Re: Fact Presentation Not Forthright, Dr. K. C. Porteous,
P.Eng., Readers’ Forum, May 2004 PEGG.
It is very clear that Dr. Porteous is passionate about the
inclusivity issue, that he is standing up for his beliefs
and that he is doing what he believes is right for our professions.
This is something that we should all aspire to. However,
I found the insinuation leveled against the Nominating Committee
in his remarks obectionable.
Dr. Porteous wrote: “It almost appears that a pro-inclusivity
position was a requirement to be on the ballot in that there
was only one candidate who expressed any concern. He was
nominated by a group of members, not by the Nominating Committee."
I am a member of the Nominating Committee and at no time
and in no way was there ever any intent to do anything aside
from provide the best slate of candidates possible for the
election. I believe that Dr. Porteous owes the members of
the committee a public apology for the derogatory light that
was unjustly cast upon us.
Tom Greenwood-Madsen, P.Eng.
Editor’s Note: The PEGG
received the following as an open letter to newly elected
members of Council.
The continuing members of Council and the executive director
all strongly support the inclusivity proposal. This does
not make it the right thing to do.
There are many questions which have not been answered, and
the answers to other questions change as concerns are raised.
At best the concept has been poorly researched and thought
through, or alternately is simply ill conceived.
The fundamental questions yet to be adequately answered are:
Why are we doing this? What problem are we trying to solve?
How big is this problem?
Past-President Mike Smyth, P.Eng., says in his President’s
Notebook, March PEGG, that the expected number of registrations
under the inclusivity initiative would be about 100 over
five years. When challenged on this at a Board of Examiners
meeting, he acknowledged there was no basis for this number.
However, this is a crucial element in making any decision
on inclusivity. If the number is correct, there is a lot
of effort being expended to solve a non-problem. On the other
hand, if the number is 5,000 to 10,000 over the same period,
the question arises as to why APEGGA has not fulfilled its
legal responsibilities of preventing unqualified people from
At the APEGGA Annual General Meeting, Executive Director
Neil Windsor, P.Eng., found a way out of this dilemma when
he stated that the primary target group for registration
under inclusivity would be people currently practicing under
the supervision of a registered professional. To my knowledge
this claim had not been made previously in any publication
or public forum.
The validity of such a statement certainly needs to be demonstrated.
I suspect that it has no more basis in fact than the 100
registrations over five years. However, the important point
is that the public is already protected because a registered
professional is already responsible for the work.
Do these people even want to be registered? We don’t
know. Do we really care that they are not subject to APEGGA’s
code of ethics, discipline process and the continuing professional
development program? I would suggest the answer is no.
Registration of such individuals would certainly increase
the number of members and this may well be the hidden agenda
behind this initiative. APEGGA’s administration seems
obsessed with making the Association as large as possible.
What is really going on? From the engineering side of the
house, there is a problem with defining exactly what engineering
is. The definition in the EGGP Act is so broad it is meaningless.
Council elected not to solve this problem.
Inclusivity represents a way around the problem. By making
it possible to register everyone who appears to be doing “engineering” work,
regardless of their formal training, the problem goes away.
This is misguided. First, many of these individuals, who
may well be chemists, physicists, biologists etc., do not
want to be members of APEGGA. Second, if they do not register,
and many won’t, what will APEGGA do? If they are already
practicing under a registered professional, it doesn’t
matter, but if they are not then nothing has changed.
We need a clearer and more restrictive definition of the
practice of engineering. If an individual is designing and
implementing a new software operating system for the Toronto
Stock Exchange, is this the practice of engineering? The
frequent failure of the system or an error in the system
would certainly harm the public.
If a chemist is developing “lab on a chip” technology
which involves designing chips with the capability to analyze
for certain chemical compounds, is this engineering? The
use of such technology in medical laboratories has a public
Does managing the operation of a water treatment plant constitute
the of practice engineering? One is tempted to say yes, given
the e-coli problem in Ontario a few years ago. If you do
say yes, does it then follow that the management of any food
processing or food manufacturing plant also involves the
practice of engineering?
I do not believe, and many other members agree, that any
of these examples involve practicing engineering. Council’s
support for the inclusivity initiative suggests otherwise
and in fact some individual councillors have confirmed to
me that these examples do, in their opinion, constitute the
practice of engineering.
I would urge you as new members of Council to undertake
your own thorough and independent review of inclusivity.
