Friday, September 28, 2007
Suggestions / recommendations welcome.
Given that the mansion is worth many millions of dollars and the 'gift' in question was only $500 let's hope it really wasn't a bribe, because $500 would just be mean. I wonder if they tip well in restaurants?
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Interestingly, he still doesn't go far enough for the union barons of OPSEU, who issued this press release a while ago calling for the abolition of the LCBO Agency Stores program, set up to provide access to alcoholic beverages in small and rural communities that previously had no such access.
Reading the press release with its anachronistic tone reminded me of the trade union excesses of 1980s Britain:
And the more I watch provincial politics and provincial public services, the more clear it becomes that the real problem facing all of them, health, education or anything else, is that the unions are running them and McGuinty is their best friend. There can be no real improvement in public services when the unions are in the position of deciding what can change and what can't. McGuinty prizes peace and mythical 'consensus' above all else; he lets native thugs run Caledonia and he lets his friends at workingfamilies.ca run Ontario in return for their generous support of the Liberal Party. As McGuinty runs Ontario's public institutions, they are no longer there to serve the people who need them, but to serve the people who work in them.
To overcome this will take far more than a provincial election; it's a massive shift in mindset that will need to take root in the population at large, and it likely won't happen until the unions overreach themselves. But McGuinty might want to take a look at the former 'old' Labour governments of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan, to see what happens when those cosy union buddies start squeezing more out of government than the economy can bear. With another four years of McGuinty tax and spend we might well get to that point.
In the meantime, to those thinking of voting other than PC over the faith based schools issue, I say this: I understand that issue being a big concern for people. But is it really, truly worth another four years of McGuinty? Is it?
Monday, September 24, 2007
Particularly in North America, Michael Jackson deserves much of the credit for the renaissance of beer and brewing that took place in the 80s and 90s, for the growth of craft and microbreweries and the establishments in which to sample their products. So if you're drinking a decent beer now, you owe him.
On September 30, there will be a National Toast for Michael Jackson across North America, with proceeds going to the National Parkinsons Foundation. So if you have a friendly local pub, why not grab a poster (link to follow) and get them to collect some donations that night.
You can learn more at http://michaeljacksonthebeerhunter.blogspot.com/, and find the poster for the National Toast there too. If you've never read any of Michael's work, his last column is posted at http://www.allaboutbeer.com/ as an example of why you should.
So, this Ontario election campaign is shaping up to be about 'education', is it? Not so fast. Because, while there's lots of hot air around the faith-based funding issue, and still more around the 'broken funding formula', while there is talk of class size, special needs students, etc., etc., nobody is actually talking about education.
Education (at least the school component of it) mostly comprises what happens in the classroom between a teacher and his or her students. It is the process of teaching and the process of learning. Education is the imparting of knowledge and skills to the student by the teacher. It is, essentially, where a teacher does his or her job and it is the work of the system about which so many words are being spoken in this election campaign.
With this being clearly the raison d'etre of the system, and in the end, the only thing that really matters, you might expect an 'education' campaign to be about what happens in the classrooms of Ontario. But none of the politicians actually want to talk about that. They're all happy to talk about money, and who gets how much. They love to talk about the latest educational theories coming from university academics, and they (some more than others) love their warm and fuzzy photo ops with schoolchildren as props. But you won't hear them talk about what actually happens in the classroom.
The outcome of those years in the classroom appears differently to the political classes and the rest of us, as well. If you're Dalton McGuinty, for example, you're thrilled because test scores are up. If you're someone who has to hire highschool graduates from time to time, you've probably had occasion to differ with that rosy assessment. Take Doggerelle's experience, for example, when one of her employees presented her with a sales breakdown that added up to 113% and was stunned when Doggerelle told her it must be incorrect. "How do you know?" asked the young lady, who was by then a business student at Algonquin College. That's just one memorable example, but it's entirely representative of the output of the Ontario education system.
All test scores are normalized; that scores are 'up' is meaningless. We're never shown data on how the level of the tests themselves has changed over the years, and we're never shown the normalization applied to the results. Whether students can read fluently, write clearly, use a spell-checker and do basic arithmetic, on the other hand, can't be faked.
I have a textbook from 1920 at home, picked up in an antique store. It's from Canada, and it's aimed at Grade 8. There isn't a highschool in Ontario today that teaches math at the level in this book, even in Grade 12. It's at this point that McGuinty would trot out the international comparison; we're doing well compared to the US, etc. Well who isn't? All western education systems have embraced the same freewheeling experimental meddling of theorists, all are dumbed-down, all are universally awful. That we are less awful than some other unrelated system is not cause for celebration.
