Arthurs leads labour standards review

Harry Arthurs, former York University president and former Osgoode Hall Law School dean, has been selected to lead the first major review of federal employment and labour standards in four decades, reported CanWest News Service Dec. 2. The review, announced by Labour Minister Joe Fontana in October, is designed to update Section 3 of the Labour Code, which contains measures relating to everything from minimum wage and hours of work to procedures for dealing with unjust dismissals. Fontana says changes in the workplace, spurred by new technologies, changing demographics and stiffer competition, require changes in labour policy and legislation. He has set a deadline of January 2006 for the commissioner’s recommendations. Arthurs, an officer of the Order of Canada, currently teaches law and political science at Osgoode. He has written extensively on labour and employment law, and has acted as a labour arbitrator and mediator.

Curator helps write Canada’s fashion history

Books on Canadian fashion have been spotty at best, says Alexandra Palmer, editor of Fashion: A Canadian Perspective. “It’s like there has been no history,” she told the Toronto Star in a Dec. 2 story. Palmer is the fashion and costume curator at the Royal Ontario Museum and an adjunct professor in the graduate program in art history at York University. Her first book, Couture & Commerce The Transatlantic Fashion Trade in the 1950s, published in 2001, explores the golden years of haute couture.

Documentary’s all about small-town pride

Small is beautiful. That’s the thrust of Ryan Young‘s documentary on demergers, using the town of Ste. Anne de Bellevue as an example of a community that was better off before it was swallowed by a megacity, reported Montreal’s The Gazette Dec. 2. Young, a film teacher at John Abbott College who is also on the board of directors of the Green Coalition, started shooting his documentary just before the forced Montreal mergers took place in 2001. He had been in Toronto, doing a master’s degree in environmental studies at York University – which he finished in 2004 – and the papers in Toronto were full of stories about how bad the merger there had been, when the news came that the same thing was going to occur in Montreal. “It clearly seemed to be a mistake,” Young said. “In Toronto, local democracy was almost killed, services were privatized and it was just really a bad thing. I couldn’t believe Ste. Anne’s was going to get sucked into the city of Montreal.” But – just like many other former suburbs – Ste. Anne de Bellevue was pulled, kicking and screaming, into the megacity. For a filmmaker like Young, who had grown up in Ste. Anne’s, the drama was too hard to ignore.

Driven entrepreneur steers school bus business to success

Why would anyone consider this highly-regulated, low-growth business as a golden opportunity for an entrepreneurial venture? Marnie Walker, the founder of Toronto-based Student Express not only managed to sell her vision to the big banks and a series of asset lenders, she did it in 1990, when the worst of Canada’s public sector funding cuts were being implemented and Canada hovered on the brink of a nasty economic recession, reported CanWest News Service Dec. 2. In addition to corporate experience, Walker also had the benefit of an MBA. Although her father didn’t believe that girls should be educated, she says she “ran away to university” and became one of just three women in her MBA class at York University. When she graduated in 1975, she was only the ninth woman to do so.

Single design a disadvantage

The National Capital Commission has endorsed a proposal by Claridge Homes to buy 4.4 hectares on LeBreton Flats for $8 million – even though NCC officials said the proposed design for housing lacks “poetry” and will need to be revised, reported the Ottawa Citizen Dec. 2. “The fact that Claridge is the only developer to emerge from a national competition puts them in the driver’s seat and places the NCC at a distinct disadvantage,” said James McKellar, director of the property development program at York’s Schulich School of Business. In 1989, McKellar designed the “agora” concept for the Flats, which the NCC has spent 15 years developing.

National Ballet founding member taught at York

Angela Leigh, a founding member and retired principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada, died Tuesday, reported Canadian Press and Victoria’s Times Colonist Dec. 1 and several other major dailies Dec. 2. Leigh, 78, danced most of the leading roles in the classical and modern repertoires with the National Ballet Company and taught at its school. She helped found York’s Dance Department and taught dance there for four years until 1978.

From journalism wannabe to bigwig director

Bronwen Hughes is a big cheese Hollywood director who laughs at herself, gives her real age, and drives herself to television interviews, reported The Toronto Sun Dec. 2. The Scarborough native, whose films include Forces Of Nature and Harriet The Spy, was in Toronto last week to promote her new movie, Stander. Hughes says her journey to filmmaking began in a roundabout way, in that she actually intended to become a journalist. She took what she thought was a shortcut to that goal by enrolling in film and photography at York University. “Within months, film got its hooks into me,” said the 1985 film grad.

Images so sharp you can ID car model

New Internet-based technology could soon turn computer users into armchair spies, a Toronto inventor says, reported Reuters in a story printed by The Toronto Sun Dec. 2. Vincent Tao, an engineer at York University, said he has invented a mapping and surveillance tool called SAME (see anywhere, map everywhere), that produces images so sharp that geographic coordinates typed into a Web site can reveal the make of a car parked on the street.