Vancouver’s New St. Paul’s Hospital – Public not Catholic

Vancouverites, in their zeal to replace a crumbling St. Paul’s Hospital, have opted to perpetuate the running of a publicly funded hospital by a religious entity.Is this operational leadership still relevant in today’s public health system?

This question elicits a shoulder shrug from most of us, as St. Paul’s Hospital has long provided excellent public care for British Columbians of all denominations. St. Paul’s is renown for its active research focus, work in the areas of heart & kidney disease, nutritional disorders and its work with HIV/Aids.

So, who cares who operates it? They’ve done an admirable job thus far, why change?

Providence Health Care, is the managerial entity that grew out of the 1894 Sisters of Providence, founders of the 1894, twenty five bed St.Paul’s Care Home that spawned the Hospital we see today. Providence Health Care is a far cry from the bunch of Catholic nuns who didn’t separate Catholic devotion from medical care.

But they are still Catholic.
Because of this, we have somehow allowed Providence Health Care to refuse to follow Canada’s 2016 “Assisted Death Law” because it falls outside of their religious beliefs. Patients who qualify under this law are transferred from St. Paul’s to VGH – currently and under the new St. Paul’s Hospital agreement.

Whoa, hold it!

Sorry, that’s just unacceptable. If this is allowed to stand, how far are we from having a publicly funded St. Paul’s Hospital refuse treatment to LGBTQ patients or refuse to perform abortions because their religion doesn’t approve of such treatments? If they aren’t a completely secular hospital, they should not be publicly funded. A public hospital can’t choose, a la carte, which care they will offer, based on scripture.

The new “St, Paul’s” Hospital will be mostly publicly funded. Of the 2,174 billion total price tag, 1.327 billion will come from the provincial government, the St. Paul’s Foundation will raise 125 million, and Providence Health Care will fund the remaining 72.2 million from the proceeds of the sale of the old St. Paul’s to Concord Pacific – a billion dollar price tag.

So, Providence Health Care gets to retain Catholic control of a new public hospital, along with the right to determine what treatments or care don’t violate Catholic beliefs. They get a spanking new hospital for 72.2 million of the one billion they get from Concord Pacific, and they get 28 million in their jeans … er… vestments.

A brand new, well equipped public hospital is long overdue for Vancouverites and Providence Health Care has performed yeoman’s service in operation of St.Paul’s for British Columbians for many years.
This doesn’t mean however, that any publicly funded hospital, can allow religious dogma to trump Canadian law in operational or treatment decisions.

If Providence Health is to remain the operators of St. Paul’s Hospital, they must offer medical services based on the needs of the public, not the dictates of the Catholic Church.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

7 Things We’ve Learned About Covid 19

Covid 19’s persona has changed. No longer the plague that will end the world, it’s now a highly transmissible virus that responds to mitigation much like other, less contagious viruses. That has re-assured us and convinced us that there will be a post Covid world if we are careful and committed to individual responsibility within an overall plan.

Although we’re far from finished with Covid, ( I will not say “out of the woods yet”) and with tragic death counts notwithstanding, what have we learned that might be valuable in dealing with  future global pandemics?

We’ve learned:

1) That although some people don’t like “experts”, jurisdictions whose Covid responses     were led by public health experts had much more effective mitigation results.

2) That fast, unanimous action, even those considered premature will save many lives, whether trying to keep infections out of the country, or in the later phases of mitigation/social distancing.

3) That countiries that chose to inject politics, conspiracy theories, and partisan rhetoric into their Covid 19 responses, are faring badly.

4)  That countries that are willing to accept and follow collective action for the common good have fared better than those countries which stress local and individual strategies, individual rights and/or are suspicious of collective action.

5) That international information, collaboration and initiative is needed to identify pathogens and suggest strategies for dealing with global pandemics.

Political criticism not withstanding, it would seem the W.H.O. must be that vehicle, despite American plans to withdraw from the organization.

6) That there are three stages in dealing with Covid 19, none of which can be “skipped.”

contain the virus ( keep it out of the country)

shelter at home until the infection curve is very low for at least 14 days.

massive testing and contact tracing  to allow for slow, phased in re-opening, with quarantining of any new cases.

