Posts from our progressive community

Saturday Evening Links

accidentaldeliberations - 2 hours 1 min ago
This and that for your Saturday reading.

- Keith Banting and John Myles note that income inequality should be a major theme in Canada's federal election. And Karl Nerenberg points out that voters will have every reason to vote for their values, rather than having any reason to buy failed strategic voting arguments.

- PressProgress charts the devastating effect of precarious employment in Canada. And Wayne Lewchuk writes about the precarity penalty, and the need for public policy to catch up to the reality facing workers:
Uncertain future employment prospects can increase anxiety at home.  Lack of benefits can make even small unexpected medical costs a crisis.  Unpredictable work schedules can make finding suitable childcare very difficult.  The short-term nature of the employment relationship can limit a worker’s access to the training needed to get ahead. Together, the added challenges associated with insecure employment represent The Precarity Penalty.

In short, precarious employment not only creates significant stress on individuals and families today, it also creates conditions that can trap those who are in precarious employment from opportunities to get ahead.

Given that insecure employment is the fastest growing form of employment, we should all be concerned about what this means for our families, our children and our communities.

A new body of research (see references below), much of it focused on the troubles in the U.S. economy, suggests that public policy has fallen short, and at times exacerbated the challenges facing precarious workers. These policies have exposed workers to more economic uncertainty, reduced supports that help build healthy families and made it more difficult than in the past for workers to negotiate improved working conditions. There is evidence that Canada’s own public policy environment has not fared much better in terms of protecting vulnerable workers.

What policy has enabled, policy can change.  It is not inevitable that a growing number of Canadian workers find themselves in relationships that make it difficult to get ahead. The mechanisms we use to regulate labour markets, including how contracts are negotiated, how we set and enforce employment standards, how we support workers between jobs, how quality training is provided, and how workers can finance unexpected health costs and old age were all formed when permanent full-time employment was the norm.- Meanwhile, Elise Gould offers a reminder that a job - even with full-time hours - is no guarantee of escaping poverty. Craig Lambert discusses how citizens are being directed toward unpaid work - which can both take jobs away from people who need them, and serve as a threat to anybody seeking improved pay and working conditions for jobs which might be turn into shadow work. And Jim Dwyer reports on the wide-scale wage fraud being perpetrated against workers.

- Catherine Porter writes about Dr. Gary Bloch's prescription to combat poverty as a means of improving health generally.

- Erin Anderssen discusses the glaring need to improve access to mental health services as part of our health care system. And Steve Morgan highlights how a lack of a national pharmacare program makes health care less effective for everybody.

- Finally, Jesse McLaren argues that we shouldn't be surprised by the Libs' weakness on Bill C-51 in light of their historic willingness to trample civil rights in the name of political convenience. But Shannon Reardon nonetheless points out that anybody hoping for better from Justin Trudeau than support for the Cons' terror tactics has reason to be disappointed.

It's a Great Day to be Irish

Montreal Simon - 5 hours 43 min ago


It's a great day to be Irish. A great day for human equality, a day when love defeated  hate. 

Ireland became the first country in the world to adopt same-sex marriage by popular vote as 62 per cent of the electorate backed a referendum, official results showed on Saturday.

Somewhere the spirit of its gentle poet and playwright Oscar Wilde, who was broken by bigotry, must be smiling.

As are so many gay people...
Read more »

Just Stopped By to Say "Hi"

The Disaffected Lib - 10 hours 8 min ago

I haven't posted anything lately and it's been a welcome respite one that may continue save for the occasional interruption.  I'd like to explain what this is about.

Not much has changed, save for the suspension of these posts.  I still devour the online newspapers, my favourite magazines, think tank web sites and so on.  I'm still churning through online courses - war studies, global food security, over-consumption and population challenges, foreign policy, environmental decline, stuff like that.

I just don't know what there is to say about a world coming apart at the seams; societies and governments increasingly detached from reality.

