Sitting president Ryan Hayes is questioning the results of ASSU’s March 18 presidential elections. Hayes was challenged in the election by a group of executive candidates known as “ASSU is US.” Colum Grove-White, a member of the challenging bloc, beat Hayes for the position of president. For his part, Hayes is taking issue with the conduct of the election meeting.“From my perspective, this was the worst meeting I have ever been to in my three years here and consisted of the lowest form of politics—repeated personal attacks and slander.”Hayes explained that there was not enough time in the meeting to complete the elections. “It went far over time and people had to leave.” An emergency meeting has been scheduled for this Thursday to discuss the election.However, those belonging to the “ASSU is US” group say the election was valid, and that holding an emergency meeting is unnecessary.Grove-White argued that “in ASSU’s past, when a meeting went over the allotted time, members would stay, or move to a new room and finish off the business if necessary.” Grove-White also flatly rejected any ideas of running another executive race.“Not a presidential election, it would be completely undemocratic. Council elected me, and Hayes and his supporters have planned to stack Council, nullify the elections, and elect him at this new meeting.” It is unclear if and when a decision will be reached.Grove-White thinks his options are limited. “There is nothing I can do at this next meeting,” he said. “I feel bad for Arts and Science Students that they may have to endure another year of Ryan Hayes and his antics. I feel bad for those Council members who supported me.”
Mudslinging ASSU elections go to round two
Loan on me
You will never forget your university years. These are not the best years of your life—at least, we hope not. Nope, these are just the years that you will be paying for during the best years of your life. It’s scary but true: someday soon, the government will stop putting cash in your pocket, and start siphoning off your paycheque. So how do student loans work?Your “principal” is the dollar amount that you have borrowed. You must pay that back, but you’ll also have to pay back interest—that’s the price of borrowed money. The total amount owed depends on the size of your principal, the interest rate, and how much you dole out each month. If you have a bank loan, that’s about all we can tell you. Say a brief prayer, and give them a call.OSAP loans are more clear-cut. You can start paying back your loans as soon as you graduate, and it’s worth trying, as interest starts to build immediately. In most cases, payments must start by your “consolidation date,” six months after you finish university, or stop being a full-time student. (Watch out: if you drop from full-time to parttime, you will likely have to start loan payments.) On your consolidation date, you can either pay the interest that has accrued over the last six months, or add the amount to your principal.An interest rate is a fixed amount above the economy’s best (“prime”) interest, and it will change. You can fix your interest rate if you are willing to pay the current prime rate plus 5 per cent. Without clairvoyance, The Varsity can’t tell you if this is a good deal, and neither can most economists. If you have trouble making payments, you may qualify for interest relief or debt reduction. Both quire a lot of red tape, but might be worth your while.How much will you actually pay? Average student debt in Ontario is $25,000.OSAP’s repayment calculator (which you can try yourself on their website) suggests $327 per month for 9.5 years. (That’s a total of $37,278.)Unfortunately, minimum monthly payments also depend on income. If you get a high-paying job, your OSAP payments may go up—the increase could even cancel out your raise. But in the long run, at a higher monthly payment, you at least escape some interest. Your grandchildren will thank you.