So why don't we talk about this? Why isn't this part of the campaign? There are two main reasons. One is that the people doing the debating are themselves the product of the steadily declining spiral of educational attainment. They don't expect any better, because the system is what made them. The main reason, however, is that to do so would be to tackle the real power-broker in public education: the teaching unions. The unions are all-powerful. It is they who have created a system that bleeds dollars away from education itself to ever increasing wage demands. They created and maintain a system that is self-evaluating and free of the lens of accountability. They have successfully beaten off any attempt to force outside inspection or evaluation, teacher testing or recertification. They run the show, and nobody has the political guts to do anything about it.
One notable exception in this area is Britain's Tony Blair. Early after he came to power, he did tackle education. He had a landslide election victory and with it the political capital to do so. His own Labour education minister was booed at teaching conferences, by the unions that were Labour's friends. But Blair stuck to his guns and schools have, by all accounts, improved dramatically as a result. He kept the Thatcher era reforms (grant-maintained schools, etc.) in place and used them to help fix the classroom.
So we can huff and puff about funding formula, about one school board or two. But unless anyone has the guts to shine a light on the actual classroom work and begin to demand better, I'm not sure how much it really matters.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Premier Dalton McGuinty today distanced himself from one his key education advisers who suggested Catholic school funding could eventually be eliminated. Education guru Michael Fullan said on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning that the issue of publicly bankrolling any faith-based schools would have to be addressed.“I think eventually that's an issue that should be confronted,” Fullan, who once advised former British prime minister Tony Blair on public education, told CBC’s Andy Barrie.
In an interview on CFRA last week, Minister-of-Invented-Portfolios Jim Watson also clearly differentiated between funding what was 'constitutionally required' and discretionary funding of faith-based education. Funding of Catholic schools beyond Grade 8 is discretionary and in the same category as other faith-based schools, according to Watson. Listening to the end of the interview leaves little doubt that Catholics should be aware that their education system is now under threat from a McGuinty government.
CROSBY, Ont. — Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion says his party lost the by-election in Outremont to the New Democrats on Monday because voters were sending a message to the Conservative government to pull out of Afghanistan.You can't make this stuff up...
Methinks the polling companies have been getting the results they went looking for, as in this famous excerpt from Yes Minister.
Monday, September 17, 2007
...and the toxic worst is always a possibility - that those who are different and unseen will be perceived as different and dangerous.Yep. Different and dangerous is exactly how Warren and the gang are painting anyone of faith right now. Toxic indeed.
You know what I love about Ontario's Public Schools? They're public. And expensive. Very, very expensive. Whatever the race or creed of our kids, they attend the same schools. Unless they're Catholic, in which case they don't. Together. They learn, play, laugh and sing, together. Sometimes they get shot, together. They do drugs. Together. They graduate highschool unable to spell or do basic math. Together. Unless they're Catholic.
I believe that taking half a billion much needed dollars from the teaching unions to give to evil religious schools is a mistake. Unless it's to Catholic schools. Our public schools are what makes Ontario, Ontario. And our Catholic schools are what make Ontario, Ontario too. I'm asking you to join me in standing up for a completely inconsistent position on public schools. Because we're all in
Friday, September 14, 2007
Yes, he meant winter 2006/07.
Meanwhile Warren Kinsella thinks that a developer who's been victimised by the native thugs shouldn't complain to Warren's precious baby Premier, because the victim happens to be a Tory. Yep, if you're a Liberal, maybe you could come looking for help from your Premier with things like, for example, the rule of law - or at least not being beaten senseless with a 2 by 4. But no, if you didn't vote for Dalton you've no business complaining. Natives trashing your development site? If you're a Tory, suck it up and keep quiet. Love Warren.
How about we don't keep quiet? The MSM is still making strenuous efforts to ignore Caledonia, or at least avoid treating it as a political story. We need to make sure this gets into the campaign at every opportunity, because it really shows the Liberals' true colours.
Hmmm... let's look at the wildlife symbolism.
Conservative: Small dead vermin.
Liberal: Small live snapping turtles.
So the Conservative symbolism here is about getting tough on parasites and vermin - perhaps a tough on law-and-order agenda, or keeping government out of places it doesn't belong.
But unlike those mean Tories, the Liberals are all about cuteness. All until you get too close, like, for example, electing them. Get too close to those snappers and you'll lose an arm or a leg, even if you're trying to help them out. Suddenly the symbolism does make sense after all.
... all maintained by always giving everyone exactly what they want:
Now that's leadership. Line up in front of Mr. McGuinty, please, ordinary hard-working Ontarians, and prepare to get shafted.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Given the pain and suffering endured by the former students and members of the cult-like Community of Jesus, I do hope that provincial politicians of all stripes are able to keep their ambulance-chasing, pit-bull banning, no-gunning noses out of this situation and not drag it into the faith-based schools political debate.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
This should not come as a surprise. As I just wrote, I'm not in favour of the proposal to fund these schools myself, but that doesn't mean that the disgraceful and ugly politics the left is playing with it shouldn't be challenged.
