Canadians lack understanding of how science is done, says York prof

Your front-page article on the Canadian content of this year’s Nobel Prize in physics (A Canadian Who Took Big Risks Takes Home The Big Prize – Oct. 7) makes an important point about science culture and science policy in Canada, the lack of understanding by the public and by politicians of how science is done, and the need for a more dynamic science culture, wrote Professor Emeritus and Senior Scholar Ron Pearlman of York’s biology department in the Faculty of Science & Engineering, in a letter to The Globe and Mail Oct. 8. It’s an issue many of us are trying to address.

Crown’s witnesses characterized as liars and alarmists

Crown lawyers at a challenge to the country’s prostitution law were accused yesterday of creating their witness list from a ragtag group of anti- prostitution zealots who roam the globe misinforming legislators and judges, wrote The Globe and Mail Oct. 8.

Alan Young, criminal law professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, said that many of the Crown’s experts have a history of lying to foreign legislators, conducting simplistic research, fabricating scare stories and employing absurd rhetoric to help stall the global liberalization of prostitution laws.

Young, who teaches at York University’s Osgoode Hall law school, said that the Crown witnesses “have gone around the world trying to convince governments that they are on the road to hell. Regrettably, the Crown has to live with the people they have found, but these are not credible witnesses.”

  • A lawyer for three women challenging Canada’s prostitution laws invoked a host of controversial legal battles – from abortion to medical marijuana – to argue sex trade workers’ claims mirror those of people denied their rights in other cases, wrote Canwest News Service Oct. 7.

Alan Young, criminal law professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, said the government has known for years that its prostitution legislation is not working, but refuses to touch the politically charged issue.

“You can’t have laws that effect no good and harm people,” Young told Justice Susan Himel of Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

He said a trio of laws that limit sex-trade workers’ ability to protect themselves infringe on Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees a person’s right to liberty and security.

  • Young also spoke about the court challenge on CFRB Radio’s “Moore in the Morning” program and on CTV News Oct. 7.

Time to change Canada’s laws on prostitution

Drug-addicted and impoverished hookers don’t have a lot of political clout, which may explain why the feds have stubbornly refused to repeal our prostitution laws, wrote Mindelle Jacobs of Sun Media Oct. 8.

Yesterday in a Toronto courtroom, an Osgoode Hall Law School professor, a dominatrix and two sex trade workers were poised to launch a constitutional challenge of our prostitution legislation.

They contend that the laws banning bawdy houses, living on the avails and communicating for the purposes of prostitution are, in fact, exposing sex trade workers to violence and murder.

“The law, the way it’s structured in an irrational, arbitrary manner, contributes to these killing fields,” declares lawyer Alan Young who’s spearheading the court challenge. “It’s not about whether you have the right to sell your body,” he explains. “It’s whether the law is unconstitutional when it increases the risk of harm.”

On air

  • Leo Panitch, political science professor in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, spoke about Canada’s immigration policy and its effect on labour, on AM640 News Radio’s “John Oakley Show” Oct. 7.
  • Ian Roberge, political science professor at Glendon, spoke about the difficulties caused by the ministry of health controversey for Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty on Radio Canada in Toronto and Montreal Oct. 7.
  • Anna Hudson, professor of art history in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, spoke about the a new exhibit The Nude in Modern Canadian Art from 1920 to 1950 on CBC Radio Quebec Oct. 7.