White male candidates predominate in GTA

The federal Liberals, long identified with new Canadians, trail the NDP and Conservatives in fielding candidates from visible minorities in Greater Toronto, reported the Toronto Star Jan. 4. Among 135 major-party candidates vying for 45 federal ridings, the Conservatives tie the NDP with 10 visible-minority candidates. The Liberals are running six. If the white-male domination of Canadian politics is to yield to a field more representative of the Canadian population – in Greater Toronto four in 10 are visible minorities, according to StatsCan – it must start at the community level, says Fred Fletcher, a political science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts. “It depends whether the visible minorities are well organized in particular ridings so that they can take control of riding associations,” he said. “Because the process is pretty open, only a small proportion of candidates are selected by the national party. They’re almost all selected at the local level. So that’s why these factors are important.”

Fletcher, who worked on the recent Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing, says it also takes a certain kind of person to venture into politics. “The vast majority of women that I’ve talked to, and also a lot of men too, don’t like the atmosphere in Parliament,” Fletcher says. “I met with quite a number of pretty tough, pretty experienced women politicians when I was working for the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform – even people like Deborah Grey – who disliked the heckling and the nasty atmosphere in the House. A lot of men don’t like it, either.”

Student plays Dudley George’s sister in Ipperwash film

Airing on CTV Jan. 4, One Dead Indian takes viewers behind the headlines of the Ipperwash crisis as it probes the circumstances surrounding native protester Dudley George’s death 10 years ago, reported The Edmonton Sun Jan. 3, in a story echoed in The Globe and Mail Jan. 4. “Most people don’t understand what happened in 1995,” said York graduate film student Pamela Matthews, who portrays Dudley’s sister Carolyn in the made-for-TV movie. “A lot of people in the rest of Canada don’t understand it was a legitimate land claim.” While many of the actors met members of the George family during a set visit, Matthews has an even deeper connection to the setting, people and story of Ipperwash. “When I was a kid, my dad was the resident doctor at the Camp Ipperwash. Of course, back then we had no idea this land dispute was going on,” said Matthews. But during that fateful 1995 Labour Day weekend, she met and chatted with Dudley and other protesters along the beach. A few days later Matthews heard Dudley was dead. “I just hope people will watch the movie and understand the situation,” said Matthews, who is filming a documentary on Dudley as part of her master’s degree at York.

Hair cast includes former York student

CanStage is expected to officially announce today the casting for its final production of the year, “the tribal love rock musical” Hair, which is scheduled to open at the Bluma Appel Theatre on March 30, reported the Toronto Star Jan. 4. Craig Burnatowski will play Berger, devoted to sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll in all their forms. Burnatowski studied theatre at York from 1997 to 2001 and his credits include appearances on “Queer as Folk” and “Missing”. More than 600 performers auditioned for the 20 roles available.

Media coverage of Black a “witchhunt”, says lawyer

Eddie Greenspan has represented some big names in more than 35 years of law – including Garth Drabinsky, Gerald Regan and Robert Latimer – but said he has never witnessed anything like the fury that goes with defending Lord Conrad Black, who has been charged in the United States with racketeering and fraud, reported The Toronto Sun Jan. 3. “He can’t get a fair shake from a single writer,” said the 61-year-old, who graduated in 1968 from York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, where he and Black met. [Black dropped out after a year.] Greenspan called the media coverage a “witchhunt”.

Negative election ads risky, says prof

The Conservative decision to come out swinging first this week with a new TV ad exploiting the Liberal sponsorship scandal is a calculated risk the Liberals will almost certainly counter well before the Jan. 23 vote, says an advertising expert, reported Canadian Press in a story published Jan. 4 in the Ottawa Citizen. Historically, negative ads are risky because they serve to shore up existing support, not necessarily woo new votes, said Alan Middleton, a professor of marketing at York’s Schulich School of Business. The Conservatives face the challenge of switching gears in the middle of a campaign that, so far, media and political observers alike have largely described as policy-driven and gaffe-free. “I’m intrigued by this timing to go on the attack,” Middleton said. “I think they’ve decided just going on their record and what they stand for may not be enough to get them over the hump – which is a majority of people saying, ‘OK, let’s give the Conservatives a chance’ – so they have to worry people about the current incumbent.”

