Star says $697 million from Ottawa seals Spadina subway deal

The final piece of the puzzle is in place to build the first-ever subway line beyond the border of Toronto into York Region, with a stop at York University, reported the Toronto Star March 3. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Premier Dalton McGuinty will announce that the federal government will pump $697 million into the plan to extend the Spadina subway from Downsview station, the Star said. The province and the municipalities of Toronto and York have already committed money.

At the heart of the announcement is the $2-billion extension of the TTC’s University-Spadina subway line to York University and into York Region to help cope with population growth north of Toronto. There has been a demand for years to make York more accessible for its 65,000 students and staff.

  • GTA politicians reacted with emotions ranging from uncontrolled glee to cautious optimism yesterday at news that the Tory government in Ottawa is ready to throw a huge pile of cash at everything from a subway extension to York University and Vaughan to better bus service in car-crazy Mississauga, Brampton and York Region, wrote the Toronto Star March 4.

TTC Chair and Toronto councillor Adam Giambrone said the subway extension, which will cost Ottawa, Queen’s Park and the City of Toronto and York Region some $2 billion, won’t be ready until 2014.

  • With one stroke of a political pen in the days ahead, the city of Vaughan will quickly go from being the city above Toronto to being the city connected to it by subway, wrote The Toronto Sun March 4 .

The federal cash will also extend the TTC’s Spadina subway from Downsview station to York University and to Vaughan. York University and its 50,000 students will also benefit greatly, said Alex Bilyk, York’s director of media relations. "It would be great news," said Bilyk, who estimated a majority of the students use public transit to get the university. "Over 1,800 buses a day roll through here."

  • Reports of the deal for the Spadina subway extension were also broadcast on CFTO-TV, Global TV and City-tv March 3.

Mayors want billions from Ottawa for transit

Canada’s big city mayors will call on Ottawa today to commit hundreds of millions of dollars in annual funding to upgrade and expand the country’s transit systems, wrote the Hamilton Spectator March 5. They’re hoping the federal Conservatives – looking to make progress on the environment front – will support this new municipal strategy to get people out of cars and on subways, buses and streetcars.

Today’s announcement comes in a week when Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to join with Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty to promise $1 billion in federal funding to improve transportation around the GTA, the Spectator said. That includes $670 million in federal funding for the $2-billion extension of the subway to York University and Vaughan as well as improvements to bus service throughout the 905 region.

Former Chatelaine editor served on York’s board of governors

Doris Anderson, a magazine editor, author and campaigner for women’s rights, was an independent spirit always ready to defy authority in defence of her principles, wrote the Ottawa Citizen March 4. When she became editor of Chatelaine magazine in 1957, she said she was determined to give readers "something serious to think about, something to shake them up." Chatelaine became one of the few places where feminist ideas were available to women. By the time she left in 1977, the magazine’s circulation had more than tripled.

Anderson, who had suffered poor health in recent years, died at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital Friday at the age of 85. She reportedly died of pulmonary fibrosis. Her involvement in the publishing business included a stint as director of MacMillan Publishing Co. of Canada. She also served as director of the Canadian Film Development Corp. and the Institute of Research on Public Policy Planning, as a governor of York University and a member of the Ontario Press Council.

‘Zero tolerance’ gets failing grade

With a provincial election looming, it’s time for the Liberal government to repeal Ontario’s controversial Safe Schools Act, according to the group behind the Safer Schools Campaign, wrote the Toronto Star March 5. The group says the so-called "zero tolerance," tough discipline law is still being used arbitrarily to push kids, particularly minorities, out of school and into the criminal justice system.

Lora Patton, review counsel for the Community & Legal Aid Services Program (CLASP) at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, said "there’s no question in my mind (the Safe Schools Act) is discriminatory. A lot of it is class as much as race. The way it’s applied in schools from poorer areas, what we see is, kids who are part of a group of friends are seen as gangs," she said before dropping off the group’s report for Premier Dalton McGuinty.

Forces to issue guerrilla war manual

The Canadian Forces will for the first time publish a counter-insurgency manual to give troops and their commanders insight into how to fight guerrilla wars and win hearts and minds, wrote the National Post March 5. Defence analyst Martin Shadwick said considering Canada’s ongoing involvement in Afghanistan the development of a counter-insurgency manual makes sense. Shadwick, a strategic studies professor in the York Centre for International & Security Studies, said it would also be valuable for Canada to study Australian efforts in counter-insurgency operations.