Equity gets an F for effort
At a board meeting held just after vandals burned the bulletin board outside of Scarborough campus LGBTQ’s Positive Space office, the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union announced that SCSU directors would undergo mandatory equity training. The only problem is that the training date, April 11, is the last day of SCSU’s term.Poor scheduling aside, this isn’t the student union’s first brush with equity problems. Throughout the year, numerous public complaints have been lodged about the union’s VP students and equity, Ahmad Jaballah. Much of Jaballah’s work has focused on faith, and critics say he has failed to address issues like accessibility, campus safety and LGBTQ issues.The aforementioned arson was the most recent instance when Jaballah’s reaction was criticized. The incident happened on March 29, when an unknown individual lit the indoor bulletin board on fire. News of the incident went out within minutes, and while letters of support came in to the understandably alarmed LGBTQ group over the next few days, Jaballah made little response. His name appeared at the bottom of a letter from SCSU president Rob Wulkan that was sent to all students on March 31, but only as contact information.During the emergency board meeting the Monday immediately following the arson, Jaballah was absent attending to other SCSU-related business. SCSU chair Zuhair Syed explained that Jaballah was occupied at the time, photocopying posters for an interfaith event later that week.“Couldn’t he have done that some other time?” remarked Chris Smith, SCSU’s VP internal.Wulkan expressed similar sentiments. “It was a pretty lame excuse for missing the board meeting,” he said. “He should have been there. He’s paid to be there.”Jaballah receives a $14,000 salary for his position. He has already been issued strong censures by the SCSU for failing to complete his duties. Unsatisfied by these measures, several campus groups brought forth a petition in mid-March, calling for his resignation. The SCSU ultimately voted against Jaballah’s removal, but nearly half the board was absent.On March 31, the board passed two motions responding to the arson, decrying the actions as hateful and homophobic. Also present at that meeting was LGBTQ coordinator David Leaman, one of the students who petitioned to fire Jaballah, and the creator of the Facebook group “Stop Homophobia at UTSC.” Leaman had been upset by SCSU’s earlier decision to keep Jaballah on staff, and had mixed feelings of their handling of the matter.“It’s depressing,” he said of Jaballah’s absence at that meeting. “But at least this time the rest of the board didn’t give us the finger.”
It’s been a hell of a year
I’ve been rewriting this editorial since November, trying to come up with the perfect depiction of what a student newspaper editor endures. Yes, I’ve slept in my office. Yes, my GPA is lower than a high school meth head. Yes, my inbox is littered with psychosomatic pleas from enterprising publicists begging The Varsity to review a band named Tequila Mockingbird. But honestly, I can’t complain. I have the greatest job on campus, and it occasionally keeps me in Tankhouse Ale and skinny jeans. I get to edit The Varsity.Which is why it is so hard to step away from, even for a summer.Beginning in September, I was riddled with imposter syndrome. Begging anyone with a prior masthead position for advice, they all said the same thing. “You’ll have some crazy people who want the paper to more leftist, or more in tune with conservative concerns… people who want the paper to be more purple, whatever,” said one current Globe columnist. “You can’t please anyone, it’s impossible. Most of the time it’s impossible to even please yourself.”What I didn’t anticipate were the twiceweekly vampire shifts of 3 p.m. to 3 a.m., nightmares of misplaced photo credits, hordes of student politicians barraging me in Sid Smith about our coverage of the Student Commons referendum when all I wanted was some Dunkaroos. It’s sad to say, but becoming entrenched in campus concerns has actually made me more apathetic. I now understand how complicated the University of Toronto is, that diversity does not always breed idealism, that the administration is happiest with a bastion of disenfranchised commuters. If we don’t make a sound, no one has to listen. If we make light of an organization actually voicing the increasing corporatization and lack of government funding (no matter how ineffective cries of “Shaamme” might be), we align ourselves with the very forces contrary to what a University should endorse.Varsity alumni Mark Kingwell once asked what purpose the university experience should serve. Is it a socialization agent intended to turn quivering frosh into ready-made adults, approaching the workforce with keg-stands and dorm-room threesomes behind us? Is it an arena for intellectual exploration, that pretentious Art History T.A. aside? Or is it merely a holding arena until we finally get it together? What purpose does the university serve, and why do we endure it? And if it’s not to assure your parents that you are “doing something with your life,” then what are you doing?What are you doing?The Varsity masthead is just as scared as you are. Student editors are a strange breed—living on leftover beer and stale cigarettes while munching reimbursed pizza and correcting semi-colons, producing stories the majority of students will either ignore or become incensed by. While most use Varsity‘s as makeshift napkins for their Second Cup latte spills, others write letters complaining of “journalistic bias,” due to a headline drummed up at 3 a.m. It’s strictly a labour of love, and the relationship we have to it is passionate, duplicitous, and definitely unconditional. I feel the same way about my co-workers, who are the most inspiring, intelligent, and hilarious masthead one could dream of. I would especially like to thank Jordan Bimm, who I owe most of my greatest Varsity moments to. Over the years, he has been a mentor, smoking partner, and a close confidant. And after his four years at the paper, we will miss his presence sorely.The weather’s getting warmer, and all you have left are post-colonialist essays, finding a sublet, and job application forms. To all those soaking Varsity‘s in hazelnut foam right now, I wish you the best of summers, the first of many on your post-university experience.
