Prof calls Tory’s stand on private health care ‘risky’

Ontario’s doctors should have more latitude to work in private, for-profit clinics – as long as their fees are paid with a health card and not a credit card – Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory said Wednesday, reported The Globe and Mail Sept. 20. Patients have suffered because of Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty’s opposition to any private involvement in health care, Tory said.

Conservative advisers may have suggested it was time to talk about something that is "less divisive" than funding religious schools, said Bob Drummond, a political science professor at York University. But private health care is another controversial topic and raising it during a campaign is "a bit risky," he said. "People hear private health care and they think it’s the whole two-tier ball of wax." Still, said Drummond, it could be both "heartening and useful" to have a debate about health care injected into the provincial campaign. And, with the three leaders set to debate each other tonight, it is obvious that Tory "wants some clear distance between himself and the Liberals."

The true cost of Ontario education

I’ve been waiting for someone to tell the truth about the $500 million that John Tory’s proposal would cost, wrote Sally Zerker, economist and York professor emerita, in a letter published Sept. 20 in the National Post. Premier Dalton McGuinty doesn’t tell you that at least $500 million is extracted from the parents of the 53,000 children now attending faith-based schools in Ontario. They are forced to pay public school taxes even though their children represent no cost to the public purse. Let’s imagine if those 53,000 children were to register in the public schools, which McGuinty claims is his desired objective. I doubt that $500 million would cover the additional costs, nor would our schools be equipped to handle this enormous influx.

Fear of Islamic schools based on false stereotypes

On Aug. 28, representatives from the Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Sikh communities came together to express support for John Tory’s proposal to fund faith-based schools. While such unity among different faith-based schools is refreshing, a large part of this debate lies in the fact that, under Tory’s proposal, funding would also be extended to Islamic schools, wrote York grads Muneeza Sheikh (BA ’04, LLB ’07) and Khurrum Awan (LLB ’07) and York law student Daniel Simard in an opinion piece published Sept. 20 in the Toronto Star. And that is where many get squeamish. Assumptions and fears come into play, ranging from equating Islamic schools with the stereotyped "madrassa" to presuming that these schools will trample over women’s rights.

The good news is that these stereotyped views are contrary to the reality of Islamic schools, wrote the three members of the Youth Chapter of the Canadian Islamic Congress. These false stereotypes are, however, prevalent due to two factors. First, the true facts about Islamic schools are unknown to the general public. Second, some public figures have adopted a strategy of playing on these stereotypes in order to oppose Tory’s proposal.

Church overflows at funeral for two sisters

A Woodbridge church overflowed with friends and relatives for the funeral of two sisters, Isabel and Vanessa Diceglie, killed in a collision last week, reported The Toronto Sun Sept. 20. Father Michael Corcione said that each one of the 1,000 mourners crowded into the church were touched in some way by the Brampton sisters, who were known for their zest for life and their caring for others. Some had crossed their paths at York University, where both went to school, the TD bank where Isabel worked part time, the softball field where Isabel played, the hockey rink where Vanessa excelled or the swimming pool where both taught autistic children.

 Campus attacks prompt higher enrolment in self-defence classes

Teachers of self-defence courses have noticed a spike in interest this fall, as women on local campuses feel the after-effects of two sexual assaults and an attempted sexual assault at a residence on the campus of York University on Sept. 7, reported the Toronto Star Sept. 20. "There has been a jump in registration," says Denise Handlarski, teacher of a recent 15-hour course in Wen-Do Women’s Self-Defence at York University. "There is no question that the interest was raised because of what’s happening on campus," says the York teaching assistant. Wen-Do is based on a variety of martial arts techniques and is designed to help women fight back against attackers who are larger and stronger. Basic courses also cover avoidance and verbal self-defence strategies.

Martial arts in general have become more attractive to women recently, says Jenypher Lanthier, who teaches Muay Thai boxing at York University. "I mostly teach men," she says, "because Muay Thai is a pretty rough course to be in. But after (the sexual assaults) I had (more) women in my class than I normally do." Muay Thai is now mainly a ring sport, but some women sign up so they can learn how to kick their way out of a dark alley when necessary.

In-between city loaded with food-growing ops

When Roger Keil looks north from Toronto’s CN Tower, he sees more than just pavement smothering Canada’s best farmland, wrote Wayne Roberts in Alphabet City’s 2007 issue "Food". (Co-published with The MIT Press, Alphabet City tackles single contemporary themes that coincide with an arts and ideas festival in Toronto.) Keil, the new director of the City Institute at York University, sees somewhere in between the past and future of a world that’s urbanizing so fast that it has created a new species of cityscape. 

