Bell beavers are ‘quintessential Canadian men’

Bell Mobility’s mascots, beavers Frank and Gordon, are blundering couch potatoes, painfully out of touch with modern telecommunications…but the vexing rodents are quintessential Canadian men, say media researchers presenting their findings at the country’s largest academic conference this week, wrote the National Post May 31.

Barbara Crow, professor in communications studies in York’s Faculty of Arts, and Kim Sawchuk of Concordia University, are sharing their findings as part of the Canadian Communication Association meeting in a paper called, "Leave It To Beavers: Modalities of Masculinities in Bell’s Imagined Mobile World."

Their paper is part of larger project looking at the Canadian wireless telecommunications industry, and specifically how from an industry point of view, Canadians lag behind other nations in their adoption of cellular services, said the Post. "From the earliest video clips, the campaign has depicted these anthropomorphic characters as bumbling male couch potatoes in a process of continual discovery of the wonders of a technologically enhanced life in a fast-paced mobile world," the professors write in their abstract.

Wirkowski inducted into York’s Hall of Fame

When Nobby Wirkowski signed up to start a university football program from scratch, he knew he would hit a few speed bumps, wrote the Mississauga News May 30. It was quite a change for Wirkowski, who won two Bowl games as a quarterback for the University of Miami at Ohio, a Grey Cup as a quarterback with the Argos, and then went on to coach Toronto’s Canadian Football League team. But almost 40 years later, Wirkowski flashes a warm smile when he reflects on those initial days at York.

The team’s first win over the University of Toronto in front of thousands of fans at Varsity Stadium in 1984 stands out, but Dr. James Laws (BA ‘73), the squad’s former athletic therapist, remembers something just as important that had very little to do with football. "One of the great things about Nobby is he said the student comes first in student-athlete," Laws said. "It was not athlete-student."

"When I look back, I think of all the ball players that played there who became lawyers, doctors, school teachers, chiropractors, veterinarians and business people," said Wirkowski. "That’s what I look at."

Wirkowski is being inducted into the York University Sport Hall of Fame tomorrow [May 31] in Woodbridge. In addition, earlier this month Wirkowski received the John McManus Award from Ontario University Athletics. The award is presented to a retired coach who exemplified the highest ideals and qualities of sportsmanship and service while engaged in coaching in university.

Chief justice benched; At 75, rules say it’s time to retire

It is a bittersweet day for Ontario. Perhaps it is likewise for one of its citizens. On the other hand, it might be a day of double sweetness for him, wrote The Toronto Sun May 31. It will certainly be a day filled with song. Early in the day today, His Honour, Ontario’s Chief Justice Roy McMurtry (LLB ’58, LLD ‘91), will be serenaded with the strains of Happy Birthday To You as he celebrates his milestone 75th year on the planet. However, at the end of the workday today, McMurtry will also hear the strains of For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow as he celebrates his last day of work before he retires. [McMurtry is a graduate of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School and received an honorary doctorate in law from York in 1991.]

Graduate is appointed college president

York political science graduate Christopher Whitaker (MA ‘94) will step in as the next president of St. Lawrence College Aug. 1, wrote the Cornwall Standard-Freeholder May 31. Whitaker has been employed at St. Lawrence College since 1987 and has had a range of progressive leadership experiences as both a teacher and as a senior leader on the college’s executive committee. Currently is serving as the vice-president of academics and executive director of the Kingston campus.

Free travel: an unethical perk for our MPs?

Thirty MPs took all-expenses-paid trips to Taiwan last year, and 28 of them brought a spouse or a family member, prolonging a parliamentary tradition that is coming under growing fire inside and outside Ottawa, wrote The Globe and Mail May 31. While dozens of MPs embark on the trips yearly, other parliamentarians and outside experts view the free travel as an unethical perk and fear that the junkets compromise the objectivity of Canada’s elected officials.

Government ethics expert Ian Greene, political science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts and an executive member of York’s Centre for Practical Ethics, said the trips raise questions for MPs in this day and age: Are they gathering information in a balanced way? Do they need to be accompanied by a family member? Is this essential to their work as a Canadian MP? Overall, the York University political scientist said MPs will likely have problems justifying the junkets, given that such perks are not available to other Canadians. "That would seem to be using public office for personal gain," Greene said.

Kelowna Art Gallery hires York alumna

York alumna Liz Wylie (BA ‘77), who has held the position of curator for the University of Toronto Art Centre for the past 10 years, has been appointed director of BC’s Kelowna Art Gallery, wrote the Kelowna Capital News May 30.

Using pencils to make a point

The pencil is political. It can be when many are pointing at each other in a circle, threatening one another or whoever is in the centre like the missiles of nations engaged in peace talks, wrote the Sudbury Star May 31.

At least, that’s what artist Sam Shahsahabi (MFA ‘02) thinks of when he looks at one of his pieces on exhibition in Being There. Pencils crop up in many of his works on display at the Art Gallery of Sudbury.

The exhibition is just a small sampling, representing about 30 per cent of his Being There series. It encompasses some five volumes, which he began in 1999 while completing his master of fine art degree at York’s Faculty of Fine Arts.

After getting his degree and exhibiting in several Toronto galleries, Shahsahabi decided he needed a change. He wanted to get away from the pretentiousness of the Toronto art scene, where the type of cheese a person served at their opening was almost as important as the art on the floor or walls. So he took a job teaching at the White Mountain Academy in Elliot Lake in 2004.

On air

  • Amy Lavender Harris, instructor in York’s geography department, Faculty of Arts, talked about a discussion she was hosting at the Keele campus May 31 on CBC Radio’s “Here and Now” May 30.
  • Tania Das Gupta, professor of social science in York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies and the School of Women’s Studies, spoke about a new report on casual workers on OMNI TV’s South Asian news program May 30.