York University names Cory as chancellor

Former Supreme Court justice Peter deCarteret Cory has been named the next chancellor of York University, reported the Globe and Mail March 2. The paper said Cory, who served on Canada’s highest court from 1989 to 1999, was most recently plunged into the controversies of Northern Ireland, appointed by the British and Irish governments to look into alleged collusion by security forces in eight killings. He submitted his report last October, urging judicial inquiries into several of the cases. But the British government has not yet released it, citing legal and security concerns. At a court challenge in Belfast, a government lawyer committed to releasing the report soon. Cory will replace Avie Bennett, chairman of the board of publisher McClelland & Stewart, this spring.

Making the business case for ethics

National Post business reporter Jonathan Kay sat in on business ethics classes at York University and the University of Toronto to gather material for a March 2 feature. Wesley Cragg, who teaches Ethics and Social Responsibility in Business to MBA students at York University’s Schulich School of Business, would agree that good ethics are good business, wrote Kay. Cragg also teaches that “unethical” practices can generate bad publicity, alienate employees and invite governmental regulation. All this he lumps into the general rubric of “the business case for ethics.” But there is also another justification for virtuous corporate behaviour, he tells his class, one he describes as “the ethics case for ethics.” “The ethics case for ethics represents a concern for the well-being of society because you’re genuinely concerned about the well-being of society, not because it’s going to spin back to your benefit,” Cragg says. The concept relates to the broader idea of “corporate citizenship,” according to which companies, like individuals, have not only rights but duties.

Love, Sex and Eating the Bones aims to tweak stereotypes

There aren’t too many successful Canadian romantic comedies about black men dealing with erectile dysfunction, but then there aren’t too many successful Canadian romantic comedies, began a review of Love, Sex and Eating the Bones March 2 in the National Post. “Romantic comedies usually don’t deal with sex at all,” said Sudz Sutherland, the director who studied film at York University in the early 1990s. “It’s usually glossed over, in this PG-13 kind of way. We wanted to do something that was more modern — about how people are still fumbling through love.” Modern fumbling, in this film, includes overcoming an addiction to pornography. Sutherland also challenged the genre’s less-than-multicultural traditions by casting two black actors as the star-struck couple. “Most of the producers we went to told us we’d have to make at least one of [the lead roles] white,” said Sutherland. But, he added, the whole film was meant to be true to life, and a mostly white cast wasn’t his idea of this. 

Whither the new stadium?

The principal spokesman for a proposed $120-million stadium at the University of Toronto’s downtown campus said it will happen only with government support, reported the Toronto Sun March 2. If the project falls apart, the Argos will look toward another location, almost certainly the main campus of York University, to build a 25,000-seat stadium that potentially would be ready for the 2006 season, said the newspaper.

Nat Taylor donated movie theatre to York

As the creator of the multiplex theatre and producer of Canada’s first horror film, Nat Taylor was a visionary, stated an obituary in the Toronto Star March 2. Canada’s original movie mogul died from natural causes yesterday at the age of 98. In 1982, he received an honorary degree from York University after donating a movie theatre in his name on campus.

In cutting-edge clubs, vinyl rules

A March 1 story in the Toronto Star reported on how disc jockeys prefer vinyl to CDs, but noted there are now digital “turntables” on the market on which DJs can do anything they do with records, including scratching, which is huge in hip-hop. “On stage it looks exactly like you’re using turntables because it’s in two pieces, and you can play CDs and it sounds just like records,” said DJ Delirious, a third-year computer science student at York University who spins R&B, hip-hop and reggae every week at Joker Nightclub on Richmond St. and Havana Lounge on Adelaide St. W. The 23-year-old York University student was using vinyl until three months ago, when someone stole two crates of mostly irreplaceable records out of his car one night when he was heading into work. Delirious, whose real name is Hrant Manoukian, notes that a lot of the younger DJs starting out now find it easier to use CDs since they mostly download their collection.

How plucky women won the West

In the early 20th century, widows were the only women who could buy land and become homesteaders in Western Canada, reported the National Post March 2 in a story about the “homesteads for women” movement. Kathryn McPherson, a history professor in York University’s Faculty of Arts, said the task of building a dwelling, cultivating land and yielding crops often proved to be a daunting task for a single mother with small children. Many widows would wait until their sons became teenagers – but before they turned 18 and were no longer considered minors – to file their homestead claims. “The widow didn’t want to go and homestead too soon because if her kids were young, she had no labour to do the farm work,” McPherson said. Waiting for her sons to reach their mid-teens before making her homestead claim was a smart economic move for a widow. By the time she “proved up” her homestead, her sons would be old enough to make a claim for the available land on an adjacent homestead lot and the family could amass up to 320 acres in three to five years, McPherson said. Remarrying was another good economic move. A widow could file her own homesteading claim in addition to the land her new husband was entitled to. “It’s interesting the loopholes they found,” she said. “They actually remarried and then they went and homesteaded because they were technically widowed.”

The Mideast’s slave legacy

“By the ninth century, when Baghdad was the capital of the Islamic world, we do have evidence of a large importation of African slaves – how large is anyone’s guess,” said Thabit Abdullah Sam, a history professor in York University’s Faculty of Arts, in a Washington Post story about the Mideast’s slave legacy, reprinted in the Vancouver Sun Feb. 28. In addition to working on plantations, Abdullah Sam said, some African slaves were soldiers, concubines or eunuchs. Unlike in America, slaves in the Middle East could own land and their children could not be born into slavery. Even though Islam teaches that all people are equal before God, Abdullah Sam said that medieval Arab slave owners made distinctions based on skin colour. White slaves, known as mamluks, which means “owned,” were more expensive than black slaves, or abds. To protest their treatment, Zanj slaves working in the Basra fields staged a revolt against Baghdad’s rulers that lasted 15 years and created a rival capital called Moktara, believed to have been located in the marshlands of southern Iraq. By 883 the Baghdad army finally put down the revolt. “This slave rebellion is so important to the history of slavery in Iraq because after that, no one wanted to take a risk by trying plantation-style slavery again,” Abdullah Sam said.

On air

  • Fred Lazar, economist at York’s Schulich School of Business, commented on Air Canada’s fight with the Greater Toronto Airport Authority, operator of Pearson Airport, over keeping WestJet out of the new Terminal One, on CBC Radio’s “Ontario Today” March 1.