When I joined Dark Mountain a while ago I was drawn to this collective of artists, writers and thinkers who have "stopped believing the stories our civilization tells itself."  We feed ourselves nonsense and fairy tales because it's the only way we can keep this delusion of a civilization going.

I instinctively recoil from the word "manifesto" yet I encourage you to read the Dark Mountain Manifesto, which serves as the group's statement of purpose. While there is no end of research and literature and commentary about the myriad of challenges that will befall our civilization through this century, scant attention is paid to our resilience to meet them and almost none to our utter fragility.  Here are a few paragraphs from the opening of the Manifesto:

Those who witness extreme social collapse at first hand seldom describe any deep revelation about the truths of human existence. What they do mention, if asked, is their surprise at how easy it is to die.

The pattern of ordinary life, in which so much stays the same from one day to the next, disguises the fragility of its fabric. How many of our activities are made possible by the impression of stability that pattern gives? So long as it repeats, or varies steadily enough, we are able to plan for tomorrow as if all the things we rely on and don’t think about too carefully will still be there. When the pattern is broken, by civil war or natural disaster or the smaller-scale tragedies that tear at its fabric, many of those activities become impossible or meaningless, while simply meeting needs we once took for granted may occupy much of our lives.

What war correspondents and relief workers report is not only the fragility of the fabric, but the speed with which it can unravel. As we write this, no one can say with certainty where the unravelling of the financial and commercial fabric of our economies will end. Meanwhile, beyond the cities, unchecked industrial exploitation frays the material basis of life in many parts of the world, and pulls at the ecological systems which sustain it.

Precarious as this moment may be, however, an awareness of the fragility of what we call civilisation is nothing new.

‘Few men realise,’ wrote Joseph Conrad in 1896, ‘that their life, the very essence of their character, their capabilities and their audacities, are only the expression of their belief in the safety of their surroundings.’

...It is, it seems, our civilisation’s turn to experience the inrush of the savage and the unseen; our turn to be brought up short by contact with untamed reality. There is a fall coming. We live in an age in which familiar restraints are being kicked away, and foundations snatched from under us. After a quarter century of complacency, in which we were invited to believe in bubbles that would never burst, prices that would never fall, the end of history, the crude repackaging of the triumphalism of Conrad’s Victorian twilight — Hubris has been introduced to Nemesis. Now a familiar human story is being played out. It is the story of an empire corroding from within. It is the story of a people who believed, for a long time, that their actions did not have consequences. It is the story of how that people will cope with the crumbling of their own myth. It is our story.
As a species organized into a civilization of sorts beneath the surface we're chaotic and rudderless.  The failure of our leadership and our institutions allows this fragility to surface and become our reality.

Canadians can and should see the signs of this decline in the rise of our increasingly illiberal democracy.  If you put your faith in Tom Mulcair or Justin Trudeau, you've largely written the place off even if you can't grasp it.

I don't know what I can contribute to a group who appear to believe that simply electing a different flavour of neoliberal government can do any significant good for our people and our country in a moment of such great need and looming danger.  It's like we're reading from different and irreconcilable texts.

----

The photograph is of Thich Quang Duc, a Buddhist monk who set himself ablaze on a Saigon street in June, 1963 in protest of the persecution by the South Vietnamese government.  It was an act of futility that was followed by a dozen more self-immolations before the Diem government fell to a coup engineered in collaboration with Washington.  While this photograph shocked the world, we became inured to this sort of thing.  During the American war, 13-monks burned themselves to death and it went largely unnoticed.


Is it Critical Thinking Or Political Bias? - Part One

Politics and its Discontents - 13 hours 26 min ago


I have written about the virtues of critical thinking many times on this blog, and I have also frequently observed the difficulty of achieving it; without question, I regularly fall short of the ideal. One of the impediments to such thinking is the task of separating one's biases from the process, or at the very least recognizing those biases in assessing people and situations.

Take Stephen Harper, for example. Few would dispute that his propensity for exerting control and influence is massive. His contempt of Parliament, the judiciary, and all those who oppose his views and agenda requires no recounting here. With that context in mind, I offer the following as part of that pattern. Whether the conclusions I draw are a result of critical thinking or my disdain for the prime minister and almost everything he stands for, I leave for the reader to decide.

