Former Osgoode dean writes on same-sex marriage decision

Peter Hogg, former dean of Osgoode Hall Law School at York, weighed in on the same-sex marriage debate in an opinion piece in The Globe and Mail Dec. 15. An expert on Canadian constitutional law and counsel for the government of Canada in its referral of the issue to the Supreme Court, Hogg said the decision left Parliament several options, all but one of which lead to the same end: legalization of same-sex marriage. Noting that Canada’s Constitution gives Parliament the power to make laws in relation to “marriage and divorce”, Hogg outlined several options open to politicians, including: redefining marriage, holding a referendum, adopting civil unions, reaffirming the traditional definition of marriage, invoking the notwithstanding clause, or doing nothing. Hogg concluded his list of options by pointing out that the Court’s emphasis on religious freedom “is the safeguard that should help to reconcile Canadians to what is, without doubt, a radical change in our laws.”

Hogg, who is also scholar in residence at the Toronto law firm of Blake, Cassels & Graydon, said Parliament’s most obvious option is to enact a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. Holding a referendum would be “expensive and divisive,” he said, and “putting the rights of a minority to the hazard of a popular vote is wrong in principle.”

Judge dismisses libel lawsuit by former Osgoode student

A lawyer who filed a $250,000 libel and slander lawsuit over alleged insults at an Italian social club while he was still an Osgoode student had his claims dismissed by a Superior Court justice, reported CanWest News Service  Dec. 15. Joseph Romano, now a York alumnus (BA ’00, LLB ’02), filed the lawsuit as a third-year Osgoode student in June 2002 against the Minturno Social Club in Woodbridge and its president Vincenzo D’Onofrio because of comments allegedly made seven months earlier at its annual general meeting. Romano alleged that he was not allowed to speak and was told to sit down by D’Onofrio. Romano also claimed D’Onofrio pointed at him and, while speaking in Italian, described the law student as a troublemaker.

In dismissing the claim, Justice Todd Ducharme said a person suing for slander must be “engaged in or about to be engaged in any office, profession, calling, trade or business at the time of the alleged slander.” The incident at the social club occurred more than 19 months before Romano was called to the bar as a lawyer in Ontario. “It is obvious that the plaintiff was not engaged in the profession of law at the time of the alleged slander,” Justice Ducharme ruled, nor was he “about to be engaged in the profession of law.” Justice Ducharme said “there is no genuine issue for trial” on the libel and slander claims and ordered Romano to pay $12,000 in legal fees to the defendants. Romano has until Jan. 3, 2005, to file an appeal.

Descendants of pioneer woman of letters visit York’s archives 

The Daily News of Kamloops, BC, carried a story Dec. 15 about the efforts of descendants of pioneer woman of letters Nellie R. Campbell to publish a book of her letters and articles. The story said her works “resemble the celebrated 19th-century letters of Susanna Moodie and Catharine Parr Traill in that they offer an insight into women’s lives when women were under-represented in other historical records and literature.” Sisters Sandra Hyslop and Pat Klassen visited the Archives & Special Collections at York University to research the book, Lovingly Yours, Nellie, which was published last month. “They thought Nellie was a lot like a Martha Stewart of her time,” said Hyslop’s son Larry.

Pepler appointed to provincial school safety team

The Toronto Star wrote about the Ontario government’s recent appointment of a team of experts to investigate safety measures in the province’s schools. The Dec. 15 article noted the team includes bullying expert Debra Pepler, a psychology professor at York University and head of the Canadian Initiative for the Prevention of Bullying.

‘This is the wrong president’ for the global 20, says Drache

The Toronto Star’s Carol Goar wrote about the prospects for success of Prime Minister Paul Martin’s proposed new council of world nations in a column on Dec. 15. The “L-20”, as it’s known, would include leaders of 20 countries who would meet to tackle global problems. Daniel Drache, associate director of the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies at York University, rated the L-20’s odds of success at 30 per cent with US President George W. Bush in the White House. “It’s not a good time and this is the wrong president,” Drache said.

High school choreographer looks to York

In its coverage of a local high school theatre production on Dec. 15, The Tribune  of Welland, Ont. reported that dance student Sam Vasko hopes to get into the Dance Program at York University upon graduating. Vasko choreographed a hip hop dance number in the production mounted by his school, Port High.

On Air

  • Adam Van Koeverden, gold and bronze medallist at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, spoke about funding for athletes Dec. 15 on CBC-TV’s “Canada Now” in an interview at York’s Training Centre.