TTC unveils new Spadina subway station plans

This week, the Toronto Transit Commission revealed plans for the first two stations on the planned Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension, including a design for Sheppard West from architectural firm Aedas that resembles twinned landing strips, wrote the Toronto Star Sept. 23.

The curved ramp that joins the two entrances of the smaller York University station is a similar departure from the utilitarian designs of Toronto’s subway system. The station is being designed by the architectural firm Foster + Partners.

The TTC, which is building the 8.6-kilometre Spadina extension, has opted for high-end architecture through internationally recognized firms to design the six stops that will run between Downsview station and the planned Vaughan city centre at Highway 7, wrote the Star.

  • Reports about the increased costs for the stations were also carried on local radio stations.

The professor’s next battle

He is a thorn in the University’s side, wrote the Toronto Star Sept. 23. Social Science Professor David Noble has taken on York University for years; accusing it of playing religious favourites by cancelling all classes on Jewish holidays (and he’s Jewish); claiming pro-Israeli members of its fundraising foundation have too much sway over campus operations; slamming former president Lorna Marsden for expelling a pro-Palestinian protester; and questioning the credentials of a recent faculty hire.

This week, he is asking a human rights tribunal to find York has penalized him for all his rabble-rousing. Noble says York assigned him less popular time-slots for his lectures in 2006 – Friday afternoons.

Yesterday, former president Lorna Marsden denied any retaliation against Noble when she appeared as a witness before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, which is hearing the complaint. “To suggest that is totally inaccurate; the thought of reprisal never crossed the mind of anyone in administration and certainly not me,” said Marsden during a cross-examination by Noble, who is representing himself in the case. She said the administration would not have been involved in setting his teaching timetable.

Marsden admitted that she had asked York lawyers in 2004 to consider whether Noble’s article might have constituted a hate crime but denied, when asked by Noble, that she was prompted to do so by members of the Jewish community.

Today, current President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri will appear before the tribunal. Shoukri became president in 2007 when Marsden retired and he was in office in 2008 when Noble decided to hold classes on Jewish holidays and informed the president by letter. Shoukri responded by referring the matter to the dean of the Faculty of Arts, which Noble called “a threat of reprisal, since the dean oversees matters of discipline”.

Testimony wraps up tomorrow, with both sides presenting closing arguments Nov. 3. Tribunal chair Michael Gottheil will make a ruling at a later date.

Trial by jury may be forced on Royal Group fraud case

The case of six executives charged with fraud involving Royal Group, Inc. shines a prominent light on a little-known section of the Criminal Code of Canada that gives the attorney-general broad powers to overrule a choice for a trial by judge alone in cases where jail terms could exceed five years, wrote The Globe and Mail Sept. 23.

In white-collar fraud cases in particular, both sides have typically preferred judge-only trials on the assumption that a complex case rooted in accounting issues could be overwhelming for many jurors.

Osgoode Hall Law School Professor James Stribopoulos says the document-driven trials can be “painfully boring” and highly technical for even the most diligent of jurors.

He also believes executives could reasonably fear facing hostility from jurors at a time when white-collar crime has never been more unpopular. “White-collar crime is definitely something that the general public has on its radar and would be very unsympathetic toward accused charged with those offences,” he said.

When ‘baby busters’ and boomers’ babies collide

Canada is heading for a mini-baby boom as the offspring of boomers enter their childbearing years and women get their careers in order, wrote The Globe and Mail Sept. 23.

“This increase of older motherhood tends to be more pronounced in professional women, which makes sense,” said Andrea O’Reilly, professor of women’s studies in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, and founder of the school’s Association for Research on Mothering.

“If you choose to pursue a career, it’s more likely that you’ll postpone motherhood simply because of the years of training that such a profession requires.”

O’Reilly added: “We’ve really pushed out, or expanded, the time frame of good motherhood. For a long time there was a very short window on when you could be a mother and this long trend really signifies a shift in that thinking.”

On air

  • Dr. Joel Lexchin, professor in York’s School of Health Policy & Management in the Faculty of Health, spoke about the H1N1 vaccine on CBC Radio’s “The Current” Sept. 22.
  • Marcel Martel, history professor in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, spoke about his participation in a 400-kilometre canoe expedition retracing the steps of Samuel de Champlain on TFO-TV’s “Panorama” Sept. 21.