‘Naive’ to think donors won’t influence politicians: professor

“It is naive of us to think that large contributions don’t result in some obligation on the part of politicians,” Robert MacDermid, political science professor with York University’s Faculty of Arts and a researcher at York’s Centre for Social Justice, said in a Canadian Press story Nov. 18 carried in The Ottawa Citizen and The Vancouver Sun. According to the centre, corporate Canada donated $9 million to the recent leadership campaign of Paul Martin. The social policy group warned that business will have considerable influence over Martin when he becomes prime minister.

MacDermid, an expert on election financing, was also in demand by radio and television media Nov. 17 to comment on a meeting between Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin about the transition of power. His comments were aired on CBC Radio news programs across Canada, CBC Newsworld, Global News in Ontario, the Maritimes and British Columbia, and CHCH-TV in Hamilton.

As It Happens co-host heard it first at York

Barbara Budd, co-host of CBC Radio’s “As It Happens” and a York University alumna (BA ’74 in theatre) wrote of her first encounter with the popular program, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary, in The Globe and Mail Nov. 18: “It was winter. It was 1974, I think. And I had hitched a ride into downtown Toronto from York University with one of my professors. We were just leaving the campus when he switched on the car radio and said, ‘I hope you don’t mind, but I can’t miss my favourite show . . . ‘As It Happens’.’ He added that he planned his drive home each night to catch at least 45 minutes of it. ‘Sometimes I have to sit in the driveway to hear it through to the end.’ A moment later, I heard the opening theme for ‘As It Happens’ for the first time (Curried Soul by Moe Koffman), as I also understood for the first time the power of radio. Thus was my introduction to a show that, from that night, became a part of my life too, long before I became a part of  ‘As It Happens’.”

Tuition freeze could hurt Ontario universities

Ontario’s colleges and universities could face a funding crunch depending on how the provincial government proceeds with its plan to freeze tuition next year, says a report released by a debt rating agency, reported Canadian Press Nov. 17. “If implemented without adequate compensation through provincial grants, a generalized freeze of university tuition would impair operating flexibility and likely lead to weaker operating results for Ontario universities,” said the report by Dominion Bond Rating Service. Currently, Dominion rates the debt of McMaster University, Queen’s University, York University and the universities of Guelph, Ottawa and Toronto.

 Cheaper drug testing comes at a cost

Canada’s cheaper drug-testing procedures put people’s health at risk, says Mary Wiktorowicz, professor of health administration with York University’s School of Health Policy and Management, in a new study of testing systems in North America and Europe, reported Hospital News in its November issue. Wiktorowicz says Canada’s system for vetting new drugs has become more like those used in Britain and France where recalls of new drugs are four times higher than in the US. “Drugs with potentially dangerous side effects are going out into the market and our medicine cabinets before they have been subject to as stringent testing as used in the US,” she said.

The chemistry of love and madness

Many of the same chemicals that govern romantic love are also factors in anxiety disorders and mental illness, wrote Showey Yazdanian, who graduated with a BSc in chemistry from York University in 2001, in an essay for the Toronto Star Nov. 18. “A taut throat, pounding heart and shortness of breath might well describe symptoms of some terrible disease, and yet it’s remarkable how easily we can transpose them with the temperaments of love. Are the lyrics of the lovesick – yellow stomach butterflies, deafening heartbeats, insomnia under a balcony – mere metaphors or empirical biology? Scientists have had a lot of success dissecting the love phenomenon. But far from contradicting the musings of Shakespeare in As You Like It (‘Love is merely a madness; and, I tell you, deserves as well a dark house and a whip as madmen do’), research has only confirmed the spooky kinship of insanity, ailments and love.”

Ask tougher questions about executive compensation

A shareholder group poised to take control of Vector Aerospace Corp. this month is warning outgoing directors not to approve any payouts to three top managers. Richard Leblanc, who teaches at York’s Schulich School of Business, said compensation is often a complex field and difficulties can arise when directors do not ask tough questions, something that happened with the recent executive pay scandal at the New York Stock Exchange. Vector’s board includes politicians. “One thing that politicians do bring to a board is consensus building … they are very good at disarming conflict and bridging gaps between two or more sides, and they’re very good at humour,” said Leblanc, who studied board composition for five years. “Because they are used to briefing papers, they’re not challengers, they won’t ask the second and the third question that academics, or lawyers or accountants will.”

