Homeless death toll was predictable

Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman says he’s troubled by a new report that found younger homeless women in Toronto are dying at 10 times the rate of other women their age, reported the Toronto Star April 14. But Toba Bryant, a postdoctoral fellow at the York Centre for Health Studies, commented that the study’s results have been predicted since Ottawa and Queen’s Park stopped building affordable housing in the 1990s. The provincial Conservative government under former premier Mike Harris also cut welfare benefits by 21 per cent in 1995. Later, it scrapped rent controls. “Changes in housing policy have a significant impact on vulnerable people,” said Bryant. “The combined impact was considerable, especially for women, who are more vulnerable and have fewer supports. We’ve already seen lots of people die on the street, and we shouldn’t be surprised.” The report was prepared by Dr. Stephen Hwang of St. Michael’s Hospital and Dr. Angela Cheung of the University Health Network.

Tall tales captured in stone

The Herefordshire School created some extraordinary church sculpture, as Christopher Somerville explains in Britain’s Daily Telegraph online edition March 27. “I longed to know the story, but no one seemed able to tell me the ‘when’, ‘why’ or ‘who,’” he wrote. “When the Herefordshire-based Logaston Press sent me a copy of an illustrated paperback it had just published, The Herefordshire School of Romanesque Sculpture, by Malcolm Thurlby, I found the key.” The York University visual arts professor’s book laid out the story of the rich and sophisticated Norman rulers of the Welsh Marches who ordered and paid for the work and of the master sculptors who actually created these thousands of little rural masterpieces, wrote Somerville. “Best of all, it pointed me towards dozens of beautiful churches in gorgeous settings, scattered up and down the green woods and red fields of the Borders. All talk of the Herefordshire School of Sculpture begins and ends with Kilpeck. This tiny village a few miles south of Hereford holds the school’s acknowledged gem, the Church of St. Mary and St. David. People come from all over the world to marvel at the red sandstone carvings round the windows and doors, under the eaves and in the chancel arch — artistry fired by an uninhibited imagination that nowadays would be seen as completely over the top. With Thurlby’s book in hand I learnt the symbolism of these figures — demonic dragons and devilish tendrils, the phoenix that represents life, the rapacious kite, the lascivious sow and billy-goat,” wrote Somerville.

Two studies disagree over top court bias

A study by Osgoode Hall Law School Dean Patrick Monahan that found charter claims are more likely to succeed than fail is contradicted by a new University of Toronto study, reported CanWest News Service in a story printed in the National Post and Vancouver Sun April 14. The U of T study says the Supreme Court of Canada might be biased toward hearing cases that ensure government victories, in order to counter widespread complaints judges are too powerful. The Osgoode study said Canadians were more likely to win Charter of Rights challenges since Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin assumed the Supreme Court helm at the beginning of 2000. But the story said the two studies were different in that the U of T paper only considered cases involving charter challenges to government laws, while the Osgoode report was broader, dealing with challenges against police, which account for a significant portion of Supreme Court cases.

Schiff talks about her African missions

The Hamilton Spectator printed a photo April 14 of the Women’s Canadian Club of Hamilton welcoming Daphne Schiff, a pilot and professor emeritus of aerodynamics and meteorology at York University’s Glendon College, to its spring luncheon. Schiff talked about her humanitarian flights to Africa with Air Solidarité. She and her co-pilot are the only Canadians in the annual mission of 20 single-engine planes to the continent.

On air

  • York University debating team champion Omar Fairclough, a third-year history student, discussed the fact that his team won the championship versus other universities across Canada in March, on City-tv’s “Breakfast TV” April 13.