These steps seem quite clear to most of the world, though we’re not doctors.

And yet, we’ve also learned:

  7) That a large percentage of U.S. politicians and the American

public has not learned or embraced lessons 1-6 above.






Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Lower Mainland Gas Prices

“ Gas Prices Stay High Despite Oil’s Dive”

Tri- City News -Friday Aug. 14th, 2015

“ (Gee)… I wish there was a simple explanation”, lamented Jason Parent of the Kent Marketing Group when asked why gasoline prices don’t seem to follow falling oil prices.

When crude oil cost $110 per barrel, gas at the pump was $1.50 per litre. Today, oil is $44.00 per barrel and gas is $1.35. Oil dropped 60% in price while gas  dropped 10%.

So what’s up with that?

It’s complicated says Mr. Parent, who offered up to Black Press staffer Jeff Nagel, the standard oil (no pun intended) orthodoxy.

He explains that B.C.’s 17 cent per litre Translink tax and our carbon tax make gas prices higher in B.C.

It’s all about supply and demand. The wholesale price of gas has little to do with the price at the pump.

Oh, and the falling loonie is largely to blame.

And don’t forget, B.C. gas prices are tied to western U.S. prices, a circumstance Mr. Parent implies might be mitigated if B.C. got more gas from the Kinder Morgan pipeline.

Mr. Parent goes on to say that even if the price of crude oil goes down more following the lifting of Iran sanctions, that we shouldn’t expect gasoline prices to follow.

Wow! I hope the price of oil doesn’t go down too much more, or we won’t be able to afford to buy gas at all.

In order to help Mr. Parent complete the reading of the dog eared script, I offer several other commonly used petroleum industry explanations as to why gas prices don’t respond to lower crude oil prices:

The paucity of refineries, prickly maintenance issues at Cherry Point, civil unrest in Venzuela, bad weather in the Gulf, environmental extremism, and resistance to pipelines and drilling.

The point is, gas prices won’t budge even as the price of crude oil plummets due to complex fiscal and geo- political forces that we lay people don’t really appreciate.

As Mr. Parent says;

“ There isn’t much of a relationship on a day to day basis between crude oil and retail gasoline”

And we’re silly to expect;

” … gas (prices) to move in lockstep with crude oil…”

Mr. Parent’s logic might be more plausible had he offered up even one economic or geo-political force that might serve to keep the price at the pump from skyrocketing at the mere rumour of a crude price increase or when a long weekend is imminent.

Apparently, the immutable laws of the market to which Mr. Parent enlightens us, apply only when the price of crude oil goes down.

No oil company has ever been stuck with a large inventory of gas they purchased at a lower price, so it may take a while for current higher prices to be reflected at the pump.

No gasoline price has ever gone down because peace broke out in Venezuela orthe annual maintenance at some refinery went better than expected.

No oil company has ever dropped its gas prices because they were so high as to affect demand.

“(Gee)… I wish there was a simple explanation? There is.

Gas prices go down only when we need to be re-convinced that there may be some logic or market force in play. Prices remain lower only long enough to lull us into complaining about something else; then prices are raised as quickly and as high as will be born, using any plausible excuse.

Gas prices go up whenever someone comes up with an excuse plausible enough to do so. The excuse must be complex enough to be uncheckable and must require several steps of logic and/or enough technical terms to make the public’s eyes glaze over.

Oil companies know their days are numbered, like tobacco companies. They may have ten or fifteen more years to take profit – and they will extract maximum profit for as long as they can.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Judge TS Ellis reluctantly sentences drug dealer to 40 yrs last week

Conservative, Reagan appointed judge TS Ellis, really struggles with long mandatory sentences, as was evident two weeks ago in his deliberations about a drug dealer, when the judge said;

“This situation presents me with something I have no discretion to change and the only thing I can do is express my displeasure,” Ellis said last week as he sentenced Frederick Turner, 37, to a mandatory minimum of 40 years in prison for dealing methamphetamine. “I chafe a bit at that, but I follow the law. If I thought it was blatantly immoral, I’d have to resign. It’s wrong, but not immoral.”

40 years –  mandatory minimum!

