By Paul Wells - Tuesday, March 5, 2013 - 0 Comments
Between them, the University of Toronto and McGill University have 100,000 students, $596 million in total accumulated funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, one Charles Taylor and a perhaps disproportionate amount of the spotlight on higher education in Canada’s two largest provinces. They also have two new presidents: Meric Gertler at UofT and Suzanne Fortier at McGill. Together the two changes are probably more significant than most federal cabinet shuffles.
(This blog post will be lousy with Laurentian Consensus nostalgia; sorry. Perhaps only for today though, the less said about the University of Calgary, the better.)
In hiring close to home, both universities can be taken to be demonstrating either quiet confidence in the maturity of Canadian academe, or a chastened realization that in a time of limited resources, even the biggest schools are wise to stick to their knitting. Both schools instituted global searches and wound up bypassing candidates from afar in favour of local produce. Gertler was Toronto’s dean of Arts and Science. Fortier is president of the National Science and Engineering Research Council — indeed her start as principal of McGill will be delayed so she can cool off from that job for six months before taking a position with a major NSERC grant recipient — but her BSc and PhD were from McGill. Continue…
By Paul Wells - Saturday, February 23, 2013 at 11:09 AM - 0 Comments
Quebec higher-education minister Pierre Duchesne will spend Monday and Tuesday presiding over a summit on Quebec universities. Duchesne, a former senior correspondent for Radio-Canada, is one of the nicest guys I met in journalism; his three-volume (!) biography of Jacques Parizeau is definitive. It’s worth putting that on the record because next week’s summit looks like a five-alarm gong show, it couldn’t happen to a nicer government, and I sometimes have trouble holding back the snark.
The Gazette‘s Karen Seidman has a good overview of the issues and the way the Marois government has managed to position this summit as one whose outcome will please nobody. But I’m struck by a recurring theme in French-language commentary, which is the feats of ingenuity being expended to justify giving McGill University less public money. Continue…
By Scaachi Koul - Monday, October 22, 2012 at 11:06 AM - 0 Comments
Chocolate makes snails smarter and fish could start losing weight
British Columbia: Researchers at the University of British Columbia have found that changes in ocean and climate systems could result in smaller fish. The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, looked at more than 600 species of fish from oceans around the world. It determined the maximum body weight the fish can reach could decline by 14 to 20 per cent by the year 2050.
Alberta: University of Calgary researchers exposed snails to epicatechin, a component found in many foods, including chocolate and green tea. In the study, published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, they found it helped boost the molluscs’ memories. They couldn’t determine yet whether the findings apply to humans.
Manitoba: Findings from the University of Manitoba’s faculty of medicine show that children from lower-income areas have a tougher time than kids from higher-income areas in health and school. Most worrisome, the study, which tracked Manitoba children aged 19 and under from 2000 to 2010, found that the rate of child deaths in lower-income areas was more than three times greater than in higher income areas.
Ontario: With flu season creeping up, a new study by Public Health Ontario suggests that ethnic communities are more likely to get a flu shot than Canadians who identify themselves as white or black. A dozen ethnic groups, including Filipino, Japanese, southeast Asian and Chinese, were all found to be more likely to get the shot.
Quebec: For a minority of mothers, giving birth leads to the same psychological shocks felt by soldiers in war. Researchers at McGill University found one in 13 mothers suffers post-traumatic stress disorder following delivery. The women suffer flashbacks, nightmares, sleeplessness and try to avoid anyone who reminds them of the trauma of birth, including their babies.
By John Geddes - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 10:23 AM - 0 Comments
John Geddes on the NDP leader’s rise through the ruthless world of Quebec politics to become the PM’s toughest opponent yet
Thomas Mulcair grew up in a Montreal suburb as the second-oldest of 10 children in his family, which is noteworthy enough. Even more remarkable, though, at least by today’s standards, is that he remembers his parents hoping for just a few more kids. “When my mother would have a child,” the NDP leader recalled recently, “my father would always bring her 14 roses, because they decided when they were married that they would have 14 children.” His father, Harry, was an insurance man of Irish-Catholic descent, and his mother, Jeanne, a teacher from an old French-Canadian family, was of course Catholic, too. For another public figure, details like these might be mere background colour. In Mulcair’s case, apart from the roses, every bit of it—the many brothers and sisters, the Quebec roots, a Catholicism devout enough to entail mass on weekdays before school, even the Irish streak—is central to his emergence as a formidable political fighter and plausible future prime minister.