Exhibit Number One: Today's Star reports that the the renovated Canadian Museum of History (formerly the Canadian Museum of Civilization, which I have visited) will not include a room devoted to the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike:
The exhibit, which opened in 1999, was modelled after a meeting room in the Labour Temple on James St. in Winnipeg, where union members met to debate, organize and vote in the months leading up to, and during, the massive strike.

There have been past accusations that the government is trying to rewrite history in the renovated museum. And of course there is the Conservative anti-union agenda to consider.

In the matter of eliminating this important piece of labour history, the museum adamantly rejects any suggestion of political interference:
“Government is certainly not telling us what to put into the hall. Nor do they know what we are putting into the hall. We are not reporting to them and they are not telling us what to do. There is a very high level of cynicism and paranoia out there,” said David Morrison, the director of research and content for the Canadian History Hall project.Yet one could cogently argue that this decision is part of a much larger pattern, consistent with Mr. Harper's values and method of governance.

Exhibit Number Two: The elimination of home mail delivery is also part of a neoliberal agenda, which sees the fraying of government programs as an imperative. Despite the fact that Canada Post made a pre-tax profit of $194 million in 2014 and $24 million for the first quarter of 2015, it has no intention of reviewing its service cuts. Says Deepak Chopra, president and CEO of Canada Post:
"What we are trying to do is avoid becoming a burden on taxpayers for hundreds of millions of dollars if we don't act responsibly now."

"We don't want to wait until the problem has become so severe that the initiatives we will be forced to take would be even more difficult." While the claim is that overall mail volume is down prompted the decision to end home delivery, no public consultations took place, nor were alternative plans, such as alternate day delivery, entertained.

Doesn't the autocratic nature of the move suggest the heavy hand of Harper was involved?

In Part Two, I will examine the curiously close relationship that seems to exist between the RCMP and the Harper cabal.Recommend this Post

Have The RCMP Become Politicized?

Northern Reflections - 14 hours 42 min ago

                                                    http://www.canada.com/

On Tuesday, the RCMP  announced that it had arrested ten young Montrealers who were off to join the jihadist hordes in the Middle East. And, almost immediately, Stephen Harper flew to Quebec to remind nous autres that his government was tough on jihadists. Interestingly enough, almost as soon as the Mounties arrested the youngsters, they let the kids go.

Which raises the question, is there a political alliance between the RCMP and the Conservative government? Tom Walkom asks his readers to consider some recent history:

In 1999, the Mounties, accompanied by a television crew, raided the home of then British Columbia’s NDP premier Glen Clark. Clark was charged with breach of trust and accepting a benefit. His political career was destroyed. The New Democrats were trounced in the next election.Three years later, Clark was acquitted of all charges.
A month before the 2006 federal election, the RCMP announced they were undertaking a criminal investigation of then federal finance minister Ralph Goodale over the leak of confidential tax information about so-called income trusts.
That scandal eventually turned out to be less than it seemed. Goodale and his aides were eventually vindicated, although a senior bureaucrat was charged and convicted.
But the income-trust affair did help sink Paul Martin’s Liberal government, allowing Harper to become prime minister.
An independent investigation into the Mounties’ handling of the affair found that the force had broken no rules because there were none to break.
No party is completely spared the fallout from RCMP investigations. The force’s decision to charge former Conservative senator Mike Duffy for allegedly accepting a bribe from former Harper top aide Nigel Wright has done the prime minister no good.But the puzzling decision not to charge Wright for offering that alleged bribe promises to mitigate any political damage to the Conservatives.
Mere coincidences? I'm not so sure.

Why Stephen Harper's Great Con Debate Scam Could Backfire Badly

Montreal Simon - 15 hours 45 min ago


Well now we've heard it from the horse's mouth, or the horse's ass, or the scary puppet Stephen Harper himself. He will NOT take part in the biggest of the political leader debates. 