Killer of York students to be deported once paroled

A Toronto man, sentenced to life in prison for the double murder in 2001 of two York students, will be deported to Sri Lanka on the day he’s eligible for parole, a judge has ordered, reported the Toronto Star Nov. 18. Mehaboobbhoy Adamjee, 34, received an automatic life sentence last week after pleading guilty to second-degree murder for stabbing Nuzhat Amiji, 23, and her brother Naeem, 20, in their Mississauga condominium on Nov. 6, 2001. The parole ineligibility period runs from the date of his arrest, Nov. 9, 2001, meaning he must now serve at least another 13 years in prison.

Business students win silver in marketing

A team of four students from the Schulich School of Business won the silver award at the recent Canadian Marketing Association’s 33rd annual awards gala, reported Saskatoon’s StarPhoenix Nov. 18. University of Saskatchewan commerce students took first in the marketing competition. There were 35 entries in the category from business schools across the country.

York teams lead Toronto universities for new TRY Cup

York University teams are leading University of Toronto and Ryerson University teams for the first TRY Cup (Toronto, Ryerson, York), the first interuniveristy championship in the City of Toronto, reported The Toronto Sun Nov. 15. The university with the most victories in TRY competition at the end of the 20-game schedule will claim the Cup. The competition kicked off Sept. 27 at York University when the Lions thrashed the U of T Varsity Blues football team, 66-7. “This is a great opportunity to highlight our cross-town rivalries and get the students and our communities excited about university sport in this city,” said Patricia Murray, York’s director of sport and recreation. “We hope that the TRY Cup will become an important part of every season.”

A total of 24 teams, male and female, are included in the competition. In addition to football, basketball, field hockey hockey, badminton and volleyball squads will take part. The contest ends with a basketball doubleheader Feb. 21 when Ryerson visits U of T. After five weeks of play, York leads the standings with 12 points and a 6-1 record, while U of T sits in second spot with a 4-2 mark and eight points. Ryerson has yet to register a victory in seven TRY Cup events.

CFL commissioner earned MBA at York

Tom Wright, the Canadian Football League’s 11th commissioner, is a 50-year-old Toronto native who attended the University of Toronto and York University, reported The Ottawa Citizen Nov. 15. Wright earned a Master’s of Business Administration degree in 1978. He was president of adidas Canada and turned down the Canadian Olympic Association’s top post to guide the league and its oft-fractious board of governors, according to the Citizen.

Merging courts would reduce ‘judge shopping’

Carl Baar, a political science course director with York’s Faculty of Arts, and an international consultant on judicial reform, cautiously supports Alberta Justice Minister Dave Hancock’s proposal to unify two levels of trial courts in the province, reported The Edmonton Journal Nov. 15. There can be improved efficiency in criminal cases, such as sending one judge to handle everything in a rural courthouse, and reduced chances for “judge shopping” by lawyers seeking a sympathetic hearing, he said. But Baar said creating one level of trial court doesn’t always improve access to the justice system – for example, the province could reduce the number of towns in which judges sit. “It’s a question of the government’s commitment. Access is really a function of what the government does.”

Successful women have deep sense of self

According to Pat Bradshaw, associate professor of organizational behaviour at York University’s Schulich School of Business, women who succeed in the workplace are those who know who they are and what they value, reported the Toronto Star Nov. 15. “These women have a deep sense of self and they act authentically,” said Bradshaw. But it takes more than self-awareness to succeed in today’s world – women who have professionally proven themselves are able to compete because of their skills and knowledge.

York University President and Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden – one of only nine female university presidents out of a current 90 in Canada – is committed to learning and sees education as crucial to furthering a woman’s career. “Hone your critical and objective thinking skills by working with facts and data. These skills will help you interpret the world to discover your place in it,” she advised.

