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staffroom confidential: Solidarity key to protecting public education

Hundreds of parents, teachers and students will be protesting education cuts in BC on Sunday. Families Against Cuts to Education is hosting the protests in five BC communities after yet another round of budget cuts for school boards and increased costs surreptitiously delivered through increases to BC Hydro rates and Medical Services Premiums. This, when BC already provides $1000 less per student than the Canadian average for per pupil funding.

The parent initiated rallies are inspiring to see after so many years in which government has fostered divisions between parents and teachers. There is no question that if we are (Read more…)

Left Over: Toxic Spills and the Toxic Con (tsk, tsk…) Response….

 

James Moore fires back at ‘political jabs’ over Vancouver oil spill Industry minister criticizes rush to blame before all facts are known

CBC News Posted: Apr 10, 2015 4:33 PM PT Last Updated: Apr 10, 2015 9:42 PM PT

http://montrealsimon.blogspot.ca/2015/04/the-bc-oil-spill-and-con-clown-james.html

 

As horrible as this event was, it did some good here in BC..this ugliness made it clear to all the naysayers bleating about jobs that NOTHING is worth even the chance of a spill..not to mention the fact that we need our Coast Guard and emergency stations, we need our lighthouses manned, we (Read more…)

staffroom confidential: Bill 11 – Is the BC government privatizing and seizing control of teacher professional development?

Yesterday the BC government introduced Bill 11 – new law that will, among other things, change the system of teacher professional development in BC. Without any consultation with teachers or their union, the BCTF, the government is legislating a new system of authorized continuing education that may be required to maintain teacher certification.

Not surprisingly, having been rebuffed by the BC courts twice with unilateral changes to teachers’ collective agreements, the government is trying a different tack. Leave the collective agreement provisions in place, but add new restrictions through the regulatory framework. Having failed to bargain teacher professional development changes, (Read more…)

staffroom confidential: Parents protest BC’s education budget cuts

Parents and education supports will be out on April 12th protesting the latest round of cuts to BC’s education budget (details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1550717231856110/). Below is a post I wrote for rabble.ca outlining the cuts and swift responses from parents and Trustees. As Boards develop their budgets for next year, we are now hearing how these cuts will impact our school districts. — Parents and teachers continue to be in a state of shock since the B.C. Liberals announced yet more cuts and expense increases for B.C.’s beleaguered school districts. Teachers were on the (Read more…) . . . → Read More: staffroom confidential: Parents protest BC’s education budget cuts

Left Over: A California Cautionary Tale…Served Dry

Drought-ravaged L.A. looking to ‘sponge up’ every bit of rainwater New storm drains built to let rainwater ‘piddle out’ into soil, $1B emergency plan to add more

By Kim Brunhuber, CBC News Posted: Mar 20, 2015 4:39 PM ET Last Updated: Mar 20, 2015 10:20 PM ET

 

Having grown up in SoCal, I can attest to the fact that it was either drought or semi drought when I lived there…and that was decades ago… LA was ‘created’ on what was essentially a desert, so no surprise here that this is going on..sometimes it didn’t rain for three years, (Read more…)

Left Over: Left Over 2015-02-24 12:32:11

Privatized playground at North Vancouver’s Cousteau International French School angers parent Cousteau International French School has leased the grounds of former Fromme elementary school

CBC News Posted: Feb 24, 2015 7:37 AM PT Last Updated: Feb 24, 2015 8:23 AM PT

When we read comments bemoaning the fact that people just aren’t as ready to volunteer, to help with charitable causes, when those interminable pleas for money infect our public broadcasting choices, we often despair of the public perception of selflessness, even as we resent the intrusion of such dunning in our lives.

This particular story may seem trivial, but (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: “Anti-Petroleum” RCMP Explodes Gasoline In Their Cars’ Engines

RCMP called ‘anti-petroleum’ critics (aka anyone concerned about climate change) a potential security threat http://t.co/sollGvyhdB #cdnpoli

— Keith Stewart (@climatekeith) February 18, 2015

The RCMP have displayed Climate Change Denial symptoms. This is bad for Canada, because if the police tasked with interfering in climate change related activism do not understand the science that drives the determined actions of peaceful activists, then they’re more likely to act against protesters without a measure of human sympathy.

@climatekeith @JohnKleinRegina Like these "dangerous" people:) pic.twitter.com/wZ71TpEu2n

— margaret resin (@margaretresin) February 18, 2015

Remember that RCMP bombed an oil installation just (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Low-carbon urban infrastructure: a view from Vancouver

I have a new case study (full pdf; summary article from the publishers) out as part of the Economists for Equity and Environment‘s Future Economy Initiative. I look at the City of Vancouver’s Neighbourhood Energy Utility (NEU), a low-carbon district energy system that hits a sweet spot of clean energy, local control, and stable prices at competitive rates.

