Friday, July 5, 2013

July 5: Letter to the Editor: Tears and Laughter.

Today's letter from from a Jim Cougle of Fredericton is a gem. "Savoie columns showed courage"

Damn right. Savoie's column showed enormous courage in the face of the Irvings ' well known opposition to shale gas. And for the Irving Press to have the courage to print it despite the boss' well-known opinions.

And Professor Savoie? There should be a Victoria Cross for those people who show the courage to stand up to bullying of people who blatantly hold up anti-shale gas signs.

And would you believe it? The politicians aren't listening to Prof. Savoie. No. Why, Mr Alward has publicly appeared stark naked except for an anti-shale gas sign covering front and rear.

Prof. Savoie is, as Mr. Cougle says, a brave man, indeed, to speak out. Of course, it would have been nicer if he had spoken out on a subject he is qualified to speak on. He is not qualified to speak as an authority on health or on the environmment. To do so is not called brave. It's called unethical.

What are you smoking, Mr. Cougle?

Then a Jean-Guy Richard ("Protesters are being egotistical") writes an egotistical letter on how us common people who are anti-shale gas have never heard of a painter named Bosch.

In fact, I and a great many other millions of  common folk have not only heard of Bosch but have seen his paintings in various galleries. They are also a staple in art books for many millions more at places like Chapters where us ignorant, common people shop.

Then he graciously concedes that we may have heard of Michelangelo and da Vinci who,  he suggests, would have been in favour of shale gas. The tenuous connection is that their work suggests opitimism for the future. Well, yeah. So did the pointings of artists in Nazi Germany and in Stalin's Soviet Union.

In any case, the customers for  Michelangelo and da Vinci were the Catholic church and its wealthier parishioners. So what would you expect to see on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel: hundreds of naked and drunken Protestants having group sex on the golden streets of the New Jerusalem?

Of course, Michelangelo did have statues of men who - you know - let it all hang out. So he might have been anti-shale gas.

Alwas a pleasure to read letters from the better sort of people. One gets so fed up with letters from low-class bums. So it's nice to see letters from a higher class of bum.
As usual, there is no news worth speaking of in the news section. The big story is that pan-handlers are being hustled out of sight. Good. That solves the problem of the growing number of very poor.

Stunningly, there is no mention - for the second day - of the demonstration at Elpislogtog. There is no mention even though the police have arrested a news photographer for taking pictures. (That would never happen to an Irving press photographer, of course. In any case, the Irving Press appears to have nobody there as the whole staff is tied up looking for panhandlers.)

Also arrested, for no given reason, was a native chief who had been a leader in ensuring the demonstration would be peaceful. But there was no room for even that story. They needed front page space for a breakgrough on "You can prepare perfect bruschetta". (Boy, I bet da Vinci would have loved that.)
The lead story in NewsToday is "Actuaries point to health-care hot spots".  Interesting. It seems that the illnesses of obese people are "gobbling up" our provincial health budget. (Can you imagine them writing that J. Irving is "gobbling up" our forests?)

Health Minister Flemming is "outspoken". Yes, he is. He's not blustering, loud-mouthed, bullying, or ignorant or loutish, none of that. He's just outspoken.

The actuarial report was given to the government free of charge. Wow! Wasn't that generous of them?

The story is coy about naming who or what is behind that actuarial report. There's somebody in Ontario named Fievoli - and somebody named John Have. Why people based in Ontario should be preparing free reports for the government is New Brunswick is a question not considered important enough to raise. They apparently represent some insitute - but the insitute is not named.

Can you say "presstitute?"

In fact, Mr. Fievoli is  president of the Canadian Insitute of Actuaries, I have not been able to find an adequate description of what it does. But,  so far, it's clear that it's prime purpose is to create jobs for actuaries in private practice. It is also, possibly, a front like Atlantic Insistute for Market Studies? Is it possible that the purpose of this report is to continue Mr. Flemming's assault on the medical community and on medicare? I can only guess - but will try to find out. Obviously, the TandT is not going to tell us.

In any case, if obesity is a worsening health problem, it is not clear to me how cutting the health budget will solve the problem. It's like the pretence that chasing off panhandlers will somehow solve the problems of poverty and unemployment.

In any case, it seems to me that Mr. Flemming should be the last person to place all the blame on the obese.
The good part consists of three opinion columns on the editorial and op ed pages.

