Province should drop its plan for more Candus, says York prof

The sale by the federal government of the reactor division of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL) to SNC-Lavalin for a mere $15 million comes as no surprise to those who have been following the nuclear industry in Canada over the past few years, wrote Mark Winfield, professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies and chair of York’s Sustainable Energy Initiative, in the Toronto Star July 14.

The Harper government has been clear about its desire to off-load the AECL financial "sinkhole" (in the words of a former press secretary) for some time…. AECL, which has absorbed more than $20 billion in federal taxpayers’ money over the 60 years of its existence, has never come close to being a commercially viable entity.

The province, reeling from the reported $26 billion "sticker shock" of AECL’s "all in" cost bid for just two new Candu [reactors], had been demanding that the federal government "share" some of this cost. Any cost-sharing options with the federal government, which probably anticipated questions from its western Canadian base about why federal taxpayers from Alberta and BC should pay for nuclear reactors for Ontario, are now off the table.

Rather than continuing to make an increasingly hopeless case to the federal government for support for its nuclear-based plans, Ontario should be seeking federal investments for the creation of a truly national electricity grid. Such an undertaking is far more likely to win backing from other provinces and would enable Ontario to connect its enormous, but intermittent, wind energy potential with those provinces that have large-scale hydroelectric storage capacity.

The AECL sale compels Ontario to revisit its long-term electricity plans, and to embark on a serious and open review of the full range of alternatives in the future design of its electricity system. The province needs to face this reality and respond accordingly.

Obese people ‘addicted just like alcoholics’

Overweight people may be just as addicted to fat and sugar as drug users and alcoholics are to heroin and drink, new research suggests, wrote Britain’s The Daily Telegraph July 14.

"Food addicts" are also more likely to have impulsive personality traits, attention deficit disorder and to use food to "self-soothe" in times of stress, according to the study.

Contributing author Professor Caroline Davis, of York University in Toronto [School of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Health], said: "These results strongly reinforce the view that food addiction is an identifiable condition with clinical symptoms, and is characterized by a psycho-behavioural profile that is similar to conventional drug abuse disorders."

Davis added: "This type of information will help us develop personalized treatment approaches for those who struggle with overeating and escalating weight gain."

Beauty leaves home to chase jockey dreams

As the dinner party entrée baked, someone asked Chantal Sutherland [BA ’99] a career question, wrote the Houston Chronicle July 13. Sutherland explained that she had grown up riding horses on her family’s farm outside Toronto. She had just graduated from [York University] and wanted to become a jockey.

[After a phone call to famed jockey Angel Cordero], she was off to Miami with her degree in communications and psychology. "There was lots of resistance," Sutherland said. "My father is a strong and stubborn man. He never wanted me to be a jockey. But I’m as stubborn as he is."

In Florida, Sutherland began to prove she was more than a bright, well-educated young woman with movie-star looks and a single-engine pilot’s license…. Her thoroughbred discipline started in Florida. Cordero taught her everything he could. As she learned, she picked up here-and-there dollars exercising and caring for thoroughbreds. There were no "help" calls to Canada. "I could never ask my father for money," she said.

Far ahead, there would be lots of money. She modelled. She came out with a jewelry line. Mostly, she rode. After a year of schooling in Florida, she jockeyed there, in New York and back home in Ontario, where she began whipping male riders at Woodbine Park.

On Saturday, she became the first female jockey to compete in the 73-year-old Hollywood Gold Cup and missed winning it by inches.

But what about marriage and a family?

"It’s very difficult," she said. "You meet a guy. He doesn’t understand how little freedom a jockey has. I’m up at 4:30 (to work horses). I usually get to bed by 10pm. I’m busy every weekend.

"When I was 30, 31, 32, marrying and having a family was very important," Sutherland said. "Now I’m 35. My time clock is ticking. But having a family is less important today; my riding career is more important."

Companies are stepping up their reporting on non-financial matters

Many companies have started voluntarily reporting on non-financial matters such as biodiversity, human rights and climate change as they feel the need to communicate their commitment to stakeholders and the community, wrote Corporate Secretary July 13. SD [Sustainable Development] Reporting might actually become – cool.

Aaron Dhir, professor at [York’s] Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto says:

“The reporting of material environmental, social and governance (ESG) information should be viewed as an integral part of a business’ overall risk management strategy.” The corporate social responsibility specialist believes that disclosures as such encourage stakeholder dialogue and can provide a critical framework for identifying both risks and opportunities.

Currently, most SD reports are multi-purpose and discuss the company’s overall goals; rewards for shareholders and the efforts employees are taking to strive towards a better community. But, according to industry experts, some of these reports lack transparency and have not yet fully evolved to address questions such as operational challenges or the basic “why” or “how”.

Schulich ground-breaking serves as backdrop for India’s economic news

State government’s pet scheme – pavala vaddi – has helped improve the recovery rate of micro loans issued for self-help groups (SHGs) during 2010-2011 by a whopping 97 per cent, according to chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, wrote Hyderabad, India’s largest-circulation Urdu newspaper, The Siasat Daily, July 13, in a story citing comments delivered at the inaugural address at the foundation laying ceremony of Schulich School of Business – GMR campus at Shamshabad.

On air

  • James Elder, professor of engineering & psychology in York’s Faculty of Health and a member of the Centre for Vision Research, spoke about an unmanned aerial vehicle that is part of a project to design 3-D technology, on CBC Radio’s “Here & Now” July 13. 
  • Leo Panitch, Canada Research Chair in Comparative Political Economy and distinguished research professor of political science in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, took part in a panel discussion about possible layoffs of city employees in Toronto, on AM640 News July 13.
  • News about David Marrello, a high school student who achieved 100 per cent on his final grades and has accepted a President’s Award of Excellence Scholarship from York, was featured on Halifax’s News957 Radio.