Canadian Fedwatch! News Across the Nation

I Wanted to be Wrong

Sometimes it would be better to be wrong than right. My previous comments ( on BSE aka Mad Cow disease are one of those times. Now it has finally hit us here in Alberta (, but in actual cattle herds rather than the deer population.

This is going to have a severe impact on the economy, both as cattle ranchers look to the federal and provincial governments for help, and as larger beef processing plants are scaled back or shut down. Yet the worst of this could have been prevented had the provincial government ever been actually serious about BSE control. Part of the problem we’re having now is that the cow that initially had the disease was pulled from the human food chain, but was still sent to a rendering plant, even though it had been condemned for human usage. A rendering plant takes the condemned meat, cooks it, and uses it for industrial feed for other animals such as horses and chickens. Yet it is known that you cannot kill BSE by cooking it.

Where our government could have stepped in is with simple legislation preventing condemned meat from being rendered until full test results are back from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. This would have prevented the contaminated cow from going into the industrial food chain as well. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency considers this not to be a risk ( since it says that “rendered products may be used to feed non-ruminant animals, such as horses, chicken and pigs, because these animals are not at risk of contracting BSE, and cannot pass the disease on to other animals or humans.”

However, we should take this statement with a large grain of salt, since it was not very long ago that it was thought Mad Cow could not be transmitted to humans at all either. The United Kingdom’s experience with Mad Cow proved how terribly wrong that belief was. We can only hope that the CFIA’s statements are accurate. [ed – readers looking for more information on Mad Cow may want to see my article from the August 14, 2002 [v10 i31] issue of the Voice, which contains many links for further reading – ( ]

Ontario Taking Steps Against Teachers

The Province of Ontario, like all the provinces that put tax reduction ahead of education, is having difficulties with its teachers. The Toronto Catholic District school board is on strike, and the government is preparing legislation ( to force them back to work. To be honest, I have little problem with this, as I consider teachers to be providers of essential services. What is disturbing is that the legislation goes farther than this, and is also intended to prevent teachers from engaging in a work-to-rule campaign.

Consider what this means: A work-to-rule campaign means that teachers stop taking on extra duties and instead only work to the letter of what they are contracted for. These type of campaigns are useful for pointing out exactly how much extra teachers do, how much the community relies on them, yet allows them to continue teaching the students. If the government passes such legislation, it is in effect passing a slavery law, whereby teachers are legally required to take on extra duties that are not in their contracts and are not paid for.

If you are an Ontario citizen, now might be a good time to write to your MLA to protest your government’s attempt at instituting legal slavery in Canada. If the government wants teachers to take on these extra duties, it can include them in the contracts and pay appropriately.

Taking Credit Where it’s Not Due

The British Columbia Government has announced ( New Student Awards that will help research. A closer look however shows that it is not the Provincial Government that is responsible for these rewards at all, but rather that they are a set of individual donations from private individuals and corporations.

What is more is that only one of these donations is actually directed toward students in the form of scholarships. The rest are all being put toward research programs and research chairs. None of this, however, stops the Premier of BC, Gordon Campbell, from taking credit for the contributions as he says “Since June 2001, our government has committed a total of $900 million to increase post-secondary research and access in B.C. The contributions made today are examples of how these initiatives are helping to attract new partners and investment to make B.C. a research leader.”

We know from earlier articles that a good portion of this $900 million is simply funds directed into erecting bigger buildings that can have a politician’s name ascribed, while none of it is actually going to help tuition stay the same or lower – a use that would truly improve access. The credit for these donations should go not to the government but to those contributors who actually do care enough to provide for education, especially Dr. Don Rix, the man who contributed nearly half a million dollars to be used as $5,000 scholarships for students.

Thank you, Dr. Rix.

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.