Monday, May 25, 2009

Daily Digest May 25, 2009



Parties dig in for EI standoff

Rural ER debate: Deliver all but the truth

Threat to rural N.S.

Healthy, wealthy and wise

Canada is an island
The power of ideas

As 'attack ads' go, this one pretty mild

Time is running out

Credit card blues

 A better tool box for poverty reduction

Pensions for the pensionless

Iran is no precondition

Mistaking pirates for terrorists

Bad idea aired in Tory race

Dhalla, Mulroney erode our trust

Tory attack ads are an assault on democratic principles

Attack ads show Tories' weakness

Energy policy not so smart

To end the quarrelling on GHGs

Selling the farm has new meaning in globalized era

Plan needed for isotopes

Free to be seen

The why behind the Who

What about patriotism?

Air travel action, reaction

Taxpayers have a right to be totally outraged

Spitfire's move insult to Island

Eat right, exercise more

Politicians wasting stimulus opportunities

The best way to smash the solid glass ceiling


Lax planning, cash shortfalls fail native schools: Report

Military needs more drones for 'dull, dirty and dangerous' missions

Former chief of defence staff worried about simmering problems in Pakistan

Military expansion to take almost 20 years

Help Us Protect Canada-U.S. Fair Trade

Sign up for Facebook to join Fair Trade for Canada.

Canada to face renewed call for Afghan military effort

Canadian mapping flights venture into Arctic claimed by Russia: federal officials

Cannon dodges Jewish settlement issue after meeting with Abbas

Cover your privates

Crime-fighting tactics called outdated

Is the NDP leading the race to June 9? Yes, it is

Alberta asks Ottawa for stabilization funding

Tory leadership hopeful Hillier vows to help undo amalgamation

 Ottawa, Ontario to spend more than $1B on post-secondary education

Ontario discourages election over EI


Liberals raise prospect of EI confidence vote
Tories' Quebec polling numbers 'catastrophic'

Poll tracks impact of parties' message

Conservatives could lose next election, Cabinet staffers scouting for new jobs

Ignatieff hints at election call after rejecting Tory EI plan

 Deficit bigger than expected, Flaherty says

Tory bridge to nowhere?

Why Harper's attack Iggy ads will work, and, um, why they may not

Conservatives aren't worried about retaliatory Grit attack ads, want to define Ignatieff now

Can Tories make attack ads stick?

Tories too busy with attack ads to govern

Liberal EI plan a 'socialist scheme': Baird

Tories hold slim poll lead as Liberal support falls back -  4 hours ago
By Janice Tibbetts, Canwest News ServiceMay 25, 2009 8:01 PMComments (3) OTTAWA - The Liberals' steady surge in public support under Michael Ignatieff's leadership has levelled off, but the party remains in a tight race with the governing Conservatives ...
Don Martin: Liberals' EI plan too rich of a pitch National Post
The cat is finally out of the bag Kings County Record
Toronto Star - - - The Gazette (Montreal)
all 177 news articles »

Ottawa to allow working people to draw CPP cheques

Laid-off workers could learn new skills while on EI

Conservative's bill on guns fails to register

Tightly controlled system keeps abuse in check

Meat inspectors overstretched: union

Bill C-310 must be stopped

Ottawa won't chip in on GM pensions, Clement says

Social scientists to press Ottawa for more funding

Few meat inspectors mean more 'shortcuts'

The dirty details of going green

PM Harper wanted Parliamentary budget officer Page, but he didn't expect a renegade

L'opposition réticente à déclencher des élections

Le NPD passe devant le PC au Québec

Sondage Léger Marketing-Le Devoir - Le vote francophone porterait le PQ au pouvoir

Le ministre Flaherty admet que le déficit sera plus grand que prévu

La crise de la listériose aurait pu être évitée s'il y avait eu plus d'inspecteurs

Le gouvernement lance un programme de 500 $ millions pour aider les licenciés

McGuinty réclame un plan pour garantir un revenu adéquat aux retraités

Mohamed Kohail accuse Ottawa

Vers un déficit plus important



Plagiarism and acceptance as a person or organization of integrity are incompatible in academe and journalism.

Becky forwarded an article that engaged my efforts the greater part of the morning.  The result is a F.Y.I. piece
sent out to the media.

The Conference Board of Canada lack of attention to the calibre of works being published in its name is tantamount to what occurred with Enron in its field.  Such things very simply are not supposed to occur!

The "Conference Board of Canada Responds, Stands By Its Report" .greeted me when I revisited the site later in the day.

"The fact they are defending it is a sad reflection on Canadian research. What should we tell our students? " is a comment someone made with which those concerned about patterns of actions being developed by our youth will agree.

Not earthshattering news.

It may not even be reported.

In that the Conferernce Board is often quoted, howwever, I deemed it desirable to draw it to your attention.