This is  the judge who just sentenced Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to less than four years for colluding with foreign entities and cheating the American people of over thirty million dollars. The “recommended” sentence was 19 -24 years. I guess he made up for the “wrong but not immoral” sentence of the drug dealer

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Snapshot Comparison of CampbellTax Cuts and Horgan’s Early Initiatives.

Who benefitted from the policies of our last Provincial Government’s tax cuts  ,and who is benefitting from the targeted policies of the  current bunch?

Below is a comparison of benefit based on a  Surrey family earning less than 45K per year. That salary/wage level was chosen because that’s the level below which 2001 tax cuts actually cost British Columbians money.

Admittedly, it’s a cherry picked thumbnail sketch – not a  comprehensive analysis. It does, however, clearly show how  flat tax cuts, constantly touted as a fiscal stimulant, merely re-distributes money upward, while programmes targeted at reducing financial burdens on the working /middle class  can make a big difference in their purchasing power.






Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

 Capital Punishment is Dead

Capital punishment in Canada is dead.  Like the dead parrot in the Monty Python sketch, it’s passed on and shuffled off this mortal coil. If Angus Reid hadn’t tried to revive it with a misleading poll, it’d be pushing up the daisies.

The poll to which I refer is a recent Angus Reid poll, onto which my string ‘em up colleague and the Toronto Star have gleefully glommed, hoping that it portends a return of the death penalty. The Star sums up the poll with the headline “63% of Canadians favour a return to the death penalty… “

Upon closer reading, the cited 63% support was in response to whether capital punishment “might sometimes be appropriate.”

“Might sometimes be appropriate?”  Asked that way, the question immediately turns one’s thoughts to Karla Homolka, Clifford Robert Olson, and Robert Picton. I’m surprised support wasn’t much higher, as even the staunchest opponents of the death penalty might say “hmmm” before saying no to that question.

The survey admits that when offered a choice between the death penalty and life imprisonment, 50% of Canadians favour life imprisonment, confirming Stats Can’s figures which show support for the death penalty in Canada has dropped from 66% when it was first abolished in 1978 to 50% today, “depending on the wording of the poll.”

Canada’s parliament abolished the death penalty on the basis of facts, not incendiary polls.

Contrary to popular belief, the death penalty is more expensive than life imprisonment. According to the L.A. Times, California would save 114 million per year if they stopped expensive, convoluted deliberations surrounding death penalty cases.

Capital punishment is not a deterrent.  U.S., states without the death penalty have a 63% lower murder rate than those with the death penalty, and in Canada, since we stopped executing people, our murder rate has dropped from 3.0 to 1.78 per 100,000 people.

Famous Canadian “murderers” Steven Truscott (1959), David Milgard (1970) and at least 22 other convicted murderers were later exonerated. The death penalty inevitably risks killing innocent people.

All but one civilized western country abolished the death penalty long ago. Since 2009, no one in the western hemisphere was executed – except in the U.S.

The death penalty is a remnant of a barbaric past.

Like Monty Python’s dead parrot, it’s an ex-policy.



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Remembrance Day – Thanks to Public Schools

Beyond teaching measurable information, one of myriad contributions of our public schools, is to help define Canadianism for a diverse group of young Canadians.

Our observance of Remembrance Day is a concrete example of this function.

Thanks to our public schools, Canadians have been taught to “observe” Remembrance Day rather than “celebrate” it. Our observance is solemn and respectful. Military contribution is respectfully remembered, but is welded to anti –war sentiment.

We all learned in 13 Remembrance Day assemblies, to not cheerlead or romanticize war; to not use Remembrance Day as a recruitment vehicle; to not encourage our young people to seek the opportunity to die for their country.

We appreciate but bemoan that a generation of young Canadians were forced to make that horrific decision.

This solemnity is a tribute to our public schools, the architects of Canadian Remembrance Day observance.

Remembrance Day assembly planning committees struggle each year to balance honouring military contribution while denouncing the horrors of war.

Sometimes, (often in high schools) the anti-war sentiment wins out and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” and “Imagine” dominates the ceremony.

Sometimes, vignettes of life in the trenches and of suffering families of those who didn’t return are emphasized in sometimes maudlin readings and mini plays.

