Trials and error

The [Leon] Walchuk case and many others I have probed over the years illustrate, all too often, that mistaken, misused or misunderstood science is helping to send innocent people to jail. “This is a very serious issue,” said Osgoode Hall Law School Professor Alan Young, in the May 2013 issue of The Walrus. “People have to know how frequently bad science contributes to wrongful convictions.” Read full story.

Court of Appeal upholds Saskatchewan’s controversial labour legislation
The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal has upheld two controversial pieces of labour legislation passed by the Saskatchewan Party government, reported the Leader-Post April 26….“There really couldn’t be a more obvious invitation by a Court of Appeal for a case to be referred to the Supreme Court,” wrote York University Professor David Doorey on his blog Friday. “The ball is now in the unions’ court. Will they move on up to the SCC? My money is on the ‘yes’ bet.” Read full story.

Winds of change blow through broken legal system
The country’s legal and governmental structure is built upon the concept of silos, where information is tightly held and data moves within but not outside. In this age of computers, we don’t know what’s happening in our courts or what various components are costing us, reported the Vancouver Sun April 29. The issue is being tackled in several ways, most impressively by an international research alliance that has the Institute for Social Research at York University conducting a massive cost-benefit analysis of the civil justice system. Read full story.

Pilot program ‘game changer’ for diabetes
Canadians of South Asian, black and Chinese descent are at greater risk of developing diabetes, according to the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, one of Canada’s leading health services research institutes. That’s where the Diabetes Game Changing Initiative project comes in. Former Markham mayor Donald Cousens is part of the project’s board, which includes members of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Health at York University, reported the Markham Economist & Sun April 26. Read full story.

The realm between ‘he’ and ‘she
Canadian singer-songwriter Rae Spoon identifies not as a woman, not as a man, but somewhere in between….“This might be new for many of us,” conceded Sheila Cavanagh, sexuality studies program co-ordinator at York University, in the Toronto Star April 27, “but there is a reluctance to recognize a whole host of ways of being gendered that isn’t determined by our bodies. We have to challenge our presumptions that to be a man is to necessarily be masculine and to be a woman is to necessarily be feminine.” Read full story.

Plains Midstream charged in 2011 Rainbow Pipeline spill
One day after receiving an advance copy of a scathing Greenpeace report, the Alberta government charged Plains Midstream Canada in connection with the Rainbow Pipeline oil spill….The timing of the charges is not connected to the 16-page report, which is based on ministerial briefing memos and internal government reports the environmental group obtained using freedom of information requests. The report alleges, in part, that officials with the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) rejected a request from ERCB investigators to call a public inquiry into the spill….“This mild slap on the wrist delivers a key message: The ERCB is more concerned with public relations than with performance,” said author and York University Professor Keith Stewart, in the Edmonton Journal April 26. Read full story.