Editor In Chief
The Varsity Newspaper
Six things I’ve hated about U of T
I’m graduating. In a few short weeks, after my last May exam ever, I’ll finally be done with U of T. In my four years here, I’ve had my fair share of amazing times and memories that will—excuse the cliché—last a lifetime. Of course, I’ve also had to deal with a lot of crap. So here’s the Letterman list:
Everyone knows Robarts. Everyone hates Robarts. Everyone has to go into Robarts. I’ll never understand why people study in this horrible hellhole of a book depository. I try to make a run for my books without looking at anyone and get out as fast as possible. It doesn’t just feel soul-crushing in there, it smells soul-crushing in there. It’s baffling that a brutalist library like that even exists, especially when we’ve got some amazing places like the Munk Centre.
That dude outside of Sid Smith that hands out Marxist literature
I wasn’t a Marxist last year. I wasn’t a Marxist in first year. I don’t care what you have to say. And no, that beret and pencil-sharpened goatee doesn’t make you look more intelligent. When you yell at us for being capitalists, you just seem like a selfrighteous douche.
Horrible tenured profs Just because you wrote a decent
book and obtained tenure doesn’t mean that you can teach. I’ve had far too many uninspiring, stuckin- their-ways asshole professors who are supposed to be brilliant. I don’t care if you discovered a fascinating 12th-century manuscript or pioneered a new form of literary theory. If your lecture makes the dazed class sink further and further into their seats to the point of passing out, you shouldn’t be an instructor. It’s an awful pity, since I’ve had more than a fair share of contract-based sessional instructors who taught brilliant courses, enthused even the most apathetic of students, and receive fantastically glowing evaluations. They’re making $25,000 a year without any benefits and these tenured pricks can’t get fired. What’s wrong with this picture?
We’re a commuter school. Most students don’t live in the Annex-College student ghetto. A lot of people simply show up for class and head back home, then whine and complain that U of T is a huge, unfeeling mass of unfriendly strangers. But we’ve got the college system, and some great extracurriculars. It takes a bit of effort, but there are multitudes of intimate communities on this campus—you just have to go find them.
Those dudes outside of Sid Smith trying to get you to come to their grind-sex-dance-club party
I don’t care how many “hot pieces of ass” will be there to join genitals with, I’m not going to your poppedcollar meat-fest, no matter what charity you’re using as an excuse to feel good about getting drunk and making bad decisions. So stop asking me.
Late exam schedules
Every single year, undergrads from schools around the country are done with school for the summer before I’ve even started my exams. Not only can they begin their wild and crazy summer adventures early, they also set the schedule that summer employers follow: all the good jobs start on May 1st. That leaves us struggling to find full time work, since we’re everyone’s second choice. Why hire a U of T student who can’t start working until two weeks after a Western student? U of T has tons of students to funnel through the examination process, but we also have a lot of buildings. Surely our administration could create an example schedule that lets us off before the end of April.
Stéphane Dion is still not a leader
If you ask your average Canadian to name an influential and memorable former Liberal leader, they’ll probably mention William Lyon Mackenzie King or Lester B. Pearson. These men are remembered for their charisma and initiative. Likewise, former Liberal leaders Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chretien, although disliked by some Canadians for their controversial political decisions, were still respected for leadership qualities and the ability to bring about change. So how does the current top Liberal, Stéphane Dion, compare?Dion has continually disappointed his supporters since he was first appointed as party leader. He started with a substantial amount of support from the party’s grassroots because of a focus on environmental issues. Today, his followers are few and far between—few Canadians believe in his ability to govern. Dion has managed to stay afloat in politics simply because he does not cause a lot of controversy, but his dullness is precisely why he cannot fulfill the public’s needs.The biggest letdown of Dion’s tenure as Liberal leader is his failure to challenge the Conservative government on a number of important issues, including the extension of the Afghanistan mission and the recent budget. The opposition party in a minority government exists to challenge the majority on important decisions in order to strike a balance and to ensure that all possible voices are considered. With Dion, the Conservatives could make any decision with little or no opposition. In other words, the Liberals have become a party to be pitied under his weak leadership.He also lacks the communication skills of a great leader, as his grasp of English has often been criticized as childlike. While no one expects his English to be perfect, the public and fellow politicians would probably appreciate if they could comprehend the majority of Dion’s statements. How can a politician with such a weak handle on English expect to be successful in a country where it is the primary language of communcation?The lack of respect fellow politicians hold for Dion is proven by their constant teasing in the House of Commons. Also, the unruly, Dion-appointed head of the party’s Quebec wing, Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette, prevented a newspaper from publishing the names of the Liberal candidates without even consulting the leader himself. Critics also say Dion has little influence politically, does not establish contacts, is not well known, and does not raise money for the party—all essential characteristics of a national leader.Stéphane Dion, lacking both the passion and the personality to maintain public support, cannot last as a party leader.