Pluses of no-frills, women-only gym

Veronica Jamnik, a professor with York University’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science, points out that the kind of circuit-style training that the no-frills Curves exercise franchise offers is not a new concept, reported the National Post Nov. 15. “It’s a case of making the old new again. They probably just identified a void for busy middle-aged women. They saw a niche and good for them.” For a certain population, Curves’ short workouts have clear advantages. “It’s not going to make them a super-athlete, but since they’re exercising for 30 minutes they will get some benefits,” said Jamnik. “It’s an attractive package for people who probably don’t have the time, desire or discipline to train really hard.”

Osgoode grad and weightlifter training for Athens

Miel McGerrigle, former gymnast and champion weightlifter from Vancouver, and a 2003 graduate of York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, is training to qualify for the 2004 Olympics in Athens, reported The Vancouver Sun Nov. 15. After winning silver medals at the 1995 and ’97 world junior championships, McGerrigle won the 63-kilo gold at the ’99 Pan-American Games. That same year, she was 11th (out of 41 competitors) at the world championships in Athens, despite a freak injury. She sticks to her rigorous schedule while balancing a career as an articling lawyer with a firm in Brampton, Ont. She sees her working future as being an agent for athletes. “I want to do something involved with athletes and sports and entertainment law seems like a natural,” said McGerrigle, who is investigating job opportunities in Vancouver.

Small businesses can’t access e-talent

Smaller companies in Canada cannot find enough technology workers with a broad enough skill set and it’s causing many of them to avoid jumping into the world of e-business, reported Saskatoon’s StarPhoenix Nov. 15. “The market right now is filled with high-tech [workers] that have maybe been laid off . . . who have a very high degree of technical capability in a very narrow area,” said Ron McClean, an information systems professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business. McClean, who has been researching the topic with colleagues over the past few years, said technology workers need to be trained in a wider range of skills so they can begin targeting this untapped market of small to medium-sized businesses, or SMEs.  McClean is working with the Canadian e-Business Initiative (CeBI) to help raise awareness among educational institutions, government agencies and the private sector about the perceived lack of e-talent among SMEs, reported the Star Phoenix. 

Education Act is clear: no religion

Superintendents will meet with Hamilton public school board lawyers and Education Ministry staff next week to hammer out a board-wide policy about religious observance after a principal banned a Christian group from meeting at a city high school, reported The Hamilton Spectator Nov. 15. “The Canadian courts have said very clearly that in non-Catholic, publicly funded schools, religious instruction or observance of any kind is not permitted,” said Anne Bayefsky, a political science professor with York’s Faculty of Arts currently on leave and teaching at Columbia University in New York.

A little Air Canada history

In the wake of the recent announcement that Air Canada would receive a $650-million injection from business magnate Victor Li, Fred Lazar, an economics professor with York University’s Schulich School of Business, recounted the history of the beleaguered airline in an Ottawa Citizen story Nov. 15 about its rival WestJet. Lazar said 1999 was the year of the collapse of Canadian Airlines, the hugely indebted and ungainly composite of Pacific Western, CP Air and Wardair that attempted to compete head-on with Air Canada before and after privatization. “After three bailout attempts and fearing the political consequences of letting a western airline fail just before an election, the federal government suspended the Competition Act and allowed Canadian and Air Canada to merge,” said Lazar.

Argos owners have York connections

In a Nov. 15 profile of Howard Sokolowski and David Cynamon, the new owners of the ailing Toronto Argonauts franchise, The Globe and Mail mentioned their connections to York University. Sokolowski, 51, grew up in Toronto and “fresh out of York University in 1976 cut his developer teeth on 33 homes,” said the Globe. Sokolowski, the developer behind The Village at York University, was in third-year psychology when he left in 1975. Cynamon, 40, used to play football for the former York University Yeomen (now the York Lions) while attending in the mid-1980s.

On air

  • Mayor-elect David Miller said a busway will be built between Downsview subway station and York University next year, on CHUM-FM, Toronto, Nov. 18.
  • Kathleen Gould Lundy, professor with York’s Education Faculty, spoke about getting kids involved in public speaking, on “Primeau” (CHED-AM), Edmonton, Nov. 17.
  • Deborah Pepler, psychology professor with York University’s Faculty of Arts, commented on how aggressor bullying in younger years can lead to serious problems in adulthood, in a feature aired on news programs on CFCN-TV in Calgary, CFTO-TV and OMNI.2 television in Toronto Nov. 17.