SFU PEOPLE IN THE NEWS - December 24, 2008

December 24, 2008

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A look at how SFU and its people made news: Dec. 20-24, 2008              

This report now takes a vacation break, and will return on Friday Jan. 16, 2009.
Happy holidays to all. . . .


  • Economist Jon Kesselman, Canada Research Chair in Public Finance, wrote yet another guest column for the Globe and Mail, saying the federal government needs “activist fiscal policy” in its January budget.
    “Two areas are perfectly suited for increasing spending power: Employment Insurance and provincial welfare for employable persons. Fiscal initiatives for these programs should be structured to phase out or be self-financing after the economy recovers.”
  • An editorial in the Toronto Star urged Prime Minister Stephen Harper to listen to some western economists on how to help Canadians weather the recession. Kesselman was among those quoted:
    “Getting more funds into the hands of individuals who most need support and will quickly spend the money should take priority over cutting personal or business taxes."
  • Recession or not, The Canadian Press reported the sales of 2010 Winter Olympics merchandise have been going well. But, CP noted, The Bay recently ran a sale discounting Olympic products by as much as 50 per cent, making it difficult for smaller shops to compete. CP quoted marketing prof Lindsay Meredith: “The only thing you can hope for is that the (smaller retailers) aren't located anywhere near a Hudson's Bay store and that will allow them some insulation.” We saw the story in half a dozen papers.
  • The Toronto Star looked at efforts to unseat the mayor of Vaughn ON. Among those quoted on the subject of recall laws was political scientist Kennedy Stewart. BC has recall legislation, he said,but it just isn't really part of the municipal culture here. It's not part of the Canadian culture, really."
  • Iran’s Farsi Press interviewed Eric Hershberg, director of Latin American Studies and president of the Latin American Studies Association, on Iranian relations with Latin America.


  • Metro’s Vancouver edition noted that with many workers dealing with layoffs or the worry of being let go in the New Year, the holiday season is turning out to be particularly stressful. Metro spoke with SFU psychologist Joti Samra:
    “(The holidays) are one of the worst times of the year to be worried about finances.” Her advice: Be adaptable and keep the family in the loop. The Vernon Morning Star also ran the story.
  • The Georgia Straight looked at the costs of housing the homeless and cited an SFU study on Housing and Support for Adults With Severe Addictions and/or Mental Illness in British Columbia. The Straight quoted one of the report’s authors, Julian Somers, director of SFU’s Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction:
    “When we start to get into the long-term solutions, housing where people can be stable for months and years, that’s when the costs start to go down.”
    The study was also cited in SFU grad Daphne Bramham’s column in The Vancouver Sun, commenting on the death of a homeless woman who burned to death on a Vancouver Street as she tried to warm her makeshift shelter. The column was picked up by the Kimberley Daily Bulletin and the Cranbrook Daily Townsman.
  • Burnaby Now promoted SFU biologist Carl Lowenberger's campaign to raise funds to buy mosquito nets for African children, as part of the UNICEF Spread the Net challenge. The paper included this: “To donate to the campaign go to”
  • The Vancouver Sun reported more than a quarter of university-educated immigrants in Vancouver are still working in low-skilled jobs a decade after arriving in Canada. Don DeVoretz, an economics prof who studies immigration, said the best solution may be to stop admitting immigrants based on their level of education and instead develop an employment-based immigration system that admits those who already have a firm job offer here.
  • The Prince Rupert Daily News quoted energy guru Mark Jaccard as saying the current economic climate and dropping oil prices should have no ill-effect on two projects in the region that plan to generate electricity via wind power. He said BC needs diversified power projects, and they are completely independent of oil prices.
  •, aBC news-and-opinion website,launched Media Links, a new column about news media and democracy. The author: masters student Steve Anderson of SFU Communication, co-ordinator of the Campaign for Democratic Media and “one of Canada's foremost activists in the area of democracy and media reform”. also explored the idea of “voter-funded media”.But it quoted Kathleen Cross, lecturer in SFU Communication, as saying: “There's a lot of resistance to channelling public funds into something that supposedly doesn't have accountability. When you look at the kind of critiques of the CBC in the last 10 to 15 years, it would be even more so with this kind of a system."


