SFU People in the News

August 01, 2012

Media Matters, a report on Simon Fraser University in the news, is compiled and distributed by SFU Public Affairs & Media Relations (PAMR).
This edition is a daily roundup that lists the main items of known media coverage from 8:30 a.m. Tuesday July 31 to 8:30 a.m. today, Wednesday August 1.

Enbridge | Magnotta case | Tourism


  • Mark Jaccard, professor of resource and environmental management, was on CBC’s The Early Edition yesterday discussing the political discourse on Enbridge and the environment.
    “Our politicians have, for a couple decades now, said to us they believe what the scientists tell us about getting carbon out of the earth’s crust—that means extracting fossil fuels, oil and gas, and burning it—will have devastating effects on ecosystems we’re worried about spilling oil into,” he says.
    But Jaccard says the discussions on lowering greenhouse gas emissions have trailed off, and been replaced with concern over oil spills.
    “Here we are resisting a pipeline because of the local impact it could have, whether it’s a spill on land or a tanker spill in the ocean—and that’s important—but I’m shocked how the discourse about the climate has dropped right off,” he says. “Even the guests you have on [The Early Edition], the things we hear from Christy Clark . . . is really a dialogue right out of Alice in Wonderland when you look at what the research is showing.
    “If you’re going to hit the [emission reduction] targets you [the politicians] have promised to Canadians, or the US or global political leaders, you can’t be expanding fossil fuel production.
    That means you can’t build pipelines . . . whether it’s Northern Gateway or the Keystone pipeline.
    Full interview (Jaccard appears at the 1:47:45 mark on Tuesday, July 31):
  • Herbert Grubel, professor of economics (emeritus) at SFU, wrote a column for The Vancouver Sun about potential insurance strategies the BC government could implement in regards to the Northern Gateway pipeline.
    “BC Premier Christy Clark's demand for payments in return for permission to ship oil across BC lands is ill advised,” he writes. “Regardless whether these payments are to take the form of a claim on Alberta's royalties or based on the amount of oil flowing through the pipe, they are equivalent to taxes on trade which, like tariffs on imports from abroad, raise consumer prices and lower living standards of all Canadians. Such domestic tariffs are rightly prohibited by federal legislation.
    “One way to extract money from the proposed pipeline that current federal legislation cannot prevent involves the use of provincial regulatory powers to delay indefinitely the construction of the pipeline until payments are agreed to,” he says. “If the BC government were to adopt this policy, it would almost certainly invite retaliation from other provinces on the same grounds used by BC. All shipments using roads, rail and air, like pipelines, carry the risk of accidental environmental damage, justifying the issuance of use permits in return for fees.”
    However, Grubel says this would do nothing to address the public's real concerns over the potentially high costs of oil spills on the environment and taxpayers. He says tolls would do little in creating incentives to reduce the frequency and severity of spills.
    “It has to be remembered that the operators of pipelines are already legally required to pay for all cleanup operations according to standards set by provincial authorities,” he says.
    “For some vocal British Columbians, the cleanup of the environment and coverage of economic costs is not enough. They also experience a psychological loss from the knowledge that after an oil spill, it always takes some—possibly a long—time for nature to return to its original state. To compensate the public for these psychological costs, the BC government could impose on the pipeline operator a fine equal to a specific percentage of the cleanup costs for each spill,” he says.
    “All of these provincial policies would raise the costs of pipeline operators, but they are fair since they reflect society's real economic and social costs. Importantly, they create incentives that lead to the adoption of costly and presently unprofitable measures to reduce the likely number and severity of oil spills.
    “Spills along the coast could be reduced similarly by the mandated use of several powerful tugboats to push the tankers through treacherous waters at low and safe maximum speeds only under favourable weather conditions. Eventually, other measures will be developed and applied to the prevention of oil spills on land and sea.”
    He says that while no measures, however expensive, can eliminate risk, “The majority of British Columbians are sensible on this issue, realizing that stopping all future and possibly the existing systems for the delivery of oil products would be disastrous for the economy and the well-being of all Canadians.
    “This majority will surely vote for politicians who support policies ensuring they will continue to be able to keep their homes warm, their cars running and shelves in their stores stocked while they enact and enforce policies that induce pipeline operators to adopt the best methods for minimizing oil spills and maximizing the protection of the environment”
    Full story:


  • SFU criminologist John Lowman was quoted in a Montreal Gazette piece about the ongoing investigation into the crimes of accused killer Luka Magnotta.
    Magnotta has filed a motion to keep confidential certain items seized during the investigation that led to his being charged with murder — notably, an interview conducted by two criminologists with a research subject known as "Jimmy."
    If a judge quashes the motions and allows the interview to be included with other evidence, it will be a first in Canada, says Lowman.
    "I can't imagine what they think is in that interview that would be relevant, which doesn't meant there isn't something," he says. "But one has to ask what is in the other set of scales from the desire to prosecute this heinous crime. If criminologists are turned into (police) informers we cannot do our work. We would be left studying only convicted criminals—the failures—and it's precisely the research we do with unconvicted criminals that is so important."
    Full story:


  • BC has seen fewer tourists than usual this year, right from the beginning of the summer, says Peter Williams, director of the Centre for Tourism Policy and Research, in a Royal City Record article.
    However, he says local businesses and agencies can attract visitors from neighbouring communities with festivals and unique shopping and outdoor activities.
    "It's going to be a tough summer to haul people from longer distances," Williams says, adding European and U.S. tourism markets have been affected by the current economic turmoil.
    "People around the world are staying a lot closer to home," he says.
    The American market is also affected by border crossing challenges and Canada's strong dollar, Williams adds.
    "It's going to continue to plague us for awhile," he says of the global economic situation.
    This means communities need to focus on attracting visitors from shorter distances, he says, but the challenge is getting them to stay for longer than a day.
    Offering packages including stays at a local hotel, combined with festivals, shopping or other opportunities, is one way to address that challenge, Williams says.
    "It really is about family in this case," he says. "Get them to have an adventure closer to home."
    While “staycationers” are also a good potential market, Williams pointed out it doesn't bring new money to local economies.
    "We're substituting ourselves for international travelers, but it doesn't bring in new, fresh dollars to the community," he says. "It just re-circulates dollars."
    However, holding street parties and cultural festivals is a great way to build community support, as well as attract visitors, he added.
    "It creates a buzz and a dynamic in the community that keeps everyone feeling like they're part of something bigger," Williams says.
    Full story:



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