To mark its 10th birthday, the Canadian Race Relations Foundation honoured United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour with a Lifetime Achievement Award, reported the Toronto Star Nov. 1. Arbour finished law school at the University of Montreal in 1970 and was called to the Ontario bar seven years later, before joining the faculty of York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School. “Louise was the first woman on the faculty at Osgoode. She always questioned the established way of doing things. She was committed to her principles in justice and human rights,” said Osgoode Dean Patrick Monahan, who introduced Arbour to the gala audience on Oct. 26.
“I’m very touched,” said the Geneva-based Arbour, who flew in for a day between meetings at the United Nations for the ceremony. “In my day-to-day business, I’m always surrounded by hostility. It’s quite a change to get a big hug, a cuddle from some friends. It boosts your spirit,” she said, with daughter Catherine Taman looking on. Ontario Human Rights Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall (LLB ‘78), who spoke at the event, noted in her remarks that she was once Arbour’s student at Osgoode.
A minimum of common sense
Not everybody has gotten the news about supply and demand, wrote the National Post in its editorial Nov. 1, criticizing supporters of increasing the minimum wage. Consider the report just delivered by Harry Arthurs, York’s Osgoode Hall Law School professor entrusted with a wide-ranging review of the Canada Labour Code. Arthurs argues that there should be a single trans-Canada minimum wage for workers in private industries regulated under Part III of the code, which covers 8 per cent of the Canadian workforce, and includes such industries as banking, telecom, broadcasting, transport and pipelines.
Arthurs admits in the report that a federal minimum wage might destroy small businesses and deprive families of second incomes earned by low-skill workers. “In the end, however,” he writes, “the argument over a national minimum wage is not about politics or economics. It is about decency.” One wonders how, except by economics, one would foresee the effects of a new wage control – or how one could dare argue for its “decency” while waving economics aside. By the amount of passion Arthurs devotes to one-sided pleading, we recognize the psychological truth: Only the beneficiaries of his bright idea count. What matters is posturing in favour of “decency,” not achieving it, said the Post.
Star-gazers praise plan to fix flagging Hubble
Canadian astronomers are applauding NASA plans to repair the Hubble Space Telescope, reported the Toronto Star Nov. 1. The US space agency announced Oct. 31 that a shuttle crew would be sent in early 2008 to fix and upgrade the 16-year-old telescope, overturning a decision made after the 2003 Columbia disaster that killed seven astronauts. “I saw the headline and just went: ‘Yes!'” York University astronomy Professor Patrick Hall said of NASA’s decision. “It was just such bad timing to cancel the mission when they did,” noting that two new instruments have been ready to add to Hubble for some time. One is a new, even bigger camera to take infra red pictures, Hall said. The other is a spectrograph to study different colours of light in space. “So, not only will it be repaired but it will also (have) new capabilities.”
Advisers switch gears to let retirees spend
After decades of helping people invest their money, financial institutions are now gearing up for the stage in which an aging population is about to start spending, wrote the Edmonton Journal Nov. 1. “It’s a very different market. Whereby for 20 years your financial adviser has been helping you to become wealthy, now his job is to make you poor,” said Moshe Milevsky, finance professor at York’s Schulich School of Business. “You have a sum of money and you don’t want to spend it too quickly or too slowly. It’s almost a 30-year bear market you’re looking at.”
Mentors can help young workers overcome first-job blues
Feeling the blues soon after being hired is a common dilemma for many people in their first full-time careers, workplace experts say. Some graduates know the root cause of their misery and can take steps to get over it, but others struggling to adjust aren’t sure where their unhappiness comes from, wrote The Globe and Mail Nov. 1. Reaching an answer, the experts say, takes some work. One strategy is to find an older mentor at the company or in the industry and pose the questions: Did you experience similar problems? Is this a normal situation? When will it change? Toronto’s York University, for instance, links its graduates with older alumni in related fields.