  • Canadian Business wondered what is behind Bernard Madoff’s stunning $50-billion Ponzi scheme. It quoted SFU Criminology director Robert Gordon as saying common factors in such cases are greed plus an overabundance of confidence:
    "With these two motivating factors you can see how someone would plunge headlong into forms of behaviour that, quiet clearly, would lead to reasonably high levels of detection.”
    But it becomes hard to quit: “They aren't able to calculate the risks, or they fail to see the increasing risks they're facing. Those who do get away with it are the people who take the money and run, though they run in a very elegant way and usually raise no suspicion when they pull out."
  • The Vancouver Courier reported foot patrols by Vancouver police officers in the Commercial Drive corridor will continue indefinitely because the area is seeing a decrease in street disorder. The papers said the action was prompted in part by a 2007 study co-authored by PhD student Valerie Spicer for SFU’s Institute for Canadian Urban Research Studies.
  • The Vancouver Sun wondered if the bleak economy could drive more Canadians to crime. One of those it quoted was SFU economist Stephen Easton. “I think that organized crime on one hand, is like all of us—the scale of economic activity affects its behaviour and when that scale is reduced because you are in recession, the scale goes down a bit. On the other hand, there is a bit of substitution, as people find times harder, they are willing to do more illegal things to make a buck.'' Canwest News Service sent the story across the country.
  • The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Times covered a court case in which criminologist John Lowman testified that Canada's prostitution laws endanger the lives of sex trade workers. He said the “communication” laws have forced more prostitutes into isolated commercial and industrial areas—and murders of prostitutes.


  • Burnaby Now and the Burnaby NewsLeader reported that the newest members of the Burnaby Sports Hall of Fame will include Brit Townsend, who coached the Clan women's cross-country team to five consecutive NAIA titles and the women's track team to the outdoor title in 2005; former Clan athletic director Lorne Davies, “the man who created the first athletic scholarship program in Canada”; and basketball player Bob Hieltjes, the Clan’s the third all-time leading scorer. They will be inducted Feb. 19.
    The Tri-City News carried a feature on Hieltjes, a Coquitlam firefighter.


  • Michael Fellman, history prof emeritus, reviewed in The Vancouver Sun the book The Wordy Shipmates, in which author Sarah Vowell explores the Puritans’ “New England effort to create a godly commonwealth.” The footnote on the review reported that Yale University Press will publish in 20009 Fellman’s latest book, Twisting the Flag: Reconsidering Terrorism in American History.


  • The Comox Valley Record told readers the Comox Valley School District would receive a B- if it were assigned a grade for achievement by aboriginal students. The story cited a recent report from the C. D. Howe Institute, with public policy prof John Richards as co-author.
  • Burnaby Now, the New Westminster Record and the Trail Daily Times picked up a guest column co-authored by political scientist Marjorie Griffin Cohen saying: “The B.C. government should adopt a poverty reduction plan that includes concrete and legislated targets and timelines to dramatically reduce and ultimately eliminate poverty.” The column cited a recent report saying an economic downturn is the perfect time to tackle poverty. Griffin Cohen was one of the report’s seven co-authors; doctoral candidate Trish Garner of SFU Women’s Studies was another. The report was published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) and came from the Economic Security Project, an SFU/CCPA partnership.

ALSO in the NEWS

  • Numerous media reported the death from cancer Dec. 21 of Jim Fulton, executive director of the David Suzuki Foundation and former MP. Many outlets mentioned that he was an SFU grad.
  • The Globe and Mail looked at the growing number of women sportscasters—and at how “the importance of their physical appearance has increased.” Among sportscasters quoted was Sara Orlesky of TSN. The Globe noted she’s an SFU grad.



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