I don't think I can find a kind word to say about today's Moncton Times and Transcript. It is so bad that the best part of it is the editorial - and it's a pretty boring editorial. There are huge gaps in the news, and almost everything that appears in this edition is quite dreadful. Where to begin?
The front page has yet another kiss-up for the owner and his friends with yet another story (five now. count them. five.) on their induction into the New Brunswick Business Hall of Fame. And that's the high point of Section A.
There is one item worth reading in the NewsToday section, a report of the salaries of senior administrators in NB universities. It is, of course, hidden among ads on the last page of the section. Under the terms of right to information, teaching faculties got a look at the salaries of university administrators, and were shocked to find some getting a quarter million a year and up to $350,000 and more.
And that ain't the half of it.
Some ten years ago, I was asked to become senior administrator at a university. The whole deal was set up by the big business members on the Board of Governors, and was handled through their lawyers. I was offered a stunning salary, well over twice what I was getting as a senior professor. But there was more.
I would get an interest free mortgage on my house. It I were to be fired - even for incompetence or immoraltiy or cheating - I could go back to teaching at my full administrator's salary for the rest of my career: I would get a pension based on my highest paid years - and I would get a half million bonus for getting fired. Oh - and there were other perks, a very loosely supervised credit card, lavish dining expenses, a heavily subsidized car.....
The lawyers loaned me a book on the subject to show much much I could get away with. It was a big seller in the business world.
The fact is that university administrations are heavily influenced by (in fact, under the control of) the big-time business leaders who sit on their boards. So, for the last thirty years and a bit, they've been modelling themselves on that business world with wild overpayment, expensive privileges, and absurdly excessive numbers of administrators. Big business has brought all its wastefulness and inefficiencies into the universities.
In return, the universities offer business programmes that are often heavy on business propaganda, and ditto for some economics and political science courses. They may also spend a good deal of money on research to benefit business.
Ever notice that U de Moncton profs are favoured newspaper interview subjects to boost things like shale gas exploration? Or ventures with an Irving angle? Ever check out who sits on the board of governors at U de Moncton? Coincidence, I'm sure.
Ever notice we never hear from professors critical of the sort of people who sit on boards of governors?
(I turned down the job at my university. I was a teacher. That's what I wanted to be. Besides I knew the university would never make the changes I wanted to see in it. Nor would the Board support such changes.
And I knew I didn't want to be a puppet for the Board of Governors.)
Mind you, I could have used that lush pension, not to mention that half-mil bonus.
Norbert Cunningham takes the incident of the teacher who is said to have duct-taped two students together. Okay. Reasonable enough. Then, this ignorant and vicious little man smears all teachers as duct tape maniacs. His first sentence is "what it is with teachers and duct tape?"
He then tries to bolster his comment with five more examples. Cute. But to get those examples he has to cover all of North America for a full year. Five examples. Out of what must be well over a million teachers covering 200,000,000 teaching days. Five examples of abuse. And this wretched little man uses just those five examples to smear all teachers. (His sixth example is from a private dance school, not a part of the education system.)
Hell, I could list more drunks, druggies, bullies, pedophiles and on-the-take journalists at any one press club dinner I have ever attended.
Unfortunately, Alec Bruce follows Cunningham's lead. I have never before seen him write such a column. At the end, he even hints that the rise in school bullying is a result of a rise in teacher bullying. In fact, I have seen no evidence of a rise in school bullying. Certainly, it was far worse in the schools I attended. Nor is there any evidence of a rise in abuse by teachers. Quite the contrary. As Bruce himself notes, most of the punishment methods of the past have disappeared.
Incidentally, my long experience of dealing with school bullies is that they are usually products of their home and social environments, not of school.
Oh, both Bruce and Cunningham assert the guilt of a person who has not yet been found guilty of anything.
Journalism 101 - that's unethical.
Both Eric Lewis and Brian Cormier write nothing in particular.
Whew...even by the standards of the Irving press, this one is a real stinker.
And what did it not report?
1. General Petraeus. This is not, as most of the press have reported it, just a comic opera sex scandal. Some very serious and very dangerous game is being played out here. It seems possible, even likely, that General Petraeus is a very dangerous and irresponsible man - and there could be very dangerous consequences - for all of us - to this badly reported and even unreported story.
Wake up, New Brunswick. I know General Petraeus lives far away. But if he is as dangerous as I suspect he is, the damage will not stop at the New Brunswick border. What happens far away can affect you, your family, your village and, of course, a city that is the hub of most of the civilized world as well as the home wine expo and the NB businessmen's hall of fame.
2. We have yet to read a word about Harper's strange and even frightening free trade deal with China. Wake up, New Brunswick. You really are a part of the rest of the world. If bad things happen to Canada, they also happen to you.
3. Of course, there is nothing of a threatened war involving Israel invading Gaza or Syria or Lebanon or all there. As well, NORAD has issued a bizarre statement that it will defend Turkey against an invasion by Syria. That's bizarre because Syria has never been in a position to invade Turkey, and certainly not now when it's in the middle of a civil war (in which Turkey is supplying the rebels).
And, yes, this does involve Moncton - even more than all those newspaper photos of smiling people giving each other cheques for charity.
In the case of Israel, Harper has already publicly promised to take Israel's side in any future war with anybody. In the case of NORAD and Turkey and Syria, we belong to NORAD; and Harper has shown himself quite willing to fight its wars.
Remember Remembrance Day? That's when we remembered those we sent out to die. And unless we have a very important reason for sending them, then we are breaking faith with those who died. The purpose of Remembrance day is not to glorify war but to remind us of our responsibilities to those who served - and makes damned sure it is necessary for them to serve before we send them.
4. There is rarely any news of Quebec I know that Sussex is closer. But Quebec is pretty close, too; and we should be following what is happening there because it is closely connected to what is happening here.
Bigotry, in the shape of language fears and hatreds, has driven hundreds of thousands of English out of Quebec. Most recently, it killed a very young girl because the paramedic called for her refused to listen to the problem explained by the father. He refused because he said he had a right not to listen to English. The girl died. The government defended the paramedic's right not to listen to English.
The governing Parti Quebecois has run out of any social or political programmes a long time ago. It is now encouraging the fear and hatred to cover that lack of programmes. (It's a common political tactic.) Quebec has done itself enormous damage with its language wars. I have seen no reporting on this in the Irving press.
Is it important to us? Read p. D 6, a letter to the editor "Majority being heard". The difference in New Brunswick is that the language warriors tend to be English. And it is those English (a minority, I hope) who are the ones encouraging hatred and fear. The result of this is the same as when it is done by francophones in Quebec - fear, hatred, hysteria, and a legacy of economic and social damage.
Could we please have some reporting (competent reporting) on what is going on in Quebec.? It really does affect us.
Remember - Dr. Cleary, the province's chief medical officer speaks tonight on the health issues created by shale gas. This is the subject on which the government and the Irving press promised to keep us informed, and on which both have been pretty silent except in spreading propaganda and lies. You would think they would have had a story about tonight's talk. You know, to sort of honour their promise about keeping us informed.
It's at 7 p.m. on my calendar in the Peace Centre at 22 Church St.