Osgoode prof says emergency wiretap law is problematic

When police go to a judge for permission to tap someone’s phone, they also have to inform the government and eventually the suspect that they’ve been eavesdropping, wrote CBC News July 22 in a story about a controversy over a wiretap by Ontario Provincial Police. Not so with the emergency provision. No one has to be informed that the police have been listening in.

“That the police can resort to it in circumstances that they claim are exceptional, which aren’t in fact, and there’s no mechanism in place to police that, that’s what’s problematic,” said James Stribopoulos, professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School.

Health prof is skeptical about research on Viagra for women

Any industry involvement in medical research should raise a red flag, says Joel Lexchin, a Toronto doctor who teaches in the School of Health Policy & Management in York’s Faculty of Health, wrote The Globe and Mail July 23 in a story about private research on Viagara’s effects on women. "When you have a study that is paid for by the companies, I would tend to look at those rather skeptically," he said.

"There are an awful lot of women who are on antidepressants. So if you can target that group of people to get Viagra, then you potentially have got a lot more people you can sell to."

Pfizer spokeswoman Sally Beatty said the company currently has no plans to seek approval for using its drug as a treatment for female sexual dysfunction. The company ended its internal research for Viagra for women in 2004 because results were inconclusive, she said.

Former York student turned Gardiner Museum into a glittering, priceless gem

Museum founder and philanthropist Helen Gardiner had three lives: before George, during George, and after George, wrote The Globe and Mail July 23 in an obituary. The George was former York Board of Governors member George Ryerson Gardiner (LLD ’82, Hon. Univ. Prof. ’90), a business integrator, Harvard MBA and stockbroker who founded Gardiner Group Capital, the country’s first discount brokerage, and was president of the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Helen Gardiner, by contrast, came from humble circumstances, and was a single parent working as a secretary in Gardiner’s brokerage firm when they met. With Gardiner’s support, she became a mature student at York University and took the decorative arts course at Christie’s in London, England. After Gardiner died in December 1997, she emerged as a fundraiser, philanthropist and connoisseur who transformed the Gardiner from a mausoleum for a private collection into a dynamic, innovative and internationally prized museum.

Canada Post hires insider to be new watchdog

Canada Post’s decision to hire a 30-year employee to be its new ombudswoman is a troubling move, according to some observers, who argue the agency should have found an outside candidate for the job, wrote The Ottawa Citizen July 23.

"It’s incredibly problematic," says Susan Dimock, a philosophy professor in York’s Faculty of Arts and director of York’s Centre for Practical Ethics. "After 30 years in the corporation, it’s very likely that this person has personal relationships with – and knows history about – other people in the organization. The potential for a conflict of interest or conflict of commitment is simply too high."

Dimock says ombudsmen are asked to act in quasi-judicial roles, making impartiality as important for them as it is for judges. "And that’s rendered suspect here, if not in fact, then in appearance," she said. "It raises a concern that could have easily been avoided."

Cellphones aren’t for everyone

Nearly one in three Canadians do not own mobile phones, according to an international survey conducted by Taylor Nelson Sofres, wrote the Toronto Star July 23. The survey found that Canada is below the global average of 30 developed countries when it comes to mobile phone ownership.

Melissa Goldstein , 35, a York grad student, says she is just trying to find the technology balance. "I’m already surgically attached to my laptop, so it’s kinda nice to be free(er) of technological distraction during those rare moments that I’m engaging with the physical/material world instead of the virtual one," she says in an e-mail.