So the new education minister has said that he will scrap the BCPSEA, which bargained on behalf of government in contract talks with teachers. His aim is to settle a ten-year long contract with the BCTF and to, in the words quoted in the Vancouver Sun, ditch the toxic relationship between the province and the teachers. The BCPSEA was always a shell, an organization set up so that it could legitimately plead poverty in negotiations even when its parent seemed flush with cash for megaprojects, spectacle  and ruinous IPP contracts. Good riddance to what was, essentially, a living lie. However, the idea that the BCTF would willingly sign an agreement with the province of the length proposed by Minister Fassbender (mouthpiece for Christy Clark, engineer herself of a large part of the legacy of bitterness between the province and teachers) without there being ironclad guarantees of stability in purchasing power and serious teeth in the implementation and enforcement of reasonable provisions for class size and composition, an end to meddling in professional development, and a more collegial decision-making process in which teachers, through their bargaining unit, would have a real say in how the school system functioned, is pure fantasy, and really points to more of the same vitriol. It would be, in effect, the imposition of a contract whose terms would be dictated largely by the Liberal Party bureaucrats through the Ministry of Education and would virtually guarantee that there would be no peace in the school system until a more balanced approach were found. It could be seen as an initiative to finally break the school system beyond repair as an excuse to turn the whole enterprise over to private interests, wherein the Province could take the costs off the books, they could cut teachers and their nuisance union loose and let them take their chances with aggressive capital. This would also, of course, further the Liberal dream of a province and world without unions, where capital and privilege reign supreme, where wealthy families can educate their young in the lap of luxury while the rest are forced to attend fact factories on their way to low-skill, low pay work, or pass directly into the penal system, where the work is the same and the pay even lower.

We have another four years of this kind of underhanded chicanery that does nothing to build a relationship of trust and everything to frustrate all other stakeholders. Parents are being held hostage, but it isn’t the BCTF that’s doing it.




Many thanks to Adrian Raeside for generously allowing the use of his work.

The Latest Shot: The War Of/On Words

A poster supporting Snowden is displayed in Hong Kong


The following head appeared in the Toronto Star’s home page:

Ex-U.S. spy arrives in Moscow, seeks Ecuador asylum

A click through to the article does add the word whistleblower, but that aspect of Snowden’s actions seems easy to lose in the flurry of accusations about spying. It’s just the latest attempt to criminalize everything that doesn’t lie down and accept that the powers in Washington, London, Paris, Moscow, Beijing and, of course, Ottawa, get to do whatever they want in their quest to suppress their current bugaboo, terrorism, no matter how many times, how far and how fast they move the goalposts, and no matter that their actions might be creating the terrorists they seek to eliminate. It’s a great gig, like advertising the latest innovation in toothpaste to sell a ton more of the stuff, or creating a new restless leg syndrome to open up a new marketing niche. The adman parallel is appropriate because our politicians have, in effect, become shills for the same mercantile caste that has helped us build a society of overconsumption, waste, pollution, penury, austerity, faux democracy and illusion. So we have the Patriot Act and the Clear Skies Act, Families First, The Government of Canada Action Plan and a long and dreary trail of other misnomers for actions aimed at gutting the real economy and ensuring that power continues to reside with the puppet masters pulling with Wall Street, Bay Street and City strings. Snowden hasn’t referred to himself as a spy, and neither has he been convicted of such an offense, so perhaps it would be prudent to stick an “alleged” in there somewhere. Prudence in the press? only when it comes to turning over the real rocks to see what lies beneath.




