Terri-Jane Yuzda


Let's hear from you...

The PEGG welcomes letters as an avenue for members to express opinions and concerns on issues or topics of interest to the professions. Share your experiences with other members.

Just mail: 1500 Scotia One, 10060 Jasper Avenue NW, Edmonton, AB T5J 4A2, E-mail: glee@apegga.org or Fax: (780) 425-1722 your letters to the editor, signed with your name and address.

Of course we can't publish all letters received and can't run letters concerning specific registration matters before any APEGGA regulatory body. Do try and keep your letters to 300 words or less.

A Non-Voter's Reasons

Like many APEGGA members, I didn't bother to vote in the last Council election. Indeed, I'm baffled as to what the voting criteria were for those who did.

Included with the ballot is a brochure with each candidate's photo, brief bio, list of APEGGA involvement and list of extra-curricular affiliations. And oh yes, there's the all-important paragraph telling us if they're married, have children and where they live.

Exactly what is the value of the photo of the candidate? Most of us have never heard of the person before and will likely never meet the person during the course of their term. We should be voting on substance rather than looks.

The biographies usually start with a list of degrees and the universities the candidate is from, then go on to list past employment titles and what the candidate is working on. While this is slightly useful, I can't help but wonder if most of these folks will have time to serve - especially when you couple this with all their other APEGGA activities and their extra-curricular affiliations.

I'm not sure of the purpose of telling us their marital status, number of children or for that matter where they live. What difference does any of this make?

The only indication of what these people think, to some degree, is by the answers to two printed questions at the end of each candidate's information. I notice most of the candidates responded with a single (and very wordy) sentence. Yet the candidate for president didn't answer these questions at all, perhaps because he was the only person running for the position (and he was likely hand-picked by some nominations committee).

Not one of these candidates really stated why they are running for the position. Not one of these candidates stated their independent thoughts as to what they want to change or improve. Not one of these candidates stated their proposed style of operation or how they plan to include the views of other APEGGA members.

If we don't know why these people are motivated to run and we have no idea what these folks really think or what issues they want to drive, what exactly are we voting for?

Mel Wilde, P.Eng.

Editor's Note: Mr. Wilde's comments warrant a response. Photos are traditionally included in any biographical literature, because many people like to put a name with a face. Similarly, family details are also traditional inclusions. Town or city of residence is important, because APEGGA strives to attract candidates from throughout the province. The president-elect is not handpicked. To become president, he or she must first have been elected to Council and served at least one year. Most have served longer than that. For the sake of continuity, Council has set in motion a change that makes the first vice-president the president-elect. That means there will no longer be a member vote for the position of president, but to get there the president will have been earlier elected as president-elect. Council does have a nominating committee, but nominations are not restricted to those generated by the committee.

Erring On Side of Caution

I wish to fully concur with the points made in the letter from H. Neal Collins, P.Eng., in the May issue of The PEGG (Kyoto Position Needed, Readers' Forum). APEGGA should have an opinion on Kyoto, because this is a major technology-related issue facing the Canadian public and also an item of public safety. On both points, the Association has a duty and responsibility.

As with the general public, the concept of the "precautionary principle" is very new to engineers. The principle states, very simply, that if the full implications of a specified action are not known, it is best to err on the side of caution. When the implications of climate change are considered, it becomes a prime candidate for precautionary action (i.e. ratification of the Kyoto Protocol).

Kyoto is the best solution yet devised in spite of the fact that it does not go nearly far enough to avert a doubling of greenhouse gasses. Hopefully, more effective action will follow.

We invoke the precautionary principle every time we design and build a structure by introducing fire alarms, emergency exits, pressure relief valves, and fail-safe criteria. As we discover new hazards we act to eliminate them with such examples as PCB or asbestos removal, the elimination of lead in gasoline, endangered species recovery, etc.

Removal and clean up are typically far more expensive than initial prevention. The costs of remediation of the types of problem that will ensue from climate change will be astronomical. This, I feel , is a very strong reason for APEGGA to endorse such action as well as to actively promote mitigation of the causes.

I was not happy with the reasons given below the aforementioned letter for our adoption of a "neutral" stance. APEGGA is an organization of professionals with a mandate to give advice on aspects of engineering, which could adversely affect the public. Avoiding this responsibility because our "membership represents a broad spectrum of individual positions" should not cause us to deviate from the general consensus held by our scientific peers.

On the various points of support in the APEGGA guidelines:

The "efficient and responsible use of our energy and natural resources" is so far from current practices as to be farcical. We do not even have a working definition for sustainable development which, to many, is defined as sustained development.
Being the professional organization we are, we should be giving the public the benefit of our insight on technical solutions to climate change, not seeking "continuing dialogue."

Obtaining "ongoing awareness" etc. entails accepting the views of the scientific community, which is in complete variance with those of many politicians. What purpose does seeking "ongoing awareness of, and due regard for, linkages between climate change and other environmental concerns" serve or even mean?

When planning for the safety of society "cost-effective" and "socially acceptable" are of no relevance. Surely the aspect of safety trumps all else. Were the potential costs of inaction considered when these guidelines were developed?
Of course the "improvement of business and individual consumer actions to improve energy efficiency" are welcome, but, as a professional organization, we cannot simply be spectators.

APEGGA must not be afraid of offending our political leaders. By avoiding the issue of climate change, which is technologically created and can only be resolved through technology, we are shirking our public responsibilities.

David J. Parker, P.Eng.

Are APEGGA Members Short-changed?

It is a requirement of the New York district court overseeing Enron's bankruptcy that the court approve the legal bill of the firm representing the company. As a result, the charge-out rates for the lawyers working on the case have been made public (Globe and Mail, June 15, 2002). Dissemination of such information to the public is not common practice for reasons that are painfully obvious.

According to the court filing, half of the lawyers (by implication the senior half) charge between $500 US and $700 US an hour! The Globe and Mail article also states that senior lawyers at Canadian firms would charge between $450 and $750 an hour, in our dollars.

It is my belief that APEGGA members, with equivalent years of education and experience to these senior lawyers, would feel very fortunate to charge just one fifth of these "untendered" rates. However, the Enron lawyers' firm states that they consider the fees (which I emphasize are in the order of five times those that APEGGA members would be very lucky to charge) are reasonable!

I find this information very disturbing. I can only surmise that either APEGGA members are being radically short-changed or that lawyers are dramatically over-charging.

Kevin Hewitt, P.Eng.


Home | Past PEGGs | PEGG Search | Contact Us