‘Do we imagine that judges never disrobe?’ asks Osgoode prof

Allegations that nude photographs of a senior Manitoba judge in bondage, chains and performing oral sex were posted on an Internet porn site have kindled debate about how much of a judge’s private life is private, wrote the Toronto Star Sept. 2.

“Do we imagine that judges never disrobe or that judges never have sex lives? Of course they do,” said Bruce Ryder, a professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School who teaches in the area of judicial independence and ethics.

Ryder worries that “prurience” and “moral prudery” will drive the debate over whether Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba should be removed from office.

If a lawyer deliberately posts nude photos of herself on Facebook or on a Web site, it could later undermine public confidence in her ability to serve as a judge, said Osgoode Dean Lorne Sossin. However, if the photos were taken in the context of an inherently private relationship and posted without her consent, Sossin said, it’s hard to imagine she should be judged negatively.

Sossin suggested it would also be unfair to find Douglas unfit for judicial office simply on the basis of her sexual predilections. At an earlier time, the same might have been said about homosexuals, he added.

Ryder believes if a judge isn’t involved in anything illegal or something that could give rise to a conflict of interest – such as a citizens’ crusade against city hall – their private lives should not be up for discussion. “We really have to start by asking ourselves, what exactly has Justice Douglas done wrong? Based on what we know so far,” said Ryder, “maybe she deserves our sympathy more than our condemnation, because it seems she has been the victim of an egregious invasion of privacy.”

A different take on York University

Mamdouh Shoukri would love to love to change the channel, wrote Steve Paikin Aug. 25 in a feature about York in an article for TVO’s “The Agenda” online.

He knows that too often during his three years as president & vice-chancellor of York University, the media and public focus has been on things that have not done York’s image any good.

Trying to resolve all these problems was Shoukri, a dynamic engineer formerly of McMaster University, but with a ton to learn when it came to running one of Canada’s biggest universities.

York seems to be a calmer campus these days, at least in terms of the Middle East question. Most of the noises you’ll hear today are construction crews transforming the place…[in]to one of the country’s best universities.

Shoukri would love to see the student body grow from 50,000 full and part-time students to 65,000. He notes that the University already features the country’s best law faculty (Osgoode Hall Law School), the best business school (the Schulich School of Business at York University), and the best fine arts faculty.

But given the confluence of a number of events, Shoukri thinks the time could be now for York to take its next major steps towards fulfilling what he sees as its destiny.

So, three years into a five-year term, Shoukri will continue to make the case for more investment at York. The good news is, despite the blazing headlines of the past couple of years, the University lost no significant donations from the Jewish community. Law Professor Patrick Monahan, York’s vice-president academic & provost, now oversees a process that seems to have ameliorated the Middle East conflicts that made their way to the campus.

Major debates to play key role in mayoral race

After years of declining interest in local elections, debates are making a comeback, with more than 50 already staged between the five top mayoral candidates [and several major ones to come after Labour Day], wrote columnist Bob Hepburn in the Toronto Star Sept. 2.

The second debate [of three], dealing with transportation and taxation, will be Sept. 22 in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall in the Accolade East Building on York University’s Keele campus.

What if The Beatles had just let it be?

What if The Beatles hadn’t called it quits? asked the Toronto Star’s Geoff Pevere in a column Sept. 2.

“One can imagine they would have continued to evolve,” says Rob Bowman, a professor of ethnomusicology in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, of the band’s “stunning” rate of development in the brilliant decade it was together. “And one can imagine that they would have got back on the road if they’d stayed together. Who knows what that would have meant?”

“I’m sure they would have toured,” Bowman speculates. “That would have transformed their legacy substantially. They would have had to get their chops back together as live players, which they had let slip because nobody could hear them and nobody cared anyway, which was one reason they stopped touring.

“It might have led to simpler, back-to-rock-’n’-roll material, it might have led to ever-evolving, complicated stuff. I’m not saying they would have made records like Close to the Edge by Yes, but I think the Abbey Road suite, that’s pointing in a similar kind of direction. And look at the solo material, Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band and Imagine, the first two McCartney albums. Great records.”

