A&S scholars sharing their expertise in the media this week

June 5, 2020 by A&S News

Scholars from a range of disciplines across the Faculty of Arts & Science are sharing their expertise on pressing issues in the media — from the role of outdoor green spaces in urban areas, to discussions around aspects of policing.

Here’s some of what they had to say this week.

May 29, 2020

Matti Siemiatycki, an associate professor in the Department of Geography & Planning and interim director of the School of Cities, comments in a Toronto Star (paywall) story about the prospect of an increase in traffic congestion in Toronto in the wake of the pandemic. “We were strangled by congestion before the pandemic and if we now have even more people seeing their automobiles as a way to get around and safely physically distance, that’s going to create an even greater traffic nightmare,” Siemiatycki says.

May 30, 2020

Siemiatycki also discusses rethinking around urban green spaces in a Yahoo! News story. He says the way people get outside will need to change, not by reconfiguring and rebuilding, but by adapting places that already exist.

Professor Philip Oreopoulos in the Department of Economics speaks with the National Post in a story about how millennials who graduated from school during the 2008 recession are being dealt another blow by the current challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. “I’m sure there will be some out there that will be hit (a second time),” said Oreopoulos, who studies the early-career and long-term impacts of graduating into a recession. “What matters is making the most out of your situation right now.”

Following the sale of the Toronto Star to private shareholders, Department of History professor Mark McGowan speaks about how the paper strove to maintain a progressive voice through more than a century of publication. “Toronto was a Protestant-dominated city, but the Star was ‘even-handed’ with Catholics in a way that the populist Toronto Telegram wasn’t,” says McGowan in a Toronto Star story (paywall). “That really made it stand out as a voice for other groups who were unrepresented in the rather elite-controlled partisan papers of the city.”

June 1, 2020

John Kirton, a professor in the Department of Political Science and the director of the G7 and G20 Research Groups at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, comments in a CTV News story on U.S President Donald Trump’s decision to postpone the annual G7 summit that he was scheduled to host June 10-12. Kirton says Trump could have still hosted the summit, albeit in a videoconference format, despite the current challenges, adding, "Why he wouldn't have wanted to show the American people that he was working, and doing it, and that he had gotten these important countries ... to work co-operatively, only he knows.”

June 2, 2020

Robyn Maynard, a PhD candidate and Vanier Scholar at the Women & Gender Studies Institute, discusses on CBC Radio’s Here and Now renewed calls in the United States and Canada to abolish the system of traditional policing. “We need to reimagine the way we think about safety and security,” says Maynard. She suggests it would be more beneficial to take the significant funding that goes into policing and reinvest it in creating conditions that reduce the criminal activity towards which much policing efforts are directed.

Matti Siemiatycki offers suggestions for how to improve transit in Toronto after the COVID-19 pandemic in the Toronto Star (paywall). Siemiatycki says that to ensure the city that emerges from the pandemic is a more equitable one, policies to ensure safe, reliable transportation must be extended to Toronto’s less wealthy suburbs and inner suburbs, where distances between destinations are longer and cycling or walking aren’t always options.

In an Associated Press story, Department of Political Science professor Nelson Wiseman comments on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s extended pause before answering a question about U.S. President Donald Trump at a news conference earlier in the week. Wiseman says Trudeau was wise not to mention Trump directly, adding, “I think he was considering whether to respond at all, which could have been taken to mean he was not going to criticize Trump."

June 3, 2020

Erick Laming, a PhD candidate at the Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies, speaks in a Toronto Star story (paywall) about the use of body cameras by police officers. “Just because police are wearing cameras doesn't mean they are always going to capture clear and convincing evidence,” Laming says. “There is always the possibility that the officer may not be facing the right direction, or the footage may be jumbled.”

June 4, 2020

Lynette Ong, a professor in the Department of Political Science and the Asian Institute at the Munk School, writes an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times about the introduction of a new security law in Hong Kong, and the proposed response by the United States to revoke Hong Kong’s special trade status. Ong writes, “A complete rescission now would make Hong Kong like any other Chinese city. How would that help to protect its autonomy and bring about greater democracy?”