Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sept. 13: I'm used to getting some pretty bozo flyers from...

...our Conservative Member of Parliament, Robert Goguen. But the latest is a real stunner.

It poses a question. Do you think Canadian citizenship is a right? and two circles to check ---
Yes, citizenship is a right.
No, it is a privilege and must be earned.

I don't even know what those two questions mean. Is it a right? Of course. I was born here. I have a right to be a Canadian citizen. I don't have to earn it, and I don't have to ask Mr. Harper's permission.

Is it a privilege and must be earned? No. Not if  you're a citizen by birth. Yes, if you're an immigrant. (Though I'm not sure earned is the right word; but, yes, you have to be approved by the government.)  

So why the questions? Why would they go to the expense of mailing this bilge to millions of people? And, oh yes, there is a reason.
Below the questions, it asks which party is on the right track to solve Canada's immigration problem - whatever that problem might be. .( Most people will give the name the party they intend to vote for). Then it asks whether you are a stay-at-home parent, a senior, a veteran, a parent of child under 18, a working Canadian. It also asks you to return it, including your name, address, phone no., and email.

This latter part is what this expensive mailing that asks dumb questions is really all about. The Conservative party will get answers from all over Canada, giving the party information it needs to plan for the next election. And I'll add my question. Who paid for this?

No wonder the photo of Goguen on it has a smirk.
Years ago, when the world and I were young, I briefly met a CBC reporter ;(his brother was my producer on CBC radio). His name is Karl Nerenberg; and I've often followed his work. He's a reporter of the old school - knowledgeable, independent, inquiring, tough-minded. For some years  he was CBC's main man on the parliament beat. Now retired, he's a "regular" on a web site called

It has a number of excellent opinion columns - none of the TandT's Rod Allen flutter. Karl has one in there now about Barrick Gold, a company that is one of the biggies, and is Canadian-owned.  This story is about Barrick Gold's behaviour in a third-world country where it exploits cheap labour, and ignores the environment by simply dumping toxic waste over the surrounding land.   If anybody complains, the company has a private army to beat, rape and/or murder them. Recently, the private army burned down 200 houses.
That's not unusual. Canadian mining companies are a major force around the world - and they are brutal even by the standards of a brutal industry.

The easy way to find him is to google, and look over the site. It's all good. For this column in particular, if you insist on doing it the hard way, it's:
http// VBMIhf8aik 8 gmail

You might also check out the column on how B'Nai Brith Canada (now a front for the Israeli government) is trying to get Stephen Harper nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Harper gets a lot of mileage for a man who, internationally, has talked big and fiercely while doing close to nothing. I guess the peace prize is for the "doing nothing" part.

While you're at it, check out a paper called The Local  - France's News in English. for Sept. 12. It has a story about New Brunswick that the Irving papers missed. It's about a Dutchman living in Nackawic, New Brunswick who was arrested recently when he confessed to police he had murdered his Dutch wife. He is also wanted in France where he was known as the "Dentist of Horror" for his mutilation and cheating of his patients.

The Local is also a most enjoyable paper to read.
Also missing from today's paper is the story about a study of fracking in Pennsylvania.  It shows that people living within one kilometre of shale gas drilling suffered far higher rates of respiratory problems and skin diseases than did people living beyond that distance. It also pointed out that the problem is likely to get far worse as illnesses like cancer  have a chance to develop.

You can find it at
In section A of the Sept. 12 edition, there wasn't a single news item worth reading. The editorial and op pages seemed as bad - until I came to the column by Alec Bruce. It contains a description of New Brunswick society that is brutal.

".... a province that suffers from a systemic lack of ideas, a structural absence of political and social courage, a perennial failure of imagination and innovation, you have confirmed for all the world that things will never change here in Canada's mental rust belt..."

I think he's right. I don't agree with all of his examples. But, in general, this is bang on.

Where I disagree is his criticism of the education system. Educational success reflects the values of the society we live in. I had reminders of that all the way through my education career.

Kids in my elementary school started leaving school in grade four. My mother's highest hope was that I would one day rise to a job from which I came home in clean clothes. I achieved her highest hope when I was kicked out in grade eleven, and became a mail-sorting clerk at Bell Tel.

But when I finished high school at night and then entered university, my parents were upset. I was trying "to rise above my station". Then, when I quit my prestigious job at Bell to attend university full time and become a teacher, there was something like anger. And when I quit teaching to go to grad school, anger gave way to fury.

The other boys in my grade eleven class graduated brilliantly. (They were a select class). Most went on to distinguished careers. Of course. Most of them were Jewish. They had been raised in a society with enormous respect for learning - and with high expectations for its children.

During that period, I was also a counsellor for a YMCA camp, and then  director of a YMHA (Young Men's Hebrew Association) camp. The YMCA camp was fun and games. But the YMHA expected me to mix the fun with some serious discussion and learning.

