Accused G20 ringleader faces ‘astonishing’ breach of rights

Alan Young, a law professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, says bail conditions are meant to prevent crimes from being committed – and a person’s rights can be infringed upon to a “reasonable” extent to ensure public safety, wrote the Toronto Star Oct. 15 in a story about the case of G20 protester Alex Hundert.

But in this case, Young says, the court has gone too far. “It’s basically putting a gag order on a citizen of Canada, when it’s not clear that the gag order is at all necessary to protect public order,” he said, of Hundert’s restriction from speaking to the media. “People have to be able to air grievances, and the media is a primary tool in which people can air grievances effectively.”

Young called the strict bail conditions “astonishing” – something unheard of in modern-day Canada. “It really seems to be a very severe deprivation of rights,” he said. “I’d be very curious to see how a higher court will respond.”

Anti-hunt stand like climate-change denial, expert says

An expert in forest ecology is likening an animal rights group’s claim that deer aren’t a threat to Iroquois Heights Conservation Area to those who still deny climate change is underway, wrote the Hamilton Mountain News and the Ancaster News Oct. 14.

Dawn Bazely, director of York University’s Institute for Research & Innovation in Sustainability (IRIS), also dismissed as “rubbish” assertions by the Animal Alliance of Canada that non-lethal interventions like discouraging feeding and erecting better fences have successfully cut problem deer numbers at the Sifton Bog in London, Ont.

A biology professor in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, Bazely said London politicians backed down from a deer hunt favoured by neighbouring residents last year after a councillor and opponents denounced shooting deer as barbaric and “worse than abortion.”

She accused Animal Alliance of exploiting the “Bambi” emotional factor and ignoring the damage deer are doing at Iroquois Heights, where an aerial survey in January of last year counted 102 in a 66-hectare section, 90 more than considered healthy.

“Why aren’t they campaigning for cockroaches?” said Bazely, who outlined the impact deer have on forest ecology and biodiversity to a Hamilton Conservation Authority committee that is considering how to deal with the deer population. “We exterminate other single species. Where’s the campaign for rats? Where’s the campaign for raccoons?”

During her presentation, Bazely said it’s “not debatable” that deer populations of more than 10 per square kilometre kill future trees because they eat any new growth up to two metres above ground. They also devour native plants like trillium, allowing invasive plants to take over, she said. “The entire middle layer of the forest, it’s not there any more,” she said.

Universities should be leaders in sustainable living: UNESCO rep

When Charles Hopkins, UNESCO Chair in Reorienting Teacher Education in the Faculty of Education at York University, was overseeing the Toronto school board’s curriculum office, he was almost overwhelmed by earnest folks who’d drop binders of information on his desk and demand their pet project be added to what students were being taught, wrote the Saskatchewan’s Regina Leader Post, Oct. 14.

He had to turn them down – because the curriculum couldn’t be changed without dropping something equally worthy. “I think the curriculum was officially full in, oh, about 1912,” Hopkins quipped to a colloquium on “Education for Sustainable Development” (ESD) held at Regina’s Innovation Place on Thursday.

So how, then, does society educate its young about the environment?

Hopkins said this can only be taught by subtly working it into every aspect of education. Universities should be “exemplars” of sustainable living, because while only two per cent of the planet’s people get postsecondary education, fully 85 per cent of their leaders do.

Stopping human smuggling risks penalizing legitimate refugees, experts say

Finding a way to deter human smuggling without inadvertently making things worse for legitimate refugees is almost impossible, wrote The Canadian Press Oct. 14, citing a number of experts that included Sean Rehaag, professor in York’s Osgoode  Hall Law School.

Cracking down on smugglers necessarily puts needy asylum seekers at risk too, says Rehaag. He says he’s concerned that the government will overreact to the arrival of several hundred migrants in ships, without discussing the side-effects on people that Canada has vowed, through international treaties and its own history, to help. “That’s a conversation that we have not had publicly,” he says.

Compared with most other countries, the number of migrants arriving on boats in Canada is small, he points out. Most of Canada’s refugee claimants arrive by air, and Canada already has a reputation for vigilance when it comes to detecting illegal migrants on planes.

Bilingualism could delay Alzheimer’s symptoms

Bilingual speakers can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and its symptoms for between four and five years, according to studies conducted by researchers at Toronto’s Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest, wrote the Toronto Star Oct. 15 .

In a soon to be published study three researchers from Baycrest – Ellen Bialystok, Fergus Craik and Morris Freedman – found in a study of more than 100 bilingual patients and 100 monolingual patients that the bilinguals experienced the onset of symptoms and were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease between four and five years later than monolingual patients.

Bialystok, distinguished research professor in psychology in York’s Faculty of Health, Craik, a senior scientist at Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest, and Freedman, a neurologist at Baycrest, confirmed results from an earlier study in which they examined hospital records from about 100 bilingual and 100 monolingual patients.

