Jun 242011

Status quo at the University is corporate leadership.  The University asked for public input to the search for the next president of the University.  My submission:  we need an agent-of-change president.   And be clear:  hyped “innovation” is status quo, not real change.

Note:  This dated June 27th replaces the original which was sent June 24th when I accidentally hit the “send” prior to completion.

SENT:  Mon 6/27/2011 2:52 PM

TO:  presidential.search   AT   usask.ca

DATE:  June 27, 2011

TO:   Search Committee for a new president

FROM:  Sandra Finley,  Saskatoon

Dear Members of the Committee,

Thank-you for the opportunity to help inform the terms-of-reference for the search for the next president.

A deadline for input was not announced at the Town Hall Meeting I attended  in Saskatoon on June 13th; I do not see a date on the card that was distributed at the meeting.   I am aware of a June 20th deadline;  I assume it applied to solicitations for input from people on-campus.  It (June 20) would not qualify as reasonable notice to the Public for a bona fide consultation that invites written submissions.   (It would qualify as abuse-of-democratic process (the governing body can claim “public consultation” which is then thwarted by lack of notice).

(INSERT:  The University replied,  On some of the later communications there was a deadline date of June 20, but we are still accepting submissions and will most of the summer.)

My input to the characteristics required in the next president is addressed in two emails, this being the first.

It is important that the next president be an agent-of-change (in the needed direction), as opposed to a force for maintenance of the status quo.

Please see

  • APPENDED #1, EXCHANGE WITH A DOWNTOWN LAWYER:  AGENT FOR CHANGE VERSUS STATUS QUO PRESIDENT.   It addresses WHY we need an agent-of-change versus a status quo president.
  • In order to ensure that you and I assign the same meaning to “status quo” versus “true change”  please see APPENDED #2:  TRUE CHANGE VERSUS HYPED “INNOVATION” WHICH IS REALLY NOTHING MORE THAN THE STATUS QUO.

May you serve the public interest well.

Best wishes,

Sandra Finley

(contact info)

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The content makes the case;  the particular name is irrelevant.

RECEIVED:  Tue 6/14/2011 5:55 PM


I suspect the ‘short list’ includes Grant Isaac, former Dean of the Edwards School, who would be very good. The problem is that he is currently with Cameco, which is ‘outside’ the academic community.

ORIGINAL REPLY SENT:   Wed 6/15/2011 12:56 AM    The following contains revisions and was sent June 27  to the lawyer.

Hi (name removed),

I had a 45-minute conversation with Grant Isaac while he was still the Dean of the Business School.  I disagree with your assessment that he would be very good as University President.  He is obviously good at some things;  you have to match what is needed at the University against what he has to offer.

At this time in our history we badly need people who are agents-of-change.   Grant is an agent of the status quo (elaboration below).   The status quo is taking us to the brink.   What looms ahead for your children is a much-degraded and more violent world if we are incapable of change.

The University is in the business of deciding who in our society will be “influential”.  Influential people are either obstacles or they can play a significant role in aiding the society to make the changes (“change” is what “learning” is all about).  Agents of the status quo are obstacles to making the needed changes.

Grant as agent of the status quo:

The conversation I had with Grant was about economic indicators such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP).   We use the indicators to measure our “success”.   They guide and mould our path.  Many people know that they are false (misleading) indicators to the point of being dangerous.  GDP for example does not measure resource depletion.  How bad is that?  But nor does it associate value with the economic activity measured.   The cost of cleaning up the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a great addition to GDP.   The accompanying resource depletion (killing off of the fisheries, etc etc.)  is “off-the-books”.  . . .  Hey!  no need for a BP or Bhopal or Exxon Valdeez or other disaster to affect our great economic “success” as measured by GDP!  . . .   It is obvious that through failure to measure resource depletion and the value of the economic activity to the society, we have a wonderful economic indicator that tells us we are hell bent for glory when in fact, using the Gulf example, we are creating the basis for future lives lived in poverty.

