Saturday, October 9, 2010

Dr. Ted Hsu, "game-changer" for Kingston Liberals

Ted Hsu, uncommonly respectful, dedicated and globally insightful!

(Endorsing a political candidate is never done lightly, irreverently, or without risk. Nevertheless, we all face considerable risk, in how our country deals with both the economy and the environment. We at the happily take the risk attendant to endorsing a candidate whose future will be bright, hopeful and full of accomplishments of his own on our behalf.)

Engaging, energetic, charismatic, intellectually accomplished and seasoned in business….Who in the riding of Kingston and the Islands would not be proud to have Dr. Ted Hsu as the Liberal Member of Parliament in the next government?
Ted Hsu is a graduate physicist, with a doctorate from Princeton, whose academic work applied a mathematical model to the interactions of electrons in high temperature super conductors. What did he learn, as a result of his study? “Primarily, that electrons, although they interact with the nucleus and among themselves, nevertheless, they behave like non-interacting electrons in normal metals, but not in these superconductors.” On a more “layman” level, he also learned that as a scientist, he could study something for a few months only to realize that “I could be wrong” and I have to back off that particular approach. “I think this is a positive that I bring to parliament and government; politicians often stay too long with an approach that isn’t working because to acknowledge it isn’t working might cause them to lose face.”
Dr. Hsu is very concerned about the legacy we are leaving our children and grandchildren, especially with respect to the size of our carbon footprint. In Kingston, for example, as Executive Director of S.W.I.T.C.H., a non-profit dedicated to the goal of authentic sustainability for the city, he would like to see the city achieve a 10% reduction in our carbon footprint within 5-10 years, a modest goal that looks much easier than it actually is to accomplish. One of the reasons for the difficulty, according to Dr. Hsu is that the prices are all wrong. There is no incentive for consumers to move dramatically and swiftly in the direction of sustainability. Upon completing a study of the data in Kingston from 2000 -2006, he discovered that there was very little, if any, impact of conservation use and that most variance could be explained by weather and normal consumption peaks and valleys.
As a long-term thinker, who has studied science, and worked in the financial services sector, Dr. Hsu believes that political parties need large numbers of members to explain prospective policy to the public, because people will listen to those they already know and trust. He also believes that honest accounting is essential in order to bring about fair pricing of various energy sources, so that subsidies and hidden environmental costs are included in the cost of production, and then renewable energy sources will be able to compete on a level playing field.
He favours energy generated by nuclear power, once again, provided it is on a fully costed basis; similarly, he advocates the continued use of coal, on a fully costed basis, and those costs would include the cost to the environment of the carbon that is emitted. Having worked on the Stephane Dion leadership campaign, Dr. Hsu has watched the debates over the green energy plans put forward by the former leader, and when asked about how he would proceed, if given the file, either in caucus or in government, he pauses to reflect and then begins, with an ever-present slight smile of detached enjoyment, as he responds:
“First, I like a balance between old and new so that they are integrated; an example of this kind of thinking can be seen at the Louvre, in Paris, an old building, where the renovations included a glass pyramid. Similarly, in the Art Gallery of Ontario, the new addition brought in new architecture in cedar, without in any way detracting from the original.”
“Second, I would proceed cautiously, with modest goals, and full respect for the needs of the people to understand each step of the change process. Explanation, explanation, explanation….to colleagues, to constituents, to the general public. I am a detail-oriented guy whose experience in both science and in financial management retains the macro picture while attending to the finest details. The mission of S.W.I.T.C.H. for example is the “vitality of the community as a whole” and that mission guides us in our daily tasks in serving our members to help them find opportunities and new partners and to avoid dangers in their projects.”
Recognizing the political realities both in the country and for the Liberal Party, Dr. Hsu understands the need to recover the respect of the electorate for the process. If he were successful in securing the nomination, and in achieving victory in the election, neither of which he takes for granted, he brings a modesty, “as a rookie” to the process, a commitment to be as honest as possible and a healthy skepticism to the process of leadership and governing.
With respect to the role of the Member of Parliament, in relationship to the bureaucracy, Dr. Hsu believes that he has a distinct advantage over others because of his background, enabling the civil servants to move quickly through the background briefings, especially in scientific matters and in financial management issues, to the core issues, without having to spend additional time needed to orient a less experienced audience. Once again, he concentrates on “respect” for the members of the civil service, “who know more than I do and who can and often are very helpful when they know you are prepared and have respect for their expertise.”
With respect to Canada’s future in nuclear reactors, Dr. Hsu advocates the building of a new research reactor, as different from a nuclear power reactor, and points to the Chalk River reactor to which scholars, scientists, and industrial researchers came from around the world to learn from and work with Canadians. He would like to see that kind of global initiative in this field for Canada in the future.
As an “uncommon” candidate, with an intense and sustainable interest in and management skills for the future of both our economy and our environment, both common shared issues, Dr. Hsu offers a file of successful academic achievements, a social conscience that drives his daily work in the city on behalf of future generations, experience in the necessary honest accounting to bring to the public’s attention all the hidden factors behind “hidden derivatives” on the books of A.I.G. and also behind the actual costs of various forms of energy, without government subsidy, for consideration as a nominee by members of the Liberal Association for Kingston and the Islands.
Could he provide continuity with the level of performance and legacy of his most recent predecessors, Peter Milliken, Edgar Benson and Flora McDonald? The scribe's answer is an unqualified, “yes, both more and different!”
This man is a “game changer” in the current vernacular, and whether or not he wins this nomination, he will be leading this community, and/or any community fortunate to have him as a member, forward in insight, in confidence and in authentic sustainability for his grandchildren and for ours. This, for him, is not a fight for personal political power; it is a long and sustainable struggle for the health of the individual and for the planet.
It has been an honour and a privilege to meet with and to get to know Dr.Ted Hsu.

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