Tributes roll in for Peter Hogg

“The chances of graduating from a Canadian law school without knowing the work of Peter Hogg range from zero to infinitesimal,” began The Globe and Mail’s Kirk Makin in a profile Sept. 29 of the former dean of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School. “A constant of the legal landscape for 30 years, Prof. Hogg’s nature is so modest and unassuming that he almost got away with slipping into retirement unnoticed this year. Almost.”

Several months after the constitutional scholar left the Osgoode dean’s office, said the Globe, the tributes are under way. In August, for instance, he received the Canadian Bar Association’s lifetime achievement award. An Ontario Bar Association Charter of Rights conference next week will feature several speeches in his honour.

What has Hogg meant to the law? One statistic speaks volumes, said the Globe: Hogg has been cited in Supreme Court of Canada rulings a remarkable 166 times – far more than any other writer. “The first few times I was cited, I found it quite exciting,” said Hogg, a transplanted New Zealander who arrived in Canada in 1963. “I’ve gotten more used to it these days, but I still find it flattering.”

His sprawling and definitive text with its annual supplements – Constitutional Law of Canada – has been a staple. Constitutional expert David Stratas described it as indispensable. “You would be negligent if you did not look in Peter Hogg’s text to see what he has to say on the subject,” he said. “He has made a profound contribution to Canadian constitutional law.”

Trapped by a balanced budget

“Recent experiences in Ontario should serve as a warning to anyone who thinks balanced-budget laws promote better, more transparent fiscal policy,” wrote tax law Professor Lisa Philipps in an opinion piece in The Globe and Mail Sept. 30. The province may have “painted itself into a corner” with its Taxpayer Protection and Balanced Budget Act, said Philipps, assistant dean at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School. A new Liberal government “could not raise taxes to balance the budget without first holding a referendum, since it has campaigned on a platform of tax freezes. Thus a government elected for its promises to improve public services may be forced very quickly into the same corner as the Conservatives,” she pointed out. The solution, she said, is to “repeal balanced budget and tax-referendum laws. Replace them with something even more responsive – the fiscal judgment of the elected government of the day.”

Star chooses two from York U for community board

From more than 600 people who applied to join the Toronto Star’s new 12-person community editorial board, two of the newspaper’s choices were a York alumnus and a York student. The Star listed the new board Sept. 27, including Omar Alghabra, who arrived in Canada in 1989 at age 19, obtained an MBA from York University in 2000 and now works for a major corporation. The Mississauga resident is active in the Arab Canadian community and volunteers with the Multicultural Inter-Agency of Peel and Palestine House. Lisa Chan-A-Sue is a fourth-year anthropology student who was born in Edmonton. Her parents are of Chinese and Guyanese descent. She hopes to represent the views of “a student, a young adult of mixed origin, and a resident of the ‘stereotyped Scarborough’ area.”

Cruising Lake Ontario for phosphorus

Catherine Masson, a water researcher from York University, participated in a recent “analysis cruise” of Lake Ontario conducted by the American Environmental Protection Agency. In a Sept. 25 story, Rochester, New York’s Democrat and Chronicle said the cruise was the third of four scheduled this year as part of a twice-a-decade, binational intensive study of the lake. Masson was helping measure phosphorus levels, a legacy of land-based fertilizers and other chemicals. “We’re seeing the results of short-term thinking,” she told the newspaper. Masson is studying water ethics in a master’s degree environmental studies program. “I couldn’t ask for a better education,” she said.

Cities would have more autonomy under NDP, says prof

Patricia Wood, professor in urban studies and geography in York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, participated in a St. Lawrence Centre forum Sept. 11 on the future of Toronto. Wood said both the Liberals and the New Democratic Party have a lot to offer in terms of public transit, reported the Toronto Observer Sept. 19. But Wood said the NDP is going a step further by offering the city more autonomy – something the city’s been asking for since downloading in 1998, reported the Centennial College journalism publication.