$1.5B Ocean Plan Goes Awry

Computer networks in the Department of Fisheries are so dysfunctional employees work from home, says a federal report. Inspectors uncovered numerous IT breakdowns as staff tried to meet deadlines for cabinet’s signature environmental protection program, the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan: “Requirements were not well understood.”

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False Tax Claim A “Doozy”

Access To Information memos document federal grumbling over an inaccurate Department of Finance claim regarding the carbon tax. “That’s a doozy!” wrote a manager after staff spotted a misleading report intended to counter Prairie criticism of the tax: “Misquoting undermines the argument.’

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Two Liberal Voters In Town

Elections Canada counted two Liberal voters in the Village of Strome, Alta., population 260, in a constituency that saw the most lopsided win in the October 21 general election. Conservatives won Battle River-Crowfoot with a record 85.5 percent of the vote on 77 percent turnout: “Voters were lined up outside the door.”

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Army Should Exploit Twitter

The Department of National Defence should find ways to “exploit social media”, says the Royal Military College. Department surveys have found fewer Canadians use Facebook or Twitter than read a weekly newspaper: “A robust social media policy is an effective first line of defence.”

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They Resent ‘Queue-Jumpers’

Newcomers to Canada resent illegal immigrants for “jumping what they view as an immigration queue”, according to Department of Immigration research. Illegal immigration has cost Parliament $1.4 billion in three years, by official estimate: “We worked really hard to get here.”

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Easy On Privacy Fines: Memo

Federal departments oppose a demand by MPs and the Privacy Commissioner for more fines over corporate privacy breaches, say Access To Information records. Cabinet is drafting confidential amendments to a privacy law that currently mandates fines of up to $100,000 for failing to report loss or theft of customers’ personal information: “From the public’s perspective, they don’t really care.”

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Went To China And Back

Canada has shipped tonnes of meat products to China for processing only to see it shipped back as imports, according to Access To Information records. The Department of Agriculture explained the crisscross trade was a small portion of total exports: “Who benefits other than China?”

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Gov’t Plagued By Bed Bugs

The Department of Public Works has budgeted $400,000 in a rush order for exterminators following an outbreak of bed bugs in federal buildings in Ottawa. “There is an urgency,” wrote staff: “This is something that is not expected in an office setting.”

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Poem: “Passing The Hat”

 

Elections are over.
It is time to show generosity.

Members of Parliament
may earn $178,900 a year
– within the top five percent of Canadians earners –
and many are walking away
with $90,000 severance

but

losing that job
is more painful
than losing an everyday job
at Bombardier,
Tim Hortons,
or at the General Motors assembly plant
in Oshawa.

The loss affects
the public persona
of these elected officials.
They must vacate their offices fast
and can no longer login to the network.
Even their cellphones are cut off.

Taxpayers get it, pull together
and fund a transition program
to float the ousted members
from the House of Commons
to the civilian world.

$15,000 for every MP.

How else
would these honourable individuals
acquire the skills
to enter the workforce
on their own?

 

(Editor’s note: poet Shai Ben-Shalom, an Israeli-born biologist, examines current events in the Blacklock’s tradition each and every Sunday)

Review: History And Propaganda

After the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, Sitting Bull led the Sioux into southern Manitoba to escape reprisal by the U.S. cavalry. They wintered near my hometown. This went unmentioned in history class. We were told instead to memorize the travels of Champlain who didn’t come within 1,600 kilometres of Manitoba. Relevancy was irrelevant. “Curriculum is ideological,” as Prof. Dwayne Donald of the University of Alberta puts it.

“Official curriculum ideologies become so pervasive and unquestioned that their followers are left unable to recognize them as cultural and ideological,” writes Donald. He calls this “curricular worship”.

“Curriculum documents, and the educational priorities they emphasize, are thoroughly imbued with the cultural assumptions and prejudices that the majority of the members of the society have come to consider normal and necessary for young people to know and understand,” Donald explains in a tidy and devastating critique. “In teleological terms then, curricula can be understood as preparing children for a future that has been imagined on their behalf by adults. Thus, curricula are basically an exercise in citizenship, and the success of this exercise is generally assessed according to how well the children have taken on the characteristics that the adults hoped they would.”

Indigenous Education documents the uphill battle against stand-pat public schooling. Anyone who stepped foot in a classroom as student or parent will find common ground with these eloquent critics. The main Indigenous difference is the appalling cost.

“The costs of the current Eurocentric-based education system have been socially astronomical as evidenced by well-documented issues such as suicides, chronic underachievement and the high dropout rates of Indigenous children,” writes Prof. Sandra Styres of the University of Toronto. “By 1996 only twelve percent of Indigenous youth completed high school.”

Indigenous Education notes this is not a Canadian phenomenon. Hawaii did not establish Hawaiian-language immersion preschools until 1984. New Zealander Dr. Margaret Maka recalls as a student in the 1960s she won a high school prize as Most Promising Maori Pupil. There was no prize for Most Promising Anglo Student; that would be condescending and ridiculous.

“Maori teenagers are more likely to drop out of high school without qualifications and have one of the highest suicide rates in the world,” writes Maaka. “Our adults are overrepresented in prisons, have the poorest health records and are underrepresented as students and faculty in higher education. Chronic homelessness is a Maori phenomenon. Thus, it appears that upward mobility through the public school hegemony of things English at the expense of things Maori is a myth.”

Indigenous Education is compelling and frankly infuriating, but don’t take editors’ word for it. Read your child’s textbook for yourself.

By Holly Doan

Indigenous Education: New Directions in Theory and Practice; edited by Huia Tomlins-Jahnke, Sandra Styres, Spencer Lilley and Dawn Zinga; University of Alberta Press; 560 pages; ISBN 9781-77212-4149; $45.99

Won’t Detail Cash Payments

The Department of Industry sped approval of $31.9 million in subsidies and tax credits to a start-up tech firm to “create good middle-class jobs” only weeks before the company laid off employees, Access To Information records show. The deputy minister claimed to take rigorous steps to ensure taxpayers’ money was safe: ‘This will build upon the failures of previous attempts.’

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Liberal Caucus Asks, Why?

Liberal MPs yesterday met in their first caucus since the Party lost twenty-seven Commons seats and a million votes in the October 21 general election. “Some of our colleagues are not here anymore,” said Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez. “We have to understand why.”

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See More Senate Splintering

The Senate budget committee yesterday endorsed nearly half-a-million in funding for a new pro-energy industry caucus on predictions the chamber will see more “splintering” of members. There are now four separate caucuses in the Senate: “It’s very early still.”

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