Permit delays throw University renovations into doubt

As Toronto’s striking city workers mark their 30th day off the job, the impact goes beyond garbage pickup, reported The Globe and Mail July 21. Colleges and universities have costly renovation projects on the line, and in the absence of officials to issue permits, they are at risk of missing some important deadlines – and in the worst-case scenario, millions of dollars in government funding.

As part of its economic stimulus plan, the federal government will spend almost $1.4 billion to expand and refurbish 181 colleges and universities across the country. Announced in May, the Knowledge Infrastructure Program includes eight postsecondary institutions in Toronto. Schools that were shovel-ready this summer were given priority; projects must meet a completion deadline of March 30, 2011, and the program will not cover costs incurred after that date.

At York University, the federal and provincial governments together have pledged $25 million to expand and renovate the law school at Osgoode Hall and $70 million to construct a life sciences building on its Keele campus.

"We still don’t have our permits," York spokesperson Alex Bilyk said. "However, the city has reassured us that they would have some kind of expedited method once the strike is over for going through the permits."

Defining ‘detention’ is about more than semantics

The fact that reasonable people feel they cannot just "walk away" from the police has important consequences – thanks to a trio of related decisions released last Friday by the Supreme Court of Canada, wrote James Morton (LLB ’86), an adjunct professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, in the National Post July 21.

In a majority decision, the court found that a person is considered "detained" when he is arrested or "where the individual has a legal obligation to comply with a restrictive request or demand, or a reasonable person would conclude by reason of the state conduct that he or she had no choice but to comply."

The legal definition of detention, which is what the Supreme Court sets down here, is important. As soon as someone is "detained",  he immediately must be told that he is entitled to speak to a lawyer. Thus, if we take the above-described "reasonable Canadian" test seriously, almost every time a police office speaks to someone, he henceforth should begin by explaining the right to counsel. Practically speaking, this could leave police stymied in their investigations.  

Is there a better answer? asked Morton. Perhaps. In his dissent in one of the three related cases, Supreme Court Justice Ian Binnie suggested that "police words and conduct should be interpreted in light of the purpose of the encounter from the police perspective."  

In other words, rather than ask what would the reasonable Canadian think when questioned by police, we might ask why the police are conducting the questioning, argued Morton. If the police are seeking an inculpatory statement from a suspect, then there is a detention and a need for the right to counsel. If, however, the police are seeking general information and have no special focus on the individual then there is no detention.  

Like most Canadians, I believe that we must protect the rights of Canadians, stated Morton. But at the same time, we must do so without prejudicing law enforcement. Justice Binnie’s compromise fulfils both of these imperatives.  

Toronto union leader Mark Ferguson is calm, says York instructor and wife

Mark Ferguson, the 40-year-old president of Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 416, which, with inside workers from Local 79, has been on strike since June 22, says this strike is not about public sympathy, reported the Toronto Star July 18. He is unmoved, despite opinion polls and outraged citizens who have marched in anti-strike demonstrations, organized neighbourhood cleanups and protested pesticide use.  

Pickets at Coronation Park, requesting anonymity, describe Ferguson as well-spoken and cool – the benefit of 11 years as a paramedic.  

He met his wife, Cathy Ferguson, an emergency nurse who teaches part time at York University and Seneca College, on an emergency call. "She was one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever met and extremely intelligent." Cathy says Ferguson is a calm person. "He doesn’t lose it around here. I want people to know that he is truly trying to protect people."  

Supreme Court justice was a voice of restraint, says prof

He was the quiet one. During his 14 years on the Supreme Court of Canada, few Canadians outside the legal community heard of Charles Gonthier, began an obituary in The Globe and Mail July 20. A scholar, philosopher and original thinker, and a man of principle and integrity, this Québécois was less visible and less controversial than most of his fellow Supreme Court justices. But in court, he was known for his probing questions that struck at the heart of the issue.  

Gonthier had a less expansive view of the Charter than his fellow judges, said Jamie Cameron, professor of constitutional law at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School. "He offered a valuable voice of restraint, at a time when Supreme Court decision-making took the judges into the public policy domain."  

Cameron said that those who saw the Charter as an instrument for social justice would consider Gonthier a conservative, based on some of his decisions. Notably, he was the lone dissenter in the 1996 landmark court ruling that upheld the right of same-sex couples to equal treatment under the Charter; he supported a ban that barred prisoners from voting in federal elections; and he co-wrote the majority decision in the case upholding the continued criminalization of marijuana possession.  

Anti-gay cartoonist hijacks Web site names – including a distortion of

Shortly after winning Queer Idol, Stacey Tennen was advised to kick-start her singing career by securing her domain name and building a Web site – A few weeks later, Tennen, deciding it was time to register her name, discovered the domain had been purchased by someone else and was being used to promote anti-gay sentiments, reported, a queer news Web site. is now a Web site that promotes the works of US publisher Jack T. Chick, an author and cartoonist from California famous for producing comic strips expressing a hardcore brand of evangelical Protestantism. Chick’s comics are blatantly anti-gay (as well as anti-Catholic, anti-feminist, anti-Islam and a whole lot more)., which contains links to Chick Publications, Jack Chick’s publishing company, displays one contact, an e-mail address – A quick Google search of this address produces a series of other Web sites featuring the same fundamentalist cartoons. 

