Country well served by Supreme Court despite fewer decisions

The dean of Canada’s largest common-law law school says the country is well served by its top court, even though it rendered fewer decisions in 2007, wrote the Law Times April 28.

“This past year, they were not rendering as many judgments as in the past,” says Patrick Monahan, dean of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School. “Those are one-year trends only and I think, over the long term, the court is extremely strong and some of the directions in this past year were, overall, positive.”

Monahan made the comments following the release of his annual review of constitutional cases at the Supreme Court of Canada at the 11th annual Constitutional Cases Conference at Osgoode. The continuing legal education program, which took place earlier this month at York, is considered the leading national forum on constitutional law and brings together academics, private practitioners and government lawyers.

Medical school worth further exploration, but details needed

News that York University is exploring the addition of a medical school to its existing complement of educational offerings brings to mind a whole host of thoughts, wrote the North York Mirror April 29 .

The first is the general note that there’s certainly a pressing need for more medical practitioners in this country. The second is that when it comes to addressing that problem, a multi-faceted (and therefore complicated) solution is required, which means there is a long road ahead before experiencing tangible results. By making this announcement, York is bidding for a prominent part to play in any such solution. We eagerly await a more detailed plan as that exploration gets into later stages.

Music student inspires those around him, says his professor

Colin Liu , a York music student, has been offered a spot with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada (NYOC), one of four clarinet players accepted from national auditions , wrote the North York Mirror April 29 .

"A woodwind position in the NYOC is one of the most sought-after opportunities that young musicians nationwide aspire to,” said Patricia Wait, a clarinettist and professor in York’s Department of Music, Faculty of Fine Arts. “Colin has been an inspiration to those around him and a joy to teach."

Single tax would benefit the rich

The result of a relentless campaign by business and wealthy individuals in the 1970s to resist greater equality in the tax system has been a significant shift in the tax burden away from corporations and high-income earners – and onto the rest of us, wrote Neil Brooks, professor of tax law in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, in an opinion piece published in The Gazette (Montreal) April 30.

Now the Fraser Institute wants to finish the job, eliminating what’s left of progressivity in our tax system, wrote Brooks. In a recent report, the institute advocates a flat tax, reducing the four current tax rates with just one – whether one’s income is $30,000, $300,000 or $3 million. This might sound fair. But, flattening the tax rates reduces the taxes paid the by the rich and increases the taxes paid by the middle class. This is elementary arithmetic. If the rich pay less, the middle class will pay more.

Don’t be fooled by the rhetoric of those advocating such schemes, wrote Brooks. They argue, for instance, that the flat tax would greatly simplify the tax system. This is highly misleading. What makes the tax system complicated is not the number of rates but the loopholes and special treatments for certain types of income. A lot of these loopholes could – and should – be closed but this has nothing to do with the number of rates.

On air

  • Professor David DeWitt, York’s associate vice-president research, and Glendon political science Professors Ellen Gutterman and Willem Mass spoke about Canada’s role in promoting multilateralism abroad, on CPAC-TV April 24.
  • Kyle Killian , visiting professor of psychology in York’s Faculty of Health, discussed the Austrian incest/imprisonment story and how the children involved will be integrated into society, on CBC Newsworld April 29.