The argument “We will find a technological fix” only works if the interests who are benefitting from the status quo can prevent the economic indicators from being thrown out and replaced with indicators that are rational.    We need not only an “agent-of-change” as the next president of the University;  the person has to be a leader and a fearless one.  The financial interests in the status quo are huge.

Another example:  The economic activity generated by a child with cancer or asthma involves drugs, radiation treatment, inhalers, nurses and doctors’ salaries, hotel accommodations for family and parents whose child is in hospital, ambulance rides, funerals  – – altogether a lot of economic activity.  The way in which we measure the economic activity generated by treating the 25% increase in childhood cancers and 40% increase in asthma in children tells us that we are doing just great!  We have a thriving economy!   We turn a blind eye to the poisons that are going into the environment to create the 25% increase in cancers and 40% increase in asthma in children (figures from the Canadian Institute of Child Health in about 1992).   . . .   And we simultaneously congratulate ourselves on the quality of our educational institutions??    No thinking person would TEACH these economic indicators.  They’d work hard with other people to make sure that we stopped deluding ourselves.

Our economic indicators are a very serious problem in need of urgent action.   We have known this for a long time.  That was a big part of the conversation I had with Grant.

Grant has no will to change things, to find solutions.  His attitude is:  if there was a way to solve it, it would have been found by now.  . . .   That is not the truth.   The truth is that the people who need to provide the drive to find the solutions are comfortable where they are.  The system serves them well.  Grant’s willingness to serve the status quo got him a senior Vice-President position at Cameco.  I don’t know what Deans of  Business Schools make.   A senior VP job at Cameco would be a million-dollar-a-year job.   Would Grant have gotten the Cameco job if he had been an agent-of-change??

Corporate money is, unfortunately, corrupting.   I have no problem with Grant.  I just disagree with your statement that he would be very good as pres of the U.  The consequences of maintaining the status quo is short term illusion of wealth and grandeur.   If you have any aspirations to longterm survival of civil society,  we cannot afford the Grant Isaac of the world in positions like the president of the university.  He is welcome to his job at Cameco.

The university is our knowledge base, it is responsible for helping the society to find solutions.  The status quo is killing us while providing short-term delusions and influence to an increasingly small percentage of the population (income gaps).   The University is a significant part of the problem;  it is not helping to address the fundamental problems  – – not everyone at the University, of course.  But still, if the “influential” at the University are agents of the status quo, then it is serving to create a credentialed elite.   It is not doing the truly innovative work that is needed to do things like throwing out dangerous and false economic indicators.  (I used the example of GDP.  There are others.)  (More on “innovation” in Appended #2.)

Regarding Grant as a VP at Cameco and your statement I suspect the ‘short list’ includes Grant Isaac :

Let me first lay some groundwork.  I don’t know what you know or don’t know.

The development of “small” reactors at the U of S is to provide the huge amounts of electricity needed for tar sands expansion.  Cameco is vertically integrated through Bruce Power – you know their reactors in Ontario and their attempts to establish reactors in Saskatchewan.  Cameco has a direct financial interest in the development of “small” nuclear reactors through the University of Saskatchewan – – remember, for tar sands expansion.   In Copenhagen Canada received the fossil award because of the tar sands.  And JUST THE EXISTING tar sands development is killing northern Saskatchewan.  We are downwind from Fort McMurray.  As early as 2003 the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) reported that parts of northern Saskatchewan are already past critical load limits —  acidification from the sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions from Fort McMurray, to mention nothing of the poisons from the petro-chemical industry in Edmonton that are going into the North Saskatchewan River.  You will know how much expansion there has been in the tar sands in the 8 years since 2003.    . . . it’s pretty easy to figure out that northern Saskatchewan will be toast if the plans of a few to make big money proceed.   (Not to mention that there will be no money left for investment where we need it:  in renewables and conservation.)

That’s the lay of the land.  Now look at the role of the University.