Prime Minister Stephen Harper reiterated Friday he will not take part in a national English debate that would be broadcast by the major TV networks.

He will not say why he would boycott a debate that is watched by more Canadians than any other. But he will try to suggest that this democratic demolition derby isn't really his idea. 
Read more »

Orange Wave Rising: A New Poll Shows the NDP On Top

Montreal Simon - Fri, 05/22/2015 - 20:07


Last week I said that the way Tom Mulcair's NDP was surging in the polls it wouldn't be long before it passed both the Liberals and the Cons.

And sure enough that seems to be what's happened. 

A new EKOS poll has the NDP on top. 

And another orange wave is now a real possibility.
Read more »

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 05/22/2015 - 18:56
Emma Hewitt - Colours

Christian rape culture: Duggar edition

Feminist Christian - Fri, 05/22/2015 - 13:03
Oh the Duggars. The train we've been watching because we knew it would eventually run off the tracks. That is the fascination, right? I don't know. I never got it. I watched an episode of it with my daughter who thought it was fun to watch, and it was just not something I wanted to see. No judgment on those who do/did. Just not for me. Like wrestling. Or The Bachelor. Or CSI. Just not my thing.

Okay, other progressives, I do have a bit of a problem with one thing. A LOT of you are saying that you'd have called the cops immediately. Really? REALLY? You'd have had your son branded as a child molester for life without trying to do something about it yourself first? Not me. No fucking way. If I found out my son was touching my daughter without her permission, you're damn right I'd do something about it. The police would not be my first call though. I simply don't believe in the justice system. I wouldn't put my daughter through that. And I wouldn't put my son through that. Because (a) it wouldn't help him; (b) it wouldn't help her. There'd be group and individual counselling, therapy, medications, absolutely NO chance for him to be near her or any other girls. Do you know the life that child molesters live? I don't know if I could do that to my own son. But worse, wow about the fact that the girls would then be named? In their culture, that's a LOT of shame. In our culture, there's shame (not as much, but it's still there), but there's also pity. Gross pity. And don't forget, these people are famous. No one is going to forget. Any time those girls go anywhere, someone is going to be whispering. I would NOT inflict that on my daughter. Not without trying something else first. Maybe I'm weak. Maybe I'm part of the problem. But I just don't believe that I'm alone in this.

Gleeful schadenfreude on the part of progressive Christianity is disgusting. Gloating that you always knew they were creepy and fucked up in order to prop up your own value system is disgusting. It is remarkably inconsiderate to the victims.

Yeah, I know. They're creepy and backward. They make the girls wear long dresses, even to work. Doesn't that, right there, teach the boys that female bodies are just too tempting, and that they (the boys) aren't in control? Yes, yes it does. Churches foster this environment with theology that teaches that women aren't as valuable as men. That women are the cause of their own victimhood. That they should be more modest, to stop tempting men to abuse them. This is appalling. Men have agency. They can control themselves. But Christianity (in general, as it is practiced) props up rape culture and reinforces it, sometimes overtly. And still, gleeful schadenfreude is grotesque. You think Jesus would be laughing at this? I sure don't.

I have read so many stories of people who have gone to their church for help when they were being abused, and were told to stop sinning and pray for forgiveness. The women at one of the Christian universities were told to pray when they needed help after being raped. As @benjamincorey said on Twitter, "If your theology teaches that women are sexual property, don't be surprised when the boys you raise treat them that way." Michelle Duggar flat out said that she taught her daughters that they are not allowed to say no to their husbands. "Duggar girls don't get headaches", I believe was the quote. How on earth can this not lead to abuse?

And giving this guy a pass because he was young (he was 17! One of his victims was 8!) is bullshit. Giving him a pass because he's reformed now? Uh... how do you know that? Because he says so? Has anyone talked to his girls? And furthermore, would you give anyone except someone who shares your value system that pass? Not likely. What would The Blaze be saying if Josh Duggar were Muslim or Black (or heaven forbid, both?!) They sure as hell wouldn't be treating him the way they are now.