By his own account in an interview with Maclean’s, backed up by the observations of some who have worked closely with him, Mulcair’s upbringing in such a large, tightly knit, complex household remains the template for his important relationships. Aides and allies say he maintains unusually close contact with family and old friends, cultivating an intensely personal network and leaning on time-tested loyalties more than most top politicians. While he is no longer an observant churchgoer, Mulcair’s brand of left-leaning politics flows directly out of his home province’s distinctive and deep well of progressive Catholicism—a powerful influence on seminal Quebec politicians of the past, including Pierre Trudeau. As for Mulcair’s Irishness, Graham Carpenter, an old family friend and long-time aide, alludes to his “Irish world view,” and not jokingly, as an explanation for Mulcair’s storied scrappiness and more. “There’s mystique to it,” Carpenter says, “that’s for sure.”
By Josh Dehaas - Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 6:50 PM - 0 Comments
Graduating with a degree in mining engineering seems to be a ticket to a well-paying job
Kyle Buckoll finished his bachelor’s degree at the University of British Columbia in April. Unlike many 23-year-old university graduates, he didn’t settle at his parents’ house in Maple Ridge, B.C., to start hunting for internships or entry-level jobs. Instead, he went on an all-expenses-paid trip to Turkey with 31 fellow class-of-2012 graduates from UBC’s mining engineering program. They marvelled at Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia, visited two of the seven ancient wonders of the world, and lounged on beach chairs in Bodrum to toast their graduation. They also toured six mines, because the flight, hotels and buses were all paid for by mining companies eager to show their largesse.
Buckoll wasn’t worried about student loans, either. His tuition for the last four years was covered by Anglo-Swiss mining company Xstrata. In addition to working for the firm while at school, he promised to work for Xstrata after graduation (he will owe them money if he quits in the first two years). After a summer spent touring Europe for fun, he has a well-paying job waiting for him at the company’s mine in Timmins, Ont., in September. His two vehicles will be there, shipped from Vancouver at Xstrata’s expense. His girlfriend will join him there too, her flight and moving expenses covered. They’ll settle into a home with the rent taken care of for the first two months.
Buckoll’s situation, enviable as it sounds, isn’t uncommon. Practically all of his classmates graduated with jobs lined up. Good jobs: pay starts at around $65,000 per year for mining engineers-in-training (EITs) and climbs to around $100,000 after three to five years. Buckoll didn’t get a signing bonus, but he estimates that half of his classmates did.
By Joanne Latimer - Thursday, March 22, 2012 at 2:20 AM - 0 Comments
Meet Dr. Joe: chemistry professor, radio host, newspaper columnist for the Montreal Gazette, author of 13 books and tireless tub-thumper against pseudoscience
The prognosis is not good for charlatans. Nor does the future look bright for wellness practitioners—the earnest touch therapists, energy healers and reiki masters—who post their business cards at health food stores. Those operating on the margins of the scientific and medical communities were served notice last November when Joe Schwarcz received a $5.5-million grant to further his work as Canada’s leading quackbuster.
“He’s the Carl Sagan of Canada,” said Lorne Trottier, the philanthropist who gave the endowment to McGill’s Office for Science and Society (OSS), where Schwarcz is the founding director. When Maclean’s reached Trottier via phone in Brazil, he was reading about climate science. “Like Joe, I’m appalled by the amount of sheer nonsense out there about health, the environment, everything,” said Trottier, co-founder of electronics company Matrox.
“Dr. Joe” is the public face of the OSS, as well as a working chemistry professor, radio host, newspaper columnist for the Montreal Gazette, author of 13 books and tireless tub-thumper against pseudoscience. The OSS was established in 1999, and McGill brought in Schwarcz, along with fellow chemists Ariel Fenster and David N. Harpp, to educate the public about matters of food, health, nutrition, medication, cosmetics—and misleading claims and possible fraud. The chemists and three interns offer continuing education classes, symposiums and public lectures. Working with the new cash injection—the interest from the $5.5-million endowment, minus the costs to run the annual Lorne Trottier Public Science Symposium to promote public science awareness—Schwarcz and his team have approximately $130,000 each year to extend the OSS’s reach and ensure the office continues when Schwarcz, 64, retires.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 8:00 AM - 4 Comments
A new crop of young NDP MPs are out to show they can deliver for their constituents
At ten to eight on a Wednesday morning, he is aboard one of Parliament Hill’s small green buses, on his way to the first meeting of the day, the weekly gathering of the NDP’s Quebec MPs. He is wearing a suit and he’s carrying a coffee and a Danish. Around him there are other men. Men in suits on the way to meetings of their own. Only they are all twice his age.
After this meeting there’s another meeting—the weekly gathering of the ofﬁcial Opposition caucus. Then a walk back to his office, down the Hill to the Justice Building beside the Supreme Court. Then back up the Hill for lunch with a reporter in Centre Block’s ornate restaurant. Then a meeting of the all-party arts caucus. Then question period. Then a meeting of the standing committee on public accounts to hear testimony from the interim auditor general. Then dinner at the NDP’s weekly pub night. Then a meeting of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association. Then back to the pub, where he won’t look particularly out of place among the hordes of young staff who quietly keep Ottawa running.