During Keil’s daily bus ride to York, he gets to study post-Fordist Downsview as it merges with the new in-between city. The visuals that tell him he is entering the in-between are the juxtapositions of university/pioneer village/nine-acre urban farm/box store/utility corridor/oil tanks/plaza/aircraft factory runway/upper-income white neighborhood/low-income black neighborhood/expressway – the kind of jumble that would never be part of traditional suburbia. The hodgepodge is the message, the indicator of the new urban species Keil is tracking.

"Everything here is highly splintered," says Keil. "There are contradictions and juxtapositions you never found in the suburbs which were known for conformity and sameness. What’s new is the togetherness of contradiction. It’s a type of urban morphology that’s different from 30 years ago, and the new planning has to correspond to the change. There are huge opportunities to think more creatively." 

The in-between city is loaded with unused capacity to rise to the challenge. Orphaned land, acres of open space in the middle of no rhyme or reason, is waiting to be used for orchards and gardens. It’s accessible, and just the right size for low-tech sustainable agriculture and aquaculture, the intensive kind that produces plenty of food per square foot as well as lots of jobs and ecological benefits, such as the cleansing and revitalizing of air and water. In-between farmers, in other words, will provide precious ecological services as well as food.

Keil says it’s time to stop dissing and start re-examining the area. "There are crown jewels here, but we can’t see them," he says, "because they’re ugly."

Business schools attract Latino students to Toronto

Drop by the campuses of Toronto’s big business schools these days and there is a distinct flair of Latin America in the air, reported the Toronto Star Sept. 20 in a special section called The World of MBA. Recruiting drives in Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Argentina and Columbia – plus fast-growing interest in forging an international career among Latino students – have resulted in surging enrolment at both York University’s Schulich School of Business and the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. Charmaine Courtis, executive director of Schulich’s student services & international relations, says just three years ago a student from Latin America was a rarity. In 2006-07, they accounted for seven per cent of the incoming class.

Also in the World of MBA section:

  • A photo of Cameron Graham, accounting professor at Schulich School of Business, with an attentive MBA class.
  • The QS World MBA Tour visits the Metro Toronto Convention Centre Sunday and features three afternoon seminars, with staff from several schools including York’s Schulich School of Business.

PhD student investigates the Tom Thomson mystery

The Toronto Star highlighted the research of York PhD candidate Gregory Klages in its Deep Thoughts column Sept. 20:
      Program: Year six of a PhD in York/Ryerson joint graduate program in communication and culture 
      Project: Death on a Painted Lake: The Tom Thomson Tragedy, part of the Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History initiative 
      The mystery: Ninety years after Canadian landscape painter Tom Thomson disappeared at Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park on July 8, 1917, people are still trying to piece together the circumstances of his death. Klages is one of them. "The Thomson mystery had been something in the back of my mind as an interesting episode in Canadian history," says the York University student. The lure is the unsolved, untimely death of a colourful figure – Thomson kept painting instead of participating in World War I and he was known to enjoy a drink.

York study bolsters efforts to woo student voters

A Liberal party suggestion to set up polling stations at all postsecondary institutions to boost the participation of young voters isn’t a bad idea, but is unfeasible for the upcoming provincial election, said Saskatchewan’s chief electoral officer Wednesday, reported The Leader-Post in Regina and The StarPhoenix in Saskatoon Sept. 20. Liberal Leader David Karwacki said he would like to work with Elections Saskatchewan to put polling stations on all campuses this time around. Karwacki said efforts have to be made to improve voter turnout among people aged 18 to 25, which a recent York University study estimated was 27 per cent in the 2006 federal election.

 Sudbury starting point for silver screen road trip by York grad

Sudburians can look forward to seeing local landmarks on the screen this weekend as a feature, shot in part in Sudbury, prepares for its world premiere at Cinefest Sudbury, reported the Sudbury Star Sept. 20. Adam Santangelo‘s Half A Person is a dramedy about two friends who have grown too close for comfort and decide to road trip from their hometown to Toronto. Along the way the boys – one gay, one straight – encounter all sorts of trouble and life-altering experiences.

"Basically, it’s a feature we shot for a micro-budget of about $10,000, which came out of my bank account," says Santangelo, who is the film’s writer, director and producer. Half A Person marks Santangelo’s filmmaking debut. The 30-year-old earned a BA in English and creative writing from York in 2000.

On air

  • York’s Smart Commute Program project director Ryan Lanyon talked about car pooling on "Focus 980" on CFPL-AM in London, Ont., Sept. 19.