York sociologist describes the ‘great Canadian immigration myth’

Despite sunny economic times, immigrant families are constantly struggling to cover basics such as food, childcare and rent, wrote the Toronto Star May 9, quoting Parbattie Ramsarran, a sociologist in York’s Faculty of Arts and chair of the Centre for Social Justice in Toronto, who participated in a panel discussion on poverty May 8. Calling it the "great Canadian immigration myth," Ramsarran said Canada has lured thousands of foreign skilled workers and professionals, only to offer them low-paying non-unionized service jobs.

Alumnus makes this year’s Top 40 Under 40

Europe waited while York alumnus Frank Cianciulli (BA ‘97) found his calling, wrote The Globe and Mail in a story about this year’s Report on Business Top 40 Under 40. In 1995, Cianciulli – then studying history and political science in York’s Faculty of Arts – postponed plans to visit the continent in favour of a summer job selling conference services for ConferTech, a Dallas-based company later bought by Frontier Corp. in Westminster, Colo. Cianciulli eventually made good on his plans to visit Europe. But he stayed involved with ConferTech, until Bell Canada hired him as an account manager in its conference services division.

"I was 23 and found the conferencing business very exciting and very lucrative," he recalls. "I had discovered something I could really be passionate about." It wasn’t long before Cianciulli began to hear the siren song of enterprise, and in the spring of 2001, he left Bell to co-found Enunciate Conferencing, a Toronto-based provider of audio, video and Web conference services.

Today, Enunciate boasts more than 3,000 corporate clients, including the likes of TD Canada Trust, the National Hockey League and the Canadian Football League. Last year, Enunciate posted $14 million in sales and is on track to book $22 million by the end of this year, says Cianciulli.

New ‘e-tailer’ offers rare, pricey goods for the elite

The deliberate rarity of the exclusive goods for sale on the Web site of London, England-based ‘e-tailer’ 20ltd.com will be particularly attractive to high-end buyers because it’s so hard to find in today’s consumer culture, says Ashwin Joshi, professor of marketing at York University’s Schulich School of Business. "There’s a uniqueness to it, (which) we lose in this world of mass consumption," said Joshi, in a CanWest News Service story in The Daily News (Nanaimo, BC) May 9. "We live in this globalized world where you can get Colgate toothpaste in Tel Aviv and you can get Colgate toothpaste in Toronto."

In the era of "mass affluence," even such iconic luxury brands as BMW and Mercedes are becoming more ubiquitous and affordable, Joshi says. As a result, the bar of prestige has been pushed ever higher and there’s an opening at the top of the market for "super-elite" brands that are still special because most people will never get near them, he says.

Invest in innovation, says York professor in C.D. Howe report

A new and improved venture capital policy is the "place to start" for Canada to better deliver financial investment to start-ups, wrote Canwest News Service May 9, in a story about a report from the C.D. Howe Institute written by Douglas Cumming, professor of finance & entrepreneurial studies, and Ontario Research Chair in Economics & Cross Cultural Studies at York’s Schulich School of Business.

"Canada needs new options for facilitating investment in innovation and entrepreneurship because existing tools for delivering financial investment to start-ups are not succeeding," according to the report, "Financing Entrepreneurs: Better Canadian Policy for Venture Capital".

Canadian policymakers should investigate other ways to facilitate entrepreneurial investment, including changes to capital gains taxation and more generous treatment for employee stock options, said Cumming.

Subway presents jobs dilemma

Extending the Spadina subway line to York University and Vaughan could promote job growth along the route – or it could lower employment levels, wrote the Toronto Star May 9. That’s one of the dilemmas facing the city if it hopes to reach its ambitious job-growth targets, according to a consultants’ report that suggests Toronto can’t afford to see much more of its office and industrial space replaced by housing.

The subway will provide an ideal chance to grow more jobs, the Hemson report says. But it will also appeal to residential developers, who will find the subway an attractive selling point. They’ll pressure the city to convert industrial land to housing, the report warns. "One of the most common arguments in support of applications to convert employment land to residential is that it would support transit use," Hemson notes.

