Prostitution ruling appeal begins

York University law Professor Alan Young [Osgoode Hall Law School], who represents [three] sex-trade workers, contended that prohibiting communication renders prostitutes unable to “screen” potential clients, hire security or move behind the relative safety of closed doors, wrote The Globe and Mail June 13, in a story about an appeal at the Ontario Supreme Court of a decision striking down three prostitution laws, which began this week.

Superior Court Judge Susan Himel’s ruling was based on a broad conclusion that current laws offer little protection, wrote the Globe…. Young and his clients agreed in the fall to a stay of Judge Himel’s ruling, meaning that it is still against the law for prostitutes in Ontario to work in brothels and openly solicit customers.

  • The panel’s mandate surrounds to what extent laws should be responsible for making the sex trade dangerous, wrote Postmedia News June 13. Anything outside of that realm involves issues that should be argued in the House of Commons rather than in a courtroom, said York University Professor Alan Young [Osgoode Hall Law School].

"There has to be a causal connection established between state action and the law and the deprivation of security," says Young.

  • Local anti-crime group East Side Pride is closely monitoring the appeal of a court decision striking down prostitution laws, wrote The Chatham Daily News (with files from the Toronto Sun) June 13.

ESP founder Marjorie Crew said the group sent a letter objecting to Ontario Superior Court Justice Susan Himel’s ruling last September that deems three laws which govern pimping, keeping a brothel and communicating for the purpose of prostitution as unconstitutional.

[Himel] agreed with Osgoode Hall Law School Professor Alan Young – representing dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford, Valerie Scott and Amy Lebovitch – who argued that the criminal prohibitions violated prostitutes’ constitutional right to security.

Young likened the dilemma facing sex workers today with women seeking abortions a generation ago from Dr. Henry Morgentaler.

A pregnant woman had to choose between breaking the law to obtain an abortion or risking her health and safety. Prostitutes today must either break the law – by working in bawdy houses, or using security people or communicating with clients – to ensure their safety, said Young.

"This case is no more about a constitutionally protected right to engage in prostitution than Morgentaler was about a constitutionally protected right to abortion free from all state interference," stated Young in his factum.

  • Alan Young spoke about the start of the Ontario Supreme Court review on Global Television June 13.

How play-based learning can lead to more successful kids

Self-regulation is a hot topic in education, something that’s hard to quantify, but it can be better than even IQ at predicting academic success, wrote The Globe and Mail June 13, in a story about play-based learning in new full-day kindergarten programs in Ontario and British Columbia schools.

Research has shown self-regulation “is far more important than IQ in not just what kind of grades a kid gets, but how often the kid goes to class, how much time the kid spends on homework, how vulnerable the kids is to things like risky sexual behaviour, or aggression, or taking drugs, and even things as simple as how much time they spend watching TV or playing video games,” [Professor] Stuart Shanker, a child development expert at York University, told a conference held by People for Education last fall.

[Shanker is distinguished research professor of psychology/philosophy in the Faculty of Health and director of the Milton & Ethel Harris Research Initiative.]

YUDC president tapped to head troubled housing board

According to the confidential attachment sent to councillors, Norman "Bud" Purves [president of the York University Development Corporation] is the recommended new chair of the Toronto Community Housing Corporation board, wrote the Toronto Sun June 14.

Along with [former candidate for city council Jennifer] Wood and Purves, Zahir Bhaidani, Christian Buhagiar, Jason Gorel, Brian Kwan and Audrey Wubbenhorst round out the recommended citizen appointments.

Purves also [sits] on boards of the Muskoka Heritage Foundation and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, noted the Sun.

We need to change our tune if songbirds are to survive

Our awareness of the growing dearth of birdsong [is] the topic of York University ornithologist Bridget Stutchbury‘s book, Silence of the Songbirds, wrote columnist Naomi Lakritz in the Calgary Herald June 14.

In an interview for this column last week, Stutchbury, who holds a Canada Research Chair in ecology and conservation biology [in the Faculty of Science & Engineering], listed the reasons for "huge numbers of birds missing from the picture."

One puzzling phenomenon is the decline in insect populations.

"People have been trying to track flying insect abundance. We don’t know if it’s climate change, pesticides, the draining of wetlands; all these things would contribute to fewer insects," Stutchbury said.

However, Stutchbury said she is not a fanatic about pesticide use here. "Some use of pesticides is probably required; we need to come up with the safest possible products. I am not a fanatic in terms of saying no pesticides should ever be used. We do need them, but probably there are safer ways of doing it."

"Migration is not a nonstop flight; these little birds have to find safe motels.

Now we have peregrine [falcons] nesting on downtown Toronto highrises. We do have these success stories," she said. "Birds have the capacity to rebound in a matter of decades if we can identify the problem and give them a chance. There may be some smoking guns out there."

On air

  • Fred Lazar, economics professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, and Stephanie Ross, professor in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies and the Centre for Research on Work & Society, spoke about the Air Canada strike on CBC Radio, June 13.
  • York graduate student Rose-Ann Bailey [BFA Spec. Hons. ’02], spoke about her participation in a sexual health conference at the University of Guelph, on Kitchener’s CKCO-TV June 13.
  • York student Stephanie Bouchard was featured as Citytv’s Athlete of the Week on June 13.