Let's look at the McGuinty playbook, and consider the spin and substance:
No diversion of public education funds to special interest groups:
'Diversion'?? Excuse me, but the parents of the 53,000 students we're talking about are already paying for the public education they're not using. Don't insult them by suggesting that they're not entitled to that public education, that by sending their kids to a publicly funded school they would be somehow infringing on anyone else's education or getting something they're not entitled to. They've paid the money already, so how can it be 'diversion'?
The "They'll all teach Intolerance" defence:
The challenge when someone comes out with this crock should be to point to examples where well-run, respected faith-based schools have actually created social problems. If McGuinty doesn't think a faith-based school can teach tolerance and produce a decent citizen, what the hell is he doing as Premier after going through a Catholic education? What evidence is there that the 53,000 students currently in other faith-based schools are out there wreaking bigoted, racist havoc? None whatsoever. On the contrary, it would seem that McGuinty's beloved Toronto public school system has more to answer for.
This is a classic example of the left indulging in Freudian Projection. The left hates and fears Jews and Christians (and to a much lesser extent Muslims), but of course they like to feel themselves all warm, fuzzy and tolerant. So they take their nasty, prejudiced, bigoted views about people of faith and they project them onto the other side.
"If we let them have faith-based schools, they'll be intolerant," say the chattering classes and the media, without for a second appreciating how intolerant that is.
Let's All Laugh at a Christian today:
The media coverage on this story (admittedly aided by the creationism faux pas) has almost all been about Christianity. Gazillions of column inches about how terrible it might be to have creationism show its face in religion classes, but no complaints from the liberal media about the potential teaching of jihad or Sharia law in the schools in question. As we saw with Stockwell Day, and as the media tried to do with Stephen Harper, it's an almost instantaneous leap from talking about a real issue to just mocking, laughing and ridiculing Christians. And that mocking and ridicule is the fuel of the Liberal election campaign, make no mistake about it. That's what Kinsella and his troops are doing, that's what they're fostering and that's what will win them the election, if anything does.
It's Nothing to do with Education:
Following from the last point, the debate has largely left the actualities of education in the dust and is now just about sowing division, fear and prejudice. McGuinty might use the E-word but the spin of his campaign is about religion and race. Education gave the Liberals the hook but they're no longer really talking about education; they're too busy pitting people of different faiths and backgrounds against one another. It's subtle, clever, deliberate, cynical and utterly shameful. But it works.
I have a lot of thoughts on this whole subject, not least because we're on the verge of choosing schooling options for my daughter and thus becoming part of Ontario's education system for the first time. There's too much to say for one post, so I will be dealing with education in three separate posts:
1. The faith-based school funding idea itself.
2. The political fallout, spin and nastiness arising.
3. The discussion we should really be having about education.
I am not in favour of the proposal itself, not because of any trumped-up objections about multi-culturalism, etc. but because on a practical level it is an unmanageable can of worms. The question of what constitutes a faith-based school, or indeed a faith, is going to be impossible to define.
One of the reasons that the current system has been able to function for so long is that 'Catholic' is relatively easy to define. Had 'Catholic' meant any one of 10,000 faiths, churches, cults, sects, groups, associations, etc. the two-board system would have crumbled acrimoniously apart by now. This has not happened, but there is clearly a strong, perhaps ultimately irresistible movement to end the anomaly of publicly funded Catholic education.
With the current two-board system therefore resembling a building on a somewhat shaky foundation, it seems to me the worst thing that could be done at this time is to add some extra storeys.
If the John Tory plan were implemented, where would secular private schools be? You'd have one set of parents suddenly relieved of school fees based on their belief system, while another set of parents would continue to pay. Many parents (myself included) might choose their local private Christian school not for religious reasons, but simply to get a decent education not available in the public system. Why should they get help because their chosen school has a religious foundation, while another set of parents has to continue to pay? Is a non-religious private school arguably a humanist-secular faith-based school?
I think that there are two questions to be dealt with independently. One is what to do about publicly funded Catholic education - and nobody wants to touch that one.
The second question should not be about faith-based schools per se but about what can be done to help parents who for any reason choose any alternative to publicly funded education.
To that end, I believe the tax-credit approach proposed by the last Ontario government would have been a much better one. Parents choosing private schooling or home-schooling are paying twice for their children's education. The tax credit recognized this and offered them relief on a portion of their second cost. I think this respected parents, while minimizing the financial and practical impact on the public education system. It also did not discriminate on faith or any other basis.
A tax-credit, voucher or other assistance scheme proposal would focus debate where it should be: on the quality of education available, on what works and doesn't work within the public system, on why parents might choose something different, on education and not religion and race. Team McGuinty would have had a much harder time with that one. However, more on the politics of it all later.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Well, Janice, although I was not among those who wrote - why argue with a brick wall - it's not that those folks don't know you're a human being. It's that they know exactly what kind of human being you are.