By John Geddes - Friday, September 2, 2011 at 8:00 AM - 19 Comments
An activist and an intellectual, Layton was the rare politician whose passion came from deep within
About a month after he led the NDP to its election breakthrough last May 2, Jack Layton was still at a loss to explain what had really happened on the campaign trail. The game-changing outcome was plain enough: his New Democrats had vaulted into second place for the first time ever, ahead of the Liberals. But what alchemy had occurred in the minds of so many Canadian voters, especially in Quebec, for Layton’s personal appeal to lift his party to government-in-waiting status?
Layton, a meticulous political pro who never went into an interview without a firm fix on what he wanted to say, for once seemed stymied by the question. “I’d go into the crowds and people would stop and have a word. There were a lot of personal words—I don’t know,” he said when Maclean’s asked him back in early June what had been different this time around. “There was certainly enthusiasm, but something deeper. I haven’t put my finger on the emotions, but there were more emotions there than in previous campaigns.”
More than even he might have realized. After his death last week following his swift second bout with cancer, those emotions found release as a national torrent of grief. And Layton had applied himself in his last days to channelling the outpouring to come. In an extraordinary merging of the deeply personal and frankly political, he worked with his advisers to ensure that his death drew attention to the convictions that drove him in life. Both the farewell letter they drafted and the funeral they planned aimed to inspire social democrats. Friends and family had often said that trying to draw a line between Layton’s public and private sides was difficult. In his passing, they became indistinguishable.
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 10:09 AM - 0 Comments
That mysterious substance guidance counsellors call ‘fit’ is not so mysterious anymore
Deanna Jarvis, the 19-year-old first-year student on our cover, says she knows the University of Guelph is the right place for her. She’s just not sure why. Maybe it’s the gold and red leaves that litter the campus in the fall. She could never live in a concrete jungle, she says. Perhaps it’s that Guelph offers a rare major (adult development, families and wellbeing) that will teach her how to help people. “I just like to listen to friends and help them,” she says. Or maybe it’s that Guelph is a big enough school to keep famous playwrights like Judith Thompson on staff. Jarvis, a parttime actor, is a huge Thompson fan. Whatever the reason, Guelph just seems to fit.
Parents, students, university presidents and even education marketers are trying to nail down exactly what makes a school fit. Traditionally, school size and city size were the shorthand for determining where a particular student should go. Big schools offer more cultural opportunities; tiny schools offer more personal interaction, or so the theory goes. Those rules still apply, but sociologist James Côté, of the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont., has found another predictor for what he calls the “goodness of fit.” His research found students do best when their inner motivations match what the environment has to offer.
By Philippe Gohier - Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Higher fees opposed by the province; so far, neither side has blinked
McGill University and the Quebec government have been locked in a stare-down ever since the school announced last year it would no longer abide by provincial caps on tuition fees for its M.B.A. program. The province promptly kicked up a fuss, and even threatened to fine the school for its insolence. So far, neither side has blinked—even though students are back in class and their tuition bills are in the mail. “We’re still in the same place we were several months ago,” says Peter Todd, the dean of McGill’s Desautels Faculty of Management. “We’ve made it clear we’re going ahead.”
The 56 students entering McGill’s M.B.A. program this fall will shell out $29,500 a year for the privilege. That’s about 15 times what Quebec residents will pay in tuition for any other master’s program at McGill, and more than five times as much as out-of-province Canadians. McGill’s M.B.A. fees are hardly out of whack with those of other top-tier programs across the country—Canadian residents beginning their M.B.A. studies this fall at the University of Toronto will have paid about $75,000 in tuition before the end of the two-year program, while those at the University of Western Ontario will be out $68,500 for its one-year program. (Like the University of Toronto’s, McGill’s is a two-year program.) The big difference is McGill didn’t wait for the government’s permission to announce the hike.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 24 Comments
How successful are grads in landing top jobs? How often is faculty members’ work recognized by other academics?
Maclean’s law school rankings assess graduates and faculty on key output measures. How successful are grads in landing top jobs? How often is faculty members’ work recognized by other academics?