Now, giving the dude a pass because he's in a cult that messed him up since birth? Maybe. With good counselling and a deprogrammer? Maybe. But that's not happening. He's clinging to his cult. So no pass.

And what about the girls? Are they getting couselling? Does it require them to ask forgiveness for their molestation? (Yep, that's a thing. *sigh*) That's what I mean, btw, about the practice of Christianity propping up rape culture. When abusers get a pass, and the victims are told to pray for forgiveness, that's pretty much the definition of reinforcing rape culture.

Friday Morning Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 05/22/2015 - 05:59
Assorted content to end your week.

- Michael Schwartz and Kevin Young make the case for a greater focus on influencing corporations and other institutions first and foremost - with the expectation that more fair public policy will be possible if a dominant business sector doesn't stand in the way. David Wessel points out that many states' tax systems are set up to exacerbate inequality. And Matthew Yglesias notes that a typical set of slap-on-the-wrist fines against banks for massive market manipulations call into question whether the U.S.' current regulatory structure is anywhere close to sufficient to protect the public interest.

- Meanwhile, David Dayen points out that part of the Obama administration's embarrassing attempt to push the Trans-Pacific Partnership includes a willingness to cut Medicare to slightly compensate some of the affected workers.

- Michael Harris tears into the Cons for their Orwellian war on dissent, while Steve Sullivan rightly notes that Stephen Harper's usual reaction to an imminent loss is to try to rig the game in his own favour. Canadians for Tax Fairness raises the question of whether we want to see massive amounts of public money spent on the Cons' self-promotion - with ministerial vanity videos serving as just the latest example.

- Vanessa Lu reports on the bizarre excuses being used for refusing to let Canadians know how the public reacted to the Cons' plan to end door-to-door mail delivery. And Mary Campbell discusses yet another example of dumb-on-crime legislation, this time featuring utterly pointless attacks on foreign offenders.

- Finally, PressProgress highlights OpenMedia's report (PDF) into the plummeting public willingness to put up with the Cons' terror bill. Toby Mendel offers another review (PDF) of the problems with C-51. And Noah Richler writes that the Cons' current message doesn't involve anything more than trying to stoke paranoia.

The Life And Death Of Worker Resistance

Politics and its Discontents - Fri, 05/22/2015 - 05:46
When it comes to jobs, we live in very precarious times, with fewer and fewer people securing full-time work with benefits. Paradoxically, union membership continues to decline, while right-wing propaganda about the evils of such associations flourishes. As a society, we seem to have lost the will to fight for something better.

So what has happened? Episode one of The Life And Death Of Worker Resistance offers some very useful insights:


H/t Operation MapleRecommend this Post

The Man Who Would Be King

Northern Reflections - Fri, 05/22/2015 - 04:52
                                                  http://www.theguardian.com/

Yesterday, the broadcast consortium announced that all the party leaders -- except Stephen Harper -- had agreed to attend a debate in French and a debate in English. Harper, you see, only plays by the rules he makes. And sometimes he breaks those. Think of his fixed election dates.

Such "imperial vanity," Michael Harris writes, may eventually sink Harper:

A politician can get away with a lot — until he starts rubbing the public’s face in his indifference to the rules mere mortals must obey. With Harper, we’re getting pretty close to that point.

So here’s another question: Can Stephen Harper — by the simple act of stamping his foot, taking his bat and going home — derail the national leaders’ debates? Will this decision turn into another yawner, as was the contempt of Parliament finding against Harper, or a step too far for a man infamously averse to playing fair?
The prime minister does not intend to -- you'll excuse the expression -- "reform." His recently announced infrastructure program again shows his obsession with making the rules:

An even more dangerous course of action for a party already known for partisan cheating is the government’s new Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program. A better name would have been the Canada 150 Elect Conservatives Program; the deadlines for tapping into the fund are ridiculously tight, and the Opposition is accusing the government of gerrymandering the program for blatant political gain. The man who might be Canada’s next prime minister, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, didn’t mince words. To him, the program is a “slush fund” underwritten by the public for the benefit of Conservative MPs.
The man who would be king assumes that Canadians will accept anything he does. A better student of history might recall all the kings who were deposed -- starting with mad King George III.

