York endorses Rae discussion paper

The province’s post-secondary system is in jeopardy because of rising tuition costs and inadequate government funding, former Ontario premier Bob Rae says in a discussion paper on higher learning, reported Canadian Press Oct. 1. York University, with a student body of about 50,000, or 12 per cent of Ontario’s university students, endorsed the discussion paper and the issues it addressed, said CP. The discussion paper states 7,000 faculty members should be added within the next two years, with 11,000 more by 2010. “The Rae review has done a good job of identifying the challenges facing post-secondary education in Ontario,” said York University President & Vice-Chancellor Lorna Marsden in a release. She pointed out the statistics in the paper that rank Ontario last among Canadian provinces in university funding per capita, and said increases in government support have been below the rate of inflation.

Top court likely to say Charter protects same-sex marriage

The Supreme Court sits down Oct. 6 to review a draft bill proposed to amend the legal definition of marriage to include gay and lesbian couples, reported The Globe and Mail Oct. 4. Should the top court put its imprimatur on federal proposals to legalize same-sex marriage, gays will have used the legal system to move out of an era of scant rights into one of full equality.

“Gay rights have been winning most of the time, but marriage is the biggest point of access for equality,” said Professor Jamie Cameron, of York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School. She said success seems all but certain considering the Supreme Court’s track record on gay-equality cases, a line of victories that range from the inclusion of gays under the Charter of Rights and Freedom’s equality protections to the right to spousal support. “I think it is a virtual certainty that the court will say that same-sex marriage is protected under the Charter.” 

Cameron said the judges may mildly resent being again placed on the social firing line by the government, but they will probably warm to the opportunity to influence public opinion and political events. Such judicial receptivity provides a lesson in how litigation can be used to further social goals, she added. Aided by a sympathetic press, she said, the gay-rights movement has followed a steady path to changing the law. “If you push too far, too fast, you can ruin your chances for a generation,” Cameron said. “It wouldn’t have been very smart to start out with gay marriage. Whether they consciously adopted a litigation strategy or it just evolved that way, it has produced good results for them.”

Argos considering sites for new stadium

Whether York University will be the site of the new football stadium was the subject of news stories in The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and Toronto Sun Oct. 2. All three newspapers said now that plans to build a stadium at U of T have collapsed, the Toronto Argonauts and the Canadian Soccer Association are considering York, Exhibition Place and Woodbine Race Track.

The Argos have discussed the stadium with York before. Last March, the U of T plan faltered when Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment pulled out of the partnership and the Argos talked to York about building the stadium at the corner of Steeles Avenue and Jane Street. But the York idea was dropped when the U of T said it planned to proceed. Argos co-owner David Cynamon said the Argos will take another look at York now that Varsity Stadium is dead. “There is no doubt that York was always something close to my heart, because I went there and I played [football] for them,” he told the Globe.

Michael Di Biase, the mayor of Vaughan, which is adjacent to York, said he has already been in touch with federal officials about relaunching the York stadium proposal. “I think it’s a great location to have a stadium,” Di Biase told the Globe and the Toronto Sun. He added that he worked with York President Lorna Marsden on the project last March.

Toronto Mayor David Miller said he prefers the Exhibition Place site because it has better access to public transit. “York has some positive features to it; the only issue there is transit,” Miller told the Globe.

He ain’t Eddie, he’s his brother – Brian

In an Oct. 2 profile of criminal lawyer Edward Greenspan’s younger brother Brian, also a lawyer, The Globe and Mail mentions that Brian began his career by following in his brother’s footsteps, graduating from the University of Toronto and then studying law at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, where he graduated in 1971, before charting his own course by going to the London School of Economics and Political Science for his masters in law. Eddie Greenspan graduated from Osgoode in 1968.

Canada’s space agency recreates Mars terrain in Quebec

On a quiet, secluded patch of ground on the outskirts of St.-Hubert, Que., the Canadian Space Agency has built a little piece of Mars, reported the National Post Oct. 4. The 30-by-60-metre “Mars terrain” was built this summer behind the agency’s headquarters south of Montreal as a testing ground for an eventual Canadian mission to the Red Planet.

