so that the decisions made in the corridors of power reflect opinions formed in the broader social milieu. If the public can come to judgment on the matter of electoral reform, it will be easier for politicians to do the right thing, and to do it for the right reasons, in the right way, and at the right time,” he wrote.

The article also appeared in the Vancouver Sun.

U.S. gun violence defies a solution

Vancouver Sun Fri June 24 2016 By: Arjun Chowdhury

UBC political scientist Arjun Chowdhury wrote an op-ed for the Vancouver Sun on the unique situation of guns and violence in the United States.

“Foreigners marvel at how the U.S. can tolerate, year after year, massacres of innocents like children, cinema-goers, and nightclub revellers. In his speeches on the topic, President Obama reveals both frustration at the inability to restrict gun ownership, and resignation at the frequency of such violence,” Chowdhury wrote. “Sadly, resignation will remain the dominant sentiment. There are too many guns, and, paradoxically, too few gun owners to prevent such massacres occurring again.”

Post-Brexit analysis

Maclean's Sat June 25 2016 By: Jonathon Gatehouse, Charlie Gillis and Sally Hayden

UBC experts commented on political and economic prospects in the post-Brexit era.

Professor emeritus of economics John Helliwell told Maclean’s that political leaders will need to reconsider the assumption that more integration is better, saying: “Most of economic and social life is lived pretty locally. You don’t need to align many of your institutions with those in other countries to get the main advantages from it. The world trade system has been a pretty open one for the last 50 years.”

Kurt Huebner, a professor of European studies, told the Vancouver Sun that while the referendum is not binding, it would be “political suicide” to not follow through. He believes the Brexit vote ‘would start a constitutional crisis, with Irish unification and Scottish independence going back on the agenda. The Sun story also appeared in the National Post, Montreal Gazette, Ottawa Citizen,Calgary Herald and other Postmedia outlets.

Political scientist Allan Craigie told News 1130: “We are entering into a period of unknown now. There has been nothing like this in the annals of world history.”

In another News 1130 interview, political science professor Yves Tiberghien believes Britain’s vote could influence other members of the EU, such as the Netherlands and France, where a number of groups are calling for a referendum. However, other countries that receive support from the EU, such as Hungary, would probably stay with the European Union.

Searching for Huang Feng Zhu

Globe and Mail Wed June 22 2016 By: Ann Hui

The Globe and Mail interviewed UBC history professor Henry Yu for a story on the significance of Chinese restaurants in small towns across Canada.

Yu explained how Chinese families came to Canada with the idea of “Gold Mountain” or a life where young poor men could travel and make enough money to alter the course of their family’s lives. “What connects it all is family,” he said. “The restaurants are just the vehicles. It’s all about the families.”

Electoral reform on the agenda at Vancouver roundtable

MSN Sun June 26 2016 By: Matt Kieltyka

A UBC roundtable on electoral reform was featured in an article on MSN. The goal of the daylong panel with members of the federal government is to “kick start” the discussion, since the Liberal government has established a Special Committee on Electoral Reform.

UBC political scientist Max Cameron said the current system needs to be changed. “It tends to create false majority government,” he said. “We’ve had many governments in Canada that have not had the majority of the popular vote but win a majority of the seats which gives it 100 per cent of the power.”

The story also appeared in Metro News.

Vancouver’s home price nightmare was long foretold

The Tyee Fri June 24 2016 By: Darryl Greer

The Tyee featured research by UBC geography professor David Ley for an op-ed on the Vancouver housing market.

According to Ley, the federal government sped up the pull of Asian wealth into Lower Mainland development through the creation of the business immigration program. Ley wrote that politicians worked to “reboot a troubled regional economy through an infusion of activity from the growth region of the Asia Pacific” at every level of government.

It’s Bring Your Dog to Work Day

News 1130 Fri June 24 2016

News 1130 interviewed UBC psychology professor emeritus Stanley Coren for a story on Bring Your Dog to Work Day.

Coren said office morale can improve with canine companions nearby. “Researchers have found that overall, morale of the company tends to go up, and the number of lost days due to absentees goes down,” says Coren.

Experts question rush to approve CPP reforms

Globe and Mail Wed June 22 2016 By: Bill Curry

The Globe and Mail quoted UBC economist Kevin Milligan on the topic of the Canadian pension reform.

Important details such as the new premium rates and how they would apply were not included in the enhanced Canadian Pension Plan announced earlier this week. Milligan said he is wary of the July 15 deadline.

“This is a big, multibillion-dollar change in a program,” he said. “I think it is worth the time to make sure that we get this right. I’m wary of a July, 2016, deadline.”

Robert Hare is keeping psychopaths out of the boardroom

BC Business Thu June 23 2016 By: Danielle Egan

BC Business featured the work of UBC psychology professor emeritus Robert Hare on the topic of properly assessing psychopathy in the workplace.

For decades, behaviour scientists have tried to use personality tests to diagnose psychopaths and business often call upon this expertise to tests their workers.

“Psychopaths have a predatory life strategy that can be advantageous in some fields, including the corporate world, politics, academia, the entertainment industry—anywhere with a power structure where people can take advantage of others,” Hare said. “Like the cat with the mouse, the world is their prey. But how do you make a proper assessment of psychopathy in the workplace?”

Irresistible: The Homeric Heroism of Muhammad Ali

Eidolon Fri June 17 2016 By: C.W. (Toph) Marshall

The recent passing of boxing legend Muhammad Ali has prompted UBC Classical, Near Eastern, and Religious Studies professor C.W. (Toph) Marshall’s tribute in Eidolon. Comparing Ali with the larger-than-life characters of Greek mythology, Marshall comments on how the ancient world can connect with the modern. 

“The young men Odysseus defeats are also Ali,” writes Marshall. "It’s astounding how flexible the legend of Ali becomes."

Orlando shooting: Why LGBTQ pride and gay bars still matter

Global News Mon June 13 2016 By: Nick Logan

Global News interviewed UBC sociology professor Amin Ghaziani for a story on LGBTQ pride following the mass shooting at a gay night club in Orlando.

“The Orlando massacre may have been the largest mass shooting in the U.S., but it represents a sentiment that was not isolated to just this one person. Sexual prejudice remains inflamed in western societies, despite legislative progress toward equality,” he said.

Man claims death threats from powerful Christian church

CBC News Tue June 14 2016 By: Eric Rankin and Gavin Fisher

CBC News interviewed Leonora Angeles, a professor at UBC’s Institute of Social Justice, for a story on a man who alleges he has been threatened by a “cult-like” Christian church in the Philippines.

Lowell Menorca is a former un-ordained minister in the Iglesia Ni Cristo, or Church of Christ. The church’s leader has been accused of authoritarian leadership, Philippine media have reported.

Angeles said says the church has encouraged a cult-like reverence of its leader. “Observers of the church might say it has some cult-like characteristics … you also have a very authoritarian leadership. What the inner circle dictates, everyone must follow,” she said.

Trudeau vows to find killers of Canadian hostage in Philippines

Toronto Star Mon June 13 2016 By: Jim Coule and Tonda MacCharles

The Toronto Star reported on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s affirmation that Canada will not paying ransoms to terrorists.

Arjun Chowdhury, an assistant professor of political science at UBC, weighed in on the issue. “When country A pays a ransom and country B does not, you have an incentive to kidnap somebody from country B and execute them to send a signal to the government and citizens of country A, ‘Look, we’re serious,” he said.

The story also appeared on MSN.