But in toto , Canadians leave public schools with a well-rounded , personal relationship with Remembrance Day, one which informs their respectful observance(s) each Nov. 11th.

But how will Canadians observe Remembrance Day in the future?
Will it remain a solemn observance or will it morph into a celebration of military service in general?

Now that there are fewer and fewer survivors of WW II to attend, address, and support school Remembrance Day  and cenotaph ceremonies, will we just  begin to substitute “Afhganistan” and “various, U.S led police actions ”  for  Vimy Ridge, Ypres, Juno Beach and Caen ?

Will we, in our zeal to “remember”, begin to glorify and romanticize the idea of dying for one’s country in un- justifiable wars or will we continue to focus our “Remembrance” on the tragic circumstances that morally required Canadians to fight against world-wide fascism?

Will we now slip into rhapsodizing about military service, genuflecting to the troops who “fight for our freedom”; marching them at football games after a Snow Birds “fly past”?

Now that face to face, uniform wearing, declared war is a thing of the past, are Canadian Remembrance Days now similarly passe?

I hope we Canadians continue to differentiate between the awful, “one off” imperative faced by young Canadians in the World Wars, and the military as a career choice made by young people today.

As it has been  for decades, it will fall to our public schools to form how Canadians observe future Remembrance Days.

We owe our solemn respect to those Canadians who were forced to fight in the two awful World Wars.

We owe our thanks to our public schools for so deftly sculpting the respectful Canadian observance of Remembrance Day.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Six Ways to Resurrect Schools in B.C.

The only way to resurrect our public schools, is the same way we attacked them – incrementally and with firm purpose. If there ever was a time when “just throwing money at the problem doesn’t work” is true, it’s now.
It’s like watering a parched lawn – you can’t just water it for 24 hours and expect the damage of a two month drought to be immediately reversed. It takes time and commitment & a constant reminder that we’re trying to overcome a decade and a half of cuts and cruelty to our schools, students,and teachers.

So; What do we do?

1) Increase funding incrementally, 2% above the cost of living each year for 10 years.Toss out “per pupil” funding and come up with an equitable formula which recognizes local needs  like demographics,special needs, and remoteness.Vancouver may need less per capita for transportation  than does Fort St. John. Howe Sound likely spends more money per capita on outdoor education than does Burnaby.

2) Increase hiring and maintenance budgets.
Lower the SER at least one student per class per year – province wide, to allow for smooth assimilation rather than keeping the status quo and adding frills because of difficult organization.
Hire more specialty teachers  and learning assistants/ aides.
Increase  maintenance budgets to reinstate programmes to make schools look less slovenly, unweeded and un-painted. Any Principal will tell you that a dilapidated school is one in which it’s hard to have pride and confidence.

3) Minimize the number of “strings” attached to funding
As budgets are increased, trust educators in the assignation of funds. Principals and teachers are professionals. You’d be amazed at what they can do. After all,they’ve made do with less each year ever since provincial bargaining was instituted in 1984 (NDP gov’t) They know more about running schools and helping kids learn than we do. Increase budgets generally,rather than targeting a million dollars for crossing guards in every school.

4) Raise Teacher salaries.
But while we’re not just “throwing money” at schools, it is time we gave teachers a significant raise. Teachers have been trading salary increases for working conditions & education funding for 30 years.
Whipsawing them using other gov’t settlements as a benchmark won’t do this time. We  should use firefighters, police, civic workers,and other teachers salaries in Canada as comparative benchmarks,rather than non professional gov’t employees.
Competative teacher salaries will help mitigate the teacher shortage we’re in as well as express our support for and confidence in public school teachers.

5) Resurrect respect for teachers as professionals again.
When negotiating, call them “teachers” not the “BCTF”. It’s teachers with whom we’re negotiating, not what we’re eager to impune as an evil, undemocratic union. When we choose to heap scorn on the “BCTF”,we must also accept that we’re heaping scorn on good old Mrs MicGillicuddy and our child’s teacher(s). indeed all the teachers at your local school.

