New Varsity stadium nixed, now possible at York

A $120-million project between Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. (MLSEL) and the University of Toronto has fallen apart, likely sacking any possibility of a new football stadium at the downtown campus, reported the Toronto Sun March 13. MLSEL’s board of directors huddled yesterday and opted to end interest in continuing in the project, which would have created two hockey arenas, a 25,000-seat open-air stadium for football and soccer use, new athletic facilities and a commercial storefront project around the vicinity of the old Varsity stadium. The new Argos owners will pursue their own plans on building a new stadium, their preferred site being York University. Co-owner Howard Sokolowski said the collapse of the MLSEL/U of T plan doesn’t affect the Argos because no commitment had ever been made to those groups. “It’s all about the stadium and what’s in the best interest of the Toronto Argonauts and the best interest of the city of Toronto,” Sokolowski said. “The bottom line is in the next two to three weeks. We expect to have some extensive discussions with representatives from Exhibition Place, York University and U of T and we hope within a month or so we will have a conclusion where we plan to go.” The Toronto Star reported March 14 that the football team owners were considering alternative sites like York.

Kudos to York U for aiding scholars

“My daughter graduated from high school last June with a 98.3 per cent average. Scholarships offered by Western, Queen’s and McMaster universities weren’t enough to cover the cost of tuition,” wrote Collingwood parent Pat MacKeracher in a letter to the Toronto Star March 15. “Students who excelled in sports received better scholarships, which is a reflection of our society as a whole where professional athletes are paid more than neurosurgeons, research scientists or university professors. It’s nice to see that one institution, York University, is recognizing the time, effort and commitment put forward by students to attain good marks.”York prof raises national alarm over women’s rights

Barbara Cameron (Atkinson School of Social Sciences and Women’s Studies) was sitting in her small home office in January immersed in sabbatical research when a newspaper story jolted her out of academic contemplation, began a front page story in the Toronto Star March 14. The Quebec Court of Appeal had ruled that Ottawa’s use of Employment Insurance to pay for maternity and parental benefits was unconstitutional because it treads on the province’s jurisdiction over social programs. While the media didn’t give the court ruling much attention, Cameron, an expert on federalism and social policy, knew the impact. This was a serious attack on one of the country’s first national programs designed to help women gain social and economic equality in Canada. The decision could threaten Ottawa’s ability to create new national social programs for child care and disability supports. Cameron was incensed. But where could she turn?

Then came the news last week that the National Action Committee on the Status of Women owes Ottawa some $30,000 in unpaid taxes and penalties, and is just too broke to answer its phone. The Quebec court ruling, which caught Cameron and other feminists in English Canada by surprise, threw it all into sharp relief. “I thought ‘This is ridiculous. We’ve got to do something,'” Cameron said. “So I sent e-mails out to a small group of people and they said ‘Yes, we’ve got to do something.'”

Cameron, who has been active in the women’s movement since the Royal Commission on the Status of Women released its landmark report in 1970, knew that the Quebec ruling, if not challenged by Ottawa, could pave the way for other provinces or even business groups to pull out of the program and weaken maternity and parental benefits across the country. It could also be used to justify federal inaction on other measures to advance women’s equality. “Ottawa was being so non-committal about an appeal, I just figured someone had to act,” the soft-spoken academic said, somewhat apologetically. With the support of a handful of feminists from across the country, Cameron created a Web site to alert others and urge them to petition Ottawa to appeal. (The petition also calls on Ottawa to negotiate a separate parental leave program for Quebec that doesn’t weaken the federal government’s ability to deal with women’s equality in the rest of Canada.) In addition, Cameron started a Web discussion about creating a new way for Canadian women to monitor and speak up on such national issues in the future. “We see the Web site as a way to come in contact with other feminists who share our view that this is a crucial period in Canadian politics when strong voices for women’s equality must be raised once again,” Cameron wrote.

Cameron doesn’t know how many people lobbied Ottawa because of her call to action, but the federal government filed its appeal on Feb. 23. Meanwhile, more than 100 people have e-mailed their desire to help build a new national women’s movement. And many of those who responded were members of provincial organizations and national women’s professional groups, like Women in Science and Technology, suggesting an even broader interest.

Anti-Semitism at Toronto’s tony clubs?

Irving Abella, a professor of Canadian Jewish history at York University, says the Jewish membership of many old-line Toronto clubs amounts to little more than tokenism, reported the Globe and Mail March 13 in a story about anti-Semitism at the Rosedale Golf Club. “The clubs have been the last bastions of restriction,” he said. “In Canadian society, most of these battles were over long ago, but they’re still being fought in the clubs.” Abella says anti-Semitism in Canada peaked in 1948, an era when the vast majority of Canadians were Anglo-Saxon, and there was strong opposition to allowing minorities into the country. At the time, many Torontonians sold or rented their homes and cottages with what were known as Restrictive Covenants attached – agreements that barred specific groups from buying or occupying the property.

Law schools need stable funding

In an editorial about rising tuition at Ontario law schools, the Hamilton Spectator wrote March 15: “we sympathize with their position and recognize that it costs big dollars to provide a first-rate legal education…. And we recognize that the schools have faced provincial funding cuts. Osgoode Hall Law School, for example, has seen its funding chopped by $1.5 million over the past five years. Meanwhile, professors are retiring and new top-flight teachers don’t come cheap. But, given these fiscal realities, what of the students?” asked the Spectator. “Freezing tuition fees was a $200-million Liberal election promise. It, too, was almost broken until the premier stepped in. It’s a start, but it doesn’t help the schools. So here’s the dilemma for Queen’s Park. Ontario’s universities and colleges need stable and reliable funding and Ontario’s future – very near future – depends on our ability to educate our children.”

Go for it, female executives told

At events for female managers and MBA students in Toronto over the past few weeks, some of Canada’s most successful businesswomen were direct, confident and refreshingly optimistic about the future prospects for women in management, reported the Globe and Mail March 15. “If you don’t get it right the first time, get it right the second time. Find the right culture, find the right people,” Charlene Arje, president of Toronto-based Honeywell Canada, said at a recent event organized by MBA students at York University’s Schulich School of Business. Arje credited a supportive spouse and progressive employers for backing her drive to the top.

On air

  • Moshe Milevsky, from the York University Schulich School of Business, was interviewed about the importance of Japan in determining whether interest rates go up and down and who should have a fixed or floating mortgage interest rate, on CBC Newsworld’s “Business Weekly” March 13.
  • Greg Malszecki, sports sociologist at York University, and a specialist in violence in sports, said it’s time to bring the police into NHL rinks, in a discussion of Todd Bertuzzi’s on-ice hit on Steve Moore, on CBC Radio’s “Commentary,” which aired nationally March 12.
  • David Huckvale, associate director of recruitment at York, talked about how universities anxious to enroll the cream of the academic crop are courting high school grads, on CBC Radio’s “Toronto @ Ten” March 12.
  • Casey Chisick, entertainment lawyer and professor of copyright law at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, discussed the case pitting the music industry against people who upload music and their Internet service providers, on an item aired on CBC Radio’s “Almanac” in Vancouver and “All in a Day” in Ottawa March 12.
  • York University hosted an open house, reported Toronto’s CFTR-AM “News” March 12, in a story on how applications to universities are down 30 per cent from last year’s record double cohort.
  • York University and Georgian College are teaming up to offer a program for nurses, who can now expand and improve on their training without leaving home, reported Owen Sound’s CFOS-AM “News” March 10.