How Jane-Finch came to be

Jane and Finch neighbourhood is the result of three ideas that collided in the late 1960s: the need for public housing, the desire to experiment with urban planning, and the opening up of Canada’s immigration policy to non-whites, said Doug Young, a researcher at the City Institute at York University, in a story in The Globe and Mail June 16.

“The goal, which I think is an admirable one, was to produce a more urban, compact community where people would then maybe be better served by better transit, they would be closer to public services, and it would be visually more interesting,” Young said. “You can argue that in hindsight it would have been better to mix it up, if only to save the low-income families from the stigmatization,” Young said.

By their very design, in the way they segregated cars and people by having pedestrian-only streets, the townhouse developments created public-safety problems. There were fewer eyes on the street, and police found the areas difficult to patrol. “If Jane and Finch was built 10 years later, maybe it would look more like the St. Lawrence neighbourhood and be admired,” Young said. “It has the density. It has the cultural diversity, so why is it not one of the best districts in the city?”

Arts researchers are out to prove the value of their work

How do you show value for money in research fields where success can’t be measured by counting patents or discoveries? For the social sciences, the link is easier to make, but researchers in fields such as literature, history, art and drama also can be involved in these projects, wrote The Globe and Mail June 18.

Stan Shapson, York’s vice-president research & innovation and the interim leader of Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council’s appointment, believes such projects are key to shifting attention away from the current focus on science and technology as the only research that matters. As a person who oversees research for all disciplines at York, he believes there has to be investment in humanities and social sciences, as well as science and technology and an increasing cooperation between what until now has been two very separate worlds. “There has to be a balance. We need to support both,” he said. “If we could highlight great ideas, I think it would be easier for everyone to see you need a support base on both sides.”

David Phipps, director of York’s Office of Research Services, says society has done a poor job of understanding the role of humanities and social sciences, which he likens to the legs that hold up a table. “We notice the technology in a product, but we don’t think about the designer of the packaging, or the planner who decided where to put the store.” Phipps, an immunologist by training, says he is struck by the lack of contact between researchers in the humanities and social sciences and those who could benefit from their work.

Leblanc says new accountability law is a start

Richard Leblanc, who teaches corporate governance and ethics in York’s Atkinson School of Administrative Studies, said, while the new Federal Accountability Law, which came into effect in mid-April, is a start, the RCMP and federal public service still trail behind the private sector, reported CBC Radio June 16.

“What ends up happening is you perpetuate a culture of discontent,” said Leblanc,  “and people are rational human beings, and if they see that their colleagues are being ostracized in this way, then they’re just not going to come forward, and then you risk a scandal. Because inevitably, if the problem’s not going to go away, what does happen is someone goes to the outside, and if you’re a CEO or a board of directors of a government department or a Crown corporation, or indeed any company, you don’t want that happening.”

Premier puts more cash toward subway to York

Premier Dalton McGuinty unveiled a sweeping $17.5-billion transit vision for the GTA and Golden Horseshoe that would see construction of 52 projects in what would be the largest transit build in Canadian history, wrote The Toronto Sun June 16.

The plan includes an extension of the Spadina subway to York Region, through York University, which the City of Toronto said earlier it couldn’t afford to operate. TTC Chairman Adam Giambrone said he is “a little flabbergasted and ecstatic” at the size of the announcement. He said the question of operating funds won’t become an issue for some time. “Obviously the full costs don’t come into effect until you are running it, so there are years to talk about how we are going to deal with the operating costs,” Giambrone said.

  • But while politicians lauded yesterday’s funding announcement, public transit supporters hoping for news of a GO Transit link to the region came away disappointed, wrote The Record (Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo) June 16. Waterloo is in dire need of transit links to Toronto for the legion of local commuters who sit in traffic hours each day, said Paul Langan, a Cambridge member of the national public transit advocacy group Transport 2000. “There’s not one person from the area driving home on the 401 today that’s going to be happy about this announcement,” said Langan, whose wife commutes to York University.

Ottawa registry reveals Harper as biggest gift recipient

Political science Professor Robert MacDermid, an ethics expert in York’s Faculty of Arts, believes Canadian politicians should not accept gifts from other governments or the private sector, wrote CanWest News Service June 16. “I don’t think it is appropriate to keep gifts since the person in that office is a representative of the people,” MacDermid said, adding that official presents “aren’t personal like birthday gifts. It is really a gift to the people of Canada.”

When COLD-fX maker CV Technologies visited Parliament Hill with its spokesman, hockey commentator Don Cherry, it was “a mistake” for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to accept gifts, including a signed Marc Messier jersey and a case of the cold remedy, MacDermid said. “Good heavens, it is so obvious. No representative of the people should be accepting gifts from companies that have the intention of lobbying. They didn’t even register. He should have said, ‘No, I can’t take that.’ “

Success found in corporate loyalty

Bharat Masrani has been helping build the banking industry around the world as he proves that inspiring careers can still flourish when founded on the concept of corporate loyalty, wrote the National Post June 16. It is a trait that helped him win the 2007 Indo Canadian Chamber of Commerce Corporate Executive Award.

