Canadian Fedwatch! News Across the Nation

Silver Linings

Last week (http://www.ausu.org/voice/articles/columndisplay.php?ART=2215), I pointed out some potentially disturbing decisions by the newly elected Provincial Government of Ontario. This week, it looks like I may have jumped the gun. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of opportunity later to find something wrong, but at the moment it looks like the new government might be headed in the right direction.

One of the things that the previous provincial government did was remove the idea of elected school trustees to oversee the administration of the school boards. No doubt it was more convenient to have people who the government appointed or, to be more specific, people the government could fire, in charge of making the decisions for local school boards. The new government has officially turned this around, and has announced (http://ogov.newswire.ca/ontario/GPOE/2003/10/31/c7255.html?lmatch=&lang=_e.html) that elections for the school board trustees will be held on November 10th.

Congratulations Ontario! It looks like your choice was a good one, as it is already starting to put more of the power back into your hands.

I just wish I believed that Alberta was watching.

Common Sense for Private Schools

Even better, the Ontario Provincial Government has also gone on to say that this fall they will be removing one of the ‘innovations’ of the previous government that I wrote on a number of times.

To be specific, they will be eliminating (http://ogov.newswire.ca/ontario/GPOE/2003/10/30/c6844.html) the tax give-away for people who choose to send their children to private schools. As a brief recap, the Progressive Conservative government that just left passed a bill that allowed parents to reclaim some of their expenses for sending their children to private schools. The justification for this was that parents shouldn’t have to be burdened with paying for the public system when their children aren’t making use of it. Of course, as soon as you take a look at any family that has no children going to school at all, this idea falls apart, as they certainly are not exempt from paying taxes.

All this rebate was for was to encourage the creation of more private schools. In essence, taking away from the public school system to encourage the development of for profit schools. The government of the time promoted it as trying to support free choice for parents, but unless private schools do not bother to charge their fees until tax rebate time, this theory doesn’t hold water. Only those who could afford the schools in the first place would be able to gain the advantage of the rebate.

In addition, private schools are not like public schools in that they don’t have the option to refuse acceptance to children who are too difficult to teach for whatever reason, be it a disability, a behavioural problem, or simply not being the top of the grade. This means that the public schools would still be forced to take these children, who are often more expensive to teach, but they’d have less money to do so.

All in all it was a winning plan only for the wealthier parents who used private schools. Now since Liberal beliefs tend to fall around the idea that public services are good, it seems then that the rebate was more likely to benefit the wealthier Conservative parents who might then donate to the Conservative party.

So hey, that’s win-win as far as the government is concerned right?

I guess the Liberals didn’t think so.

Words of Wisdom

His Excellency, John Ralston Saul, husband of the Governor General of Canada, has made a speech at the University of Moncton entitled “Francophone Communities in the Face of Globalization” (http://www.gg.ca/media/doc.asp?lang=e&DocID=4044). It’s a very good read if you want to see an unusual take on the issue of Globalization.

According to his excellency, globalization is an experiment that has failed or is failing. He points out some excellent points about the rise of the French language in communities throughout Canada at a time when globalization was supposed to be removing such differences.

I have noticed this myself, as even in Calgary it seems there is a growing number of French speaking people. I hear them more on the bus or when I’m out at the mall. Eventually I’m going to have to break down and take a language course to learn how to speak it myself. We’re a bilingual country, after all, it only makes sense to know both official languages.

His Excellency goes on to point out how New Brunswick is also at the forefront of social experimentation in Canada today. This also matches with what I have seen, as it is New Brunswick that seems to be making the most aggressive strides toward distance education, for one thing. In fact, New Brunswick celebrated the tenth anniversary (http://www.gnb.ca/cnb/news/edu/2003e0979ed.htm) of TeleEducation NB last week.

After reading his speech, I believe that he makes a persuasive argument, not only about the nature of globalism, but also the nature of minorities in Canada, and the relationship between public schools and universities. He points out that Universities should become involved in public schooling – lending their support to public school issues, and thus creating a more seamless education right through post-secondary.

Read his speech. It’s well worth the time.

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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