by Raine Phythian P olitical science professor Dr. Mario Levesque is driven by a desire to solve controversial issues. Levesque, who studies and teaches strategies for changing public policy, is currently  examining how businesses, governments, and citizens use information to promote or block the approval of disputed and potentially environmentally-harmful facilities and ways to reach an equitable process for stakeholders. Levesque comes at this research with a unique point of view. He started his professional life as a small-business owner. At that time, he served on a government industry committee that examined workplace health and safety issues in Ontario. The committee’s recommendations were adopted and highly successful. Accidents went down and businesses reduced compensation premiums. He also served on a committee looking at regulations for pesticide use. He says, “The outcome of this was very different. Industry concerns were ignored and the government introduced an unworkable system.” That similar decision-making processes resulted in vastly different outcomes puzzled Levesque. It led him back to pursue a PhD. “I first worked in the trenches, then I studied the theory behind it. Then it was back out there to try and work out strategies for changes in policy,” he says. Levesque says protecting the environment, and public health needs to be done in a way that is reasonable for businesses. “I first wanted to protect the environment but my background in business made me realize some regulations just don’t make sense from an industry perspective — they are not feasible to implement.” Currently he is looking at why three proposals to burn scrap tires as an energy source were rejected and one was approved. “The problem is that companies want to 10 / Summer 2013 / RECORD