Talking nanotechnology with Ted
The Varsity: Tell us a little about yourself.Ted Sargent: The only thing that anyone needs to know about me is that I am but a spokesperson: I have the privilege of working with the most amazing team of graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, research associates, and administrative support that one could possibly imagine. I have the pleasure of speaking about what they do and why they do it—and when they succeed, what it could mean.TV: What first peaked your interest in nanotechnology?TS: I got into the field through the tradition of compound semiconductor optoelectronics. This is the domain of making perfect crystals that result in highly efficient, pure lasers for fiber-optic communications.What I loved about this field was the exploitation of intriguing physical phenomena, such as the quantum size effect, wherein physical dimensions are used to ‘tune’ the optimal properties of a medium towards useful, practical purposes. What I hated was the cost and complexity of building lasers, detectors, and energy converting devices within this materials strategy.This is what stimulated an interest in ‘bottom-up nanotechnology, looking for cost-effective ways to build nanoscale materials using nature’s propensities for selforganization using chemistry. Fortunately, U of T is a world leader in the field of materials chemistry, an astonishingly fast-moving and dynamic field filled with highly creative people. My group is fortunate to build on material chemists’ astonishing results every day in our own research.TV: Congratulations on the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology grant. Could you tell us about your current research projects?TS: With pleasure. We have three projects we are working on.The first is making highly sensitive detectors of light based on colloidal quantum dots, size-effect-tunable nano-material that can be simply spin-coated onto any substrate.The second is building highly efficient solar cells that capture the sun’s full spectrum, including infrared, based on colloidal quantum dots.Finally, working in collaboration with Professor Shana Kelley in the Faculty of Pharmacy and the Faculty of Medicine, we are building chips that can detect disease, and at the earliest stages, based on gene expression profiles known to correlate with the early onset of certain types of cancer.TV: In your critically-acclaimed book, The Dance of the Molecules, you address issues of human health, the environment, and communication. How will nanotechnology help us gain insight into these issues in the future?TS: Nanotechnology offers a possible path to low-cost, large-area solar cells that could help us move past our dependence on fossil fuels. Also, it offers the potential for widespread, earlier diagnosis, and consequently treatment of a range of diseases. Through the advent of flexible electronics, it offers new ways of interfacing the human and the informatic—of sensing the world around us, rendering it in a peoplefriendly way.TV: As one of the top researchers in your field, what are some of the upsides and downsides that you have encountered in your work?TS: First, let me refute the premise of the question: there are thousands and thousands of highly accomplished researchers in nanotechnology around the world, and hundreds and hundreds of world-leading experts at U of T.I have been incredibly fortunate in my career. U of T has, at all levels, enabled me to work concertedly towards realizing my dreams. It is a great place to work and an exceptional, internationally recognized brand. The people I work with are the best in the world at what they do. They could be anywhere, and they choose U of T.U of T has an awesome research infrastructure: from materials analysis to fabrication to device characterization, the facilities are top-notch. And whenever we see any holes in our capabilities, there are people working hard to fill them through CFI, OIT, industry relationships, and other funding opportunities.TV: What advice would you give to other aspiring researchers out there?TS: Focus. In a worldwide competition to deliver on your research goals, the only way to have a hope of winning is to identify your strengths, reinforce them each day, and then strive with blinders on towards your goal. Every once in a while, smell the flowers, contemplate new directions, and pick one. But 99.9 per cent of the time, focus single-mindedly.
