Experts want citizen’s arrest law to empower citizens, discourage vigilantes

Changes to the Criminal Code that were promised last fall by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, after Toronto shopkeeper David Chen was acquitted of assaulting and forcibly detaining a shoplifter, are expected to be tabled soon after the House of Commons resumes sitting in February, wrote The Globe and Mail Jan. 24.

Alan Young, a professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School who is an expert in civil liberties, said he expects the legislation will allow Canadians to arrest people they suspect of having committed past offences based on reasonable and probable grounds. Such an amendment would have permitted Chen to detain the suspect. “I think we need to have sufficient empowerment of private citizens and their agents,” including private security outfits, Young said.

On the other hand, he said, “there will be some people who might see a change in the law as a green light to be more aggressive in terms of private policing, and that would be a bad development as it would spawn the worst-case scenario of people making vindictive arrests of their unruly neighbours.”

Two Spanish companies awarded Spadina subway contract

Two Spanish construction giants have been awarded a $400-million contract to build part of Toronto’s Spadina subway extension, wrote The Globe and Mail Jan. 24.

Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas, whose infrastructure and energy-related projects range from Singapore to Abu Dhabi, in concert with construction and environmental infrastructure company Obrascon Huarte Lain, will build the north tunnels and Highway 407 station for the long-awaited inter-city project, meant to link Toronto’s Downsview subway station with Vaughan’s corporate centre.

That includes a 4.5-kilometre tunnel on an 8.6-kilometre route, and $404,387,479 of a $2.6-billion project funded jointly by the provincial, federal and municipal governments. The entire extension is slated for completion in 2015.

The two companies will also do work on the York University station and Finch West Station’s traffic management plan.

  • A Spanish infrastructure and construction group has been awarded a $404-million contract to work on the extension of the Toronto subway system to York region, wrote the National Post Jan. 25. The Spanish group, Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas (FCC), is going to be constructing a 4.5-kilometre section of the expected 8.6-kilometre extension plan.

    The Toronto-York Spadina subway extension is meant to expand subway service from Downsview station through to York University and then to the Vaughan Corporate Centre, according to the TTC website.

Philanthropic Canadians ‘an endangered species’

The ungrateful folks leading the charge against benefactor donations such as Peter Munk’s at the University of Toronto (led by Linda McQuaig and Neil Brooks, [professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School,] who wrote the book, The Trouble with Billionaires) seem completely unaware of a prohibition in the Canadian Tax Act, wrote Seymour Schulich, in a letter to the National Post Jan. 24 responding to an editorial. No donor may claim a tax deduction if he attempts to influence the operations of the receiving institution.

The billionaires they so despise number about 60 in total within Canada. They are a genuine endangered species. Now, if these were birds of the family billionaire, these same critics would park their envy and be on the picket lines trying to protect them, wrote Schulich.

The editor noted after the letter that “Mr. Schulich has some experience in this area, as he is the benefactor to the Schulich School of Business, York University; [plus seven other universities]."

When an injury interrupts your exercise

A minor injury, as the saying goes, is an injury to someone else…. Especially if said injury is keeping you from working out consistently for the first time in years, wrote Lenny Bernstein of the Washington Post Jan. 25.

It is small comfort, but the experts I have consulted say that, psychologically and physiologically, everything I am experiencing is typical and predictable. And there are ways to fight back.

“Here are two parts of your life that have been disrupted,” says Frances Flint, professor in York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science in the Faculty of Health, coordinator of athletic training at York and a sports psychology consultant. “That good feeling” from the workout itself is gone, she says, along with the “my time” that I had carefully built into my week. "Time away from work, phones, e-mails and other stresses". That injury is now defining your day, your social life, your release of stress, your feeling of joy,” Flint says.

[A] critical move, Flint says, is to take control of the situation. Find out as much as you can about the injury and possible therapies. Become actively involved in your care, instead of a passive recipient of treatment. Banish “negative self-talk”. Some athletes like to visualize the affected area healing; they believe it speeds the process. “I want to know as much as I can about my body,” Flint says. “What is the damaged tissue? Why has this occurred?”

UK newspaper cites York prof’s bilingualism research

We know that speaking more than one language is good for the brain, wrote London, England’s The Telegraph, Jan. 25. But are the advantages broader than that? Most of us encourage our children to learn a second, and even a third, language at school, but do we know why we’re doing it?

Research at York University in Toronto found that bilingual people are much better at retaining their mental abilities into old age than those who speak only one language. Ellen Bialystok, psychology professor in York’s Faculty of Health who wrote the study, said: “Bilingualism appears to offer widespread benefits across a range of complex cognitive tasks.”

On air

  • Robert Kozinets, marketing professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke about the launch of four new Joe Fresh stores, on 680News Radio, Jan. 23.
  • Douglas Cumming, finance professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke in Canada’s Senate about the Business Development Bank of Canada and his remarks were reported on CPAC-TV, Jan. 24.
  • Dr. Joel Lexchin, professor in York’s School of Health Policy & Management in the Faculty of Health, spoke about a new Supreme Court ruling that the government has the right to review prescription drug prices, on CTV News, Jan. 24.