SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - August 6, 2010

August 6, 2010

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A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news: July 30, 2010 to August 6, 2010.

The Simon Fraser University Pipe Band was a hot topic in the media as it prepared to win its third consecutive world championship. As a six-time champion, the band left this week for Glasgow, Scotland, to compete in the World Pipe Band Championships 2010.  This year’s event features a record number of participants – 239 pipe bands from 12 countries.

Also in demand was SFU associate English professor Paul Budra who provided some insight about an Angus Reid poll that said Canadians admitted they swore more often than their counterparts in the U.S. and U.K. Maybe it’s time to break out the soap to wash out our mouths…


  • Prior to its departure from Vancouver, several SFU Pipe Band members did interviews. Angela Burleigh and Thomas Buchan were on CBC Radio’s On the Coast, while Damien Burleigh was on CBC Radio’s The Early Edition, Terry Lee was on CBC TV Vancouver, and Reid Maxwell was to be a guest on CBC Radio’s North by Northwest show. Several CBC affiliates across Canada ran a preview of the band’s trip, including CBC Ottawa, CBC Calgary, and CHEK TV (Victoria), and it also aired on CBC News: The National. A video about the pipe band can be viewed on SFU’s YouTube channel: CBC is airing a documentary about the pipe band Aug. 7 at 7 p.m. for local viewers. Also, live streaming of the championships will be available from BBC Scotland, via


  • A new Angus Reid poll shows Canadians swear more than Americans and Brits. SFU associate English professor Paul Budra agrees. “I’m not surprised that we’re more foul-mouthed than Americans,” said in The Province. “They are much more religious.” According to the poll, about 56 per cent of Canadians say they swear in front of their friends, compared to 51 per cent for Britons and 46 per cent for Americans. CKNW radio and CBC Radio also interviewed Budra.


  • Tropical marine ecology professor Isabelle Cote received solid media coverage for her research showing protected marine reserves actually make coral reefs more vulnerable to climate change. Many experts believe a reduction in fishing and pollution help coral reefs survive in higher temperature, but Cote and her research partner, Emily Darling, dispute this theory. “If they can’t cope with fishing, they can’t cope with climate change either,” Cote said in The Vancouver Sun. In fact, the pair’s research shows unprotected coral reefs are more resilient. You can view their research here: The Vancouver Sun article was also published in The Star Phoenix (Saskatoon). Postmedia News and The Globe and Mail also interviewed Cote.


  • SFU economist Don DeVoretz and economics professor emeritus Herb Grubel were in an Ottawa Citizen article about immigration. Writer Margret Kopala believes many of those who come to Canada today contribute very little to society yet use many resources, unlike past generations of immigrants who helped build this country. According to DeVoretz’s testimony before the House of Common’s standing committee on labour, employment and immigration in 1990, he related how “tax performance, use of public services and savings behaviours are all predicated on rapidly rising immigrant income after their arrival. We are now finding just the opposite. Years of residence in Canada are coupled with a decline in relative earnings for this recent immigrant vintage.” Many of today’s new immigrants fall under the “family class,” made up of parents, grandparents, common-law partners and spouses who are sponsored. According to Kopala, this group often lacks language and job skills and don’t do very well in Canada. She cites a study by Grubel that said it costs Canada tens of billions of dollars annually to provide health, education and welfare services, and other expenditures, but we don’t get much in return. “That is a great deal of money to spend on those who many never get to pay taxes or serve in our armed forces, but who may qualify for welfare and social security benefits while competing for doctors, hospital beds and seniors’ facilities with veterans who have.”

  • The Vancouver Sun interviewed SFU communications adjunct professor Donald Gutstein about an upcoming provocative Time magazine cover. The image portrays a young Afghani woman whose nose and ears were cut off by the Taliban after she was caught trying to flee the country. In the accompanying Time article, the writer suggests “the withdrawal of the U.S. military and its allies could result in a revival of the Taliban at a devastating cost to the nation’s women.” Gutstein, who specializes in media research, said the message is “misleading.” In the Sun, he said: “It said that if Canada and the U.S. leave Afghanistan, this (mutilation) will be happening all over the place. However, it happened while the U.S. and Canada were there, so what does that really tell us?” The controversial Time magazine issue hits newsstands August 9.

  • CBS News interviewed SFU Health Sciences prof Bruce Lanphear as he prepared to testify in Washington, D.C., before a U.S. Senate sub-committee on children's health. It was looking at the progress of research into environmental causes of autism and other neurodevelopment disorders. Lanphear argued for a stronger policy on, and more funds for, autism research. He is principal investigator for a study examining fetal and early childhood exposures to environmental neurotoxins, including lead, pesticides, mercury, alcohol, PCBs and tobacco smoke.


  • In an opinion piece published by The Vancouver Sun, SFU’s Kennedy Stewart questions whether the 2010 Winter Olympics helped B.C.’s tourism industry. He reviewed passenger figures and discovered that passenger traffic at Vancouver International Airport decreased this past February when compared to previous years. While the global recession can be partly blamed for the decline, many predicted air travel to and from Vancouver would increase during the Winter Olympics. This leads Stewart to believe that most of the people who attended the Winter Olympics lived within driving distance of the Olympic venues. “In other words,” he wrote, “most of the money spent in and around Metro Vancouver during the Olympics appears to have come from the pockets of British Columbians. While this theory needs further confirmation, if it is true, then British Columbians spent $6 billion to have a giant party for themselves – and in doing so scared away foreign tourists and their much need vacation dollars.”