Goodale must resign, says lecturer

“The Liberal party’s finance ministers must go to school. They desperately need courses on Public Accountability 101, Ethics 101 and Canadian Voters Are Not That Gullible 101,” wrote Pastor Valle-Garay, a Spanish-language lecturer with York’s Faculty of Arts, in a letter published in the Toronto Star Jan. 4. “Only a thorough education would enable Ralph Goodale to learn that Canadian taxpayers are not so stupidly naive as to believe that Prime Minister Paul Martin was unaware of the final position taken by his government on the income trust controversy,” he wrote. “Following in Martin’s footsteps, Goodale now claims that finance ministers do not tell their prime ministers how the public purse is disbursed,” Valle-Garay argued. Goodale must resign, Valle-Garay concluded.

Also on Goodale:

  • The Toronto Star asked: What if the investors simply heard that an announcement was coming, with no details? Would anything be wrong with that? Allan Hutchinson, associate dean at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, said it was bad that word of the announcement only got to selected quarters. But investors would still have had to gamble on the precise details.

Lawyers doubt tougher bail rules

Prime Minister Paul Martin’s proposal to keep individuals charged with gun offences locked up under so-called “reverse onus” bail rules has sparked a sharp debate among lawyers and civil libertarians, reported the Toronto Star Jan. 3. Martin’s promise would see those charged with gun offences imprisoned without bail unless they show why they should be released. The proposal is at best “a short-term solution,” said Alan Young, a criminal law professor and passionate defender of civil rights who teaches at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School. “Something has to be done in the short term, because we have created a panic in our community,” he said. But a more effective solution, Young said, would include education and school programs that give troubled youngsters between the ages of 10 and 13 alternatives to gang behaviour.

Young wasn’t the only lawyer with doubts. Criminal lawyer Clayton Ruby (BA ’63) said “reverse onuses don’t generally make a lot of difference” because judges tend to take into account the circumstances of the alleged offence and the accused. “It sounds good, which makes for good politics, but it doesn’t make much difference,” Ruby said.

Criminal lawyer Steven Skurka, an adjunct law professor at Osgoode, also had some advice for Martin yesterday as the public controversy over the proposed measure intensified. “Don’t rush,” Skurka said. “This measure could have significant impact,” he added. “It could lead to more people being detained in custody before their trial is heard and the issue of their guilt or innocence is decided.”

  • Young was also interviewed on ways to tackle the Toronto gun crisis, in a clip aired on “AM640 Morning News” Jan. 4 and “The Stafford Show” Jan. 3 on CFMJ-AM in Toronto. And he commented on the justice system and presumption of innocence in light of a carjacking involving a Toronto Maple Leaf fan, on “Global News” Dec. 30.

Retirement doesn’t slow down Canada’s top judges

Of the 13 former justices of the Supreme Court, about half appear to be as busy, or busier, in retirement than they were when they were on the bench, reported The Globe and Mail Jan. 4. Few former judges have been as busy as Peter Cory, now 80, who retired in 1999 after a decade on the Supreme Court. Upon leaving the court, “I thought I’d do a little teaching and pontificating,” Cory said, but it hasn’t quite worked out that way. He has chaired a review of the auditing of Ontario’s medical system, acted as an arbitrator of pension surpluses in the Nova Scotia mining industry, he sits on Ottawa’s DNA data bank advisory committee, and he conducted a public inquiry into the wrongful conviction of Thomas Sophonow in Manitoba. On his plate now is an arbitration over the ownership of treasured artworks at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton, and a job as a “fairness monitor” for the building of a new civic centre in the city of Vaughan, north of Toronto. He is also chancellor of Toronto’s York University.

York student signs four-year deal with Argos

Chad Folk has sentenced himself to a life as an Argonaut, reported the Toronto Star Jan. 4. The 33-year-old centre re-signed for another four seasons Tuesday to all but ensure that he’ll spend his entire CFL career with the Boatmen. He was one of nine Argos who had played out their options during the 2005 season and he would have been eligible for free agency Feb. 23. Folk, who is studying for his bachelor of education degree at York, said he is pleased to know he will be able to finish his career as an Argonaut.

On air

  • Moshe Milevsky, a finance professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, was interviewed about the surge in gold and oil prices that pushed the Toronto stock market’s main index to an all-time record high Tuesday, on CKLW-AM’s “Windsor Now” Jan. 3.