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Jun 12, 2003

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A compendium of articles that appeared in the media during the last few weeks quoting members of the SFU community.

The unexpected poet laureate
Vancouver Sun, June 7

The current issue of Canadian Notes & Queries is devoted to documenting the process by which Parliament decided, in late 2001, that Canada should have an official poet laureate. Will Canada's first poet laureate be attacked “as a toady of the establishment or a bad joke of the avant-garde? Surely one or the other,” mused the Natonal Post's Robert Fulford on SFU English professor emeritus George Bowering's appointment. “I've always been living a kind of a compromise,” says Bowering. “I like to identify with the avant-garde or whatever you want to call it, but I've also, in comparison to my friends, always had a heck of a lot more to do with the literary power structure in Toronto than they did. So I always find myself trying to get people in the imperium to pay attention to what's happening on the edge and at the same time argue with some of my friends that there's some good stuff going on outside.”

Rising cost of insurance
CanWest Global TV News, June 5

The bank of Canada is so worried about the impact of sky-high car insurance - up 26 percent across the country - they have launched an investigation. While some point to costs attributed to rising injuries, SFU business analyst Lindsay Meredith says many insurance companies lost out big time by investing in risky stocks and are upping premiums to make it back. “A lot of these companies took on very risky investments,” he says, “Well frankly, if you're looking for those 20 or 30 per cent returns, you might as well put the money on the pony at the track because it's just as risky. By the way, when you take those big losses, you will have a problem. What are the insurance companies doing? They're coming back on the consumer and asking the consumer to foot the bill.”

No improvement for Canada's poor
Prince Albert Daily Herald, May 29

With less money to work with, provinces often funded health care at the expense of social assistance. On top of that, many provinces, including Ontario, cut taxes, leaving even less money for social programs. That fact is reflected in the demand for food banks across the country in the past 10 years, which has doubled, according to the Canadian Association of Food Banks. Krishna Pendakur, an SFU economics professor, says that a movement by voters toward more right-wing ideologies helps explain why the poor have remained poor. The majority of voters chose tax cuts over a more generous safety net. “If we really don't like (child poverty) we'd spend the money to mitigate the problem, which means raising the money, which means taxes,” Pendakur says. “When we say we don't like child poverty we're just lying.”

Travel bug: trying times in tourism
Vancouver Courier, May 28

Why should tourism matter to Vancouverites? Because it means a financial influx the economy depends on. But few appreciate tourism's importance, at least until it starts to fall apart because of problems like SARS and terrorism, and the local economy hurts as a result. That apparent indifference disturbs Peter Williams, director of SFU's centre for tourism and policy research. He says we need to get smarter and more committed about how we approach tourism, particularly at a time when current events have exposed weaknesses in the industry. “We haven't made it very easy for tourism investment in B.C.” says Williams. “We haven't recognized that tourism needs a secure land base.” He adds the region is “behind in the diversity” of its product, noting that today's traveller is more demanding.

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