Firms that offer permanent jobs have a hiring advantage

Patrice Gélinas, an administrative studies professor at York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, agrees that employers hoping to attract and retain the best employees in a tightening labour market should “offer them an option – not another stock option, but the option to remain employed with the company in the future,” reported The Globe and Mail in a Career Coach column about job security Jan. 14.

While some high performers are comfortable with free-agent status, confident that they can always find work, “job security might be more attractive when you have a superstar who wants to settle down, raise a family and make sure all the children go to the same high school,” says Gélinas, who recently published a paper on the subject. Gélinas says employees – especially younger ones who have seen their parents laid off after years of loyal service – are starting to demand more commitment from their employers.

Think Twice campaign leery of Harper win

In a conference room at the Royal York hotel Friday, a group of established social activists implored the public to “Think Twice” before electing Stephen Harper and fiercely defended their right to second guess a voting public that seems to be shifting its support toward a Conservative government, reported the National Post Jan. 14. A Tory government, said Barbara Cameron, a political science professor at York’s School of Social Sciences, would be able to “hobble permanently the capacity of the federal government to act for the social welfare of Canadians.”

Cameron, reported Christie Blatchford in her Globe and Mail story Jan. 14 on the news conference, offered to “decode” what the Conservatives are saying. “If you know how to read [between the lines], you can decode what’s going on,” Cameron said. “There’s a real danger that by punishing the incumbent government, Canadians are punishing themselves.”

Liberals could still steal the election

Despite the Liberal setbacks, there’s still an opportunity for the Grits to steal the election, says Daniel Drache, political scientist at York, reported the Calgary Herald Jan. 15, a week before voting day. The public is still deciding between the lesser of two evils – Liberal malaise or Tory distrust, he said. “Harper must use the language of the centre to get elected,” Drache said. Martin has to sell the differing visions and social values between the Grits and Tories, and eliminate his party’s gaffes in the homestretch if he is to remain prime minister, he said. The Tories have been able to “turn the corner” and appear ready for a breakthrough in seat-rich Ontario. However, their support may be plateauing and could be difficult to maintain over the final week, he said. NDP Leader Jack Layton has run an effective campaign, Drache added, but is in “a deep quandary” as soft supporters decide whether to send their votes to the Liberals.

Voting is huge privilege, says law student

Outside Milton Chan‘s office door hangs a photo of one of the most defining moments of the last century, reported the Toronto Star Jan. 14. It is of a young man standing in front of a row of advancing tanks – an instantly recognizable image from the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. At the top of the picture is written “He wanted to vote; the army brought in tanks to stop him. What’s your excuse?” Seated in his office, from where he runs ground operations for Liberal candidate Michael Ignatieff’s campaign in Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Chan explains he was only 10 when that picture was snapped. But that image, and others of the military rolling in to crush the Beijing uprising, left an indelible mark on him. “Those university students were willing to give up their lives for the right to vote,” says the 26-year-old York law student, who’s also vice-president of policy for the Young Liberals of Canada. “We take democracy for granted. It’s a huge privilege to be able to vote for government without fear.”

York students gain polling station

Elections Canada has agreed to set up a polling station at York University for this month’s federal election, reversing an earlier decision that outraged students at the country’s third largest university, reported Jan. 16 based on Jan. 13 broadcasts on “Metro Morning” and “CBC News at Six”. In past federal elections, York students have had the option of voting on campus, as have their peers at Ryerson University and the University of Toronto. So they were taken by surprise when Elections Canada said it would not set up a polling station for the Jan. 23 vote in this campaign. Instead, students who live on campus were told they would have to make a 20-minute trip to a polling station at a nearby school.

Students said the decision to deny them a polling station flew in the face of Election Canada’s stated goal of increasing the number of young people who cast ballots. “It’s a no-brainer that at the [largest] university campus in Canada you have a polling station,” said York political science PhD student Travis Fast. “We’re talking 35,000–40,000 students.” Late Thursday, Elections Canada had a change of heart and announced that there will be a polling station at York.

The news was also broadcast on CFTR-FM’s “680 News” on and CHUM-FM’s “News” Jan. 13 in Toronto.

New military hotline makes sense

Canada is installing a hotline that will allow military brass and politicians to talk with their American counterparts during a time of war or in any other crisis, reported the Ottawa Citizen Jan. 14. Martin Shadwick, a defence analyst with York’s Centre for International & Security Studies, said such a system makes sense in that Canada and the US share a common goal in protecting North America. He noted that similar communications systems existed during the Cold War.

All signs point to more violence in Toronto

Last year there were 52 gun deaths in Toronto, nearly double the number in 2004. Income inequality is only one part of the complex web of factors that lead to increased violent crime, reported the Toronto Star Jan. 15. Looking at other predictors – poverty, inadequate housing, school failure, fatherless children – it is reasonable to think that Toronto could see the murder rate continue to rise. “Things started going to hell in Toronto in the early ’90s,” says Dennis Raphael, professor at York’s School of Health Policy & Management and one of Canada’s leading researchers on the links between living conditions and health. “We’re certainly not on top of this wave and coming down. If anything, thinking of the social policy environment, it’s beginning,” he says.

Lawyer ready to fight for black teens in trouble

Selwyn Pieters, a 38-year-old Toronto lawyer known for speaking up, was en route to Mississauga to help a pair of black teens facing suspensions from high school for a play-fight that got out of hand, reported The Globe and Mail in its People & Places column Jan. 14. In less than two hours, the York grad had brokered a deal with school board officials to quash the suspensions and divert the boys to an “alternate discussion” of their misdeeds.

