Why Quebec athletes are leading the medal count in Sochi

Six of Canada’s ten medals have been won by Quebec athletes so far – but many believe it’s more than just the millions of dollars the province provides for athletes and infrastructure, reported Global News Feb. 12. But one kinesiology and health science professor says the Quebecers’ domination could be because the Olympic events we’ve seen so far have what he calls “strong sporting traditions” in the province. “When things change to the sliding events (luge, bobsled, skeleton), we might see more medals coming from Calgary/Vancouver where training centres for these sports are based,” said York University’s Joe Baker in an e-mail to Global News. Read full story.

Is the PQ ready to rumble?
Well it’s been almost 18 months since the Parti Quebecois was elected to a minority government here in Quebec and almost 18 months ago that today’s guest estimated that PQ government would have about a year and a half before being called upon to re-embark on the campaign trail, wrote The Montreal Gazette Feb. 12. And guess what? There’s talk the PQ is already getting ready to make that trip. Yesterday, there was buzz that a budget was exactly what the PQ intended to table as early as next Thursday. If that budget is, as expected, shot down by the opposition, that would be enough to trigger an election that would send us to the polls by late March or early April. But is it all as simple as that? We asked the question to political scientist Bruce Hicks of York University. Hear full interview.

Tory senators expense business-class flights with spouses
The top-spending Conservative senators routinely purchased high-priced business class airfares and repeatedly used public money to bring spouses with them on trips to Ottawa, even as the Senate expense scandal was in full swing last fall, reported CBC.ca Feb. 12. “To me, it’s really shocking that they exercise such poor judgment, even if it’s legal,” said Ian Greene, a professor of public policy and administration at York University in Toronto. “I would think, because such bad judgment has been exercised, it would be important to get expenses approved in advance by someone, maybe a senior member.” Read full story.

Academic Minute: Sharks and Reef Health
In today’s Academic Minute, Jonathan Ruppert of York University describes the connection between shark population and reef health, announces WAMC Northeast Public Radio Feb. 13.  Ruppert is a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Biology at York University in Toronto, Canada. His current research project involves the long-term monitoring of the health of reefs on Australia’s northwest coast.  Read text and listen here.

Vaughan receives expert advice on creating arts, culture hub
“You’re on the edge of some really remarkable changes. The subway is going to bring the world here in a faster way than ever before,” Gail Lord, president of Lord Cultural Resources, told Vaughan city council, reported the Vaughan Citizen Feb. 12. “You have an economic plan for the next 10 years and you should have cultural plan to complement your economic plan.” And the city should explore opportunities to forge new partnerships with nearby institutions, such as York University, Lord said. “You’re close to the York University campus. One needs to have to have imagination to understand what that synergy could be once the subway comes,” she said. “Their cultural centre on that campus is amazing. It’s quite isolated right now. What will happen when it becomes accessible, you become accessible and theirs a (subway) connection between the two? This is actually something that needs to be thought about and planned.” Read full story.

Meet five academics who have switched disciplines mid-career
With degrees in botany and zoology, Dawn Bazely was content working in her field as a biology professor with a specialty in ecology, particularly forest and grassland ecology, reported University Affairs Feb. 12. But when she was recruited in 2006 as director of York University’s Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability (known as IRIS), she encountered a whole new discipline – and a steep learning curve. “I have learned to feel uncomfortable,” says Bazely. “But I get to be a student every day. How awesome is that?” She says that the chief editor of Ecological Monographs tells her “that I have done a de facto PhD in sustainability, science policy and environmental security.” Read full story.

Canada’s new anti-spam law could pose challenges for universities
Universities are grappling with how to comply with provisions of Canada’s new anti-spam law that will prohibit unsolicited electronic messages such as emails and texts, reported University Affairs Feb. 12. The law, set to come into force on July 1, is meant to crack down on unwanted spam and to protect consumers from harassment, identity theft, spyware and fraud. The regulations announced in December included a limited exemption for registered charities and non-profit groups, including universities, for electronic messages sent for fundraising purposes. “It’s a positive step but it doesn’t solve all our problems,” said Christine Silversides, director of legal services at York University. “Fundraising is only one of a vast array of activities that we conduct through electronic communications.” Universities also use emails to communicate with alumni, to deliver academic programs and to recruit prospective students, she noted. Read full story.

Award-winning York U student dedicated to community activism
Before one of her best friends was killed, Talisha Ramsaroop admits she was a mediocre student, a teenager from the Jane and Finch community who wasn’t encouraged to pursue post-secondary education, reported North York Mirror Feb. 12. In the wake of her friend’s death, she started a Facebook page dealing with youth violence issues. But it wasn’t until she began studying at York University that Ramsaroop transformed into a community activist in North York and York. Last month, she was recognized for her work with a $5,000 Lincoln M. Alexander community award from the Ministry for Citizenship and Immigration. Read full story.