Another nail in the pot-law coffin

“It’s another nail in the coffin. It’s further ammunition that we can use as activists, whether it be in court or in Parliament, to tell Parliament that they better act sooner than later,” Alan Young, Osgoode Hall Law School professor and cannabis crusader, tells reporter Ben Chin on “CBC News and Current Affairs” Jan. 2. The program aired following a Windsor judge’s decision to throw out a charge of marijuana possession against a 16-year-old youth. CP News reported Young’s reaction in a wire story: “It shows me that the judiciary is getting tired of dealing with minor marijuana criminals.” Young’s remarks were also carried by Broadcast News Jan. 3.

Fundraisers rethink marketing

Focusing on a niche demographic is “where all non-profits, at least successful ones, are going,” Brenda Gainer, program director of the Non-Profit Management and Leadership Program at York University’s Schulich School of Business, says of Rethink Rocks, a fundraiser for breast cancer that feels more like a party, reports Marketing Magazine Dec. 16. “There’s a real movement to use a lot more of the techniques of really sophisticated consumer marketing.”

Retailers risk rethinking returns

A National Post story Dec. 21 on retailers rethinking return policies, despite the risk of alienating customers, cites Don Thompson, marketing professor at York’s Schulich School of Business. According to him, the cost of winning a new customer is typically about eight times as much as retaining an existing one. And even in cases where customers don’t openly protest (96 per cent never express their grievances), they express their dissatisfaction to an average of nine other people.

On electing Jack Layton

“Electing Jack would be in some ways saying, ‘We don’t think there’s anyone in the caucus who can do the job,’ which is a bit of an indictment of the caucus,” James Laxer, political science professor in the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, told the Toronto Star for an article Dec. 21 on the New Democrats leadership race. “It would be a real break; it would say, this party needs a major new look.” CP Wire also quoted Laxer in a Dec. 20 story on the NDP leadership race: “Winning back that working class vote…that’s the key to the party. Because people don’t want a party that seems like a downtown Toronto party.”

No defence for lawyers’ bad behaviour

Incivility is on the rise between lawyers, partly because of aggressive clients, reports The Globe and Mail Dec. 30. Uncivil behaviour can include inundating another lawyer with e-mails and faxes, or filing the same motion in several jurisdictions. “There’s no legitimate reason to do something like that; it’s just to tie up the other lawyer’s time and drive him crazy,” says Glenn Stuart, an adjunct professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School.

UN bias against Jews

In an opinion piece in The Globe and Mail Dec. 23, Anne Bayefsky, professor of political science in the Faculty of Arts, international lawyer and member of the governing board of the Geneva-based UN Watch, says “This year’s General Assembly…marked a new low in United Nations bias against Jews and the Jewish state.” She focuses on three resolutions, including one that protects the rights of Palestinian children – “the only children in the world subject to the specific concern of a General Assembly resolution.” It is “a historic first, and it increases the number of General Assembly resolutions directed annually at Israel to 20. Human-rights situations in the rest of the world drew only six country-specific resolutions this year. There were no resolutions on human rights in such countries as Syria, Saudi Arabia or China.”

Talk to voters

“I want somebody to come and knock on my door and talk to me and ask me for a $25 donation. That should be an overall goal of campaign finance reform: to force parties and politicians to talk to individual voters,” Robert MacDermid, a political science professor at York University and a leading authority on party financing, told The Globe and Mail in a story Dec. 21 following Jean Chrétien’s announcement to introduce legislation that bans all corporate and union donations to federal parties and replaces them with subsidies.

State cannot change a person’s beliefs

“Judges should be innovative when it comes to sentencing, but we do not need more hollow rituals by which we compel people to publicly express views they do not hold. The law can punish people for not following the rules but it cannot compel belief in the rules,” writes Alan Young, professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, in his Toronto Star column Dec. 22. He was referring to how a boy convicted of selling ecstasy wrote an essay on how to use the drug safely rather than on the evils of the drug as ordered by a judge.

Barrie boasts most big boxes

“Barrie is probably the most over-stored retail centre in Canada” based on square feet of retail space per capita, declares Don Thompson, a marketing professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, in The Barrie Examiner Dec. 21. He was reacting to a study that ranked Barrie top for general merchandise and big box stores in Canada.

How to reduce wrongful convictions

“We must ensure police and prosecutors stop acting as if they are members of an exclusive club,” argues Alan Young, professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, in his Toronto Star column Jan. 5. “In our adversarial system, we have fostered an ‘us vs. them’ mentality in which the police and prosecutors combine forces to fight their opponent, the ruthless defence lawyer. Legal professionals do not work together to achieve justice; they fight among themselves in the hope, from the dust of battle, justice will magically emerge. I can appreciate the thrill of battle, but this thrill, is outweighed by the heavy toll of innocent casualties.”

Smaller retirement nest-eggs alarming

“It is quite interesting that people have revised their retirement needs downwards by more than 15 percent, just as their portfolio has suffered a similar reduction in value,” comments Moshe Milevsky, finance professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, in a Canada News-Wire story Jan. 6. The story was about a bank survey that shows Canadian investors think they will need a smaller nest-egg for a comfortable retirement. “What is slightly alarming is that investors are reducing their contributions to equity-based mutual funds at a time when market experience and conventional wisdom would dictate they shouldn’t.” His remarks were also carried by Southam News and The Gazette in Montreal.

Corporate scandals have shaken trust

Costly corporate scandals and eye-opening ethical lapses have seriously shaken the Canadian public’s faith in the business world, a new poll suggests. “This is not an aberration,” Wesley Cragg, a business ethics professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, told The Ottawa Citizen Dec. 26. “This is a trend that’s been developing since the ’80s.” He said opinions expressed in the poll have been simmering for years, stoked by distaste for the greed-soaked 1980s and the inflated stock-market values and sky-high executive salaries of the 1990s.

Abortion not benign

York’s Glendon College history Prof. Ian Gentles writes in a column in the Cape Breton Post Jan. 4 that abortion for health is a dubious idea. “In his lobbying campaign [to sue the province of Nova Scotia for non-payment of abortions] Dr. Morgentaler conveniently overlooks a massive amount of recent research that has documented disturbing consequences for women’s physical and mental health from induced abortion.”

Schulich dean joins board

Dezsö Horváth, dean of Schulich School of Business, joins office furniture manufacturer Inscape’s board of governors, announced the corporation via CCNMatthews wire service Dec. 23.

On air

Science broadcaster Bob McDonald hosted a public forum at York University about the future of the Human Genome Project and aired it on a special edition of CBC’s “Quirks and Quarks” Jan. 4.