An earthly day about Mars

A round trip to the red planet would take about two years to complete, and at $10 million per kilogram per Mars mission, sending a person there would cost a hefty penny, Diane Michelangeli told high-school visitors to Mars Day, reported Metroland Newspapers Feb. 17. The all-day event at York University on Feb. 17 featured lectures by York’s top scientists, researchers and science experts to high-school students about the importance of Mars missions and encouraging them to pursue careers in space exploration. Michelangeli, a professor whose research focuses on atmospheric conditions on Mars, is an integral part of York’s research team developing weather computing models for US-led Phoenix mission to Mars in 2007. She said studying Mars’ environment is crucial to future research and will determine whether or not the planet once supported life. "There is this idea that we want to send men to Mars, but to do that we have to know more about the conditions and the science there," she said.

Allan Carswell, a York space scientist and lead scientist in the Phoenix Mars mission, said, "A lot of people may not know about this, but here in Canada we have amazing lidar capability" of Phoenix’s special light detection and ranging (lidar) technology that studies the atmosphere with high precision. "At York we do a lot of work in this area and we want you to know about the opportunities for you to get involved in the future. There are a lot of exciting things going on here," he told the students.

Government should pay for AIDS drugs, says prof

The cost of providing 11 "catastrophic" drugs to Ontario residents with HIV/AIDS, schizophrenia, and a few other conditions has quadrupled during a decade, with the accumulated cost to the province expected to top $1 billion this year, reported the Ottawa Citizen Feb. 24.

"I would prefer that tax dollars be used to provide them than to see people out on the street begging for money or communities having to do cookie sales to raise money so people can get the drugs," said Dr. Joel Lexchin, of Atkinson’s School of Health Policy & Management at York University. "One thing the government might want to do is ask the companies to justify the costs."


Too much police time going to pot?

Osgoode Hall Law School Professor Alan Young, who has crusaded for reformed marijuana laws, says at least some police forces seem to be "upping the ante" with vigilant anti-pot enforcement that swims against the political tide, reported the Canadian Press in a story published by Globe and Mail Feb. 23. "The entire time that this government has been talking about decriminalization … the police have not adjusted their priorities in the least." If anything, police have logged numbers "that are good for them to manipulate," he said in an interview.

WestJet won’t return to Hamilton base, says prof

Airline experts like Fred Lazar, an economics professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, say WestJet won’t likely be running back to Hamilton after losing Terminal One gates in Toronto, reported Broadcast News and the Hamilton Spectator Feb. 24. A judge  gave Air Canada first priority to all of the 14 gates WestJet wanted at the new terminal at Pearson Airport. Lazar figures WestJet will likely set up the extra routes at Pearson’s Terminal Three. Lazar also said WestJet should not have moved routes from Hamilton to Toronto.

Media reports affect voter behaviour

The federal government is trying to reinstate an election-news blackout period that a BC court has ruled unconstitutional, reported Canadian Press Feb. 23. Judge Kevin Smith found the ban did violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms but determined it was a reasonable restriction. He agreed with expert witness Robert MacDermid, a political science professor in York University’s Faculty of Arts, who cited US studies showing early media reports of vote results changed voter behaviour. The impact ranged from bandwagon and strategic voting to people who simply stayed home because they thought the election had already been decided.

Dennis Mills to propose grand Lake Ontario plan

Dennis Mills, the energetic Liberal MP for Toronto-Danforth, thinks it’s not too late to improve what’s left of Toronto’s waterfront, wrote the Globe and Mail’s Jeffrey Simpson Feb. 24. On Feb. 27, Mills will not be unveiling a master plan for the entire waterfront, but rather proposals for more than 30 projects along Lake Ontario. The plans will include green space, sports fields, mixed housing, improved public-transit access at Union Station, an Arctic maritime museum and a United Nations peace university that he would like to see linked to the University of Toronto and York University.

Interest in tri-university competition on decline

The idea for the TRY Cup, an annual competition involving York University, the University of Toronto and Ryerson University, initially came about in 2000, when athletic directors from the three schools got together and brainstormed about ways to increase the profile of university sports, reported the Toronto Sun Feb. 21. "I think what we were searching for was ways to promote the three universities because we were up against professional sports," said Patricia Murray, director of sports and recreation at York, who was involved in the original discussions. "It was difficult to try and get the recognition. We had a quality program and wanted to let people know about it." Organizers have admitted that there has only been a marginal increase in fan support and mainstream visibility.

Expand subway to York, says mayor

On Feb. 17, guest speaker Mayor David Miller told a Toronto Board of Trade breakfast meeting that "the subway line needs to be expanded to York University and into the 905," reported the Metroland Newspapers Feb. 20.

On air


  • Following four murders in one weekend, Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino said more must be done to stop flow of violence. Lesley Jacobs, criminologist in York University’s Faculty of Arts, commented on the violence to Global TV "Global News" Feb. 23.