When our neighbours hysterically attack teachers as lazy, entitled, socialist brainwashers, we should do what John McCain once did – firmly say something like;

“No ma’am, they aren’t. They are honest professional people, working hard to help educate our children.”
The individual,developmental  challenges we faced in school, or those faced by our own children shouldn’t be used to indict teachers in general.

Be sure that provincial curriculum is planned by teachers, not Ministry personnel, or
other non professional stakeholders.

Demand local accountability, not provincial. Make the FSA exams a periodic random sampling, to be used to inform system wide decision making and to remove them as tools used to rank schools/districts/ teachers/students.

6) Address private school funding.
Two tiered education promotes a class system in society and is something from which we staunchly defend public health care but are blasé about accepting in schooling our children.
Ending funding for private schools is political dynamite, but it’s the right thing to do.

Our schools are damaged. They need to be repaired, physically, educationally, and politically. It will take a long time, money, and a lot of political courage.
I’m not sure we have the commitment required.

I’m prepared for the Fraser Institute report on schools which will be used to help those who don’t know much about schools to conclude that our students aren’t doing any better since the new government’s funding and hiring ,being nice approach , so what was so bad about what’s  happened in our schools?

It’ll take ten years at least, maybe fifteen, but if we did these six things , our schools could be repaired, our kids school experience would get better each year.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Vice Principal Chronicles – #1 ” Sideways, Not Head On”

The Vice Principal casually approached the herd of faux rebels who were in daily slouch outside the cafeteria.He knew to approach teenagers, especially these teenagers, sideways, not head on.

They were the only identifiable group in the school that cultivated a  “too cool for school” attitude. Slightly rebellious , but more entitled than truly problematic.

They were of various heights, weights, sizes, hair length. They were also in various stages of teendom, some full in the throes of allergy towards parents and authority, some just nibbling around the syndrome’s edges.

Most wore some part of a uniform – the accepted brand of jeans, acceptable footwear or a t-shirt of a band thought shockingly off colour, controversial or sufficiently grungy. They were experimenting with hairstyles, which feigned indifference but likely took hours daily to coif. None was indifferent to his indifference; each stringently conforming to non-conformity.

Some of them were cheerful, some a bit mono syllabic, but their consensus leader was downright snide – in look and speech.


Jason was the identifiable leader of this posse. He was no James Dean (google it)., but he was the group’s Big Kahuna, (google “Cliff Robertson, Big Kahuna”) Jason was the one who epitomized teenaged angst and who passed judgment and doled out acceptance or disapproval to group members.

The group, although there were a few constant members, was itinerant – some went from being Boy Scout- like at home to slouching at lunch time with the group, except on Tuesdays and Thursdays (soccer practice). There was no hubcap stealing or “turf” or rumbles on friday night, it was just a day group with whom to share the burdens of teen aged disillusionment and oppression.

But for Jason and one or two followers, it was more than that.

Jason was a bright but unwilling student. Teachers complained about him regularly:

“ Jason won’t do anything in class, he just sits there…”

“ Never does any homework. Jason thinks he’s special…well I’ve got news for him…!”

The Vice Principal had successfully spent  time fostering relationships with  other members of the group but Jason remained aloof and defensive, unreachable, despite many deft approaches by the Vice Principal.

The Vice Principal  knew the other kids respected him, that they thought him sensitive and empathetic – that they could generally trust him to be fair and supportive. No one was spray bombing his name on the back of the school.

But he hadn’t reached Jason and he knew Jason was in trouble. He had seen the signs before. He would end up not being able to hide his contempt and would run afoul of one of the “more structured” teachers; or he’d get in trouble with the police.

Jason couldn’t make it through two more years of high school wearing contempt and anger on his sleeve – and he couldn’t be happy being merely the leader of a rebellion that was going nowhere. He was the negative leader, sought for anointing by other kids who slunk in and out of the rebellious group as it suited them. But Jason as the spiritual leader , was stuck.

The Vice Principal had  tried talking with Jason matter of factly, about other kids, his family,, local sports teams, the cafeteria food. Nothing but grunting acknowledgement followed by determined disengagement.