“I’m very fortunate to be associated with an industry that allows you to excel in different venues in a single industry,” says Masrani, president and chief executive of the Portland, Me.-based TD Banknorth Inc. Masrani is a member of the board of directors of the Risk Management Association and serves on the international advisory committee of the Schulich School of Business at York.

  • The Toronto Sun also reported on Masrani’s award June 16.

Laurel for York’s 200,000th grad

KALEY ROOSEN: For following her dreams; although muscular dystrophy forced her to use a wheelchair, she graduated from York University, becoming its 200,000th graduate, wrote the Toronto Star June 16 in its Darts and Laurels editorial feature.

Canada should create a society that is ‘the envy of the world’

Ian Macdonald, president emeritus, scholar and public servant, gave a convocation address at York University, wrote the Toronto Star June 16 in its ideas section. “We often ponder the role that Canada should play in the arena of world giants,” said Macdonald. “I believe that our role should be to create and maintain a society in Canada that is truly the envy of the world, not for the selfish satisfaction of those of us who are privileged to live here, but as a source of inspiration and as proof that post-industrial society, or whatever you choose to call it, can be civilized, tolerant and humane.”

Durie endears himself to Argos

Andre Durie might not win a job as a running back with the Argos, but he has captured the hearts of the coaching staff, wrote The Toronto Sun June 16. And because he has done that, Durie stands a solid chance of making it through training camp without getting the news that he has been cut.

A former star at York University, Durie blew out his left knee in York’s second game of the 2005 season and did not play a down of football again until the Argos’ pre-season opener against the Montreal Alouettes last week. “It has been awesome, my football senses are coming back very nicely and there are no physical problems whatsoever,” Durie said after morning practice at the University of Toronto’s Erindale campus. “It was not even in my thought process that I would be here.”

Argos coach Michael (Pinball) Clemons and offensive coordinator Steve Buratto have been won over by Durie’s determination. “To be perfectly honest, I have never been around anybody who was hurt that bad,” Buratto said. “He is further along than most guys I have ever seen with reconstructions. At this time last year he could hardly walk, and he has made a wonderful recovery.”

York technician’s husband was a computer wizard

York lab technician Rena Singleton said Gerry, her husband of 37 years – a hard-wired, brilliant computer programmer who died May 12 of cardiac arrest – had been “gentled” by middle age, wrote the Toronto Star June 18 in an obituary. When Rena’s mother, Dr. Lynette Sutherland, was diagnosed with cancer in 2004, he told Rena, tears in his eyes: “Bring her home. I’ll look after her.” “They had a real bond,” said Rena – though her mother, a tough-minded family doctor, had once threatened to have her sons give Gerry a beating if he didn’t learn to control his rages. “They were terrible flares of temper,” said Rena, who would blame herself for provoking them. It was a relief for both when he was diagnosed [with manic depression] in 1977. “He was still prickly but we saw more of the real him, the gentle side, then.”

Faculty of Education graduate loves what he is doing

For Lee Richardson (BEd ‘05), owning his own business is a ball – literally, wrote the Times Colonist (Victoria) June 18. He operates a Sportball franchise, a non-competitive sports program for children that focuses on motor skills, strength, social skills and self-esteem. “I love doing what I do,” said the graduate of York’s Faculty of Education. “I get to live in the gym and play sports.” Richardson started with a multi-sport program that taught soccer, hockey, baseball, basketball, tennis, volleyball and golf techniques. He has added day-care, school, birthday-party and toddler programs to the list of services his company offers.

Immigrant follows ‘beauty of physics’ to top of the class

If love of a subject makes one good at it, then 16-year-old Bill Long of Glebe Collegiate Institute has no problem explaining his victory in a recent Ontario-wide physics competition, wrote The Ottawa Citizen June 16. “I love physics,” Long says. “I love how it explains pretty much everything I see – and I love the beauty of the mathematical equations you use to solve problems in physics.” Long’s first-place finish wins him a three-week summer internship in York University’s Department of Physics & Astronomy, where, among other things, he will receive training on the department’s astronomical telescopes.

Sixties Lesson #1: Narcs are squares.

How do you turn a cop into a hippie? According to the RCMP of the 1960s, you grow two-weeks’ worth of beard, slip into a turtleneck and find a pair of big sunglasses, wrote the National Post June 16. Marcel Martel of York University unearthed a series of confidential RCMP reports that document 69 undercover operations against hippies in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Among those reports were before and after shots of two officers, R.G. Cardinal and S.J. Brown, who went incognito into what they later described as a filthy world of drugs and depravity. Martel, a historian in York’s Faculty of Arts, argued the Mounties used cherry-picked intelligence and inflated arrest records to convince a royal commission that hippies were a major security threat. As it happened, the commissioners asked for better evidence, which prompted the undercover operations.