Osgoode graduate juggled two jobs and three kids to study

York alumna Margarett R. Best (LLB ‘95) juggled two jobs to put herself through law school, became a successful lawyer, and has an impressive resume as a community activist. But above all, Best is most proud of being a good parent, reported the Toronto Star May 26.

The single mother of four – one of whom died not long after birth – was to be honoured at the weekend, along with two other York-connected persons – Canadian jazz icon and former York chancellor Oscar Peterson, and Osgoode alumnus and Ontario Chief Justice Roy McMurtry (LLB ‘58) – at the African Canadian Achievement Awards. She was to be presented with the Matilda Van Cooten Award for Excellence in Single Parenting.

“I’ve been to these awards before and, when they phoned me to say I’d be receiving one, I was very excited,” Best said. “I think being a parent is the most difficult job. It’s very hard work.” After attending Michigan’s Wayne State University for a few years – while holding a full -time job – Best took a break from school to start a family in Toronto. She soon began taking classes part -time at the University of Toronto. Then in 1992 she was accepted to Osgoode Hall Law School. “It was difficult but at the same time, workable…. For the first year I was able to walk my daughter to school in the morning, go to school, and come back home to be there for her when she got back from school before going to work that night,” Best said. “And the boys were older so they didn’t need as much attention from me.” Best, 47, was called to the bar in 1997 and has developed a successful practice, mainly involving real estate and family law.

Physically demanding kids’ arts activities are worth a tax credit too, says Silver

Phillip Silver, dean of York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, was interviewed on CBC-TV’s “The National” May 25, in a story about Canadian parents demanding a tax break from the federal government for art and music lessons, in the same manner as sports programs which are now eligible for a tax credit.

“There’s a great many physical activities that are involved in fine arts,” Silver said. “The obvious ones would be dance; some forms of theatre would involve a great deal of physical activity; some forms of music involve a great deal of physical activity,” said Silver who signed an online petition along with over 8,000 Canadian parents. “A healthy mind in a healthy body,” Silver said, “and so the minister has started something with respect to the impact on the body and I hope that he will expand his interest in our young people and future society to look at the things that help build their minds as well as their bodies.”

Liberals are ready for a female leader

The one thing that really ticks off Osgoode alumna Martha Hall Findlay (LLB ‘87) is “dishonesty, especially in politics,” the Liberal leadership candidate told The Sudbury Star with no hesitation May 26. The 46 -year -old lawyer, businesswoman and entrepreneur rolled through Sudbury in her barn -red campaign mobile home  on her way across the country. Her logo? “It’s time.” Time for what? Time for renewal in the Liberal party, time to heal the party’s internal divisions, time to accentuate the party’s positive economic, environmental and foreign policy record over the past decade and maybe even time for a female to lead the party and become the next prime minister, Hall Findlay rattles off.

The first declared candidate in the leadership race, Hall Findlay knows she’ll have to work twice as hard because of her gender to win the support of Liberals. She’s used to making that extra effort. “I actually had a discussion with a Liberal sitting member of parliament, who shall remain nameless, who said, ‘Martha, I think you’re fantastic, and I would support you but I can’t because I just don’t think Canada is ready for a woman prime minister,” she said, pointing out the country has already had a female leader and there are women leading countries around the world. “I was taken aback because I really thought we’d gone beyond that,” she continued. “This is Canada in 2006 how could we possibly not be ready for a woman? Then I thought, ‘I’m just going to have to work twice as hard to make up for that.'”

Former York student called the ‘best trader on Bay Street’

What makes former York student Mike Wekerle the best trader on Bay Street? The photographic memory helps. So does a talent for matchmaking. But the real secret’s simple: pedal to the metal, reported The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business magazine in its cover story May 25. Acquaintances and colleagues of Mike Wekerle – aka “the Wek,” aka the Gretzky of the trading floor – had described him as “enthusiastic,” “effervescent” and “energetic.” Those adjectives seem like the stalest of canned responses until you meet the man himself; then they dissolve into gross understatements. Sure, the Wek is “energetic.” And Bill Gates has done well for himself.

