Canadian Fed Watch! News Across The Nation:

February 5, 2003

Black History Month

February is Black History Month according to the Federal Government (SEE: http://www.canadianheritage.gc.ca/newsroom/news_e.cfm?Action=Display&code=2N0380E) and the Provincial Government of Ontario (SEE: http://www.newswire.ca/government/ontario/english/releases/January2003/31/c5451.html). The Federal Government has given $40,000 to the Black History Month Round Table. This Round Table helps to organize events announcing and celebrating Black History and the diversity that helps to make up Canada.

Each year, the Round Table puts its focus on something different, this year it is expected that the focus will be on the contributions of Black women to Canadian Society. One of the things we are likely to learn, if we participate at all, is that the first black woman to become a Member of Parliament was Jean Augustine only ten years ago in 1993. As a comparison, the first black man to be elected was in 1968, almost 25 years previous. It seems funny to think that this is only 35 years ago, within many of our lifetimes, and certainly well after our own parents had been born.

If we do not have black friends or associates, it can sometimes seem like the whole issue of racism against blacks is over and done with. Personally I have no problems with the idea of a black person as Prime Minister, or President, but events like this help to remind me that of course the struggle is not over, and that many of the gains are still very recent to our society. We need to keep this in mind as we live our lives so that we are alert to when we see prejudice occurring today.

However, one thing I always find myself wondering is should the Federal Government be supporting this type of event with actual tax-payer dollars? Doing so seems to open the door to any of the hundreds of distinct groups to establish celebrations of their own history, something they should be encouraged to do; but should it all come at the expense of you and me who pay the taxes that go out to these groups? Do we want to find ourselves responsible in all fairness to be supporting the history months of the Irish, the Inuit, the Aboriginal, the Jewish, the Muslim, the Serbian, the Ukrainian, the Korean, and all of the other cultural groups that receive little attention in our schools?

Crop Insurance Seeing Changes

True to his word, Premier Klein of Alberta has released (SEE: http://www.gov.ab.ca/acn/200301/13798.html) the first of the announcements we were promised in his annual speech. This one is on the new system that will be used for Crop Insurance for farmers. Basically, the new changes in the crop insurance program amount to low level subsidies for farmers in times of market troubles. The other changes are earlier application deadlines so that, like a true insurance program, you have to pay well before there are indications that the crops might be at risk.

To be honest, I have to admit that I like the general idea behind both of these changes, which is to protect the farmers both from the weather conditions and from folks who would simply play the system, whether that system be the market or the insurance system itself.

What is scary is that because of these changes, the government “will be highly unlikely to institute ad hoc programs to address agricultural disasters”. So in other words, if you do not have the money to pay the insurance premiums (as many small farmers do not) and something happens that makes crops impossible to grow (such as, say, climactic change brought on by unsustainable economic activities) then it’s time to sell your farm to one of the bigger corporations that happened to be able to afford the insurance.

About the only good thing is that if the Crop Insurance program does not pay out in claims more than it takes in, a portion of the difference is refunded back to the farmers. However, with Premier Klein’s talks about private-public partnerships, does anybody care to guess how long it will be before the crop insurance program is privatized to one of Premier Klein’s corporate board-room friends? Once that happens, it is unlikely to be long before the idea of refunding unpaid out money goes away.

Healthy U

A new project by the Alberta Government is a website known as Healthy U (SEE: http://www.healthyalberta.com/). Part of the new strategy to help people stay healthy, the site gives advice on how to exercise and eat right in the limited time we all have.

A lot of people have the desire, but simply lack the information to actually manage their lives in a way that keeps them healthy. This site is a good place to go to find out how you can make a difference in your own life. Complete with recipes, contests, exercise tips and links to other sites, this makes a good starting point to help you with those new years health resolutions.

In addition, you can sign up for an email list that will give you a weekly tip on how to stay healthy – if nothing else, a good reminder about what you’ve set out to do.

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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