‘Giant of the legal world’ led SARS and Bernardo inquiries

One of Canada’s legal giants, the man who led a commission of inquiry into SARS, has died after a lengthy battle with a degenerative lung disease, reported the Toronto Star April 19. Justice Archie Campbell (LLB ’67) an alumnus and former instructor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, died Tuesday evening in hospital, just days after he had been put on the waiting list for a transplant.

A respected member of the judiciary, Campbell didn’t shy away from tough issues. Besides the SARS commission, he also led a 1995 inquiry into the botched investigation of the abduction and murder of two schoolgirls by Paul Bernardo, wrote the Star.

"Archie Campbell was…one of the giants of the legal world," said fellow Osgoode alumnus Roy McMurtry (LLB ’58), Ontario’s chief justice and a friend for over 50 years. "We’ve lost one of our most able judges in the country.”

Campbell took a year’s sabbatical from the attorney general’s office to head the Parkdale Legal Clinic in 1977. He also taught at Osgoode. Appointed to the bench in 1986, he became regional senior justice of the Ontario court for the Toronto region from 1993 to 1996 before his appointment to Superior Court.

  • An eccentric dresser who wore Greb boots in the courtroom, a fanatical canoe tripper, a dedicated declaimer of Virgil and Marcus Aurelius – in the vernacular – and a man who was known to take a drink, Archie Campbell lived life fully and made sure that those around him enjoyed it too, wrote The Globe and Mail April 19 in an obituary. He was also an outstanding jurist and public-policy analyst.

"He did an outstanding job [of the Paul Bernardo review] and made recommendations that are not only followed to this day, but will be for decades to come," said fellow Osgoode alumnus Patrick LeSage (LLB ’61), former chief justice of Ontario, who presided over the Bernardo trial. "I don’t think anybody questions that he got it right. His biggest supporters are the police, whose policies he recommended changing because of the shortcomings in communications and major case management, and that sort of thing."

At University of Toronto Schools, he met a group of other 12-year-old boys who became lifelong friends. One of them was Richard Pope, York professor emeritus of Russian history and literature in York’s Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics, Faculty of Arts. His friend always wanted to be a lawyer, Pope said.

Schools review safety measures

Cellphone text messages. Loudspeakers on towers. Cameras that detect suspicious activity. Colleges and universities in the United States and Canada are considering these and other measures in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech massacre, seeking to improve how they get the word out about emergencies to thousands of students across sprawling campuses, wrote the Toronto Star April 19.

In Canada, too, universities are brainstorming ways to alert students in an emergency. York University has also formed a group to review how it alerts students to danger, "although with 60,000 people on campus every day – we’re twice the size of Virginia Tech – there won’t be one button we can push to do it all," said Richard Fisher, the University’s chief marketing officer.  

  • It is when their charges turn quiet that university residence assistants get worried, wrote The Globe and Mail April 19 in a story related to the Virginia Tech massacre. Dealing with students who are obviously troubled but silent is the hardest part of the job. Most advisers receive a week or two of training in handling a variety of situations in the summer before students move into their dorms. Since they are not experts, they are told to draw on a variety of on- and off-campus services, including mental-health counsellors, sexual-assault crisis centres and campus security. 
    "It’s very difficult to plan for those kinds of human interactions, because every kind of imaginable human variable may come into play," said Frank Cappadocia, director of York’s Centre for Student Community & Leadership Development.

Silencing our songbirds

Bridget Stutchbury marvels at the mystery of nature revealed in massive clouds of migrating birds appearing over the Golden Horseshoe and western New York, wrote the Hamilton Spectator April 19. Stutchbury, a biology professor in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering and an international birding expert, is ringing the alarm bells in her new book Silence of the Songbirds. She warns that migration is "slowly but steadily eroding" as songbirds disappear at what she considers to be a frightening rate, with potentially disastrous consequences for the ecosystem.

"I don’t want to be accused of exaggerating, but really, when you look at all the species involved and the length of time they have been in trouble, it indicates problems on the same kind of scale as global warming," Stutchbury told the Spectator.

She enjoys looking out of her office window to observe a patch of forest on York’s Keele campus that provides a precious, life-saving woodlot for birds that breed farther north, wrote the Spectator. It may be hard to imagine a future without birds, but this advocate recalls the canary in the mineshaft: "We have learned the hard way that when birds begin disappearing, we may be next."

