Opening Statement



Friday, 20 November 2015

TCDSB Age 16 Vote Narrowly Defeated!

My blogsite acronym guide is @ Here! 



A TCDSB [Toronto Catholic District School Board] motion to lower the voting age in municipal elections to 16 was narrowly defeated by one vote at last nights board meeting! It would've required the board to advocate lowering the voting age so that students would be empowered with a democratic vote in electing Catholic school board trustees. [LINK]

If passed, the motion would've represented a progressive, proactive appeal that the school board would need to make to the provincial government on behalf of the students. The province itself would ultimately of course, have to be the party responsible for deciding whether to change the voting age or not. As Trustee Jo-Ann Davis explained, the thrust, which is not without international precedent, was to create "active citizenship", rather than "revolution". It still could've been a bold move for the staid Toronto Catholic board. However, at first brush, it was not to be!

Indeed, Trustee Ann Andrachuk was first out of the gate. She quickly tossed a bucket of cold water on what she'd seemingly already decided was a dim prospect. She adamantly dismissed the motion out of hand by claiming that it simply "would not be". 

Trustee Angela Kennedy was quick on the uptake. Her amendment, as accepted by Trustee Davis, was to make the motion apply to all municipal election positions in the province of Ontario, not just that of the school board trustees'. As Trustee Maria Rizzo further explained, the motion would now take the form of a more legally viable position for the provincial government to consider.



Student presenters from the board's secondary schools were granted a very tight one minute each to present their case. It was a ridiculous format that one would think more suitable for a firing squad than a lively, consultative, inclusive and democratic debate. Regretfully, this all too often seems to be the case at the board these days, with other key players from within the Catholic community also usually being similarly dispensed with in such short thrift. [LINK][LINK][LINK]  

Despite the unfortunate constraints, the students still managed to handle themselves very well in good measure. They keenly emphasized their strong desire to become more actively involved in the democratic process within the Catholic school system. 

One of them, Dave, explained to me afterwards that the student Council of Presidents, representing the TCDSB's secondary schools, had met and unanimously approved Trustee Davis' motion last week. Most of the schools presently have elected student councils. The students also get to vote separately at school for their own 2 student board trustees. Many students from the early secondary grades are actively involved. All in all, there would seem to be many good, hopeful signs of a healthy future for the TCDSB student democratic movement, given the chance!

A surprisingly robust discussion followed at the board meeting on the legal implications of a change to the voting age. It was pointed out that minors are increasingly being empowered by government to assume other adult responsibilities, for example with the driving age, and the laws on consent. An enquiry about the board's Gr. 10 Civics program suggested that the students could also be adequately prepared to now vote municipally at age 16.



We heard Trustees Barbara Poplawski [No] and Maria Rizzo [Yes] teleconference in their votes. As far as I could tell Trustee Sal Piccininni was absent and otherwise missing in action. The final tally? As per the overhead jumbo screen and the aforementioned calls, I counted a 6 to 5 loss. Ironically, the vote would've passed had those of Student Trustees Allison Gacad and Karina Dubrovskaya also been included in the final count. As the rules now stand, they were not!

The students seemed to take the decision on the chin, quite undaunted. Trustee Davis reassured them that this would not be the last that we would hear of the issue. My own thoughts?

Perhaps this is another of my seemingly increasing, frequent, senior moments as a retired, TCDSB teacher-activist. Admittedly, I am often concerned about the seeming dumbing down of our schools by the powers that be that I have witnessed over the course of my teaching career. Most recently, I didn't don't find the board's decision to lower the minimum mid term grade to 35% very reassuring, as my regular readers will know. [LINK]

One would hate to see our election process become anymore of a clown show than it all ready often seems with just the adults voting. Nonetheless, it was very encouraging to see the students so politically active and charged in last night's debate. Maybe there is hope yet? 



I was very excited by the possibilities. This site advocates grass root, democratic renewal within our various institutions and indeed within society at large [Manifesto]. Although the motion on the table failed, it is still a very worthwhile challenge to pursue if it can help our schools better educate and involve the next generation of voters in the democratic process. 

Enough of succumbing to or merely accepting the deep pessimism and despair of our moribund system! We can all do better than that. This is possibly a great starting point for rekindling the renewal process! It certainly requires further consideration!

After all is said and done, that was pretty darn close last night! One wishes the students and more progressive voices at the TCDSB much luck in further advocating their most worthwhile cause during the years ahead!

MORE LINKS

For related updates see my Teacher Free Speech November News + Views, a regular monthly feature on this site @ Here!