The NEU arose as part of a vision for redevelopment of former industrial land into a mixed-use community in the Southeast False Creek area of Vancouver. The first phase included construction of the False Creek Energy Centre and service to (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: 3 worrisome facts about BC’s job market on the eve of Budget 2015

2015 marks the sixth year of BC’s recovery from the recession. But it’s been a slow and largely jobless recovery in BC.

1. BC needs 93,000 more jobs to return to our pre-recession employment rate (the proportion of working age British Columbians who have jobs).

Only 71.2% of working age British Columbians have jobs today. This is practically the same share of workers with jobs as when the BC Jobs Plan was launched, and has barely improved since the recession. In other words, the new jobs created in BC since 2009 have just kept up with population growth without replacing (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Confusing “Deficit Elimination” with “Prosperity”

The banner headline across the top of the front page of the national Globe and Mail edition caught my eye Saturday morning: “How B.C. became a ‘have’ province..” Wow, I thought to myself, that is quite something (and with not a single LNG plant on the economic horizon!), and so I prepared to sit down with my coffee to give this startling news a good read. After all, any economist who follows interprovincial fiscal affairs in Canada knows well the fundamental economic schism in Canada: it’s between the 3 provinces with oil (Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland (Read more…)

staffroom confidential: Standardized testing: a pillar of privatization

It’s FSA season again. Every year in British Columbia, every student in grades 4 and 7 has their regular classroom schedule put on hold for two weeks while they complete the Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) — a collection of standardized tests mandated by the provincial government. Every student, parent, teacher and citizen should oppose these tests. There is a litany of reasons for this, but top among them is the role standardized tests play in the very destruction of public education itself — by privatizing a public service. Masquerading as a test for system quality, they are in fact an (Read more…)

staffroom confidential: Badass Book Review: The Future of our Schools, Teachers Unions and Social Justice by Lois Weiner

Badass Book Review: The Future of our Schools, Teachers Unions and Social Justice by Lois Weiner

Since the massive public sector upsurge in the 60′s and 70′s, teachers unions in the US have been in a long steady decline in power. Only very recently, with the 2012 Chicago teachers strike, have we seen any resurgence in teacher union power. Why is this?

Weiner presents an overview of the pitfalls of teacher unionism and what teachers can do to revive their organizations. For any teacher anywhere, frustrated by the untenable working and teaching conditions we now face, this book is essential (Read more…)

staffroom confidential: Badass Book Review: Raising Expectations & Raising Hell, by Jane McAlevey

Book Review: Raising expectations (and Raising hell): My Decade Fighting for the Labor Movement, by Jane McAlevey

It’s been a tough couple of decades to be a trade unionist. Since the early nineties, with Paul Martin’s cuts to transfer payments, through the Mike Harris’s assaults, to the BC Liberal’s ripping up contracts and the Harper Tories legislating them, it seems increasingly hard to find strategies that win.

Yet paradoxically, since about 2011, there has been a notable upsurge in progressive movements: teachers in Wisconsin, the squares of Egypt and Turkey, the world wide Occupy movement, the Maple Spring, Ferguson, and (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: ‘Tis the Season to Rethink Our Charitable Giving

This op-ed by yours truly was published in The Province. The examples are BC-specific, but the message is much broader: donating to charity is not enough, we also have to change the status quo that forces so many people to turn to charity in a rich country like Canada.

It’s December, the season for charitable giving. Wherever you turn you see boxes and bins collecting non-perishable food items for the local food bank or toys for the less fortunate children in our communities.

The cashier asks if you want to add a $2 donation to your purchase. You donate (Read more…)

staffroom confidential: BC’s Site C Dam – Another stack in the LNG house of cards

The BC government announced today that they were going ahead with an $8.8 billion commitment to build BC’s largest dam – “Site C”.

Critics of the project consist of most of the province that isn’t involved in the building and resource extraction industry. First nations oppose the project. Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the BC Union of Indian Chiefs was one of the first to condemn the decision. Local communities oppose the project. The nearest municipality of Fort St. John cannot handle an influx of so many workers and faces strains on public infrastructure such as schools and hospitals. (Read more…)

Staffroom Confidential: The Mind of Christy Clark

My colleagues and I were somewhat perplexed at the lunch table this week to grasp the motivation behind the latest decision of the BC Liberals to end funding for adult graduates to upgrade their high school courses.

OK yes, it is obvious they want to fund less and charge more fees. But how does this fit with the grander scheme of grooming BC’s youth towards a life of resource extraction? Surely getting those extra credits in Math and Science are part and parcel of the path to trades school and the LNG highway?

It is easy to forget about Christy’s (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: CGE models and carbon tax incidence

A colleague of mine pointed out a relatively new paper about the distributional impacts of BC’s carbon tax. In my work, we look at actual energy expenditures by different household groups, and because lower income groups spend a greater share of their income on (carbon-intensive) energy, any carbon tax is regressive. But that regressivity ultimately depends on what you do with the revenues, and can be compensated with a credit. In BC’s case, when the carbon tax was instituted, there was a decent low-income credit that made the overall regime progressive, but as the tax increased from $10 to $30 (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Bloomberg: Russia-China gas deals spell big trouble for Canadian LNG

 

 

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Damien Gillis- Common Sense Canadian sent this along and it tells the story of how badly the Christy Clark BC Government has handled this from the get-go. The good news is that the potential profitability of fracking is negated by market forces, geography and sheer fantasy on the part of the BC Liberal government.

