All aboard the good ship Argonaut

Reporters can’t mention the Toronto Argonauts these days without linking the Grey Cup winners with York University:

  • “I’ll definitely be back,” veteran quarterback Damon Allen told the Toronto Star Nov. 22 after he led the Argos to the Grey Cup championship with a 27-19 victory over the BC Lions before 51,242 roaring fans at Frank Clair Stadium. “Yes, in Toronto. I want to play in the new stadium.” Based on his performance, said the Star, there’s no doubt he can be at the helm of the Argo offence when the team moves to York University, planned for the start of the 2006 season.
  • Fortunes have changed quickly for the Argos, who basked Tuesday in a victory parade that would have seemed unlikely a few weeks ago and unthinkable about the midpoint of last season, reported The Globe and Mail Nov. 23. As they head into what is to be the Argos’ final season at the SkyDome, the co-owners will have to continue thinking long term in order sustain momentum until they’re ready to move into their cozy new 25,000-seat stadium at York University.
  • Fans awaiting the Argos in Nathan Phillips Square for the Grey Cup victory parade would hear music supplied by Rockingbird Entertainment and see acrobatic routines performed by the York University cheerleaders, reported the Toronto Star Nov. 23.
  • Crystal Stevens, York student and a member of the Argos’ Blue Thunder Dance Team, couldn’t be in Ottawa for the Grey Cup game because of exams, reported the Toronto Star Nov. 21. The first-year kinesiology and health science major planned to take a break from studying for exams to watch the game at home with family and friends. Stevens was on the field for the semifinal thriller against arch-enemy Hamilton Tiger Cats at the SkyDome Nov. 6 and said it’s an experience she’d never forget. “It was our biggest crowd all season and I think that gave them a big boost in confidence,” she said.
  • A new stadium is scheduled to be built at York University in time for the 2006 season. Once that happens, the Argos will make money off every bag of popcorn, every hot dog, and every parking spot sold. Ahh, the joys of ownership, sighed the Edmonton Journal Nov. 21.

Why we shouldn’t treat higher education as a commodity

“One area in which we can quickly do damage to our universities’ reputation is the question of the extent to which we will treat higher education as a commodity no different from the raw materials and manufactured goods we export,” wrote Adrian Shubert, York associate vice-president international, in an opinion piece published Nov. 23 in The Globe and Mail’s online edition. “As governments across Canada refuse to provide sufficient support from tax dollars and are reluctant to increase tuition fees to compensate, they are beginning to turn to students from other countries as an alternative revenue stream.”

Middleton on marketing – and beer ads

For opinions on marketing, who better to turn to than Alan Middleton, marketing professor at York’s Schulich School of Business? Here are his latest bon mots:

  • “If you have so much money invested in hockey as Molson and Labatt [do] it is in your best interest in Canada to keep the connection with the game and to try to keep it at least surfaced in people’s minds,” Middleton told the National Post in a Nov. 23 story about Molson Inc.’s latest television commercial featuring a cast of Average Joes warbling through the Culture Club song Do You Really Want to Hurt Me? “The beer companies need [hockey]. This is the last thing they needed this year coming off a couple years of overall declines, some summers that didn’t quite work for the volumes and a lot of expense as they are spending more money to fight the buck-a-beer people.”
  • “There was in Ontario a very famous advertising campaign that ran in the 1980s called ‘Me and the boys and our 50. Me and the boys and our beer.’ I’m afraid what that campaign did was to not help and probably accelerate the decline of the Labatt 50 brand in Ontario,” Middleton said in a National Post story Nov. 22 about the once-popular beer. “The campaign appeared only in Ontario. Quebecers, fortunately, weren’t subject to it.” Middleton, who was the president of Enterprise Advertising, which created the “Me and the boys and our 50” effort, cautions, however, that Labatt 50’s slide must be seen in the context of the decline of ale and rise of lager. “Canadians have gradually over 20 to 30 years moved to lighter and milder-tasting beers and that has meant that ales have been in long-term decline,” he noted.
  • If people only relied on headlines for their news, they might conclude that 2004 was a banner year for advertising agencies, reported Marketing magazine Nov. 22. But Middleton said 2004 was a mixed year in which national advertisers, especially in packaged goods, held back on advertising to compensate for a sluggish economy. Higher spending in the telecommunications sector, however, made up for the drop in activity. “So it was kind of one step forward and a 95 per cent step back,” he said.

Bay Street didn’t suit aboriginal judge

As a rookie lawyer, Harry LaForme was often drawn to the window of his 67th-floor office in a powerhouse Bay Street firm, an impossibly lofty aerie for one of the first aboriginal lawyers in the country, reported The Globe and Mail Nov. 23 in a profile of the York grad. On a clear day, the young lawyer could make out the distant reserve where he had grown up, sleeping on straw in a converted granary with no power or running water. “I thought I was going to be a big corporate-commercial lawyer and make tons of money,” LaForme recalled, shortly after being appointed to the Ontario Court of Appeal, the first aboriginal appellate judge in Canadian history. But something felt very wrong. “The more I looked, the more I realized that I wasn’t doing what I needed to do,” he said. “I needed to establish an aboriginal law practice,” Entering York’s Osgoode Hall Law School at 27, he felt that he didn’t belong, a feeling that persisted in practice. “It was like you weren’t a real lawyer,” LaForme said. “You had to convince even your own aboriginal clients that you were a real lawyer.

On air

  • Theo Peridis, a policy professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, discussed “poison pills,” defensive measures used by companies in mergers and acquisitions, on Report On Business TV Nov. 22.
  • Dianne Martin, professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, commented on the way police do business following the suicide of a man accused and then cleared of possessing child pornography, on CBC Radio’s “World Report” Nov. 23.
  • CP24-TV interviewed York University fourth-year nursing student Erika Coleman, Nov. 22 about the Great Sleep Out at Toronto city hall, part of two days of events to draw attention to homelessness.
  • Ellen Bialystok, psychology professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, was interviewed about how being fluent in two or more languages can make one’s brain stay alert despite aging, on Rogers TV’s “Omni Culture” Nov. 22.
  • Donald Carveth, psychoanalyst and sociology professor in York’s Glendon Faculty, joined the discussion about a popular Toronto Web site devoted to adultery that might be turned into a reality show, on CBC TV’s “CBC News: Sunday Night” Nov. 21. He said: “TV shows of that sort appeal to the voyeurist in all of us. I think they appeal to sadism in all of us. I mean here we are watching these people humiliate themselves. We will be watching marriages fall apart. We will be watching people in pain. We’ll be watching people making stupid mistakes. And then facing the consequences.” He invoked the fall of Rome. “I guess the phrase that comes to mind is bread and circuses, at the end of the Roman Empire things were falling apart. You provided the masses with bread and circuses and the circuses often involved terrible cruelty.”