TV ads are driving election financing schemes, says York prof

The emphasis on expensive television advertising is at the root of the push for fundraising and has increased pressure on national parties to find ways around spending limits, wrote the National Post, March 2, in a story about the legal dispute between Elections Canada and the federal Conservatives that cited comments by York political science Professor Robert MacDermid of the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.

“The belief that you need to run more and more commercials on television is insatiable,” he said. “It drives these in-an-out schemes and leads to the kind of pressure to spend more at the central level.”

Law school miracle born out of family’s tragedy

The day his 15-year-old nephew was shot dead by police, Roy Wellington made a promise to his sister, wrote the Toronto Star March 3. “We’re going to find out what happened,” he told her, packing her bags and trundling her and his niece away from the officers and police tape around the death scene.

Five years later, Wellington is a second-year student at Osgoode Hall Law School.

“I came to law school because I was adamant I’d deliver on my promise to my sister,” he says, sipping a beer between classes in the graduate student lounge. “When I thought I wouldn’t be able to find a lawyer to take on our case, I was prepared to do it myself.”

Determination isn’t the only thing that sets Wellington apart from his fellow students. At 36, he is a full decade older than most of them. He has two daughters, aged 11 and 13. And law school is his first crack at university – he doesn’t have an undergraduate degree.

He is one of Osgoode Hall’s mature students, accepted for their LSAT scores and “life experience”. Out of 900 students, there are only 14 like him.

Wellington’s family is suing the police and SIU for negligence. Both cases are meandering through the legal system. In all likelihood, by the time they are fully argued inside a courtroom, Wellington will be a full-fledged lawyer. “I hope I live to see that,” says his mother Bernice. “It decimated my family mentally, emotionally, physically and financially. To see (Roy) rise from the ashes of this, it’s quite gratifying.”

For Wellington, the experience has already proved empowering. He no longer feels like a victim begging for information about his dead nephew. If he wins, his story will be more than inspiring. He will have transformed the way our police system works.

How ovarian cancer resists chemotherapy

York University researchers have zeroed in on a genetic process that may allow ovarian cancer to resist chemotherapy, wrote and a number of other international online medical blogs March 3. Researchers in the University’s Faculty of Science & Engineering studied a tiny strand of our genetic makeup known as a microRNA, involved in the regulation of gene expression. Cancer occurs when gene regulation goes haywire.

“Ovarian cancer is a very deadly disease because it’s hard to detect,” says biology professor Chun Peng, who co-authored the study. By the time it’s diagnosed, usually it is in its late stages. And by that point there’s really no way to treat the disease. Even when the disease is discovered in its early stages, chemotherapy doesn’t always work,” she says.

Peng believes that this research is a step towards being able to make chemotherapy drugs more effective in the treatment of the disease

First Friday arrives like a lion

A Colombian-born Canadian artist will be the special guest at Gallery Lambton for this month’s First Friday event, wrote The Sarnia Observer March 3.

International artist, filmmaker and performer Juana Awad will be on hand for a meet and greet Friday between 6 and 9pm, where she will have some of her work on display for the First Friday monthly cultural walkabout.

Awad’s media works have been exhibited at festivals and galleries all over the world.  She has also worked in the arts and culture sector directing, managing, curating, programming, and writing for projects of a national and international scope.

She is currently the director of the 3D Film Innovation Consortium (3D FLIC) at York University.

Curator was the first to study Canadian film in historic context

Peter Morris, excavator of Canadian films, exhumed fragments of a forgotten cinematic history and fashioned them into stories celebrating the hucksters, visionaries and pioneers who helped build a country and an industry, wrote The Globe and Mail March 3 in an obituary.

“(He was the) éminence grise of Canadian film studies,” said colleague Brenda Longfellow. “Canadian film studies owes Peter an extraordinary debt for the diligence and meticulousness of his excavations.”

Morris, who died on Feb. 2 in Hamilton of cancer, was founding curator of the Canadian Film Archives in Ottawa and founding president of the Film Studies Association of Canada. He edited the Canadian Journal of Film Studies and taught film studies at York University [Faculty of Fine Arts].

His magnum opus, Embattled Shadows: A History of Canadian Cinema 1885-1939, first published in 1978 and reprinted in 1992, continues to be essential reading for film students across the country and helped introduce a broader readership to the history of Canadian film. His book was the first history of Canadian filmmaking, covering the years up to the establishment of the National Film Board in 1939.

