Osgoode prof says Supreme Court is more selective now

This atmosphere [of collegiality] sets Canada’s court apart from the fiercely partisan Supreme Court of the United States, wrote The Walrus in a feature article on Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, Canada’s first female chief justice. As constitutional law expert Jamie Cameron, professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, puts it, the US court is so fractured “you practically need a spreadsheet to figure out what’s going on.”

McLachlin’s third priority for her tenure as chief justice, promoting a courageous but considered approach to judicial review, has also prompted some criticism. In Cameron’s opinion, although McLachlin is “not at all hesitant to enforce the Charter,” she chooses her moments quite selectively, as part of a pragmatic, issue-specific, case-by-case approach. While this may keep the peace, Cameron says, “the court is not moving the Charter forward as much as previous courts did,” nor moving as fast as some constituencies would like it to. The broader vision is missing, she says. “You might imagine a court that would be particularly favourable to the rights of the accused, or the rights of the poor. Or you might imagine a court that is favouring certain entitlements over others. But you’re not really seeing anything in particular in this court that stands out.”

This is not to say that the court is immune from renewed charges of judicial activism, says Cameron. Occasionally, individual decisions will still provoke “a high degree of public debate and controversy,” she says. But in her view, the court will likely come under sustained attack only if it seems to be consistently pushing the boundaries in ways that “rub up against what we see as being the proper domain of the legislatures.”

York creates nursing academy

York University and some of Toronto’s most renowned downtown hospitals are creating a nursing academy, wrote the North York Mirror May 19. York signed a memorandum of understanding Friday, May 15 with University Health Network (UHN), which takes in Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital and Princess Margaret Hospital.

The academy, which will be housed at Toronto General, will focus on advancing the knowledge and practice of nursing with an eye to improving patients’ quality of life. The objective is to concentrate on areas of research that will improve health care and patient safety, according to Gail Mitchell, the academy’s new director and chair.

The academy will also allow York nursing students to take classes and complete clinical placements at UHN and let UHN nurses further their education and professional development under the University’s health leadership and learning network. “It is full of possibility,” said Mitchell, who is a professor in York’s School of Nursing in the Faculty of Health.

One of the main goals will be focusing on patient-centred care to help patients and their families become more involved in making decisions in their own care, Mitchell said. “Patients want to be listened to and given more information (about their health care choices) when they need it,” she said.

Harvey Skinner, dean of York’s Faculty of Health, called the partnership between the University and UHN a significant step. “UHN is the flagship academic hospital in Canada and internationally,” he said. “We look forward to working with UHN in being a global leader in research and education and on patient-centred care, with major impact on improving the quality of patient care and outcomes.”

York grad is named Parliament’s rookie of the year

Like a lot of the MPs elected for the first time last fall, Megan Leslie (BA Hons. ’03) didn’t have quite as much time as she might have liked to prepare to take her seat in the House, wrote Maclean’s in a story about the member for Halifax in its May 25 issue.

But those unlikely first weeks didn’t seem to throw Leslie, 35, off balance. In less than six months in the House, she has attracted an unusual amount of notice – enough to win her the best rookie MP title in the Maclean’s poll of her peers. She speaks with a passion on subjects like energy efficiency, and she sees potential to make an impact where others bemoan the ordinary MP’s impotence. “It’s really remarkable to see how much influence you can have if you are prepared, understand the issues well, and are confident,” she says. “I’ve seen MPs walk into committees and say, ‘This is the way we should be going,’ and other MPs – it doesn’t matter which party – say, ‘Yeah, I agree with that.’”

Now, having made an early impression on the Hill, Leslie needs to figure out how to make a difference – as a member of the fourth-place party. One forum she hopes to use is the cross-party group, such as Senator Roméo Dallaire’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Prevention of Genocide and other Crimes against Humanity, of which she’s a member. “I’m asking, ‘how do I organize communities to care about the issues that I care about?” she says. “But also, how do I organize across party lines with other MPs? I know that sounds very pie-in-the-sky, and maybe naive, but I believe it can be done.”

Pepler promotes retreat and report, says columnist

Folks like…Debra Pepler, distinguished research professor in psychology York University’s Faculty of Health, aren’t merely trying to change schoolyard events, they want to change schoolyard culture – for the worse, wrote columnist Mark Hasiuk in The Vancouver Courier May 20.

They promote “retreat and report” as the only recourse and seem bent on spawning a generation of informants who run screaming from life’s playground at the first sign of adversity. Ask any adult male to recall his most shining boyhood moment, and he’ll probably recite a heroic encounter with a bully. Nobody fondly recalls the time they turned tail, told a teacher and engaged in follow-up consultation with an anti-bullying expert.

On air

  • Ananya Mukherjee-Reed, political science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, spoke about India’s elections on Radio Canada International’s “The Link” May 19.