From: Rebecca Gingrich
Subject: Now we pay for plagarized US lobby groupnpapers and call it Canadian?

To: National Media <>
From: Joe Hueglin <>
Subject: F.Y.I.: Questions to Conference Board of Canada on its   plagiarism.

The Conference Board of Canada -, styles itself as "The foremost independent, not-for-profit applied research organization in Canada."

A post providing documentation and raising questions concerning plagiarism by the Board, "The Conference Board of Canada's Deceptive, Plagiarized Digital Economy Report", , was received to-day.

Plagiarism and acceptance as a person or organization of integrity are incompatible in academe and journalism.

The post if forwarded to you without comment.

The questions raised follow. A comment on the may be of interest  "And note this very imbalanced propaganda event (called a conference) that the Conference Board is holding in Toronto on May 29: Intellectual Property Rights: Innovation and Commercialization in Turbulent Times 

Joe Hueglin


The Digital Ecomomy report raises some deeply troubling questions for the Conference Board of Canada, its board directors, and for Minister John Wilkinson, whose department helped fund it.  In particular:

For Anne Golden, the President and CEO of the Conference Board of Canada:
Is a deceptive, plagiarized report drawn from a U.S. lobby group consistent with an organization that claims that it is non-partisan and that does not lobby?
How much was the Conference Board of Canada paid to produce this report?
Does the Conference Board of Canada stand by the report in light of these findings?
Will the Conference Board of Canada retract the report and the inaccurate press release that accompanied it?
For Stephen Toope, President of UBC, and Indira V. Samarasekera, President of the University of Alberta, both members of the Conference Board of Canada board:
Do they condone or support the use of plagiarism in this report?
Will they ask the Conference Board of Canada to review this report and to retract it?
Perhaps most importantly, for Minister of Research and Innovation John Wilkinson:
How much public money was spent in support of this report?
Does the government support the use of public money for a report that simply repeats the language of a U.S. lobby group?
Will the Minister ask the Conference Board of Canada to refund the public money spent on this report?
Will the Minister publicly disassociate himself from the report in light of these findings?
You can pose these and other questions yourself (Golden, Toope ,Samarasekera, Wilkinson) as I think the public deserves some answers.


One value raised above leads into Bev's discourse that follows.

From: Beverley Smith

view of a parent and teacher on two very controversial issues views that may surprise you and are not necessarily the ones you believe teachers hold

The use of standardized tests has been criticized by some parents, often those whose children score poorly on them, and there is now a mood to ban the tests entirely. This is regrettable. Parents have the right to know how a child is progressing, what the work quality is, based on an agreed on standard and to deprive parents of this information is unfair. There has been a problem with one written test as the only feedback and this lack can be corrected by rounding out the information. Parents also need to know the score on dozens of other classroom assessment, the speaking, listening component, not just the reading writing, and the parents do want to hear and need to hear about the social skills, peer group relationships and other strengths the child has such as helpfulness and cooperation that will serve them well in adulthood. So the enemy is not the standardized test. The enemy is in thinking it is the only useful feedback as some societies like the Fraser Insitute have mistakenly represented it. The state gives teachers the freedom to teach this child the way this child understands material and to report on progress developing skills by various means. It is easy to ban or enforce one teaching method only, one testing method only but that is abuse of power. It is however not consistent with democracy. Parents need a rounded picture.

I feel that Bill 44 in Alberta has been horribly misrepresented in the press. This is the bill that would let parents have their child opt out of instruction on morals or religious issues if the parent strongly disagrees with the focus. We are talking here about the public education system one assumes and yet the law seems to also cover all instruction. This is something of a problem already because some private and independent schools are religion based so the public system is not the route to a given religious education anyway. Parents who really want to opt out can choose a special setting school or home schooling. But in the public system what do we owe students and parents? I think we owe them unbiased instruction, and we owe them not endorsing a particular religion at all. We owe them presentation of many points of view on controversial topics and we owe them the right to make their own decisions. So I am not sure if the teacher is teaching fairly if the approach seems very one-sided. Teacher codes of ethics are supposed to have them teach unbiased.

But let's say a parent wants to pull a child from the talk about sex ed or drug education or alcohol, or teen violence. What is the public school system supposed to do? I believe it is arrogant of a school system to claim the student will if pulled out be deprived of information. The school does not own the information or have a monopoly on it and the parent is really just saying they prefer to impart this informatiuon their own way. The schools err I think if they argue that parents are not competent to do this and I find this suggestion an affront to democracy. Mistrusting parents is however becoming fairly rampant in government.

