Memories of Bre-X in gold company’s fall

The rise and fall of Southwestern Resources brought back memories of Bre-X for investors as the gold exploration company, which once claimed “spectacular gold grades” at its project in China, fell from grace, reported Canadian Press Aug 30. But while Bre-X ushered in sweeping changes to the regulatory environment for Canadian mining companies, experts suggested even more regulation isn’t the answer for preventing another similar incident.

Mary Condon, a professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School and an expert in securities law, said most companies abide by the new rules. “But at the end of the day the rules indicate that disclosure is the responsibility of the issuer,” Condon said.

She said a balance must be struck between too little and too much disclosure by companies and what is or is not material to a company. “But when you get into issues of actually deliberately falsifying information, well then that seems like a different genre problem altogether,” Condon said.

Ovary removal heightens risk of dementia, Parkinson’s

The removal of a woman’s ovaries before menopause creates a greater risk of both dementia and Parkinson’s disease, two new studies report. The findings are published in the Aug. 29 online edition of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, said CBC News Online Aug. 30. Estrogen protects the brain, researchers believe.

Jill Rich, a neuropsychologist in York University’s Faculty of Health who studies memory, said there are a number of biological mechanisms suggesting estrogen is protective for the brain. She said there are estrogen receptors in the brain that reduce the formation of the kinds of plaques that are found in Alzheimer’s disease. "There are a lot of reasons to expect that estrogen would help to protect brains and delay or prevent the onset of dementia later on in life," she said.

She feels the study supports the body of research that says there is a critical period for hormone replacement therapy (HRT). She said if a woman’s ovaries have been removed or a woman is experiencing menopausal symptoms, beginning HRT and continuing it for a year or two after menopause might be beneficial.

Engineers and university leadership

Ilene Busch-Vishniac, 52, is McMaster University’s new provost and vice-president responsible for academics, reported the Hamilton Spectator Aug. 31. Clever, easygoing and quick to laugh, Busch-Vishniac is the latest in a line of engineers to assume top posts at the university. The new vice-president for research, Mo Elbestawi, is the former dean of engineering who himself succeeded engineer Mamdouh Shoukri, who left this year to become president of York University. 

It used to be that law and business were the main academic hunting grounds for university executives, but that territory has lately grown to include engineering, said the Spectator. The new provost thinks it’s because her field is all about problem-solving.

Students graduate from pilot project

Nearly 300 students from both Toronto school boards attended their graduation ceremony Monday although none attended summer school, reported Metroland newspapers Aug. 30. Instead, they were graduates from the Focus On Youth Toronto pilot program that saw about 130 community agencies hire students across the city to run programs for youth at 106 schools in high-need neighbourhoods.

Sana Khakwani, 17, worked with children as a program coordinator for a day camp at Sir Robert L. Borden Business and Technical Institute in Scarborough. It was a fitting position for Khakwani who will be attending York University next week with hopes of graduating from the education program. "I always wanted to become a teacher since I was small," she said, further reassured of her career path after her summer experience.

On air

  • York PhD candidate Gregory Klages, of the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies, discussed his project investigating the puzzling death of acclaimed Canadian painter Tom Thomson in 1917, on CBC Radio’s cultural show “Q” Aug. 30.