Wekerle is a vice -chairman and co -head of trading at GMP Capital Trust, a brokerage that caters to corporate clients and focuses on growth companies, particularly in the resource sector. His primary job is to help large investors obtain or unload large blocks of stock in these companies, either by bringing a buyer and seller together, or, if need be, by using GMP’s own money to help someone get out of a position. On Bay Street he’s considered the top trader in the business.

“You saw the movie Amadeus?” asked York benefactor Seymour Schulich, the wealthy investor and philanthropist. “To me, he’s the character in that movie, Mozart. He’s a prodigy. I’ve never seen a guy who can keep more deals in his head than that guy. I’m not even close. He must have somewhere between 25 and 50 deals in his head at any given time. He’s the best I know.” Oh, and one other thing, Schulich adds. “He’s got the balls of a cat burglar.”

Unsure what he wanted to do when he graduated from high school, Wekerle enrolled as an economics major in York’s Faculty of Arts [where he took courses part-time over the next five years from 1982-1987]. During that time a friend helped him get a job on the trading floor of the Toronto Stock Exchange. Wekerle made approximately $4 million in bonuses last year and about $3 million the year before (the GMP senior partners are only paid bonuses, not salaries). Yet this is chump change compared with the equity he has built up in the firm: more than $90 million worth, going by the company’s unit price in early May.

Osgoode professor is co-Chair of 2006 International Law Association meeting

The International Law Association (ILA) is not, in the manner of some other international legal organizations, an advocacy group, but rather it tries to manifest its objectives by setting up and following through on what it terms “International Committees,” reported Nuvo magazine in its recently published Summer 2006 issue. These committees are working committees, comprised mainly of prominent lawyers and academics, and they do real work in real time, usually over a four or eight -year term. The results of these committees are then presented at a biennial conference, the 2006 version of which is being held in Toronto.

This is not only quite a coup but is testament to the work of the Canadian organizing committee. The conference co-Chairs are Janet Walker, professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, and Barry Leon, partner at Torys LLP. Walker brings a lot of passion to the topic of the ILA in Canada, said Nuvo. She takes time from a teaching engagement in Haifa to speak about it: “International issues impact our daily lives more than ever. Legal issues, both domestic and international, impact on all countries.” While the topics may not always hit the top of the evening television news, Walker is vehement, in a good way, when she asserts that “these are lively debates. Intellectual Property [Dan Brown, anyone?] for example, or the committee session I am chairing, on International Commercial Arbitration, these are not at all dull and dry.”

Lee Lorch’s visit is the highlight of Fisk University’s Class of 1956 reunion

Clutching a camera and copies of photographs from 50 years ago, York math professor emeritus Lee Lorch, 90, inched his way through the crowd receiving hugs, reported the Nashville Tennessean May 7. He was one of the guests of honour at the reunion of Fisk University’s Class of 1956 – an accomplished mathematician, civil rights champion and former Fisk University professor who was fired by the school’s board of trustees after refusing to answer the federal government about whether he was a Communist.

Lorch has been back to Fisk since the 1955 incident. This time, though, he made the trip because of the love for his students and fond memories of his five -year tenure here. “They were very productive five years,” Lorch said. “I had many fine students and many fine colleagues here. Many close friendships were formed here. It’s not the same board of directors anymore.”

Shortly after the 1954 court case of Brown vs. Board of Education, which made segregation at public schools illegal, Lorch and his wife attempted to enroll their daughter at an all -black school near Fisk. Subsequently, he was subpoenaed to testify before the US House Committee on Un-American Activities under the leadership of Senator Joseph McCarthy. Lorch refused to answer any questions, not because he did anything wrong, he said, but because the questioning was illegal.