  • A report about carbon emissions issued recently by SFU resource economist Mark Jaccard continues to generate media coverage. For, Black Press columnist Tom Fletcher writes about B.C. proceeding with “cap and trade” restrictions on greenhouse gas starting in 2012, meaning big industry will soon have to pay for emission permits. The province’s top five biggest human sources of carbon dioxide, including gas plants, an aluminum smelter, and cement plants, contribute about one-third of B.C.’s greenhouse gases. Fletcher refers to Jaccard’s report which estimates “B.C.’s rapidly growing natural-gas industry will add 10 per cent more emissions to the provincial total, as carbon dioxide from shale gas is vented to the air.” Fletcher adds, “Jaccard’s study describes the carbon dioxide component of shale gas as substantially higher than traditional natural gas sources.” The story also appeared in Black Press newspapers, including the Campbell River Mirror.

  • Canadian Press quoted SFU’s Kirsten McAllister in a wire story about Parks Canada establishing a memorial site where an internment camp was built for Japanese-Canadians. The Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre, located in New Denver, B.C., has been declared a national historic site by Parks Canada. During the Second World War, Japanese-Canadians were brought to this camp and stayed until the war was over. According to the article, McAllister said, “It’s important for the memorial centre to be declared a national historic site because it’s a critical part of the country’s history.” The article appeared in newspapers, such as Okanagan Saturday, and on the website.

  • Off to the races: Hastings Racetrack general manager Raj Mutti was profiled by Yvonne Zacharias in The Vancouver Sun. The 28-year-old former SFU student was recently listed in a top “40 Under 40” list of racing executives in Thoroughbred Times, an industry publication. “It was very surprising but very neat as well,” Mutti said. “I was pretty excited.” He has worked hard to retain the racetrack’s customers and also attract a younger demographic. This article also ran in other Postmedia newspapers, including The Province, Leader-Post (Saskatchewan), and The Star Phoenix (Saskatchewan).


  • Vancouver Sun columnist Peter McKnight referenced SFU psychologists James Ogloff and Gordon Rose in an opinion piece regarding how it’s inevitable that judges make mistakes when delivering instructions to the jury. For example, in the Robert Pickton trial, B.C Supreme Court Justice James Williams only had hours to write his instructions to the jury based on law and evidence gathered from the testimony of 129 witnesses and 1.3 million pages of documents. Some justice systems – like in the U.S. – have started using “pattern” jury instructions, which are books of standardized instructions, to avoid mistakes. In his column, McKnight notes Ogloff and Rose have recommendations to make it easier for jurors to understand instructions, including: “instructing jurors repeatedly throughout a trial rather than at the end, addressing jurors’ misapprehensions about the law, and supplementing verbal instructions with visual ones, like flow charts, decision trees and computer-animated conceptualizations of law.”

  • Rob Gordon, director of SFU Criminology, gave his assessment of the senior Mounties who have spoken out against the RCMP commissioner William Elliott in a National Post article. Up to 10 deputy and assistant commissioners have complained to the Prime Minister’s Office about lack of progress in restructuring the police force and for being “verbally abusive.” But Gordon said the commissioner is in a tough spot. “Part of the problem was that the commissioner was brought in with a change mandate, but I’ not sure he really knows how to introduce, manage and sustain that change,” said Gordon. “He’s up against a monolith and I don’t think one individual would be in a position to do very much.”

  • Gordon was also interviewed by the International Business Times for an article focusing on Indo-Canadian gang activity in Vancouver. The reporter dispelled the notion that East Indian immigrants are a “model minority” in North America. He noted the vast majority of these gangsters are of Punjabi Sikh descent and typically come from middle-class families. “These are not impoverished people seeking a way out of poverty and despair,” said Gordon. “In this sense, they are quite different from the types of gangs one sees in the U.S.”


  • Rapper on the rise: SFU liberal arts grad student Shadrach Kabango was called a “hip-hop up-and-comer” in a The Whig Standard article about Kingston’s vibrant music scene. Better known as Shad, the rapper has just released a new album, TSOL, and has been performing at music festivals this summer. He’s had the opportunity to work with some of Canada’s top artists, such as Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning, and said it’s been exciting. “It does make you feel like you’re a part of (it),” he said. “When you make music, it’s all about the people that surround you.”

  • Just hanging around: Juggling is a tough skill to learn – now imagine doing it while upside down. SFU student Quinn Spicker was interviewed by the Surrey NOW after successfully setting a Guinness world record by juggling, while hanging upside down and strapped to a circus trapeze, for 12 minutes and 50 seconds. Spicker, who is studying film production, beat the previous mark of five minutes and 45 seconds. “I’m not really sure what the practical benefits of having a world record are, but it’s cool,” said Spicker, 18. The attempt was recorded and sent to Guinness for verification.