  • A new study from the University of California, Los Angeles has revealed that the ability to speak multiple languages is associated with better mental capacities, wrote the news service Asian News International Oct. 15, 2010.

“Being able to use two languages and never knowing which one you’re going to use right now rewires your brain,” Discovery News quoted Ellen Bialystok, distinguished research professor of psychology in York’s Faculty of Health, whose work has been cited by Jared Diamond of the University of California in his article.

Bialystok also added that bilinguals fare better at multitasking tasks, including ones that simulated driving and talking on a phone. However, being able to speak more than one language comes at a cost, she said. “Bilinguals have more ‘tip-of-the-tongue’ problems,” Bialystock said. “Bilingual children have on average a smaller vocabulary in each of their languages than monolingual children,” she added.

The dean’s blog

The days when law students lament over whether they should “blog” are surely over when the dean of law has his own blog, wrote Omar Ha-Redeye in a story written for the legal blog Slaw Oct. 6.

Lorne Sossin, dean of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, has just launched Dean Sossin’s Blog (, where he “can draw your attention to topics that affect Osgoode, our students and the broader legal and academic community.” The sole post is from Monday, and provides a response to Maclean’s always contentious 2010 law school rankings.

It’s not off to a bad start, although there could be greater use of the hyper-linking function. There also appears to be a significant delay in approving the moderated comments. But the use of a shortened-url in there ( does indicate some level of social media sophistication.

Oh, and in case you didn’t notice, he’s been on Twitter since the summer.

Maybe now we can move beyond whether if law students and faculty should be blogging/tweeting, and instead start focusing on what the content should be, wrote Ha-Redeye.

Scam targets Chinese students

An immigration scam targeting Chinese foreign students who are seeking online help with their visas is under investigation, wrote the Toronto Sun Oct. 14, quoting Toronto police.

Those conducting the scam claim to be helping the victims, who were in Canada illegally, said immigration consultant Roy Kellogg. In two known cases the suspects failed to do work on the cases and called immigration officers to have the students arrested for removal on warrants, he said.

[One] student, who has been living in Toronto on an expired visa, was allegedly scammed out of $30,000 last week by two suspects he met online on a Chinese-language immigration help website for York University students, he said.

Brass pulls with rickshaw

A fascinating east-meets-west sound fusion should result when the Foothills Brass performs in Red Deer with autorickshaw, wrote Alberta’s Red Deer Advocate Oct. 14.

The Toronto-based autorickshaw is a Juno Award-nominated contemporary jazz/funk ensemble that’s heavily influenced by the music of southern India. Formed in 2003, the group consists of singer Suba Sankaran (BA Spec. Hons.’97, MA’02) as well as a bassist and two percussionists who studied with Sankaran’s father, Trichy, an internationally renowned professor of South Indian music in York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts.

Autorickshaw has performed with a brass band before – albeit a massive one, the Hannaford Street Silver Band, with 45 members. “That was a huge wall of sound,” recalled Sankaran, who believes the collaboration with the Foothills Brass will be quite a different experience. “We’re pretty jazzed about it,” she added, noting her group members are already adapting some arrangements for the quintet.

Also in autorickshaw are tabla player Ed Hanley, percussionist Patrick Graham and bassist Dylan Bell (BA Spec. Hons. ’95).

Art meets history

York University graduate student Karen Millyard, an instructor in the Faculty of Fine Arts, will deliver a lecture titled “The Regency World” on Friday, Oct. 22, at an event hosted by the Community Artists Niagara and the 1812 Task Force and the Niagara Falls History Museum, wrote The Tribune of Welland, Ont., Oct. 15.

It’s the introductory lecture in a series sponsored by three groups that are trying to create place for arts and history to intersect. Millyard’s lecture will cover aspects of arts, culture and life in the 1812 era – from Jane Austen to King George III. It will be held at Lundy’s Lane United Church at 7pm.

York grad runs for council in Guelph

Glendon grad Douglas B. O’Doherty (BA ’93), a retired district chief of the Toronto Fire Department, was featured in a self-written municipal candidate’s profile in the Guelph Mercury Oct. 14

“It seems I was always studying or learning taking either fire department or university courses. I graduated from York in 1994, the same year I was promoted to district chief.

“Three issues I feel strongly about: The three main issues facing the city of Guelph are an overloaded debt, a lack of communication with ratepayers and the realization that there is a difference between the city’s needs and its wants. I am proposing a zero tax increase – yes, a zero tax increase. Until our debts have been paid we must scale back.”

Nursing grad runs for Simcoe school board seat

York nursing grad Nicole Barnett Black (BSCN Spec. Hons. ’09) was featured in a self-written candidate profile on Oct. 14. She is running for trustee on the Simcoe County District School Board.

I…attended and graduated from Georgian College with a diploma in business, then from York University with my bachelor of science in nursing degree, Black wrote. My nursing career has me servicing all of Simcoe County, where I live with my husband, Rick, and our two sons, Luke and Bennett.