York alum makes debut on ‘The Apprentice’

Now that Donald Trump’s television show, “The Apprentice”, has cooled out, enter a Canadian – sort of, reported the Toronto Sun Feb. 27. One of the 18 new candidates is York alumnus Brent Buckman (BA ’99), a 30-year-old Florida lawyer who was born and raised in Toronto. The dude married his Florida law school sweetie and obtained his Green Card – allowing him to make the cut.

In another story on Buckman’s role on the show, The Record (Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo) Feb. 25 said he’s the biggest loser you’ve ever seen in your life and, according to fellow contestants, may be mentally unstable. “My team doesn’t know how to handle me!” complains the sweaty, weight-challenged Torontonian. “I think they look at me and say ‘There’s a nutcase who has no ideas and no sense of what’s going on and is a complete moron!'” Machiavellian chuckle: “That’s all right – I’m smarter than them!” And if not smarter, which seems highly doubtful, then certainly more flamboyantly erratic, asserted The Record’s TV columnist. And yet, this dancing, prancing meshugah – as they say in Yiddish – isn’t completely unlikable, providing an earthy antidote to the polished Ivy League snobs who snub their noses at him and assume The Donald will do the same. So, when Trump says in the first instalment that people are strange and you can’t always judge a book by its cover, it’s worth considering that, however unlikely it may seem, bug-eyed Brent – victimized by bullies his entire life – may actually be the candidate to beat. “I stand out from a crowd,” brags the triple-chinned pariah, milking his outsider status to the max. “It’s the way it’s been my whole life – and I’m proud of it!”

York legal expert lays out ground rules for questioning

Dubbed the Meet the Judge show, Canadians were to get their first chance to see federal politicians publicly question a Supreme Court of Canada contender on television, reported the National Post and The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) Feb. 27. Toronto legal expert and professor emeritus at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School Peter Hogg was expected to keep MPs on a tight leash by unveiling a protocol that would prevent the hearing from degenerating into a political free-for-all. Forget quizzing Justice Marshall Rothstein, 65, about his personal life. Osgoode Dean Patrick Monahan said Hogg, the former dean, should feel free to intervene if MPs stray from a general line of questioning confined to such queries as how Rothstein views the role of the Supreme Court and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. “Questions about the judge’s personal views on social issues are not really appropriate. This is really an inquiry into the judge’s conception of his role as a judge,” Monahan said.

Monahan also commented on future decisions facing the court in the Toronto Star Feb. 25 and was in demand in the run-up to the hearing, speaking on CBC-Radio’s “Metro Morning” and “Here and Now” programs, as well as on Ottawa’s CBO-FM.

For next Olympic prize, CTV looks to the Web

When Canada’s biggest media players gathered last year in Lausanne, Switzerland, to bid for the broadcast rights to the 2010 and 2012 Olympics, they knew the Internet would be an important piece of any broadcasting strategy, reported The Globe and Mail Feb. 25. Just how important, they discovered this month in Turin. No longer merely a sideshow to TV, on-line results and Web casts during the 2006 Games did substantial damage to the ratings of CBC and NBC. York alum Ivan Fecan (BFA ’01), chief executive officer of CTV and Bell Globemedia, has four years to make the Internet a friend of Olympic broadcasts rather than a competitor. “When we bid, it was hard to imagine what digital rights would be worth. Clearly they’re going to be worth a lot more than we thought they were,” Fecan said.

Sexual images of teens is complex legal issue

Is it legal for teenagers to make and keep images of themselves having sex?, asked the Hamilton Spectator Feb. 27. Yes, say some of Canada’s top legal experts but only if they’re at least 14, the sex is consensual and they keep the images for their private use. Sending them to someone else over the Internet is against the law. “Teenagers taking pictures of themselves in a sexually charged atmosphere is perfectly fine,” said Osgoode Hall Law School professor Alan Young. “But it has to be maintained for private use and this is where things become problematic.” In a Supreme Court of Canada challenge by John Robin Sharpe, the court found the child porn law was too broad in some situations, extending into private activities that it didn’t see as harmful, Young said. “If I have pictures of myself naked or drawings of myself naked that I kept to myself, that’s accepted,” he said. “What if someone comes to your home and you take out the picture and show them. Is that private use?” Nobody knows the answer to that, the law professor said.

With e-mail, professors are always on call

Answering student e-mails has become a standard element of higher education, eradicating the concept of office hours and changing the way young people communicate with their teachers, reported the National Post Feb. 25. Markus Giesler, a marketing professor at the Schulich School of Business at York, received about 15 e-mails from students on Feb. 24 and said the number can reach as high as 50 during exam season. He gives himself a standard one-hour window to reply to their queries.