COMMENTS:

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

TCDSB: A New 16+ Year Old Vote?

[Highlights mine]

[NOV. 18th FOLLOW UP: Trustee Davis' motion, with an amendment from Trustee Kennedy, was narrowly defeated by one vote after a robust presentation/ debate at tonight's TCDSB board meet! Report to follow...]



The following resolution by TCDSB [Toronto Catholic District School Board] Trustee Jo-Ann Davis proposes altering the rules for electing Catholic board trustees so that students ages 16 and over are allowed to vote! The school board trustees will vote on the resolution at their Nov. 19 board meeting.

TOPIC: Changing the voting age to 16 years of age for Ontario school board trustee elections

WHEREAS: The Mission of the TCDSB is, “at Toronto Catholic we transform the world through witness, faith, innovation and action.”

WHEREAS: Student trustees, who sit with us around the horseshoe as respected colleagues, are themselves 16 and 17 years of age.

WHEREAS: Currently, at 18, many young people leave their homes to attend college, university or search for work.  Lowering the voting age will give the vote to students who have roots in their community and an appreciation for their local school board issues.

WHEREAS: Studies show that if citizens begin voting earlier, and get into the habit of doing so earlier, they are more likely to do so throughout life. Parent voter turnout is also expected to increase as it increases the whole family’s interest in voting.

WHEREAS: Young voters have a unique opportunity, through our grade 9 and 10 Civic classes, to come to the polls with a solid understanding of what they’re voting on.

WHEREAS: Teenagers have high levels of volunteerism and community service, yet many feel turned off by politics. Lowering the voting age gives youth a real stake in their futures, making them more likely to become involved and active in the political process.

WHEREAS: Arguably, the role of school board trustee is the elected position which most impacts the daily lives of our students and yet they do not have a voice in their election.

WHEREAS: Countries including Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Cuba and Scotland have already lowered the voting age to 16.  The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has actively encouraged member states to consider lowering the voting age to 16 in their jurisdictions.  The New Brunswick legislature will soon be dealing with a Bill to lower the voting age. And, state legislators in Massachusetts, New York and New Mexico are currently dealing with electoral reform legislation that would lower the voting age in their respective states.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT:

The Chair and Director, on behalf of all trustees of the board, write the Premier, Minister of Education and Minister of Municipal Affairs, copying trustees, OCSTA, and all Toronto MPPs and City Councillors, advocating that under the Ontario Municipal Elections Act the voting age to be an elector at a school board trustee election held in a local municipality be lowered to 16 years of age.

Trustee Jo-Ann Davis can be reached @ jo-ann.davis@tcdsb.org

NOTES:

I am happy to report on this bold, progressive proposal from the often rather staid, ultra conservative TCDSB that might breath some new life into it's noble if not sometimes quite muted and flaccid, at the trustee level anyway "Mission Statement". Of course it requires a lot further discussion and consideration of the relative merits made, though Ms. Davis' rationale is well explained. 

Pros + Cons? One looks forward to your teacher free speech "Comments" below, and of course, on attending the Thursday November 19th board meeting!



SHOULD 16 YEAR OLD STUDENTS BE GIVEN A SCHOOL TRUSTEE VOTE?

COMMENTS:

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

TCDSB at 35% -A Failing Grade!

My blogsite acronym guide is @ Here! 



Wheeeee! TCDSB academic standards + teacher respect take a tumble!!!

Our latest school board trustee gaffe comes from Toronto. We learn that the TCDSB secondary teachers received a startling board communique; their mid-semester or partial term reports shouldn't contain a mark less than 35%!  OECTA TSU President Dave Szollosy points out that’s contrary to the intent of the MOE’s “Growing Success” document. When "minimum marks" are concerned, it states;
“Individual boards will work collaboratively with their school communities to determine the lower limit of the range of percentage marks below 50 per cent that teachers may record on the report cards of students in Grades 9 to 12. It is important that a consistent approach is adopted among all the schools of a board.”
No, the TCDSB isn't working "collaboratively with their school community". They've excluded the OECTA TSU teachers whom must assign the 35% grade! The Catholic trustees' top down, unilateral decision also violates their Collective Agreement! "Consultation" is a seemingly alien term to the board. Once again, they haven't made a proper effort! It's nothing new! Regretfully, we also recall the TCDSB’s astonishing failure to consult with all 7 of it’s member unions before the drastic program and job cuts last spring, as they inexplicably jumped the gun to "fix" a sudden, surprise budgeting error and miscalculation or two. [LINK][LINK]

TSU sounds totally fed up and are quite rightfully filing a grievance. Dave Szollosy expresses concern that the TCDSB has questionably pulled rank again, rather than confer with and show some respect for the teachers professional judgement in assigning marks for the students. As Dave explains;
“We are extremely disappointed that the Board has decided to dictate policy without respecting teacher professional judgement for curriculum integrity.”
In their divine wisdom, the Catholic trustees are not only pulling another power trip over the teachers. They are also quite arguably dumbing down the integrity of the board's academic standards, by now freely awarding 35% to students who haven’t even done the work or shown up regularly for class!

