York researcher calls bodychecking ban a great first step

The Ontario Hockey Federation’s decision to ban bodychecking will likely draw more players to the game and keep others from dropping out, wrote The Canadian Press May 6.

The federation is making the change – which affects players between the ages of 6 and 21 – in an effort to create a safer environment for new players to develop skills. The rule change affects house league and select players in most of the province, though Ottawa and Thunder Bay aren’t governed by the OHF.

York University health professor Alison Macpherson, who was among the first researchers to call for bodychecking to be disallowed in recreational hockey, called it a great first step. "I know some parents keep their kids out of hockey, especially out of competitive hockey, because they worry about the injuries that might ensue when kids are allowed to bodycheck," she said Thursday.

Until now parents who wanted their child to play non-contact hockey didn’t have many options, said Macpherson. “There is pretty good scientific evidence that bodychecking, especially under the bantam level (age 13-14), leads to injury in youth ice hockey,” she said.

A study published last year found kids who were bodychecked were about 2.45 times more likely to suffer an injury than kids who didn’t play with body contact and 1.7 times more likely to suffer a concussion, she said. “Kids are more likely to play if they think they’re not going to get hurt,” said Macpherson. “Which is great because we have an obesity epidemic.”

Is this the future of Canada’s judiciary?

Over the past five years, the prime minister has made a long list of judicial appointments and while there is evidence of the traditional sort of patronage – it definitely helps to have Conservative connections if you want to get on the bench these days – there isn’t much sign of politicization, wrote Dan Gardner in the Ottawa Citizen May 6, in a column speculating on the implications of the recent federal election on the judiciary. Indeed, his two Supreme Court appointments have been widely praised. Patrick Monahan, the former dean of Osgoode Hall Law School [now York vice-president academic & provost], told me they were "outstanding" choices, and he expects more of the same.

English prof criticizes author of Holocaust book

Douglas Bell, in his review of Deborah Lipstadt’s The Eichmann Trial (“Rethinking The Eichmann Trial” – Books, April 30), lauds Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem for its "rigorous academic analysis," among other things, wrote Timothy Jacobs, English professor in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, in a letter to The Globe and Mail May 6.

But it seems clear Bell hasn’t heard of Raul Hilberg’s seminal The Destruction of the European Jews (first published in 1961), the most comprehensive, detailed, rigorously researched, profoundly readable and enlightening exploration of the Holocaust and how it happened.

But Bell gushingly overpraises Arendt… [and] goes on to say that "it was, more than anything, Arendt’s curiosity that drove her to explore other possible explanations [than antisemitism]."

No, it was Hilberg’s foundational study, nothing more. And I won’t even bother going into Hilberg’s charges of plagiarism against Arendt, or that Arendt worked to block Hilberg from publishing his study with Princeton University Press.

MBA grad sluffs off racist taunts in election

Omar Alghabra [MBA ’00]…is a Muslim, middle-class immigrant who arrived in Canada 22 years ago, wrote Craig McBride, a former journalist and Alghabra’s volunteer communications chair, in a May 6 Toronto Star story about the former Liberal MP’s unsuccessful campaign for re-election in Mississauga-Erindale. He bought a folding bed from Honest Ed’s for $50 and shared a two-bedroom apartment with four other guys. He went on to get an MBA from [the Schulich School of Business at] York University.

As communications chair, the least glamorous part of my job was to read and respond to e-mails that came in through Alghabra’s website.

In those emails, Alghabra was called a terrorist, was told he should go back to where he came from, and was informed that he was an ugly troll who wants to turn Canada into an Islamist state. Every day, these e-mails came in. Even at the doors, where people aren’t protected by the anonymity of the Internet, there were some who openly refused to consider voting for him because he was Muslim or non-white.

The attacks seemed to bother members of the campaign team more than they did the candidate.  "Those people don’t even know me," Alghabra told me. "It’s a reflection of their attitudes, not of me or what I stand for."

Authors ‘gloss over many Canadians’ fears’ with immigration report

Given that almost half the residents of Vancouver and Toronto were born outside the country, many of society’s leaders believe it’s political and economic suicide to publicly question immigration rates, wrote Douglas Todd in the Vancouver Sun May 6.

At least these three academics, funded by various levels of government, do so – through a “meta-analysis” of hundreds of studies on the economic impact of immigration in Canada and beyond.

Although their “shock” scenario of 100,000 more immigrants is controversial, York University’s Tony Fang [School of Human Resource Management, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies] and the University of Toronto’s Peter Dungan and Morley Gunderson generally say immigration is an economic positive.

Still, unlike many in Canadian officialdom, these three able economists are at least aware that a high-immigration policy is not, by definition, an indisputable good. They suggest it is a multi-pronged animal, with many spinoffs, good and bad.

Why the 1970s were the best time to be a mom

Andrea O’Reilly, a professor in the [School of Women’s Studies] at Toronto’s York University and author of several books on motherhood, points out that the 1970s was also a pivotal era for women, when the June Cleaver image of the proper wife was collapsing, but children weren’t yet all-consuming “projects,” doomed for failure if they weren’t read six stories at bedtime, wrote the Toronto Star May 5.

When O’Reilly was a toddler, she recalls, “my mother would have me in the playpen, my sister in the pram and my brother tied to the front tree. She’d be down doing laundry, as she was supposed to do as a good housekeeper, and we would be outside ‘airing’. And I don’t think you air children on the front porch any more. If somebody walked past and saw three kids in such a situation today, the police would be called.”

Ridge grad Petrou named York’s top female athlete

Effie Petrou was no stranger to receiving major accolades for her field hockey play, wrote the Oakville Beaver May 5.

