Globalism makes life tougher for voice coaches

Voice coaches say actors are increasingly expected to know not only standardized accents, such as American and British, but regional ones as well, wrote CBC News online Dec. 11. All this accentuation of accents means more pressure on dialect coaches.

"I have more responsibility than my predecessors," says Eric Armstrong, voice coach and professor in York’s Department of Theatre in the Faculty of Fine Arts. "When I started, I wasn’t trained to coach people to do Asian or African accents. I was focused on the former British Commonwealth and Europe. Now I’m expected to do anything from anywhere in the world."

Armstrong has taught about 50 accents over the 15 years he has coached actors. He says it’s not just a standard American accent that actors are expected to know but New York, Pittsburgh and Southern Illinois. Nor is it just African, but Ghanaian and Somali; not only Asian but Japanese, Chinese and Korean.

Why is this happening? Well, because “people are becoming much more aware of accent and dialect because we’re living in a much more global market,” says Armstrong. “So our ears have become attuned to a higher standard of precision and accuracy.”

Osgoode grad is elected Tory party president

John Walsh (LLB ’97), elected this week as the Conservative Party of Canada’s national council president, grew up in this city and graduated from Brantford Collegiate Institute in 1986, wrote the Brantford Expositor Dec. 14.

Walsh has embraced both small-c and large-C conservative politics, ever since his days in the 1990s as a history student at Roberts Wesleyan College, a liberal arts university in Rochester, NY, where he was born 41 years ago to Canadian parents.

During Walsh’s last year at Roberts, he spent time in Washington, DC, working for Oklahoma Republican senator Dan Nichols. Then, as a Carleton University master’s student in political science in 1991-92, he turned to Parliament Hill and found work with Delta, BC, Progressive Conservative MP Stan Wilbee during the Brian Mulroney government’s last years. That led to a connection with then-justice minister Kim Campbell, who succeeded Mulroney for a brief reign as prime minister.

The Liberals swept to power under Jean Chrétien; those were dark days for the Progressive Conservative Party, reduced at one point to two seats.

Walsh headed back to school, graduating from York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School in 1997. His second career as a corporate lawyer began in earnest shortly afterwards, with Toronto-based firms Davies, Ward & Beck and Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt both appearing on his resumé before he joined OP Trust.

He’s never really left politics, but has opted for more of a supporting role, wrote the Standard.

Ontario balks at banning union, corporate campaign money

Robert MacDermid, professor of political science in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, and the province’s leading expert on election financing, is disappointed by what he sees as a broken Liberal promise to add transparency to the system, wrote the Ottawa Citizen Dec. 14 in a story about banning union and corporate donations to municipal politicians. The 2003 Liberal campaign platform dedicates an entire section to “reducing the influence of money in politics.”

“I went along in 2004 and there was all this enthusiasm,” MacDermid said. “Nothing ever happened on the campaign finance front. Zero.”

Between 2004 and 2008, 54 per cent of all funds raised by the Liberal party, its candidates and constituency associations, came from corporations, says MacDermid. The figures are almost identical to the Conservative governments that preceded them.

He says the McGuinty Liberals have become dependent on corporate donations and are unlikely to ban them in Ottawa and elsewhere. “They would look incredibly hypocritical if they banned it at the municipal level and didn’t ban it themselves.”

Santa beer ad raises eyebrows

Santa may be trading in his plates of cookies and glasses of milk and sucking back cold ones this Christmas, wrote the St. Catharines Standard Dec. 12. That’s the message Labatt is sending after ads surfaced at Mac’s Convenience Stores across Ontario saying, “Leave one out for Santa. He’s driving,” and show a bottle of Labatt’s Blue de-alcoholized beer.

Alan Middleton, a marketing professor at York University said the ad breaks the “golden rule” to never associate drinking with driving in a sales pitch. “They’re positioning that you can have a beer and you’re still safe to drive, but they can’t control how many of those 0.5 per cent beers people consume,” Middleton said.