  • "Songbirds have steamy social lives that would make most of us blush." That’s according to Bridget Stutchbury, author of the new book, Silence of the Songbirds, about birds’ disappearing habitats, wrote columnist Jeff Elder in North Carolina’s Charlotte Observer April 19. Songbirds live with their mates, but both males and females sneak off with other lovers for what she refers to as – HERE ARE MY FAVORITE WORDS IN THIS WHOLE COLUMN – "one-minute stands." When it comes to bird sex, it’s not the size of the wing. It’s how you flap that thing. All this mating activity means that songbirds prefer to nest in little bird neighborhoods, Stutchbury says, where they’re "able to sneak around."
    Stutchbury, a biology professor at York University in Toronto, writes in her new book that songbirds are quickly losing their habitats. The rainforests and other disappearing nesting grounds hurt them, and so do city lights, wrote Elder.

Science Centre explores mission to Mars

The Okanagan Science Centre celebrates International Astronomy Week April 16 to 21 with Victoria Hipkin of the Canadian Space Agency making a special presentation about Canada’s role in the Phoenix Mission to Mars, wrote BC’s Vernon Morning Star April 18. The Phoenix mission is lead by the University of Arizona with Canadian expertise from a wide range of partners in universities and industry, including York University.

Artist’s strange attraction to Dr. Strangelove

Dr. Strangelove, Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film, has been the unlikely launch pad for Toronto artist Kristan Horton’s remarkably successful, if home-brewed, career that shows no sign of becoming any less successful or home-brewed, wrote the Toronto Star April 19. A small collection of Strangelove images is included in the artist’s new show of sculpture and photography at Jessica Bradley Art + Projects. Another 200 Strangelove reconstructions are to be published as a book to go with an exhibition of 40 other Strangelove diptychs at the Art Gallery of York University, starting Wednesday.

Kyrgyzstan is unlikely to nationalize gold mine says York professor

Charles McMillan, a professor of policy in York’s Schulich School of Business and an expert on Kyrgyzstan, said there have been problems with an agreement between that country’s government and Centerra Gold Inc.., the Toronto-based owners of the Kumtor gold mine, since it was signed, wrote the National Post April 19. "Something like 39 or 40 people signed from the government because no one would take responsibility," he said. "A lot of people in the government thought Kyrgyzstan got a bad deal."

He contends Kumtor will not be nationalized because the government is too weak to do it and is facing re-election challenges. "There are two sides to this. On one hand, it’s an autocratic government that’s looking for scapegoats. They need an outsider to protest against," he said. "On the other hand, [Centerra has] a monopoly. You can see why a lot people feel the government should get a bigger ownership position."

Pope Pius and the Nazis

Columnist Michael Coren deals with delicate and complex issues in his attempt to appraise in wholly positive terms the relationship of Pope Pius XII to the Nazi annihilation of Europe’s Jews, wrote Eric Lawee, humanities professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, in a letter to the National Post April 19. Coren paints many aspects of the Pope’s policy with respect to Jews as matters of prudent discretion. Others can be forgiven for seeing in some of the Pope’s acts of ostensible prudence a discretion divorced from reality. Yet others will share the assessment of Robert Wistrich, a member of the international Catholic-Jewish team of scholars established in 1999 to examine Pope Pius XII’s wartime record, that “the least one can say is that this discretion did not raise the moral standing of the Church.”

Fewer businesses letting staff install their own software

There are varying schools of thought on allowing employees to install their own software on work computers, wrote The Globe and Mail April 19. Giving users the flexibility they need is important, argues Richard Irving, professor of management information systems at York ‘s Schulich School of Business. "The IT department wants to make things easy to support," Irving says. "From a management point of view, I want the work to get done, and if that interacts negatively with IT’s ability to support it, then I want IT to just bite the bullet." Irving doubts that debate will end soon. "I don’t think that there’s a point of equilibrium," he says. "I think there’s an ongoing dialogue between the needs of IT and the needs of users."

The new line? Think ‘travesty.’ Think mistake

It’s not that the new, ex-urban route [for the Spadina subway line] will cost city taxpayers extra to build: Vaughan will pay its share. The problem, according to City of Toronto budget chief, Councillor Shelley Carroll and others, is that construction of the Vaughan subway will likely soak up all foreseeable support for public transit in the region, wrote columnist John Barber in The Globe and Mail April 19.

Another classic example [of some attitudes towards the subway plan] is the tract of low-rise housing York University is currently building on its Keele campus within easy walking distance of what will become the new Finch West station, wrote Barber. In a space big enough for a middling Japanese developer to build a new satellite city, York is building two-thirds of a 19th-century village. Even Markham and Richmond Hill are currently building much more intensively than that, according to Councillor Glen De Baeremaeker.