This young lady caused quite a stir last weekend when she made a bit of a hash of an answer to a question about the gap in remuneration between men and women. Sorry to say, why would we expect cogent and reflective answers to questions asked on the fly of a person whose intellect is clearly of secondary concern? Would we expect that she deliver a scholarly treatise on the development of the gender gap and a set of tangible and feasible steps to resolve a disparity that flies in the face of everything that we claim to support in our egalitarian and democratic society? Likely not, and perhaps we might have a quiet snicker into our popcorn bowl as we watch our beauty pageant, and perhaps we ought to muse on the way a life gets directed into public spectacle based on some idea of the perfection of the human body (and along the way, a thought about why we would be watching this stuff in the first place: no one watches, no sponsors, no pageants!). If the young lady in question mashes up a poor selection of pre-selected platitudes in a form that makes little sense, there’s likely a lack of general preparation in play, starting when she was a foetus and continuing through early childhood and school years, where it seems likely that athletics, cheerleading, modelling and film would have become increasingly important as it became apparent that she was not an ordinary physical specimen of a developing child/woman. Since we all are bathed in the same soup of sales and sex that produced this intellectual prodigy, we ought perhaps not be overly smug. After all, she could yet go into….






Papal Misbehaviour

Francis Misbehavin'


One of our spiritual leaders has spoken again, a couple of instances over the last few days and must have been invoking  the Catch-22 clause. On the one hand, he blessed a horde of Harley-Davidson riders in honour of the 110th anniversary of the founding of the Milwaukee motorcycle manufacturer. Then there was the meeting of the delegation of good Catholics from France, and urged to overturn recent legislation in that country that legalized marriage between same sex couples. So it’s all right for a spiritual leader to do commercial endorsements? It’s all right for the Pope to interfere in the affairs of a sovereign  state? What happened to the idea of rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s?

The definition of a zealot fanatic is that he knows what’s best for him and will go to great lengths to ensure that you do it.

Our Mutual Obessession



There was considerable splash in the regional media about the Congress being held at the University of Victoria with large numbers of delegates flooding the campus and the city as they attended sessions and debated questions in the Humanities and Social Sciences, those forgotten areas of study that have taken such a back seat to the core sciences, both theoretical and, ultimately, practical, engineering, math and business. First, we seem to have forgotten that all knowledge is connected, and that social, spiritual and ethical considerations are attached to all the results of all the research that fills institutions of higher learning, as well as government and commercial labs: we seems generally to have forgotten the lessons of the fable of Pandora’s Box, be it in relation to nuclear energy, the general use of fossil fuels, the implementation of genetic modifications, nanotechnology, as well as all the panoply of new communication devices. In all the reporting, there was little or nothing about the content of the Congress, about questions debated or about what resolutions might have united groups of delegates in the quest to further our understanding  of human and social phenomena. Instead, we have been told repeatedly how good this gathering is for the local economy, wherein the delegates bring money and spend it on lodging and meals, double-decker bus tours, kitschy souvenirs or weighty tomes from Munro’s, whale watching excursions, copious quantities of single malt whiskey, or newspapers that lack any substantive content. Pride of place amongst those interviewed is given to the chamber of commerce types, the hôteliers and restaurateurs, the boutiquiers and tour operators who will funnel this manna back into the pockets of Victorians in general. Hardly a word that there might be some benefit beyond the simple pecuniary, sad to say, and the question of our infatuation with monetary considerations needs to be one of the questions put front and centre.

Of course the same reporting applies to almost any community event worthy of mention, from social justice film festivals to minor hockey tournaments. Granted, some of these events are only spectacle and entertainment whose legacy will be a note in the statistical compilation of sports and entertainment superlatives as well as the money left behind by those who managed to be on the screen rather than camped in front of it. Does it not, however, seem that the benefits of community interaction might be worthy of a mention? What about the opportunity for our local Pee Wees to measure their mettle against that of their counterparts from over the hill and far away? The reports seem to be generally lacking any of these considerations as though no one among the reader-/listener-/viewership had any interest beyond personal gain. Sadly, that may be the case, given that we’ve been so thoroughly trained to focus on the material economy.

A piece on Northern Reflections by host Owen Gary lays out the ugly truth of the results of humanity serving the economy rather than the economy serving humanity (perhaps the rest of the biosphere is just collateral damage):

Not only is Gray’s piece a telling slice of prose, some of the comments are revealing, as are Gray’s  replies. It’s a tonic for the tripe that passes for information in the press in our time.