SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - April 30, 2010

April 30, 2010

Document Tools

Print This Article

E-mail This Page

Font Size
S      M      L      XL

Related Links

A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news: April 23-30, 2010

BC’s new Harmonized Sales Tax, a “momentous” decision in the House of Commons, a challenging look at the BC economy, and a spreading plague of voracious lionfish.
All were stories that put SFU experts” into the news during the week.
So did marine oil-spill disasters, cuts in cruise-ship traffic, plans for the site C dam, and a new technique that will accelerate the creation of stronger anti-viral drugs.
More on these, and other stories, below.


  • Columnist Vaughn Palmer in The Vancouver Sun broke the news about a paper from public policy prof Doug McArthur, that was presented today (April 30) to a conference organized by BC NDP leader Carole James.
    Wrote Palmer: "The groundbreaking part of the paper, at least in terms of the priorities articulated by the New Democrats over the last decade or so, is McArthur's emphasis on the need to promote wealth creation in order to pay for government programs."
    He quoted McArthur: "Overall the economy became less diverse and more concentrated over the last few years. Unless sufficient numbers of new jobs are created in sustainable, high-value sectors, the long-term prosperity of the province cannot be assured."

  • Jon Kesselman, economist and public policy prof, was again in the media during the week with his defence of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST).
    He did a live appearance on the BC Almanac show on CBC Radio, and took questions from callers. As well, he was quoted at length in a story in the Prince Rupert Daily News:
    “‘Some losers will arise in sectors that have enjoyed a tax-preferred status for many years, such as restaurants and home construction,’ says Kesselman, a co-originator of the Tax-Free Savings Account.
    ‘But overall British Columbians will gain through a more competitive business sector yielding, over time, more investment, increased employment, and better-paying jobs.’”
    Kesselman was also cited in the BC legislature. The Province quoted Finance Minister Colin Hansen:
    “We had the benefit of an analysis that was done by SFU economist Jon Kesselman just last week, and in there it points out that low-income families in British Columbia will be, in fact, if not better off, at least no worse off as a result of the harmonized sales tax."

  • Michael Markwick, lecturer in SFU Communication, was on CKNW, speaking at length (and taking calls from the public) on the “momentous” decision in the House of Commons by Speaker Peter Milliken. The decision upheld Parliament's right to see uncensored documents concerning Afghan detainees, whether they were tortured, and what Canada knew.
    Markwick’s message: “Milliken has made a momentous decision, one that protects the best traditions of Canadian democracy.  His ruling that Parliament has an ‘absolute’ right to obtain government documents is vital for the preservation of its constitutional role of scrutinizing the executive branch.”

  • Warren Gill, SFU’s vice-president of university relations, wore his transportation geographer’s hat as he appeared on GlobalTV to talk about Vancouver’s expected loss of some 300,000 cruise-ship passengers this season.
    It’s not just the money that stopover tourists spend, he said, but also losses to companies who supply the ships with goods and services. “The loss to the BC economy is hundreds of millions.”
    He cited competition from Seattle, and tax moves by Alaska. “Alaska killed the goose that laid the golden egg” with a head-tax on cruise-ship passengers, and casino taxes. “They kept thinking it would go on for ever and  . . .  we've really seen an effect with cruise lines, Holland America, Princess, pulling ships out of Alaska. This is a footloose industry. It can go anywhere, and so it's gone to Europe, gone to other places.”

  • Marjorie Griffin Cohen, SFU political scientist, former board member of BC Hydro and founding chair of Citizens for Public Power, wrote a guest column in The Vancouver Sun on BC government plans for the new Site C dam, a project she once opposed.
    “My mind was changed about Site C primarily because of the damage caused by the B.C. government's policy on electricity. (The government) has relied primarily on promoting private run-of-river hydro projects for new supply.  The private and piecemeal planning that occurred through this incremental privatization of electricity has encouraged a disastrous plunder of B.C.'s rivers.”
    She added: “My support for Site C is not unconditional, though. Site C should be owned by British Columbians exclusively through BC Hydro, just as are other large hydro assets. So far there are no assurances from the government on this. . . . All bids for future run-of-river private power should be eliminated.”

