SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - December 24, 2009

December 24, 2009

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A look at how Simon Fraser University and its people made news: Dec. 18-24, 2009

Prof. Mark Jaccard of SFU’s School of Resource and Environmental Management was in demand by media before, during and after the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change.
This week, for example, he did a prime interview with host Rex Murphy on the Cross Country Checkup show on CBC Radio. Next day, he spoke at length on the Christy Clark show on CKNW.  And then he wrote in the Ottawa Citizen.
Also in the news at least twice each this week: SFU earth scientist Brent Ward, marketing prof Lindsay Meredith and criminologists Rob Gordon and David MacAlister.


  • Energy prof Mark Jaccard told 500,000 listeners of CBC’s Cross Country Checkup that the agreement that emerged from the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change isn’t worth much right now, and the United Nations process had “too many people at the table.”
    Jaccard began by citing David Victor, international relations prof at UC San Diego. In Jaccard's words: “The real action would be a few key countries sitting down behind closed doors doing hardball kinds of negotiations that will even involve things like trade threats.”  (E.g. measures to restrict imports from countries that are large emitters and don’t do enough to control their emissions.)
    Jaccard continued:
    “What you really want to have there is a very few countries who actually are responsible for 80%-90% of emissions.  . . . Once the United States passes legislation, and the legislation has those hidden trade threats that I was talking about, then the hardball negotiations between a subset of countries, the major emitters, the major powers, can occur. . . .
    “What happened at Copenhagen was people saying ‘We’re all agreeing to set our own targets and we all agree we won’t go past 2 degrees (rise in average world temperature).’ Those two things won’t match up. It’ll be a much higher effect than that. . .  I don’t see anything out of that (agreement.)
    An MP3 recording of the interview is at:
    (It's roughly two-thirds of the way through the program.)
  • A day later, on the Christy Clark show on CKNW, Jaccard cautioned Canada against adopting tough emission targets without policies to achieve them (as, he said, the Chretien government did with the Kyoto Accord.)
    “Here, British Columbia is one of the world leaders now. We have three important aspects, or two policies and a policy target, that are so important. One is that we have a carbon tax that is rising. Now, it doesn’t have to be a carbon tax, it could be cap-and-trade. The second is we have an electricity policy that says you can’t build new plants that have emissions. And then the third, which is kind of a policy target, is our government said, ‘We have a target for 2020 but we’re going to work backwards and see where does that mean we need to be in 2016, and 2012.’ And very few governments do that. . . . I’m disappointed with the federal government in terms of policies. I think we should be showing leadership.”
  • Then in the Ottawa Citizen, Jaccard wrote in a guest column:
    “What is really needed in Canada is for environmentalists, government and industry to recognize we need to price emissions immediately (via cap and trade or carbon tax), and combine this with regulations on new vehicles, buildings and a few elusive emissions sources like pipeline leaks, landfills and animal wastes, in order to start the gradual process of shifting our economy onto a trajectory that reduces emissions in line with what other leading countries are doing.”
  • The Yukon News interviewed a Yukon SFU student who was in Copenhagen: Amber Church, Earth Science master’s student, and national director of the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition. “We need Canada to lead, follow or get out of the way. . . . We believe our input (from the Coalition) is very important. Our team partners at home in Canada play a very important role in this, too, by organizing candlelight vigils and other activities because, to be honest, the only thing that will shift the governments is a strong enough public opinion.”
  • Brent Ward, associate prof in SFU Earth Sciences, handled a string of media calls following a small but much-televised landslide, caused by a broken water main, on the Port Moody/Coquitlam border. He spoke to Fairchild Radio, The Province, GlobalTV, CityTV, CHEK-TV Victoria and the Tri-City News.


