Media releases

  • Brock University researcher says historical information on women largely hidden or absent

    MEDIA RELEASE: R00114, 3 June 2016

    Most Canadians agree that a prominent Canadian woman should appear on our money next year, according to a recent Angus Reid Institute poll. But agreement on exactly who that woman should be is a lot less clear.

    As an independent advisory council begins its public survey on a shortlist of a dozen names, Brock University scholar and professor Lissa Paul notes that historical information about women’s contributions to society tend to be hidden, absent or undervalued.

    Paul has written a book — and is writing another and editing a third — on English author and teacher Eliza Fenwick (1766-1840). Among her accomplishments, in the 1830s, Fenwick ran a school for girls in Niagara-on-the Lake and was the much-loved mistress of the Boys Boarding House for Upper Canada College in Toronto.

    During her research, Paul had to do a lot of creative digging to find materials for her books.

    For example, Fenwick was a close associate of William Warren Baldwin and Robert Baldwin, both influential players in the development of parliamentary reform in Upper Canada.

    Paul tried to search the extensive, cross-referenced collection of Baldwin family letters and other documents housed in the Toronto Public Library, but did not find a trace of Eliza Fenwick.

    “She wasn’t in the correspondence files or in any of the references, but when I pulled up the boxes of letters in the correct date range, sure enough, manuscript letters turned up,” says Paul. “Those documents are not named, because those were not regarded as important enough. References to Eliza were regarded as too insignificant and domestic to record.”

    Paul applauds the move to have a woman on a bill and says this could be one way of bringing the lives of neglected women of influence to the surface of public attention, and perhaps one step towards bringing women to other public spaces, such as buildings and streets.

    “Men Eliza knew in the 1830s, William Warren Baldwin and Lieutenant Governor John Colborne, live with us every day in Toronto — we can walk up the Baldwin Steps to Casa Loma or along Colborne Street,” says Paul.

    For more details of Paul’s research and her take on women’s historical records, see her article in Friday’s Globe and Mail.

    Professor Lissa Paul can be contacted directly at

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:
    * Cathy Majtenyi, research communications/media relations specialist,, 905-688-5550 x5789 or 905-321-0566

    * Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

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    Categories: Media releases

  • Brock University expert comments on Chinese official’s lashing out over human rights question

    EXPERT ADVISORY: R00113, 2 June 2016

    A Brock University professor and expert on Chinese issues says he’s not surprised with the fiery response by a Chinese official to a question about that country’s human rights record posed by a Canadian reporter Wednesday.

    Charles Burton, an associate professor of political science at Brock, said this type of response has been seen before.

    “I think it indicates the sensitivity of these issues and the difficulties these Chinese officials have in maintaining the official line on these matters,” he said.

    Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was in Canada Wednesday to meet with Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion in an unannounced “inaugural Canada-China Foreign Affairs Ministers’ Dialogue,” which Dion said was a way to discuss expanding partnerships between the two countries.

    But during a press conference in Ottawa, a Canadian reporter asked a question of Dion that touched on China’s human rights record including the disappearances of numerous Hong Kong booksellers, the detention of Canadian Kevin Garratt over spying accusations and China’s seizing of disputed islands in the South China Sea.

    Dion answered the question, but when a Chinese reporter asked an unrelated question to Wang, he turned to the Canadian reporter to address the previous question.

    “I want to make a response to the questions asked by this journalist about China. I have to say that your question is full of prejudice against China and arrogance. I don’t know where that comes from and this is totally unacceptable,” said Wang. “I have to ask whether you understand China? Have you been to China?”

    Wang went on to talk about his country’s record of helping people out of poverty and how it couldn’t have happened without the protection and promotion of human rights.

    “I would like to suggest to you please don’t ask questions in such an irresponsible manner and though we welcome goodwill suggestions, we reject groundless or unwarranted accusations,” Wang wrapped up by saying.

    Burton said Chinese officials are “trained on how to respond to questions about China’s human rights record raised by visiting officials and the press.”
    “The question was not unexpected. It was directed at Mr. Dion, so the Chinese Foreign Minister was not required to answer the question, but he chose to anyway.”

    Burton wrote an opinion column about the visit for Thursday’s edition of The Globe and Mail.

    Associate professor of political science Charles Burton is available for media interviews about the incident Wednesday and on the relationship between Canada and China.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:
    * Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

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    Categories: Media releases