But he noted it is important the military doesn’t just focus on counter-insurgency missions. He pointed out that Arctic warfare expertise, which has been lacking in the past several years, will also be important in the future because the Harper government has highlighted its intention of expanding the military presence in the north as a top priority.

Osgoode alumnus misses music in the oil patch

For all its wealth, Calgary is not a destination for indie rock tours, wrote the Toronto Star March 3 in a feature on young Ontarians who have moved to Alberta in search of jobs. The scene is decent but York alumnus and corporate lawyer Evan Hillman (MBA/LLB ‘03), 30, can’t find quite as many concerts as he’s used to, having grown up in North Toronto. But "there’s a nice old theatre on 8th Street where they show independent films,” he says.

A graduate of York’s joint MBA/LLB program at Osgoode Hall Law School and the Schulich School of Business, Hillman passed the bar exam, completed his time as an articling student and searched for a job in corporate and securities law for about a year. Sure, he found positions in litigation and in insurance law but nothing in the field he wanted to pursue.

He wasn’t in the right networks and hadn’t made enough contacts to edge his way into a law firm that specialized in finance – his passion. Then he ran across a newspaper article. Calgary’s booming, it said. On a whim, he went online and landed a job in the Calgary office of Blake Cassels & Graydon, one of Canada’s largest law firms. Alberta is a province where, unlike Toronto, the job you get is commensurate with the one you’re trained to do – rather than the people you know, he says.

Legal aid rules shut out thousands

Ontario’s legal aid plan, established 40 years ago with the promise of ensuring justice for all, is struggling to serve even the poor, wrote the Toronto Star March 3. It’s the richest legal aid program in the country with an annual budget of $309 million, yet is turning away people in record numbers. Legal aid lawyers continue to be paid modestly – $73.87 to $92.34 an hour, depending on their experience. Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant recently asked Professor John McCamus of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School to look at alternatives to the current fee system and administration of legal aid.

York emergencies expert says judgment calls are part of the job

Mayor David Miller rejected suggestions the city overreacted to the latest winter storm, after a senior fire official told Torontonians to stay indoors even as neighbouring municipalities mostly shrugged off the weather, wrote the National Post March 3.

Emergency preparedness experts say managing emergencies requires officials to make judgment calls. "They can be really tough calls, especially when you have to make it ahead of time, based on what might happen," said David Etkin, who teaches courses in emergency management in York’s Atkinson School of Administrative Studies. "[Officials] are in a position of having to trade off protecting public safety on one side and on the other side inconveniencing people by being too risk averse. You’re never going to make everybody happy. So there is no rule, every situation is unique."

Sodexho lauded for Aboriginal relations

A local food services and facilities management company, which also serves York’s Keele campus, has received a top ranking for its business dealings with the Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples, reported the Burlington Post March 2. The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business has named Sodexho as an industry leader in accessing and working with the fast-growing Aboriginal sector of the Canadian economy by re-confirming its status as a gold level achiever. It received the gold certification under the Progressive Aboriginal Relations program through the council.

Glendon graduate Hébert writes about Harper’s Quebec comeback

English-speaking viewers of the CBC will know Glendon alumna Chantal Hébert (BA ‘76) as the woman on the right side of their screens when the Corp. trots out its political panel, At Issue, wrote former editor Norman Webster in The Gazette (Montreal) March 3. Her mission most weeks seems to be to talk sense while her co-panelists let themselves get mad, posit dark conspiracies or spin off on flights of fancy. Peter Mansbridge likes to use her to bring the discussion back to ground level, particularly where Quebec is concerned. Almost always, she obliges.

And why not? A francophone journalist, national affairs writer for the almighty Toronto Star, weekly columnist for Le Devoir, Montreal resident, graduate of York University, her credentials for the mission are impeccable. Hébert holds senior standing among a new breed of Canadian journalists able to work in both official languages, understand both cultures and explain one to the other as if it were the most natural thing in the world – which perhaps it always should have been, but rarely was.

Now we have her book, French Kiss: Stephen Harper’s Blind Date with Quebec. What made it possible, of course, was Harper’s surprising showing in Quebec in the last federal election, in January of 2006.

