July 4, 2008

A look at how SFU and its people made news: June 28-July 4, 2008                    

BC’s carbon tax went into effect July 1—and continuing coverage in media across the country included a number of SFU professors.
SFU economists Mark Jaccard, Nancy Olewiler, John Richards and Jonathan Kesselman defended the tax.
Jaccard also criticized the NDP’s proposed version of the tax: “One wonders if the NDP should change its motto from ‘axe the tax’ to ‘tax to the max’.”
His comments stirred up an editorial debate in The Province about whether he is getting too political.


  • Energy economist Mark Jaccard wrote a guest column in The Vancouver Sun critiquing the NDP’s proposed version of a BC carbon tax.
    After researching the Danish model the NDP cites, Jaccard concluded: “A shift to the NDP-Danish ‘carbon tax at source’ will lead to higher taxes and less money in their pockets for typical middle- and low-income families in B.C. . . . One wonders if the NDP should change its motto from ‘axe the tax’ to ‘tax to the max.’
  • Meanwhile, there was a debate in The Province about whether Jaccard is getting too political:
    • A letter to the editor declared: “I don't appreciate Jaccard's silly and threadbare pretence to being non-partisan in his laughable little media pieces attacking Carole James and the NDP.”
    • The Province then weighed in with an editorial saying: “There is a fine line between (professors) offering thoughtful advice and engaging in partisan advocacy. It’s a line that Simon Fraser University Prof. Mark Jaccard appears to have crossed in his support for the B.C. Liberals’ carbon-tax policy.”
    • Jaccard replied with his own letter to the editor: “I have never met or communicated in any way with Gordon Campbell or former B.C. finance minister Carole Taylor, the architects of the carbon tax. . . . In the past 20 years, I have been appointed to energy policy roles with Conservative, Liberal and NDP governments across Canada. I have critiqued governments and opposition parties when their policies seemed wrong-headed.”
  • The Globe and Mail, The Vancouver Sun and The Province were among media that covered a forum of top economists who defended the new carbon tax. Among them:
    • Jaccard said a New Democrat plan to tax major emitters "at source" changes nothing: Fuel prices will still go up. “What we happen to have in British Columbia, for better or worse. . . is a provincial government that decided to be honest.”
    • Nancy Olewiler said that BC could finish up facing trade sanctions if it didn’t introduce a carbon tax. “If we don't have actions, we face potential [U.S.] tariffs and other trade barriers for our goods—think softwood lumber. There are many reasons to do it.”
    • Public policy prof John Richards lauded the Liberals for their pioneering approach to emission controls. "It is impossible to make major changes of this nature without there being political risk. For the first government that tackles it seriously, there is going to be controversy—and we are experiencing here in British Columbia that controversy."
  • Before the carbon tax went into effect on Tuesday, the Globe and Mail quoted Jaccard as wondering aloud if the Liberals might even back off. He called it “the best carbon tax I have seen in the world" but said:
    “I've seen politicians reverse themselves before after reading polls. . . If they see that the NDP, by misinformation or whatever, have gotten hold of a policy that might just help them win an election, then I wouldn't be surprised if the government dropped it, and I think that would set us back a huge amount.”
  • As gas in Metro Vancouver went to $1.52 a litre, SFU economist Jonathan Kesselman was in The Vancouver Sun, and on GlobalTV, saying the fact prices appeared to have risen higher than the carbon tax doesn't necessarily mean consumers are being gouged. “Let's look tomorrow and the next day, as well." And, he added: “A lot of people, when they think of the costs of driving, think of the gas (but) the wear and tear, the depreciation, the maintenance—those are, even at today's prices, at least double or triple what you're paying in gas."
  • John Richards was also in a Toronto Star story on the new tax. He said it’s essentially the same as that proposed by Stéphane Dion's federal Liberals, but the Dion plan exempts gasoline because there is already a federal excise tax on it.
  • The Globe and Mail reported Dion’s promise to harmonize his federal carbon tax with provincial carbon taxes such as BC’s. Jaccard was quoted.
  • A Province editorial cartoon showing a yelling lynch mob was headlined: “How the carbon tax is counter-productive.” And beside the cartoon was a quote from Jaccard: “I am just appalled at how much misinformation is being spread right now.”
  • Meanwhile, Jaccard’s work was cited in a column in the Victoria Times-Colonist that said: “The remarkable gulf that's opened up between environmental groups and the New Democrats on the carbon tax will be a wild card in the next election. . . . It's a major break on a core issue.”


  • The Vancouver Sun reported in a front-page story that engineers are considering raising Vancouver’s City Hall, and putting a rubber foundation underneath to protect the building from earthquakes. SFU earth scientist John Clague was quoted: "If you can put in this foundation that absorbs much of the energy, then the shaking of the building is correspondingly less, and it just means that the structure is less likely to be damaged."
    By way of CanWest News Service, the story also ran in the Victoria Times-Colonist, Kamloops Daily News and the Regina Leader-Post.

