Donors fund centre at York to foster link between professions

For years, Jay Hennick (BA ’78) and partner Barbara knew there was something missing from their respective professions, reported The Globe and Mail Feb. 7. Jay is a lawyer who went into business, founding property service company FirstService Corp. He soon realized that few lawyers had any grounding in business. Barbara is a chartered accountant who found throughout her career that most business people had no grasp of legal issues.

"We put the two together, looked at each other and said, what’s missing here?" Barbara said from the couple’s home in Toronto. They decided to address the gap by donating $3 million to help create The Jay and Barbara Hennick Centre for Business and Law at York University.

The centre is the first of its kind in Canada and it will offer an advanced certificate program in business for lawyers and become home to the Canadian Foundation for the Advancement of Investor Rights, or FAIR. It will also provide scholarships and hold seminars on a variety of subjects for business people, lawyers, journalists and other professionals.  

The centre is being headed by Toronto lawyer Edward Waitzer, former chair of the Ontario Securities Commission, and its board includes former Ontario judge James Farley; Barbara Stymiest, Royal Bank of Canada group head, strategy, treasury & corporate services; and Edward Sonshine, president & CEO of RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust.  

This isn’t the only business-law venture Jay has helped create. He also established an LLB-MBA program at the University of Ottawa. "The world out there is not [operating] in silos," he says. "We have to reach out to the overall community and get them thinking about multiple issues."  

Should we limit family size to save the Earth?

A week after a California woman gave birth to octuplets, Britain’s environmental watchdog says having more than two children is "irresponsible" and the government must start actively advancing contraception and abortion, reported the Toronto Star Feb. 7. 

The idea that governments may one day limit family size (however offspring are conceived) has been thrown into the bear pit by Jonathon Porritt, chair of Downing Street’s Commission on Sustainable Development. "I’m unapologetic about asking people to connect their responsibility for their total environmental footprint – how they decide to procreate and how many children they think are appropriate," he said in an interview this week.  

Was Porritt actually talking about the risks of over-population in the developing world? Absolutely not, says David Bell, a professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies. The amount of environmental damage caused by eight North Americans equals 160 people in the Third World, he says.  

"The carrying capacity of the planet is limited. Our ecological footprint – how much biosphere it takes to support one individual – is 10 to 20 times higher here. If everyone lived at that rate, we’d need three or more Earths."  

A debate on population limits is valid, says Bell, even in geographically wide-open Canada. But he adds that an attempt last year by the province to look at the implications of 10 million people crowded into southern Ontario collapsed amid charges of immigration control.  

What Porritt is suggesting is hugely controversial, Bell says, "but it’s a reality." It took all of human history for the world to reach a population of 2.5 billion in 1950. A century later, in 2050, it’s expected to be a staggering 9 to 10 billion. "Until we can develop technologies to lower the impact of humans, we’ve got a real problem."

In shrinking workforce, women may surpass men

As the economic downturn gets worse, experts say women, who find it easier to get jobs, could soon outnumber men in the workforce as jobs in the manufacturing sector decline – an area traditionally dominated by men, reported the Toronto Star Feb. 7.  

Irene Henriques, professor of economics at York University’s Schulich School of Business, sees it as a demographics issue as well. "There are more jobs in health care because of baby boomers. Women have always been care providers, and more are working now."  

Economists also point out that men have lost high-paying jobs with health care and pensions, but women are supporting families with jobs that are not necessarily as good. 

“People do what they have to in hard times, especially in one-income families," said Henriques. "If the (one) job is lost, there’s emphasis on women to find jobs."  

In a recession, the question is: Whose business will decline the least?

As economic news becomes increasingly grim, businesses across Canada are faced with the reality of having to adapt to stay afloat, reported the Toronto Star Feb. 7. 

As for who will do well, Alan Middleton, a marketing expert with the Schulich School of Business at York University said "well" is a relative term. "It’s really who will decline the least."  

Loblaw Companies Ltd., criticized in the past for high prices, has been forced to rethink their advertising to stay competitive, he said. "They are using a very powerful weapon – their No Name brand – to remind people you can get stuff for low prices and it’s not bad quality."  