Welcome to your corporate campus
If scholars practice the uncompromising application of reason, Valleau says they need a special social structure that allows them to test their hypotheses by trading ideas inspired by other scholars: the university. To work for the benefit of society, the university also needs protection from that society.The benefit society gets from this is innovation. Buzzword though it is, Valleau stands by it. Valleau maintains that what academics actually do is innovate—a revolutionary activity.“The word ‘innovation’ is an interesting one,” he says. His definition of innovation means more the “bringing goods to market.” Innovations benefit society when they are treated as public goods, says Valleau. “The scholarly researcher is supported by the public, works in a public institution, uses public equipment, and the results are surely open to the public. Furthermore, knowledge is not profitable. It is not diminished by use if shared. It should be part of the common knowledge. That, I think, is the principle of scholarly activity.”“What scholars do is they test the limits of their understanding. With theories, you can never prove a theory, you c a n only disprove it or discuss what range it covers, and so on. What one can do is to test the limits of our understanding, and in doing that, one creates new paradigms of understanding.”Unlike academics, powerful people have an interest in maintaining the status quo, to not be supplanted by up-and-comers. The revolutionary quality of true innovation, therefore, poses a serious threat to industry and government alike.So how did we get to the present state of things? “First of all, you cut back the funding for scholarly work until it’s a pittance,” he says. “And then offer to reinstate the funding, but only under special conditions.”
U OF T THE WEED
Janice Newson, York University sociology professor and co-author of Universities Mean Business, agrees with Valleau’s assessment of the situation. While visible signs of corporate presence are only now appearing, she says, corporations have been highly involved in Canadian universities for at least three decades. Newson characterizes corporatization as a weed: “In the ’90s the tubers began to send up shoots, and the shoots were names on university buildings that belong to big corporations.” A few instances from the 1990s offer hints to the present underlying corporate culture at Simcoe Hall.In 1997, Northern Telecom donated $8 million to found the NorTel Institute of Telecommunications, a master’s program, and two research chairs. The terms of the agreement relating to NorTel Institute researchers’ intellectual property rights were not made public at the original announcement. Investigation by The Varsity and the U of T Faculty Association showed that while U of T still owned the intellectual property from Institute research programs, the licensing option for Institute products go immediately to NorTel. More alarming, perhaps, is that intellectual property not pertaining to a researcher’s specific project can still belong to U of T, and by extension, NorTel. As per U of T’s inventions policy, faculty and their grad students do not hold any of these rights. Neither does the taxpayer. Through this donation NorTel has effectively set up its own lab, which also uses university resources.In 2000, the pharmaceutical company Shering Canada Inc., producers of Claritin, donated $34.5 million to the Alzheimer’s research program led by the U of T Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases Network and the Hospital for Sick Children. A better term for the largest “gift” in Canadian history might be “intellectual property agreement,” as it grants Shering-Plough (Shering Canada’s parent company) exclusive worldwide licenses to produce and sell the products and technology developed through the program. The coup de grace for scholarly independence, however, came with the secretive deal pertaining to Joseph L. Rotman’s donation to the School of Management. The university matched Rotman’s $15-million gift to found and endow six faculty chairs based on the recommendations of the Rotman Foundation. The faculty was also renamed the Rotman School of Management.Rotman stipulated that the management school must have “special status” within the university. This status means that business education must remain a focus at U of T and the faculty is protected from budget cuts. At the same time, many of the rules applying to other faculties at U of T simply don’t apply to Rotman. In some circumstances, for example, the foundation had the right to bypass Governing Council (to which Rotman was appointed by the Ontario government in 1995) and have the chair of the Association of American Universities dictate policy to the university. Joseph Rotman is also allowed to stipulate