Asia sees G20 as more relevant than G8, says York prof

Gregory Chin, [political science] professor at York University in Toronto [Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies] and acting director of global development at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, a Canadian research institute, said that among Asian governments, the G8 “was last seen as a relevant force at the time of the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis,” when it was still the Group of 7, wrote The New York Times May 25.

At the time, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), run by the G8 countries of Europe and North America, largely dictated what governments would do to get through the crisis. Since then, Chin said, “Asian governments have taken measures to mitigate against having to rely on the IMF in the same way. There was strong resentment in Asia toward the G7’s control of the global financial institutions and the medicine that was offered.” Today, he said, “only Japan seems to be hanging on to the G8.”

Chin said most Asian leaders now see the G20 as better reflecting the evolution of the world economy than the G8 and believe the larger forum has more potential to encourage benefit-sharing, as well as burden-sharing, among the key participants. But he said some ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] members, like Singapore, were “more reserved” about the G20.

Sculpture park benefactor Louis Odette dead at 88

The man behind Windsor’s riverfront sculpture park has passed away, wrote The Windsor Star May 26.

Louis Lawrence “Bud” Odette [Hon. LLD ’99] – a construction magnate and philanthropist whose name has become an indelible part of Windsor’s landscape – died peacefully in Toronto on May 18. He was 88.

The Odette family moved to Toronto in the 1960s. The company’s legacy includes such Toronto buildings as Roy Thomson Hall and the CBC Broadcasting Centre.

Bud was also a strong supporter of the United Way of Toronto. In 1997, he received the Order of Canada. Besides charitable causes, Odette had great passion and admiration for the arts – especially sculpture.

Along with the Odette Sculpture Park [in Windsor], he established the Toronto Sculpture Garden and the L.L. Odette Centre for Sculpture at York University [Faculty of Fine Arts].

Odette struggled with Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

Odette is survived by his brother, his wife, three sons, one daughter and seven grandchildren. Visitation for Odette took place in Toronto on Wednesday.

Border czar Luc Portelance top pick to lead RCMP: sources

Luc Portelance, border security chief at the Canada Border Services Agency, is on the inside track for the job of top Mountie, wrote the Toronto Star May 26, in a story about the search for a new head of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Consultant Reid Morden says it’s better the government takes its time. “I’d personally prefer they get it right. It’s too important an institution for us. It’s had its problems and had enough negative publicity in recent times, and it has to start again to rebuild.”

Margaret Beare, a professor of law & sociology at York University [Osgoode Hall Law School and the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies], agreed, but said the government should also look “outside the old guard” of “old, white men” for a successor, for a leader with “people skills, management skills, and knowledge of a policing organization.” She sees younger worthy candidates within the RCMP’s senior ranks, but doesn’t rule out someone from another police organization, or even a knowledgeable civilian.

Engineer honoured for volunteer contributions

A Markham engineer has earned a prestigious honour in his profession in Ontario, wrote May 25.

For his devoted interest in the governance of the engineering profession, Matthew Xie, P.Eng., has been named a member of the Professional Engineers Ontario Order of Honour. He was inducted at a gala in Ottawa May 6.

One of the initiatives he led was the creation of a mentoring program at York University [Faculty of Science & Engineering], the success of which contributed to the [School of Engineering] achieving accreditation from the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board.

Kids’ exercise levels get an ‘F’

A focus group with girls aged 15 to 17 run by Get Active Toronto and York University found that the girls felt there were not enough co-ed programs and that boys excluded them from sports, wrote the Toronto Star May 26.

Call for unity of Africans living in West

As the number of Manitobans from Africa grows, so do concerns for the continent they left behind, wrote The Winnipeg Free Press May 26. Today in Winnipeg, they’re gathering to learn what globalization means to Africa and what they can do to help.

"The rich-and-poor gap is getting wider," said author and academic Joseph Mensah [political science professor in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies]. "It’s dangerous to everybody," Mensah said of the growing income disparity. The co-ordinator of International Development Studies at York University is in Winnipeg to speak at African Day events, celebrating the end of colonial rule in Africa.

"It gets so poor, it spills over in migration, refugee movement, conflict, tension and disease," Mensah said of the growing income disparity…. "It has no respect for international borders," he said, pointing out the impact poor, chaotic Somalia has had on shipping and world oil prices with piracy and fighting beyond its borders.

"You can’t put a border around it," said Mensah. "It’s not like Africa can be contained in Africa," as much as many governments wish it [c]ould. "They want to, but it doesn’t work that way," said the man who came to Canada from Ghana as a student in 1987.

"There is disunity among us," he said. "Some of it is a spillover, there are fights going on here still that began over there. We have to get a united front." That’s not easy with so many countries, cultures and languages in Africa, but not impossible, he said.

A start would be to reduce the number of ethnic affiliations, for example, he said. "Instead of the Nigerians having 20 organizations, how about one west African organization?"

BlackCreek festival preparing to launch

A tennis venue on the outskirts of Toronto might not have seemed the logical choice for a series of blockbuster summer concerts, wrote The Canadian Press May 25. But over the past year, the organizers of the BlackCreek Summer Music Festival have worked to prepare the Rexall Centre – a venue at the city’s York University used for the annual Rogers Cup tennis tournament – into a musical mecca.

The inaugural season kicks off June 4 with a performance from renowned tenor Placido Domingo, and organizers are confident that BlackCreek will pass its first test.

The team’s work began in earnest a year ago, with a sound test designed to assess the suitability of the Rexall Centre. Organizers were pleased – even surprised – with the result, finding that the sound was clear virtually anywhere inside the venue, and that sightlines were excellent as well.