Allegations provide rare peek inside jury room

An unusual hearing into a juror who had a change of heart after delivering a guilty verdict has provided a rare and unbecoming peek inside the jury room, typically a protected bastion of secrecy in Canada: After a day of private deliberations, the 12 men and women deciding the fate of an Ontario woman almost came to blows, reported the National Post Feb. 9. 

The heated deliberations were outlined in a two-page letter from a juror to the judge presiding over a drug case in Simcoe, one of two recent cases portraying jury rooms as poisonous, unpleasant places.  

The allegations of such jury room pressure raise questions of whether the nation’s secrecy rules make jury deliberations more "comfortable", as the Supreme Court of Canada envisioned, or merely cover up a dirty judicial secret.  

James Stribopoulos, a professor of criminal law at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, suggests there are ways to loosen jury secrecy without going to the American extreme.

"Judges are really concerned about opening the floodgates and having this become a common ground of appeal with appellate lawyers investigating what transpired in the jury room," Stribopoulos says. "Cases like this demonstrate that this is very unfortunate because it can mean we close our eyes to potential injustice. There could be a better, half-way approach. Keep it that parties can’t be proactive in trying to find out what happened in the jury room but when information emerges, like in this case, that suggests there has been something untoward about the deliberations, we should make an exception."  

Parents also receive postsecondary orientation

They’ve been dubbed helicopter parents for hovering or snowplow parents for trying to clear a path for their kids, reported Canwest News Service Feb. 8. This year’s term is “jet-fighter”, when helicopter parents become even more aggressive.  

This growing trend has changed the way schools operate. In 2005, to help stem the flood of parental e-mails, York University for the first time ran an online chat to answer their questions. More than 200 people logged on.  

Donation ban easier said than done

Banning municipal candidates from accepting corporate and union contributions – a cause some local ratepayers are toying with championing – isn’t a local decision, according to Robert MacDermid, reported the Markham Economist & Sun Feb. 7. 

That’s what the York University political science professor said during a presentation at a Monday Unionville Ratepayers Association meeting on his recently released study of funding in municipal elections. It cites concerns with the amount of money developers and the development-related industry are giving candidates and concluded that, among other measures, corporate and trade union contributions to candidates should be banned.  

Association president Richard Talbot said Toronto is about to ban corporate and union contributions. "I thought that was of interest to us," he said, suggesting his group may look at whether or not they should or could put together something similar in Markham. It’s not possible, at least at the municipal level.

MacDermid explained Toronto is able to ban such contributions because it has that authority under the City of Toronto Act. Other municipal elections are ruled under a single provincial act that allows corporate and union contributions. That act would have to be changed to disallow them, he said. However, there are other Canadian jurisdictions that have already banned corporate and trade union contributions, MacDermid said, including federal, provincial and municipal.  

In his report, MacDermid makes several suggestions for reform to municipal election law, including banning corporate and trade union contributions, limiting individual contributions, requiring that contributors live within the municipality they are donating in and requiring contributors be of voting age. He also encourages municipalities to adopt contribution rebate programs, which financially encourage individuals to contribute to political campaigns. Only three of the 10 municipalities he studied have such a program: Markham, Ajax and Toronto. Of these, Markham and Toronto were the only municipalities he studied that had citizen contributions exceeding corporate, he said.  

MacDermid said he believes it is residents that should be financing candidates. "If we cannot get out and give $100 for a candidate we believe in, that’s a pretty sad comment," he said. He added he believes campaign finance systems should force candidates to go out and look for small contributions from voters, which, in turn, brings them closer to their electorate. "It can be done, but citizens have to get out and support them," he said.  

But he acknowledged the need for campaign money drives candidates to go and look for big contributors.

Councillor Joe Virgilio, who attended the meeting, acknowledged he did take campaign contributions from developers. "But I knocked on every door, or a lot of doors," he said, adding that he also communicates directly with his constituents by attending meetings, like those put on by his ward’s ratepayer groups. He said councillors follow the planning act and have to make development decisions. "As politicians, that’s what we’re there for," Virgilio said, adding that sometimes he votes for development and other times he doesn’t. "Don’t make it seem like we’re bad people," he said.  

Deputy Mayor Jack Heath said he was surprised when MacDermid’s report indicated that 17 per cent of his campaign financing came from developers.  

