Lawyers sometimes a factor in money laundering

The case of Peter Shoniker, who is to be sentenced for money laundering on Wednesday, highlights the complexities and challenges for law enforcement when they go up against a privileged set, particularly lawyers, wrote the Toronto Star Sept. 2. Margaret Beare, former director of the Nathanson Centre for the Study of Organized Crime and Corruption at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, says a study of RCMP money laundering cases showed that “when it (the case) was very sophisticated and involved a large amount of money they virtually always had a lawyer involved at some stage, not always as a criminal, or member of the criminal organization, but sometimes.”

But solicitor-client privilege is not ironclad, she said, at least in theory. “If there’s evidence that a lawyer is actively engaged in the criminal conduct of the client, that privilege would not hold,” said Beare, co-author of the upcoming book Money Laundering in Canada: The Chasing of Dirty and Dangerous Dollars. Beare argues in her book that “when we look at policies and procedures and legislation regarding lawyers, who is it that’s making those decisions? It’s the Department of Justice lawyers…the reality is they all went to law school, they’re all part of the social club. So you’ve got lawyers (making) rational and serious decisions regarding the conduct of their colleagues.”

‘Passivity’ among prominent reactions to climate change

I wonder if history will record the first part of this century as the Age of Acute Anxiety, in much the same way that a doctor uses the word “acute” to describe a condition that has gone unchecked for too long, and is now threatening to become crippling, wrote contributor Cameron Smith in the Toronto Star Sept. 2. I asked Tim Leduc, who is working on his PhD at York University on the “social dimensions of climate change,” what he has been detecting. Prominent among his responses was “passivity.” People are saying either that technology and science will find a solution, so don’t worry, or that there’ll be some sort of catastrophe that will spur the world to action. There’s not much talk about embracing dramatic change now.

York alumnus inspired by Ben-Gurion

What is a Canadian? The question is bluntly put, wrote York alumnus Irvin Studin (BBA ‘99) in prefacing a series of national profiles he commissioned for the Ottawa Citizen, published Sept. 4. A Canadian is…undertaking to answer this question, at the dawn of the 21st century, in order to better appreciate the essence of his fellow Canadians. Indeed, this Canadian is convinced that a frank assessment of the exact meaning of the Canadian is not only long overdue in the Canadian discourse, but is a critical underpinning for any intelligent debate on the future of our increasingly complex Canadian project.

I was inspired to commission these short essays after reading the magnificent collection of 50 essays assembled in 1958 by David Ben-Gurion, first prime minister of Israel. Each of those essays responded to the question, “What is a Jew?” Ben-Gurion had asked the question of 50 Jewish “sages” – great thinkers within Israel and the Jewish diaspora – to inform Israeli policy in respect of mixed marriages.

Studin has been a senior policy adviser in Ottawa and in Canberra, Australia on issues such the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, national security, foreign policy, democratic governance and transportation policy. He holds degrees from the Schulich School of Business at Toronto’s York University, the London School of Economics and the University of Oxford, where he studied on a Rhodes Scholarship. In 2000, he was listed by Maclean’s magazine as one of “100 Young Canadians to Watch.”

Commuters, don’t despair

The bad news is, summer’s over, wrote the Toronto Star Sept. 4. It’s back to school, back to work, back to a commuting routine for most of us. But there’s some good news. Most transit operators are beefing up service for the post-Labour Day crush. Routes with increased services during peak hours include…196 York University.

  • The addition by GO Transit last week of 70 new bus trips to college and university campuses along Hwy. 407 for the start of the school year, including York’s Keele campus, was noted on several radio broadcasts Sept. 1

Pencil-loving architect designed York’s Student Centre

It can start with a sharpened tip of lead and end with a skyscraper. For Jack Diamond, it often does, wrote the Toronto Star Sept. 4. “Today, yesterday, the day before, every day, I sketch out everything I design,” said the internationally recognized architect. Diamond is responsible for some of the world’s greatest buildings, such as the Israeli Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, the Jewish Community Centre in Manhattan and the York University Student Centre here, the Star said. His favourite tool is the underrated pencil. “The flexibility and nuance of the pencil is unparallelled,” he says. “You can change and correct it in an instant.”