I was again reminded of cultural differences when I taught university courses in China. In three summers of teaching, no student missed a class - or was even late for it. If I mentioned the name of a good article, even casually and with no hint they should read it, they would all have read it by the next class. When I learned that one of my students was taking pills to stay awake and study all night, I had to threaten him with hospitalization if he didn't stop it.

The schools of New Brunswick are not different from good schools anywhere. But New Brunswick society is different - very different.
NewsToday has lots of space for provincial elections candidates -all of whom continue to talk about everything but the real issues.

Page B 7 has, hidden in a corner, the story that there will be no further investigation of the Lac Megantic disaster in which a dilapidated train carrying oil on the cheap, and with labels submitted by Irving oil that lied about its cargo, and a railway owned by a man notorious for lax safety measures that made his cheap shipping prices possible killed dozens of people.

There will be no charges laid against any of the above. God is kind to his servants. All the blame will be dumped on three, minor figures - one of the them the engineer who had to drive that train alone all the way from the prairie West to the East coast. It was cheaper that way.

The investigation has received little attention from the Irving press.

Foreign news is skimpy. A story about the new war against IS features a statement by Ron Baird, Foreign Minister for Canada, and our national village idiot. "Iran is the biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world...they have had a destabilizing influence in just about every single country in that region."

Sure, Ron. It was Iran that killed over a million Iraqis, and starved close to half a million Iraqi children to death. It was Iran that bombed Libya and created chaos in that country. And it was Iran that financed the Syrian "rebels' with American money and weapons to stage a brutal (and phony) civil war in Syria. And no doubt it was Iran that has been sending drone bombers to kill innocent people all over the world, and is sending special ops troops  (cleverly disguised in American uniforms) to carry out assassinations all over the region.

And, you know what? I'll bet it was Iran that overthrew its own government fifty years ago so it could give all its oilfields to  those nice Americans and British. And I'll bet it was Iran that replaced its elected president with a torturing, murderous and corrupt dictator called the Shah.

Boy,  you can't fool our Ron Baird. That's why they pay him the big bucks.
For Sept. 13, Section A  has its usual thought-destroying drivel. Seriously, this is deliberately designed to keep the population dozy. A3, for example, continues a series of interviews on the provincial election with people who don't have a clue what they're talking about.

This waste of half a page has inane advice on just about everything as seen by a city councillor. Problem- the cost of health care is too  high. Solution - people should go for more walks in a park.

Problem - people are afraid to talk openly. Why? Because they're terrified by people who are against shale gas.

The only clear suggestion concerns beautifying the city. It seems we should do that by following Fredericton's lead in redesigning our manhole covers.

This makes Gallant look like a fiery revolutionary. Perhaps it's on purpose that this on the same page as the ad for the Irving Memorial Chapel.
A6 takes us back to the TandT's more common form of doziness. It's not a real story at all. It's an ad for a show at the Casino, somthing called Artificis.  The story says this show will take the audience by storm. That is an illegitimate starting point for a news story. So is the headline, "Audience to be 'wowed' at FUSION.

Newspapers do not tell the future. They have no qualifications to do so. They report what has happened. Usually, the TandT can't even tell what happened - or it lies about it. It certainly can't tell the future. That sort of thing is for an opinion column. That's why opinion columns are distinct from news stories.
Then there are the pages of opinions - editorial and op ed.

The editorial, as usual, is about money rather than people. It is very upset that the Moncton firemen got a wage increase (though it still leaves them the lowest paid in major cities of the maritimes.)  It doesn't mention  whether any Irvings got wage increases this year - or whether they are falling behind the firemen's pay scale. Why not? We have to pay the increases for both of them.

There is a hint that we can take action. The editor warns that "...cities might soon seek firefighting options."

I know. I know. Look at my hand waving in the air. We could get CE0s to walk by the fire spitting on it. Then we could build a Moncton firemen's hall of fame - and put their pictures in it.

Bill Belliveau has a column of election ideas - some good, some less so. Norbert is Norbert. On the budget, he says, "Recognized experts have outlined how to do it." Yeah. Experts recognized by Norbert. His plans are exactly the same as those that were disastrous in the decade of the 1930s.  Neither Norbert nor Belliveau makes any mention of the big money that really controls our governments, our budgets and our lives.

Brent Mazerolle uses half a page to tell us a pointless story about his Tupperware.
In NewsToday, there is virtually no foreign news. But there is one, interesting piece on B2. Little Cuba, with a population of only 11,000,000 is sending more than 160 health workers to fight Ebola in Sierra Leone.(Cuba, though kept poor by American economic sanctions, produces health workers, including doctors, way out of proportion to Canada and the US - and the training is free.)

The US population is thirty times as large at 320 million. But its health workers in all of Africa are a relatively small number.

