York lifts off in Mars coverage

York University space scientists, members of teams that are finalists in the competition for a US NASA-led scout mission to Mars in 2007, enjoyed media attention this week as four spacecraft currently nose their way to the Red Planet. Ontario newspapers from the London Free Press to the Fort Frances Times carried a Canadian Press story sparked by a June 6 York media release, “York U. scientists explain why everybody is heading to Mars this month.” The reports quoted Diane Michelangeli, an atmospheric science professor with York’s Faculty of Pure & Applied Science who is one of three York researchers on the Phoenix team, a finalist for the scout mission. The Toronto Star pointed out that Japan’s first Mars probe, Nozomi, is getting navigational support from York University’s Centre for Research in Earth and Space. CBC’s Quirks and Quarks has also scheduled a Mars-probe show featuring York scientists.

Faith and free speech

In a letter to the National Post June 11, T.A. Heinrichs, political science professor at York’s Glendon College, responded to a June 7 editorial on gay rights vs. free speech. The Post, he wrote, “is justified in worrying that the religious ‘good faith’ defence…is not worth much these days as last December a Saskatchewan judge ruled that it did not extend to hateful remarks about homosexuality made in the name of Christianity.” Heinrichs asked, “Are we seriously to believe that the Bible’s or the Koran’s views of homosexuality are not to Christians or Muslims a ‘religious subject’? And are not ‘the adherents of Islam’ a valid religious subject both to themselves and others? By whose lights are they not?”

SARS-probe judge an Osgoode grad

Mr. Justice Archie Campbell, appointed June 10 to head an independent commission on how severe acute respiratory syndrome spread to health-care workers and hospital patients, graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School with an LLB in 1967 and LLM in 1973, reported the Toronto Star June 11.

‘Friendly lawsuits’: Suing a valued employee

Frederick Zemans, a York University law professor, commented in a National Post story June 11 on “friendly lawsuits,” where parties agree on the facts but disagree over interpretation. The Post story focused on Rogers Communication Inc.’s legal action against its own chief operating officer, Dean MacDonald, over the interpretation of a contract. Zemans, who teaches civil procedure at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, said that setting aside the obvious human resource problem such a situation creates, there’s nothing in law that bars a company from suing one of its own executives. “As long as he has independent legal counsel, it would seem to me the adversarial paradigm is protected.”

Law grad appointed to National Parole Board

York law grad Cynthia Morton of Victoria, British Columbia, has been appointed part time to the National Parole Board in the Pacific region, reported Canada News-Wire June 10. Morton graduated from York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School with an LLB in 1981. She has extensive senior executive experience in the BC Government, most recently as deputy minister of the Ministry of the Attorney General.

Grad’s lily garden a literary landmark

On June 3, Midland’s Free Press profiled 1968 York grad Paul Rollinson whose book store, a 1910 one-room school house, has become a local landmark. Rollinson, a York University physiology and psychology graduate, “figures he has about half a million books in his possession,” reported the weekly, and features a unique literary lily garden outside, where all the lilies are named after book characters and books.

Honorary degree recipient ‘made a difference’

Educator Catherine Steele, who received an honorary Doctor of Letters from York University in the spring of 1972, died April 18 at the age of 93. In an obituary printed in The Globe and Mail June 11, Mary Byers, a former student of hers at Havergal College, said, “Catherine Steele made a difference. In her 80 years at Toronto’s Havergal College as a student, teacher, principal and then principal emerita, she influenced thousands of young women…. She never stopped challenging us to make something of ourselves in order to do something for other people.”