Universities condemn hate flyers planted on campuses

Police have been called in to investigate after all three Toronto universities found hundreds of anti-Semitic pamphlets on their campuses this week, reported The Globe and Mail Nov. 5. The brochures, titled Jewish Supremacism Unmasked, were inserted into library books or sitting on library shelves at Ryerson University, York University and all three University of Toronto campuses. The pamphlets were discovered as the United Jewish Communities General Assembly prepares to hold its annual meeting in Toronto next Friday through Nov. 15. University officials quickly denounced the material, saying they believe the pamphlets have links to US-based white-supremacist organizations.

At York, where hundreds of the pamphlets were inserted into books at the Scott Library, administrators said that such virulent anti-Semitic pamphlets are not welcome. “Our University is a place of higher learning where the free and open expression of opinions is encouraged and where diversity is an asset,” said Rob Tiffin, York vice-president students. “This material does nothing to promote enlightened thinking and mutual understanding. Instead, it attempts to foster prejudice and animosity toward an identifiable community.”

News of the investigation into the anti-Semitic pamphlets, carried by Canadian Press, was published in major Toronto and regional newspapers across Canada over the weekend. It also made headlines on radio and television news programs in Toronto.

Repairs on Finch will take to May

Motorists will have to wait until May before Finch Avenue at Sentinel Road is fully operational, city staff said Thursday night at a community meeting hosted by the York University Development Corp., reported the North York Mirror Nov. 6. But one lane of traffic in each direction and sidewalk installment on the north side of Finch Avenue is expected to be accessible by Dec. 31, with full roadway access by May 31. A chunk of the roadway on Finch Avenue, near Sentinel Road, was washed out during the Aug. 19 rainstorm that turned many parts of the city into swimming pools.

Secret military trials more prevalent post-9/11, says prof

York University political science Prof. Daniel Drache said secret trials and proceedings are becoming more common in Canada following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the US, reported CanWest News Service in a story published Nov. 7 in the Ottawa Citizen and Edmonton Journal. Members of the legal community are also becoming more vocal against such tactics, he added. “These are very unpopular with lawyers and judges themselves because those people are compromised in their role,” Drache said. His comments followed news that the federal government and the Defence Department have gone to court to force the top military judge to take part in a court martial to which she has refused to assign a judges because it is secret.

Book prize juries face bias and the subjective nature of literature

“Literary prizes bring joy to their winners and public attention to Canadian books. But there is a dark side for writers and jurors that remains hidden behind the media hoopla and glittery dinners,” wrote novelist and York humanities Prof. Susan Swan in an opinion piece published Nov. 5 in the Ottawa Citizen, three days before the Giller Prize was to be announced. “Prizes were designed with the worthy goal of rewarding good books,” she wrote. “All the same, every year worthwhile novels are left off the prize lists.” She asks: “Is it because Canadian jurors are nasty and stupid, confirming the darkest fantasies of suspicious authors? Or simply corrupt the way literary juries are in some other countries? Of course not, even though every literary jury has its own legitimate literary biases. These biases can include friendships with authors of the books they are judging. Navigating the judging of a friend’s work depends on the character of the juror. In my experience, some jurors can be scrupulously honest while others shamelessly put their friend’s work forward without acknowledging the relationship. That aside, most jurors work very hard to support their choices and all of them come with a particular literary sensibility. It’s this subjectivity of taste and the breadth and depth of Canadian writing that make it impossible for any jury to pick a definitive list.”

Kicking kids out may discriminate

The suspension and expulsion rates of schools boards across Ontario will be released this winter, Education Minister Gerard Kennedy said Friday, reported The Toronto Sun Nov. 6. Initial data shows the Safe Schools Act has been unfair to students with learning disabilities, the minister suggested after addressing the third annual People For Education conference at York University.  Kennedy is no fan of the Safe Schools Act, and describes it as an “incomplete thought” that is “too simplistic.” Introduced in 2000 by then education minister Janet Ecker, the act requires automatic suspensions and expulsions for offences falling anywhere between uttering threats and assaulting fellow students or teachers. CFRB also reported Kennedy’s comments in its Nov. 5 news broadcasts.

In other conference coverage, the Sun reported that economist Yvan Guillemette criticized the Ontario government for spending millions to reduce the number of students per class in elementary schools, and said the money could be better spent. 

Canada’s poverty rate ‘strikingly high’, says prof

Canada’s image as a just and progressive nation continues to be tarnished by a growing disparity between rich and poor,  a conference addressing the needs of Greater Sudbury’s working poor was told, reported the Sudbury Star Nov. 5. “People are stunned when they discover that we have one of the highest poverty rates in any developed country – strikingly high,” said Dennis Raphael, professor in York’s Atkiinson School of Health Policy & Management. “We have one of the lowest replacement earnings – the actual percentage of your income you receive when you get laid off,” he continued. “And Canada is one of the lowest spenders among developed countries on disability supports – even lower than the US.” A number of European countries, including the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany, far outstrip Canada when it comes to policies that help eliminate poverty, he said. Raphael was also interviewed for a news item that aired on “Evening News” on CHBX-TV in Sault Ste. Marie.

York would house athletes if York Region hosts Games

York Region’s bid to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games includes a proposal to locate the athletes’ village at York University, reported The Daily News in Halifax Nov. 5. Halifax, Hamilton, Ottawa and York Region made bids last week to host the games in Canada. Glasgow, Scotland and Abuja, Nigeria, are also vying for the games. The announcement of which city will host is still two years away.