There are all kinds of water scientists at the University of Saskatchewan.  Canada’s top water scientists are employed at the NWRI (National Water Research Institute) on campus.   The  SRC (Saskatchewan Research Council) began monitoring the lakes in northern Saskatchewan in the early 1980’s when the lakes were perfectly healthy and clean.  By 2003 the SRC knew that “the lakes in northern Saskatchewan are dying”.   I remember a few years ago all the hoopla over the hiring of a new head for a (new, I think)  Hydrology Department at the University.

It is my expectation that with all this expertise on the U of S campus we should have the best managed water in all of Canada.   So how is it that our water is becoming more and more degraded?   How low do we go before the leadership at the University becomes engaged in the extremely serious problems that face us?   It is not okay that the “influential” people in our society do the “wine and cheese” while the poisoning of the North continues.   The ability of people to feed themselves is at stake.    . . .  some people in Saskatchewan continue to naively believe that “the scientists” and “the University” are “educating” our young people.  Jane Jacobs was right:  it’s about “credentialing”.

The preceding are not the only betrayal of the public interest.  Canadian foreign policy vis-à-vis efforts to force GMO crops on other nations has brought us a very bad name.   The claims about “feeding the world” are bogus.  The GMO crops are about corporate ownership of seeds (corporate ownership of FOOD when you look at “enviro-pig” and fish whose genetic make-up has been tampered with so that they grow to six times the size of wild fish within a year).  Cancer, MS, Parkinson’s disease, autism, etc. in Saskatchewan (notably rural areas) are in a continuous upward trend line.  Will the Department of Agriculture at the University be truly “innovative” or will it maintain the status quo (chemical and biotech agriculture with its heavier and heavier loads of poisons sprayed on the land?  Don’t even have to get into the fiasco that GMO triffid flax is.)   – – – the U of S is a training ground for not only employees for Monsanto, Bayer, etc.  but also for the Government agencies and employees whose role is related to maintenance of the status quo.

Getting back to nuclear:   As stated, the University of Saskatchewan is the vehicle for the “small” nuclear reactors which are in turn the enablers of tar sands expansion.   There are no lessons to be learned from Fukishima.  Who cares about Canada’s role and responsibilities in the international community?  And so what  if northern Saskatchewan follows the fate of the Niger Delta, for example, becoming a wasteland?   . . .. .    WHY is it happening?

There is more than one reason, of course.  Citizens have allowed Governments to cut funding to the universities.  It is the equivalent of giving our educational institutions away to corporations.   . .  Does the university teach that public-private-partnerships have one inevitable outcome:  corruption?

There are extremely serious and unacceptable conflicts-of-interest, even without the possibility that Grant Isaac might go from the nuke industry (Cameco) to the University as president.  You will know that Cameco is well “into” the University.  And as mentioned, is vertically integrated from uranium mining to the nuclear reactors, with its interests in Bruce Power.

If you like, you can ignore that the people of Saskatchewan said “no” to the nuclear industry (2009 public consultations “The Perrins Report” (re so-called UDP – “Uranium Development Partnership”).     The Govt is also ignoring the outcome of that process, using the University as the back-door for funding the industry (e.g. $30 million for the Nuclear Studies Centre of Canada – maybe $47 million).

You know my blog.  The conflicts-of-interest are addressed:

2011-04-21 Tax-payers give $30 million (or $47?) to Nuke at U of S, Nancy Hopkins Chairs U Board of Governors, is on Cameco Board (since 1992), has $1.8 million in Cameco shares, Chairs Search for next President +

2011-04-28 Lawyer Stefania Fortugno, letter to University re conflicts-of-interest, nuclear industry Cameco on Board of Governors

MacKinnon, Hopkins, etc. are lawyers.   Persons, even without legal training, understand conflicts-of-interest.  Nancy Hopkins with her position on the Cameco Board, her $1.8 million in Cameco shares, the Nuclear Studies Centre at the University, Cameco’s financial interests in “small” reactors,  should not be chairing the Search Committee for the next president of the U, especially if Grant Isaac is on the short-list as you suggest.  The University should try to maintain some modicum of integrity.