Mom’s advice worked, says Alexander

Osgoode alumnus Lincoln Alexander (LLB ’53) says his mother would be proud, wrote The Toronto Sun May 9. "I know my mommy would be pleased with me. Through my whole life, my mother used to tell me, ‘You’re a little black kid and you go to school!’ so I went to school," Alexander said of the woman who instilled in him a yearning to seek excellence.

"The best thing I did was listen to my mother. Whether you’re black, white or yellow you should go to school and seek excellence, and if you’re an adult, don’t give up believing in yourself but continue to live," said Alexander, who served as Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor from 1985-1991 and also received an honorary doctor of laws degree from York in 1990.

Working for the community

Sanya Billoo has helped organize fundraisers at Niagara Falls, Ontario’s Stamford Collegiate, wrote the Niagara Falls Review May 9. Now, the Grade 12 student has another accolade to add to her resumé. She is the recipient of the Vicky Hull Young Women of Distinction Award for Community Service, presented by the YWCA Niagara Region. "It was very rewarding to win it," said the soft-spoken 18-year-old with a 94 per cent average and a big, bright smile, who will attend the Schulich School of Business at York University in September.

A small start for larger goals

It has been about two weeks since I left Kenya, and a little more than a week since I got home, wrote York alumnus Jacob Kojfman (LLB/MBA ’03) in his final column for the National Post May 9 on his work experience in Kenya. The question of what sort of job I will do still weighs heavily in my mind. Before I left Kenya, I founded a micro-finance, of sorts. Originally, I was going to leave behind $200 as a symbolic gesture. I was "talked" into leaving behind an extra $100 because the 20,000 Kenyan shillings (after conversion) would help more people.

I’m now unemployed but somehow the overarching sense of altruism still compelled me to donate that $300, to be used as seed capital to lend four Kenyans with a viable business idea the funds needed to get their businesses off the ground. For all the talk of micro-finance and the wonders it does to alleviate poverty in the developing world, there is still much work to be done to get credit in the hands of those who need it.

Throughout the series of columns on his Kenyan adventure, the Post noted Kojfman has an LLB/ MBA from York University’s Schulich School of Business and Osgoode Hall Law School.

Hogg says judge candidates can’t answer improper questions by review panels

Noted Canadian constitutional scholar Peter Hogg, the former dean of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, has a sober warning to those who think public scrutiny of judges means the right to probe and sensationalize their personal opinions on contentious legal and social issues, wrote the Winnipeg Free Press May 9.

"Judges decide cases by finding the facts that are relevant and applying the law to those facts," Hogg told the ad hoc parliamentary committee on Supreme Court appointment in February 2006. For that reason, and many others, "there are some questions the (judicial candidate) cannot be expected to answer. He cannot express views on cases or issues that could come before the court…he [or she] might eventually be faced with that case,” Hogg said. Nor can a judge be asked to explain his decisions, Hogg continued. He can only point to his written judgments.

York professor followed in teacher father’s footsteps

Gerard Couroux, father of Marc Couroux, professor of cultural studies in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, died May 4 after a seven-year battle with prostate cancer, wrote The Gazette (Montreal) in a notice published May 8. A teacher and an accomplished artist and sculptor, his children have followed in his footsteps, Marc teaching new media at York and Christina teaching biology in California.

On air

  • Sam Gindin, Packer Visitor in Social Justice in York’s Department of Political Science, Faculty of Arts, spoke about a proposed international merger between British and North American steelworkers unions, on CBC Radio’s “The Current” May 8.
  • Bird expert Bridget Stutchbury, biology professor in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, answered listeners’ questions on the phone-in hour of CBC Radio’s “Ontario Today” program, May 8.
  • Economist Bernie Wolf, director of York’s International MBA Program in the Schulich School of Business, spoke about plans by newly elected French President Nicholas Sarkozy to stimulate France’s sluggish economy, on ROB-TV May 8.