The TandT editor, by the way, got the headline wrong. It says Cuba sent doctors. The story says health workers - including doctors.
The Faith Page has two encouraging items, both from St. George's Anglican church. It will be offering free meals for those in need. It had better be careful. In doing doing something helpful, it'll be out of step with mainstream Christianity in Moncton.

The Sermonette on the same page  (B7) will no doubt create wider discussion among the saintly in Moncton.  It proposes radical changes in the church service. No, not something crazy radical like feeding the hungry. No. It proposes the church make itself more exciting by having more singing, or more praying, or less praying, whatever turns you on.
What's going on in the world?

Well, the US and the EU are imposing more sanctions on Russia. Now, why would they do that just when Ukraine and Russia are in peace talks, and when even the President of Ukraine says the number of Russian troops in the country is small and getting smaller? Harper, too, is talking tough ( though doing as little as possible.) Harper's reason is obvious. He is courting the Ukrainian vote just as he's courting the Jewish vote. Big talk. Big promises. No action.

But what's Obama's objective? Why impose more punishments just as peace talks are starting? Well, here's a possibility. Obama wants a war with Russia. That would be a major step toward dominance over China. And China is the country that's holding vaults full of IOUs on the huge, American debt.

Get control over Russia, then China -and you can, maybe, force forgiveness for the debt. And, if necessary, you can bomb your way to forgiveness.

Meanwhile, China and Russia seem to be making deals to carry on world trade in their currencies, rather than the US dollar. And that would drive the US dollar into the basement. (China would the loser on all the American IOUs it's holding. But they're worthless, anyway.

Both sides' schemes require speed. And every step of the way raises the possibility of nuclear war.

In the Middle East? The US wants to stay out of a ground war. But it seems mostly unlikely that IS can be crushed by Iraq troops. And nobody is keen on sending ground troops.

But that may not matter. What the US wants in the long term is a weak and generally destabilized Middle East which will give it power to do what it wants in the region. (I think that is what it wants. That is certainly what the "warhaoks" want. But it is, seriously, very difficult to tell who is running the US government.)

And, finally, a story the TandT hasn't figured out, yet. Crystal Palace has closed. Target is in trouble. In today's paper, Dollar Stores have had a great year. Crystal Palace will be replaced by a high-end sporting goods store. Across Canada, The Bay department store chain is going high-end. What does all this mean?

It means the grossly unfair and greedy distribution of wealth in the province and across North America is taking hold. Dollar Stores had a great year because so many people don't have much money. The boom is in high-end stores because the upper ten percent have so much money that they want something better than Walmart or Target -and damn the cost.

But the TandT will never notice that.
Oh, there is one more thing the TandT missed. It was in The Gazette (Montreal), for Sept. 12. The mayors of Montreal and its surrounding municipalities have voted thumbs down on the Enbridge pipeline from the tar sands to the East. The reasons seem pretty good.

The rules are slack. Serious risks of spillage and toxic pollution are ignored. And neither the company nor the government seems to care.

But hey, think of the jobs.


  1. Very good blog dude, lots of context and quotes. I will of course disagree along my usual line-I don't think you can say that New Brunswick's education system is the same as all others, yet New Brunswick is 'very different'. I suspect you aren't from New Brunswick, maybe you did your teaching in New Brunswick and can provide some insight, but as far as education goes:

    In this election came the 'demand' to 'take politics out of education'. Obviously there is politics IN education, you've mentioned before that private industry is making inroads, and quite obviously if that is the case then it has an effect on education.

    I won't even get into the details of my education. Granted it was a while ago, so long ago in fact that I remember our biology teacher used to eat his lunch alone with two girls in his office and nobody even said boo. I won't even mention chemistry class where the teacher divided the class into eight lab groups, there being a 'number 1' lab group which was the kids getting the highest marks, and who got the lions share of attention, and a lab group 8, which was the 'dumbest' kids who got none. Happily I was in lab group 8 and didn't get any attention from this intensely creepy man who my oldest sister had complained to no avail that in class he had said "its a good thing she's pretty". And happily I met a girl in the sciences who renewed my interest in chemistry later on.

    I also won't mention the complete lack of technology development in the system today. A report on CBC the other week featured a guy from some tech company in NB who went to europe and came home pointing out that programming was a central feature of ALL strains within the educational system, and pointed out that in NB it was feature of NONE. In short, kids are being trained to be technology USERS, not developers. So you can ask what exactly they ARE being trained for, and we go back to the 'politics' where the government was claiming that we need to train more people guessed it, forestry.

    Mr. Bruce suffers from the same affliction as many academics, which is that they seldom actually go out and talk to people. If its not in a book or media then it doesn't exist, and of course in New Brunswick that means if it doesn't come from Irving, or a very poor public broadcaster, then it doesn't exist.