Arthurs reviews labour code

A federal commission headed by recently retired York law Professor Harry Arthurs is looking into Part III of the Canada Labour Code to identify rights and protections of federally regulated workers that are long outdated, reported the Ottawa Citizen Nov. 5 in a series about the non-standard workforce. This part of the labour code has barely been touched since it was designed in 1965 around the model of the dwindling full-time, permanent job. Arthurs is a professor emeritus and former dean of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School and former president of York. He has worked as a labour arbitrator and mediator, was the first adjudicator in the federal public service, and has written about labour and employment law and globalization.

In the same series, the Citizen cited a York study that says while self-employment has the ring of entrepreneurship, many self-employed are simply individuals who work for one company without benefits and protections. It says one in four self-employed people earns less than $20,000 annually. The study cites a finding by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that Canada is among the countries where self-employment status is sometimes “little more than a device to reduce total taxes paid by the firms and the workers involved.”

Law dean fought ban on private insurance

The Supreme Court’s controversial decision taking aim at medicare did not occur in a vacuum, began the Toronto Star’s Thomas Walkom in his Nov. 5 column about the key players. The context was a rumbling unease among Canadians about surgical waiting lists. The proximate cause was plaintiff and physician Jacques Chaoulli, an anti-medicare gadfly whose periodic attempts to battle public health insurance had, until this point, never borne fruit. But the top court’s decision this summer – which critics say could undermine the foundations of medicare and fans say was long overdue – relied on the efforts of three people well skilled in the political arts. They are the unsung heroes – or villains, if you prefer – of the Chaoulli decision. Liberal Senator Michael Kirby is the central figure. At his side are Patrick Monahan and Stanley Hartt. Now York’s Osgoode Hall Law School dean, Monahan was one of former Ontario Liberal premier David Peterson’s top legal advisers in the ‘90s, during the so-called Meech Lake attempts to amend Canada’s Constitution.

Brands: what a concept

“There must have been more books published on brands and branding in the last decade than any other topic in marketing,” wrote Alan Middleton, marketing professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, in Marketing Magazine’s FourThought column Nov. 7. “And yet this remains one of the most misunderstood concepts in marketing. Why?” He said most of the books “still use packaged goods as the majority of the examples” and “questionable research,” and “none have reached out beyond the narrow confines of traditional marketing thinking to view brands when they carry the corporate name and reputation and need to appeal to several different stakeholder groups.” He wrote: “I still see marketing executives develop brand plans that ignore employee and supplier communication and training, do not consider the impact of decisions on all stakeholders, and do not execute an effective alignment of the marketing mix behind the agreed brand positioning.”

So, how do you spell Einstein?

At age 3, Chen Kupperman pointed up to a street sign outside his home in Haifa, Israel, and told his father – correctly it turned out – that it was spelled wrong. Translated from the erroneous Hebrew, the name of that street was Einstein, reported the Toronto Star Nov. 5 in a profile of the second-year York student. Unlike the famed German physicist, who was generally thought to be slow as a child, Kupperman’s genius has been apparent ever since. And at age 14, when most kids are trying to master Grade 9 arithmetic, the smooth-faced cherub is sailing through number theory, calculus of several variables and Coxeter groups as a third-year mathematics major at York University. As far as York can tell, he’s the youngest student on campus.

MBA team ranks eighth in portfolio competition

October was an ugly month for Canadian equity markets, and many of the young teams in the Financial Post’s MBA Portfolio Management Competition bore the full brunt of the bearish mauling, reported the National Post Nov. 7. This contest is about producing the best return with the lowest risk. Team Schulich may have sat on cash for the first month of the competition, but they’ve taken to equities in a big way in November: Rather than concentrating on a few choice picks, this team has diversified among a whopping 29 different stocks. In October its eighth-place-ranked portfolio was worth $1,001,086 with a return of +0.11 per cent.

Argos’ third-string tailback puts on a show

The Trevis Smith debacle has kept one of the feel-good stories of the year in the Canadian Football League mostly under wraps, reported The Edmonton Sun Nov. 7. With football reporters across the country following Smith and his HIV story, Jeff Johnson‘s fabulous tale has been ignored outside of Toronto. In the last 10 quarters, the Canadian running back has put on quite a show for the Argos. He has amassed nearly 160 rushing yards, 272 receiving yards and three touchdowns. In four years, the 28-year-old York University grad (BA ’02 in kinesiology) has watched his career come full circle, thanks to injuries to John Avery and Sean Millington. The question is: Will Toronto coach Pinball Clemons hand the ball back to a healthy Avery when he returns for the East final in two weeks or stay with Johnson?

On air

  • Bernie Wolf, international business professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, discussed engaging China, on CBC Radio’s “Metro Morning” Nov. 4.
  • York’s Schulich School of Business got honorable mention in Maclean’s magazine university ratings, reported 680 News in Toronto Nov. 6.
  • Ibrahim Hamid Badr, a French studies professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, discussed the roots of violence in a Paris suburb, on CBC Newsworld’s morning news Nov. 4.
  • Sociologist Patricia McDermott, a professor in York’s School of Women’s Studies, discussed what it means to be a feminist today, on TVO’s “More to Life” Nov. 4.