which public relations firm the faculty uses. A final term of the agreement was that the terms of the agreement were to be kept confidential.After The Varsity obtained a copy of the agreement in 1997 and published its details, public outcry forced the Governing Council to renegotiate with Rotman, amending the agreement to meet the basic demands of the U of T Faculty Association. What the initial agreement showed, however, was Simcoe Hall’s blindness to questions of conflict of interest, and its unwillingness to present its deals with corporations to university members in a transparent way.Incidentally, at the time Rotman was on the board of, among other things, Barrick Gold Corp., whose CEO, Peter Munk, donated $6.4 million that same year.The Varsity made public the conditions of that agreement, which had been signed two years previously without consultation with the academic board, after obtaining the contract through U of T’s Access to Information Policy. The $6.4-million donation, to be paid over 10 years, came with conditions, stipulating that a council set up for the centre would have to cooperate with the Barrick Gold international advisory board. Another condition forbade the university from cutting Munk Centre funding for 30 years, which would amount to an opportunity cost for other departments during periods of government cutbacks. Like the Rotman agreement, this contract was amended subsequent to outcry from the UTFA.Yet allegations that the Munk Centre has an institutional bias haunts it still. When in 1997 George Bush was given an honourary degree by U of T, many called it a conflict of interest (Bush was highly connected with Barrick Gold at the time). This year, a committee of senior administrators deemed posters representing Munk in an unfavourable light as “potentially defamatory” and, in an unprecedented move, ordered that they be torn down.“What [the Munk Centre] most seems to serve as,” says Valleau, “is a platform for Janice Stein [director of the centre] to, unchallenged, offer support to the government or the Liberal Party, and to have the prestige of a major institute at the University of Toronto to back up what she says, never challenged by people at the Munk Centre or elsewhere at the university.”
U OF T THE FRAUD ARTIST
In the summer of 2000 the residents of Wiarton, Ontario, complained about suspicious odors in their drinking water. Throughout June and August they noticed yellow and orange spots and bleach marks in their laundry. The Ontario Clean Water Agency received calls from 33 Wiarton residents with complaints from during this time. “Many refused to drink the water that marked their clothing,” said an August 23 report in the Globe & Mail about the issue.Meanwhile, unknown to the residents, U of T professor Robert Andrews was heading an experiment under contract with the chemical company ERCO Worldwide, pilot-testing chlorine dioxide as a water purifier on Wiarton’s water supply. The study’s aim was to test a newly patented chlorine dioxide generator, the SPC ERCO R101, and to examine whether chlorine dioxide could replace ordinary chlorine as a water disinfectant.Following the complaints, the experiment was abandoned two weeks before its scheduled Sept. 4 completion date. Despite this, the study was declared a success that “exceeded the project objectives and expectations” in a report by Andrews and Georges Ranger, a patent-holder for the generator being tested in the study. None of the journal articles published on the study mentioned any of the residents’ complaints.“No customer taste and odor complaints were reported during the study period,” said an article on the Wiarton study published in the Journal of Environmental Engineering and Science, despite the fact that these complaints were reports in several dailies, and a letter that appeared in the weekly Wiarton Echo.Forty per cent of respondents reported bleach spots in their laundry in a Sept. 23 survey. Thirty-five per cent reported noticing adverse changes in tap-water quality. Some reported the deaths of small animals. Despite these results, Andrews and Ranger described the water supplied to citizens during the study as “significantly superior compared to chlorine” and “likely the best-quality drinking surface water in Ontario” in a paper in 2001.In 2003, ERCO boasted that the SPC ERCO R101 represented a growth opportunity for the company. They talked of expanding into “industrial and municipal water treatment” as an avenue for sales.When The Varsity contacted Andrews for comment, he was surprised to hear from us. “That was all done a long time ago, and I really have nothing to add,” he said. Far from being concluded, however, the matter is now being heard in federal court, thanks to a whistleblower who was Andrews’ Master’s student. His complaints don’t end at Wiarton.
