York well-placed in Argo stadium race

On March 16, Toronto media was buzzing over where Toronto Argonauts will make their new home.

The Toronto Sun reported that York University is about to battle its rival, the University of Toronto, to convince the Argos to build a stadium on its main campus. York added the stadium issue to a regularly planned administrative meeting yesterday following a decision March 12 by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. to withdraw from a $128-million multi-faceted project with U of T, said the newspaper. “We’re ready, willing and able to talk about a smart business deal,” said Bud Purves, the president of York’s Development Corporation. “York is a really dynamic, great, growing place. I think we have the best business case. We have the broadest community use. This isn’t York strictly. It’s a regional, athletic facility at York and that’s the major difference between us and U of T.” Purves said York’s main campus is in the epicentre of people who live in the 905 area code and borders on the 705 region. Combined with parking, highway access and potential mass transit if plans by the City of Toronto to extend the subway line to York go ahead, a case could indeed be made for U of T’s rival.

The Toronto Sun said right now the Canadian Soccer Association, which is looking to build an outdoor stadium in the GTA, is dealing exclusively with the Argos and U of T. Howard Sokolowski and David Cynamon, who bought the Argos last November, are looking at York, Varsity and Exhibition Place as potential sites. Sokolowski said last week the team will talk with representatives of all three sites and hopes to announce a decision in about three weeks. The Argos spoke March 15 with U of T and are scheduled to talk to York in a few days.

Sources told the Sun that before Sokolowski and Cynamon bought the team they preferred York. Sokolowski’s real-estate business, Tribute Communities, purchased a 30-acre lot from York to build a housing development that is under construction. Cynamon meanwhile, has a sentimental attachment to York because he played on the football team.

The Globe and Mail reported that the University of Toronto has restated its intent to build an outdoor sports complex where Varsity Stadium once stood in downtown Toronto. The new project will be similar to the one that involved MLSE, but will not include a new hockey rink. It is expected to cost just less than $90-million and will include a 25,000-seat stadium, a small shopping area and a new or renovated Varsity Arena. It will be owned and managed by the university, with the Argos and CSA targeted as primary tenants, said the Globe.

Argos president Keith Pelley told the Globe the club is continuing to explore its options of building a stadium at York University and is prepared to play at the SkyDome beyond the 2005 season. He also told CBC TV’s “Canada Now” March 15 that the CNE and York University could be sites for new stadiums.

York ends 16-year wait for hockey crown

Fittingly, it took York University’s biggest player to remove a rather large monkey from the back of its men’s hockey program, reported the London Free Press March 15. Six-foot-six winger Rich Kearns, a political science student at York, banged a big rebound past Ottawa goalie Jordan Watt with 1:11 left in the third period as the Lions captured their first Queen’s Cup title in 16 years with a 3-2 win over the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees March 14 at Western’s Thompson Arena in London, Ont. The good news was also carried in the Ottawa Citizen.

Canada’s credibility is slipping

Canada is widely viewed by the outside world to be relatively free of corruption, wrote Wesley Cragg, Gardiner Professor of Business Ethics at York’s Schulich School of Business and Chair of Transparency International Canada, in an opinion piece in the Globe and Mail March 16. In 1999, we rated No. 5 in the world on the Corruption Perception Index (compiled by Transparency International, the anti-corruption coalition). But by 2003 Canada slipped from fifth to 11th place. By the next Corruption Index, we will almost certainly have slipped again, Cragg predicted.

Our slipping reputation should trouble us, said Cragg, because public accusations of corruption damage the morale and productivity of employees, they divert government and company financial and management resources to legal battles, and they undermine trust in business and government. But the underlying strength of Canadian institutions and Canadian values offers cause for optimism, wrote Cragg. Culprits are being named, and subjected to legal examination, thanks to the work of dedicated investigative journalists, auditors, regulators, police, public officials, the courts and others, points out the professor. Large Canadian institutional investors are recognizing that they have a significant role to play in ensuring sound standards of corporate governance. And Ottawa is also making changes, he noted.

Canada cannot afford to let our reputation for integrity in government and business slip further. Recent events illustrate the importance of the task. Let’s hope that they’ve also generated the political will to get on with the job, said Cragg.

Keeping different accounts

A decade ago, York grad Lilian Nattel was a chartered accountant who dreamed of writing books, not keeping them. Today, she’s the author of two acclaimed novels and the only accounts she need tally are her own royalty cheques, reported the Globe and Mail March 16. Being an accountant was never part of Nattel’s life plan, but merely an occupation she decided upon as a way to make a living. A native of Montreal, Nattel graduated from York University in 1980 with a BA in English literature and though “my full intention was to be a writer,” she needed a job to pay her bills. Nattel determinedly applied the left-brain logic of a good accountant to her need to express her right-brain creativity, devising a plan to work part time as an accountant while she tried to write fiction. “What I did was actually write up a contract with myself. It was a five-year contract in which I contracted to give myself five years to see what I could do with writing because it meant a lot of financial sacrifices to have a part-time accounting practice,” said Nattel, 47, author of The River Midnight (1999) and the recently-released The Singing Fire (2004). Today, Nattel and her husband Allan Greenbaum, who teaches social science in York’s Faculty of Arts, own a home in Toronto’s Annex and writing is her full-time occupation, albeit one she fits in around the needs of her adopted daughters Meira, 5, and Hadara, 2.

