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2023 Canadian Accounting Hall of Fame inductees includes forensic accountant Al Rosen, prominent critic of profession

Founders of the Profession category includes critic of international financial reporting standards, cannabis company accounting, audit scandals and more

Author: Colin Ellis

TORONTO, August 27, 2023 – Among the 2023 inductees of the Canadian Accounting Hall of Fame is a thorn in the side of the accounting profession. Forensic accountant Al Rosen, a frequently quoted critic of international financial reporting standards and accounting fraud, is the most recognizable name among the eight inductees, which were selected by the Canadian Academic Accounting Association: 

Founders of the Profession
Haim Falk
L. S. (Al) Rosen

Leaders of the Profession
Rodney J. Anderson
Efrim Boritz
Barbara Carle-Thiesson
Karim Jamal
Monique F. Leroux
Daniel B. Thornton 

Rosen is frequently quoted by the media when it comes to corporate fraud, audit failure and weaknesses in accounting standards. In 2018, Rosen levelled a scathing critique of cannabis companies and the “audited hallucinations” of inflated valuations due to IFRS, which have have been borne out by high-profile corporate collapses and class action lawsuits. 

Before becoming Canada’s most prominent critic of accounting standards, however, Rosen had a distinguished career in academia. His induction biography recognizes his role in the formation of the CAAA and in accounting education — stressing the importance of training students to think critically, rather than just memorizing — leading in part to the establishment of the L. S. Rosen Outstanding Accounting Educator Award. 

While accountants of older generations recall Rosen as a professor at the University of Alberta and York University, younger generations of accountants entering the profession are still influenced by Rosen. As his biography explains, Rosen was the “intellectual driving force” behind a “radical revision” of the accounting profession’s national examination, “away from specific, self-contained questions and towards integrated case-based investigations.” Today's CPA common final examination (CFE) continues to use case-based questions as the uniform evaluation (UFE) of chartered accountants did before it.

Founders of the profession focused on a Canadian culture

Rosen is joined in the Founders category by Haim Falk, the founding editor of Contemporary Accounting Research, the research journal of the CAAA. The publication was founded in part to encourage Canadian accounting researchers with the goal of rising to the level of a world class accounting research journal. Today the Journal is recognized as one of the foremost academic accounting publications in the world. 

Together, Rosen and Falk represent the founding of an academic accounting culture in Canada, one which focused on Canadian intellectual talent separate from that of the United States. As a footnote, Falk appears to be the first certified general accountant inducted into the Hall of Fame, while Rosen holds all three legacy designations, including two legacy fellowships. 

Outstanding contributions to the development of the profession

All six biographies of the inductees in the “Leaders of the Profession” category are worth reading and cannot be adequately summarized in a few sentences. Rodney J. Anderson and J. Efrim Boritz promoted the use of systems technologies during the nascent age of computer technology. (Anderson is described as an accounting “visionary” who was also a prominent poet and musician.) 

Karim Jamal and Barbara Carle-Thiesson, a professor and practitioner respectively, are lauded for their work on behalf of smaller accounting firms and practitioners, while Monique Leroux and Daniel Thornton have had long careers in business and academia respectively. 

Early criticism of inductees addressed

The Canadian Accounting Hall of Fame was launched in 2021 by the CAAA, which is funded by CPA Canada, as “a curated biographical history of accounting in Canada.” Officially, it recognizes and honours individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of the Canadian accounting profession or, as Canadians, have made contributions to the development of accounting elsewhere in the world. 

In 2021, as reported by Canadian Accountant, the inaugural list of inductees was noteworthy for its lack of diversity. Ellen Fairclough, a chartered accountant and the first woman to be named Acting Prime Minister of Canada, was listed as an example of a worthy inductee but a notable omission, among others. One year later, Fairclough was among four women inducted, including Sheila Fraser, the former auditor general of Canada. 

The CAHF Board of Electors is mostly composed of legacy chartered accountants. Its director, Alistair K. Mason, holds a doctorate as well as the CA and CMA legacy designations. 

Colin Ellis is a contributing editor to Canadian Accountant. Read Al Rosen's past columns on Canadian Accountant.

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