The snubbing of a Canadian hero

Next Monday, Louise Arbour will close out her four-year term as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, considered one of the most politically sensitive and thankless jobs in the world, wrote columnist Bob Hepburn the Toronto Star June 26.

She will leave her Geneva-based position and return home to Canada having earned the respect and admiration of human rights advocates around the globe. In her role, she was fearless and outspoken. She ruffled feathers. And because of that, she has apparently so upset Prime Minister Stephen Harper that his government is snubbing this remarkable woman, who can easily be described as a true Canadian hero.

For her part, Arbour insists there was no diplomatic pressure in her deciding not to seek a second term. Still, her departure will be a loss for Canada and all those who promote human rights.

Arbour, 61, a former professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School and Ontario Court of Appeal judge, broke onto the world scene when she was named chief prosecutor of war crimes before the International Criminal Tribunals probing the genocide in Rwanda and human rights abuses in the former Yugoslavia. She indicted former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic for atrocities during the Bosnian war.

In 1999, she was named to the Supreme Court of Canada. But in 2004, she stepped down from the high court to take on the UN job.

Canadians have every right to be proud of Louise Arbour, wrote Hepburn. So does Stephen Harper.

Artist and former York administrator takes over in Victoria

Its name was changed, the promised bachelor of arts degrees were never delivered, and students left in droves. Such was the situation facing Peter Such when he recently became acting director of the 32-year-old Victoria College of Art and Design – the fourth director in less than two years, wrote Victoria, BC’s Times Colonist June 26.

British-born Such, in his late 60s, moved to Victoria eight years ago after taking early retirement from York University where he was a professor for 20 years, chaired the Department of Humanities in the Faculty of Arts and was an associate dean of the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, overseeing 400 faculty, 3,700 students and a $43-million budget.

New sport & recreation director is ‘visible and accessible’ says columnist

Good luck to Jennifer Myers in her new role as director of sport and recreation at York University in Toronto, wrote columnist Bruce Hallihan in Fredricton, NB’s The Daily Gleaner June 26. Myers was athletic director at St. Thomas University for three years. She beat out more than 35 candidates from across North America to become STU’s first female AD. She was visible and accessible during her tenure.

When you asked her a question, she answered it honestly – even if she knew readers wouldn’t necessarily like the answer. That candour doesn’t happen enough for my liking.

Theory about early Christians misses the mark

Barry Wilson , professor in York’s Faculty of Arts and author of How Jesus Became Christian, thinks that Paul and other early Christian leaders “hijacked” (the author’s word) the very Jewish Jesus movement to create a radically new religion wrote Rev. George van Popta of the Ancaster Canadian Reformed Church, in a letter to the Hamilton Spectator June 26.

Wilson says that Paul’s movement was a new religion entirely and that Paul transformed Jesus into a universal saviour. This is a tiresome thesis. First, the Lord Jesus himself sent his disciples out into the world (“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…,” Matthew 28:19). He proclaimed himself to be the universal Saviour.

Second, even a cursory read of his letters shows that Paul was a Jew deeply rooted in the Hebrew scriptures. At every turn he proclaims Jesus as the Saviour of the world promised long ago in the Hebrew scriptures.

 On air

  • Ute Lehrer , professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, spoke about the impact of higher fuel prices on people living on the fringes of suburbia, on CFMJ Radio (Toronto) June 25.
  • Amin Mawani , professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke about the economic impact of disease pandemics, on CHML Radio (Hamilton) June 25.