York student part of non-partisan group defending Youth Criminal Justice Act

The hastily formed national group that York student Keegan Henry-Mathieu is now part of stresses that it is a non-partisan, non-political coalition of lawyers, youth groups and front-line youth workers concerned about Conservative plans to get tougher on young offenders and open up the Youth Criminal Justice Act, wrote the Toronto Star Oct. 8.

But, speaking on behalf of the Toronto Youth Cabinet yesterday at the inaugural press conference of the national Coalition for Children and Youth, he came as close as any to saying what many in the coalition, no doubt, hope voters will do. "Vote Liberal or vote NDP, but do it if they are going to offer something better," said Henry-Mathieu, 21.

Conservative crime plans include naming young offenders and adding mandatory, longer sentences for murder convictions. The youth cabinet, said Henry-Mathieu, is calling on Toronto’s voting-age youth to "take a stand against the Conservative party’s plan to allow life sentences for youth as young as 14 years old." He added, "We’ve seen this approach before. It didn’t work."

NDP ‘fighting to be official opposition’ with new ads: analyst

The NDP launched three new Jack Layton-focused commercials yesterday, apparently aimed at persuading undecided leftist voters to give the party official opposition status in a Conservative-led minority parliament, wrote the Ottawa Citizen Oct. 8.

York University political advertising specialist Fred Fletcher, University professor emeritus in the Joint Graduate Program in Communication & Culture, says the ads are a pitch to the NDP’s base supporters and left-leaning Liberals. "They are fighting to be the official opposition," he says. "They are typical NDP ads in that there isn’t a lot of production value – just jacketless Jack and a chalkboard. In the overall strategic context, they are effective because, at this stage of the campaign, they remind people of the party’s main themes."

The use of the term "everyday families" shows that the NDP hasn’t yet found a phrase to meaningfully describe its core supporters – or at least the core demographic the party wants to attract, Fletcher said. "The NDP has always been in a quandary over to how to describe that group of Canadians," he said. "People object to being called ordinary or average, but I’m not sure everyday means anything."

Safety, environment on candidates minds at debate

Conservative candidate Rochelle Wilner accused Liberal opponent Ken Dryden at an all-candidates meeting of abandoning constituents when representation was needed during the Sunrise Propane explosion, wrote the North York Mirror Oct. 7. "Why didn’t you offer leadership to the people who pay your salary?" she asked. Dryden replied he spent the evening of the explosion and the next night conversing with residents at York University who were using the Keele campus as temporary shelter after being forced out of their homes. "You don’t say it’s not our jurisdiction, you say it’s our people," he said. "What they needed was conversation. That’s where I was at those moments."

Boyden, Swan on Giller short list

York grads Joseph Boyden (BA Hons. ’91) and Mary Swan (BA ’74) are among the finalists vying for this year’s Scotiabank Giller Prize, wrote The Waterloo Region Record Oct. 8.

The $50,000 top prize will be handed out on Nov. 11 at a gala dinner in Toronto. Others on the short list receive $5,000.

Boyden, who divides his time between northern Ontario and Louisiana, was nominated for Through Black Spruce.

Swan was born in Wingham and raised in Walkerton and London, Ont. She studied literature at York University’s Faculty of Arts before relocating to Guelph where she worked in the library at the University of Guelph.

She first attracted attention in 2001 when she won the prestigious O. Henry Award for short fiction for The Deep, a novella set in France during the First World War. A year later her collection of stories, Emma’s Hands, was greeted with critical acclaim.

Public health surveys exempt from do not call registry

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is one of a number of organizations that are exempt from the new National Do Not Call List, wrote the Orillia Packet and Times Oct. 8. The health unit often conducts telephone surveys to assist with the planning and evaluation of programs and services. In particular, the Rapid Risk Factor Surveillance System (RRFSS) is an ongoing telephone survey conducted on behalf of the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit by the Institute for Social Research at York University.

  • An item on Sudbury’s CICS-FM Radio noted York’s involvement in a similar survey for the Sudbury & District Health Unit.

Ontario urged to turn down electricity expansion

Some observers worry that history is repeating itself and with a recession looming, a 20-year plan to expand electricity production in Ontario is more expansive and expensive than it needs to be, wrote the Toronto Star Oct. 8 in a story about a similar debate 20 years ago.

"The potential parallels are enormous," said Mark Winfield, a professor of sustainable energy policy in York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies. "We’re seeing exactly the kind of pitfalls that the 1989 planning process fell into."

Free to be…feminist

One of the best-kept secrets about feminism is this: women’s liberation is good for men, wrote Andil Gosine, sociology professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, in the Antigua Sun Oct. 8. We have heard a great deal about how much greater equality between men and women improves the lives of women, but we have heard not so much about what this means for men – leaving us with the wrong impression that if women gain, men lose.

Feminism sets out to liberate men, as it does women. It’s a mistake to think that feminism is about turning power over to women – to “give the girls a chance to steer the ship,” as some have put it. Some may see it that way, but to me the core objective of feminism has always been about the liberation of women from the imaginary meanings attached to their bodies, in a similar way that anti-racism is about seeking freedom from the attachments put to skin, hair and bones.

I learned this lesson early on from the examples of Caribbean women in my life: grandmothers who often did things that might sometimes seem ungrandmotherly (like chop cane, climb coconut trees, have a drink with the boys); aunts who kissed off rules about when and even if they should get married; teachers both at temple and at school who shared their unique views of the world; cousins who gave as good as they got in the yard; girlfriends who expressed their womanliness in all kinds of ways; and my mother who chose to be a mother in the manner that she wanted to be a mother.

On air

  • Bernard Wolf, economics professor in York’s Schulich School of Business, spoke about talk of recession, on CBC Radio’s “Metro Morning” (Toronto) Oct. 7.
  • Ian Roberge, political science professor at York’s Glendon College, spoke about the federal election campaign in Oakville, on TFO-TV Oct. 7.
  • Can Erutku, economics professor at Glendon, spoke about price-fixing by gas stations in Quebec, on SRC-TV’s “La Facture” Oct. 7.