Q: Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses, or one horse-sized duck?
Santa Ono: I’d rather fight the 100 duck‑sized horses because they’re little and not a threat… but one horse‑sized duck would be terrifying!
Sample Q&A from a Reddit AMA (ask me anything) session featuring UBC president Santa Ono. Many questions were serious, but others, like this one, were on the quirkier side.
“Some Canadians may struggle with the concept of granting rights to an ecosystem or river. And yet it is far from unusual in our legal system to extend rights to non-human entities. For example, corporations are designated by the law as legal persons and enjoy a wide range of rights…. Recognizing that nature has rights could help us transcend the destructive perception that humans are separate from our environment and superior to other creatures.) ~ UBC prof and environmental lawyer David Boyd, commenting on New Zealand’s move to recognize nature’s legal rights, which broke an impasse on land disputes between the government and the indigenous Maori people (Vancouver Sun, Sept 5)
“It’s never been a safer time to be a child in Canada than it is now. The likelihood of getting kidnapped by a stranger is one in 14 million. And yet the leading cause of death for kids is kids in cars. Parents, in their misguided effort to keep kids safe, are putting them in cars and driving them places, not understanding that they’re putting them at greater risk.” ~ UBC professor Mariana Brussoni was quoted in an article about a Vancouver father who was told his children were too young to ride public transit by themselves (CTV News, Sept 5)
“[In 1912], the city wanted to straighten the street that is now Pender, and so they took Chang Toy’s land away for the ‘public good,’ giving him what they determined was fair market value. He had no say. They didn’t need the last six feet on the edge of his property, so left him a useless sliver with no value. As an act of protest, Chang Toy put up a building on that narrow piece of land anyway, so that the thinness of the building itself would serve as a reminder of the treatment of Chinese as second‑class members of Vancouver society. Some of my students called the Sam Kee Building the “F– You Building”, because Chang Toy was making a statement with it about what racism had taken away from him and other Chinese in Vancouver.” ~ UBC history professor Henry Yu explains the origins of the Sam Kee building in Vancouver’s Chinatown – the world’s thinnest building, according to the Guinness Book of World Records (Vancouver Sun, Sept 24)
“It’s very hard to find anything undesirable about raising taxes on high-value Vancouver property…. Politicians don’t like to irritate the kind of people who live in $5 million to $10 million homes. But there’s no good reason not to do it.” ~ UBC economist Thomas Davidoff commenting on why a mansion tax, proposed by long-time anti-poverty activist Jean Swanson, is a good idea, but has not been implemented in Vancouver. (The Province, Sept 24)
“We were the beneficiaries of public parks and schools. We were gypsies. We trained where anybody would have us. So having this, it’s been worth the wait because this is stunning.” ~ Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi, commenting on the official opening of the National Soccer Development Centre at UBC (News 1130, Sept 22)