Brendan Quine, a professor of physics and astronomy at York University’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, is part of a private-sector effort to put the Maple Leaf on Mars. The Northern Light mission, being developed by a consortium of high-tech companies and academics, hopes to put a six-kilogram rover on Mars by 2010. “A Canadian mission puts Canada in on the ground floor,” said Quine. “Our scientists get the data [and] we will be involved in any exploration of the planet, even if it takes until 2030 or later before we would be looking at sending humans to Mars.” Despite the government’s reluctance to fund space exploration, he said it is vital for Canada to get involved in Mars if it wants to have a future in space. “This would be a mission that would appeal to all Canadians, but particularly to younger Canadians,” said Quine. “We need expeditions like this to fire up people’s imaginations, to get them interested in science.”

Toyota’s campaign promotes brand for life

The images may be warm and fuzzy, but Toyota Motor Corp.’s latest US advertising campaign is designed to go for the jugular of its North American competition by creating a brand for life, reported the National Post Oct. 4. “Toyota has always been very product- and model-specific,” said Alan Middleton, a professor of marketing at York University’s Schulich School of Business. “Now they’re trying to give you a better feeling about Toyota in general.” Middleton said the thinking behind the new U.S. marketing approach is likely to encourage customers to stick with the Toyota brand throughout their motoring lives. That strategy, said Middleton, was first devised by GM in its heyday. “The original brilliance of General Motors was they had a different sub-brand for each life stage – one for when your young, one for when you have kids and one for when you reach male menopause,” Middleton said. “Toyota’s been moving aggressively in that direction, but they’ve never really done an advertising campaign to try and get that feeling.”

Designing buildings in sync with their settings

The foundation of Siamak Hariri’s approach to a winning design is rooted in the idea that a house must respect its site by blending quietly into the surrounding environment, reported the National Post Oct. 2. Hariri, senior partner in the Governor General’s Award-winning firm of Hariri Pontarini Architects said: “Designing buildings that are in absolute sync with their setting may be something of an architectural cliche today but in practical terms it’s quite different to achieve.” Hariri Pontarini most recently captured the international competition for the $110-million Schulich School of Business at York University from among about 270 architects vying for the commission. The concept centred on a village-like strategy organized around three landscaped courts to maximize natural light penetrating the building while maintaining a significant view of the campus’s extensive woodlot.

Lad mag takes Giant step toward maturity

Giant is a new lifestyle magazine out to prove that sex and big ta-tas aren’t intrinsic to a successful men’s periodical, reported CanWest News Service Oct. 2. But poet Christopher Dewdney, a course director in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies and pop-culture expert at York University, isn’t convinced it adds up to a changing of the guard in men’s magazines. He does, however, believe Giant will find a happy home with men who want less cheesecake and more civility in their bathroom reading. “If that is, in fact, a big demographic,” Dewdney said, “Giant should do well.”

Selling Crown jewels not always a good idea

It could be the sale of the century by the nation’s biggest landlord if the government goes through with a controversial plan to privatize its Crown properties, then lease them back, reported the Ottawa Citizen Oct. 2. “Governments love to do this sort of thing, but when they get into the mechanics, it doesn’t work,” said James McKellar, a professor of real estate at York University’s Schulich School of Business. McKellar was involved in the Ontario Realty Corp.’s sale of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of surplus provincial property under the government of former premier Mike Harris. “To say you are going to sell these things [profitably] is incredibly simple-minded. If you go to Bay Street they will tell you it is a great idea,” he said. “Look at the people who thought selling [Ontario] Hydro was a great idea. They will end up with issues and problems they never thought of.”

US recording industry goes on the legal attack

A US recording industry organisation has launched a further 762 law suits against users of file-sharing networks suspected of trading copyright material, reported PC Pro, a London-England-based computing magazine, Oct. 1. Students are particularly prone to using peer-to-peer systems to build up their music collections because with many campuses having high-speed networks, and students having little spare money to lavish on music, a file-sharing network makes a lot of sense. Particularly when, according to Markus Giesler, marketing professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, those indulging in the practice believe the chances of being caught are negligible.

On air

  • Bruce Ryder, a constitutional law expert at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, talked about the hearings that will begin on Wednesday on whether or not the federal government is required by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to change the laws of marriage to recognize same sex marriage, on CBC Newsworld’s “Politics” Oct. 1.
  • A CTV interview with Jennifer Jenson, professor of pedagogy and technology in York’s Faculty of Education, about her education video game Contagion, which teaches kids how to avoid contracting infectious diseases, was rebroadcast on CTV affiliates in Timmins and St. John’s Oct. 1.