York mathematician applauds Marxist lawyer’s contributions

Defence counsel Peter Rosenthal’s legal triumphs have not detracted from his initial calling, said Lee Lorch, a mathematics professor in Yorks’ Faculty of AR, in a story about the Marxist lawyer in The Globe and Mail March 3. "He makes valuable contributions to Canada through his excellent mathematical research, his training of students and, perhaps most notably, by his passionate volunteer work for social justice," Lorch said. "His clear insights, personal courage, unbounded energy and determination combine to help us understand the need to be ever-vigilant for justice – and the importance of constant struggle to achieve it."

Teen’s death a wake-up call for parents

In a story about the apparent murder of an 18-year-old Calgary woman, the Calgary Herald wrote March 3 that Jennifer Connolly, director of the LaMarsh Centre for Research on Violence & Conflict Resolution at York’s Keele campus, has devoted the last several years to expanding our knowledge and understanding of violence and conflict in the lives of teens. She got interested in dating violence, she says, while researching the phenomenon of bullying.

"As a society, we’ve tended to ignore teenage relationships, or seen them as trivial," says Connolly. "But we need to pay a lot more attention to them, and the possibility that many of these young people can get into relationships where there is aggression and violence." According to Connolly, recent research shows that a shocking 30 per cent of teens report at least one instance of aggression and physical violence in their romantic relationships. "This isn’t just a Canadian phenomenon," she says. "We’ve seen evidence that this is going on everywhere." Connolly says that while abuse leading to murder is a mercifully rare occurrence, we need to keep in mind that it’s a slippery slope.

Citzens’ assembly confronts true art of politics

After devoting six months to the abstract study of electoral systems around the world, the 103 members of Ontario’s "citizens’ assembly" are now discovering what real politics is all about: compromise, wrote the Toronto Star in its editorial of March 5. And they are finding that often the trade-offs involved are not between desirable choices but between the least undesirable.

The assembly broke into small groups Saturday and seemed to arrive at a consensus to increase the size of the legislature by 26 to 46 seats and keep the number of ridings roughly the same as today (in the range of 100 to 107). But in the plenary session yesterday at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, that consensus began to fall apart. Some assembly members worried that increasing the number of politicians in the legislature would be hard to sell to the general public, which will be asked to approve the new electoral system in a fall referendum.

Runaway success of self-help DVD, book a lesson in savvy marketing

The phenomenal success of runaway best seller DVD and book, The Secret, says as much about the power of conspiracy in marketing as it does about people’s endless desire to achieve health, wealth and happiness, wrote the National Post March 5. "In popular culture, you get one big hit and everyone tries to replicate it," said Alan Middleton, a professor of marketing in York’s Schulich School of Business.

Brubeck’s cello playing called innovative

Friday’s concert the Registry Theatre in Kitchener featured Kevin Breit and York music instructor Matt Brubeck, reported The Record (Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo) March 5. Brubeck, who teaches in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, was as innovative on cello as Breit was on guitar. He often plucked his instrument like a bass guitarist, creating all manner of unusual and evocative sounds.

The life of John Daddy Hall headlines annual black history event

The afternoon panel discussion at the sixth annual black history event in Durham on April 28 is being moderated by Naomi Norquay, professor in York’s Faculty of Education, and will focus on how to make black history relevant to a broader community, wrote the Owen Sound Sun Times March 5.

Trainer measures up as my mentor

Former York student Steve Couto, a trainer at the Kingston Family YMCA who checks in at five-foot-eight and 155 pounds, is certainly qualified to be my weight-loss mentor, wrote 300-pound Jan Murphy, editor of the Kingston Whig-Standard, on March 5. Besides being a workout nut and an avid soccer fan, he brings a wealth of education and experience to the Y. He spent two years at York University, where he studied in the School of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Health. "Working with athletes is what I’ve wanted to do since high school," he said. "In hindsight, I should have finished university, but instead I’m taking the long route. I guess if you can’t be a pro, then working with them is the next best thing."

Gifted students think globally

Gifted junior and intermediate students from throughout the Simcoe County District School Board were invited to tackle the challenging issues facing the global environment at the Earthlings Without Borders conference held earlier this week at Georgian College, wrote the Barrie Examiner March 3. The session was led by 46 teaching candidates from York University, who were doing placements at schools throughout the board. Teacher Karen McGregor says the conference has been a benefit to the youngsters and student teachers. The candidates were are able to gain valuable knowledge about teaching gifted students, while the kids learn about environmental issues and participating in a conference setting.

On air

  • York Lions women’s basketball players Kim Gibbs, Brenan Rurak and coach Bill Pangos, spoke about their upcoming provincial championship game on CFTO-TV March 3.