Young calls US plea bargain for Canada’s ‘prince of pot’ a travesty

Alan Young, a professor at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University, said extradition requests from the United States are very difficult to fight and the plea bargain by Canada’s “prince of pot” Marc Emery gives him some certainty about the amount of time he will spend in jail, reported The Canadian Press Jan. 15. "It looked a bit hopeless," Young said. "That’s not to say a great fight could not have been mounted."

Emery, 50, said Monday that US prosecutors made the offer to his lawyer for a 10-year-prison term that would mean he would have to spend at least five years in prison, most of it in Canada, wrote CP. A US federal grand jury had indicted him on charges relating to his sale of marijuana seeds to US customers over the Internet. 

Young, who has known and worked with Emery since 1990, said on that level he’s relieved that Emery knows the sentence he will face. But on a political level the sentence is a travesty, he said.

"I think it’s remarkable that I could cripple someone and put them in hospital…and get less time than Marc will serve," Young said. "It’s grossly disproportionate by Canadian standards. But, unfortunately, by American standards, it may appear to be a kiss."

York professor wants inquiry on $15M grant to Jewish community centre

A letter obtained by The Toronto Sun suggests Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and his cabinet colleagues did play a role in helping a local Jewish fundraising organization receive a $15-million grant from the province, wrote the Sun Jan. 15.

The March 30, 2007, letter from prominent Toronto businessperson and Liberal party fundraiser Larry Tanenbaum, found in an Access to Information request by a York University professor, thanks McGuinty for his "support and commitment to the Tomorrow campaign," wrote the Sun.

The letter was obtained through Access to Information by David Noble, an outspoken and somewhat controversial professor in York’s Division of Social Science, Faculty of Arts, who has had issues with Tanenbaum in the past, the Sun said.

"Would others looking for funding have this access?" asked Noble, who has been a thorn in the side of Jewish groups before and has launched a lawsuit against one for defamation for being allegedly labelled anti-Semitic. "I am not anti-Semitic," he said. "I am Jewish."

"My problem is the process and making sure it’s fair to everybody," he said. "This is public money." But when Tanenbaum’s group received funding, there were "no applications, no request for proposals and no bidding" for the funding, wrote the Sun. "It’s mind-boggling," Noble said. "There was no process, no protocol, no administrators and no bureaucrats involved in it all…I do think it merits an inquiry."

Former student, now actor, stars in CBC sitcom

Thanks to those notorious Bailey’s Irish Cream commercials, actor and former York student Natalie Brown gets recognized at practically every red light in Toronto, wrote the National Post Jan. 15. Born and raised in Timmins, Ont., Brown started dancing and choreographing in high school before gaining relative fame as the Heinz Ketchup girl in her early teens. A modeling career took her to Tokyo and paid for her tuition at York University, where she studied fine arts. Today, Brown stars as a single mom who owns a talent agency in “Sophie”, a CBC sitcom shot outside of Montreal. Brown spoke to Zosia Bielski.

Timmins to Toronto:
I started to come down every summer break when I was 16 when I got an agent in Toronto. Once I graduated, I went travelling abroad to Asia, modelling and raising money for tuition for York University in a fine arts program where I got to combine film, theatre, dance and visual arts. I lived in residence at Vanier College and then moved to the Annex.

A chance to follow in Oscar’s footsteps

What a wonderful tribute to the great Oscar Peterson. Most meaningful of all is that his life and love of music will be remembered through scholarships, wrote Toronto’s Blema Mazin in a letter to the Toronto Star Jan. 15 about the announcement of Ontario’s creation of scholarships in memory of the former York chancellor and Canadian jazz pianist.

I am as thrilled as Phillip Silver, dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts at York University, that the scholarships are appropriate because Peterson "came from a less-than-privileged background where his family had to work really hard to get him his lessons."

How true, wrote Mazin. I will forever remember, at the age of 9, listening day after day for hours as Peterson practised from his apartment on Madison Avenue, in Montreal.

On air

  • Rwandan native Ruth Kambali, a fourth-year student in York’s School of Nursing, Faculty of Health, and organizer of a four-day conference at York’s Keele campus on the 1994 genocide in her country, spoke about the conference on CBC Radio’s “Metro Morning” Jan. 14.