New transportation minister to tackle Spadina subway extension

It has now become Donna Cansfield’s job to make the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority (GTTA) work, reported the Toronto Star May 24. Questions still swirl around the GTTA, which critics have pointed out will not have the power required of a regional transit body. But with traffic gridlock draining about $2 billion a year from the local economy, Cansfield has to make easing congestion a top priority. Part of that solution comes in the form of the new extension of the Spadina subway line from Downsview station through the York University campus and north of Steeles Avenue into Vaughan. The Liberals have already earmarked $670 million for this first subway line into the 905 region. But Ottawa and the municipalities have yet to announce what the amount of their contribution will be. Finding those federal and municipal matching funds may turn out to be Cansfield’s biggest challenge.

Drawing the line when doing the firm’s dirty work

In an advice column on workplace ethics in The Globe and Mail May 24, a writer asked what she should do about concerns that her employer is treating a former long-time employee unfairly – albeit legally. You can consult the company’s ethics code, seek out its watchdog and blow the whistle anonymously, suggested Wesley Cragg, the Gardiner Professor of Business Ethics at York University’s Schulich School of Business. Often these resources are external and at arm’s length to the brass, he said. Decide whether you can live with keeping this information to yourself, the columnist added. If you can’t, you’ll have to walk.

Nicol’s film on gay marriage is third of four-part series

What do you get with a strong belief in gay rights and a $200,000-grant? How about a world premiere at Inside Out? Nancy Nicol, professor of visual arts in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, is the director and producer of the new documentary The End of Second Class, which premieres this weekend at the Inside Out film festival, an annual showcase of gay and lesbian films, reported the National Post May 20. She travelled across Canada and interviewed key players in the quest for gay marriage, including prominent lawyers and activists. It showcases three couples: one from each of British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.

“This was an opportunity to travel across the country and meet people on the forefront of winning rights to marriage,” Nicol says. The End of Second Class is no new feat for the director; she’s been making films since 1979. This film is part of her ongoing project of four movies on gay rights, with one more addition to come. “I’ve been absolutely obsessed with this project for 10 years,” she says. The Inside Out festival brings films by or about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people to Toronto.

Former Hillel director at York to lead Betar-Tagar

The former director of Hillel at York University, Talia Klein, the newly appointed executive director of Betar-Tagar Canada, said her goal is to continue to give Jewish students the opportunity to express their Zionism and Jewish pride on campus, reported the Canadian Jewish News May 25. Klein will replace Itay Gadot, a Jewish Agency shaliach (emissary) who will end his four-year tenure as head of the right-wing Zionist youth group this summer. Klein has served the Jewish community as the national chair of the North American Jewish Students Network, as vice-president of the World Union of Jewish Students and as the youngest ever national officer of Canadian Jewish Congress.

Dance alumna’s latest piece is based on Sufi poetry

Visitors to Peterborough’s Millenium Park on June 3 will have the surprise pleasure of viewing a unique and colourful event, reported the Peterborough Examiner May 24. York graduate Denise Fujiwara (BFA ‘79), a choreographer, dancer, actor and dance impresario who is recognized throughout Canada and the United States, has created a new dance piece inspired by a 12th-century Sufi poem, “Conference of the Birds”. This performance will be presented by Peterborough New Dance one time only at 2pm.

Meet Denise and her birds, which include some graduates of York’s Department of Dance, Faculty of Fine Arts  – Nova Bhattacharya, Leanne Dixon, Michael Du Maresq, Katherine Duncanson, Sasha Ivanochko, Viv Moore (BFA ‘90), Philip Shepherd, Heidi Strauss, Rebecca Hope Terry, and Beth Despres (BFA ‘03) as understudy – immediately following the performance.

Fujiwara is a choreographer, dancer, actor, dance impresario and teacher with over 25 years of professional experience. She began her career in childhood, as a gymnast and competed internationally on the Canadian Modern Gymnastics team. Upon completing an Honours BFA in dance at York, she became one of the founders of TIDE (Toronto Independent Dance Enterprise). Here she was instrumental in the creation of a diverse body of work for the now-defunct but still notorious company that danced across Canada for 10 years.