    The 'lack of ideas' comes from the government, not its people. Over the years there have been HUNDREDS of studies contributed by NBers who have been preaching ideas. Back under Bernard Lord there were ideas on how to revamp the electoral system, which was ignored. Under the liberals was a forestry plan contributed by stakeholders, all of whom were ignored in favour of what Irving wanted. Elizabeth Weir's last formal job was developing and showing how a public auto insurance system would be far better for the province, that had so much support that it almost overthrew a government (by an opposition that promptly forgot about it when they DID become government).

    That probably helps explain why Weir finally threw up her hands and disappeared into a bureaucratic job that paid well and accomplished nothing.

    This is just a sample, I could write a book, hey, maybe I should, certainly SOMEBODY should, on just some of the many ideas that come from New Brunswickers.

    Where the province is being failed is its electoral system and the fact that its co opted by one very large family business with extensive interests. Those interests have always extended to the educational system, so unless you have specific information on what spares this heavily politicized department from being 'very different', then the same description applies. It is, after all, the ONLY system in Canada which essentially has THREE linguistic strains running through it, so right from the outset I'd say thats 'very different'.

  2. I taught for some fifty years in several parts of Canada with varying cultural backgrounds, and I've taught in The Netherlands and China. All my experience of those years points to cultural background as a major factor in learning.

    Yes, the Irvings have been a pain in the ass with their arrogant intrusions into public education. And I've seen the same sort of thing in every education system I ever worked in. It's not just in New Brunswick.

    As well, all the literature I've seen on this subject points to the influences of culture, economic security, parents, religion and social standing.

    I have no doubt that some New Brunswickers have ideas. Yes, it's true that the Irvings are a serious factor in education problems. But it's also true that New Brunswickers as a whole are a very passive people.

  3. Well, again, thats our bone of contention. 'As a whole' really doesn't mean that much, 'as a whole' it can easily be argued that CANADIANS are a very passive people. 'As a whole' it can be argued that human beings are a 'very passive people'. Again, take a look at the amount of public protest in New Brunswick compared to a lot of places, and the evidence doesn't add up.

    In education, we are talking about the PUBLIC education system, not even university, which means economic security, parents, religion and social standing SHOULDN"T enter into it. If it does, then its a failing of the public educational system, because the public education system was SUPPOSED to be specifically designed to overcome all those social scenarios, and if it doesn't, then its a failure of the educational and political system.

    Take for example the notion of 'inclusivity'. This is the policy of putting autistic and developmentally challenged kids into the same stream as other kids. The 'theory' is that the socialization will help them.

    However, this has been shown to not be the case, and virtually every other educational system in the developed world has abandoned it-except new brunswick.

    There is no religion that says autistic kids should be taught with others, the 'culture, social or economic standing' doesn't determine it, it was simply a political decision which has been protested against for years by those with children with autism. Harold Doherty has been politically active and has a blog and challenged this for YEARS. There was no referendum, and of course its easy enough to allow parents who want their child to be with the other children to be so.

    When I was in school, and I hear of this still, 'smarter' kids in the english school system were put in french immersion. If a child had difficulty, parents were told to take them out of immersion into the 'regular' school system.

  4. Those are policies of education implemented by the educational school system-NOT by the outside, where parents literally have ZERO say in educational policies.

    Finally, you miss the point that the educational school system is PART of the cultural background. These are institutions which hold children hostage for six to seven hours per day, from age four to 18 and don't allow ANY outside culture factors in unless the system allows it. This is LONGER than kids will spend with ANY other 'cultural influence', whether its parents, friends, religious institutions, or whatever economic security systems are there.

    If a child comes from a poor family and has special needs, thats up to the educational system to address. If it fails to do so, that is nobodies fault but its own. If a high schooler is still illiterate after graduation, given the extent of the time a child spends in the school system, that is not the fault of ANYBODY but the school system.

    If it were, then that would mean the whole notion of public education is useless. If parents are teaching kids to read and write, then there is no need for a school.

    And actually, I remember the remarks from before about the chinese kids, and you simply DON"T find people more 'passive' than those people, in fact a recent best selling novel was based on research showing asian kids aren't reaching higher levels of executive management in large part because they are so passive they haven't the leadership skills.

    In New Brunswick there is no doubt there may be belligerent parents who may argue against all the 'fancy learnin' done in schools. The extent of that is unclear, but IF true then it disproves your notion of people being 'passive' as they were argue vehemently against, say, learning french.

    We see that topic constantly in the CBC comments, the complaint that english are 'passed over' in favour of bilingual people. When its said 'why don't you just learn french' the response is 'why the heck should I learn french, blah blah'. Which hardly sounds like a passive person, and certainly bears no significance on their children in the public educational system who are supposed to be educated DESPITE the cantakerousness of their parents.