As teachers know, at school, like in life, we learn from both success and failure. A fair and credible marking system should be a common expectation for truly concerned educators, parents and students alike. It provides reliable feedback to help measure both a student's abilities and needs in order to help them make real progress. 

Is there even more to this then meets they eye? It's interesting that 35% has also been the minimum mark needed to attend summer school at the TCDSB for a quick, make up course. Anything less and a student needs to, God forbid, repeat the whole class again during the regular, full time, school calendar year! Teacher professionals hardly want to be the bearer of bad news -far from it! However, a bad grade shows that long term effort, participation and commitment are strongly needed to meet with long term success when dealing with hard work! The new minimum mark of 35% isn't a consolation prize that the school board should be handing out so freely!



So what's next? You thought 25% was too low to start with? If the TCDSB is now handing out marks like candy, can it be very long before everybody is just guaranteed their lowest mark will be 50%? Or even 75%? Then why not just give everyone a 100%? The tragic demise of the once highly revered academic standards of excellence at this Catholic board truly boggle the mind!

TSU is quite right to file a grievance but does the TCDSB even care? It's a sad day when consultation, collaboration and respect for both teacher professional judgement and academic standards are clearly not serious concerns at the TCDSB anymore, as witnessed by this latest debacle! 

Regretfully, TSU teachers are now forced into a very difficult situation. It's certainly not of their own choosing, in more ways than one. It must be devastating to see such blatant disregard for your professional integrity. Also, as OCT [Ontario College of Teacher] members they face a horrible legal risk that could destroy their career! For as President Szollosy reminds the unit members;
"It would be very prudent for teachers to communicate with parents and students to inform them of what the actual mark the student has earned to this point.  This would at least protect teachers from being accused of misrepresenting the important mark information on an official ministry document while not being vulnerable to accusations of insubordination."
In short, OECTA TSU teachers are damned if they do and damned if they don't hand out to the students a mark of at least 35%! It doesn't matter whether they follow this latest misguided board decree, or refuse to go along with it on principle! Either way, they could end up in really, big trouble! 

That is very regretful. It shows disrespect for the TSU teachers' professional judgement and the TCDSB's board wide academic integrity alike. The TCDSB is a school board that once cherished and was respected for it's high standards. It has tragically now earned a failing grade for itself, due to the trustees lack of due process and diligence! 

Let's hope the rest of Ontario's teachers, parents and students don't soon find their own school board also mimicking the TCDSB's ill advised power play. A lack of proper consultation, a disrespect for teacher professional judgement and padded student marks are not the way forward our province's world class school system should be tempted to go!

COMMENTS:

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

ETFO Votes! Some Teacher Free Speech Notes!

My blogsite acronym guide is @ Here! 


ETFO hunkers down behind closed doors ....

The ETFO Tentative Agreement has been leaked online! Nope! Not by Me! ETFO seems to be running a fair, accountable, member based CB ratification process. We look very forward to seeing the agreement later on, through a link here on my Teacher Free Speech Site. Meanwhile, ETFO reminds it's members that you have until Thursday to vote, and that includes your OT's too!

IMHO, it would be interesting and maybe very worthwhile that, if in exercising their free, open and democratic rights, ETFO members decide to "Vote No". Poor Liz and company! They couldn't blame "big, bad union boss" intransigence for their teacher and school woes, while negotiating a "fair deal" in "good faith"!


Are you fair + honest Liz? Touch a finger to your nose ....

True, your team would need to return to the negotiating table on your behalf. But, that's a part of the CB process, not an attack against them, their efforts, or their integrity. Far from it! Your teacher union should be working FOR YOU, not the other way around, as so often seems to be the case with some of the other affiliates these days!

Is this a fair, acceptable deal for you, as a responsible, hard working teacher union member? Well, you will know what's best as you read, consider and discuss the tentative agreement. However you vote, best wishes to everyone at ETFO for showing how this can be better done through a seemingly more democratic, professional teacher union that hasn't lost touch with it's grass roots! As we teachers like to say; Keep up the good work!

In Solidarity!

