Karen Kain ‘best person’ for job of artistic director, says prof

Karen Kain, the country’s best-known and arguably best-loved ballerina, was named artistic director of the National Ballet of Canada, reported The Globe and Mail June 23. Kain, 54, succeeds James Kudelka. For seven years, she has been the company’s artistic associate under Kudelka, who resigned last month. Penelope Reed Doob, Chair of York University’s Dance Department and co-author of Kain’s 1998 autobiography, Movement Never Lies, said: “Karen is the best person anywhere in the world for the job. She’s had six or seven years as apprentice to James and she’s come through it brilliantly. And I’m factoring in her international clout, of which she has a huge amount.” Reed Doob, who was consulted by the National Ballet’s search committee, said that in addition to her knowledge of dance, Kain excels “as a diplomat, as a politician, as a kind person who knows how to make tough decisions.”

Toronto’s ward mentality could derail subway, says York administrator

Ted Spence, York University senior policy adviser, says a subway extension to the York campus will never happen if city councillors are preoccupied with their wards, reported the Toronto Star June 23. Spence was one of 80 participants at the Strong Toronto, Strong Ontario forum at Mitchell Field Community Centre in Willowdale Wednesday night. But that’s what the current system of one councillor, one vote encourages, said communications consultant Howard Brown. Seated at tables of 10, they were tackling the dilemma of how a strong Toronto needs both strong neighbourhoods and a strong regional vision.

Spadina extension a costly luxury for the very few

Following the release of retired judge Edward Saunders’s report about the propriety of York’s sale of land to Tribute Communities, Globe and Mail columnist John Barber wrote June 23 that it’s time to usher the real York University scandal into the limelight. Toronto Transit Commission Chair Howard Moscoe puts it in a nutshell: “York had a grandiose secondary plan that called for high-rise development, and that was the justification for the subway. Now they’ve responded to the market, built the low-rise development and still expect the province to kick in the subway. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”

In cities that work, argued Barber, both private and public enterprise make subways pay by capturing revenue from intensive real-estate development along the line. The “string of pearls” visible along the original Yonge line – concentrations of high-rise development at each of the original stations — proves that Toronto once knew what it was doing. Today, however, retrograde politics and short-sighted decision-making – a “village” at York, a grotty “park” on an army base crying out for intensification – forecloses that style of revenue-producing growth even before any new lines are built. Like the ill-fated Sheppard line, the Spadina extension will provide luxury service to the very few, at massive expense to the many, ignoring the needs of the city.

Top court to hear same-sex benefits case

The Supreme Court of Canada was poised to announce Thursday if it would hear a far-reaching case on whether the government of Canada must pay Canada Pension Plan survivor benefits to gay men and lesbians retroactive to 1985 when the Charter of Rights and Freedom’s guarantee of equality came into force, reported CanWest News Service June 23. Bruce Ryder, a professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, said the government is arguing against “conventional legal wisdom” that Charter remedies become available at the same time that Charter rights arise. The effect of an earlier Ontario Appeal Court decision “deprives the same-sex couples who initiated the litigation of full equality,” he said. The appeal court agreed their equality rights were unjustifiably infringed by the denial of CPP survivor benefits, but the ruling effectively restricts many of them to collecting less than the full amount of pension arrears.

We spend more time watching videos than reading books

University student Ivan Mulkeen spends most of his leisure time playing video games and watching DVDs, and less time indulging in more traditional forms of entertainment like reading books, reported the Toronto Star June 23. “I can play a game 20 or 30 hours a week, while I can read a book in a day,” said Mulkeen, who is completing his undergraduate studies at York University. “The thing games try to tout is their replayability. There are few books that I want to read again.” Mulkeen’s entertainment habits put a human face on the results of a study made public Wednesday by global consultant PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP that found Canadians increasingly spending more of their disposable income on video games, the Internet and movies – and less on traditional forms of entertainment such as sporting events and magazines.

Schulich gives $25 million to Calgary’s engineering school

A record $25-million donation Wednesday to the University of Calgary marks the first time Alberta taxpayers have matched a multimillion-dollar gift to one of the province’s cash-strapped post-secondary institutions, reported the Calgary Herald June 23. For the faculty of engineering, that donation, made by Ontario philanthropist and York University benefactor Seymour Schulich, amounts to a $50-million bonanza – which will be spent on more than 100 new scholarships and three research chairs.

On air

  • Stuart Shanker, distinguished research professor of psychology and philosophy at York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, was interviewed about his theory of how children learn to think and how it can help those with autism, on CTV-affiliate news programs in Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury and North Bay June 22.