He’d tried asking Jason if he would help Mrs. Switz move a couple of things to her car. Mrs. Switz was a popular young teacher who had agreed to allow the Vice Principal to try this appeal to Jason’s adult, chivalrous nature. He performed the task, grumbling, but put upon.

The Vice Principal had learned from experience that contacting Jason’s parents was not helpful. They were unwilling to accept what they saw as a non-problem and were openly critical of the public school system. In addition, Jason very much resented his parents being contacted when he “hadn’t done nothin’ ”

The Vice Principal had  tried offering Jason a job, receiving and stamping textbooks for a week in the summer .

“Good money – Jack and Steve are gonna help too.”


Practised in engaging teenagers, the Vice Principal approached them from the side, not head on, knowing the stupidity and peril of open confrontation with authority testing teenagers.

So this day, the Vice Principal casually approached the herd of faux rebels.

“Hey guys, how’s it going? .”

The Vice Principal approached the group . Very matter of fact, being sure not to look at Jason, he casually bent over and, as he picked up an empty potato chip bag from the floor, he said.”

“Hey Jason, “I’ll pick up this potato chip bag if you’ll pick up that empty Pepsi can on the floor over there for us – thanks a lot. ” Without looking back, the Vice Principal deposited the chip bag in the trash and continued down the hallway, still not looking at Jason.

The clump of sixteen-year-old boys loitered less aimlessly. The rebel leader had been challenged to help the Vice Principal – in a matter of fact way. No overt instruction had been given. Come at them sideways, not head on. The group waited to see if Jason would pick up the Pepsi can, fascinated with his  dilemma.

Jason stood unresponsive, and seeing the Vice Principal had progressed ten yards down the hall, he sneered at the Pepsi can, dismissing it from his focus.

Twenty yards down the hall, the Vice Principal slowly turned and looked back at the group. He waited until conversation had stopped and they were all looking at him. He stared at Jason, down at the distant Pepsi can and, in a loud, gymnasium baritone yelled.

“Jason, I asked you to pick up that Pepsi can, now pick it up! ”

There was no doubting his anger.

The entire hallway was quiet for what seemed like minutes. The rebel group stood motionless. Slowly, oozing contempt, Jason picked up the Pepsi can and deposited it in the recycling box beside the garbage can, with the disdain of someone who had just changed the diaper of a child not their own.

The Vice Principal, his will be done, huffed away around the corner, leaving an astonished group to mitigate Jason’s compliance.

“ Wow, I’ve never seen him that mad before.”
“He looked like he wanted to pound you!”
“Whatever”, said Jason, his snide quickly back intact.

Jason left the group and walked outside seeking solitude. He was confused.

The next day, Jason was noticeably absent from the group outside the cafeteria.
The pop can incident, forgotten by the other flighty group members, wasn’t forgotten by Jason.

An hour or so before dismissal for the day , the Vice Principal sent for Jason in Math class.

Trudging towards the office, Jason prepared himself for battle. He hadn’t looked for it, but here it was. He hoped his imminent martyrdom would be painless and quick. He rehearsed a few lines to express his objection to being picked on.

“Come in Jason”, said the Vice Principal, Jason did.
“Sit down “, said the Vice Principal. Jason did.

The Vice Principal stood, his back to Jason, looking out the window, as if contemplating what he was going to say. He turned.

He looked Jason in the eye. Jason looked away. The Vice Principal continued to look directly at Jason, who finally had to look at the Vice Principal or otherwise appear cowed.

“Jason… I owe you an apology” , the Vice Principal finally spat out in a pained voice.

“ Huh,”? Said Jason.

“ That’s right. I lost my temper yesterday and yelled at you in front of your friends”.

The Vice Principal walked back over to the window, put both hands on the sill and looked down at the floor.

“Jason, I’m an adult and I embarrassed you in front of your friends. It was inexcusable and I know better.”

“Whaaat” ? said Jason ,eyes wide.

The Vice Principal turned around and looked at Jason.

“ I hope you will accept my apology .I was not respectful and it wasn’t professional –I know better.”

The Vice Principal paused, looked at Jason and asked.

“ Will you accept my apology, Jason” ?

“ Huh, well, sure, I guess so, but …”

“ Thanks Jase.”. The Vice Principal sighed, relieved.

