Toronto must empower youth in poor areas, says researcher

The riots that shook Montreal North on Sunday night (Aug. 10) leave me with a sense of obligation to once again urge our very own city to take action before Toronto shares Montreal’s fate, wrote Simon Black, a doctoral researcher at York University’s City Institute and visiting Fulbright fellow at the City University of New York, in a Toronto Star opinion piece published Aug. 15.  

As report after report has made clear, from the United Way and the Toronto City Summit Alliance to York and the University of Toronto’s urban institutes, that "combustible ensemble of elements" is increasingly present in our city, wrote Black.  

When ignored and marginalized, the urban riot becomes a voice for the voiceless, however reactionary and destructive these events may seem. If Toronto wants to avoid the fate of cities in the UK, the US, France and now Quebec, it needs to find ways to empower youth in our most politically and socially marginalized communities, stated Black. Setting up a dialogue that would allow youth to express their legitimate grievances with Toronto’s police force, without fear of further stigmatization or reprisal, would be a small step in the right direction.  

Provincial fuel safety regulator is criticized

A York University researcher who has studied the Technical Standards & Safety Authority since 2000 calls it an "invisible area of regulation,” reported The Globe and Mail Aug. 15 in a post-Sunrise Propane explosion story about the fuel safety regulator’s performance. “There’s also this very profound kind of blurring of who’s responsible when things go wrong. And I think we’ve seen some of that in the last few days," said Mark Winfield, professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies. 

The TSSA was created after regulation for several industry branches was farmed out of what used to be the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations. The idea was to separate policy-making from administration by transferring inspections and other routine tasks to the quasi-independent agency, Winfield said.  

The transfer borrowed several ideas from a system in use in Alberta, but the western province kept the watchdogs under the umbrella of freedom of information and provincial-auditor oversight, Winfield said – a glaring distinction from Ontario’s chosen route.  

  • Mark Winfield was interviewed about public meetings concerning the propane explosion, on CBC TV’s “The National” Aug. 14. 

Councillor – and former lecturer – asked to apologize for outburst

In 25 years as a city councillor, Maria Augimeri (York Centre) has carved out a reputation for her short fuse and her colourful language, reported the National Post Aug. 15. Her latest outburst on Wednesday – telling a heckling constituent to "shut up" during a live press conference at the site of Sunday’s propane depot explosion – shocked Toronto residents and prompted calls for an apology from the Mayor Thursday.  

Augimeri is a political veteran who started her career pre-amalgamation as a North York councillor in 1985. She was first elected as a school board trustee after lecturing at York University in sociology, where she authored three books about Italian-Canadians.  

Speedo bonus for Phelps is money well spent, says Middleton

Michael Phelps and his quest for an unprecedented eight gold medals is the talk of the Olympics, but the superstar making the biggest splash at the Water Cube in Beijing isn’t a swimmer at all, but a swimsuit: the Speedo Fastskin LZR Racer, reported The Globe and Mail Aug. 15.  

Speedo has promised Phelps a $1-million bonus if he is able to match Mark Spitz’s 1972 seven-gold-medal record. It will be money well spent for Speedo, since Phelps is becoming known as the Tiger Woods of swimming and will soon be able to command Tiger-like endorsement dollars, said Alan Middleton, a marketing professor with the Schulich School of Business at York University. "He will literally have the sponsors queuing up," he said.  

Olympic stain is all but erased for former Yeoman

That former Olympic sprinter and York football player Desai Williams still tingles in anticipation of the Olympic Games most glamorous foot race speaks to an unconditional love for a sport that, 20 years ago, shunned him and his friends, reported the Toronto Star Aug. 15.  

In 1988, Williams, who played football for York from 1982 to 1984, lined up next to compatriot Ben Johnson in Seoul to compete in what has become the most infamous 100-metre race of all time. When Johnson failed a drug test, his Toronto teammates, including Williams, were dragged into the scandal with him.  

In 2004, Williams was asked by long-time friend and former York Yeoman football teammate David Cynamon – an Argo co-owner – to join the CFL team as a speed and conditioning coach. Away from the Argos, Williams runs the York University-based track club, Elite Edge. Williams says he’s proud he hasn’t let the Seoul race hijack his life. "Everybody makes mistakes in life and you can’t hold on to that stuff, you have to move on," said the upbeat father of two daughters. 

Grad seeks to open doors for black MBA students

Damon Knights had a sense he was a rare breed when he graduated from York University’s Schulich School of Business in 2006: He was the only black student in the international MBA program, reported The Globe and Mail Aug. 15. What’s more, there was just a handful of black graduates in the regular MBA program.  

In a bid to change that, Knights has become the first Canadian president of an organization that is seeking to open doors to the world of business for black students through higher education. The Toronto chapter of the National Black MBA Association – the first international offshoot of the 8,000-member US-based organization – aims to give current and recent graduates a chance to network and find role models. 

On air

  • Hernan Humana, coach of the Canadian Olympic men’s beach volleyball team and a lecturer in York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science, discussed the Beijing Olympics on CBC Radio’s “Ontario Today” Aug. 14. 
  • Ira Jacobs, chair of York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science, discussed American swimmer Michael Phelps’s goal to win five gold medals, Canada’s men’s eight rowing team’s prospects for gold and Canadian swimmers’ record-breaking performances, on Radio Canada International’s “The Link” Aug. 14.