Osgoode alumna judge fights the law for kids at risk

York alumna Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond (LLB ‘85), BC’s first Representative for Children and Youth, knows well the power of somebody – anybody – stepping in to help, wrote BC’s Times Colonist (Victoria) Aug. 5. The youngest of four girls born to a Cree father and Scottish mother on a reserve in northern Manitoba, she saw her alcoholic father beat her mother, endured harsh physical mistreatment herself, was present when somebody came to the house following a murder. "I went through the whole thing," she says. "I saw the whole range at an early age…I don’t really remember a time where I was completely away from that. That’s something that we just grew up with."

Turpel-Lafond demanded an alternative to jail for a 12-year-old girl charged with arson, somewhere the girl could finally get the treatment denied her the past nine years. In the following months, with the courts overrun with fetal alcohol syndrome children, Turpel-Lafond ordered more offenders into treatment programs instead of jail. Eventually the Crown objected, arguing the judge was effectively ordering the government to create services that didn’t exist.

The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal agreed in law, but their hearts were clearly with Turpel-Lafond. Yes, she had overstepped her authority, the panel said, but that didn’t change the fact that there was an urgent need for programs to help young offenders with FAS.

That 12-year-old girl she kept out of jail nine years ago? She learned to read and write under court-ordered treatment, worked through the grief of her mother’s death, reconnected with healthy members of her family, finished high school, got further vocational training and continues to do well. Turpel-Lafond knows, because she still checks in on her from time to time.

BMW loses battle with Nissan over the letter ‘M’

The letter "M" is free again, wrote the National Post Aug. 8. So says the Federal Court of Appeal in a ruling that puts the brakes on BMW Canada’s battle to stop Nissan Canada Inc. from using that particular letter to advertise what the German automaker calls its rival’s "inferior and more modestly priced" Infiniti brand cars. The judgment comes several months after BMW, which sells the M-Series brand, won an injunction to stifle Nissan’s use of the all-important letter.

"The likelihood of BMW winning and demonstrating trademark infringement would have been very limited," said Ashwin Joshi, a marketing professor and director of the MBA program at York’s Schulich School of Business. "It’s very tricky. "But there are other reasons why BMW could be doing this as well – they may want to signal to the market that the company is looking after its brand."

Schulich alum became an award-winning film, TV and digital media producer

In November 1996, York alumnus Howard Rosen (BBA ’82, MBA ’83) found himself enjoying a “somebody pinch me” career high, wrote The Toronto Sun Aug. 8. It was 3am, and he was on the set of "Picture Windows", a Showtime TV series being shot in Markham, Ont. To his right was Norman Jewison, his co-executive producer; on his left was the show’s star, Alan Arkin.

In fact, there would be many more milestones to come, ones that would entrench the Torontonian as a leading and award-winning film, TV and digital media producer, and would open doors to him as a teacher and health-care technology innovator. The MBA Rosen completed in 1983 at York’s Schulich School of Business centred on international finance and marketing. Today, he serves as CEO of his newest company, Nova Motion Pictures Ltd., a niche film, TV and digital media production company that focuses on both traditional entertainment and corporate projects.

Local university involved in space discussions

A 40,000-student growth spurt for the Greater Toronto Area is 15 years away, but the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) is already discussing preparation, wrote Oshawa-Whitby-Clarington This Week Aug. 3. The Oshawa school’s president is involved in talks with those from the University of Toronto, York University, and Ryerson, on solutions for coping with the unexpected growth, driven by immigrants to the GTA with a desire for higher education. Among the ideas presented is pushing for better transit from Toronto to UOIT in Oshawa, and for a university outside the GTA to open a satellite campus in Toronto and take some of the undergraduate load.