Universities welcome McGuinty’s $300-million pledge for research

Premier Dalton McGuinty told an Ontario Chamber of Commerce audience his government will dedicate $80 million this year – and $300 million over the course of four years – to make good on a campaign promise to create a “knowledge-based economy in Ontario,” reported the Toronto Star Oct. 7. McGuinty said the provincial money, which will be funnelled through universities and research institutions, comes during difficult economic times for the province and reflects the commitment to make meaningful progress. He touted his Liberal government’s “commercialization agenda” – a plan to foster new ideas in universities that will become viable businesses and employers in the province in the years to come.

York University President and Vice-Chancellor Lorna Marsden welcomed the announcement by McGuinty, saying it will help post-secondary institutions attract and retain world-class academics. “We’ve been all working hard in the universities to attract Canadians back home, great researchers – and they have the options of going anywhere in the world,” Marsden said of the competition for the brightest minds. “This matching grant allows us to say to such brilliant minds, come and work in Ontario in our research institutes and our universities and the research funding will be there.” Marsden said research carried out in Ontario will lead to businesses and jobs in the province that otherwise might locate abroad. “If you don’t get those ideas, and you don’t get that research into the pipeline, you don’t get commercialization out the other end,” she said. “So this is really fundamental and it’s a very, very good announcement for Ontario universities, it’s very welcome indeed.”

Marsden also said, “We’ve been waiting for this,” in a Canadian Press story published Oct. 7 in many regional newspapers in Ontario. Her comments were central in newscasts on CFRB-AM and CBLT-TV in Toronto and CHCH-TV in Hamilton and on Broadcast News Oct. 6.

Moscoe sparks express bus route furor

The dispute between the Toronto Transit Commission and York University over the path of a proposed dedicated bus lane through campus made headlines again Oct. 7 in the Toronto Sun and Toronto Star.

Toronto Transit Commission chairman Howard Moscoe said York is squandering any goodwill when it comes to building a subway line to the campus by objecting to bus transit lanes running through the campus. Ted Spence, senior policy adviser in the president’s office at York, said this is not a simple issue. “We’re not trying to have a war with Councillor Moscoe,” he said. But York is also not interested in having buses roll 1,100 times a day by its classrooms or trimming away its protected wood lot to make way for the lanes as part of the $30-million plan, which will operate for 10 to 15 years until a subway to York is built.

Stadium talk 

The Toronto Argonauts will look northwest for a new home, it seems, wrote sports writer Stephen Brunt in The Globe and Mail Oct. 7. There’s been no announcement as yet in the wake of last week’s shocker, when the University of Toronto bailed on the new Varsity Stadium project. But the fact is, real alternatives are few. The Woodbine racetrack is a non-starter. Exhibition Place comes with all kinds of political strings attached. Left in a lurch, still hoping to be ready for the 2006 Canadian Football League season and the 2007 world youth soccer championship, the Argos and their partner, the Canadian Soccer Association, seem bound for another campus, that of York University.

Don’t ban Ehud Barak, says student leader

In a letter to the Toronto Star Oct. 7, Paul Cooper, president of the York Federation of Students, wrote, “It is disgraceful that Concordia University has decided to prohibit a recognized student group from sponsoring an appearance at the university by former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak.” Cooper said “Concordia’s capitulation – presumably to prevent a riot not unlike that which occurred during the visit by Benjamin Netanahyu two years ago – not only is a repudiation of the university’s traditional role as defender of free speech,” but also “illustrates that riotous groups can achieve their goals of limiting our freedoms” by engaging in violence.

On air

  • Debra Pepler, psychology professor in York University’s Faculty of Arts, talked about bullying and aggressive behaviour in girls with reference to the National Film Board It’s a Girl’s World, on CBC Radio’s “Metro Morning” (Toronto) Oct. 6. She also appeared on CBC Radio’s national program “Ideas” that evening, again discussing bullying among girls.
  • As Thanksgiving approaches, people on diets may be surprised to learn that mass media images of idealized female bodies provide a temporary, but powerful, form of encouragement. York University psychology Professor Jennifer Mills has dubbed the phenomenon the Thinspiration Effect, reported CFTR-AM’s 680 News Oct. 6.