  • Public policy prof Kennedy Stewart was in a Vancouver Sun story that determined that more than 4,500 businesses and individuals made donations to city-hall candidates in Metro Vancouver in the lead-up to the November 2008 election.
    Stewart said developers have the most to gain. "It's not hard to connect the dots between donating to political campaigns and trying to influence policy. Why else would you do it? And I think the same goes for unions. They negotiate contracts. Wouldn't it be great to have friendly politicians doing it?"
    He said of campaign-donation restrictions in BC: "I would say we are not the absolute worst, but we are probably near the lower end of the pack of provinces."
    The Sun also described difficulties in obtaining the information on donations, and quoted public policy prof Patrick Smith: "We haven't been able to follow the money very well. The best tracking device is to know what is going on, but there has been so much resistance, and that is very telling to me."

  • A Vancouver Sun blog was first to report that “The Vancouver Institute for Visual Analytics, bringing researchers from the University of B.C. and Simon Fraser University together in collaboration with industry partners, launched Monday with a $1.25-million investment from the Boeing Co.
    "‘There is a great opportunity for bringing people together not only across universities but with companies,’ said Fred Popowich, director of the new institute that will be based at SFU but includes researchers from both universities.”
    Popowich is a faculty member in SFU Computing Science and associate dean of the Faculty of Applied Sciences (FAS). Also quoted was Tracy London, director of advancement in FAS. And the Sun story named as principal researchers profs John Dill of SFU Engineering Science and Brian Fisher of SFU’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology.

  • The Tri-City News and Coquitlam Now reported that Coquitlam resident Sara Swenson, senior research grants facilitator in SFU Applied Sciences, is among nominees for the YWCA's annual Women of Distinction Awards. She is co-nominated, in the category of education, training and development, with Dawn McArthur of Vancouver, from the Child & Family Research Institute. Both are active members of the Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology.

  • Faisal Beg, assistant prof in SFU Engineering Science, was featured in the Burnaby NewsLeader. Beg plans to climb Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro in September as a fund-raiser for the Alzheimer Society of BC.
    “His work involves using MRI images of known Alzheimer's patients and mathematical techniques to measure the properties of different areas of the brain.  . . . ‘The scary part is we don't know what causes Alzheimer's, and there is no cure,’ Beg said. ‘But we can manage the symptoms if it's detected early on.’" (You can donate at

  • Celebrities Itzhak Perlman and Bramwell Tovey weren’t the only concert musicians blasting the idea that the Vancouver School Board save money by eliminating school band and strings programs. Yaroslav (Slava) Senyshyn, concert pianist and prof in SFU Education, was on CBC Radio calling for the programs to be saved. (Later in the week, the school board announced the programs would not be cut.)

  • Columnist Malcolm Parry in The Vancouver Sun told readers: “Eminent citizens filled the Four Seasons hotel ballroom Wednesday, when Simon Fraser University chief Michael Stevenson handed the President's Distinguished Community Leadership Award to Art Phillips and Carole Taylor. It was Stevenson's last such do, as he and wife Jan Whitford are ending a 10-year hitch at the downtown-and-mountaintop varsity.”
    And the Globe and Mail wrote: "It was a fine evening when glam couple Carole Taylor and Art Phillips received Simon Fraser University's annual community leadership award. . . . But most of all, the occasion was a reminder of just how much this city owes Art Phillips."


  •, a website of the Discovery Channel, reported that lessons learned from the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989 in Alaska are front and centre as thousands of gallons of crude oil a day erupt from the sea floor in the Gulf of Mexico at the site where an oil rig caught fire and collapsed. Among the tough lessons is one from a research team led by Daniel Esler, adjunct prof and university research associate in SFU Biological Sciences.
    “"Most of the residual oil (from the tanker Exxon Valdes) and especially the stuff that's still potentially toxic to wildlife is buried in the sediment of the beaches.’ Esler said. ‘If you were there right after a storm or if an otter had just been there digging, the oil would still be liquid and still have an odor to it."
    Discovery noted that salt marshes along the Gulf Coast, like the shallow shore areas of Alaska’s Prince William Sound, provide sediments and lots of little pockets where oil can be trapped and stay. "If it does make it to the beaches and the marshes, the lesson from the Exxon Valdez is that it's likely to be there for a while and it's not going to be good for wildlife," Esler said.
    AOL News picked up the story. also ran a story quoting Esler.

