Refugee board disputes York study

Asylum rejection rates have no bearing in the quality and consistency of decisions made by adjudicators, says Canada’s refugee board, reported the Toronto Star March 4.

In fact, the board insists that each decision must be examined on a case-by-case basis.

“Statistics on the acceptance and rejection rates of individual IRB members who determine refugee claims made in Canada require context,” Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) spokesperson Anna Pape said Friday. “Each refugee protection claim referred to the IRB is reviewed on the evidence presented in that individual case and decided on its merits. Each case is unique.” 

The IRB was responding to a new report by Osgoode Hall [Law School] Professor Sean Rehaag that found a wide range of rejection rates among its members, even when dealing with claims from the same country. 

The findings have already cast doubt on IRB member David McBean’s ability to judge fairly. McBean rejected all his asylum cases since his 2007 appointment – 62 in 2010, 72 in 2009 and 35 in 2008. 

  • Sean Rehaag discussed a new study into the practices of the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board that reveals startling differences in the acceptance rates of individual adjudicators, on CBC’s “As It Happens”, “Au Dela De La 401” and “Le Telejournal Ontario” March 4. 

Sociologist comments on bathroom-stall signage

The evolution of bathroom-stall signage – from line drawings to hens-versus-roosters shtick to ambiguously arty pin-ups – has left a growing number of Toronto restaurants with no signs at all, reported the Toronto Star March 5. 

In Ottawa, meanwhile, the so-called "bathroom bill" last week passed in the House of Commons by a narrow margin. Among other things, the controversial legislation reinforces the rights of transgendered people to use whatever bathroom they see fit.  

Sheila Cavanagh, an associate professor of sociology professor at York University [Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies], recently published a book titled Queering Bathrooms: Gender, Sexuality, and the Hygienic Imagination, in which transgendered and other queer interviewees discuss the difficulties that divided bathrooms present.  

Cavanagh loves seeing bathroom signs that are victims of their own cleverness, the ones that make it difficult to figure out which door means what. "That moment of confusion gives people a moment to pause and wonder, ‘Does that sign fit me or not?’ [and to] wonder what it might be like for those whose gender identity isn’t so clear," she says. "What do you do when you need to use the bathroom but you’re not sure which door to go into?"  

At the book launch for Queering Bathrooms at the Gladstone Hotel in November, a York graduate student named Teresa Jewell made washroom signs with a variety of different gender-signifying images – bras, ties, high-heels, pads – and pinned them over the usual male-female signage.  

The issue isn’t all fun and games. In the book, one woman who identifies herself as "butch" discusses using the gender-split washrooms at the Madison Avenue Pub. One girl, the woman claims, started screaming at her, saying there was a boy in the bathroom.  

Another transgendered woman describes being kicked out of the women’s washroom by security guards at a Brampton mall, and a third trans man discusses having to use the urinal at a Maple Leafs game in front of a line of men.  

Ontario to pull tax credit support from labour funds

Ontario is set to become just one of three provinces without tax credits for labour-sponsored investment funds, a financing vehicle critics say has cost governments dearly while proving little benefit to investors or business, reported the Daily Miner & News March 4.  

"No, this has definitely not been a successful investment vehicle – you could say it has been a terrible investment vehicle," said Douglas Cumming, a professor of finance and Ontario Research Chair [in Economics & Cross Cultural Studies] at York University’s Schulich School of Business. "They do not work in any of the various dimensions either for business or investors.  

"They have grossly underperformed and have not earned rates of returns high enough to cover their fees. The only reason they have accumulated so much is through the tax credits."  

Cumming said the management expense ratios for the funds typically run at more than five per cent, compared with between two per cent and 2.5 per cent for a normal mutual fund.  

Cumming said the rules governing the funds also tend to mean that fund managers need to invest large inflows of funds in a short period of time, without doing necessary due diligence.

MBA grad is among Canada’s new rich and powerful

Roma Khanna (MBA ’01) was listed among Canada’s new wave of rich and powerful by CBC News Online March 6.  

As president of NBC Universal International in London, England, Khanna oversees 70 TV channels broadcasting to more than 150 countries in 25 languages, said CBC. 

A lawyer with an MBA from the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto, Khanna, 41, was a former senior vice-president for CHUM Television. Prior to her work at CHUM, the Toronto native was executive vice-president for Snap Media and manager of legal and business affairs for Sony Music Canada. 

  • The CBC story also listed Osgoode grad Moya Greene (LLB ’78), new head of Britain’s Royal Mail, but did not note her academic background.

Get hired – advice for students

In its March 7 student issue, Maclean’s featured York students and staff in articles on how to find jobs.

  • On how to be prepared for an interview, Maclean’s advised: know the employer. "So, do you have any questions about the company?" Your answer will reveal how much you know about the potential employer – and consequently, how interested you are in working there. In the fall, MBA candidate Kelly Rosin of York University’s Schulich School of Business did just that. Before she sat down for a job interview with food giant General Mills, she studied the company’s ads, read a stack of reports on the industry and even made a trip to the supermarket to compare the company’s products with competitors’. She beat out 70 other applicants from Schulich alone.
  • On the college advantage, Maclean’s reported that university graduates are tossing their mortarboards in the air, sliding their degrees into the filing cabinet – and then heading straight to college. Dianne Twombly, manager of programs & services at York University’s Career Centre, has noticed the trend on her campus, too, said Maclean’s, 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.  

The Witch of Edmonton set to debut at York

When choosing what production would serve as Theatre @ York’s season finale, Anita La Selva was drawn to Jacobean drama The Witch of Edmonton for its relevancy to society hundreds of years from the time period in which it was penned, reported March 7. 

Written by William Rowley, Thomas Dekker and John Ford in 1621, the tragic comedy was based on an actual person and supposedly real-life events that gripped the village of Edmonton, near London, earlier that year.  

"I wanted to take the story and transpose it for a 20th century audience," La Selva said. 

Setting the play in the ultra-conservative, 1950s postwar American Midwest, The Witch of Edmonton centres on three plot lines: the witch, a young man forced into marriage by his mother and the comedic relief of hope, charity and goodwill in the community.

La Selva, who is completing her master of fine art degree in directing in York’s Department of Theatre, is a Toronto-based actor and director.