Layton’s election ploy not binding, says law dean

Constitutional experts have turned thumbs down on NDP leader Jack Layton’s stab at forcing the minority Liberal government to follow an opposition-imposed timetable for calling the next federal election, reported CanWest News Service in a story published Nov. 10 by the Ottawa Citizen and National Post. Layton announced he wants the three opposition parties to unite behind a motion demanding Martin call an election in early January for a February vote. “The government would be entitled to say this is not binding on us,” said Patrick Monahan, dean of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School. “We don’t know what the sentiment of the House will be in January.” Monahan also said the prime minister always has the upper hand in setting an election date. “The setting of an election date is really a matter for the governor general on the advice of the prime minister,” Monahan said in an interview. “It’s not a matter for the House. The House will vote confidence or not.”

Laptops changing life for students

Teaching assistant Hanna Cho knows that all those students with laptops clattering away during lectures at York University aren’t religiously taking notes, reported the Toronto Star Nov. 10 in a story about wireless communication. “They have instant messenger and chat with friends in class and outside, setting up plans to meet later,” says Cho, 25, a master’s student in the joint Ryerson-York Communication & Culture Program. Her thesis explores the social impact of WiFi [wireless fidelity] networks and how they affect civic participation and bind communities. “No one passes notes in class anymore because it’s all wireless,” she says. York and Ryerson, like most Ontario university and college campuses, are WiFi hotspots, meaning anyone with a laptop, handheld PDA or mobile phone can lock onto a signal and gain Internet access. “Being untethered is refreshing,” says Cho. “It draws people out of rooms and into public spaces. At York, we’re outside with our laptops on the grass. I don’t have to be in the library or locked in my room simply because I need the Net to work.”

UVic opens soccer championship against York

The UVic Vikes women’s soccer team opened the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship Thursday against York University at Edmonton, reported the Times Colonist Nov. 10 in Victoria, BC. “This is the first time that York has made it to the CIS championships. They won the Ontario playoffs and they beat a very strong Ottawa team,” said Vikes’ coach Tracy David. “York is coached by former national team player Paul James and I expect that they will be very organized, disciplined and very fit.”

PM ‘accessible’ at Jane-Finch stop

Toronto is getting $1.9 million in federal job-training money to help prevent gun violence, one in a range of anti-crime initiatives touted by Prime Minister Paul Martin during a campaign-style stop in the Jane and Finch area Wednesday, reported the Toronto Star Nov. 10. Martin and Mayor David Miller made the announcement at the Driftwood Community Centre, in the heart of one of the city’s highest crime areas. York University political science student Troy Logan, 22, said, “Seeing the PM on TV is one thing, but seeing him in Jane-Finch says he’s accessible.”

Grade 9er checks out York U

“My mom is getting her teacher’s degree at York, so on Take Your Kids To Work Day [Nov. 2], I went with her to a three-hour ‘teaching math’ class,” wrote Maggie Clark, a Grade 9 student from Richmond Hill, in a guest column in the Toronto Star Nov. 10. “I thought it would be really hard stuff, but it was kinda funny because all these adults were sitting at computers learning how to use Geometer’s Sketch Pad and working with spreadsheets on Microsoft Excel, both of which I already know. But I’ve seen the homework my mom gets, so I know it’s not all that easy.

“The first thing I noticed was that university is a hundred times bigger. York is like its own little city. Aside from dozens of different buildings that classes are held in, there are ponds and fields and apartments (residences). There are tennis courts, a swimming pool and skating rinks. If you have one class in one building and your next class is across campus, it can take you 15 minutes to walk there. And the number of students is something I’m not used to. York has almost 50,000 students!”

On air

  • Debra Pepler, psychology professor in York’s Faculty of Arts and a founding member of the Canadian Initiative for the Prevention of Bullying, was interviewed about schoolyard bullying and a new policy of intervention at Winnipeg schools, on CBC Radio’s call-in show “Info Radio” in Winnipeg Nov. 9.
  • Scott Fielder, who teaches chemistry in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, explained the science of food and fibre and how high fibre drinks help your gastrointestinal system function, on TVO’s “More to Life” Nov. 9.
  • Shamini Selvaratnam, a York sociology student, discussed student debt, in an item aired on CBC Radio’s “Mainstreet” in Charlottetown Nov. 9.