Toronto Star claims York subway funding due in next Ontario budget

Funding for the much-anticipated York University subway line is expected in the March 23 provincial budget, the Toronto Star said March  7. The front-page story quoted unnamed sources who said Finance Minister Dwight Duncan will use his first budget to announce the $1.5 billion, 6.2-kilometre extension of the Toronto Transit Commission’s Spadina line from Downsview station to York’s campus. It would be the first TTC rail line into Greater Toronto, crossing the city limits to Vaughan on the north side of Steeles Ave. “Traffic gridlock is a major issue in the 905 and people there want to see that we are doing something tangible to alleviate that,” said a government source. It’s not clear how much of the price tag Queen’s Park will cover, the Star said, but city hall has been asking the province and Ottawa to each kick in $500 million toward the project. Nor is it known how soon construction could begin.

The York subway extension would be a GTA public transit hub that would include GO Transit buses, York Region Viva bus rapid transit, as well as TTC bus service. Environmental assessments have already been done on much of the land needed for the extended line, the Star noted. York Region has long pressed for the Yonge subway line to come north from Finch station to Richmond Hill. But the TTC wants the under-utilized Spadina line to be the one that is expanded, taking passenger pressure off a Yonge line already packed to capacity. Starting at Downsview station on Dufferin Street, the extension would travel west along Sheppard Avenue to stop at Downsview Park, north on Keele Street to Finch, continuing along Keele before veering northwest onto York University’s campus and then ending at Steeles. While the York extension has long been promised but never delivered, it is not a major surprise that the Liberals are set to move forward with it. Former finance minister Greg Sorbara, MPP for Vaughan-King-Aurora, has long been a champion of the line. “The question is when we’re going to start,” Sorbara said last September, before he stepped down as treasurer.

New CEO of the YWCA is a York psychology graduate

York alumna Paulette Senior (BA ’90), the new CEO of the YWCA of Canada, aspires to become one of the country’s strongest and best-known advocates for women, reported the Toronto Star March 6. As head of the nation’s largest multi-service organization for women – providing daycare, housing, emergency shelter, training and support for hundreds of thousands of Canadians – Senior, a 44-year-old single mother, speaks with both the authority of the role and a passion born of personal experience. Just six weeks into the job, Senior has already stepped front and centre at news conferences and in face-to-face lobbying, urging the new Conservative government not only to live up to the day-care agreements the previous government signed with the provinces, but also to retain the federal gun registry – both issues, she says, that affect the lives of women.

Senior says her life not only exemplifies the hurdles women face today but also demonstrates the importance of programs and support networks that help women meet their potential. “I have a sense of how to help people and what it is like to be in their shoes,” says Senior. “When I was a child, I had dreamed of being a psychologist. Being separated and having a child to care for – this was an awakening. I found the reason to go after what I wanted in life.” With her mother’s support, she moved back home, found daycare, applied for social assistance and headed off to York University to study psychology. A career in social agencies helping youth and women followed.

York feminists provoke columnist’s ire

If you are unaware of just how bad things are for women on the 40th anniversary of International Women’s Day, wrote Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente March 7, you can consult the experts at York University, which is so feminist it even teaches feminist geography. Just in time for IWD, a helpful press release promises fresh insights on how women are being oppressed by globalization, by cutbacks in health care, by the male business establishment, and by non-inclusive pedagogies, whatever those are. If you want an update on “anti-racist, post-colonial and transnational feminisms,” York’s the place for you. The trouble with these experts is that almost every claim they make is wrong. What impoverishment? What rise in racism? Women in the west, even minority women, have never been more economically and socially equal than they are today. Yet, when it comes to women who really are oppressed, western feminists have nothing useful to say.

New MBA skill: suitcase packing

Business schools are offering courses in marketing, finance, accounting and economics with an international bent, as well foreign languages, reported The Globe and Mail in a special-section guide to MBA programs published March 7. Bernie Wolf, director of the international MBA program at the Schulich School of Business at York University and one of the program’s founders, says it was started in 1989 because the thinking back then was that “Canada is awfully oriented toward the United States and that we need to have people who are able to participate in a global business world.” The Schulich program offers an MBA plus global orientation and fairly in depth knowledge of a particular region and its language. “That makes you quite valuable to a company that wants to engage in business in that region,” Wolf said. “But even if it’s a different place, if you have investigated a particular region, you become much more culturally sensitive.” Students can study abroad at as many as 30 of the world’s top business schools in such countries as China, Japan and Spain. While some students sign up for the program because they want to work elsewhere, many end up working in Canada for companies that have a global orientation. “Sometimes you start in one place and end up in another place,” Wolf said. “We do intend to prepare people for a specific region of the world, but we are also keen to have people be generalists.”

In another story the same day about business students learning etiquette, The Globe wrote that Canadian business schools have started offering “soft skills” training aimed at making bungled business lunches and networking faux pas a thing of the past. Good etiquette training is an essential complement to academics, says Adeodata Czink, an etiquette specialist who has done workshops at the Schulich School of Business.

Supreme Court appointments likened to choosing an Osgoode dean

US presidential elections are fought over which candidate will have the power to fill Supreme Court vacancies, wrote columnist Norman Spector in The Globe and Mail March 6. Millions of dollars are raised by interest groups – most famously by pro- and anti-abortion forces, but lately by corporate heavyweights, too. Think of the millions of dollars Americans could save, if – as some Canadians pretend – appointing a judge of the Supreme Court is akin to appointing the dean of Osgoode Hall Law School. Think of the energies that could be redirected if all that matters is the number of cases a judge has decided or whether he or she comes highly recommended by the bar association. Since 1982, Canadians, too, have been living under a system of constitutional supremacy. Who gets to sit on the Supreme Court should matter as much to us as it does to them.