Sutherland jockeys for new career in entertainment

Set to turn 33 in a few days, Chantal Sutherland (BA ’99) is still very much in her prime as a first-class jockey, reported the Toronto Star Feb. 9. But a young woman has to think long-term and, in her case, that means a possible career in acting or broadcasting.  

The Winnipeg native, York University graduate and regular rider at Woodbine knows there can be a life other than the pre-dawn wakeup calls, the cutthroat competition for mounts and wild rides aboard 550-kilogram thoroughbreds. That’s one of the reasons she is playing a starring role in the new Animal Planet reality series titled “Jockeys: Win or Die Trying” that debuted this past weekend.  

Sutherland is one of seven jockeys featured in the 12-part series of half-hour shows and plays a starring role both on the track and at the home she shares when in California with fellow rider and boyfriend Mike Smith. She is characterized by the producers as "The Breakout Female Star", while Smith, 10 years her senior and already in the horse racing hall of fame, is labelled "The Icon".  

Horses, of course, are the real stars of the show, as are all the animals, appropriately, on Animal Planet. But the show takes its name from the riders and explores their relationships with the horses – and each other. The love interest, which provides one strain of any decent docu/soap, is supplied by Sutherland and Smith.  

"At first, it was a bit intrusive," Sutherland said yesterday by phone from California, before heading over to the track at Santa Anita, where the series was shot last October, more or less around the clock, day after day. "It was awkward because you’re thinking about everything you say. But then we gradually became friends with the camera guys and everything started to happen naturally. We worked hard, we gave them a lot of our time."  

Sutherland is no stranger to the spotlight. At 5-foot-2 and 105 pounds, she got into racing full time in 2000, has more than 450 career wins (five in one day at Woodbine) and has raced all over North America. She made People magazine’s 2006 list of its 100 most beautiful people, was featured in a four-page Vogue magazine spread shot by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz and has her own Canadian-made line of perfume. Sutherland had to leave Canada early last fall to fit the filming into her schedule. "It was a sacrifice," she said. "But it’s good for horse racing and it’s a great marketing tool for me in the US."  

There’s already talk of a second season for Jockeys and Sutherland says she’s thinking of using it as a stepping stone into acting and/or broadcasting. She studied communications at York and has signed on with an acting coach. "I can see getting into broadcasting. I really have a dream of doing a talk show."  

York coach takes Canada’s women’s hockey team to world games

Sarnia native Kayla Hottot is among 20 women hockey players who will be part of Canada’s entry at the 2009 Winter World University Games in Harbin, China, Feb. 18 to 28, reported the Sarnia Observer, Feb. 7.  

Team Canada is led behind the bench by York University head coach Dan Church, with University of Ottawa bench boss Shelley Coolidge and former Ottawa assistant Kim Thompson serving as assistant coaches. University of Toronto head coach Karen Hughes will handle general manager duties.  

While Canada will be among the favourites to win gold in Harbin, Church downplays the existence of any extra pressure heaped on his players as they prepare for the games. "I wouldn’t say there’s increased expectation, because every time Canada suits up in women’s hockey, the expectation is to win gold," explained Church. "I would say there’s an increased level of excitement leading up to the tournament. It’s great that women’s hockey has finally been included as part of the Winter Universiade, and I think the girls realize how special it is to be the first group to represent Canada at that level," Church said in a statement when the team was announced.  

Competing in a single, six-team pool, Canada will face Slovakia, Japan, Great Britain, Finland and the host Chinese in round-robin play with the top four teams advancing to the medal round. Team Canada opens the tournament against Great Britain on Feb. 18.  

On air

  • A study on gambling addiction by a York University professor [Thomas Klassen] says more people in tough economic times turn to games of chance to solve their economic problems, reported “The Dave Shuttleworth Show” (CHAM-AM), Hamilton, Feb. 6. 
  • The abortion debate furor at the University of Calgary and York University was discussed on “CH Live @ 5:30” (CHCH-TV), Hamilton, Feb. 6. 
  • Students returned to class this week, but while the strike may be over, for many students the problems are just beginning, reported “A Channel News @ 11” (CKVR-TV ), Barrie, Feb. 8.