Case closed: Ootes retires

Case Ootes (MBA ’72), a 21-year city council veteran who served as former mayor Mel Lastman’s right-hand man during the megacity’s formative years, has decided to call it quits, wrote the Toronto Sun Jan. 6.

A fiscal conservative, Ootes, 68, said yesterday he wants to spend more time seeing the world with his wife, Pat. “I think it’s time for new blood,” said the father of four, all in their 30s. He said he may also look to expand his affiliation with Seneca College’s Newnham Campus and may help out “here and there” with mayoral and councillor races.

"If there are certain people I’d like to see get back in, I might be of some help to them," said the former Imperial Oil executive, who was first elected to East York council in 1988 and has held his Toronto-Danforth ward since 1994.

He said his proudest accomplishment was working with Lastman on the amalgamation of seven governments into one, a feat that took most of the two terms. "I looked back at it as a time when it was very satisfying to be in politics," added Ootes, noting there is no career like politics, especially at the municipal level where you "can make a difference."

The life and times of veteran municipal politician Case Ootes: He received an MBA from the Schulich School of Business at York University after first working for Toronto life insurance firms with only a high-school education.

Laxer joins Facebook protest of Harper’s proroguing ploy

The list of Canadians angered by Prime Minister Harper’s decision to suspend Parliament continued to expand on Facebook and other Internet sites, encouraging citizen action groups working to coordinate public protests in 20 cities, wrote The Hamilton Spectator Jan. 6.

A Facebook group called Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament doubled in membership in 24 hours to more than 40,000 by late yesterday.

“You don’t use proroguing every time you want to shut down the House and shut down the people on the other side of the aisle,” said York University’s James Laxer, a professor of political science in the Department of Equity Studies, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, who has joined the Facebook group. “People are alarmed that Canadian democracy is being hijacked.”

York’s Blue Rodeo connection

Speaking of Blue Rodeo, even they like [the Cavaliers], wrote Port Elgin’s Shoreline Beacon Jan. 5 in a story about the alternative country band. Blue Rodeo singer Jim Cuddy’s son Devin Cuddy is a York University student along with Britton Allison, who plays guitar and sings with The Cavs. He walked up to her one day and said, “My dad really likes your band,” and proceeded to introduce himself as Jim Cuddy’s son. Britt tells him in no uncertain terms she doesn’t believe him and actually makes him pull out his driver’s licence to prove he is who he claims.

As society changes, so should our Criminal Code

In the early 1890s, Canada was a nation of fewer than five million people, wrote James Morton, adjunct professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School in The Windsor Star Jan. 6. Over 70 per cent of Canadians lived in Quebec or Ontario. The church played a significant and direct role in civic life and virtually the entire population was Christian. Ethnic populations were, apart from First Nations, effectively non-existent. Urban areas were small – Toronto in 1890 had a population about the same size as Sherbrooke, Que., in 2009. More than nine in 10 Canadians lived in rural areas.

The Criminal Code was enacted in 1892. It was a careful attempt by leading criminal specialists to codify British law as applied in Canada in 1890. Despite amendments following a Royal Commission in 1947 (passed in 1953) the Criminal Code was never fundamentally revised. A modern Canadian lawyer would immediately recognize the 1892 Criminal Code as being, in the main, the same Criminal Code as applies in Canada today.

This history is relevant largely because the Criminal Code was written in the 19th century by leading criminal lawyers considering the best law for a rural, ethnically uniform and fundamentally Christian nation. The Criminal Code is very much a piece of the 19th century, assuming that potential offenders are rational actors who would weigh their present actions against the likelihood of future punishment and social disgrace. Deterrence was assumed to work. Prisons were assumed to reform criminals.

On air

  • Zbigniew Stachniak, professor in York’s Department of Computer Science & Engineering in the Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about the new Google smartphone, on Global TV Jan. 5.
  • Kwasi Dunyo, instructor in the Department of Music in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, spoke about music and work, on CBC Radio’s “The Current” Jan. 5.