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Klein Broo-Ha-Ha Part Two

The Provincial Government of Alberta has released a statement ( showing that Athabasca University has cleared Premier Ralph Klein of any plagiarism charges. In the release they include a letter from Athabasca University sent to Klein from Ken Collier. The letter says that upon reviewing the work with the tutor comments, including those noting the errors in citation, no further action is warranted.

In the release, Klein is quoted as saying “It has disturbed me that Albertans might have been left with the impression that I behaved dishonestly in completing my course work.” As well it should. Unfortunately, the other side of the coin is that if he’s not dishonest, he’s simply dumb. Not necessarily for citing things wrong, but for the more obvious screw-up of having received the paper back, with tutor comments about errors in citations, and then submitting an unmarked copy to the public record. How much damage has Premier Klein done to the reputation of Athabasca University with this completely thoughtless act? How little sense did it take to not realize that if the tutor caught this, his political opponents would be equally likely to pick up on it?

Klein apologists tend to suffer this with a shrug and a remark about him only being human. They conveniently forget that this particular human has an incredible record of shoving his foot firmly in his mouth on issues of all kinds. Just recently I recall a comment that an Alberta farmer might have decided to “shoot, shovel, and shut-up” about a BSE ridden cow, to a group of people with influence on whether Alberta would be able to export beef to the United States again. And then there was a drunken slur to a working homeless man at a shelter that he should “get a job”. For those apologists, I give you this: if you like where Alberta is now, imagine where it could be if we had a leader that didn’t consistently screw up in public.

Beyond this, there remains the question on how he managed to get 77% on what is, citation issue aside, a paper that is, to me, mediocre at best. Is it favouritism on the part of the tutor? Not necessarily. As we all know, all tutors are subjective to some degree. Many of us also know that certain tutors, courses, or even certain programs are easier to get higher marks in than others. It’s not fair, but it’s unfortunately the nature of education. So it’s possible this is just within the normal variation of marks within courses and programs.

If only I knew which tutor it was. I could use a GPA boost.

Where there’s Smokes, there’s Lawyers.

The Provincial Government of British Columbia is suing ( the tobacco industry. The reasons given are that the industry knew their product was harmful, but marketed it as if it was not. To me, this isn’t a big deal. After all, part of marketing is de-emphasizing the negative.

However, they also claim that the tobacco industry wilfully acted to suppress research showing the risks of smoking, and this certainly seems to be grounds to sue. When you’re taking action to make it harder for people to learn the risks (as opposed to not telling people the risks yourself) then you’re crossing the line into endangering the public.

However I personally think that litigation is the wrong way to go. Unfortunately the British Columbia government is more interested in the cash they can grab than they are in really dealing with the health issues (as evidenced by the continued non-prescription sale of cigarettes). If they were not, the right way to go would be to remove all tobacco-related exceptions and exemptions from provincial and federal laws, and then simply re-evaluate cigarettes as if they were a new product coming on to the market.

If it was found that they could still be sold under certain restrictions, so be it.

If, on the other hand, it was found that the products were, say, as dangerous as rat poison, then the tobacco companies would be barred from advertising their products for human consumption. If they can find some other use for smokes and advertise them that way, I’m all for that.

After all, I could use a good laugh. And seeing someone pick up a box with a great big “rat-B-gone” logo on it so that they could smoke the stuff inside. I’d just have to laugh.

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.