In 1988, Morris accepted a professorship with York University’s Department of Film. During his tenure he was coordinator of the Fine Arts Cultural Studies Department. While there, he wrote David Cronenberg: A Delicate Balance about the Canadian filmmaker. It was published in 1994.

Morris retired from teaching in 2002 and enjoyed time cruising the coast of Chile with his second wife, Louise Dompierre, whom he had married in 1979. They watched and discussed endless hours of film together, and he was also working on a manuscript tentatively titled A Passion Delayed, on Canadian film and television, 1939-1968.

Hana Zalzal, Schulich grad and successful entrepreneur

The Financial Post Magazine featured Schulich School of Business grad Hana Zalzal (MBA ’92), founder of CARGO Cosmetics, in a special section on MBA schools March 1.

Q: Why did you choose Schulich?

A: Although I had a civil engineering degree, my goal was always to one day open my own business, and to support that goal I decided to pursue an MBA degree. There were a few key factors that made Schulich’s MBA offering very appealing to me: it had a well-rounded program that had strong marketing and entrepreneurship specializations; it had an innovative curriculum that was evolving and changing with the same speed as the business world – Schulich was teaching international business and sustainability long before most other B-schools; and it had a healthy respect for the individual based on the understanding that we all have different passions and goals in mind when we enter an MBA program.

Q: What was the most important thing you learned while there?

A: While in the Schulich MBA program, I learned a few very important lessons. The first was to be true to who you are and find a job – or create one – that speaks to your passion. The second – and equally important – lesson I learned was to question everything, especially financial statements.

Q: What did getting an MBA do for you?

A: It’s been nearly 20 years since I graduated. Looking back, I can confidently say that getting an MBA helped my critical business thinking and gave me the skills and confidence to start my own company. I launched CARGO Cosmetics from the cramped den of my North York home a few years after graduating. I landed a blue-chip retail client, generated some strong word-of-mouth marketing, and then my start-up firm caught fire with Hollywood make-up artists and celebrities. It was perhaps the future Schulich envisaged when it gave me an MBA student award for entrepreneurship. The letter that accompanied the award said that recipients “invariably go on to become successful entrepreneurs.”

Business schools are increasingly focusing on corporate ethics and sustainability

An increasing number of people entering the business world genuinely want to avoid the questionable business dealings of their predecessors, or at least not be tainted by association, wrote China Economic Review online in its March issue. As a result, the current crop of business school candidates is very much geared toward sustainability, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and ethical leadership.

Schools such as Stanford University in the US, ESADE Business School in Spain and the Schulich School of Business [at York University] in Canada highlight the fact that they offered CSR and ethical courses long before the financial crisis as a means of boosting credibility.

Dancing to prevent diabetes

Exercise physiologist/dance instructor Shonna Turpin has teamed up with York University’s Physical Activity & Chronic Disease Unit to offer Mississauga and Oakville residents free Zumba fitness classes, wrote The Mississauga News March 2.

The offer is part of a new initiative called the Pre-paid Project. Pre-paid stands for Pre-diabetes detection and physical activity intervention delivery. 

The program, sponsored by Queen’s Park and the Ontario Trillium Foundation, provides individuals with six months of free fitness classes and a free six-week self-management education workshop that will teach participants about physical activity, diet and more.

College postgrad courses are geared to university grads

University graduates are tossing their mortarboards in the air, sliding their degrees into the filing cabinet – and then heading straight to college, wrote Maclean’s March 2. In Ontario, applications for postgraduate diploma programs (which accept only university grads) have jumped 21 per cent since 2007.

In Atlantic Canada and Western Canada, college programs that recruited high school grads a decade ago have become de facto postgrads with most applicants already holding degrees.

Dianne Twombly, manager, programs & services at York University’s Career Centre, has noticed the trend on her campus, too, and she thinks she understands why. “As more and more students get bachelor’s degrees, postgrads are a way to distinguish yourself – a way to get an edge.” York has seen so much interest, it’s offering at least one postgrad workshop each month, wrote Maclean’s.

On air

  • Martin Shadwick, research associate in the York Centre for International & Security Studies, spoke about the upcoming mission off the coast of Libya for HMCS Charlottetown, on Radio Canada International’s “The Link” March 2.
  • Lorne Sossin, dean of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, took part in a panel discussion about critical remarks made by Chief Justice Beverley McLachlan about access to the justice system, on TVO’s “The Agenda” March 2.
  • Krisna Saravanamuttu, president of the York Federation of Students, spoke about the recent TTC decision to restrict sales of postsecondary Metropasses to full-time students, on OMNI News March 2.