Chicken Harper and the Great Con Debate Scam

Montreal Simon - Fri, 05/22/2015 - 03:54


Well now it's official. The Con fluffer Kory Teneycke and his chicken leader Stephen Harper really don't want any serious political leader's debates.

They want to hold their own mini-debates, and prevent as many Canadians as possible from watching them.

So they won't take part in any organized by the country's major broadcasters. 

The Conservatives have rebuffed the latest offer from Canada's major broadcasters to host two nationally televised leaders' debates at the height of the federal election campaign. 

Even though only they can deliver a massive audience, and provide French Canadians with the country-wide coverage they deserve.

And the fluffer and failed TV executive Teneycke, couldn't be more brutish.

"We're going to pick the five that we think are going to be the best five, and the consortium didn't make the cut, unfortunately for them," he said. "The prime minister is the prime minister, he's leading in the polls right now, and if the opposition leaders want to debate the prime minister, they know where he is," he said.

Or more ABSURD.

"If they don't, because they're scared, then they won't."

When nobody is more scared to have his ghastly record attacked on TV in front of millions of Canadians, than Chicken Harper himself...



Because he is a Great Chicken Leader, as well as a Great Closet Leader, and this is just the latest example of his ghastly cowardice.

It really is beyond belief what those Cons are doing to our country and our democracy.

But the good news is this latest outrage will only reinforce the impression left by his not to heroic ordeal in that closet.

And he can forget about trying to portray himself as a Great Strong Leader from now on. For nobody will believe him. And we WILL use that against him.

We can ridicule him on social media. We can put up posters in our neighbourhoods, or turn up at his rallies dressed as chickens, or make clucking sounds wherever he goes. 

And if you're up to it, and I am eh?

Even greet him all over the country with a little chicken dance...


Yup. Let's make him pay the price for being such a coward.

Let's brand him as a chicken. Let's embarrass him beyond recognition.

Let's have a little fun, and laugh him out of office...



Please click here to recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Will Stephen Harper Really Get Away With Rewriting History?

Montreal Simon - Fri, 05/22/2015 - 02:22


It couldn't be a more Orwellian move, or a greater threat to our democracy.

Stephen Harper's outrageous decision to protect the RCMP by rewriting history. 

But this is Harperland, he is drunk with power, he really does believe the truth is what he says it is, and he is out of control.

So it seems there is nothing we can do to stop our Big Brother from bending the law to suit his sinister purposes. 
Read more »

Experimental science

Cathie from Canada - Thu, 05/21/2015 - 22:20
xkcd: Placebo Blocker:

Placebo Blocker



I recall talking to a psychologist once about how people reacted to getting a diagnosis of a life-threatening disease.  So we thought perhaps we could do an experiment where we gave half the group a case of the flu, and the other half a life-threatening disease, and then we could evaluate which group behaved with more nobility and grace.  But this was in the days before ethics boards...

this year's garden-ette

we move to canada - Thu, 05/21/2015 - 16:00

This year's crop: two tomato plants, basil, beans, and strawberries. Beans and strawberries are both new for us. 
I love that we're still planting our little garden, with no thought to expansion, just trying a couple of new things each year. And since we should all be boycotting Driscoll's, we are growing resistance berries. ¡Si, Se Puede!
Plus, bonus Tala, with her favourite Orbee.

why are ontario public school teachers on strike?

we move to canada - Thu, 05/21/2015 - 14:00
Public school teachers in our area are on strike, part of a series of rolling strikes hitting different regions throughout Ontario. If the province doesn't back down before the beginning of the school year in September, we can expect all Ontario public school teachers to strike.

The roots of this struggle stretch back to 2012, when the provincial government stripped teachers of their right to collective bargaining, unilaterally imposed a contract, then repealed the law taking away their union rights.

