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Sep 18, 2003

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Fish farms challenged in court
New York Times, Sept. 14

It's a common refrain: that the 30 or so salmon farms that float on the bays of the Broughton Archipelago north of Vancouver Island are responsible for every possible pestilence. Natives say the farms have caused pink salmon runs to collapse over the last two years. Now they are waging their battle in the courts, on constitutional grounds. Environmental groups contend that young salmon passing fish farms were being infected with lice at lethal levels. Some experts agree. The lice problem among juvenile pink salmon “is significantly higher around the fish farms than anywhere else on the coast,” says SFU salmon population expert Rick Routledge. While scientists say more formal studies linking farms to plummeting runs are needed, similar accusations have been made against salmon farms operating for more than 20 years off the coasts of Britain, Norway, Nova Scotia and Maine.

Milking subsidies makes sense
Globe and Mail, Sept 12

With trade representatives from around the world meeting in Cancun, Mexico last week to try to salvage World Trade Organization negotiations, Ben Bradshaw says it's no surprise that farm subsidies have once again come under attack. The SFU assistant geography professor adds: “It's true that supporting agriculture in the industrialized north makes it hard for producers in the south to compete in our markets, and even their own. But the narrow, rhetoric-laden coverage of the farm subsidy issue has led many to believe that government subsidies of agriculture serve no purpose, beyond inflating the incomes of inefficient farmers.” Bradshaw says while periodic government support of agriculture makes good sense, it needs to be provided in the right way so that international markets aren't unduly affected.

Health-care workers most stressed
Vancouver Sun, Sept. 10

A Statistics Canada report called Stress at Work suggests health-care workers are the only group to report significant levels of stress in nearly every category measured. SFU psychology professor Marilyn Bowman says measuring stress is difficult in today's world. “The 20th century became a century of examining your individual emotions and developing a language to describe those emotions,” Bowman says. “We've adopted the popular language of psychology in a way that our parents and grandparents simply did not.” That makes it impossible to quantify with any real accuracy whether workplace stress is really rising or whether it's simply more acceptable to discuss it, adds Bowman, who believes she's less stressed than her prairie homesteader grandfather or her pension-less rail worker father.

Same-sex marriage divides Liberals
Ottawa Citizen, Sept. 9

The Liberal party's traditional hold on Canada's multicultural communities could be threatened by the governing party's support for same-sex marriage, say Liberal activists. The Canadian Alliance, they warn, the only federal party united in opposing gay marriage, is moving to take advantage of Liberal divisions on the issue. SFU political scientist Shinder Purewal, a Liberal activist, says a majority of Indo-Canadians are opposed to the initiative. “It's an issue of major concern,” he says. “I think it's an issue that they (the Canadian Alliance) will use to try to create divisions.” In India, homosexuality is largely hidden, notes Purewal. He argues that ethnic communities in Canada have benefited from the Charter of Rights and will eventually recognize that the marriage issue is about justice.

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