Like Tennen, the domain names for these sites are names and misspellings of names that belong to people and organizations unrelated to Jack Chick and his views: (a misspelling of US actress Olivia Munn), (a misspelling of US actor Paul Wesley), (a misspelling of white supremacist and anti-Semite James Von Brunn) and (US actress Nazneen Contractor starred in The Matthew Shepard Story, a TV movie about the gay youth beaten to death). Even Canada’s York University is a target. A visit to (a misspelling of York University’s Web site links to Chick’s site.  

Partners’ clash could destroy successful ad agency, says prof

They are longtime friends. Together, as partners, they built one of Canada’s most successful advertising and public relations agencies. Now they are pitted against one another, reported The Globe and Mail July 21. 

Claude Lessard and François Duffar have worked side by side for almost 35 years, sharing a vision that became Cossette Inc. That was until Duffar, a former vice-chairman and president of Cossette, suddenly stepped down in May. Now, Lessard finds himself fending off a hostile takeover bid for Cossette led by Duffar, his former partner at a firm that had gone from success to success as it added clients such as General Motors of Canada Ltd. and Bell Canada to its blue-chip roster.  

Alan Middleton, a marketing professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business, said the bid shows just how strained relations between the former partners have become. "This is, in one way, sad, because Cossette, before they went public, was a great example of the concept of a partnership applied to marketing. But, you know, in every family after 10 years of marriage, things look a little different."  

It’s unfortunate their differences had to come to this, because the fight risks becoming destructive, Middleton said. If it ends up as a protracted battle for control, some jittery clients might head for the exits and find another place to park their increasingly scarce ad dollars, he added. The takeover will shake up an industry unused to these kinds of bids, he said, saying the move could also threaten Cossette’s dominant position in the industry. "It will depend on how long and bloody it is."  

John Tory – possible contender for the mayor’s chair?

John Tory (LLB ’78), former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader, is a possible contender for Toronto mayor, suggests The Toronto Sun July 21. Since narrowly losing to David Miller in 2003 by a little more than five per cent of the vote, Tory has come and gone as the province’s Progressive Conservative leader, having lost two elections since the fall of 2007. Tory, 55, studied at both the University of Toronto and York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, where he received a law degree.  

Counsellors might also be new kids around the campfire

Being the new kid on the block, at school, on the job, can be tough. Not at Camp Winston, where kids and counsellors make newbies feel right at home, reported the Toronto Star July 21.  

Naomi Bain can attest to that. This is her first year as a counsellor at the camp for kids with complex neurological disorders. She’s responsible for the life skills program for youth 14 to 17. No biggie. She’s been working with kids for years at city day camps and was a volunteer in a special education class where some children had behavioural problems.  

What’s challenging for this York University student is that it’s the first time she’s been away from home for more than a week. That took some getting used to. "I’m from Toronto and not usually into this nature thing. It was out of my comfort zone," Bain said.

On air

  • Paul Delaney, senior lecturer in astronomy in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, commented on the moon landing, NASA space program in the ’60s and the current space program, on "The Jeff Allan Show” on CKGL-AM in Kitchener July 20. Over the weekend, he also discussed the progress of the International Space Station mission in a CTV interview that aired on news programs on CTV affiliates in Montreal, Sudbury, Kitchener, Ottawa and Saskatoon.
  • Brendan Quine, professor of space engineering in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, was interviewed about man’s first steps on the moon 40 years ago and another first, two Canadian astronauts currently orbiting the Earth together, on CBC Radio’s “Here & Now” in Toronto July 20. The interview aired the same day on CBC regional radio programs in Fredericton, Sudbury, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Vancouver and Yellowknife. Quine and his wife Caroline Roberts also talked about inventing the space elevator on CTV’s “Canada AM” July 20.  
  • Stuart Shanker, Distinguished Research Professor of Psychology/Philosophy in York’s Faculty of Health, discussed critical windows of opportunity in brain development when children can learn a language more easily or pick up reading more quickly, on CBC Radio’s “The Point” July 20. 
  • Peter Taylor, an atmospheric scientist in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about the Canadian team that worked with the Phoenix Mars mission, in an interview aired on CBC Newsworld July 20. 
  • City-tv named the York University Observatory No. 6 on a list of 10 ways to have no-money fun in Toronto on "Downright Domestic" July 18.
  • Tania Das Gupta, chair of York’s School of Social Sciences in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, discussed her findings that nurses face racism from doctors, patients and even other nurses on “Omni News: South Asian Edition” in Toronto July 17.