“One might even argue,” Bowman says, “that the deterioration one saw in Paul and John and George’s solo songwriting might not have happened if they had been editing each other. Who can tell Paul McCartney it’s not good enough except for John or George or Ringo? No one’s going to tell him that. Likewise for any of them.”

Bevilacqua is a ‘viable contender’ in Vaughan election, says York prof

Veteran Vaughan politician and former Liberal MP Maurizio Bevilacqua will put rumours to rest once and for all Friday as he officially kicks off his bid for the city’s top job, wrote the Vaughan Citizen Sept. 1.

York University political science Professor Robert MacDermid of York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, who has watched Vaughan politics over the last term and has studied campaign financing, said Bevilacqua is in the running. “He is a viable contender and he would be a serious candidate right away,” MacDermid said. “He is above the infighting in council and the different ethical issues over the last term. He would stand a good chance.”

MacDermid also noted that unlike in Toronto where the mayor controls the executive council and has 15 or 16 votes, the mayor in councils like Vaughan is just one vote. “It would be not realistic that he could somehow change radically the direction of Vaughan, even if that was his intention,” said MacDermid. “It’s unlikely that he would radically shift the balance between development interests and citizen interests.”

Versatile Argonaut has the potential to be one of the best

The day will soon arrive when Andre Durie of the Toronto Argonauts establishes himself as the top Canadian in the Canadian Football League, wrote The Kingston Whig-Standard and 24 Hours Sept. 2.

Whether that day arrives this year or next season, Durie is well on his way in being a playmaker that can line up in the backfield or line up as a receiver.

When he took over this off-season, head coach Jim Barker saw film of Durie and envisioned this dual threat. “You just have to be patient,” Barker added. “Andre is learning to be a receiver and you can’t force-feed things. That’s why we’re bringing him along slowly, having his role evolve. We want to utilize his talents and develop other talents.”

Durie’s story of persevering through a debilitating knee injury he suffered while playing for the York University Lions – during a game against the Queen’s Golden Gaels at Richardson Stadium in 2005 – is well documented. 

Osgoode grad believed society had an obligation to help those in need

As successful as he was, Osgoode grad John Yaremko (LLB ’44) never forgot the stigma of being a poor immigrant kid, wrote The Globe and Mail Sept. 2 in an obituary. Shortly after he became Ontario’s minister of public welfare in 1967, he dropped the word “welfare” from the ministry’s lexicon.

A few years later, when invited to address an Empire Club luncheon at the Royal York Hotel as a last-minute substitute for a tardy guest speaker, he challenged the roomful of privileged diners to reconsider their notion of welfare recipients.

“Our experience does not support the view that anyone outside the labour force who receives social assistance is either lazy, a failure or in some sense inferior,” he told his captive audience. Yaremko then explained that he was about to launch a program that would inform citizens of their “right” to social assistance.

A quiet, serious student with a ready smile, Yaremko graduated from high school with more scholarships than he was able to use in eight years at the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall Law School. He spent his summers working on local farms and at Stelco.

Famous Canadian doctor remembered as great hero

A bronze statue of a hurriedly walking doctor quietly stands in the shade of trees in the small town of Gravenhurst in southeastern Canada, wrote Xinhua News Agency’s English News Service Sept. 2.

The doctor is Henry Norman Bethune, who sacrificed his life for the Chinese people’s anti-Japanese struggle during the Second World War and is still missed by numerous Chinese as a hero and good friend.

Several colleges and universities of medical sciences and hospitals are named after him in China. In Canada, Bethune College at York University and Dr. Norman Bethune Collegiate Institute in Scarborough, were established to commemorate him.

On air

  • Jason Gibbs (PhD ’10), a researcher in biology in York’s Faculty of Graduate Studies, spoke about his research revealing a new species of bee, on CBC Radio Sept. 1.
  • Alison Macpherson, a professor of epidemiology in York’s Faculty of Health, spoke about concussions and the recent symposium on the subject held in memory of York student Donald Sanderson, on AM640 Radio on Aug. 30 and The FAN 590 Aug. 31. The symposium was also discussed on CBC Radio and on CTV and Global TV Aug. 31.