  • Burnaby Now picked up an SFU news release on the search for the “Greenest Person on the Planet Award”. It’s a contest dreamed up by Boyd Cohen, assistant prof in SFU Business. His web site (, which is devoted to networking and hosting all things green) has asked global greenies from more than 25 countries who is the greenest of them all. Vancouver-based Asian Pacific Post and South Asian Post also ran a story.
  • The Burnaby Newsleader featured local beekeeper Jaquie Bunse, who has some 50,000 bees in her rooftop hive. The story quoted SFU’s adept of apiculture, Mark Winston, as saying urban bees are crucial to cities. "I would call beekeeping more than a backyard hobby. They're an essential part of the new urban environment which is going to emerge over the next few decades."
    CBC Radio also pursued Winston for a story on the operation to save 12 million honey bees from a truck that overturned Monday on the Trans-Canada Highway in northwest New Brunswick. And the Alberni Valley News quoted him in a story on the high death rates of bees on Vancouver Island.
  • The Dawson Creek Daily News carried an item on a study showing how sea lice can migrate to larger fish from the juvenile salmon they plague. Brendan Connors, SFU behavioral ecologist, led the research team.
  • Business in Vancouver quoted communication prof Richard Smith in a story on a lawsuit filed by a Kamloops-based Internet service provider (ISP) against Telus. (It claims Telus has overbilled it by more than $1.1 million since 1997.) Smith said tension has existed between providers like Telus and smaller service providers for years.
  • The Province, GlobalTV, CKNW and CKWX all carried stories Tuesday after a hot-water line broke and flooded some areas of Chemistry and Biology in the Shrum Science Building on the Burnaby campus.
  • South Asian Post and Asia Pacific Post carried a story, based on an SFU news release, on Deyar Asmaro, the 2008 winner of SFU’s Terry Fox Gold Medal for overcoming adversity. A victim of school bullying, he turned his life around after three suicide attempts and has a GPA of 4.11 in his third-year psychology studies at SFU. The Calgary Herald and New York Sun picked up an earlier Province story on Asmaro.


  • The Edmonton Journal reported that the University of Alberta is introducing an emergency communications system just like SFU’s. “To host the system, the university has signed a two-year agreement with the California-based company 3N (National Notification Network), which has recently set up similar technology at Simon Fraser University and numerous American institutions, including Virginia Tech.”
  • Maclean’s magazine carried a story on the forensic mystery of the five sneaker-clad feet that have been found floating in BC waters. Star of the story was SFU’s Gail Anderson, complete with a photo, but (sigh) the story didn’t mention that she’s at SFU.
  • The Canadian Press looked at the soaring costs of Vancouver’s new Convention and Exhibition Centre, going from an original estimate of $495 million in 2000 to the current $883 million. The centre’s chief says it will be a success story, but Peter Hall, associate director of the Centre for Sustainable Community Development at SFU, and a prof in SFU's Urban Studies Program, said: “Given the cost overrun and given the changed circumstances (e.g., reduced convention travel because of fuel prices) it's very hard to see how that convention centre can have a net positive cost benefit.''
  • Anthony Perl, director of SFU Urban Studies, was on The Current show on CBC Radio, talking about the future of air travel in an era of soaring fuel prices. In the not-so-distant future, he says, domestic air travel may once again be only for people with money to burn.
  • Also on The CurrentRon Ydenberg, chair of the committee for the Nora and Ted Sterling Prize for work that provokes and/or contributes to the understanding of controversy. The story: the controversial award of the Order of Canada to Henry Morgentaler.
  • Speaking of controversy: Criminologist John Lowman was on As It Happens on CBC Radio, and in National Post, defending research into assisted suicides, proposed by sociologist Russel Ogden of Kwantlen Polytechnic University. KPU has nixed the proposal, and the Canadian Association of University Teachers is protesting and investigating. Said Lowman: "This kind of research is vital so the policy-makers can make decisions." KPU's decision, he added, "is a threat to the core foundation of the university, which is academic freedom." Lowman noted Ogden's earlier research into euthanasia and assisted suicide stirred up controversy when Ogden was a grad student at SFU in 1994.
  • Lowman was also in five Toronto Sun papers, in a column on legalization of prostitution. “Politicians get stuck like deer in headlights over the issue of prostitution. . . . You know who's paying the price—all the women who are being murdered on a regular basis on the street."
  • The Toronto Star picked up an SFU news release on a study finding that even a weak mix of pesticides in river water dampens a trout’s sense of smell. Keith Tierney, while at SFU, led the study with fellow toxicologist Christopher Kennedy. (Tierney now is at U of Windsor.)
  • The Windsor Star picked up our release on a report saying BC farmworkers face system-wide violations of employment standards and health and safety regulations, poor working conditions, and low enforcement by government agencies. Two of the authors of the report are Arlene Tigar McLaren, SFU professor emerita of sociology, and Gerardo Otero, sociology prof.
  • magazine featured Yale geneticist Lynn Cooley. Among those quoted was one of her first grad students: associate prof Esther Verheyen of SFU’s department of molecular biology and biochemistry.
  • The Malony Shrivastava Memorial Foundation issued a news release from a BC roundtable of researchers, donors and financiers of health research. They called for establishment of a Centre of Excellence in BC for research on herbal and other natural substances.  Among participants was Arun Chockalingam of SFU Health Sciences.



