Jon Kesselman

When Kesselman speaks, people listen

January 22, 2009

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By Susan Jamieson-McLarnon

Correction Appended

Jon Kesselman is always teaching, whether he’s in a class of SFU public-policy graduate students, on the phone with a reporter or writing an op-ed column for a major newspaper.

And the 2008 winner of SFU’s President’s Award for service to the university through media and public relations virtually always has information that is relevant and insightful to relate.

Kessleman, a Canada research chair in public finance, brings his encyclopedic knowledge of economic issues to whatever is "seizing the media’s interest at the time," he says, "reaching those who read daily newspapers and—broadly speaking—a public audience."

An SFU professor since 2004, his contributions to the public discourse are "significant and a clear benefit to Simon Fraser University’s reputation," says one award nominator. "They show the general public that universities are relevant to their concerns and have useful analyses to offer in economic and social policy domains."

Kesselman has been writing opinion columns for Canadian newspapers for 28 years—78 in all, including 33 since joining SFU and 12 in 2008 alone—on everything from income splitting and welfare rates to homelessness and tax reform.

And when Kesselman writes, politicians pay attention. For example, the country’s new tax-free savings account (TFSA), arguably the most significant advance in Canada’s tax treatment of savings since RRSPs, was largely his idea.

And his 2006 Vancouver Sun column headlined "A Whole $6! Every Day!" is widely credited for influencing the B.C. government’s decision to raise welfare rates for employable beneficiaries by 20 per cent.

Kesselman now leads student workshops on how to write guest columns—and 11 of his protégés have published columns so far.

Op-eds are "an art," he says. "They need a good lead, a certain tone. They need to be well-informed and persuasive. It‘s a special type of essay writing."

Correction: Feb. 19, 2009
The original, print version of this story mistakenly referred
to Jon Kesselman as the 2009 winner of SFU’s President’s Award; he is the 2008 winner.


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Sara Landriault

Kesselman thinks that income splitting isn't a good idea so paid working people can get dry cleaning,,, no I don't think many common sensors actually listen to him.

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