This is an extremely important issue. Do not allow your objectivity
to be swayed by those on Council who have been championing
It is irrelevant that the previous Council worked on this
for a year and that some egos may get bruised if the initiative
is abandoned. The only matter of any importance is that the
decision taken is in the best interests of the public, the
professions, the members and the Association.
Dr. K. C. Porteous, P.Eng.
Note: Dr. Porteous is entitled to his opinions and The
PEGG will publish all items submitted
by members, provided they are of reasonable length and in
good taste. However, several statements contained in this
submission do merit comment.
Firstly, to presume to advise
newly elected members of Council to undertake their own “thorough and independent review
of inclusivity” is to suggest that these professionals,
in whom the members have placed their trust, have not indeed
done so in any case.
Secondly, the suggestion of a “hidden agenda” is
an incorrect and unwarranted innuendo, not worthy of a professional
member. We would hope that members could keep their comments
to the facts of the issue and maintain the debate at a professional
Finally, Dr. Porteous has presented his views on inclusivity
in his letter and, as he has suggested before, it is important
that the views of all members be made available to everyone.
Over the coming months, as the consultation and communication
process proceeds, and as we hear the views of all stakeholders,
Council will be presenting additional details of how the
proposed categories might be implemented and what the impact
will be on members, potential members and the public. We
invite readers to consider all the material that is made
available, provide Council with your comments and, when the
time comes for a decision to be made, to participate in the
decision by casting your ballot in accordance with your beliefs.
Drive to Dilution
The drive towards inclusivity, like the issuing of more shares
in a company, always results in a rendering down and dilution
of the standards and values of the original material.
This is the bedrock of the discussion.
The proposals are for international applicants, for those
with academic backgrounds that do not match APEGGA’s
established syllabli, and for those from assorted sciences
and who would probably be better advised to set up their
own association to deal with their specific talents.
In each instance standards are the issue.
Surely APEGGA, while maintaining its own high standards,
could liase with other organizations which, although slightly
different in composition, such as the assorted scientists
mentioned in The PEGG articles, also maintain a specialist
faculty which values high standards in its own ranks.
While one can sympathize with the second group, that is no
good reason to lower the standards of APEGGA. Life is not
fair, but to deliberately subordinate the qualifications
of the majority in favour of a minority seems to be grossly
“Internationally trained practitioners” are coming to
Canada to partake in the Canadian quality of life, which
was developed and built on Canadian values, Canadian standards,
Canadian blood, Canadian sweat, Canadian examinations, Canadian
financial resources, Canadian tradition, Canadian heritage
and Canadian tears. While it should not be the aim to “exclude” deserving
practitioners who desire to embrace all that Canadians are,
one should be careful to avoid the trap of “including” a
minority who wish the majority to bend to their demands and
requirements for inclusion into a system they did not found,
build, develop or finance, but wish to exploit for their
own personal gain.
Despite the noble sounding rhetoric emanating from politicians
and people in leadership positions, Canada’s high standards
and values are being diluted insidiously. It would be sad
to see APEGGA follow suit. The empirical evidence of history
proves that once lost, it is extremely difficult to rebuild
standards, values and morality in any society.
By the way, as an example of the insidious nature of decline,
there is no such word as “inclusivity.”
(Spouse of a Life Member)
Editor’s Note: Although standard dictionaries do not
include “inclusivity,” its usage was quite well
established before APEGGA adopted it. A Google search, in
fact, turns up 59,000-plus citations.
I was amused by your online headline, Council Encourages
Members to Learn More About New Category.
This statement implies that we members are ignorant of
the facts and are complaining needlessly. Does it not occur
to you that all this furore may have been caused by the
fact that we understand exactly what this is all about
and don't like it?
May I suggest that your next headline read, Members Encourage
Council to Learn More About What the Members Actually Want?
Al Faux, P.Geol.
I express my concerns about inclusivity because I am an
example of a person who would not be considered eligible
to become a P.Eng. under this new proposal. My area of expertise
was as an electrical engineer with specific expertise in
microwave engineering. I gained this expertise while doing
research in physics for a PhD degree.
Indeed, I was one of very few persons with such expertise
in Alberta for many years prior to my registration. My lack
of registration created a problem since I could not offer
my services despite my expertise. It took the concerted efforts
of some enlightened engineering educators to help me obtain
It is not necessary to restrict the area of practice of those
persons with legitimate expertise in an area of engineering
and frequently more comprehensive and in greater depth than
most engineers would have, just because they lack an undergraduate
engineering degree. No registered engineer attempts to consult
or offer services outside his/her area of expertise, as that
would contravene APEGGA licence regulations as well as professional
responsibility and ethics.
