Osgoode prof says Khadr lawyers must shame government into action

A standoff between the Supreme Court of Canada and the federal government over the repatriation of Omar Khadr [from Guantanamo Bay detention camp] has thrust the country into uncharted constitutional waters, wrote The Globe and Mail Jan. 30.

In a 9-0 ruling, the court effectively dared the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to ignore its finding that Canada and the United States are violating Khadr’s right to life, liberty and security under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Yet a statement from Justice Minister Rob Nicholson yesterday raised the possibility that the Harper government will refuse to act or that it will give a token response.

Allan Hutchinson, a law professor in York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, agreed that Khadr will have quick recourse if the Harper government flouts the Supreme Court’s declaration. “The Khadr people must use all available methods to shame the government into following a constitutionally sanctioned course of action,” he said.

York grad nurtures musical theatre with acumen

“Business before pleasure” isn’t just a catchphrase for York grad Mitchell Marcus (BA Hons. ’04). It has wound up becoming a way of life, wrote the Toronto Star Jan. 30.

As the founder and artistic director of Acting Up Stage Theatre Company, which is currently presenting the Canadian premiere of the Tony Award-winning musical The Light in the Piazza, Marcus discovered that the best way to indulge in the greatest pleasure of his life, musical theatre, was by working up a strong business case to support it.

The personable 27-year-old was a professional actor while still in his teens, which meant, as he puts it, “I grew up to be your typical arrogant 18-year-old who said, ‘I’ve got a career already, why should I go to theatre school?’ while my wonderful Jewish parents were asking, ‘What are you going to do with your life, anyway?’"

Marcus began by taking the Fine Arts Cultural Studies Program at York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts, and one course in arts administration “set my brain spinning…. You had to create a fictitious arts organization you felt would benefit Toronto.”

It didn’t take a young man who felt “that I had already done Anne of Green Gables too many times” to realize that what he thought this city needed “was a place where people could see the smaller, more alternative, cutting-edge musicals that the other theatres weren’t producing.”

For the next few years, Marcus brought business acumen to his artistic dreams and graduated not just with a career, but with a ready-made theatre company, christened Acting Up Stage Theatre.

The presence of ace veteran designer Phillip Silver, professor in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, on this year’s show is a sure sign of how Marcus is moving ahead. “It’s an uphill battle and I’m still trying to wrap my head around where we go next,” he says, but he’s smiling as he says it.

Sometimes prison is the only answer

Prison is not a panacea, wrote James Morton, adjunct professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, in a column about the court case of an aboriginal woman who committed several violent crimes but was not given a prison sentence in the National Post Feb. 1.

I have written before that often prison serves no useful purpose. But, as Justice David Watt says in his dissent[ing opinion on the court’s decision], “in cases of unprovoked violence against another person, the predominant sentencing objectives are denunciation and deterrence.” Without a punitive sentence, there is an impression that society does not care about the crime or the victim. And while aboriginal offenders are entitled to have their heritage and needs considered, a failure to treat a serious violent crime as worthy of a punitive sentence in some way belittles the aboriginal offender too. It is as if society does not expect aboriginal offenders to be able to avoid violence. Which does no one any service.

York prof continues on CUPE speaking tour

The Canadian Union of Public Employees is bringing its series of public meetings about the issues surrounding residential long-term care in Canada to Peterborough, wrote The Peterborough Examiner Jan. 30. A free event will be held Monday at 7pm in Regency Rooms A/B at the Holiday Inn on George Street North.

Sociology Professor Pat Armstrong, an expert on senior care from York University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, and Natalie Mehra, director of the Ontario Health Coalition, are featured guest speakers.

On air

  • Mark Winfield, professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, spoke about Markham council’s decision to establish a green belt, on CP24-TV Jan. 29.
  • Paul Delaney, professor of astronomy & physics in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about US President Barack Obama’s expected cuts to NASA’s program to send humans back to the moon, on CTV National News Jan. 31.