Alec Bruce is superb. I can't even to pretend to understand his last, two sentences. But they're going to have me thinking for a long time.

Michael Sullivan makes a clear and well-argued point against government funding of religious institutions. His particular reference is to the Cathedral on St. George St. He shows every sympathy with preserving it - but says that cannot be done while it is still a church property. This column is a model of logic and clarity.

David Suzuki has a column of solutions rather than of warnings. It's certainly a protest about where we're going - but it has doable things that we should be doing to lessen the impact of climate change.

Alas, there is no chance of attracting any attention in the government of this province or in the city council of Moncton. Alas! None of the solutions has anything to do with developing shale gas, buying polluted land to build a hockey rink, or building a multi-million dollar school in Royal Oaks.



  1. The Ottawa based Canadian Institute of Actuaries, acronym CIA, is a professional body affiliated with both property/casualty and life insurance companies as well as with financial institutions pertaining to pension fund investments.

    From their website:

    "Even before 1965, the statements of insurance companies transacting life and health insurance in Canada had to be signed by an actuary who was a Fellow of a recognized actuarial body. With the advent of the CIA, most Canadian jurisdictions introduced the requirement that the actuary be an FCIA. A similar requirement became effective for federally-registered property/casualty insurers in 1992 and also, at that time, for provincially registered property/casualty companies in Québec and Ontario. In anticipation of these property/casualty insurer requirements, the CIA undertook a special program in the late 1980s to increase the number of qualified property/casualty practitioners."
    " In 2000, the Society of Actuaries examinations were modified and, in the process, the later examinations were changed to be less nation-specific. Consequently, in order to demonstrate knowledge of Canadian practice, FCIA candidates writing the Society of Actuaries examinations are now required, as well, to complete the CIA-administered Practice Education Course (PEC). The PEC offers separate courses in insurance, group benefits, pension, and investment/finance areas of practice and in all cases concludes with a written examination. Similar policies are pursued with the Casualty Actuarial Society, which specializes in property/casualty risks."

    These are the same bodies which would advise the Government of Canada pertaining to age limits and proposed modifications to the Canada Pension Plan...

  2. Thank you. I got that part of it okay. But we're left with an association which did a free study for the New Brunswick government. Isn't that odd>
    Is it possible it had some inducement to make that free study?
    Does an association of actuaries by definition have the structure and needs of a health system? It can certainly speculate on the future of costs. But this report is certainly reported in the TandT as indicating a need for cuts in health. Actuaries are not usually experts on health.
    I could equally point out that low taxes and loopholes for Irving and others will cuase tremendous deficits - even greater than health ones, by the year 2020.
    So how come the institute didn't submit a free report on that?
    And, as you say, the institute's concern is to create jobs for actuaries. Doesn't that, minimally, suggest it has a conflict of interest in its report?
    Why pick health? Could this possibly be a reflection of the general assault on medicare that has been launched by leading figures in Canadian busines?
    If there were to be a prediction of a huge rise in cancer costs over the next decade, would that be grounds for cutting healthcare budgets?
    There are really just too many smells about this report.

  3. All of the front line physicians could have told them that obesity etc is high in NB and costly to the health care system...and yes prevention of disease and injury is likely going to be the only thing that will keep our health care system sustainable.
    What is the gov't doing re prevention?
    Check out the website "Injury free NS"..our neighbor province recognizes the importance of prevention.
    They even have a running tally of the costs at the top...very interesting.

  4. Graeme, from what I understand, these actuarial bodies play a much larger role in advising private insurers in the US with respect to private healthcare plans, terms of coverage, what should be covered, exclusions, overall costs etc., not with the objective of providing the best overall health care to the public, but of protecting the exposure and financial interest of private health insurers.

    Their concerns are financial and I would imagine they play a similar role with respect to health care, private health care plans and life insurance in Canada.

  5. There certainly can be no objection to them advising private business.
    But here they are advising government on a social issue that is a legal concern of the government.

    All this work was done by one man who, whatever one may say about his expertise, would require a very long time to do the research.

    Why did he do such research outside the field of business?

    Why did he do it free and, seemingly, at the request of nobody?

    Why did he single out New Brunswick for his research?

    Why did the paper refer to health as "gobbling up" revenue - when it would never dare refer to big business that way?

    This story smells. and there are obvious question a reporter and an editor should have asked - but obviously didn't.

    This doesn't look like reporting. It looks like propaganda.