Eastern Europe and Latin America will send immigrants next, says York prof

Half the people in the City of Toronto are now foreign-born, according to 2006 Canadian census figures released yesterday, making it more diverse than Miami, Los Angeles or New York City, wrote the Toronto Star Dec. 5. Immigration is regarded as the solution to the problem of Canada’s aging workforce, which is expected to strain public and private pensions as baby boomers retire.

Demographer Lucia Lo, a geography professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, believes rapid immigration growth in Mississauga and Brampton has much to do with the influx of immigrants from the two key source countries: China and India. "Those are the places where their families and friends are," said Lo.

As booming economies in China and India improve living standards there, Lo predicts immigration from those two countries will stabilize by the next census in 2011 and be replaced by immigration from Eastern Europe and Latin America.

My spouse, the party animal

‘Tis the season of office holiday celebrations. Everyone has heard those admonitions about how they had better act if they don’t want to bring harm to their careers, wrote The Globe and Mail Dec. 5, but what about how their significant other behaves at a party?

While it may seem downright Scrooge-like to have [a partner’s] poor party habits follow you like that, companies would rather not risk their corporate reputations, says Ron Burke, a professor specializing in organizational behaviour at York University’s Schulich School of Business. "Standards [in the workplace] are a lot tougher and people’s skin is much thinner than 20 years ago when you could do and say pretty much anything and get away with it," Burke says.

The committee fumbles the ball

Prior to yesterday’s appearance by Karlheinz Schreiber before Parliament’s ethics committee, the dean of Osgoode Hall Law School expressed doubt that MPs would get very far in eliciting answers from him, wrote The Globe and Mail in an editorial Dec. 5. Suggesting that the hearing was likelier to "cause more confusion than bring more clarity," Patrick Monahan contended that "the committee doesn’t have the capacity really to engage in a serious fact-finding inquiry" and that politicians prone to grandstanding "don’t have the ability really to probe effectively what witnesses are telling them."

Such comments, echoed by other legal experts, brought indignant responses from some of the MPs involved, wrote the Globe. But on the evidence of yesterday’s proceedings, Monahan’s analysis is difficult to argue with. As a result, Schreiber – hardly the world’s most reliable witness – was not held accountable on any one aspect of his testimony. The line of questioning changed so often that most statements effectively went unchallenged.

  • The Supreme Court’s decision on whether to hear an appeal of the decision to extradite German businessperson Karlheinz Schreiber may not come down until April or May, said Monahan, wrote Canadian Press Dec. 5. "It’s extremely difficult, in any event, to get leave (to appeal) to the Supreme Court of Canada," he said, adding that the court rejects about nine out of every 10 applications it receives. "You’ve got to show that the case raises a point of law that’s of national importance. So it’s a fairly high bar to get over."

YouTube is infecting the Web with trash talk on vaccinations, says study

A scientific review says YouTube has become a popular and effective soapbox for people who believe vaccinations are harmful, wrote Canadian Press Dec. 5. Researchers from York University and the University of Toronto say public health authorities need to come to grips with the potential impact YouTube, Facebook and the whole Internet-based social-networking phenomenon could have on policies like universal vaccinations. The findings are published as a research letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

York report on racism is being used as intellectual safe ground

In March 2006, York University Professor Emerita Frances Henry released a report, commissioned in 2001, detailing "systemic racism" as reported by Queen’s University faculty members of colour, who said they experienced a "culture of whiteness" at the university, wrote Anna Mehler Paperny, in a guest column for the Kingston Whig-Standard Dec. 5.

After the report’s release, the university held numerous town hall meetings and discussions, looking at how to promote campus diversity. Its latest action in this regard was to appoint history professor and York alumnus Barrington Walker (BA ‘93) as Queen’s first diversity adviser.

Walker seems to mean well in stepping back from the nitty-gritty of this particular incident to look at the larger picture of racism at Queen’s, but I have to agree with the Whig-Standard’s editorial "Brutishness on campus" (Nov. 26, 2007): we as a community can’t afford to retreat to the safer ground of academia.

Turn off the PDA for the holidays

The ability to set limits is a requirement for any relationship and work is no exception. At no time is this more important than during the holiday season, wrote Stephen Friedman, an instructor at York’s Schulich School of Business and an executive career coach, in the National Post Dec. 5.

Finding work/life balance is becoming more difficult as the accessibility afforded by technology lets work intrude on personal and family time. As such, holiday time – be it going away on vacation or finding time with family and friends – is sacred.

Every year when I ask clients how their holidays went, at least half say something like "it was hardly a vacation – I did tons of work." Many employees today wear "I am so busy" badges of honour, but surely there are limits. Vacation time should be vacation time.