New chancellor supports more accessible education

While York University’s new chancellor may be new to the school, his name and face are more than recognizable internationally, reported the North York Mirror July 16. Peter Cory was installed as the University’s 11th chancellor at the June convocation ceremonies, replacing Avie Bennett, who had held the post since 1998. A former Supreme Court justice, Cory made his mark in several landmark cases, including the case of Egan vs. Canada where the court decided that same-sex couples should not have the same pension rights as opposite-sex couples. "That was a very important case and it really divided the court," said Cory, who argued in favour of same-sex couples’ rights. "But the most important case on the Supreme Court, or for any judge, is always the most recent." Cory, 78, was first appointed as a trial judge in 1974 and moved to the Court of Appeals in 1981. He served on the Supreme Court from early 1989 until the fall of 1999.

The Windsor-born Cory served in the Air Force in the Second World War and earned his degree at Osgoode Law School in 1950. Some of his most important work, however, has come in the years since he retired from the Supreme Court. He has been an outspoken advocate of disabled rights, but is perhaps best known for his work in investigating abuse of power in Ireland. "I worked over there for 20 or 21 months investigating allegations of murder and collusion between security forces in parts of Northern Ireland and the [Irish Republican Army]," he said. While Cory’s report found no hard evidence of collusion, it called for further inquiries into the deaths of police chief superintendent Harry Breen and superintendent Bob Buchanan.

Since his report was filed in Ireland, Cory has done the public lecture circuit, giving lectures and talks. He received an honorary law degree from York University in 1997 and was appointed a Companion to the Order of Canada in 2002 in recognition of his legal and public service record.

He said he relishes his new role as chancellor and looks forward to presiding over future convocation ceremonies. "It’s wonderful to see how the diverse student body meshes together, and convocation itself was a sheer delight," he said. "You see all these graduates who are so proud, excited and happy and their families who are even more proud, excited and happy."

He said he hopes that university education is made more accessible so that everyone has a chance to engage themselves in higher learning. He wishes to see the day when such education is open to all, regardless of their social or economic status. "The graduates of universities are always the ones who go on to be the leaders of communities, provinces and countries," he said. "Everyone should have a chance to reach those goals."

Summer songs grew out of AM radio culture

A 1969 Bryan Adams track about good times gone by seemed to resonate with York Region residents, leading it to the top of the poll of favourite summer songs, reported the Markham Economist & Sun July 17. While some artists transcend the generation gap, many summer songs are age-specific, said Rob Bowman, ethnomusicology professor in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts and Grammy Award winner for best album notes. While teenagers and 20-somethings may point to bands such as the Tragically Hip to complement the dog days of summer, their parents picks could include the Beach Boys classic Surfin’ USA and See You In September – both of which proved popular choices in this newspaper’s survey.

What were thought of as true summer songs, in both the song title and lyrics, goes back to the golden days of radio, Bowman said, adding there hasn’t been a summer song, by the traditional definition, in about 10 years. "Summer songs were part of the AM radio era and Top 40," he said. "There isn’t a single AM radio culture anymore. Radio has become stratified." Today, much of the music people associate with summer, rarely even contains the word "summer", Bowman suggested. It’s more a feeling or attitude a song may project. One of his favourites, for instance, is (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones.

York-educated officer part of new face of policing

Born in remote Gaspe, Isabelle Cotton had no idea she’d some day be patrolling downtown Toronto as one of the city’s new breed of young, well-educated cops, reported the Toronto Sun July 18. Arriving in the mid-1990s to finish her university degree and learn English, she quickly adapted to Canada’s largest city. After studying public relations at Laval University in Quebec City, she came to Glendon College, part of York University. "I moved to Toronto without speaking a word of English," the 29-year-old constable said in an interview. "I’d seen police on the street, but hadn’t thought of it (as a career)," Cotton said. After graduating from York in 1998 with a BA in multidisciplinary studies, she saw a newspaper ad seeking constables for Toronto’s force, half of whose ranks today have experience dating back only to the year she was recruited. "I always thought a job as a police officer was challenging," Cotton said. "I went to headquarters for an interview and everything began to happen fast…I was recruited about a month later."