BlackCreek CEO Kevin Albrecht acknowledges that BlackCreek is an unknown brand. And the Rexall Centre is too, tucked away on York University’s [Keele] campus, outside the range of Toronto’s subway system and in an area that is hardly a hotbed for entertainment.

But Albrecht says that early ticket sales have been good.

BlackCreek will also aim for a festival atmosphere around the periphery of the stadium, with casual performances from York University music students and some leafy areas for families to explore and relax.

York grad Kim Echlin  will read at Madoc library

Kim Echlin [MA ’77, PhD ’82] has written three novels, Elephant Winter, Dagmar’s Daughter, and her most recent The Disappeared, wrote Stirling EMC May 26, in a story about an upcoming reading at the Madoc Public Library.

Echlin was born in Burlington, Ont., and completed a doctoral thesis in Ojibway storytelling from York University.

The Disappeared is the story about a passionate affair between a Canadian and her Cambodian lover, set against the background of Pol Pot’s killing fields. It has been described as being a "haunting novel that will stay with you long after you have turned the last page." It has sold in 16 foreign countries including Spain, China, Greece, Romania and Germany.

Echlin says that the first seeds of the novel were planted some six or seven years ago on a trip to Cambodia with her husband and two daughters. A Cambodian woman approached her in a market and began speaking to her in English. "She said to me, ‘My whole family died during Pol Pot,’" Echlin says. "I didn’t know how to respond." A few minutes passed before Echlin asked the woman what she could do. "She said, ‘I only want you to know.’"

Class Action: York grad’s animation company is new ‘old school’

Patrick Jenkins [BFA Spec. Hons.’78, MFA ’82], independent animator and filmmaker, studied art at York University [Faculty of Fine Arts]. His most recent film is Labyrinth, wrote NOW magazine May 26.

Steve Angel and I founded Head Gear in 1997. When we started, it was a very different shop, but we grew our wings.

We don’t really do CG (computer-generated imagery). We’re more traditional – drawing, stop-motion, sticking stuff under a camera. Five years ago, I would’ve said that everything’s going Pixar-style, and it is, but there’s also a reawakening and reimagining of older techniques. The cheapness of technology has made it more popular. It’s made things more democratic.

Osgoode grad eyes Vancouver school board seat

Cherie Payne [LLB ’98] earned a law degree from [York’s] Osgoode Hall [Law School] and ran a failed bid to be an NPA [Neighbourhoods, People, Accountability party] school trustee in 2002, wrote The Vancouver Courier May 25.

Now the 37-year-old is seeking a Vision Vancouver nomination to run for the Vancouver school board at the civic party’s June 12 meeting.

Shortly after losing the 2002 election, Payne was hired by the public relations firm Hill & Knowlton in Vancouver, but she remained active in politics with the federal Liberals and did “renewal work” for the NPA.

Kenya needs Mutunga as chief justice

On the merits, Willy Mutunga [DJUR ’93] meets and exceeds the criteria set out in the Constitution for appointment to the position of chief justice [of Kenya], wrote Professor James Thuo Gathii, associate dean for research & scholarship in New York’s Albany Law School, in Kenya’s Business Daily May 25.

His detractors have ignored the values, concerns and issues that have characterised his public service and career. Instead, they have shamefully – in the time tested politics of dirt smearing and character assassination – began scouring everywhere…to look for disqualifying characteristics.

Although he has never been content to change Kenya from behind his keyboard, Mutunga has undertaken significant academic work in important fields of law. This in addition to his distinguished practice experience exhibits his thorough understanding of our legal system and to be the next chief justice.

His doctoral work at [York University’s] Osgoode Hall Law School focused on the law of contracts and the extent to which significant legal developments in this area of the law in North America were applicable to countries like Kenya. His work on landlord tenant relationships undertaken for his master’s thesis is unparalleled in highlighting the plight of low income tenants.

Whether Mutunga was advocating for the displaced Kenyans and against environmental degradation with respect to titanium mining in the Kwale District, or against the scourge of ethnicity within Kenya’s civil society, he exemplifies in every respect the values of the new Constitution. In addition, he meets and exceeds the qualifications for appointment to chief justice in Article 166 of the Constitution.

Based on Mutunga’s distinguished record, I see no reason why Parliament should not approve his appointment.

Iqaluit arts festival kicks off with special concerts

Iqaluit’s Alianait arts festival plans to warm up its audience with two pre-festival concerts next month, on June 21 and June 22, wrote May 26.

On June 22, Alianait presents a special “School’s Out” concert in partnership with York University of Toronto.

York University is also helping to underwrite a five-day music workshop leading up to the concert, where performers will participate in a “collaborative, creative process” to prepare for the show, Daley said.

On air

  • Leo Panitch, Canada Research Chair in Comparative Political Economy and Distinguished Research Professor of political science in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, took part in a panel discussion about an NDP proposal to cut subsidies to energy companies and the Conservatives announcement that they will cut vote subsidies to political parties, on AM640 Radio’s “The John Oakley Show” May 25.
  • Alexandre Brassard, course director in political science at York’s Glendon College, spoke about the Green Party’s platform for the coming Ontario provincial election, on Radio Canada Toronto May 25.
  • Perry Sadorsky, economics professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke about the Toronto Stock Exchange, on 680 News May 25.
  • James Stribopoulos, professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, spoke about the case of bystander Dorian Barton who had his arm broken by police in the G20 protest, on CBC Radio’s “As It Happens” May 25.
  • Ananya Mukherjee-Reed, professor in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, spoke about the story of India’s missing girls and a new study which shows as many as 12 million female fetuses have been aborted, on OMNI TV’s South Asian Edition News May 25.