Osgoode grad was an advocate for the disabled

In July 1969, Michael Fleishman (BA Spec. Hons. ’72) was 21 and felt invincible, wrote his brother Philip in The Globe and Mail Aug. 26. When a Chevy Biscayne crushed his small car in a head-on collision, his family was told by doctors that he wouldn’t last the night. Had he not been the fighter that he was, he wouldn’t have. Instead, Michael was paralyzed from the waist down.

Michael was one of three sons of Renee and Gershon Fleishman. Before the accident he was a gifted athlete and was studying political science at York University. Michael wasn’t prepared to accept the hand that fate had dealt him. When he was finally well enough to transfer from his wheelchair to drive a car, he decided to live his dream and go to law school in spite of two years away from academics.

Michael loved his work even though many times it was physically taxing. He became the president of the Association of Law Officers of the Crown. He was victorious in many of his cases and was revered for his knowledge as much as he was respected for his fair-handedness and unbending belief in justice.

At the attorney general’s office he found the camaraderie and friendship that enriched his life. With his friends he fed the homeless, mentored the young and took up the cause of those who couldn’t help themselves. The rights of the disabled were always high on his agenda.

Michael was a wonderful brother and uncle to his nieces and nephew. He delighted in their baseball games, dance recitals and the artwork they presented to him.

Born Oct. 10, 1947, in Maidenhead, England. Died June 19 in Toronto of an intestinal infection, aged 62.

The Cuckoo of Corner Brook

Danny Williams’ confrontational style and resources-for-the-people posturing have long attracted unflattering political analogies, wrote columnist Peter Foster in the National Post Aug. 26. Now he deserves a new sobriquet: the Cuckoo of Corner Brook.

Williams’ latest achievement has been to lay a political egg in Ottawa’s nest, resulting in a $130-million tab for Canadian taxpayers. That’s how much Ottawa has agreed to pay AbitibiBowater as compensation for Williams’ hissy fit expropriation of Abitibi assets in December 2008, following the closure of a money-losing paper plant in Grand Falls-Windsor.

In the wake of Williams’ 2008 expropriation, the Post carried a “Counterpoint” (that is, we disagreed with it) by York’s Osgoode Hall Law School Professor Gus Van Harten that congratulated Williams on his chavista “gumption”. Van Harten, who takes the position that it is companies that shake down governments rather than the other way round, has been a great opponent of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) arbitration system. He suggested that, “Even if Canada loses under NAFTA, however, Danny ‘Chavez’ [Van Harten regards that designation as a compliment] wins. He wins because Canada must defend the claim, not Newfoundland and Labrador, and Canada must pay any award.”

The federal government obviously sees less cause for rejoicing in this fact. Where Van Harten was very wrong, however, was in his assumption that no opprobrium would fall on Williams because “Canada can draw out the claim, taking Abitibi down all the procedural twists and turns to drive up costs. That is what the US government does when it fights NAFTA claims by Canadian firms. And that is what Canada should do.”

Fortunately, Canada has decided not to pursue this suicidal policy, wrote Foster.

Census move called ‘mindless’ by US expert who taught at York

Canada will pay a huge price for the Harper government’s “short-sighted” decision to scrap the mandatory census, say leading US statisticians, reported Postmedia News in Nanaimo, BC’s Daily News and Vancouver’s The Province Aug. 26.

“This decision will lower the quality and raise the cost of information on nearly every issue before Canada’s government,” Stephen Fienberg at Carnegie Mellon University and Kenneth Prewitt at Columbia University say Thursday in the journal Nature.

Fienberg elaborated in a telephone interview from Pittsburgh, saying the decision makes little sense and the added costs will be enormous. “It’s just mindless,” he says, predicting that government will end up spending “billions” replacing the mandatory long-form census that was sent to 20 per cent of the population with a voluntary survey to be sent to 33 per cent.

The government decision is also “enormously destructive” to the morale at Statistics Canada, which has long been “one of – if not the best – statistical agencies in the world,” says Fienberg, who grew up in Toronto and is a former vice-president [academic affairs] of York University. Prewitt is a former director of the US Census Bureau.

Concerns about privacy, soaring costs and plummeting response rates threaten censuses in many countries, but Fienberg and Prewitt say some of the arguments are unfounded. “Privacy concerns make for good sound bites, but the fact is that no one in government is more zealous about privacy protection than national statistics officers,” they say.

West Van High grad’s sweet studio puts the ‘A’ in Vancouver

They had yet to name our fledgling town after him in 1867, when “Gassy” Jack Deighton served the first shot of whisky in his Globe Saloon, wrote The Vancouver Sun Aug. 26. Still, the glass was hardly dry again before governments began surrounding alcohol sales with rules denser than the first-growth forest around Gastown. One hundred and twenty-four years later, many still choke on liquor regulations that can seem as archaic as photos of Vancouver citizens assessing their smouldering ruins.

High among them are Marquis Wine Cellars owner John Clerides and Mark Hicken (JD ’88), who practises with the 16-lawyer Legacy Tax & Trust firm. The latter is an Osgoode Hall Law School grad who completed the University of California’s wine-executive program and reports extensively (winemarketing.ca) on all aspects of the wine industry, including marketing, regulations and taxation.

According to Hicken, the sometimes impenetrable regulations applied to BC alcohol sales are not only needlessly restrictive but basic bad business. Hong Kong eliminated its similar policies, he said. “Now it is a wine-culture centre, with all the global companies active there.” It has developed so much, he said, that the pre-eminent international wine festival, Vinexpo, established a version there in 2008.

Closer to home, he said Alberta vastly simplified its system, by taking the amount of government revenue collected, comparing it to the volumes of liquor, beer and wine sold, then applying a flat tax. The result? “They created competition, and made more money,” Hicken said.

Local Kiwanis Idol finalists eye top spot

Two local teens will be competing for the title of Kiwanis Idol during the singing competition’s semifinals on Sept. 4, wrote Nepean/Barrhaven EMC Aug. 26.

Amanda Nantsios, 13, of Barrhaven, and Sarah Peterson, 17, of Nepean, impressed the panel of three judges earlier this summer and were selected to be amongst the top 21 contestants. “I’ve done Kiwanis Idol the last two years,” said Peterson, who is moving to Toronto to study music (vocal jazz) at York University. “The first year I made it into the top 20, and the second year I made the top 10.”

On air

  • Keith Marnoch, associate director of media relations in York’s Office of the Vice-President University Relations, and Jennifer Myers, York’s director of Sport & Recreation, spoke about plans for the 2015 Pan American Games track & field events at York’s Keele campus, on Global Television in Hamilton Aug. 24 and 25.
  • Bernie Wolf, economics professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, took part in a panel discussion about the reinvention of China’s economy on TVO’s “The Agenda” Aug. 25.