  • England’s Yorkshire Post reported that “scientists from Yorkshire have designed a trigger which could lead to the development of drugs to trick the brain into halting degeneration caused by illnesses of old age such as Alzheimer's disease.” One of the scientists, though, is really from SFU: chemist David Vocadlo. The story ran on a number of science blogs and websites around the world as well.
  • The Washington Post looked at the plummeting shark population in the Mediterranean, down by more than 97 percent. And the paper added: “Another team of researchers, headed by Nicholas K. Dulvy, a biology professor at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, found that in the open ocean, sharks that used to be an inadvertent bycatch for vessels seeking tuna and swordfish are increasingly being targeted for their meat and fins.” We also saw the Post story in the Winston-Salem (NC) Journal.
  • India’s Business Standard reported 40 foreign universities, now limited to offering exchange programs, want to set up real campuses in India. The story said SFU is one of the universities awaiting the government's nod to set up a campus.
  • Asian News International reported new research done in BC finds that, tens of thousands of years ago, “armadas of ice” crumbled off of the ice sheet covering North America into the Atlantic Ocean. And that may have led to icebergs calving off of another ice sheet into the Pacific thousands of miles away. All due to a “Heinrich Event”, which was explained in the story by SFU earth sciences prof John Clague:  “Heinrich Events are armadas of ice. They are massive discharges of ice.”  We saw the story in the Hindustan Times, half a dozen websites in India, one in Estonia and one in Thailand.



  • The Vancouver Sun’s sports pages carried a hefty feature on SFU’s new senior director of athletics, Dr. David Murphy. “‘I've always been intrigued by the uniqueness of the SFU athletic situation,’ explained Murphy earlier this week. ‘I used to look at the number of SFU football graduates there were in the CFL and say 'Wow.' I always said I'd love to find out just what's going on out there’."
  • The Kelowna Capital News reported that, after a year playing soccer at Baker University, Kansas, Kelowna's Carson Gill, 19, will play for the SFU Clan this fall. Clan head coach Alan Koch said: “He is a talented student-athlete who has shone in the classroom and on the pitch in the U.S., and I am excited to have him join us here in Vancouver."
  • Province sports columnist Ed Willes featured BC Lions centre Angus Reid, a former Clan star. Willes included some other SFU football names in the story: “Mark (Mark Reid, Angus’s eldest brother), started playing at Simon Fraser in the mid-'80s when Angus was still in short pants. An early regular at the Reid home was Giulio Caravatta, a freshman quarterback hopeful at SFU from Toronto, now the Lions' colour commentator.”
  • The Province also featured Lions right guard Dean Valli, another 24-Clan grad. He’s now a starter for the Lions.


  • The Georgia Straight gave advance promotion to the SFU Contemporary Arts tribute to actor Graham Greene, organized last week by Praxis. Greene is one of the participants in Praxis' summer screenwriting workshop. The Straight then had a reporter in the audience to cover the event.


  • Community papers continued to turn SFU news releases on local scholarship winners and recent grads into stories. The latest: the New Westminster Newsleader. Registrar Kate Ross was quoted, and the paper noted: “SFU is awarding more than $3.5 million in entrance scholarships for this coming academic year.”

ALSO in the NEWS

  • CBC Radio’s Early Edition show played a track from the SFU Pipe Band in an item about the BC Highland Games that were held in Coquitlam last weekend.
  • UNBC told media that former UNBC President Charles Jago (1995-2006) has been appointed interim president of UNBC for the next 12 months. Hereplaces Don Cozzetto who stepped down earlier this month. UNBC said Jago “will be assisted by former Simon Fraser University president Jack Blaney." Four newspapers in UNBC territory were among media carrying the story.
  • Burnaby Now noted that Kathy Louis was one of 15 recipients of the Order of B.C. She is the longest serving member (25 years) of the National Parole Board. She graduated from SFU in 1974.

SFU’s news releases can be found online at:
The university newsletter, SFU News, is also online, at

Search SFU News Online