My partner and I spoke with some striking teachers last week, and this is what they told us.
...Before we went on strike, we weren’t allowed to negotiate. Our contract finished in August of 2014, and before we announced we were going on strike, the Boards actually met with our union for four days. And they were short meetings. Nothing much was accomplished. As soon as we announced that we were going on strike, and we gave our legal notice, they were negotiating every day.

We still didn’t accomplish as much as we had hoped, we are still on very different sides in terms of reaching an agreement, but striking at least brought us to the table and convinced the Board to actually talk with us. That’s a big deal. In 2012, our contract was imposed on us. There was no negotiation, there was no care or thought for what is best for the students, what is best for the teachers. That was under the McGuinty government.

Kathleen Wynne has said she is not going to take those measures, but at the same time, the open communication and negotiation just hasn’t been happening throughout the year. So our Peel OSSTF felt that this was the only way to actually move forward. And it has been positive in terms of bringing out our issues, and getting bargaining days.

There are also lots local issues that we are concerned about. Things like the amount of support for our special ed students. Control over the school day – right now, the board is proposing that principals have the authority to dictate every minute of the teacher’s day, what they do during their prep periods, what they do after school. That’s really hard for teachers. We’ve always worked really hard to provide the best that we can for our students, giving help during lunch, giving help after school, managing our own days around the students' needs. To have that taken away, or to have that even questioned - that we’re not using our time effectively - it’s really hurtful.

[What would they impose on you?]

It could be mandatory professional days. It could be something like, 'Everyone who has fourth period lunch today, you’re going to the library and you’re going to learn about some new assessment policy that we want to put into place.' And so now teachers don’t have time to prep their lessons, to do their marking, to do all the stuff they need to do to be good teachers. So many of us are involved in so many voluntary things throughout the school. We’re coaching teams, we’re running clubs, we’re sitting on committees for assessment evaluation or safe-school policy. We’re doing so much in our time that we need to have it available to us. And we need the respect that we can make our own decisions with our time. We need to feel that we’re valued and respected and I don’t think that message is coming across in the negotiations right now.

[What other issues are there, such class size?]

Class size is a provincial issue. We have two-tiered bargaining. We bargain on the provincial level with three parties - the government, the School Board of Ontario, and OSSTF provincial board. So the three of them are bargaining some major issues – pay, class sizes, the bigger issues that affect everyone. The local unions bargain issues that are local to teachers in our constituency - which for us is Peel Region, meaning Mississauga, Brampton, and Caledon.

Teachers in Durham Region are individually bargaining with their own School Board for the issues that affect the Durham schools. Things like how many periods are given for special ed. Teachers are released from teaching in the class room so that they can monitor and support special ed students. how many Educational Assistants are assigned to schools with special needs students. These are things that are decided locally.

So right now we are at an impasse at a provincial level. There are big discrepancies in terms of pay, the salary grid, the amount of time it takes to reach the maximum salary for teachers, when movements up the pay grade happen.

[Where does class size fit in?]

The province sets the standard. Right now for academic high school classes, it’s 30 students – and for applied level/college level students, it’s 18 students, which is more manageable in terms of the number of people, bodies in the class room, but in terms of the trying to be a great teacher and reach students and support them, even 18 special needs students is a challenge.

So what’s on the table now is to remove that guideline altogether and make it open to the needs of the school, as determined by the principal. That means a principal could say, this class now meets in the cafeteria, period 1, and there are 200 students in it.

That’s an extreme example and I hope it would never come to that, but there are no rules, no guidelines. They want the rule to be removed. And maybe the rule is removed this year and then slowly, slowly, the numbers just creep up.

Right now high school teachers teach three periods a day and then they can have up to half a period each day of extra duties, such as covering the lunch room or the hallways during a lunch period, or covering another teacher’s class; if another teacher is away, they might cover half of that class. So teachers would be actively teaching 3½ periods a day. And that’s the same for occasional teachers; supply [i.e. substitute] teachers would do the same.