McLean’s role as a ‘total spaz’ gets a second season

Former York student Laura McLean had to play a lesbian robber before she could land a role as a lead everywoman, reported The Ottawa Sun Sept. 2. At least that’s how it seems now to the 25-year-old Ottawa native, who stars on the W Network’s new series “The Smart Woman Survival Guide” (debuting Monday at 8pm). McLean, who studied in York’s Acting Conservatory, Faculty of Fine Arts, had been getting sporadic auditions and was waitressing in Toronto to pay the bills when she scored a risque Showcase spot advertising the channel’s “Friday’s Without Borders” program. The red head said she hadn’t felt comfortable in auditions requiring full-tilt makeup and heels, competing against the “50,000 beautiful, beautiful girls in Toronto that can really play the pretty girl.”

In Smart Woman, which revolves around a fictional lifestyles show but incorporates elements of reality, McLean’s character Nat has just finished grad school and is working as the show’s researcher. Armed with a poor body image and hot new boyfriend, she also serves as a plot driver. “She’s a total spaz,” says McLean. “She’s obviously a little emotionally immature.”

Crabtree ready to make his Lions debut

Fittingly, Mike Crabtree’s most recent good football game was played at York University Stadium almost two years ago, wrote The Toronto Sun Sept. 4. Today, the Burlington-born quarterback begins his quest to resurrect his career as a member of the same York Lions team he beat on Sept. 11, 2004 as the starting quarterback for the Ottawa Gee-Gees. Crabtree, who lost his job to Josh Sacobie in Ottawa, wasn’t thrilled with his diminished role and transferred to York in January 2005. Under CIS rules, Crabtree had to sit out a year. After practising with the Lions last year, Crabtree is ready to return to the field for York’s season opener against the visiting McMaster Marauders.

Crabtree is in a better personal situation and is closer to home at York. He beat out incumbent Bart Zemanek for York’s starting job in training camp. “He was the best scout quarterback in the country (last year),” said Lions coach Tom Gretes, who tried to land Crabtree out of high school. “He went through two spring practices and he has picked up the system. He has done extremely well.” Crabtree has a great mentor at York. Two-time Hec Crighton Trophy winning quarterback Tom Denison (Queen’s) is the Lions’ new offensive co-ordinator. “I’ve been like a sponge trying to soak up everything he says,” Crabtree said.

  • Not much has changed for the York University football team when it comes to playing the McMaster Marauders, wrote the Toronto Star Sept. 5. Despite the pre-season optimistic hullabaloo, York looked horrible as McMaster took advantage of seven turnovers, jumped to a 30-0 halftime lead, and then coasted to a 33-16 win before a crowd of 2,356 fans at York Stadium. While McMaster has now won the past nine consecutive meetings and enjoys a 297-25 edge in points, the Lions did end their five-year touchdown drought against the Hamilton powerhouse. York head coach Tom Gretes, whose team faces Western, Laurier and Ottawa in the coming weeks, couldn’t expect a worse start and the pile of turnovers. “We made every mistake possible and they capitalized,” said Gretes.

Earle coming home for jazz fest

Most of the time, New York jazz musician Brenda Earle (BFA ’98) has to chase after gigs, wrote the Sarnia Observer Sept. 2. That’s one reason the phone call from Johnny Bond, and his offer of a spot on the bill for this year’s Jazz in the Village, was so welcome. The other is that it’s a chance for the pianist and singer to perform in front of a hometown crowd. This time, she’ll be performing with Toronto musicians drummer Kevin Coady and bass player Mike Downes. “My dad is thrilled he doesn’t have to get in the car for very long to see me perform,” Earle said. “I know a lot of old friends are going to turn up for it. I’m really, really excited.”

