Banker changed a nation by lending a hand

“There are a variety of ways one can contribute to peace, and here the Nobel Peace Prize has gone to somebody who is trying at the grassroots level to take people out of poverty,” said Bernie Wolf, an economist and director of the International MBA program at the Schulich School of Business at York University, in The Toronto Star Oct. 14 . “People’s economic well-being can contribute to peace.” Wolf was commenting on the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Bangladeshi economist Muhammed Yunus and the Grameen Bank he founded in 1983 on the notion of microcredit. The bank gives small loans to the poor – overwhelmingly women – who would not qualify with a conventional bank due to lack of collateral. “Grameen” means “rural” or “village” in the Bengali language.

York tax expert suggests planning strategy

Even though tax season is still a few months off, financial experts are urging Canadians to start thinking now about their April returns, wrote The Toronto Star Oct. 16 . One money-saving tax strategy, said York University Professor Amin Mawani, is to arrange for the higher-income spouse to pay for all the family living expenses and for “the lower income spouse to accumulate investment assets and pay taxes at a lower rate on his or her investment income. All else equal, taxpayers subject to high tax rates would benefit from having some of their income earned by their low tax-bracket spouses or children,” said Mawani, a professor of taxation in the Schulich School of Business.

Mawani also advises investors to consider the tax implications when they switch from one investment to another. A capital gains tax is triggered, he said, when appreciated investments are sold, possibly leaving less after-tax money to spend on the second investment. “Frequent churning of investments may not necessarily accumulate a greater amount when gains are subject to taxes on realization,” Mawani said. Like his colleagues, he advises Canadians that tax planning is an all-year activity. “The period around each April is simply the filing season, and not the only time to make decisions about investments, debt repayment strategies and contributions,” he said.

York’s Schulich ranked top MBA program in Canada

The Schulich School of Business at York University was ranked the No. 1 MBA program in Canada for the fifth consecutive year by The Economist magazine, reported The Globe and Mail Oct. 14. In the magazine’s 2006 survey, the school came in 30th in the world. “The Economist survey is important because it is the only global survey which measures business schools based on criteria that are considered most important by students and alumni themselves,” Dezsö J Horváth, dean of Schulich, said in a statement yesterday. In its 2006 survey, BusinessWeek ranked Schulich 9th among the top 10 MBA programs around the world.

Jane-Finch gets satellite York University office

A York University satellite centre will open in the Jane-Finch community thanks to a $1-million boost from TD Bank Financial Group, reported North York Mirror Oct. 12. The York University Foundation recently announced the donation, which will allow for a permanent centre offering a variety of community-university initiatives that will enhance student learning and build stronger neighbourhoods. Initiatives include tax preparation clinics, small business consulting, free legal services, nursing aid, counselling, tutoring and mentoring programs and more.

“The satellite centre will extend York’s reach into our surrounding communities and support York’s expanding experiential education initiatives which give students hands-on learning opportunities while building community capacity and a sense of civic responsibility,” said Rhonda Lenton, dean of the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies.

Media checks up on mayors’ transit promises

In a review of campaign promises about the Toronto Transit Commission made by Mayor David Miller in the 2003 municipal election, The Toronto Sun Oct. 15, noted some commitments and the actions taken on them.

Promise: to reduce the cost of Metropasses for students, seniors and workers.
Action: The TTC VIP plan reduces cost for students at some schools: U of T, George Brown, Ryerson, Centennial College, Humber College, York University, Seneca.
Promise: Improving service on busy routes with designated bus lanes and 100 new buses.
Action: 100 new buses are coming, bus-only route in planning stages for York University, dedicated right-of-way for St. Clair is being built.
Promise: Beginning a financially responsible long-term program to build subways.
Action: Province decided to make a subway to York University a priority while the TTC would rather see cheaper bus and light-rapid transit dedicated lanes built.

  • In another election-related item on transit, the National Post Oct. 14, reported one reader’s comment that, if they were mayor, they would ask that a raised-rail link to York University be built.

York design expert lauds font creator Carter

In the Internet’s infancy, fonts from newspapers, magazines and books were used for the screen, but they proved to be unsuitable for the medium, causing problems with legibility, wrote the National Post Oct. 14. Matthew Carter created his elegant, highly readable Georgia font, one of the few serif fonts you’ll see on screen, that experts deem a technical tour de force. David Cabianca, a professor of typography at York University in Toronto, finds subtleties that go over our heads, although that, he points out, is Carter’s genius. “He’s taking 17th-century knowledge and wrapping it around pixels. It takes a guy who’s been doing it for years, someone who knows history, who knows to fudge mistakes, to make differences between letter forms the public doesn’t know or care about, but which he knows will delight the eye.”

Kozinets quoted on counter-culture cool

In a list of notable quotes from the week’s news, the Hamilton Spectator Oct. 14, offered this comment by York’s Robert Kozinets, professor of marketing in the Schulich School of Business, on Google’s US$1.65 billion deal to buy YouTube: “It’s difficult to say exactly where the rubber of counter-culture meets the road of mainstream. Since the 1960s, counterculture has been merchandised. Revolution is for sale, and cool is marketable.'”

 Difficult to get information on Canadians in Somalia

Some analysts believe Somalia is on the verge of becoming the next big destination for young extremist Muslims who want to participate in armed jihad, reported the National Post Oct. 14 . But Hassan Shire Sheikh, Uganda-based coordinator of the African Human Rights Defenders Project at York’s Centre for Refugee Studies, said it was difficult to come up with “meaningful information” about the presence of Canadians in the executive and military wing of the Islamic Courts Union movement. “According to a little information available to me…there are a good number of Somalis with various Western naturalized citizenships within the rank and the file of the ICU, and [that] may warrant more systematic investigations.”

