Osgoode scholarship honours Stikeman’s Alison Youngman

Nearly 37 years after Osgoode Hall Law School grad Alison Youngman (LLB ’84, LLM ’99) caught the eye of Fraser Elliott as a struggling paralegal with potential at Stikeman Elliott LLP, the firm’s partners are honouring the late lawyer with an Osgoode Hall Law School scholarship in her name, wrote The Globe and Mail Nov. 18.

The annual award will hand $20,000 over three years to a student meeting the criteria of financial need and a history of volunteering. Youngman died in March at age 60 after a brief battle with lung cancer. More than 70 Stikeman Elliott partners donated $250,000 for the scholarship, an amount matched by an Ontario government trust for student support.

“This award perfectly represents the essence of Alison. She was very much about giving back,” said Samantha Horn, co-chair of the firm’s fundraising committee.

Youngman joined Stikeman Elliott as a law clerk in 1972 and, with the urging and financial support of founding partner Elliott, graduated from York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School in 1984. She was a pioneering lawyer who broke barriers in the male-dominated field of mergers and acquisitions and helped found the firm’s technology practice. She was a vocal advocate for such benefits as maternity leave – until recently a rarity at law firms. She was president of the International Women’s Forum’s Canadian chapter, and chair of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s board.

Royal conundrum

When giants contend – letters to the editor by John Fraser (Royal Row, Nov. 16) and Michael Bliss (Canada and the Crown, Nov. 17) – the rest of us are prudent to stand aside, wrote Michiel Horn, York professor emeritus, in a letter to The Globe and Mail Nov. 18. Let me, nevertheless, be rash.

Born in one constitutional monarchy, raised in another, I have no problem with Canada’s status as a monarchy, and I don’t think, as Prof. Bliss seems to, that it offends against democracy, wrote Horn. Last December’s political imbroglio, however, made clear that the constitutional position of the monarch’s representative requires clarification.

Might a solution be a constitutional change that gives the governor general the same limited powers as a “weak” president, such as Germany’s? The method of selection might be a nomination requiring the support of two-thirds of the membership of the House of Commons, or of the combined membership of the Commons and Senate. Canada would continue to be a monarchy, and the governor general would have an augmented status.

Campaign financing takes a hit

A proposed Toronto ban on corporate and union donations, expected to win council approval in time for next year’s civic election, means even big-name candidates would have to work harder for every campaign dollar, wrote The Globe and Mail Nov. 18.

York University political scientist Robert MacDermid, of the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, who tracked the funding of municipal candidates in the Toronto region by corporations and developers in the 2006 election, found that corporations accounted for 12.1 per cent of $5.5 million in election campaign donations in Toronto, with unions representing 2.2 per cent of total contributions.

He says it is time to end what he sees as a “discriminatory” practice that allows those who own or control companies to give in their own name and that of the business.

MacDermid noted that the Liberal riding association for Toronto Centre, represented at Queen’s Park by George Smitherman, had raised over $1.2 million between 2004 and 2008, about 45 per cent from corporations. It is “quite an impressive sum” that far outpaced any other Liberal riding association in the province, he said. “If the ban is not passed by the council, it will be interesting to see if Smitherman decides not to take corporate money,” he said in an e-mail.

The story included figures on candidates’ fundraising supplied by MacDermid.

On air

  • Eric Mykhalovskiy, sociology professor in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, spoke about the increased number of criminal charges being laid for people with HIV not informing their partners, on CBC Radio Nov. 17.
  • Ananya Mukherjee-Reed, political science professor in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, took part in a panel discussion about the significance of the Monarchy in Canada, on TVO’s “The Agenda” Nov. 16.
  • Andil Gosine, sociology professor in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies and coordinator of York’s Sexuality Studies Program, spoke about men’s increasing attention to how they look, on Global TV Nov. 17.