  • The Globe and Mail quoted marketing prof Lindsay Meredith in a story on the new VANOC website that allows people to resell 2010 Winter Olympics tickets—with a 20-per-cent handling fee to VANOC. Said Meredith:
    “The service fee is a pretty healthy markup. Are they making money? You can bet your boots they are. The technology isn't that fancy. They really want to eliminate, as best they can, the unseemliness of a whole bunch of scalpers standing outside Olympic events, trying to sell tickets at ridiculous amounts of money."
  • Meredith was also in a Vancouver Sun story on NBA basketball star Steve Nash buying Fitness World to add to his Steve Nash Fitness Club business. “What we call this is brand-line extension. You always want to have a logical brand extension, so Fitness World is a perfect link for [Nash]. It makes obvious sense.” By way of Canwest News Service, the story also ran in the Montreal Gazette.
  • Jon Kesselman, Canada Research Chair in Public Finance, wrote a guest column in the Globe and Mail on how federal and provincial finance ministers have begun struggling over ways to examine the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and to repair “Canada's patchwork system of retirement income security.” Wrote Kesselman:
    “Like most conflicts, the battle between Big-CPP proponents and supporters of enhanced voluntary savings and workplace pensions may not yield a clear-cut victory for either side. But some expansion of the Canada Pension Plan or an alternative mandatory scheme for employers and workers who save inadequately will be an essential element in any lasting peace.”
  • The Globe and Mail featured Canadian volunteers in Bangladesh, including a nursing education program. “The seeds for the project were sown about six years ago when John Richards—a Simon Fraser University professor and director of Vancouver's Mid-Main Community Health Clinic—met the head of a private Dhaka university who was visiting SFU. That encounter led to Mid-Main and the International University of Business Agriculture and Technology, based in Dhaka, teaming up on a nurse-education program.”
  • Political scientist Alex Moens wrote a guest column in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, on how “we are hurting from a thousand cuts as Canadian-American relations are caught in the strong currents of American security and economic nationalism.”
    He concluded: “Canadians must aspire to shape American policy towards Canada. According to an old quip, diplomacy is the art of letting the other guy have your way. Are we ready?”
  • Closer to home, the Globe and Mail featured efforts by Downtown Eastside Vancouver residents to find jobs as the neighbourhood undergoes revitalization, and followed the efforts of Duncan Sallie, 26, to get work after years on drugs.
    “A new 450-seat theatre opens next month at Simon Fraser University's school for contemporary arts in the redeveloped Woodward's complex in the heart of the neighbourhood. Similar to London Drugs and Nester's Market Grocery Store, the university promised to hire locally where possible.
    “Normally, the SFU jobs would go to students. But the university opened 10 positions as ushers and greeters to local residents. . . . Theatre manager Heather Blakemore was looking for people to work four-hour evening shifts at $10 an hour. Mr. Sallie shouted out he would work for less.” (In the end, though, “Mr. Sallie was not offered a job.”)


  • The Province featured the sound-and-light Christmas display (nearly 12,000 LED lights) at the Mattson home in Coquitlam. The designer and producer: Paul Mattson, 20, a biochemistry student at SFU.
    “I turned into a nocturnal creature to get it done. I tried to get all the lights up before finals, but it still coincided. You just hope for the best. . . . Programming the songs is the worst part. It takes six to eight hours for each song.”
    (For show hours and details:
  • Marketing prof Lindsay Meredith appeared on GlobalTV in a story about Coca-Cola, an official sponsor of the 2010 Winter Olympics, accusing Pepsi of a “distasteful” promotional campaign. It features car-flags with Pepsi’s logo beside the Team Canada hockey logo.
    Pepsi said it is merely supporting Team Canada at the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championships.  Meredith noted there is no mention of the Olympics. The campaign might be “close to the edge”, but “Pepsi is getting very good mileage out of this.”
  • The Vancouver Sun reported several conference and event spaces in Vancouver remain un-booked for the Olympic period despite big expectations. “UK House, a large conglomerate of United Kingdom businesses and corporations, recently reneged on renting Simon Fraser University's Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue after one stakeholder pulled out citing financial reasons, according to Anne McCaw, director of business development. . . . McCaw says they were fortunate to have filled the vacancy quickly with another Olympics-related event, though the change in plans created a hectic period for employees.”
  • “Something,” The Vancouver Sun reported, “is keeping British Columbians on the job longer.” Among reasons explored: “Andrew Wister, chairman of the gerontology department at Simon Fraser University, believes those who are dependent on their own investments for retirement may be working longer not because they lost money in the stock market—as many have already recouped their losses—but because of the uncertainty the recent stock-market crash caused.”
  • A Don Cayo column in The Vancouver Sun looked at new approaches by major philanthropists: “The trend is for big donors to take on the role of venture capitalist. To go big and be bold.” And he quoted Shauna Sylvester, a fellow at SFU's Centre for Dialogue.
    “Most foundations want to be sure you have at least half your funding in place. But there are innovative, or catalytic, philanthropists like Rudy North [of the North Growth environmentally focused foundation] who don't mind being the first in. Rudy was first in on the Great Bear Rainforest. He's not a bricks and mortar person—he's looking at how his dollars will leverage other dollars and catalyze change."
  • The Mission City Record wrote about how a think-tank of fisheries scientists is pressing for intensified research and better counting to try to pinpoint exactly where sockeye salmon are dying off in their life cycle.  “’There's basically a black hole of knowledge of what happens to these fish after they leave the Fraser and begin their ocean migration up the coast,’ SFU professor John Reynolds said. Sockeye returns collapsed in 2009, with just 1.4 million returning to the Fraser —the lowest number in 50 years.”
  • Burnaby Now picked up an SFU news release from last week that noted: “Student use of Simon Fraser University's food bank has more than doubled this semester compared with the same period last year. But coordinator Bonnie Miller thinks the increase may have as much to do with increased marketing over the past year as national trends.”