Lorch, before coming to Fisk, was also dismissed from the City College of New York and Pennsylvania State University for leading a movement to desegregate a housing development in New York City. His fight against racism has been recognized with honorary degrees and awards by a number of institutions around the country, including Fisk. Lorch was in Nashville from Canada, where he moved in 1959.

York graduate’s film shows experiences of African immigrant

After hearing the heart -wrenching tales of newcomers, immigration worker and York alumnus Oluwafemi Agbayewa (BA ‘97) decided to do something about them, reported the Winnipeg Free Press May 26. The former Winnipegger made a movie that is having its Canadian premiere at the Globe Cinema. “It was quite an adventure,” said the 30 -year -old who emigrated from Nigeria with his family when he was five, and whose mother still lives in Winnipeg.

God’s Own Country is 43 minutes that took a year and half to make. “This movie is the tale of a young African who comes to North America searching for a better life and going through the trials and tribulations,” said Agbayewa, who lives in Toronto and works at a non -profit immigration centre. No matter where the immigrants come from, it’s never quite what they expect, he said. “I wanted to tell a story that reflected that,” said the man who came to Winnipeg with his family from Nigeria when he was five. “I wrote the script after hearing story after story,” said Agbayewa, who has a bachelors degree in political science from York and a masters in communication from Concordia but nary a film course to his credit. “I also directed, produced it and acted in it,” he said.

Schulich graduate is one of 10 ‘gutsy guys’ waiting in the dating hot seats

Darren Mondor, bachelor No. 10, is an information -systems manager at the Heart and Stroke Foundation with an MBA (2001) from York’s Schulich School of Business, reported The Calgary Herald May 26 in a photo feature on that city’s eligible bachelors. Mondor grew up in Willow Bunch, Sask., where he spent a quaint childhood hunting for empties, breaking windows and shooting gophers. Fortunately, his hobbies have evolved to include less destructive activities such as mountain biking, golfing, camping, hiking and volunteering as a Big Brother. His ideal partner would be able to make him laugh. “Guys always say they like women with a sense of humour, but that usually means girls who laugh at their jokes. I like girls who can produce humour.” He is funny, straightforward and knows how to wear stripes.

 Canadian billionaire Paul Demarais studied at Osgoode

Canadian billionaire and founder of Power Corp. Paul Desmarais may be merely the fifth-richest Canadian – with an estimated worth of US$3.8 billion, according to Forbes – but he is without rival as the most consequential business leader of his time, reported The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business magazine May 25. Desmarais mingles so easily with European elites that they probably sometimes forget – even though he definitely cannot – that his character was forged not in the salons and grandes écoles of the old continent but on a rump of Precambrian rock in the Canadian woods. A franco-Ontarian, Desmarais learned his English in the pool halls of Sudbury. After earning a commerce degree in French at the University of Ottawa, he got into Toronto’s Osgoode Hall Law School. But he left without graduating, returning to his hometown in 1951 to rescue a struggling family -owned bus company.

New uses for existing drugs raises side-effect issues, says Lexchin

A story about Evista (raloxifene), a popular osteoporosis drug for post-menopausal women who may be at increased danger of dying from a stroke if they have heart disease or are at high risk of a heart attack, prompted comments by Joel Lexchin, professor in York’s School of Health Management and Policy in the Toronto Star May 26. Health Canada and the drug maker, Eli Lilly, posted a new warning and advised patients taking Evista to consult their doctors after the the drug received widespread publicity last month after a trial that suggested it reduced the risk of breast cancer without the serious side effects of tamoxifen..

“It’s confusing, but you have to be wary about using new drugs,” said Lexchin. “New drugs often have unexpected side effects associated with them and we need to be cautious about recommendations for their use early on – unless you’re looking at a disease where the mortality rate is so high that something is better than nothing.” Drug companies rely on so-called blockbuster medications that can earn $1 billion or more worldwide and are always searching for new uses for the same drug, which is where the side effects show up, he said. “That’s what you’re seeing with Evista.”