  • The Associated Press reported a new campaign to reduce the number of lionfish—“the Western Hemisphere's worst oceanic menace.” The new idea: sponsor fishing tournaments and market the lionfish to restaurants. Stephanie Green, a doctoral candidate in SFU Biological Sciences, told AP about the voracious lionfish:
    “It really is quite extraordinary how far these fish will potentially be able to spread, in terms of temperature tolerance. All the way down to Brazil and South America could potentially be lionfish territory."
    The Canadian Press distributed the story across Canada.

  • Complete with his front-page picture, John Clague, SFU geologist and natural hazards expert, was in the Chinese-language Epoch Times, saying poor quality housing in the Qinghai earthquake zone caused so many casualties. (The known toll from the 7.1-magnitude earthquake of April 14 is more than 2,200 dead and 100,000 homeless.) Clague added that the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in southwest China faces further seismic activity.

  • Colleague Glyn Williams-Jones, a much-quoted volcanologist in SFU Earth Sciences, was on the Fanny Kiefer Show on Shaw-TV in BC talking about the erupting volcano in Iceland. The show was then rebroadcast on Radio Canada TV Montréal, where it ran with a French translation scrolling across the screen. A CTV station in Kenora ON carried it, too.
    Said Williams-Jones: “(Iceland is) very young geologically, 50 million years, where a new ocean crust is forming. You can go to Iceland and part of you is going out to Europe and the other part is going to North America. . . . In this case there were signs you could see, the ground inflating somewhat as magma is moving. It's coming up from depth.”

  • Also on the Fanny Kiefer Show on Shaw-TV was Gordon Price, director of the SFU City Program. What makes for a healthy city? “You can use that definition of sustainability, economic and social. And I think you have got to look at a city through those prisms. You don't just judge by whether the city is efficiently run. It should be. You don't just judge whether it's healthy economically. You put the three together and Vancouver is a pretty healthy city on a whole.” The show then ran on CBC-TV in Montreal.

  • Canwest News Service looked at how the internet is losing its utility to spread “meaningful protest” and generate meaningful support for causes. The story said in part:
    “‘We're seeing a proliferation of initiatives and sites that promise connection to a social issue but are ultimately benign,’ says Martin Laba, director of the School of Communication at B.C.'s Simon Fraser University. ‘Without a doubt, it's making the efforts of activism ever more daunting. . . .
    “‘It would be nearsighted of us to extrapolate that all activism that uses digital technology is somehow diminished, but there's merit to the argument that we're witnessing a decrease in our commitment and capacity to act on social issues because new media requires no effort, and very little thinking.’"
    We saw the story about “slacktivism” in National Post, The Vancouver Sun and the Montreal Gazette.

  • Tony Wilson, adjunct prof in the Applied Legal Studies Program in SFU Criminology, wrote in his regular column in the Globe and Mail a warning to business about electronic documents.  They can finish up being changed without you noticing, or can enable recipients to  “learn a lot more about your document, your business and you than you might think. Or want.”

  • The Switzerland-based science website of picked up an SFU news release. “In anticipation of another influenza pandemic like the one that killed 100 million people in 1918, Simon Fraser University scientists have developed a new technique that will accelerate the creation of stronger anti-viral drugs. The journal Nature Chemical Biology has published online the findings of SFU chemist Andy Bennet and PhD student Jeff Chan. Using a specially equipped nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer, Bennet and Chan are speeding up the scientific search for molecules that disrupt the chemical workings of an enzyme that helps flu viruses to spread.”

  • The Toronto Sun group of newspapers said 28 health organizations have told MPs that scrapping Canada’s long-gun registry would undermine a curb on suicides. But SFU Business prof emeritus Gary Mauser told the Sun: “The gun registry only keeps track of guns; it does nothing to screen individuals.”


SFU Athletics fed info to media as:

  • The Clan track and field team reclaimed the Achilles Cup, defeating the UBC Thunderbirds 122-107. The Clan now leads the Achilles series 4-3-1.
    The Clan dominated the women’s side of the meet 77-38. Helen Crofts led the way, winning the 1500m and 400, and running the final leg of SFU’s winning 4x400m relay team.  On the men’s side, UBC defeated SFU 69-45. Ryan Brockerville was the Clan’s top performer, winning the 800m and finishing second in the 1500m.  Palo Alto CA.
    The team is back in action this weekend at the Payton Jordan Invitational at Stanford University, Palo Alto CA.

