Martha Stewart would not face prison time in Canada, says Osgoode prof

Homemaking guru Martha Stewart would not face prison time in Canada, wrote Steven Skurka, an adjunct professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, in an opinion piece in the Toronto Star July 16. Skurka, who is also a criminal lawyer and a legal analyst for CTV’s “Canada AM”, noted that Stewart’s convictions for obstructing justice and for lying to the authorities related to a cover-up for a purported crime that was never charged, let alone proven. As well, the trial judge dismissed the most serious charge of securities fraud that she faced.

“Whatever people’s views of Stewart, there can be little doubt that she was an incredibly accomplished role model for legions of women around the world,” wrote Skurka. “Indeed, it would be difficult for the prosecution to point to a single person hurt by her misdeeds with the notable exception of Stewart.”

Stewart, he said, is a victim of federal sentencing guidelines in the US that obligate judges to impose minimum mandatory sentences in cases like hers.

“Stewart could confidently stride into a Canadian courtroom with an expectation that she would not be confronting a prison sentence. Her tremendous resources and skills would likely be harnessed into a community service order as part of her probationary period of supervision. A kitchen program for the homeless, perhaps.

“The view of Stewart serving soup on a blustery Canadian winter morning in Parkdale would probably be the best recipe for her rehabilitation. And that would be a good thing.”

The trains in Spain

A letter-writer in the Toronto Star July 16 was unimpressed with the Toronto Transit Commission’s timeline for a subway to York. “In your article, it states that the staff report says it could take nine years under even the most optimistic scenario to study, design and build a subway to York University – a matter of a few kilometers,” wrote Robert Herscovitch of Toronto. “During the period from 1999 to 2003, the Madrid regional government completed 75 km of railway, 58 km in tunnel, together with 39 stations and eight interchange stations. It appears it is going to take us that long to widen a kilometre of Highway 404 at the 401 at the rate it is progressing.”

CFRB-AM and “Global News Morning” (CIII-TV) on July 15 reported the TTC’s endorsement of interim plans for bus-only lanes to York from Downsview subway station.

Variable rates a ‘speculative’ choice, says Milevsky

The Daily News in Halifax became the latest media outlet to talk to Moshe Milevsky, finance professor in York’s Schulich School of Business, about variable-rate mortgages. The News noted that variable rates are sexy because they currently undercut their fixed-rate cousins by two to three percentage points, but they demand vigilance. “Although I’m not sure I’d call it a gamble, it’s certainly speculative,” said Milevsky. “You have to realize that taking the smaller number sometimes means that it may become bigger later.”