U OF T THE PLAGIARIST
In March of 1998, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada awarded Christopher Radziminski a two-year, $31,400 scholarship. He was admitted to a Master’s of Applied Science program in civil engineering at U of T. Here, he became part of the new “Drinking Water Research Group,” beginning his thesis in the summer of 1999 on the disinfection of drinking water and focusing on an alternative to chlorine called chlorinedioxide. This was co-supervised by Robert Andrews and Christian Chauret.In the summer of 2002, Radziminski found out that he was listed as an author on two publications without his knowledge or consent, based on research he had carried out. On Jan. 4, 2003, he filed a formal complaint to U of T’s School of Graduate Studies, alleging “Incomplete and/or inaccurate presentation of results,” and “extensive reproduction of work from [his] thesis without permission.” SGS replied three weeks later, saying the matter was out of their jurisdiction.Barry Adams, the chair of the civil engineering department, held an inquiry that, according to the faculty’s own Framework of Ethics in Research, was to be concluded within 10 working days.Nearly six months after filing his complaint, Radziminski got a reply from the department, dismissing his complaint.Radziminski says, “When I first discovered the papers and then looked more deeply into the research in the papers…I naively believed that the university would take my allegations seriously, and that they would investigate.”Confused and discouraged, he wrote to the scientific journals involved, and on May 20, 2004, received a threatening letter from a Bay Street law firm retained by the University of Toronto, threatening to sue him for defamation for communicating with “third parties.”Eventually, one journal retracted its article, and the other censured both professors, prohibiting them for writing for or reviewing it or any of its associated journals for a certain period.The Canadian Federation of Students National Executive met in October of 2004 and decided to support Mr. Radziminski’s case, allocating funds for litigation. Explaining the unusual degree of support given to Radziminski, the federation noted that students are particularly vulnerable when bringing forward complaints of misconduct, because virtually no protection exists in Canadian academia for whistleblowers.“I am actually quite shocked,” said Radziminski of his experience. “There really is nothing that I have seen that exists to ensure research integrity in Canada.”
A match made in heaven
The MaRS Discovery District calls itself “a non-profit innovation centre connecting science, technology and social entrepreneurs with business skills, networks and capital to stimulate innovation and accelerate the creation and growth of successful Canadian enterprises.”The centre often works closely with U of T. The U of T Asset Management Corporation and U of T Innovations Foundation, two subsidiaries of the university, are highly involved with MaRS . Ron Ventor, the interim director of UTIF, spoke giddily about the facility. “In the research commercialization arena, this is the most exciting meeting place in the world,” he said.MaRS’ CEO, Ilse Treurnicht, is married to U of T’s president David Naylor. Four other members on the MaRS board of directors are staff or governors at U of T. The school has contributed $5 million to the nonprofit enterprise.Much of MaRS ’s activities are funded by the provincial government. A June 26, 2006 press release from the Ontario government states that the government has invested $46 million in MaRS . More than $50 million of Ontario government funds have been channeled into the facility since Dalton McGuinty became Ontario’s first research and innovation minister.In 2006 the Government of Ontario announced that it would put up $25 million a year for the Premier’s Summit Award in Medical Research, to be administered by MaRS . The amount is matched by private funds, and are awarded each year to ten “internationally recognized leaders in medical research.”The award committee includes John Evans, president emeritus of U of T, as its chair, and NSERC president Suzanne Fortier as a member.
Science for sale
One of the most notable whistleblowers in U of T history is Nancy Olivieri, who was on the U of T medical faculty through her work for the universityaffiliated Sick Kids Hospital. Her case emerged in 1996 when the worldrenowned hematologist decided to breach a confidentiality agreement she had signed with Apotex Inc.The Toronto-based pharmaceutical company funded Olivieri’s research in deferiprone (an experimental drug for people with thalassaemia), but Olivieri started to lose faith in the drug and came to believe that it was causing serious side affects. Apotex disagreed and threatened legal action if she violated her contract by making her claims public.After submitting her findings to the New England Journal of Medicine, Olivieri was removed from her hospital post. During this time, as she wrote in a letter to the Globe and Mail, neither the university nor the hospital gave her support as both were expecting large donations from Apotex. Olivieri was reinstated after a 1999 academic tenure and freedom committee of the Canadian Association of University Teachers commissioned a report that exonerated her, concluding her academic freedom was infringed when Apotex threatened legal action if she went public with her fears about deferiprone.A 1999 scandal made the university’s conflict of interest clear when then-U of T president Robert Prichard was caught lobbying the federal government on behalf of the company, asking that the government reconsider regulations on the generic drug producers that, Apotex claimed, would prevent them from fulfilling their promised $20-million towards a proposed $90 million Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology Research at U of T.