Man charged after two women sexually assaulted at York

A 45-year-old Toronto man has been charged with sexual assault and weapons-related offences after two women were groped at York University’s bus loop in recent months, reported the National Post and other Toronto-area media June 4.

In the first instance, on March 16, a man allegedly groped a woman’s breast as she was waiting for a bus, said Toronto police. Then in May, the same man allegedly tried to kiss another woman while they sat on a park bench, police said in a previous interview. Both incidents happened in the same area and neither victim was injured, according to police.

The two assaults resulted in a campus-wide call for better security measures to be put in place at the suburban university. Samir Kari has been charged with three counts of sexual assault, and one count each of weapons dangerous and assault with intent to resist arrest. He was to appear in court Tuesday.

  • The Toronto Sun reported June 4 that police arrested Samir Kari following a sting operation Monday in which a female officer dressed in civilian clothes was placed as bait at the same bus stop where the other two women were attacked. Alex Bilyk, a spokesman for the University, said the school and campus security have been "working closely" with police but cautioned women not to let their guard down. "As always, safety is everybody’s responsibility and people should be aware of their surroundings and take appropriate measures at all times," he said.
  • CBC-TV, CP24-TV and Citytv also mentioned Samir Kari’s arrest on June 3 newscasts. 

The etiquette of empire

Under what conditions should the president of the United States meet with the leaders of nations that are the foes of Washington? That vexed question is now at the centre of the struggle for the presidency in this year’s elections, wrote James Laxer, a political science professor at York’s Atkiinson School of Social Sciences, in a Toronto Star opinion piece June 4.  

The Americans have always had debates about whether it is, or is not, moral to meet with foreign foes. At the centre of a very real, although unacknowledged empire, the United States has developed a pecking order about which foes presidents should meet and those they should shun. The etiquette is as follows: Truly powerful foes are too important not to talk to, while smaller foes should be treated as rogues and should not be accorded respect, wrote Laxer, whose latest book is The Perils of Empire: America and its Imperial Predecessors.  

York board member is a finalist for law leadership award

Terrie-Lynne Devonish (BA ’92, LLB ’95) was profiled in the National Post June 4 as a finalist for the Canadian General Counsel’s Tomorrow’s Leader Award. Since being called to the bar in 1997, Terrie-Lynne Devonish has quickly risen to the level of top corporate counsel at three blue chip corporations. Before becoming chief counsel at Aon Canada in late 2007, she was chief counsel at Primus Telecommunications Canada Inc. and general counsel at HSBC Securities (Canada). In her current role, she supervises two staff and oversees the provision of all legal advice to Aon Canada and its 10 subsidiaries, from litigation management to corporate policy development to contract review and negotiation.  

In the past year, Devonish has worked to implement a shared-services approach to Aon Canada’s legal services. Previously, each of the company’s 10 subsidiaries retained and managed its own internal or external legal services, which she says often resulted in overlapping services and high costs. Now, Devonish and her team provide all legal advice and manage the retention of all outside support across all of Aon’s divisions.  

Outside of work, Devonish is an active volunteer, inside and outside of the legal community. She is a member of York University’s Board of Governors and has co-chaired the University’s annual program since 2006, raising $1.875-million in 2006-07.

She is also a member of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers, which gave her an award of excellence in 2006, and helped establish a national mentorship program for the Black Law Students Association of Canada.

Author aims to make the world a better place

People call him Mr. B, began an Osprey News profile of Enam Bukhari (LLM ’01) in the Orillia Packet & Times June 4. He’s 56 years old, a father of three children. He’s been married to Nayyer for 31 years. And he runs a law practice from his St. Catharines home. This is where normal comes to a grinding halt.

Bukhari lives on life support. A machine the size of a laptop but slightly thicker is attached to the back of his motorized wheelchair. It breathes for him. A clear tube, attached to the machine at one end, pumps air into a hole in his neck called a tracheotomy. If it ever stopped or a tube became disconnected, he’d die.

His philosophy is to push the limits. To enjoy life. To forget about all the technology that is keeping him alive. In his words, he has conquered the life support ventilator. "I’m determined to have a full life," he says. "I don’t stop at anything." He’s not kidding.

He’s earned his master of law degree in alternate dispute resolution from York University’s Osgoode Hall. He travels. And he’s an avid volunteer in Niagara. He started a program called Toys on Wings that allows people with disabilities to travel in a private jet to places like Disney World. He founded Peanuts for Wills, where he provides wills and powers of attorney for people at a reduced rate in exchange for a donation of a bag of food or two large jars of peanut butter to the local foodbank. And he’s won numerous awards. In 2001, he was a Citizen of the Year finalist. In May, he released Chasing Good, a book about his life and a philosophy of always striving to make the world a better place.