Common Law Schools ranking
Rank Last Year Elite Firm Hiring National Reach Supreme Court Clerkships Faculty Hiring Faculty Journal Citations 1 Toronto (1) 1 4 2 1 2 2 Osgoode (2*) 10 1* 8 7* 1 3 McGill (2*) 3 6* 1 2 6 4 Queen’s (6) 12 1* 9* 4 3* 5 UBC (4) 11 12 6* 6 5 6 Dalhousie (7) 8 5 5 3 7 7 Victoria (5) 14 11 4 7* 3* 8 Western (10) 5* 1* 12* 9* 9 9 Ottawa (8) 13 9* 3 12* 8 10 Alberta (9) 7 8 9* 9* 10* 11 Saskatchewan (12) 5* 13 9* 5 13 *12 Calgary (11) 9 9* 12* 16 10* *12 New Brunswick (13) 2 16 6* 11 15 14 Manitoba (13*) 4 14 12* 12* 14 15 Windsor (15) 15 6* 15* 12* 12 16 Moncton (16) 16 15 15* 12* 16 Civil Law Schools Ranking 1 McGill (N/A) 1 2 1 1 1 2 Montréal (1) 2 1 4* 2 2 3 Laval (3) 3 5 4* 3* 3 4 Ottawa (2) 4* 3 2* 3* 4 *5 UQAM (4*) 6 6 2* 6 5 *5 Sherbrooke (4*) 4* 4 4* 5 6
The law rankings are comprised of two separate rankings: one for common law schools—the law of Anglo tradition and most provinces; and one for civil law schools—a law tradition practised in Quebec. Civil and common law schools were evaluated according to the same criteria.
Two universities appear in both the common and civil law school rankings: Ottawa and McGill. The University of Ottawa’s faculty of law offers two distinct streams, civil and common. Two different sets of numbers were used for the calculations of the two rankings. McGill’s faculty of law occupies a unique position in that it offers a fully integrated common and civil law program. As such, the same set of data was used in calculating the common and civil law rankings.
*Indicates a tie
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, January 15, 2010 at 2:40 PM - 32 Comments
Reviews of Michael Ignatieff’s university tour are in from the Winnipeg Free Press, Concordia Journal, McGill Daily, Varsity, Hamilton Spectator, Toronto Star, National Post, Montreal Gazette, Metro Halifax, Halifax Chronicle-Herald and Maclean’s OnCampus. Susan Delacourt reported from stops at Nova Scotia Community College and Dalhousie. At least one attendee so far has come away quite unpersuaded.
While Liberals were pleased with the event, one attendee was unimpressed. Burlington Conservative MP Mike Wallace came for the last 30 minutes and dismissed Ignatieff’s answers to students’ questions, saying he could say anything he wants because he does not have the responsibility of being prime minister.
By Paul Wells - Thursday, January 7, 2010 at 1:01 PM - 7 Comments
Here’s two three four videos that reflect some of the activity at my favourite university music faculty, the Schulich School of Music at McGill. Great teachers, wonderful students arriving all the time, great newish building by Saucier + Perotte, a real blend of tradition and innovation. First, excerpts from a documentary about keyboardist Tom Beghin’s ambitious project to record Haydn’s keyboard sonatas on instruments that sound like the originals, in a room that recreates the acoustics of the original rooms. I wrote about it here, but it’s so much more fun to see for yourselves:
Second, the trumpeter Kevin Dean’s new band, which will be playing at Upstairs this weekend (with Fearless Jim Doxas as the new drummer). I was a week out of Western when I heard Kevin for the first time, and I suppose I’ve heard him play 50 times since then. Here’s why.
More after the jump.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, April 15, 2009 at 1:11 AM - 0 Comments
CPAC has also uploaded three other sessions from the two-day policy conference: How Policy is Created in Crisis (William Watson, Mel Cappe, Phillippe Couillard and Peter Russell), Innovative Public Policy (Denis Saint-Martin, Leslie Pal, Pearl Eliadis, Mary Simon), and Media and Public Opinion (L. Ian MacDonald, Christopher Waddell, Nik Nanos, Sandra Buckler, Alain Dubuc).
By Colin Campbell - Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 12:10 PM - 0 Comments
Hockey’s latest craze is a game of nostalgia
Once a year, over a wintry weekend in January, les Coloniales hockey team takes to the ice in one of the biggest, most popular hockey tournaments in the country. They’re not kids, or rising stars—just a group of old university buddies, most of whom lived on Coloniale Avenue in Montreal as students at McGill. The game they play forbids hitting, fighting or bulky equipment. Their canvas: a patch of frozen lake in the great outdoors. And for the more than 150 other teams that join them for the Canadian Pond Hockey Championships in Huntsville, Ont., north of Toronto, it’s hockey at its purest. “It’s outside; it’s three days and lot of hockey with good friends,” says les Coloniales’ Adam Elliott, a 33-year-old who works in sales for an investment firm. “It’s probably my favourite weekend of the year.”
That kind of devotion to pond hockey—the game as it is played on a frozen lake, without goalies, and with only the most basic, self-policed rules—isn’t unique. Across the country and the northern United States, pond hockey has developed a quasi-religious following, fed by a nostalgia for a brand of hockey that has largely disappeared in the age of climate-controlled indoor arenas and hyper-competitive youth leagues. From Peace River, Alta., to North Bay, Ont., there are as many as 50 major pond hockey tournaments each winter, luring tens of thousands of players looking to brave the elements, play some shinny and, of course, drink a few beers.