  • Rob Gordon, director of SFU Criminology, was in a national story by The Canadian Press on BC’s plans to have a number of police task forces and units combined into a single intelligence team to combat organized crime.
    Gordon said it's obvious the way BC has fought organized crime for the last year hasn't worked, and any improvement would be welcome. “Let's face it, they couldn't miss really. There's only one place to go and that's up. . . . The (illegal drug) industry is still there and it's thriving.”
  • In another national story, The Canadian Press explored whether the 2010 Olympics would attract crime and criminals. “The sudden rise in population should naturally create friction—lineups, crowded bars—and more opportunities for crime, says criminologist Martin Andresen of Simon Fraser University. ‘When you have more people out together, bumping into each other, you're going to have more fights and more people stealing stuff.’ But a visible police presence mitigates that, he says. Research has shown crime decreases not just where police are patrolling but also in adjacent areas.”
  • And In a third national story, The Canadian Press quoted Vancouver police as saying they expect relative calm in gangland during the Olympics.  And Gordon echoed that: “I think there is so much money to be made from the Olympics that's it's highly likely that there won't be much disturbance.”
  • The Globe and Mail noted prorogation of Parliament would slow Tory efforts to put more criminals behind bars and keep them there longer. Half the 30 bills on the order paper involve get-tough measures, and SFU criminologist David MacAlister said he wouldn’t be sorry if they died there.
    "I think anything that prevents the passage of what I consider to be ill-advised law-and-order amendments to the criminal law is a good thing."
  • MacAlister was also in a New Westminster Record report on the criminal use of bear spray, “which can be easily bought over the counter in New Westminster.”
    “David MacAlister, Simon Fraser University professor of criminology, said generally any spray to incapacitate people was illegal. ‘But, under the firearms regulations, it seems that if you possess it for the purpose of protecting yourself from bears then there is an exemption for that. . . It seems to me there is some vagueness in the legislation. How do you determine the purpose for which someone has it in their possession? . . . I think the trick is clearly defining the circumstances in which people are allowed to carry it.’”


  • Science Daily did a story on how researchers from SFU, the UK and Sweden have slammed the influential British Medical Journal for publishing an error-filled study on global war deaths, refusing a rebuttal article and having a flawed peer-review process.
    “This is not some trivial academic disagreement,” said Andrew Mack, director of the SFU-based Human Security Report Project. “Accurate statistics on the health impacts of war are critically important not just for researchers but also for humanitarian organizations whose assistance programs save millions of lives around the world.”
    Then Canwest News Service picked up the story and sent it to media clients across Canada.
  • Science Daily also featured an international research project that includes SFU Education prof Suzanne de Castell. “The Virtual Environment Real User Study (Verus) will explore the relationships between the real-world characteristics of gamers and the individual activities and group dynamics of their avatars in online virtual worlds. . . .
    “Education Professor Suzanne de Castell from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, said: ‘A small sample will be, initially at least, studied more in depth to see whether using technologies like eye tracking and skin temperature may reveal significant objective physiological correlations between players' real-world states and virtual-world situations and activities.’”
  • (an aboriginal news website based in New York State)reported on the growth of aboriginal tourism and cultural experiences in BC. It cited a report from SFU’s Centre for Tourism Policy and Research. Centre director Peter Williams said:
    “While the aboriginal tourism industry in British Columbia is still a relatively small sector, it has made some very significant strides in a very short period of time. . . . BC’s tourism industry should take note. Aboriginal tourism operators have found a winning niche in a very competitive marketplace.”


  • SFU finished #1 in the fall standings in the NAIA Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup contest—in a field of 106 universities and colleges.
    The Clan racked up 260 points. Azusa Pacific University (Azusa CA) stood second with 231 and Biola University (La Mirada CA) third at 219.33.
    The official news release noted the Clan finished the fall third in men’s soccer, fourth in women’s cross-country, sixth in men’s cross-country and 17th in women’s soccer.
  • Scott McLean, media, broadcast and sports information director in SFU Athletics, told media how the Clan men’s basketball team fell 69-59 to BYU-Hawaii at Laie HI. Kevin Shaw scored 19 points for SFU. BYU built up a 44-25 lead, and then held off a resurgent Clan.
  • The Province honoured high-school coaches, including Jennifer Eng, who coaches senior girls’ basketball at her former high school, Vancouver's Sir Winston Churchill Secondary.  The paper noted Eng is studying kinesiology and world literature at SFU.
    Eng said: “It is challenging to get kids to commit to practices and games and to work at a high level every time we're on the floor. We demand the best out of them. And part of the reason I keep coming back is that you see the kids improve with every practice. It is such a rewarding feeling."


  • The British University in Dubai told media about the appointment of Eugenie Samier to head its first Ed.D. program.  “Prior to her move to BUiD, Dr. Samier was Associate Professor for Leadership and Administration Studies under the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University.”


  • Marianne Meadahl of PAMR compiled and sent to media a list of story and newsfeature ideas (with names and contact info of willing SFU experts) to tide over the holiday times when assignment editors and reporters are saying: “But there’s no news. What on earth can we do now?”


  • This SFU-in-the-news report now takes a holiday break, and returns on Friday January 15.


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