Rexall giving tennis a lift

Just as the swallows keep returning every year to San Juan Capistrano, some superstars of tennis fly in their cancellations to the Canadian Open tennis championship – regardless if they are Andre Agassi or the Williams sisters. But not this year … so far, wrote Toronto Sun sports columnist George Gross July 18. Perhaps the new tennis facility with ample seating, restaurant facilities, comfortable dressing rooms and plenty of parking may have something to do with the players’ decisions to come to Toronto.

At any rate, while Tennis Canada officials are holding their collective breath prior to next week’s Tennis Masters Canada 2004 championship at the new Rexall Centre, Stacey Allaster is full of optimism. "To date, we have not had a single cancellation," said the hard-working tournament director and member of the board of the Women’s Tennis Association. "There is no comparison to the old stadium and offices which were taken over by York University."

 ‘Dangerous Dave’ still fighting – in courtrooms

Whether he’s in a quiet courtroom or a raucous Ultimate Fighting Championship cage, "Dangerous Dave" Beneteau is a warrior, the Toronto Sun said in a July 18 profile of the 2002 York University law grad. The 6-foot-2, 265-pound giant has been pounding and pinning heavyweight wrestlers and brawlers into submission in almost 1,000 matches. Now, the 37-year-old rookie defence lawyer is trying to prevent the state from pinning his clients. "As a guy who used to ride a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, I’ve witnessed first-hand police abuse and I’ve had my rights tramped on numerous occasions," Beneteau said. "I’ve always had an interest in civil liberties and that drew me to law school." Before his courtroom days, Beneteau was once ranked fifth in the world in mixed-martial arts in the late ’90s, having defeated the undisputed heavyweight champ, Brazilian Carlos Barreto. And Beneteau paid for his legal education at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School the hard way – in the ring. The Sun also mentioned his York education in a July 17 story.

Art rises in the aftermath of 9/11

The deeper artistic aftermath of the terrorist attacks on Sept.11, 2001 is only now beginning to appear in work that has gestated for some time in the imagination, wrote arts writer Peter Goddard in the Toronto Star July 17. "Beyond the early rush of blistering paintings of fiery Manhattan skies, we now find pieces that look at the violence rooted in the North American psyche."

Century 21, the final part of Jeremy Blake’s Winchester Trilogy, now at Trinity Square Video, began in the aftermath of 9/11 when Blake, living in New York at the time, began to question America’s own passion for violence. His thinking was informed by American historian Richard Slotkin’s three-volume study on the impact of early frontiersman on the American imagination, a series ending with Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth-Century America in the late ’90s. In fact, Blake’s decision to create a trilogy came from his reading of Slotkin’s own trilogy, says curator Philip Monk of the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU), the force behind this show and the earlier screenings of the first two parts at AGYU.

An honourable guy

In a July 18 celebration of Ed Mirvish on his 90th birthday, the Toronto Sun listed honours and awards bestowed upon the city’s most famous impresario, including an honourary Doctor of Laws degree from York University in 2002.

Back to nature for wildlife painter

Each feather stands out in minute detail. The bark it’s perched upon almost palpable. The bright spot of colour drawing the eye into each avian feature carefully rendered on the paper. Welcome to the world of the photo-realist stylings of artist Mark Tumber, began a profile of the York grad in the Midland Mirror July 16. His current works, titled "Birds Of A Feather," are now on display at Right Side Gallery in Penetanguishene. After completing a five-year program at York University for his bachelor of fine arts and his teaching certificate in 1993, Tumber spent the next five years teaching art and history in Scarborough. But he asked himself what he was doing and said simply, "I wanted to draw." Childhood summers spent in Port Severn drew him back to the quiet solitude of a nearby lake. Now he spends from spring until Halloween in a cottage on Baxter Lake.

 On air

  • Shirley Katz, an ethics professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, discussed Martha Stewart’s case of insider trading, on CBC Newsworld’s "CBC News: Morning" July 16.
  • Azim Lila, a fouth-year business student in York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies who overcame a learning disability and champions the cause of disabled students, talked about how to make Toronto a better place, on the Liveable City segment of CP24-TV’s news programs July 17 and 18. Lila established the Ontario Power Generation Scholarship at York.