Canada could send troops to Sudan for UN

Canadian troops could be headed to Sudan as the United Nations prepares for a peacekeeping operation this year to the African country plagued by decades of civil war. Department of National Defence officials have told the federal government that international pressure will be on Canada to contribute soldiers to the mission, especially since it is expected to involve the UN’s Multinational Standby High Readiness Brigade (SHIRBRIG), a rapid-deployment force Canada helped set up in the late 1990s. Defence analyst Martin Shadwick said the federal government will find it extremely difficult to avoid taking part in a Sudan mission, especially because of Canada’s extensive efforts in the 1990s to help set up the UN rapid deployment force. “Passing on a SHIRBRIG operation would be pretty embarrassing,” said Shadwick, who teaches strategic studies at York University.

Canadians respect differences, says former York governor

“As a society, if we value diversity, other’s religious beliefs and ethnicity and all the things that we respect, we allow people to be who they are, to worship in their own way, to have environments where there is a level of respect,” Jean Augustine, Federal Minister of State for Multiculturalism, told the Calgary Herald in an interview published March 13. Before she was elected to Parliament, Augustine served on several boards including the Board of Governors of York University (1991-1994), the Board of Trustees for The Hospital for Sick Children and Chair of the Metro Toronto Housing Authority. She was also national president of the Congress of Black Women of Canada.

Osgoode grad appointed to top court

Russell Juriansz will join the Ontario Court of Appeal as the first nonwhite judge in the history of the province’s top court. “I’m tremendously honoured,” said Juriansz, 57, reported Canadian Press March 13. “The privilege to serve on the court is daunting.” Juriansz came to Toronto from India when he was eight, eventually studying science at the University of Toronto. He graduated from York’s Osgoode Hall Law School in 1972 (LLB). Two years later, he was called to the bar.

Studying how to live a dream

Slade Lander is a renaissance man, reported the Toronto Star March 13. At the age of 56, after working in the pharmaceutical industry as an IT specialist for 20 years, the American-born Toronto resident, a former dancer and current improvisational musician, decided to go back to school to pursue another career. He began an MBA degree in media and arts administration at York University this fall. “It’s a fantasy I’ve always had, to be the administrative director for a dance company or theatre company,” Lander said. He already has two undergraduate degrees – a major in psychology from the University of Chicago and a BA in dance from York, which he received in 1974.

It’s not the speed but timing in rallies

Even before the event began, Anet Tascioglu could barely contain her excitement. “I’ve waited for six years to get here. This is just one step to achieving my goal,” she said. The 22-year-old York University anthropology student was preparing to compete in the Kitchener-Waterloo Rally Club’s 2004 Ski Country Rally. The 250-kilometre navigational rally, which started in Creemore (south of Collingwood), was Tascioglu’s first as a competitor and driver.

Canada needs a better-funded military

“Why would a guy as smart as you waste his time in the military?” was Pierre Trudeau’s question to Bill Lee, the Liberal party’s campaign tour organizer in 1968 and a former Royal Canadian Air Force wing commander. Jack Granatstein, a professor emeritus of history at York University, has a 2004 response in Who Killed the Canadian Military?, wrote a reviewer in the March 13 Calgary Herald. And with it he also hopes to make clear why a small power like Canada should even have a military. For starters, argues Granatstein, Canadian sovereignty is not well served by a minute military that can’t help push Canada’s arguments in the corridors of power in Washington, London, Canberra, New York or Brussels, especially when prior pledges are not being fulfilled. Granatstein argues that in a country with as many borders as ours, with our allies, international agreements and obligations, and with the peacekeeping missions voters seem to want, the military is a core responsibility which ought to be properly funded, especially now that the federal deficits of the 1990s are long past.

Morton was a fantastic abstract colourist

Painter Doug Morton, who died on Jan. 4 at the age of 77 in Victoria, was one of the Regina Five, whose exhibition at the National Gallery in 1961 was proclaimed as a watershed for the development of abstract art in Canada. In 1967, he began two decades of academic life with the Regina campus of the University of Saskatchewan, York University, the University of Victoria and the Alberta College of Art, reported the Globe and Mail March 13. Fantastic colours, great big canvasses – that’s how fellow painters describe the creations of this Saskatchewan artist, who had only one solo exhibition, in 1994.

On air

  • Paul Delaney and Michael De Robertis, physics and astronomy professors in York’s Faculty of Pure & Applied Science, commented on NASA’s discovery of Sedna, a new planet orbiting in our solar system far beyond Pluto March 15. Delaney was interviewed on “CTV National News” where he said Sedna “is a little bit smaller than the planet Pluto, and there’s a huge debate about whether or not we call Pluto a planet.” De Robertis was interviewed on CKLW-AM’s “Windsor Now.”