The fact that one holds an undergraduate degree in some branch
of engineering does not guarrantee that the person is an
expert in any particular area. Every engineer develops narrow
areas of expertise and this is usually gained through practice
and experience. Indeed, this is the strength of the profession.
Today, there are few if any engineers who have a comprehensive
understanding of the entire field of, say, chemical or electrical
engineering. The knowledge base is far too large. It is,
therefore, not necessary to impose the restrictions on the
practice of those registered who lack an engineering undergraduate
degree and to impose on them a different professional designation.
Globally, engineering is now practiced by many professionals
who do not have an engineering education because of the degree
of specialization now necessary to provide first-class, up-to-date
information to clients is not always available via the engineering
education route. A professional in any field of endeavour
is one who has expertise in that field and this can be gained
in other ways than through university education in that field.
APEGGA should stop trying to turn the clock back and move
forward into the 21st century. It should introduce flexible
regulations to encourage trained scientific professionals
to be included in the eligible membership of APEGGA without
the proposed constraints.
Failure to do this will only encourage the misuse of the
term "emgineer" by those who may not be adequately
trained and not have the expertise to offer such dervices
to the public.
H. A. Buckmaster, Ph.D., P. Phys., P. Eng, P.Geoph.
Climate Change Causes
Have Had a Hearing
Re: Climate Change Science Actually is Important, David
Barss, P.Geol., Readers’ Forum, April 2004 PEGG.
Mr. Barss’s suggestion that the cause of climate
change has not had a proper hearing is specious. The International
Panel on Climate Change report is based upon review of the
all peer-reviewed articles published in the atmospheric sciences
and therefore represents the findings of the entire atmospheric
The most recent report of the working group on climate change
was authored by 120 of the world’s leading climate
scientists with contributions from over 500 additional climate
specialists. The report was peer reviewed three times by
300 experts in the field. The resulting document represents
a remarkable consensus of opinion.
To suggest that the IPCC report is politically motivated,
as some have indicated, represents an incredibly cynical
view of the integrity of scientists. The document is also
remarkable for it candor. Uncertainties are not discounted;
they are reflected in the interpretations. To have another
review by non-experts is unnecessary.
Mr. Barss’s reference to the many detractors overstates
the scientific disagreement. The IPCC committee reviews all
refereed articles in the field. If the detractors have published
refereed articles in recognized journals, then their findings
were taken into account.
If they have chosen to publish non-refereed articles or publish
in obscure journals, then one must wonder why they have chosen
not to have their findings reviewed by their peers. Are they
more interested in influencing the political debate or are
they truly interested in doing good science?
Mr. Barss’s statement that the cause of climate change
remains unproven may be correct, in an absolute sense – the
question can only be dealt with probabilistically – but
this does not negate the credible evidence that indicates
that anthropogenic greenhouse gases are a major contributor
to this change.
Much of the climate warming from 1900-1940 can be attributed
to natural forcing (i.e. solar output and volcanic emissions),
while natural forcing is not a plausible explanation for
warming in the later half of the century. The increased heat
trapping caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gases is necessary
to account for the rise in global temperature from 1976 to
The question debated amongst climate experts is not whether
greenhouse gas emissions are driving climate change. Rather,
it is about how much change will occur and how it will manifest
The argument that we cannot afford to address climate change
only makes sense if the impacts of climate change are discounted.
Citing the death of 30,000 Europeans in the heat wave last
year; Sir David King, chief scientific adviser for the British
government, recently stated that the consequence of climate
change are “far bigger in its manifestations than any
terrorist action could possibly be,” and that “we
face a period of massive economic and political instability.”
In Canada glaciers are receding and as a consequence melt
water is diminishing. Flows in the Old Man and Peace rivers
are at 60 per cent of their 1910 levels, and flow in the
South Saskatchewan River at Saskatoon is at 19 per cent of
To do nothing to address climate change is to pass these
problems on to our children, meanwhile compounding the problem.
The question is not can we afford to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions; the question is can we afford not to do it.
By addressing the problem, in a meaningful way, a new wave
of creativity and innovation will emerge.
J. Edward Mathison, P.Geol.