Ms. Kennedy laments the ease with which email, blogs and discussion forums allow people to spill anger - she should know, because years ago, long before blogs, when I wrote to her about a column of hers she shot straight back with a racist slur. You're reaping what you sowed for so many years Janice. Get over it.
Friday, September 07, 2007
His brilliantly argued reasoning? Stockwell Day calls Mr. Elliott "Bill".
This got the corgis thinking. Surely it can't be healthy for a federal MP and a provincial premier to share a surname. That's unhealthily close, isn't it? If you agree, why not hop on over to http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/mcguintyname and add your name to a call for the lesser McGuinty (ain't that saying something) to change his last name to 'Moron'.
Enright defended the decision and said that it was required by Bill C-31, the rework of election regulations passed not so long ago in Parliament. In essence a standard "I don't make the rules" defence. However, he then went on to say that anyone showing up to vote wearing a mask would "clearly be making light of the situation" and therefore would be turned away and denied a vote.
Now, I thought that in a democracy such as ours, we extended the right to vote to everyone, regardless of their beliefs or motivations. That someone takes an election 'lightly' - for example, supporters of the Monster Raving Loony Party in Britain, or it's poor relation the Rhino Party, is not a valid reason to take away their democratic rights. But John Enright says otherwise. He has set himself up as the arbiter of 'taking it lightly'.
So in one breath Mr. Enright says that Elections Canada doesn't make the rules, and in the next he sets himself up to judge who may vote based on his perceptions of whether they are taking the situation lightly.
If you feel that Mr. Enright might want to drop the God complex for a while and let every Canadian be treated equally, give him a call at 1-800-463-6868, and let him know how you feel.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
I was aware of some of these stories via another route, about which I will say nothing, but I do urge readers to familiarize themselves with the Globe stories:
Dark past behind school's demise
Apology for 'hurt and pain' at private school
Born into abusive grip of a cult
Anglican bishop rejects ex-student's plea to investigate abuse claims
That something like this could be going on right here in Eastern Ontario, in recent years, completely escaping media scrutiny and the attention of law enforcement or child protection services is almost unbelievable. This is not the dark ages when some of the powers-that-be thought it was a good idea to drag native children from their parents and incarcerate them; this is only a few years ago, when the lessons of residential schools had already been well learned.
It's time for the staff and members of the cult Community of Jesus to face their own 'light session' now - let the spotlight of national media fall on them and illuminate them, hopefully long enough for law enforcement, or at least lawyers, to find them before they scuttle, cockroach-like, for shelter.
The shining of this light will doubtless be aided by the revelation today that Ottawa mayor Larry O Brien served on the board of GCC. (h/t Bourque) If nothing else motivates the press, that ought to do it.
Liberals and fascists. Strange indeed.
Why only Muslims? Why can't anyone now vote with their face covered?
Ain't multi-culturalism and the elimination of discrimination grand?
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
The less time a new mother stays off the job, the more likely her child's motor and social development will be impaired, University of British Columbia researchers concluded.In other news, Dr. Sherlock is expected to release further studies soon:
The analysis of federal survey data underlines the importance of government-funded maternity leaves, but does not mean mothers should avoid work outside the home, says Dr. Rebecca Sherlock, the neonatology specialist at the BC Children's and Women's Health Centre who spearheaded the research.
"Driving while drunk may increase the risk of killing people, but this does not mean that people should not drive while drunk."
"Eating poisonous plants may lead to premature death, but this does not mean that people should not eat poisonous plants."
How nice to be able to make a living as a columnist when you can only write three things:
- Stephen Harper is evil.
- Canadian Wimmin are downtrodden and oppressed (see 1.)
- Screw the Afghans, let them rot under the Taliban (see 1. and 2.)
Seriously, just pick any two themes, repeat for about 25 column inches and you've got a Janice Kennedy column. And if you can get in something about how great the 60s were and how you wet your panties for Pierre Trudeau, so much the better.
Meanwhile Canadian 'the only good soldier is a dead one whose relatives I can fuck' Cynic has gone running to the police (now, that surely has to be a first - someone of CC's ilk actually liking a police officer!) because some other blogger might 'out' his real identity too.
TDPC researchers have worked tirelessly for 12 seconds and can now post this photograph of the real Cynic:
Whether it's because of the different educational calendar in Britain, or the fact that the weather there is pretty much the same year round, there really isn't that same change in the pace of life. Clubs, associations, churches, workplaces, all keep going at the same pace year round. Only schools shut down for the briefer 6 to 8 week vacation.
So, Labour Day has come and gone, and time to pick up the pace again. Back to school, back to a new season of committee meetings, church activities, even work. More importantly, back to blogging. There's been a lot going on in the blogosphere of late, it seems. I'm looking forward to catching up.