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July 7, 2005

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Canadians coming out of their shell?
Grande Prairie Daily Herald-Tribune, June 30

Canadians have come out of their collective shell, according to recent international public opinion surveys and pop culture references and that brashness was recently singled out by newly appointed Canadian ambassador to the U.S., Frank McKenna, who says Canadians are displaying a self-righteousness that isn't very flattering. “It is a paradox of the Canadian psyche that we're incredibly proud of our humility,” says Paul Budra, a pop culture expert and English professor at SFU. “When we go travelling, we stick the Maple Leaf pins all over our clothes, so people know. We pride ourselves on not being rude and pushy, on being polite. We're almost being pushy about the fact that we're not being pushy.”

SFU shares preparedness message
Burnaby Now, June 29

The Insurance Corporation British Columbia (ICBC) recently invited SFU earth scientist John Clague and communication professor Peter Anderson to lecture on emergency preparedness at the ICBC emergency response team's Lunch and Learn series. Clague and Anderson are hoping this invitation is indicative of the corporate world's increasing concern about their field. “I have been averaging two presentations per month on natural disasters to groups such as telecommunications and healthcare workers and policy makers, since the beginning of 2005,” says Clague. “This is a significant increase over recent years, especially after the South Asian tsunami in December.” Anderson adds, “Given that many private and non-government organizations now serve vital public support functions, it's essential that they be included in community emergency preparedness activities.”

Ending world poverty
Vancouver Sun, June 28

The plan by some of the world's richest countries to wipe out the debts of some of the world's poorest has been called a modern-day Marshall Plan but it will not, in the words of sloganeers, make poverty history. Critics say the impetus behind the agreement to begin forgiving debts is that rich countries want to be seen to be doing it voluntarily before they're forced to by international agencies and world opinion. John Richards of SFU's masters of public policy program is a frequent critic of Canada's foreign aid, but on this issue he's not so cynical. “I doubt it was a conspiracy to that extent,'' Richards says. Rather, he sees the move as “a bit of politics, a bit of humanitarianism, a bit of desperation at how bad things have become, and maybe a bit of remorse over what was done in the past.''

Reform civic politics, conference told
Aldergrove Star News, June 23

Just weeks after B.C. voters came within a whisker of approving radical electoral reform in a provincial referendum, there are calls for change to the way we elect municipal leaders. Most urgent are limits on campaign spending, says SFU political science professor Kennedy Stewart. He and others speaking at the May 28 Surrey Matters conference on the future of the city said it's time to put the brakes on campaign contributions by big business and big labour, and cap overall spending by city council hopefuls across the region. “Right now there's no limit on municipal campaign spending,” Stewart said. They keep records of contributions, but that's it.” Vancouver's two dominant civic parties spent a combined total of nearly $3 million in the 2002 election, he said. That's more than double the maximum limit of around $65,000 per candidate allowed in a provincial election.

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