Mexican police protecting tourism with standard tactic

There is nothing bizarre about the Mexican authorities bungling the investigation of the brutal assassination of Woodbridge residents Domenic and Nancy Ianiero on the eve of their daughter’s wedding at the Barcelo Maya Beach Resort, wrote Pastor Valle-Garay, a Spanish-language lecturer with York’s Faculty of Arts, in the Toronto Star Feb. 27. In fact, all the statements made by one of the most incompetent and corrupt police forces in the world were clearly and solely intended to protect Mexico’s lucrative tourist trade. In the police’s perverse haste to point fingers at any culprits, to cover their backs at the same time and to protect the tourist industry, prosecutor Bello Melchor Rodriguez y Carrillo concocted a convenient motive for the killings by associating the Italian-Canadian background of two respectable Canadian citizens with international contract killers. For the victims, their families and their friends the smear represents a painful and despicable attempt to tarnish the dead couple’s good name.

Alumnus was surprised when he first encountered racism

York alumnus Muluken Muchie (BA ’91) is an Ethiopian Canadian, proud of his native country’s culture, traditions and history, reported the Toronto Star Feb. 26. With such a heritage, Muchie was stunned when, in 1986, he arrived in Toronto, discovering that his Ethiopian identity was subsumed in Canada by the perception that he was just another black man. Before landing in Canada as a refugee, he’d been blissfully unaware of Western racism. “Yes, there are many problems in the continent [of Africa],” says Muchie, now 44. “But we don’t blame it on the black people, because almost everyone is black there.” Now, he’s publisher of the Ethiopian newspaper Hawarya (the word means “disciple” in English), which he founded 10 years ago.

After graduating, Muchie became an outreach worker at two different African Canadian community agencies. It didn’t take the young man long to learn about all the negative connotations of being black in Canada – and to realize that many people see the black community as a homogeneous group. “When something bad happens, others are not going to care whether you are Caribbean or African, it’s a black person who did it,” Muchie says. He believes there’s a lot of ignorance here about Africa. “People in Canada only know about our slavery history; no one knows about our contributions to human civilization.”

York U script doctor urges wannabes to embrace storytelling

The first thing Amnon Buchbinder gets right in The Way of the Screenwriter is his observation that, while store shelves are bursting with books about how to write screenplays, great screenplays remain a rarity, wrote reviewer Susan Walker in the Toronto Star, Feb. 26. Eschewing the mechanical approach so often favoured in self-help guides for aspiring scriptwriters, Buchbinder opts for a philosophical approach to story, a word he uses as a generic noun, as in “the formal characteristics of story … are the collective creation of humanity.” Working from the abstract and general, toward the concrete and particular, this screenwriter (The Fishing Trip and Whole New Thing) and associate professor in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts taps into philosophy, psychology, literature and mythology to urge upon would-be screenwriters a kind of mental training and preparation, before getting out the index cards and getting to work. Buchbinder encourages his readers to think of a story as a living thing.

Something borrowed, something green

In a story about a trend towards environmentally friendly wedding services, the Toronto Star reported Feb. 25, on the efforts York student Brian Minns and Meghan Lockington went to for their December wedding, including a cake made from organic ingredients. Minns, 27, who is doing post-graduate work in environmental studies at York University, wanted their wedding to be as environmentally friendly as possible. This included ordering invitations on recycled paper, offering a vegetarian option to guests and making their own wedding guest favours – gingerbread cookies in the shape of a tree. The couple also calculated the amount of carbon spewed into the atmosphere by the planes and automobiles used by their guests to get to the wedding and contributed to a wind power-generating station and a tree-planting foundation to offset it. “We wanted our wedding to be carbon neutral,” Minns says. Having a green wedding caught the attention of the guests, he says, adding, “quite a number of people commented. They were happy with the steps we took.” Having their wedding reflect this was a natural decision, Minns says. “We did want to share our beliefs but not ram it down their throats.”

York paper predated The Number

The bestselling investing book The Number – with its misunderstood four-per cent solution – has taken the publishing world by storm, reported the National Post Feb. 25, which noted that the book by author Lee Eisenberg was pre-dated by a paper titled, “How to Avoid Outliving Your Money”, written by Moshe Milevsky finance professor at the Schulich School of Business at York.

Osgoode alum elected treasurer of law society

Osgoode Hall Law School alumnus Gavin MacKenzie (LLB ’75) had a restless night before being elected to lead the venerable Law Society of Upper Canada, the Woodstock Sentinel-Review reported Feb. 24. The Convocation’s 58 representatives, a mix of lawyers, lay benchers and a number of ex-officio and life benchers, had selected MacKenzie as the regulatory body’s top elected official. “It was certainly a thrilling day and a great honour,” MacKenzie said. As the society’s treasurer, MacKenzie will serve as the president of convocation, chairing its meetings and recommending appropriate policies for the body. MacKenzie will also act as a liaison between the society, government officials and other legal and community groups.

On air

  • Alan Middleton, marketing professor in the Sculich School of Business at York, was featured in stories on Kitchener’s CKGL radio and Hamilton’s CHCH-TV for his comments about the repetition of television commercials during the Olympics.
  • Bernie Frolic, professor emeritus of political science in York’s Faculty of Arts and director of the Asia Business Management Program at the York Centre for Asian Research, was part of a panel discussing Internet usage and censorship in China on TVO’s Studio 2 Feb. 24.