Growing up in a musical family in Sarnia, Earle began taking piano lessons at four. She went on to study at York’s Department of Music, Faculty of Fine Arts, the Banff Centre for the Arts and the Manhattan School of Music. It was after graduating from York that the pianist and composer began singing seriously. She eventually went on to record four independent albums, including Happening, her most recent. It has been attracting reviews and radio play around the globe.

Helping borrowers ‘break the habit’

Alterna Savings, an Ottawa-based credit union which plans to offer pay-day loans, wants to provide education to help its borrowers “break the habit” of borrowing from one payday to the next, reported CanWest News Service in a story published in the Vancouver Sun Sept. 4. Chris Robinson, professor of finance at York University’s Atkinson School of Liberal & Professional Studies, applauds Alterna’s interest in getting into the field. And he hopes they’ll lead a parade of mainstream lenders into the small-loan business once new regulations make the rules of the business clearer. Mainstream financial institutions can add the small loans onto their existing loan business, so they have the potential to drive the costs much lower than they are in the storefront money lenders, says Robinson. “We’re talking a huge difference,” says Robinson, who did a study on the industry for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a strong advocate for reform of the payday loan industry, which it argues preys on the poor and vulnerable.

High-tech learning tools stir up ‘hornet’s nest’

After spending years developing online courses and encouraging professors to mix traditional classes with such online features as chat rooms, interactive lectures, electronic drop boxes and quizzes, the academic world is in an uproar over who created – and who owns – the lucrative learning tools, reported the National Post Sept. 5. At issue is the question of who owns what, and whether key educational software should be patented at all, especially technologies born largely out of research undertaken by professors on university campuses. “It’s one of the hornet’s nests that universities have gotten themselves into, partly out of wanting to achieve this thing of using technology as part of the education process,” said Janice Newson, a sociologist in York’s Faculty of Arts, specializing in technology.

Alumna tours BC as province’s ombudsman

Ombudsman and York alumna Kim Carter (BA ‘76, LLB ‘79) is touring the province, addressing concerns about unfair practices or services of government ministries of public agencies, reported The Daily News (Kamloops) Sept. 5. Carter, who was appointed BC’s ombudsman on May 15, said it’s important that people feel they can improve government systems. “It’s a chance to influence government procedures,” she said. “It allows people to feel engaged in the democratic process.” Carter has an extensive background in criminal, international and administrative law. She received her undergraduate degree from York’s Glendon College, completed her law degree at Osgoode Hall Law School in 1979 and obtained her master’s of law at the University of Ottawa in 2005.

Macdonald recalls spirited debate with late Eddie Goodman

When I was a young professor of economics, I met Eddie Goodman for the first time at a conference in 1962, wrote H. Ian Macdonald, president emeritus of York University, in The Globe and Mail Sept. 5 in response to Goodman’s Aug. 25 obituary. We sat beside each other at lunch on the last day, and had a tempestuous argument about John Diefenbaker. I cannot recall the issue, nor even which side of the argument he or I took. As we departed, I was feeling somewhat concerned about the possibility of lingering ill-will. However, he put out a hand, looked at me with a big smile, and said: “That was a great discussion. The next time we meet, let’s do it again with each of us taking the other side.” That was not the last such occasion, but our debates never compromised our friendship and sense of goodwill.

Columnist cites MacDermid study on corporate campaign donations

Anybody who doubts the wisdom of strict paternalism in planning should look to Durham Region, the Wild East, where some local politicians continue to plumb new lows at the behest of the developers whose dollars helped put them in office, wrote columnist John Barber in The Globe and Mail Sept. 2. As in so many suburban municipalities around Toronto that still have green fields, local politicians rely to an astonishing degree on the development industry to finance their campaigns. Take the case of Whitby, just past Pickering. With more than 70,000 eligible voters, only 25 ordinary individuals made contributions of more than $100 to any campaigns in the 2003 election, according to a study of municipal election finance by Robert MacDermid of York’s Faculty of Arts. Four out of every five dollars raised came from corporations – overwhelmingly those connected with development, according to Prof. MacDermid.

On air

  • York student Jessica McIntyre discussed a new cookbook with 15-minute recipes for students on City-tv’s Breakfast Television Sept. 1.