Glad to be Canadian, most Muslims say

More than 80 per cent of Canada’s roughly 700,000 Muslims are broadly satisfied with their lives here and only a very small percentage – 17 per cent – feel that many or most Canadians are hostile toward their religion, wrote Feb. 13. Many of these concerns are more strongly backed by young Muslims under 30, the survey suggests, and Haideh Moghissi, a sociologist in York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies who has worked extensively in this area, says these should probably be seen as more of a "political gesture than a religious one" by those who have felt their community "bearing the brunt of this suspicion and fear" since 9/11.

New artist-teaching course launched

The Stratford Festival of Canada, York University and the Ontario Arts Council will launch a certificate course in arts education on Feb. 11, wrote the Stratford City Gazette Feb. 9. The Richard Rooney and Laura Dinner Artist Training Program is a five-day course for artists who teach elementary and secondary students through the festival’s Teaching Shakespeare School and other outreach programs. The course will be delivered by faculty from York University with guests from Shakespearience (a literacy program), the University of Waterloo and the OAC.

"Many of the participants are established actors who have been working in schools for years," said Kathleen Gould Lundy, co-director of the certificate course in arts education, a course director in York’s Faculties of Education and Fine Arts and coordinator of Destination Arts (a joint venture of the two Faculties).

  • The course was also featured in a story in the Stratford Beacon-Herald Feb. 12.

Theatre alum knows he made the right choice

Sitting in the third row of the Theatre Passe Muraille, Soheil Parsa (BA ’89) is trying to keep his voice down and his energy up, wrote the Toronto Star Feb. 13. It is the weekend before previews of his production of the acclaimed drama The Sheep and the Whale, and the cast is trickling in for rehearsal. He still has to tinker with some details and it’s obvious he is tired.

Parsa enrolled in the theatre program at York’s Faculty of Fine Arts and supported his family at a variety of jobs – bus driver, newspaper deliverer and doughnut shop employee – scraping by in order to realize his dream. Parsa says the theatre was where he first found something familiar and discovering like-minded people let him know he made the right choice – even if it was a frustrating journey at times.

Global warming pitch on the front burner

An Italian fashion designer that sells $225 jeans put its considerable marketing muscle behind a high-profile ad campaign featuring images of global warming juxtaposed against youthful bodies dancing the night away, wrote the Toronto Star Feb. 13. The campaign stole the spotlight from another product launch by a firm that sells recycled toilet paper. Consumers can expect to see a lot more of these types of ads now that global warming is on the front burner, said Allan Middleton, marketing professor at York’s Schulich School of Business. "It’s hot. Everyone wants to hop on board."

Tories under attack over right-wing judges

The Conservative government is facing accusations it’s trying to pack the country’s courts with right-wing judges by manipulating the membership of the advisory committees that vet candidates for the bench, wrote the Orillia Packet and Times Feb. 13. Patrick Monahan, dean of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, also found cause to worry about the Tory approach. "Certainly, if the government is appointing to committees individuals who are there for partisan political considerations, I think that would be a matter of serious concern," said Monahan.

Wide discussion useful on Canada’s tax policy

Leaders of some political parties are cutting taxes and casting their nets out for voters. With taxes used to fund needed social programs, these ongoing cuts are not in the public interest, wrote John McConnell in The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) Feb. 13. Academics Neil Brooks of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School and Thaddeus Hwong of York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies compared tax policies in Canada and other OECD countries and found that Canada’s economic and social indicators are falling behind those of other nations. I agree with their assessment that tax cuts are the reason. Brooks and Hwong’s research, done for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, also found that people in higher-taxed Nordic countries used fewer illegal drugs, had more leisure time and higher life satisfaction.

Getting a taste for food business

Business owners Chris Bower and York alumnus Tal Rosenbloom (BBA ‘00), founders of Chris & Tal’s Better Foods, drive around town with the tools of their trade in the trunk of their cars: portable barbecue with small propane tank, coolers loaded with freezie packs and frozen beef-soy burgers, flippers to turn the burgers, boxes to demonstrate their product line and plates, knives, forks and napkins to feed potential customers, wrote the Toronto Star Feb. 12. They set up their wares at grocery stores, cook up sizzling free samples of Chris & Tal’s Better Burgers and attract hordes – who never guess this tasty burger has half the calories, fat and cholesterol of a regular burger. 

Model schools for inner cities

The Toronto District School Board recently launched an innovative program to better support inner-city students in their quest to succeed in school, wrote The Toronto Sun Feb. 12. The Model Schools for Inner Cities Initiative is now in place at the first three participating schools – Nelson Mandela Park, Firgrove and Willow Park Junior public schools. The City of Toronto, Toronto Public Health, the TDSB’s Foundation for Student Success, the Faculty of Education at York University and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto all partner with the TDSB in research, professional development and staff support in the model schools.

Messenger among group of Ontarians charged with reviewing voting system

Woodstonian Margaret Messenger is one of 103 Ontarians who have been given a say in changing the way we vote, wrote the Woodstock Sentinel-Review Feb. 12. Messenger, a lifelong resident of the Friendly City, was randomly selected to participate in Ontario’s Citizens’ Assembly on Democratic Reform last May, a commitment which will end when the group presents its recommendations to the Ontario Legislature on May 15. Study weekends involved being somewhat sequestered at York University’s Keele campus participating in lecture sessions and breakout groups. These were followed by 37 public consultation meetings held across the province, which wrapped up in January.

He likes action, but pirates give him grief

York alumnus Ellis Jacob (MBA ’76) is a big movie fan – just what you’d expect from the president & CEO of Cineplex Entertainment LP, the multiplex monster that controls 65 per cent of the country’s movie box-office revenue and 30 per cent of its screens, wrote The Globe and Mail Feb. 12. Jacob, a Calcutta native who immigrated to Canada as a teenager, likes nothing better than spending a couple of hours in the dark with a roomful of strangers. India’s Bollywood now makes more movies than Hollywood, Jacob told his interviewer. It’s starting to come out of its shell and we’ve been very supportive. In some cases, such as in Surrey in British Columbia, we actually do more money from Bollywood films than Hollywood films.

GO is the most comfortable bus system

I am a third-year student at York University and I choose to commute to school, wrote Andrew Gadsby in the Newmarket/Aurora Era-Banner Feb. 3. Do I choose York Region’s Viva or do I choose GO? Hands down, it’s the GO. Why? Aside from the obvious direct route, the GO has more than three stops in the entire town and accepts payment on board. I can easily walk to Savage Road South and catch the bus to school on one side of the street and be dropped off on the other. Viva? I’d have to walk up to Mulock Drive for the nearest payment terminal because, heaven forbid, you pay a driver. Convenient? I think not.

Are these women victims of public indifference, too?

Alan Young, professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, has contrasted the Robert Pickton trial with the heavily publicized trial of serial sex killer Paul Bernardo, wrote columnist Andrew Hunt in The Record (Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo) Feb. 10. Public interest in the Bernardo trial was stronger, Young argues, because Bernardo and his accomplice wife Karla Homolka "were young, attractive, upwardly mobile and…their victims were also young and attractive." Based on his observations of media coverage and the small public audience at the Pickton trial, Young has concluded, "the majority of Canadians feel…that the victims in this case are less worthy than other victims and that is why it’s not as interesting."