Boycott struggle continues for CUPE

A few hundred people gathered last weekend in Toronto at a conference, The Struggle Continues: Boycotting Israeli Apartheid, at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, wrote columnist Robert Fulford in the National Post Oct. 14. The atmosphere was a mixture of campus rally and union meeting. It won’t surprise anyone to learn, wrote Fulford, that the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 3903, provided the support that made the conference possible. After all, the Ontario section of CUPE came out last spring in favour of an anti-Israel BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) campaign, demonstrating that CUPE is rich enough to have a foreign policy and clever enough to know which tiny slice of territory in the Middle East will help the union depict itself as vigorous and progressive. Local 3903 represents York University‘s contract faculty, teaching assistants, and graduate assistants; it was among several locals that brought the anti-Israel resolution to CUPE Ontario.

The York union’s presence as a sponsor didn’t entirely accord with the plaintive story told by David Noble, a York professor [in the Division of Social Science, Faculty of Arts], who gave a talk about pro-Israel organizations in Canada. He described them as so effective that York has become “essentially captive” to Jewish opinion leaders, wrote Fulford.

Cook helped launch Trudeau’s leadership bid

Historian Ramsay Cook, York professor emeritus, shared an “intellectual friendship” with Pierre Trudeau. In his new book, he recalls his part in promoting his friend’s candidacy for Liberal leader in 1967, wrote The Globe and Mail Oct. 14 in a preface to an excerpt from The Teeth of Time: Remembering Pierre Elliott Trudeau, (McGill-Queens’s University Press 2006).

Cook wrote: One night in a conversation with Mashel Teitelbaum, a marvellously unconventional painter friend, and his politically astute wife Ethel, I revealed my Trudeau fantasy. Mashel, his dark, deep-set eyes shining, pronounced the idea “fantastic.” Ethel enthusiastically endorsed it too. Her response was the important one, because she had both the political skills and the Liberal connections which neither Mashel nor I had. She worked for Donald Macdonald, the ambitious Liberal MP for Rosedale, a man on the left of his party. Our unlikely trio would start a petition and, I supposed, Ethel would speak to Don Macdonald.

Since I thought that others with a higher profile among Liberals might be more effective in gathering names, I recruited Bill Kilbourn, a historian and an active Liberal. And I sent copies of the petition to friends in other parts of the country. We went to work and discovered an encouraging response.

Legal aid woes grow as budget runs over

Ontario’s staggering legal-aid plan has been dealt a new blow with the discovery that it has overrun its budget by $10 million barely halfway through its fiscal year, reported The Globe and Mail Oct. 14. In a directive issued this week to lawyers who provide legal-aid representation under the plan, Legal Aid Ontario warned of impending delays in how long it takes to reimburse them.

In response to inquiries about the program’s solvency from The Globe and Mail two weeks ago, Attorney-General Michael Bryant suddenly announced that he would appoint one of the ranking experts on legal aid, York University law Professor John McCamus, to investigate the problem and report back to him. However, no further information has been made public about his terms of reference, budget, or the length of time before McCamus is expected to produce his report.

Bryant rejected allegations at the time that his government has plunged its legal-aid plan into a deep financial hole, but he expressed confidence that McCamus may be able to devise an arm’s-length funding scenario that would permit Legal Aid Ontario to increase legal-aid rates any time they fall below a certain baseline.

Star lawyer guides aspiring black students

For many Toronto black youth, Frank Walwyn is like an alien from outer space, wrote The Toronto Sun Oct. 16. [But] as the only black lawyer and partner in one of Toronto’s oldest, most influential law firms, WeirFoulds, and president of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers, he helps young people go for professional gold. He’s a powerful role model for high school students and equally important, he guides graduate students through the minefields of law school and beyond.

When Ava-Gaye Colquhoun, (BA ‘91, BA Hons ‘02, LLB ‘06), was frustrated at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School and didn’t think she could make it, Walwyn was there for her. “He always returned my phone calls, talked some sense into me, encouraged me and bounced ideas around with me,” the newly minted graduate said. “But most of all he was living what I wanted to be.” As an articling student working 60 hours a week, she’s following his lead at another Bay Street firm, but it’s a little easier for her today than it was for him.

Sapling story written by York alumnus

Michael Kohn‘s Greener Than Eden is as good as any primer for the would-be young planter, wrote a reviewer for The Globe and Mail Oct. 14. It’s got the macho jargon, the rugged landscape, the camp and campy dynamic, the renegade planters, the bears, the heat, the cold, the sex, the food, the aches and pains, the full-body soaker, the ostracism. Kohn is a graduate (BA 88) of the Creative Writing Program in York’s Faculty of Arts and the Humber School for Writers program. This is his first book. Kohn’s strengths in this book – the muscled prose, the mature grasp of structure, and his obvious passion for nature – make Greener Than Eden a promising debut, said the Globe.

On air

  • Eric Armstrong, theatre professor in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts and a voice and speech coach, answered a listener’s question about why people seem to lose their accents when they sing, for CBC Radio (St. John, NB) Oct. 13.

  • Ben Quine, professor of physics & astronomy in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about the opening of York’s new space instrumentation laboratory, on Toronto’s CFRB radio Oct. 13.

  • Debra Pepler, psychology professor in York’s Faculty of Health and a researcher at the LaMarsh Centre for Research on Violence & Conflict Resolution, spoke about violence in Canadian schools on CTV’s “W-FIVE” Oct. 14.