He wasn’t done yet.

“ Jason, I promise that I will never publicly embarrass you again as long as you are at this school .

“ I feel a lot better than I did yesterday. I felt bad all evening. To me, treating people with respect is the most important thing we learn in life, and when it’s difficult, it’s even more important. ”

“ I guess so”, said Jason, not quite knowing how to respond.

“By the way, Jason, I’m going to come to the cafeteria tomorrow and extend my personal apology to you again in front of your group.”

“ You don’t have to do that, sir” said Jason, slightly horrified.

“Jason, I do have to. My job is to help students at this school, not treat them disrespectfully. Don’t worry, I’ll make it quick and painless for you.“

The Vice Principal did go to the cafeteria the next day, and he did make it quick and painless. He stressed the importance of treating others with respect and that just because he got angry with something “someone” did didn’t excuse his responding by being disrespectful and losing his temper.

“ Right Jason”?

“Uh ,yes, uh… sir”, I guess so.

“Good. I also want to promise all you guys that I won’t disrespect any of you in public. If I am concerned about something you do, I’ll ask to talk to you privately about it.
If I’m disrespectful to any of you in any way, I’ll expect to hear from you… privately.

O.K. guys”?

Silence “O.K. guys “ ?

“Sure”, “OK”, “Yeah” murmured the bewildered group.

In the days and weeks after the apology, Jason didn’t become a stellar student and he didn’t put on a charm offensive. But he graduated on time, without major incident. He  even excelled in Physics 12.

Within a month of the “incident” another aggrieved rebel took over the leadership of the cafeteria loiterers, mostly because of  the vacuum left by Jason’s growing indifference to leadership.

Liberated, Jason happily became a peripheral member of the less rebellious (admittedly older) rebel group, until his grade 12 year, when he joined an intramural ultimate frisbee team at noon on Thursdays and Fridays and spent a lot of time with a very straight –laced girlfriend.

After graduation, Jason started his own home renovations business.
It soon thrived, much to the Vice Principal’s delight, because, reports say, of Jason’s assiduous attention to customer relations and respect for his employees.

Always  come at them sideways, never head on.


Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Trudeau is Right About Citizenship Guide

Justin Trudeau Is Right.

Trudeau doesn’t think that our Canadian Citizenship Guide should use the word “barbaric” to describe “honour killings, female genital mutilations, forced marriages, and other gender based violence.” I agree with him.

Trudeau abhors these cultural practices as do we all; that isn’t the point. His point is that official Canadian government communication should not use value-laden, subjective rhetoric to describe the political or cultural practices of other countries.

Trudeau has been vilified, forced to equivocate by a political media which more and more seeks a Trump- like, name- calling approach to international discourse.

For the Canadian Citizenship Guide to delineate the cultural practices and beliefs we Canadians embrace is appropriate, but to rhetorically denounce other cultures, erodes long-standing, respected, Canadian moral authority.

Canada’s action in not joining the U.S. “coalition of the willing” in Iraq was an exquisite, strong statement of Canadian moral perspective, accomplished without a subjective denunciation of American foreign policy or other tempting but disrespectful rhetoric. The point was made more strongly by principled action rather than by editorial condemnation. Canada remained above the fray.

If we describe the cultural practices of other countries as “barbaric” in documents we present to the world, what might we next include as barbaric, cruel, or racist?

I humbly suggest the following for inclusion in Canada’s Citzenship Guide:

“Canada’s openness and generosity does not extend to people from countries which allow the barbaric practice of encouraging its citizenry to carry assault, automatic, and concealed weapons wherever they go, or from countries which continually and amorally prop up dictatorial regimes around the world for their own gain, or from countries which allow the immoral practice of capital punishment or encourage the brutal practice of bull fighting. “

Are these generally accepted Canadian judgements? Yes. Are they appropriate for inclusion in an official Canadian document? No.

Justin Trudeau is right. We should not use subjective, value- laden rhetoric in official government communication with the world. Nor should we reduce ourselves to the level of some leaders and politicians, who routinely and publicly use pejorative terms such as “axes of evil”, “madman”, “exporters of terrorism” , or “murderous thugs.”

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments