Meet the man who told you so

Five years ago, Al Rosen was seen as the nut job who said Nortel Networks was riddled with sloppy accounting, began an Ottawa Citizen feature Jan. 13 on the retired York accounting professor. Watch it plummet to the cellar of the Toronto Stock Exchange, he said. Few had any reason to believe the investigative accountant, known for his hard-hitting attacks on the way Canada’s corporations report their financial figures. All that has changed. Nortel, now sitting between $4 and $5, late Monday issued a long-delayed restatement of its 2003 financial results, and it wasn’t a pretty sight.

Is Rosen one to say, “I told you so?” Probably. As the force behind one of Canada’s leading investigative accounting firms, he is in high demand, some would even say revered. On Bay Street, Rosen is known as Dr. Al, or the Enforcer. As the manager of Rosen & Associates Ltd., he has worked on more than 750 litigation cases, often as an expert witness. Now in his late 60s, his many credentials include a PhD (he taught accounting at York University for more than 30 years) and a CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner).

But for all his celebratory rise in stature, Rosen remains forever fed up. Canadian securities regulators, and their friends in the political world, are doing nothing to fix lax Canadian accounting.

Comet-busting mission seeks clues to universe

In a CTV interview aired on Jan. 12 on “Canada AM” and the network’s news programs, astronomer Paul Delaney, a senior lecturer in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, discussed NASA’s Deep Impact mission to intercept a speeding comet in July and record the interception. He explained the objectives: “One is the fundamental one of just understanding what’s in the comet itself. We know something about comets from outside, but we’ve never actually sort of dug into the surface. And this is going to give us an opportunity to scoop out a significant amount of material and peer inside. So it will tell us some of the fundamental properties of the comet.” It will also, said Delaney, bring us closer to understanding the origins of life. “But it’s not going to answer the question definitively. Amino acids, carbon-based materials, organic molecules, we believe, are buried inside comets. And we think that is the key to life on our planet. So, if it’s in comets these are objects which move around the entire solar system – to Earth, to Mars and beyond.”

Dedicated bus lanes cheaper to build than subways

The Toronto Transit Commission unveiled a groundbreaking plan that takes the emphasis off subways and would put buses and streetcars in their own lanes in outlying areas of the city within five years, reported the Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail Jan. 13. “This plan gives people the ability to get around this city without having to use a car,” said Mayor David Miller. “What this plan does in a frugal way is give us a chance to enhance our transit network.”

The study, called “Building A Transit City,” didn’t come with a price tag, but it was believed the 16 projects recommended would cost less than $1 billion, comparatively cheap to the cost of building a subway to York University, estimated at $1.5 billion. “It’s the right plan,” said Miller. “We can actually deliver a rapid transit network that every Torontonian can access. Compared to the cost of building subways, it’s a frugal cost.”

Some of the work is already under way, noted the Star, including plans to build busways to York University from Downsview subway station and up Yonge St. from Finch station to connect with York Region at Steeles Ave. And the city awaits word next month from the province to start building streetcar-only lanes down the centre of St. Clair Avenue West.

The study – co-written by TTC and city staff – also envisions “higher order” transit projects rolling out between now and 2008 on Eglinton Ave., Lawrence Ave., Sheppard Ave., Kingston Rd., King St., Queen St., Dundas Ave. W., Bremner Blvd., Don Mills Rd., Lake Shore Blvd. and Jane St. The York University subway and the completion of the Sheppard subway remain TTC longer-term priorities, but this network of “higher order” transit – which could be buses or streetcars or light rail – represents a shift away from a bus network feeding subways to a network feeding high-density, mixed-use neighbourhoods. “The answer is not subways, it has to be some kind of rapid transit in dedicated rights of way,” said TTC vice-chair Joe Mihevc.

York stresses new teaching space over research labs as enrolment grows

Despite unprecedented growth in enrolment, new research laboratories are being built faster than classrooms at a majority of universities, a CanWest survey has found, reported the National Post Jan. 13. For new academic space on campus, research labs trump teaching space at 15 of the 20 universities surveyed – with ratios as high as eight square metres of new research space to one square metre of new teaching space. And of the five universities creating more instructional space than research space, only one – York University – can claim a significant margin. York has built or is building 8.5 net assignable square metres of teaching space for every one square metre of research space.

Musicians band together for a fundraising concert

Out-of-town musicians who have volunteered to play at a benefit concert for a Laurentian University music program include jazz saxophonist Sundar Viswanathan, violinist Jeremy Bell, organist Ian Sadler and Matthew Jones on recorder, reported The Sudbury Star Jan. 13. Viswanathan, who grew up in Sudbury, recently completed his doctorate in jazz and currently teaches at York University in the Faculty of Fine Arts. He just returned to Canada from a five-city tour of Japan. Viswanathan has played with some of the greats, including Wynton Marsalis, Kenny Wheeler and John Abercrombie.

Train slowly for marathons

Veronica Jamnik, part-time faculty at York’s School of Kinesiology & Health, says training too quickly is the biggest mistake novice runners make, reported the Toronto Star Jan. 13 in a story about women training for marathons. Women in mid-life should also be aware that hormonal changes can play a part in how the body adjusts to the exercise regimen. She urges would-be marathoners to hire an experienced coach to help prepare a game plan.