I am a teacher and I have sadly in years past seen presentations in school that upset me, not for the information they imparted factually but for the tone. One was about drug use and the tone was definitely 'experimentation is normal'. The presentation on alcohol was so inconsistent it was 'don't do it and here's how to do it". The themes about bullying and child abuse for some years took the tone of mistrust of parents, urging kids and teens to report to the school on parents who were verbally or physically disciplining them. The repercussions were horrendous given that kids now felt empowered to judge parents and to call very normal parenting such as grounding or sending to your room, as deprivations of rights. Parents became nervous about authorities cracking down on them for yelling at the kid to clean the room, or for not letting them go to the unsupervised party, for searching their purse and finding cigarettes or for other parenting practices now called into question as abusive. It is no surprise that parents may wish to pull kids out of such presentations before they happen because the tone is wrong, from the parents' point of view. I believe both styles of presentation are no longer common but we must be vigilant that the schools are unbiased.

I have seen two types of sex ed presentations and one years ago was to basically assume all teens would be having intercourse and it was just urging them to use birth control. I disliked that presentation however well intended and practical and realistic it claimed to be, because for one thing it started with grade four kids and two, it was trying to create a reality rather than permitting kids the choice of not having sex too. It made having sex seem the normal development of a teen, akin to driving a car. It is not a value I espouse or want my kids to have. My personal view is that sex is a beautiful act of love between two adults who have made a lifetime commitment to each other. I m entitled to my particular view and under the law, to teach it to my kids. If I seem strait-laced and narrow minded, that s fine. I will teach kids about birth control and self control the way I want. As it happened I let my kids see all the school presentations and then we had some very animated good and important discussions. But I would have preferred that officialdom had not come down endorsing a lifestyle I do not endorse.

The second presentation I saw, several years later, was from a private agency that gave young teens the scare lecture about venereal disease, about multiple partners in sex and this presentation also created a tone that was quite horrific at the other extreme. I can understand parents being upset if they actually had seen either, but for different reasons. Parents are not incompetent to teach kids about sex and they have a right to impart the information and values the way they wish. I find it offensive if the school assumes not only that it is the default parent but that somehow it is better than the parent and can even override the parent. The job of the schools is not values instruction but academic instruction. So schools now, if asked by some parents to present talks on drugs or alcohol or sex ed are probably right to offer the information But it should be unbiased and attending the lesson should be optional.

I support parents parenting well, the best of their ability and yes I will not always agree with some of the strategies they use. For my own four kids I never pulled them out of any presentation though some days I wish I had. I believed that the school could show them whatever it wanted and my presentations and ethics would be so strong and influential that I could counter any negatives the school had happened to present. But this asks a lot of parents and it even seems to violate a right under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Parents have seen as the experts in the education and care of their children and have the right to determine the language, religion and values taught the child. The child in turn has the right to be exposed to those values.

For some reason we have been fed a red herring about this legislation, as if its goal is to keep kids from facts, to keep them uninformed about 'realities' and to make them closeted and stupid. I do not see it with that intent at all. The intent I think is to defend the right of parents to choose how the impressionable and vulnerable child is educated.

This is not about science or creationism though that issue is the one getting the press. The school science courses really do not teach evolution as a required view at all. They teach facts of fossil evidence and let students think about whether this proves a designing God or an automatic process. It is not for the school to say. Science does not deal with that issue because that is a 'why' issue and science only looks at 'how'.

This is really about values instruction and parents have different values. They may or may not celebrate Christmas or Hallowe'en or Father's Day at their particular home. They may or may not celebrate Hannukah or Hindu or Muslim feast days. This is not the business or focus of the school and though it h as been awkward for schools to take out of the curriculum material that endorsed particular religious holidays, it was the right thing to do. The population of Alberta is diverse. Taking religion out of the public school does not mean religion is out of the child's life. It simply means that we teachers let parents handle that territority for it is rightfully theirs.

That is why I think parents have the right to pull kids out of instruction they do not approve of. I have already supervised kids who had opted out of Hallowe en, out of some movies, out of provincial tests, out of Father s Day card writing. It is their right. I think parents wanting an opt out should have to do it formally, with written consent forms and not in a huff emotionally. They don t have to give reasons but they should be polite. I think the school will actually present very few instances where the parent would need to opt out but the right has to be there simply because of the Charter of Rights of the child and because this is a democracy.

What is really going on here is that a few teachers are scared in some vague way that they will happen to make a comment some day and then get sued because of this bill. First, teachers should always professionally be on guard of their own tongue to not make comments that are racist, sexist, or biased against certain religions. But second, the standard of reasonableness has to apply. It is true that there are some people who have same sex marriages, that there are some who do not eat meat or eggs, some who worship Fridays, some who do not worship, some who are drug abuseres and some who are teetotallers. The school is allowed to mention these lifestyles as facts. What it is not allowed is to condemn any lifestyle or value that is legal. I think teachers are too worried about lawsuits. Parents are reasonable and the law is reasonable.

I realize there will be some who disagree with me. The great thing is, I defend the disagreeing. I endorse people having and teaching their young their own values. What I am defending is the right to disagree with a lesson. . It is a vital right even the schools must defend and how odd that the right itself is being quashed and we have to defend it.

Beverley Smith