  • Crofts was named the Association of Independent Institutions female Athlete of the Week for the week ended April 26. Crofts is currently the top-rated 800m runner in the NAIA and will lead SFU into the 2010 NAIA National Championships in late May.
    (The Vancouver Sun also selected Crofts as its female athlete of the week, as the result of an earlier performance. “Competing in the invitational section of the women's 800m at the 2010 Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif., on Saturday, the Simon Fraser runner posted the fastest times in the NAIA this season against a field featuring NCAA champions and Olympians.”

  • The Clan softball team split a doubleheader with the Western Washington University Vikings (future NCAA rivals), losing the opener in Bellingham 5-3 but winning the nightcap 3-2.
    The team went on to lose a doubleheader to another NCAA rival, the St. Martin’s University Saints in Lacey WA, 6-5 (that loss is under protest) and 4-2. SFU filed a protest against the winning run in Game 1 and awaits the outcome.

  • Clan sophomore Kristjana Fridfinnson was selected by Volleyball Canada to participate at the 2010 national women’s open high performance camp May 2-4, at the University of Manitoba. Selected athletes from the open camp will have the opportunity to stay for the official Volleyball Canada 2010 selection camp May 5-8.

  • Athletics also told media about the latest episode in the Clan Confidential videos. Produced by Clan media relations student assistants, Olivia Brennan and Ramesh Ranjan, the latest video features (with tongue in cheek) the SFU softball team. It’s on the Clan Facebook Fan page at:

Also in sports:

  • The Abbotsford News reported Greg Bowcott of Abbotsford’s Rick Hansen High School Hurricanes—“perhaps the most coveted quarterbacking prospect in the province”—will head for the Clan football program in the fall, thanks to head coach Dave Johnson. “I've built up a really good relationship with Coach Johnson over the last three years. All the players there at SFU really love to play for him, and it really feels like home."

  • The Bellingham Herald said lineman Garrett Kirshman of Squalicum High School will also join Clan football. Kirshman said the move isn’t just about the football and the Clan’s move to the NCAA. "They've got the best criminology department in the world."

  • Burnaby Now noted that Colby Kulhanek, a winger with Western Hockey League experience, will join the SFU Hockey Cub for the next B.C. intercollegiate season. The club’s general manager, Jeff Dubois, said: "He is a talented winger who should provide an immediate offensive boost to a strong returning group. He's also a solid physical presence who has succeeded at a very high level of junior hockey."


  • Several more media outlets, including the Montreal Gazette, ran a Canwest News Service story from last week on how two Canadian geologists—one from SFU—have pieced together a portrait of the largest landslide in North American history, a colossal BC avalanche about 10,000 years ago that permanently shifted the Continental Divide. Grad student Nick Roberts of SFU Earth Sciences said: "Despite its size, this landslide has gone virtually unrecognized (in the scientific literature).”

ALSO in the NEWS

  • The Globe and Mail carried an obituary feature on Jim Rimmer, printer, illustrator, graphic designer, typographer—and designer of the typeface of the letters SFU on the university’s red-block logo. (Rimmer died Jan. 8.) The story noted:
    “Not long ago, Simon Fraser University called on the semi-retired printer to design a new logo based on the suburban university's three-letter initials. He began sketching with pen and paper, before digitizing his work on a tablet computer.
    "‘I began with a typeface developed 50 years ago called Optima, but I completely changed it in every possible way except that the original flavour is there,’ he told a university publication. ‘The proportions, the width of the letters to their height, are different. Things like the placement of the cross stroke in the F are different. Even the shape of the F—the top and the bottom—is different. (The logo) has more of an organic look to it, not mechanical.’"
    (The special collections and rare books department at the SFU Library, Burnaby campus, has a substantial collection of Rimmer’s works.)

  • CTV News in BC featured the Cinderella Project, which helps students from underprivileged families stay in school—and provides them with formal attire “so they can attend their graduation festivities with pride.”  Featured as an example, and also as a community volunteer, was 17-year-old Alicia Hall of Burnaby, who will soon be heading to SFU. “I got accepted to SFU for political science.” The story then ran across Canada on the CTV News Channel.

  • The Canadian Press reported that Dave Cobb, second-in-command at the Vancouver Olympic organizing committee, is expected to become the new CEO at BC Hydro. The CP story noted: “Prior to the Games, he spent 12 years working with the Vancouver Canucks hockey team in business and financial operations. He has a background in accounting and a degree in business administration from Simon Fraser University.”


Twitter? Facebook? YouTube?
Follow us via:


Commenting is closed
Comment Guidelines
Search SFU News Online