The Iroquois Ridge grad was named both the Ontario University Athletics and Canadian Interuniversity Sport rookie of the year in 2006, and has earned invites to several national team training camps.

But Petrou was stunned to log onto her computer one day, visit the York University website and see that she was in the running for the school’s female athlete-of-the-year award. “I just didn’t think I was in the running, really,” Petrou recalled. “It didn’t even cross my mind.”

It was a nice ending to a stellar university career for Petrou, who first began playing field hockey at the age of 12 when her family lived in England for three years and then continued playing at Iroquois Ridge.

While at York, Petrou was a five-time all-Canadian and led the Lions to three appearances at the CIS championships. She scored a career-high eight goals this past season and was named the Lions’ most valuable player as York finished fifth in the OUA regular-season standings and sixth at the OUA championships.

“Effie is a coach’s dream player,” York coach Deb Fullerton said “She has made tremendous strides in her five years at York University and this year was no exception.”

With her university playing days now over, Petrou’s focus shifts away from field hockey and into her career as a personal trainer at a local gym. The kinesiology & health sciences major feels she is no longer “on the bubble” of making the national team, having been disappointed by not making the squad at previous tryouts.

“Right now, personal training is where I’m at. I just want to concentrate on my career now,” Petrou said. “We’ll see within the next few years where the national team is at and where I’m at.”

York theatre grad talks about the benefits of clowning

"I’ve seen actors who trained in clowning and did not go on to become clowns but moved into doing Shakespeare or musicals or other kinds of performing," says Mark Lonergan [BFA Spec. Hons. ’94], artistic director of the physical comedy troupe Parallel Exit, wrote Backstage.com May 5.

"And the skills they had gained from their clown training proved absolutely priceless. A background in clowning makes an invaluable contribution to an actor’s technique. Shakespeare is a great example. There are so many clown roles in Shakespearean plays, and attempting those roles without some kind of background in clowning is almost unthinkable."

Before embarking on his clowning career, Lonergan, a Canadian, trained as an actor at York University [Faculty of Fine Arts] in Toronto and also studied mime and modern dance. Though he founded Parallel Exit in Toronto, he relocated his company in 2002 to New York, where he discovered a thriving clown scene, due in large part to the visibility the art form had gained from Bill Irwin’s and David Shiner’s Broadway appearances.

Former players swap stories with Howe ahead of charity event

Dozens of former NHL players rubbed elbows with Mr. Hockey on Thursday. And unlike years gone by, they smiled about it, wrote The Canadian Press May 6 in a story about the Scotiabank Pro-Am charity hockey tournament. The Toronto Board of Trade function served as an homage to Gordie Howe, who was all smiles as he chatted with old friends and signed autographs.

Howe wasn’t made available for media interviews ahead of the charity tournament, which raises funds to benefit the Gordie & Colleen Howe Fund for Alzheimer’s research and care. More than 50 former NHL players will be joined by Canadian women’s players at the fundraiser Friday and Saturday at York University.

The charity tournament is in its sixth year in Toronto and has raised more than $13 million to date. Proceeds will help fund research in Alzheimer’s and related disorders at Baycrest, a world-renowned academic health sciences centre in Toronto.

Asian Community Games get underway at York U next month

Organizers of the seventh annual Asian Community Games are hoping the event will be the biggest one yet when it gets underway at York University next month, wrote InsideToronto.com May 5.

The games will be held June 25 and 26 at various sites on the Steeles Avenue and Keele Street campus. The Asian Community Games began in 2005 with 200 athletes, a track and field event and a small number of volunteers. It has since grown to include participants of all ethnic cultures and this year organizers are expecting more than 5,000 participants to sign up.

TTC looks at running bigger buses on Finch

It’s a bigger bus but it’s still a bus, wrote the Toronto Star May 5.

That’s the reaction of some to a report before the TTC board next week, which suggests articulated buses, potentially running on dedicated lanes, could speed the ride and relieve crowding for the 42,000 daily TTC riders on Finch Avenue West, the city’s second busiest bus route.

The TTC is looking at how to improve service in the city’s under-served northwest since Mayor Rob Ford has scrapped a plan to put a light rail line on Finch from Yonge Street to Humber College.

Buses alone won’t be enough, said Mitch Stambler of TTC Service Planning. “If we really want to make the Finch Avenue corridor more attractive to riders it would take more than articulated buses. We’re looking at different service designs that would put more capacity on the route,” he said.

Among the options are:

  • A two-way bus-way along the Finch hydro corridor, similar to the one that serves York University.
  • Dedicated bus lanes down the middle of Finch where the light rail line would have run. Alternatively, curb lanes could be made into bus lanes or work as HOV lanes such as those on Eglinton and Dufferin.
  • Strategic road widenings for bus bypass queues at busy intersections that would allow buses to move ahead of cars.
  • Fewer bus stops that would speed service but mean riders would have to walk further between stops.
  • Other improvements could include proof-of-purchase payments to speed boarding or moving stops to the far side of intersections to reduce the time buses spend at lights. More intersections could get transit signal priority.

TTC bus route seasonal service changes begin Sunday

TTC’s summer service changes, plus the cuts to bus routes announced earlier this year, will take effect Sunday, wrote the Toronto Star May 5. TTC will decrease service on certain routes for the summer, including:

  • 196 York University Rocket
  • 60 Steeles West
  • 35 Jane

On air

  • Marcel Martel, Avie Bennett Historica-Dominion Institute Chair in Canadian History in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, took part in a panel discussion about Quebec and separatism, on TVO’s “The Agenda” May 5.