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Wonders Never Cease

What a change an election makes. Once again I find myself in the unusual position of having to praise a provincial government’s actions on post-secondary education. The new provincial government of Ontario has provided a pleasant surprise for post-secondary students in that province. Specifically, they have announced ( an intention to freeze the tuitions of Ontario universities and colleges.

It looks like Ontario’s ill-fated experimentation with tuition deregulation may be at an end. The provincial “liberals” in British Columbia might well take a look at the fate of their PC counterparts in Ontario. Much the same could also be said for Premier Klein’s Progressive Conservative government here in Alberta.

True, the Alberta government makes encouraging noises about regulating tuition, but when we take a look at their actions, we see that the noise is really just a distraction from what the hands are doing. Specifically, the Alberta Government is still putting through Bill 43, that provides no commitment to funding post-secondary education even as it tries to put more control of it directly into the government’s hands.

And the Alberta Government’s claims to be promoting affordable and equal access to all are simply laughable when you start to look at the numbers. Specifically, tuition for Alberta Universities is supposedly “capped” at a rate that provides no more than 30% of the operating costs of the institution. Capped, that is, until they’re at that total, at which point they’re allowed to increase tuition at the cost of inflation plus about two percent.

In contrast, our wages rise at about the rate of inflation if we’re lucky (as our wages are a primary portion of what makes up inflation). Total available student finance hasn’t risen in several years, to say nothing of meeting inflation, and Alberta government supplied bursaries rarely increase in amounts, although the government has been increasing the numbers they award – especially to trade schools and apprenticeships.

All in all, this does little to lend any credence to the provincial government’s platitudes about affordable access to lifelong learning.

But hey, Premier Klein is in good company, since it was the likes of Ernie Eves and Mike Harris who thought letting post-secondary tuition continue to rise was a good thing. Oh wait.. they didn’t get re-elected, did they?

Ever think there might be a connection, Ralph?

Honour Among Thieves?

The Alberta Government is pleased to announce ( that it is the recipient of the HP Privacy Innovation Award for “developing a privacy protection framework to guide the design of its computer systems”

This is the same Alberta Government that had its proposed privacy legislation soundly trashed ( by the Federal Privacy Minister as not being near thorough or comprehensive enough to protect the privacy of its constituents from commercial enterprises.

Then again, this is also the same Hewlett Packard that has been trashed ( for putting spy-ware inside its keyboard drivers of all things (For the non-computer minded, this means that the program HP uses to make its fancy keyboards work also likes to send information back to HP, presumably about what kinds of things you’re doing with your keyboard, but perhaps more than that). This is also the same HP that is making an advertising campaign based on, of all things, being able to find a certain person when they’re in the pub and send them off to the police. Now, since we all know how software is perfect and never fails, we have no need to worry that the software might point out the wrong person or something like that, do we? Of course not.

I guess the reasoning goes, if the Privacy Innovation is good enough to meet the “standards” of HP, it’s deserving of an award?

Yet I can’t help but think that this is really more akin to a fox giving an award for henhouse design.

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.