Canadian law schools begin switching to JDs

In an effort to have their degrees better understood and more marketable internationally, a growing number of Canadian law schools are switching from the traditional LLB designation to the American-style JD, wrote the US National Law Journal in its online edition March 31.

York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School is in the midst of the approval process.

Canadian law school deans said that the while the LLB – which stands for legum baccalaureus or bachelor of laws in Latin – is a second-entry degree just like the JD – juris doctor or doctor of laws – not all recruiters or law firms outside of Canada understand that. As a result, some think it’s an undergraduate degree or are confused about what it is, they said.

Even outside the United States, having a degree that is understood globally opens more doors in today’s globalized legal world, said Osgoode Dean Patrick Monahan. "There is a feeling that, increasingly, as our students market themselves internationally, the JD designation will give them better opportunity to market themselves and that it is a more accurate reflection of what their actual degree is," Monahan said. About 75 per cent of the students who voted on the proposal were in favour of it, Monahan said. About 70 per cent of Osgoode’s 870 students voted, he said.

Ontario sees surge of university expansion plans

Predictions that Ontario will need thousands of new university spaces to meet the growing demand for higher education in Toronto have set the stage for a flurry of campus expansion plans from communities and schools across the province, wrote The Globe and Mail April 2.

Some universities are talking about their plans in a bid to drum up local and political support. York University is hoping to add a medical school and more engineering programs. Paul Genest, head of the Council of Ontario Universities, says his members are at the table working on ways to respond to demand in a co-ordinated manner.

Where’s the discrimination?

As a graduate of York University, I can say that David Noble‘s assertions that York’s practice of cancelling classes for three Jewish holy days is discriminatory is, itself, highly discriminatory, wrote Jesse Paikin (BA ’07) in a letter to the Toronto Star April 2.

York has traditionally had a large number of Jewish students, and as classes are not held on Christian holidays, this practice was added to accommodate Jewish students.

Yes, to be fully egalitarian, York should cancel classes on all (or no) religious holidays. However, the current practice is based on the demographic realities of the school. Indeed, it was created to be less preferential, not more. Does Noble also contend that classes should be held on Christmas and Easter?

  • I find it curious that an Ontario Human Rights Commission investigation has found York University‘s policy of cancelling classes on three Jewish holidays to be one that discriminates based on a person’s "creed." Perhaps it’s time to review the Gregorian calendar and consider its holidays to be discriminatory based on "creed" as well, wrote Chantalle Kudsi-Zadeh in a letter to the Toronto Star April 2.

  • David Noble, professor in York’s Faculty of Arts who complained about York’s policy of cancelling classes on Jewish holidays, spoke about the recent Ontario Human Rights Commission report on the matter, on CBC Radio April 1.

Miller agrees to speak on human rights, Tibet

Bowing to calls from activists, Mayor David Miller said yesterday he will speak up on human rights, and Tibet, on his coming trade mission to China, wrote The Globe and Mail April 2.

Miller denied a shift in position. "I said from the beginning I would raise human-rights issues," he said. But in announcing the trip last month, the mayor emphasized, "my mission is about cementing the relationship between our cities," noting that a York University professor on the 15-person delegation would lecture on human rights. "If there is an opportunity, of course, I’ll speak to Canada’s perspective," Miller said at the time. "But I am the mayor. I’m not the prime minister."

CSI Algonquin? Web site probes 90-year-old mystery of artist’s death

A crack forensic team has been assembled in Ontario to investigate a mysterious death in Algonquin Park, wrote The Canadian Press April 1. No, it’s not the plot for a new instalment in the CSI stable of TV shows. And the death in question took place 90 years ago. Nevertheless, the death of renowned Canadian artist Tom Thomson still holds a fascination, with hints of murder, a love affair gone wrong, spies and saboteurs.

To get to the bottom of it all, The Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History Web site has put together a team of about 50 people, including Dr. Michael Pollanen, Ontario’s chief forensic pathologist. The Thomson project is being officially launched by research director Gregory Klages, of York University’s Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies, at the University of Toronto’s Hart House on April 2.

Some homebuyers can take a gamble

"A lot of Canadians like the psychology and the security that comes from a fixed-rate mortgage that is predictable and constant for the next five to 10 years,” wrote Vancouver’s The Province April 2, quoting Moshe Milevsky, professor of finance at the Schulich School of Business at York University, Toronto, who has studied the fixed-rate versus variable-rate conundrum extensively.

"They like the comfort of knowing exactly what their salary is, exactly what their expenses are, exactly what their mortgage is. For those people, the fixed rate is the way to go. But if you are willing to take a little bit of a chance, and you can tolerate the fluctuations, then the odds favour the open, variable-rate mortgage."

Despite studies which show that those with a variable-rate mortgage come out ahead, Milevsky is reluctant to recommend one option over the other when it’s not his money at stake. He is sure of only one thing. He has an open variable-rate mortgage and has no intention of locking it in.

Keeping immigrant kids in school

Volunteer tutor Mark Bettencourt, a York student, was pictured helping students at Toronto’s St. Nicholas of Bari Catholic School, in a photo in the Toronto Star April 2. The photo accompanied a story on student drop-out rates among immigrant children.

On air

  • Pablo Idahosa, professor and coordinator of African Studies in York’s Faculty of Arts, spoke about the elections in Zimbabwe, on CBC Radio (Toronto) April 1.