No justification for review of Afghan detainee papers, says professor emeritus

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has appointed retired Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci to review documents related to the Afghan detainee issue demanded by Parliament, wrote Reg Whitaker, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, in the Toronto Star March 19.

An independent review, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson stated, “will ensure that parliamentarians will have access to the relevant government information on the arrangements for the transfer of detainees in Afghanistan while ensuring there is no injury to Canada’s national defence, international relations or national security.”

Opposition parliamentarians, and Canadians at large, who are tempted to accept this argument, should realize that they are listening to a siren song that will inevitably lead astray the search for the truth about Canadian complicity with detainee torture.

There is no justification in legal or constitutional terms for the Iacobucci appointment under Nicholson’s terms of reference, or indeed under any similar terms of reference.

Iacobucci has accepted a task which neither he nor any other person of however high repute and qualifications has any business doing. Not the prime minister, nor the justice minister, nor a Supreme Court judge can be the appropriate arbiter of what papers Parliament can order, and enforce release, from the executive, wrote Whitaker.

YRT plans Newmarket service

York Region Transit has plans to institute a new service from Newmarket to York University that will pass through all of the municipalities served by GO’s route 64, wrote the Aurora Banner March 19 in a story about an agreement to extend service that was slated for cancellation.

“I can assure you that York University students will not be forgotten and that we will come up with a solution that they will be very happy with,” YRT general manager Rick Leary said. “After all, youth make up a very large percentage of our ridership.”

However Aurora’s Edward Fenner said he isn’t impressed with the solutions that have come back so far.

Having a YRT bus replace the GO Transit route solves one problem, but doesn’t begin to address increased costs or comfort and safety issues raised, the York University staff member and mature student said. When the route 64 bus was introduced, it was a big step forward for York students, staff and faculty, he said, but what’s proposed now seems like a leap backwards.

“If they’re emulating the current route, that solves part of the problem, but it alleviates none of the cost issues,” Fenner said. “I don’t think this is very satisfactory (and) we’ll need some time to digest it.”

  • Edward Fenner also spoke about the GO Transit issue, on Rogers TV’s “Focal Point” March 16 and “First Local” news March 18.

Study shows skewed pharmaceutical views

Medical authors with ties to diabetes drug makers were more likely to publish favourable articles on a controversial diabetes medication than authors who had no such ties, a new study reveals, wrote The Canadian Press March 19 in a story about a study by researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

The scientists who did this new study, published in the journal BMJ, said they couldn’t prove financial ties provoked the positive reviews. But people who study the influence the pharmaceutical industry wields over scientific publishing were more inclined to draw the link.

Dr. Joel Lexchin, a pharmaceutical industry critic who teaches in York University’s School of Health Policy & Management in the Faculty of Health, said researchers, journals, drug companies and governments all play a part in how the pharmaceutical industry has been allowed to influence science. “All of them bear some part of the responsibility."

Hamilton jumps to university record

Heather Hamilton saved her best for last, wrote The Mississauga News March 18.

In the final meet of her university career, the York University pole vaulter from Mississauga set a Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) record with a jump of 4.23 metres, eclipsing a mark that had stood for five years. “It was within my reach last season, but I didn’t pull it off, so it felt really good,” the St. Aloysius Gonzaga Secondary School graduate said of her record-breaking jump, achieved last Friday at the CIS indoor Track & Field Championships in Windsor.

The fourth-year business major came into the meet ranked No. 1 in the CIS and lived up to that billing. She didn’t enter the competition until the bar was at 3.90 metres, with just two jumpers left, and cleared on her first try. She then cleared 4.05 metres on the first attempt and secured the gold medal when silver medallist Leah Vause, of Saskatchewan, missed all three at 4.10 metres. Hamilton then went after the record, clearing 4.23 metres on her second try.

With the indoor season barely behind her, Hamilton is already focused on the outdoor season, training with the York Track & Field Club. She’s experimenting with a longer pole, and once school’s over, she plans to work part time in order to devote more hours to her sport. “You don’t have too many shots at making it to the Olympics. You have to grab the opportunity when you can,” she said.

York student singer organizes benefit concerts

Soprano and York student Gabrielle Clark Crawford has a heart as big as her voice, wrote the Belleville Intelligencer March 19. This talented and gregarious woman is a performer, producer and publicist all rolled into one person and dedicates all of this effort to raise money for worthy causes.

Crawford was born with music in her blood – her parents met on the stage in Hamilton where her mother was singing while her father ran the lighting and sound.

Throughout her childhood, she performed dance recitals and enjoyed summer company musicals where she was both a singer and tech stagehand. Although she grew up wanting to be an English professor, she realized that music was her true passion and has only recently been studying music professionally. To date, she has organized and performed three consecutive benefit recitals in Belleville, a solo recital as well as opera excerpts events at York University, and many private concerts and community events. She currently writes a music column for York’s student newspaper Excalibur, volunteers with Hospice Toronto and is preparing for summer teaching, competitions, workshops and engagements including a nine-week intensive technique program with bass-baritone Dan Lichti.

“I’m now finishing a business course in professional writing as well as classical voice training at York with the hope of continuing music therapy,” she adds.

Crawford is convinced that, no matter what career option she chooses, she will always find herself writing, singing, teaching, creating and sharing music.

On air

  • Xuequing (Sue) Xu, professor in the Department of Languages, Literature & Linguistics in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, and student Sara Udow spoke about Chinese Day at York University, on OMNI TV’s Cantonese edition March 18.