  • SFU grad student Lisa Ruth Brunner had her story about modern love published in the New York Times. In the article, she wrote about falling in love at young age while attending college in the U.S. Her crush was a girl she met at a party and it was love at first sight. “She was everything I dreamed of but never knew existed,” Brunner wrote. Keeping her romantic feelings mostly to herself, Brunner traveled the world, following the love of her life from China to Russia. In the end, she realized they shared a great friendship but nothing more. “One day she showed up with a new boyfriend. The only thing worse than losing her was the realization that I’d never had her.” The story is a great read – you can find it here:


  • Calum Miller is the latest student-athlete committing to SFU as the school joins the NCAA’s Division II ranks. Miller, who is from Grande Prairie but attended Douglas College in Greater Vancouver, will hone his golf game with The Clan’s varsity team this year. He’s looking forward to competing against U.S. collegiate golfers. SFU’s golf team will have 12 players – but only five get to play in a tournament. “I think before each tournament, they have a little tryout thing, but they said that the top two or three will go to all the tournaments,” said Miller, who plans to be a kinesiology major. “I’m pretty confident I can be one of those top players, as long as I keep up my game the way it’s going now.” Miller played in the MJT Odlum Classic this week, a PGA of British Columbia Junior Championship event, and was in the top-10 leading up to the final round.


  • SFU students continue to create awareness about cervical cancer in the media. CBC TV Vancouver did a story about Chantelle Chand and other students who held an information event in Surrey targeting South Asian women. “Cervical cancer is one of the leading cancer killers of women, especially in the South Asian community,” said Chand. She adds that less than 30 per cent of South Asian women are getting pap tests in the Lower Mainlaind, compared to 86 per cent of Caucasian women. Chand was also interviewed by CBC Radio’s Masala Canada show. You can listen to the interview here:

  • Island Tides newspaper (B.C. Gulf Islands) reprinted a news release regarding SFU paleontologist Bruce Archibald’s research about the amazing biodiversity in different climates. He and his colleagues discovered the answer might be the difference between summer and winter temperatures.

  • SFU energy economist Mark Jaccard’s concerns about shale-gas plants operating in northeastern B.C. continue to generate interest from the media. He was a guest on CBC Radio’s B.C. Almanac show talking about the amount of CO2 gas that is vented by these plants. “Shale gas is the new kid on the block but it has enormous potential for expansion in British Columbia, and if we expanded the industry and continued with the practice of just venting the CO2, that’s going to be quite a hit in the increase in our CO2 emissions,” said Jaccard.

  • The Burnaby NOW interviewed SFU statistics professor Carl Schwarz about the federal government’s plan to replace the mandatory long-form census with a voluntary one. A local organization, Burnaby Family Life, said it requires reliable census data in order to better provide social services to residents. It’s calling on the government to keep the status quo. Schwarz said making the census voluntary will result in inaccurate data. “Making decisions with poor data is worse than making decisions with no data,” he said in the article. “If you’ve got poor data, you make decisions with this aura of respectability that just isn’t there.” The Royal City Record also wrote an editorial supporting Schwarz’s position to keep the long-form census.


  • Parminder Parhar, owner of the Renaissance Coffee shops on SFU’s Burnaby campus, was recognized for his contributions to building a sense of community. CBC Radio’s Masala Canada show talked about Parhar’s creation of the Renaissance Community Service bursary. Valued at $1,000, it is awarded annually on the basis of demonstrated financial need and leadership and/or service to the university community or by representing the university in the surrounding communities. In an interview, Stephen Price with SFU’s Faculty of Science said it’s important for students to have a sense of community on campus, and adds that Parhar plays a big role in helping create it. In an interview with CBC Radio, Price said: “Parminder has an amazing ability to remember names. So, as a student, if you go up to his coffee shop and he’s there, he’ll say, ‘Hello Alice, how are you today? How are your studies going?’ Just the fact that someone is checking in on you as a student can give you a sense that people are noticing, that people care whether you are successful in your studies. It gives you entry into the campus community.” You can listen to the interview here:

  • Going places: The Link, a local Indo-Canadian newspaper, interviewed SFU economics student Imrahn Mitha, who has embarked on a trip to Malaysia and China to meet with government and industry leaders. According to the article, the 21-year-old is part of Global Vision’s Junior Team Canada, which promotes leadership through potential ambassadors between the ages of 16 and 25.  “My interest in politics and international trade is derived from a need to better understand humanity as a whole,” Mitha said. “My life has been a unique journey, enriched by a diversity of people, cultures, religions and faiths. I’ve come to realize that the only way we can bring about change is by committing to learning, respecting and understanding each other.” While in Asia, Mitha will deliver presentations on B.C.’s economy.

  • SFU physicist Howard Trottier talked about how a solar flare – described as a “solar tsunami – would increase activity with the Northern Lights in the Burnaby NOW. Greater Vancouver residents were advised to look at the northern horizon in a dark area, weather permitting. “I’ve almost never seen (the Northern Lights) in my entire life, to be honest,” he said. “This has a potential to be more noticeable.” The article also ran in the Delta Optimist.


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