Get ready for Canada-bashing (again)

To shed some light on the debate, more than 100 Canadian labour market scholars issued a statement affirming the effectiveness of Canadian labour relations, wrote Jim Stanford, an economist with the Canadian Auto Workers union, in The Globe and Mail Dec. 14, in a column about the coming US debate about labour unions. They are backed by a new collection of academic articles (to which I contributed) [in Just Labour: A Canadian Journal of Work and Society], published by York University’s Centre for Research on Work and Society, that, in reviewing the experience of Canada’s labour laws, debunk the notion that unionization has boosted Canadian unemployment. (In fact, Canadian data show no connection at all between unionization and unemployment.)

York study helps win funding for York Region group

More than $2.4 million in foundation grants to 15 community groups across the region were announced this week as part of the government’s Ontario Trillium Foundation annual funding to 436 Ontario charities, wrote York Dec. 11.

Other recipients in York and neighbouring charities benefiting the region include: the York Region Community Foundation and York University Joint Community Report. $164,100 for staff, community meetings and equipment to help in the development of connected, sustainable communities and services across York Region;

Little Spirit captain packs big, new punch

When Declan Gunovski began this season with the Stouffville Spirit, he was named an alternate captain, wrote Dec. 11. But when the Spirit suited up for its Dec. 3 Central Canadian Hockey League game against the Ajax Attack, the 19-year-old forward had the ‘C’ sewn onto his jersey. The Newmarket native was given the honour after former captain Jordan Forfar suddenly left the club and demanded a trade.

A part-time student at York University, Gunovski hopes to get a scholarship from a college in the United States.

Did five Torontonians join jihad in Somalia?

They hung out at a Somali restaurant in “Little Mogadishu” in the northwest corner of the city, played basketball together, and worshipped at a North York mosque, wrote the Toronto Star Dec. 12. The five friends, in their early to mid-20s, grew up and attended schools in Toronto. They spoke English and Somali. At least two of them were university students.

That is, until all five disappeared.

Mahad Dhorre was studying math and history at York University when he decided to take a break this summer. He started working at the bookstore at Abu Huraira Islamic Centre, the mosque in North York where the five hung out.

  • Among the missing are Mahad Dhore, a 25-year-old Markham man who fled to Canada from Somalia at age nine and had almost finished his degree at York University when he flew to Kenya and disappeared, wrote the National Post Dec. 12 .

All family members cope with the fallout of divorce

“What we’re not talking about is the impact of parent conflict after the divorce and while they’re separated,” says Anne-Marie Ambert, sociology professor emerita in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, and author of a report by the Vanier Institute of the Family on declining divorce rates, wrote Regina, Sask.’s The Leader-Post Dec. 12 . “It’s what happens after – when the parents bicker over everything, over every cent, over every visit, and the kids are placed in the middle of that – that is bound to be very bad.”

Nominations sought for Cobourg civic awards

“People always think somebody else will do it, and that’s not good,” said 2005 Athlete of the Year Jessica Fraser-Thomas, in Northumberland Today.Com Dec. 14 in a story about nominations for Cobourg civic awards. “I’m guilty of that too – I’m part of several groups, and there are definitely some worthy individuals among those groups.”

Fraser-Thomas, a professor in York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science in the Faculty of Health (and sports psychology doctoral candidate at Queen’s University), keeps hers in her Toronto office. “I have had more comments about it. People notice it and, when I tell them about it, they say, ‘It’s really special that your community does this,’” she commented.

Fraser-Thomas recalls that she was probably nominated for winning the Cobourg Triathlon for two years and for her work with the YMCA’s Kids Of Steel triathlon. She was also an Ironman Canada competitor, Cobourg Barracudas coach and member of the National Triathlon Team (winning a bronze at world championships), as well as undertaking a 2001 kids’-sports fundraiser in the Maritimes, swimming the Northumberland Strait solo between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

On maternity leave with eight-month-old twins plus a two-year-old, she has been limiting her athletic involvement to such activities as sitting on the board of directors for YMCA Northumberland and participating in the health unit’s Health For Life Physical Activity Working Group. “But I will be competing in triathlons again next year,” she pledged.