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Whistler well represented on premier's technology council

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Premier Gordon Campbell announced a 14-member technology council this week, and if they need to get together on a weekend Whistler would be a logical meeting place.

Among the council appointees, six own places in Whistler, including Shannon Byrne, president and CEO of Paradata Systems Inc.; Jim Yeates, chairman of Burntsand Inc.; and Greg Kerfoot, CEO and president of Crystal Decisions.

Paradata, based in Function Junction, has become well-known in recent years as it has become a world-leader in e-commerce systems for digital goods delivery. Paradata was recently awarded the 2001 British Columbia Technology Industries Association Best Application of Web Technology award. Byrne is also a recipient of Canada's Top 40 Under 40 for the year 2000.

Yeates has been involved in the high-tech industry for the last 28 years. Prior to co-founding Burntsand in 1996 he headed Computer Innovations, a microcomputer integrator that was acquired by SHL Systemhouse Inc., and Integrated Network Services Inc.

Away from the office, Yeates is a past president of the Whistler Mountain Ski Club and a past chairman of the board of directors of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team.

Kerfoot is a past member of the Whistler Mountain Ski Club and like Yeates, has been a second homeowner in Whistler for many years. He is currently building a new house with a skating rink.

Kerfoot joined Crystal Decisions in 1988, when it was known as Crystal Services, as director of research and development and chief architect of Crystal Reports. He became president of Crystal Services in 1992, overseeing expansion of the product line to include Crystal Info., before becoming executive vice president of Crystal Decisions, a wholly owned subsidiary of Seagate Technologies, in 1996.

Other council members with Whistler homes are Greg Aason, founder and chief operating officer of PMC-Sierra; Norm Francis, president and CEO of Pivotal Corporation; and Firoz Rasul, CEO of Ballard Power Systems.

The Premier’s Technology Council will inform Campbell on all technology-related issues and advise government on how to make B.C. "a global magnet for high-tech investment, growth and job creation," according to a release.

"As part of our 90-day agenda, we committed to creating an advisory council to look at technology issues and devise strategies to put British Columbia at the forefront of the world's technology-based economies," Campbell said in the release.

"This council includes some of our brightest and most innovative business leaders, researchers and educators from all major technology sectors. Together, we can make British Columbia the first choice for high-tech business, reinstate ourselves as a world leader in e-government, and ensure all British Columbians can participate fully in the digital economy."

The council's first task will be to recommend strategies within 90 days to bridge the digital divide – the figurative line that separates British Columbians who have the access and skills needed to make use of information technology from those who do not.

"It’s an ambitious plan," Yeates said. "But I really believe in the Internet. The changes that have happened in the last five years, and the changes in the next five years – it’s amazing."

Campbell will chair the council. Paul Lee, senior vice-president and worldwide studios chief operating officer of Electronic Arts Inc., will serve as industry co-chair.

Other council members include: Barbara Alexander, regional sales manager, British Columbia, for Microsoft Canada; Michael Calyniuk, a senior audit partner with PricewaterhousCoopers and head of the firm’s British Columbia Technology Industry Group; William Koty, director of the division of applied technology for the UBC Continuing Studies; Victor Ling, vice president of research at the B.C. Cancer Agency; Ian McBeath, president and CEO of Inflazyme Pharmaceuticals Inc.; Amos Michelson, CEO of Creo Products Inc.; and Donald Rix, one of the owners and founders and currently chairman of the board of directors of MDS Metro Laboratory Services. He is also an owner and founder and chairman of Cantest Ltd.

The council will engage in public consultation and hold quarterly meetings in a venue open to the public.

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