Taxpayer-friendly green innovation threatened by electioneering

In 2007 the provincial government created the Ontario Solar Thermal Heating Initiative, which has been effectively combined with the federal government’s ecoENERGY for Renewable Heat Program to ensure that hundreds of institutional and commercial buildings are able to install Ontario-made solar thermal air and water heating systems, wrote Jose Etcheverry, professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, and Victoria Hollick in the Windsor Star July 29.

These programs represent a valuable model of provincial and federal collaboration, which combined have facilitated close to half of the funds required to install solar thermal heating systems in schools, factories, hospitals, government buildings, warehouses and other large buildings – thereby, saving money and reducing GHG emissions.

Universities and other Ontario learning institutions are highly interested in partnering with leading renewable energy companies to train students in the development of new solutions that can benefit the economy and improve society while protecting the environment.

However, the development of this type of world-class partnerships is now compromised by the risks brought forward by political electioneering, which can severely compromise stable policy frameworks and developing markets.

Politicians need to acknowledge that effective government incentives, aimed at bringing green technology into the marketplace, already exist and are not costly but do require long-term investment stability and sustained commitment.

The Ontario and federal governments must ensure that programs like OSTHI and ecoENERGY continue to evolve to ensure job creation and to inspire additional synergistic initiatives that permit the growth of a strong cleantech sector that can benefit Canadians and the global commons.

Former York president remembers founding chair of Jazz.FM91

The obituary about the late Mary Alice Stuart provided a fitting example of how difficult it was to say no to her, wrote Ian Macdonald, York president emeritus, in a letter to The Globe and Mail July 28 remembering the founding chair of CJRT-FM Radio (now JAZZ.FM91), who died on May 18.

May I offer another? During my time as president of York University, I was pleased that we were able to arrange for CJRT-FM to provide, over its network, our first degree-credit course by radio.

Shortly thereafter, Mary Alice called me to ask if I would join the board of directors of CJRT-FM. I thought that I had found both a fitting and diplomatic excuse. "Mary Alice, I never listen to the radio and I rarely have time to watch television."

Her immediate retort was: "That is not a problem. Obviously, anyone who can preside over York University while performing as hockey coach to my three sons, in a cold, outdoor community hockey league, is a perfect candidate."

Rather than trying to unravel the logic of that response, I felt it better to acquiesce, nor did I ever regret it. Apart from the magnificent job that Mary Alice and the president, Cam Finlay, did with CJRT-FM, I was in awe of her skill as chair. As one who had served on countless commissions, committees and task forces, I can report that she was without peer for skill, efficiency, enthusiasm and determination – all accompanied by her inimitable smile.

Team works to attract and study Minnesota’s purple martins

Lee Bakewell of Forest Lake has been a purple martin "landlord" for just five years, but this year his colony was selected to be tagged and outfitted with geolocators as part of an international study of migratory songbirds, wrote McClatchy-Tribune Regional News July 28.

The study began in 2007 and is being led by a team of scientists from York University in Toronto. Researchers are studying migration patterns of North American songbirds, including the purple martin. Funds for the project come in part from the National Geographic Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration.

Minnesota joined the study this year, along with South Dakota and New Jersey. Previous tagging sites include Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.

"The aim of the project is to study migration patterns and final wintering sites for the purple martin so we can identify which regions are most important to protect for the conservation of this species," said Bridget Stutchbury, who heads the York University lab [Faculty of Science & Engineering] performing the study.

Kevin Fraser, a postdoctoral fellow at York University, worked with Applegate to put geolocators on Minnesota martins. They spent July 1 attaching the devices to more than 40 birds in Forest Lake, Willmar and Brainerd, and on the shores of Mille Lacs Lake.

Teens get help starting seasonal firms

Geordie Hill is a musician, but he has opted to take his other interest – vehicles – and turn that into his business, The Last Detail Mobile Auto Detailing, wrote July 27, in a story about 23 York Region students who are participating in the Summer Company program, which provides hands-on business coaching and start-up money for young entrepreneurs.

Hill’s goal for the summer is to not only learn entrepreneurial skills, but pay for school.

Hill, 19, is in his third year at York University, studying music education.

New AMC grand chief studied Aboriginal law at Osgoode

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs has elected a new grand chief – a law-school graduate from the Pine Creek First Nation, wrote the Winnipeg Free Press and PostMedia News July 28.

Derek Nepinak, 37, is the new leader of the AMC, succeeding former grand chief Ron Evans of Norway House, who held the position for two terms. After a day of nominations, speeches and voting at the Opaskwayak Cree Nation near The Pas, Nepinak emerged the clear winner on the second ballot, winning the support of a majority of the 58 chiefs assembled.

Nepinak is the former chief of Pine Creek First Nation, located approximately 100 kilometres north of Dauphin, and co-chairman of the AMC. He holds a law degree from the University of Saskatchewan and has studied aboriginal governance at [York’s] Osgoode Hall Law School.

On air

  • Perry Sadorsky, economics professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke about the effect of US debt negotiations on stock markets, on Toronto’s CFRB Radio July 27.
  • Joseph Palumbo, executive director of the Career Development Centre in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke about job search techniques and employment trends on SUN-TV July 27.
  • Dirk Matten, economics professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke about how to get cheap airline tickets, on Global Television July 27.
  • Lorne Sossin, dean of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, took part in a panel discussion on public access to justice, on TVO’s “The Agenda” July 27.