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Alberta Government Makes Hay over Hay

The Alberta Government is very proud to announce its assistance (SEE: http://www.gov.ab.ca/acn/200208/12980.html ) to the tune of $200,000 to get surplus hay from Eastern Canada shipped over here to Alberta so that our farmers have something to feed their cattle. Of course, this assistance will not cover the full costs of moving the hay over here, nor will the amount of hay being sent come near the 650,000 tonnes that is actually required.

The natural result of all this is that the price of animal feed is going to rise, which means that the price for beef is going to rise as well. This isn’t necessarily such a bad thing, as beef has it’s own set of problems (SEE: http://www.ausu.org/voice/articles/articledisplay.php?ART=57 ) even beyond the threat of E. coli and adverse environmental or health effects. What is a problem is that such a large chunk of our economy is reliant on these animals. Cows are expensive to feed, expensive to butcher, and expensive to breed when compared to just about any other food animal. It is only because there is such a large infrastructure built up around beef production and consumption that the economies of scale make cattle ranching economical.

If the government were truly forward thinking, it would use this as an opportunity to encourage ranchers to move to other animals or crops, preferably those that are more environmentally friendly and that are more adapted to the harsher, drier climate that seems to be settling into Alberta. We should set that $200,000 aside into a fund to promote alternative ranching choices, with perhaps some of it for short-term help for the worst afflicted farmers – those whose mortgages and homes are threatened by the drought conditions. After all if climate change is occurring, and even the federal government says that it is (SEE: http://adaptation.nrcan.gc.ca/perspective.asp ), then this will likely not be the last year this kind of assistance will be needed. What is more in doubt is how many years the Alberta taxpayer will want to continue this type of support.

More Room! More Room!

The Ontario Government is supposedly fulfilling their commitment (SEE: http://www.newswire.ca/government/ontario/english/releases/August2002/13/c2300.html ) for increased student enrolment by creating more spaces for students. Recently, they contributed 4.29 million dollars to the cost of building a new hospitality and tourism facility at Niagara College. This facility will features a 120-seat dining room, new food preparation labs and classrooms, and will house approximately 375 “willing and qualified” students. Naturally, there is no word on increasing the investment in actual students, because while it’s easy to point to a building when asked exactly what it is you’ve been doing, it’s much more difficult to point to a student who isn’t forced to live on Kraft dinner and food-bank donations.

The reasoning behind this investment is that the tourism industry will be investing billions in new attractions in the Niagara region and is expected to employ 36,000 people over the next few years. Of course, very few of those jobs will actually require the skills that this new facility will train, and most of them will simply be minimum-wage service jobs – the kind that students are generally forced to live off of anyway. So really, Premier Ernie Eves is just doing his part to help out the businesses in the area. By increasing the number of students that can be trained each year, while doing nothing to actually help the students, he is setting up almost a guaranteed supply of cheap labour in the area – the students who are trying to get their education will have to work somewhere to afford the schooling, after all. It is a very nice situation for Premier Eves: he can provide a boost for businesses in the area while claiming that what he’s actually doing is helping out the post-secondary system. Well done.

Kid Stuff

If you have kids, or are planning to have them, one place you should take a look at is the Government of Canada’s online edition of their Services for Children Guide (SEE: http://www.communication.gc.ca/children-enfants/serv_e.htm ). This site contains a lot of useful information about Federal programs for your children and for parents. These include such things as the Summer Language Bursary Program, which is a way to send your kids off for the summer so that they can learn French, and information on the Royal Military College of Canada.

Aside from that, you can also go to the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing and download some satellite photography of Canada that has been made into an eight-month calendar (SEE: http://www.ccrs.nrcan.gc.ca/ccrs/data/calendar/calend_e.html ) Some of the pictures are absolutely beautiful and it can be a fun way for children to learn a little bit more of what Canada looks like.

When you get done looking at the land, you can go over to the Big Blue Bus (SEE: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/oceanscanada/kids/bigblue.htm )for ocean related activities for children, including contests, stories, activities, and games. All produced by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Not to be left out, Atomic Energy Canada has also created a Kid’s Zone (SEE: http://www.aecl.ca/kidszone/atomicenergy/index.asp )with games and a lot of information on how atomic energy is safe and good for us. If you’d rather some other source of information, there’s Environment Canada’s own Kid Zone as well (SEE: http://www.cws-scf.ec.gc.ca/kids/index_e.cfm )- and this is just the start of a huge variety of Kid pages that each department in the Federal Government seems to have. Do a search for “kid” at the Government of Canada’s search page and be astounded at seeing over 22,000 results – your tax dollars at work (SEE: http://search-recherche.gc.ca/cgi-bin/query?mss=canada/en/simple.html&browser=IE ).

Since we’re already paying for it we might as well use it.

A native Calgarian, Karl is perpetually nearing the completion of his Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Information Studies. He also works for the Computer Sciences Virtual Helpdesk for Athabasca University and plans to eventually go on to tutor and obtain his Master’s Degree.

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