Over and out!


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True “innovation” is not  “everyone else is doing it, therefore we must too”.

True “innovation” is not “finding the next cure for tuberculosis”.

True “innovation” is not “finding the cure for cancer”  (or MS or Parkinson’s Disease, etc.).

The “scientists” have been trumpeting the arrival of the “cure for cancer” for forty or fifty years.   Searching for “the cure” is the status quo.   And I must say, with no disrespect for all those who “run for the cure”, that the brainwashing is pretty successful.

But back to the point regarding “true innovation” versus hyped status quo:  From APPENDED #1,  true innovation would be to teach all students the lie that our economic indicators of progress are.   Serving the public interest would mean launching an aggressive project that would in the end throw out the existing indicators and replace them.   Small countries can do it, so can Canada.

We lack will and leadership.   But that is no excuse for the University to teach irrational, dangerous nonsense.

Moving on,

“INNOVATION” IS ACTUALLY “STATUS QUO”:   ANOTHER EXAMPLE “the next cure” for tuberculosis.

University of Saskatchewan,  “Intervac” (International Vaccine Centre) formerly known as “VIDO”  (VACCINE INFECTIOUS DISEASES ORGANIZATION) .


Source:  Click on 2009-11-19 , scroll down to:



The rush by the pharmaceutical corporations to patent the next cure for tuberculosis, because the organism has evolved in Eastern Europe, in Africa, etc. to be resistant to existing drug protocols . . ..

It is a deadly game that is not in the public interest.  And it’s a no-brainer.  The next generation of antibiotics or tuberculosis “cure” or whatever, has to be more toxic than the last round.

Eventually “the cure” is as noxious as the disease organism.  AND it is so expensive that third world countries can’t afford it. Meanwhile the pharmaceutical corporations kill people in third world countries in their eagerness to be the first ones to patent the new “cure” and cash in on the profits.

The current approach to drugs is not “innovative”, as the University communications spin would have us believe; it is a deadly spiral.

My own case and experiment is instructive and was done with the cooperation of two doctors, the then-head of TB Control in Saskatchewan and a naturopathic doctor.

I was in a unique situation to experiment under their guidance: the disease was active in my body (I was very sick), but the TB had not advanced to the state of being contagious.

I did not take the drug treatment because, as I appealed to the head of TB Control:  we have to figure out a way to address these diseases without drugs.  We know absolutely that the organisms evolve to be resistant to the drugs and we know that any new drug has to be more toxic and expensive, therefore unaffordable by all except the rich.

In less time than the 9-month drug treatment, I overcame the TB organism without drugs, by addressing immune system issues.

The new head of TB Control does not want to hear my experience.  There is absolutely no curiosity, no interest in true “innovation” or experimentation if it doesn’t fit the drug mould — even if it is obvious that the drug mould is taking us down a suicidal path.

I googled for an update on the charges brought by the Government of Nigeria against Big Pharma for the deaths it caused by using human beings as guinea pigs in their attempt to develop the “next generation” of drugs to combat the new generation of drug-resistant TB organisms.   We have been following this story that arises out of the John le Carré  novel-made-into-a-movie, “The Constant Gardener“. . . ..     I am curious about what John le Carré  knew, or intuited.  In “The Constant Gardener” part of the search to uncover the truth about the pharmaceutical-company-related deaths in Africa takes place in Canada, at the University of Saskatchewan   . . . .. VIDO (VACCINE INFECTIOUS DISEASES ORGANIZATION, now Intervac)    . . . .

If my one experiment was successful in combating the disease without potent drugs, then it is POSSIBLE that it can be done.  But as long as the pharmaceutical corporations are involved, the ONLY avenue that will be explored is the drug option.  And it is a wrong-headed approach, obviously.  You might think you are God, but you cannot stop evolution (drug-resistant organisms).

The Emperor (the University) is wearing no clothes.  There is no rationality.   There are many more examples.

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