Imagine Putin sizing up Harper while Steve was mouthing off about Ukraine. The China-Russia gas deal was strategic, necessary and nuts BC’s and the rest of Canada’s fracking plans.

Now, finally, even Premier Christy Clark and her cheerleading pitchman Rich Coleman (Read more…)

Left Over: November Is the Cruelest month…

Unable to find affordable housing, 82-year-old living in Victoria shelter

SARAH PETRESCU / TIMES COLONIST OCTOBER 29, 2014 09:58 PM

All I want is a room somewhere

Far away from the cold night air

With one enormous chair…..

Ah, wouldn’t that be loverly?

I have been indulging myself in creepy fantasies of just this sort of thing happening to me, and others like me..

I am lucky to have a partial pension from work, but it doesn’t do very far, and it just covers my rent (but not utilities…)

I realize that, compared to this woman, I am doing okay, (Read more…)

Terahertz: Tell Christy Clark: Don’t rush through Societies Act reforms

Please write today to tell the BC government not to press through its reforms to the BC Societies Act. Email fcsp@gov.bc.ca before the end of 15 October 2014.

Clark’s Liberal government is looking to overhaul the law that regulates over 27,000 non-profit societies, including almost every active freethought organisation in the province. Many of the reforms are likely good ideas, like allowing societies to be registered and file documents electronically; however, at least one section would potentially allow members of the public to sue non-profits if they feel they are “carrying on activities that are detrimental to the (Read more…)

Left Over: BC’s Future Goes Back to the Past…

Temporary foreign workers needed for B.C.’s future, says premier Christy Clark: ‘There’s going to be a spurt in the number of workers that are required.’

By Tamsyn Burgmann, The Canadian Press Posted: Oct 03, 2014 10:23 AM PT Last Updated: Oct 03, 2014 10:23 AM PT

 

Living on the Island, where it is almost impossible to find a decent paying job, even part time, and forcing our kids to leave to find work, have to wonder what it is that Clark is talking about..we don’t need more foreign workers, we need decent pay, benefits and local (Read more…)

Left Over: Your Call Is, Truly, Unimportant to Us, Stay on the Line..or Hang Up, we Don’t Care…

Customer service is becoming more Kafkaesque by the day Companies like to deflect problems with call-centre bureaucracy then use social media to show they’re just like us. They’re not Oscar Rickett theguardian.com, Thursday 2 October 2014 14.26 BST

 

 

Here is an article i read in the Guardian, and though it mostly centers on corporate phone reps, governments everywhere have truly learned much at the foot of their corporate masters….

I realize that it helps no one to point this out, but it’s truly Kafkaesque, all over the world now.. Even so-called local phone reps cannot (Read more…)

Staffroom Confidential: BC Teacher strike – Lessons learned

On the evening of the vote results, I found myself, with great difficulty, repeating the tried and true advice: “Don’t mourn, organize.” Because it is correct. There is much to do. And there are always setbacks and disappointments on the way to a better world.

That said, it is also worth some analysis on the strike to guide the future. Here are my thoughts.

Longest teacher strike in BC history

Despite the outcome, perhaps the most incredible thing about this strike was the resolve of teachers. Although long strikes are more common in the private sector, for a public (Read more…)

Left Over: Back Door Justice on a Friday Afternoon….

NDP forces Commons debate on murdered, missing indigenous women Conservative-controlled committee didn’t recommend public inquiry but NDP seized debate opportunity

By Kady O’Malley, CBC News Posted: Sep 19, 2014 2:44 PM ET Last Updated: Sep 19, 2014 5:12 PM ET

http://montrealsimon.blogspot.ca/2014/09/the-ndp-forces-debate-on-missing-and.html

Ffinally, the NDP comes through in a wonderfully calculated move that both highlighted the need for a public inquiry, and beat the Cons at their own game..timing is everything.

Anyone who thinks that the NDP isn’t ready for Prime Time better think again…

Probably your best blog to date, Simon..I feel exactly as you do.. (Read more…)

Left Over: The Emperor’s (ap)Prentice Magically Transforms First Nations Support

Jim Prentice says many Alberta First Nations are behind new pipeline projects ‘Amongst the strongest allies that Alberta has at the table are the First Nations of this province’

CBC News Posted: Sep 16, 2014 9:25 PM MT Last Updated: Sep 17, 2014 6:20 AM MT

 

Great that you have First Nations behind the Cons and Chinese in Alberta (I don’t believe it, but whatever…) Another reason to keep all that filthy bitumen in-Province..why not build a refinery right there, on a supportive rez? Still think you’d have First Nations support?

“Art Sterritt, executive director of British Columbia’s (Read more…)