The government is suggesting making occasional teachers teach four periods a day, so they would teach the entire day, their only break would be at lunch. And as you can imagine, as an occasional teacher or supply teacher, it’s a stressful day, you’re on the ball, you’re on those kids, you’re not sitting back at your desk while they work quietly, that doesn’t work. It wouldn’t work for a group of adults. You’re engaging them, you’re encouraging them, you’re sitting with them and working with them, so to do that for the whole day straight without a break... It’s unfair to suggest this change. But again, that’s a provincial issue that’s being negotiated at the provincial table. We’re striking in response to local issues and our right to bargain.

Our bosses do not respect the front line staff anymore. It seems like everyone is replaceable. The only thing that matters is the bottom line. It’s not efficient. You’re not going to work hard if you don’t feel respected. Morale becomes low, and then people really start just phoning it in because they are not respected. And ninety percent of teachers get into this because they really love the job. We do so much on our own time, and they just want to push it so we do more and more.From another striking teacher:
We’ve been without a contract since August 2014 – and that contract wasn't negotiated fairly, it was imposed on us. It was passed by government legislation against our approval and despite our objections. That’s no way to negotiate any sort of agreement.

There are issues dealing with class sizes. They want to remove the cap on class size. There have been numerous studies proving that an increase in overall class size has resulted in a direct loss of quality of education. Students in large classes get much less one-to-one time, much less progressive assessment throughout the year. And as a result, they’re not getting the quality standard of education that they and parents expect.

In addition to that, the government wants to pass legislation regarding prep time. What teachers can do with prep time. They are trying to set it up so that administrators can assign duties to teachers during prep time, duties which may have nothing to do with their course or their lessons or may not even have anything to do with teaching.

[So when are you supposed to do your prep time then?]

Well, that’s it. That time is time we need. We’re not just sitting around doing nothing. We’re marking, we’re doing lesson plans, we’re preparing activities, we’re even meeting students for one-to-one assistance, for extra help that they may need.

So again, this results in a loss of quality for the students’ education and for their individual lessons. As a result, they are getting a watered down quality, with lowered expectation, for their education. And we have a real serious problem with that.

WARNING! Underground Fetuses! Call Before You Dig!

Dammit Janet - Thu, 05/21/2015 - 13:33
Flags warning of possible underground fetuses are popping up all over.
If you drive along Springfield Road today, you may notice a swath of blue and pink flags along the side of the road.

The 10,000 flags are a silent protest by the Kelowna Right to Life Society, to ask for an abortion law in Canada.

Each one of the pink and blue flags is meant to represent 10 unborn children, matching the group's estimate of 100,000 abortions each year in Canada.This amused me. I googled and found that underground fetus flags can be had for as little as 29¢ each, which means that the Dominionist astroturf gang, We Need a Law, deems each tragically lost blob of tissue to be worth 2.9¢ as a publicity stunt.

Because, really, fluorescent pink and blue plastic underground gasline markers are just so evocative of abortion, aren't they?

A spokesperson eloquently explains the subtle symbolism of it all.
“We are doing this to show to our community just how massive the numbers [though we were too cheap to show the much larger number we pulled out of our asses] really are,” says event organizer Marietta Egan.

“Although our political leaders claim that abortion should be safe, legal and rare, these flags show that it is happening an astonishing 100,000 times every year in Canada.”
(Fetus freaks really need to work on assembling words in an order that resembles logic. Actually, all those flags show is that a bunch of people in Kelowna really need a hobby.)

On Twitter, I asked what this image makes people think of.


And soon we got a winner!

@fernhilldammit Memorial for all morans who refused to "call before they dig"/blew selves up real good http://t.co/CpyuSm1Usd

— k'in (@k_in_) May 21, 2015

So, all is not a stupid waste of time lost. The field of underground fetus flags reminds us to Call Before You Dig!

Or, who knows what might happen, eh?



Previous reports on dangerous underground fetuses.

Pages

Subscribe to canadianprogressives.ca aggregator - Posts from our progressive community