When Pieters has a problem, it’s wise to expect a fight, said the Globe. Long before he was called to the bar last year, Pieters, a hulking but soft-spoken man, had earned a name as an eager legal swordsman on his own behalf, filing discrimination complaints and lawsuits against an array of institutions. When every law school in Ontario rejected him, Pieters complained to the province’s human rights commission, arguing the University of Toronto gave too much weight to his low LSAT entrance exam scores. In the meantime, York’s Osgoode Hall Law School reconsidered and admitted him in 2000, but when the rights commission rejected his complaint, he was not content to let it go. He took it to Ontario Superior Court and lost, then lost again at the Ontario Court of Appeal. If winning in court had been his only objective, Pieters might have felt like a failure, but it wasn’t. Win or lose, he made his point. 

Since he opened his practice last February, race has been at the fore of most of Pieters’ cases, from police officers’ workplace complaints, to racial profiling claims against the same police force. This month, he filed suit on behalf of his friend and fellow lawyer, Jason Bogle (LLB ’04), who was surrounded and questioned by police while sitting in his car three days after the shooting of Jane Creba, 15, on Boxing Day.


Observers say iPod’s perceived coolness is its biggest success-factor, reported the Toronto Star Jan. 15. For example, singers Kanye West and Madonna participated in the launch of the Nano this fall. Levi Strauss & Co. last week announced it is launching jeans designed for the iPod, electronics-maker Bose Corp. offers audio attachments supported by iPods, and designers such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci offer luxury iPod cases. “(Others) want success by association,” explains Ashwin Joshi, a marketing professor at York’s Schulich School of Business.

Drama queen tells Canadian stories

Life is not entirely a Beach for Kim Todd, reported the Winnipeg Free Press Jan. 15 in a profile of the founder of Original Pictures, which co-produces the TV series Falcon Beach. The York grad is also planning a mini-series titled The Last Kozak, another story drawn from the city’s unique history, given that its backdrop will be the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike. Todd is arguably the most successful producer in town, but that success has been hard won. In the prevailing winds of Canadian film/TV culture, drama is considered a dying art and reality/lifestyle TV rules the day. Those winds blow as strong as the ones that pummel the intersection below Original Pictures’ windows at Portage and Main. But at 5-foot-4, Todd stands tall against them, fighting the good fight by her sheer insistence that Canadian stories are worth telling. Todd, who earned a BA in English in 1977, studied creative writing under the recently deceased poet Irving Layton, among others. (“He wasn’t always a great poet,” Todd says. “And he was a lech. But he was a great teacher. He taught with passion.”)

War on terrorism art

Directly in front of the United States consulate, activist artist Dick Averns affixed an official-looking green street sign to a prominent traffic pole, declaring it to be Ambivalence Boulevard, reported the Toronto Star Jan. 15. Averns calls himself the “unofficial war artist of the war on terrorism.” His work is part of “Art + Activism,” an exhibition at the YYZ Gallery which also features art activism from the past. “The show functions on a level beyond provocation,” Nancy Nicol said. “There are lessons to be learned from the movements of the past. A show like this helps bridge that gap,” said Nicol. Her documentary Stand Together, about the history of the gay rights movement, is part of the exhibition. Nicol, a professor in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, teaches a class on art activism. The best of it, she said, is not clearly defined. “Under the mantle of activist art, you have everything from very isolated individual gestures to people who are engaged with huge social issues and actions. It’s all right for it not to be clearly one or the other; it resides between the boundaries.”

Why some athletes just don’t know when to quit

The comeback. It seems sometimes that no elite athlete’s career is complete without at least one, reported The Toronto Sun Jan. 16 in the wake of the return of tennis star Martina Hingis. “The environment of sport is very clear-cut,” said Hernan Humana, who teaches sociology at York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science. Explaining the difficulties athletes have when letting go of their games, he said, “In sports, you either win or lose. In real life the lines are not so clear. Life is very uncertain. Athletics have an outcome right away: Officials blow the whistle. You win, you lose. Real life doesn’t come with a scoreboard.” One of the reasons professional athletes make comebacks: “Sometimes, if they retire because of injuries” Humana said, “athletes come back to prove something they didn’t quite accomplish the first time, although I don’t think that’s the case with Martina because she is someone who has already won almost everything in her sport. But, a comeback can bring closure. Some feel they need to close the cycle.”

Family stuck with nomadic Pat Quinn

Pat Quinn, head coach of the Maple Leafs, has moved around during his hockey career as a player, coach and general manager, reported The Toronto Sun in a Jan. 15 profile focusing on the York grad’s family life. “The family followed me right from Day 1, even when I was at school. I worked on my credits and wound up at York University in the end.” [He earned a BA in economics in 1972.]

On air

  • John Greyson, Toronto filmmaker and professor in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, discussed Golden Globe frontrunner Brokeback Mountain, a film about two ranchers who fall in love in 1960s Wyoming, and other groundbreaking gay movie from Hollywood, on CBC Radio’s national “The World This Weekend” Jan. 14.
  • Fred Fletcher, a political science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, discussed the implications of strategic voting and why voters do it, on “The Bill Good Show”, a call-in show on CKNW-AM in Vancouver Jan. 13.