York’s Mars mission is the real leader, notes scientist

“I was pleased to read the Star’s coverage of Canada’s bid to participate in the mission to Mars in 2011,” said a letter to the editor from York atmospheric science Professor Diane Michelangeli in the Feb. 5 Toronto Star. “However, to describe the Marvel bid as Canada’s landmark mission is inaccurate. In fact, York University scientists have secured a role for Canada in the 2007 Phoenix NASA Mars mission. Canadian know-how and technology are already ‘leading the charge to uncover the mysteries of life on the Red Planet’ under Phoenix’s banner. As a York professor and as a Canadian, I feel proud to be associated with both scientific endeavours.”

Valentine’s Day spending creeps up

As it is in the United States, Valentine’s Day spending is edging up in Canada, said The Regina Leader-Post Feb. 5. The national budget for the day in this country is approaching $20 million a year. “Spending is up steadily because it’s become increasingly important for people to connect with one another,” commented York marketing Professor Alan Middleton of the Schulich School of Business. “At a time characterized by tight schedules, e-mail, voicemail and remote communication,” he said, “humans crave more intense personal contact, at least once a year. It’s very much a function of grassroots recognition of humanity. A need to hear that people notice us, care about us, appreciate us. That’s why Valentine’s Day has expanded so far beyond intimate partners and into the workplace and schools.”

Complex process for political junkies

First, there were the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, followed in quick succession by many other similar elections to select Democratic delegates to the party convention in Boston this summer. Now comes one of the most obscure Democratic polls so far: the Canada caucus, said The Globe & Mail Feb. 5. On Feb. 8, expatriate Democrats in Canada will begin the complex process of choosing – count them – two delegates to July’s convention, which will select the party’s presidential candidate. “For political junkies, this is the action – because if you want to go to the convention, that’s the cookie,” said Joe Green, retired dean of York’s Faculty of Fine Arts and Chair of Democrats Abroad Canada, a 2,300-member chapter of the Democratic Party Committee Abroad.

Democrats Abroad Canada operates out of Green’s home and the Duke of York pub in Toronto. Green expects as many as 80 Democrats living in Canada to vote for 10 delegates, who will then attend a regional caucus of overseas Democrats in Edinburgh, Scotland, on March 27, said the Globe. Two delegates chosen there will go to the Boston convention. Another 20 Democrats living abroad will be named to attend the convention as delegates at large. “The process is bizarre,” acknowledged Green.

It is not surprising that the Canadian process has hardly grabbed the attention of presidential candidates on the hustings south of the border, the Globe added. “The candidates are certainly aware of us, but truth be told, we don’t make a large dent on their consciousnesses when they’re trying to run 50 primaries and caucuses,” said Green, a dual citizen who has lived in Canada for more than three decades. 

On Air

  • Newly-elected Toronto Mayor David Miller, speaking about a comprehensive plan to extend the city’s subway west and east on CP24’s “Evening Newsflow” Feb. 4, said Toronto needs a long-term vision, which would include the university line extending to York University.
  • Elio Costa, York professor in the Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics in the Faculty of Arts, took part in a discussion about the Canadian Museum of Civilization’s display, “Presenza: A New Look at Italian-Canadian Heritage”, on CFMT-TV. Toronto’s “Studio Aperto” (Italian) on Feb. 4.