Tuesday, January 7, 2014

January 7: Step down, Rob Ford..

....New Brunswick has its own clown-mayor.

Two years ago, mayor Woodside of Fredericton expelled Occupy protesters from their demonstration site. Then he ordered the site demolished. But there was one, little glitch - well, two little glitches.There are no laws in Fredericton which permit the mayor to do any such things.

In Canada, people have a right to protest. And their possessions cannot be arbitrarily destroyed.

Didn't the mayor know that? Doesn't he have a lawyer at city hall? Doesn't the police chief know any lawyers? Didn't either of them consult with the premier first? I mean, the premier is right there.

So the protestors sued. The mayor, being a quick-minded man and all, realized after two years that he had better settle this out of court. So he did - along with a public apology.

Well, with sort of a public apology. Remember, we're dealing with a Rob Ford here.

When he met with the press yesterday to announce the settlement, he refused to read the apology to the press. But he did, graciously, say, "Legally, it was not the right thing to do. I accept that." (very gracious of him). "But the bottom line is, that mess is no longer there, that's what really I wanted to achieve."

Like Rob Ford, he apologizes for doing something wrong. Then he implies it was wasn't wrong. Not really.

Oh, yes, and he adds a personal slur. "The Occupy people were more interested in money than principle."

Even if that were true (and it is unlikely given the small sum involved), how could he possibly know it? To say that was contemptible.

He says it was wrong, then wipes that out by saying it was okay because it was what he wanted to do.

What a sleaze! What a clown! What an embarrassment! What an incompetent!

Our very own Rob Ford, only without being funny.

No doubt the law and order crowd will rush to his defence. That's because they have trouble grasping the idea of law and order. Those principles are supposed to apply whether you agree with the protesters or or not.

When native demonstrators were accused of breaking the law, hundreds of police and snipers were immediately on the spot.  Sounds to me as though they should have been surrounding Fredericton city hall.

Oh, don't look for this story in the TandT.  It needed most of its space to tell us we've had lots of snow and cold. And there's a big story about how you should be careful when shovelling snow off a roof. Gee! Never thought of that.

Anyway, I don't think it's nice to have stories about sleaze in the paper. Do you?

Early in my university teaching career, I had a surprise visitor. It turned out he was a "flack", a public relations man for the oil industry. He wanted me to work on a project to improve the images of oil executives. Though, he admitted, the original ones  were hard-nosed and crude, the current lot are real sweethearts.

I said no.

Since then the pressure on universities has been stepped up. Business execs and wealthy individuals use their influence to dictate how the universities will develop, what their purposes will be.

In my later years, I was asked to be president of my university - so I got to go the full round of meeting all  the board members. I was astonished at their advances in getting control of the universities, and how they intended to convert them to their own uses.

So I said no to that one, too.

And now it's well-rooted here in New Brunswick. I realized that several years ago when the Irvings held their highly improper conference to redesign the economy of New Brunswick - and all the university heads in the province scampered at their master's voice.

And now it's on again with something called New Brunswick Social Policy Research Project.

I don't know whether this appeared in the papers while I was away. Anyway, I'm sure this version of the story has not. I discovered it thanks to a reader.

This is a typical public/private venture (which means private business nosing in where it has no business to be.) The board is steeped in university administrators (who are almost certainly decorative, the equivalent of potted plants). There are also flunkys from government, business execs and - most important - Chap Peters who works for the company that does PR for SWN. How's that for an impartial counsellor?  Then there's Peter Lindfield who works in a related field. He's head of one of those "think-tanks" that pump out propaganda for big business.  His is the Carlisle Institute.

I'm happy to say that very few professors are involved with this lot.

For their opening event, they will have the last weekend in January for a great meeting to  plan the economic future for New Brunswick - an echo of Mr. Irving's conference of a few years ago.

They are inviting students, profs, etc. for a weekend of brainstorming to solve all our problems.

There are more than a few absurdities in this.

1. No significant research or thinking happens at a weekend of gab fest.
2. Though it is called an organization of social research, society has nothing to do with it. This is all about making money for those who already have loads of it. People don't matter a damn.
3.It's interfering with university education to use the students and the university for propaganda.
4. It's ad has the jargon you would expect of a gang of poseurs. My favourite invented word in there is "impactful". They also disapprove of serious research by saying it just sits on shelves.
Their aim is clear. All university research should be to serve big business only. There are no people,  not real ones, no society, no community. There are only profit margins.

Will something useful come out of this? Only a fool could think so. All that will come out is simple-minded propaganda. (But it will get almost as much coverage from the Irving Press as it's really important stories - like how to shovel snow off a roof.)

The universities have sunk a long, long way.And it's mostly the administrators who have let the water in.

There's nothing here about today's TandT because it has nothing in it.

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