Coalition says make Humber a York U teaching hospital

Voters could be forgiven for thinking the battle over the future of Humber River Regional Hospital ended with last October’s provincial election, wrote Metroland’s June 3. After all, Liberal York West incumbent Mario Sergio, who supports a hospital board decision to open a new main campus on provincially owned land at Keele Street and Wilson Avenue, easily won the election with 55 per cent of the vote. That was double the results of NDP candidate Antoni Shelton, who made his vehement opposition to the plan the key issue during the election campaign.

But Shelton and the Humber River Health Coalition, a grassroots group fighting the decision, are back. Armed with a petition of more than 9,000 names, they held a press conference at Queen’s Park Monday demanding an independent review of both the plan, which they believe will rob the high-risk Jane and Finch community of medical services and high-paying jobs, and the board’s decision, which they say was reached behind closed doors with no community input.

"We have some very serious concerns about the move," he said, adding the coalition has not received replies to protest letters sent to government officials. "I say build a new hospital campus at Jane-Finch. Make it a teaching hospital (associated with York University). We’ve been told personally (Keele and Wilson) is a done deal, go away. Well, this coalition will not go away."

Bee experts hope to catalogue all the different species

International bee experts have converged on Toronto to develop a plan to catalogue all species of the insect across the planet, reported The Canadian Press in a story published June 4 in the Woodstock Sentinel-Review. According to Laurence Packer, a biology professor in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering who’s leading the group’s efforts, precisely 19,231 different kinds of bees have been identified. But Packer thinks there might be another 5,000 or more species out there waiting.

Sadly, he said, some will likely become extinct before researchers can catch them and test their DNA. The experts clustering at York University are trying to launch a DNA bar-coding campaign to more easily track all the bees in the world. Once their DNA is mapped, the bees would carry a unique identifier that scientists could access from anywhere in the world.

Abortion worthy of debate, says columnist

On the one hand, York Federation of Students vice-president Gilary Massa thinks it is a fundamental right to be able to accuse Israel of the vile crime of imposing "apartheid" on its non-Jewish population, but there is no comparable right at all for campus groups or individuals who are opposed to abortion, wrote the Sudbury Star’s Clare Hoy in his June 4 column.

Public opinion polls have consistently shown that a healthy majority of Canadians – men and women – have serious reservations about Canada’s status as the only country in the industrialized world without any restrictions whatsoever on abortions. If nothing else, it’s certainly worthy of debate, one would think. And of all venues, one would think that a university would be the last place to impose a ban on the open and free exchange of ideas.

  • “Tommy Schnurmacher” on CJAD-AM in Montreal opened the phone lines June 3 to discuss whether YFS’s vote in favor of motion to ban funding to anti-abortion groups on campus is an attack on freedom of expression.

Law student is chosen as one of 15 Trudeau Scholars

Irvin Studin, a doctoral candidate in constitutional law at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, was chosen by the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation as one of this year’s 15 Trudeau Scholars, reported the North York Mirror June 3. It is the first time since the Trudeau Scholars program began in 2003 that a York University student has been chosen for this award, which is given to outstanding doctoral students in the social sciences and the humanities to help accelerate their careers and enable them to make a significant contribution to Canada and to Canadians.

Buying into Canada’s wilderness

The complicated hypocrisy of the Canadian wildlife lover is the focus of two papers being presented this week at the country’s largest annual gathering of academics, the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, in Vancouver, reported the National Post June 4. In one, Peter Stevens (MA ’99), a former PhD student at Toronto’s York University, characterizes those who led the unprecedented cottaging boom after the Second World War as middle-class "nature worshippers" seeking an escape from city life, and yet who took it upon themselves to fix nature’s shortcomings and, ultimately, domesticate it.

"One of the central attractions of cottaging was that it let city people temporarily escape the modern complexities that alienated them from the natural world," he writes. But once there, their relationship with the natural world often became "complex and contradictory”, and involved going to great lengths to create "the kind of nature that they desired”.

Injury gave Argos running back a different perspective

Now that he reflects on it, Jeff Johnson (BA Hons. ’02) figures that snapping his left ankle last September was not such a bad thing, wrote The Toronto Sun June 4. Sound strange? Yes. But the injury, which the Argos running back suffered in a game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, gave him a perspective he had not experienced. "It was almost like a blessing," Johnson said Tuesday morning after the club practised in the pouring rain at the U of T’s Erindale campus. "I have never had to overcome an injury like this and it gives you extra drive. It lights a fire under your ass."