David C


COMMENTS:

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Teacher Free Speech November News + Views!

Welcome to your latest teacher free speech news links compendium! My blogsite acronym guide is @ Here! 



TEACHER + UNION

ETFO and OSSTF education support workers have reached TA's with the province @ Star

Divide + Conquer? All Alone! Ontario Council of Education Workers, a coalition representing skilled trade and ESL instructors from 6 different unions is the only remaining union without a deal @ Star

CUPE leadership has voted to recommend their TA for a member ratification vote to be held by December 4th. There doesn't seem to be much news on this, so I had to ask around ...

Media Attack: ETFO Kindergarten teachers are centred out for not filling in comments on the Kindergarden students fall report cards in the latest Toronto Star "expose". That's despite the fact they aren't mandated by the province and the existing patchwork policies across the province are on hold while they are being reassessed @ Star

Toronto Star is catching up with the Globe and Mail in ratcheting up the teacher bashing to sell more newspapers in a languishing market. The province's neo con interests are also indomitably rubbing their hands. Makes me wonder who is orchestrating the wider media campaign ....? Meanwhile, in the latest Star expose, we learn that OSSTF teachers won't see their OTPP pension plan contributions penalized for the spring strikes @ Star

86% of ETFO teachers and OT's/ 96% of ETFO local units, a "double majority", have voted to ratify the central agreement. Highlights include a number of enhancements in the form of reviews, recommendations, enshrinements,  and "every efforts" are included in the new contract, according to the media release. OT's will get classroom keys. Some health and safety recommendations will be implemented by the boards @ ETFO.

Details of ETFO's "Double majority" voting process are Link

The media reports @ Global

Speaking Out! Former Nova Scotia teacher union leaders are urging members not to vote to ratify their latest tentative agreement on December 1st, because it was negotiated under the gun @ Nova Scotia

NSTU [Nova Scotia Teachers Union] reaches a tentative contract with their provincial government! The contract ratification vote is December 1st @ NSTU

Promoted? Embattled TDSB Director and alleged bully queen Donna Quan quits the board 18 months early to assume her new post at the MOE @ Star



Quan: Wot me worry?!? 

Seems the Wynne government is not above coaxing a bully with a sweat heart deal when it comes to Director Quan @ Star

Province and Anishinabek First Nations sign new aboriginal education pact for far west and Northern Ontario that includes PD @ Sault Star

TCDSB: 35% is the new zero! It's good to see the mainstream media also pick up on the Toronto Catholic board mark story! Very interesting how TCDSB Spokesperson John Yan openly admits that the board only consulted with teachers through "Department Head" meetings. Regretfully, the Toronto Star article doesn't emphasize that this clearly violates the terms of the OECTA TSU contract which the OCSTA trustees at the board agreed to .... I venture letting the trustees off the hook as far as contract law issues go! 

The article becomes more of a "he said then he said type" arms length piece instead, focusing mainly on their God awful 35% minimum mark decision. As such it pussyfoots around the very key principle of respecting teacher professionalism as an important contract issue. That's been a very important and key teacher concern underlying the tumultuous CB negotiations over the past 14 months, often overlooked as now, in the media court of public opinion. 


Doesn't seem fair, folks are still not getting the whole picture. Still, it's a provocative read that will reach a lot more people than the union memo or my indie blog will [See above]. Hopefully, it can still help further spotlight the TCDSB's questionable "consultation" practices and lack of respect and due process. Will they deal fairly and above board with the teachers and all 7 labour unions in the school community, as they now try to negotiate their local contracts? Follow the contract agreements they sign? Don't count on it .... 


Bit of good news; Yan is clarifying that the 35% is only for midterms now. Perhaps a hint of trustee cold feet at the publicity shy and very subterfuge Catholic board? Think Code of Silence @ Star



OECTA TSU President Dave Szollosy: Fighting the Good Fight at the TCDSB!!

How does MOE Sandals try to pull off a media comeback in face of the 15 month teacher and support worker CB fiasco? By trying to evoke her long past activist days with a Globe + Mail newsworthyish concluding address at this years "People for Education" Annual Conference! Yup! Folksy Liz quips about getting back to work now as the "Minster of Education" rather than as "Minister of Collective Bargaining". Her words ring rather hollow when one considers all the ill will and teacher bashing that she has helped facilitate. See below and @ Globe

Then it becomes timely to "make show" by throwing some money at school infrastructure, that's no doubt needed, though the timing of the grand announcement is certainly suspect, and the needs, among many, significantly greater @ Liz Again!

Missing News Piece: Opening 30 new schools while closing 88 others and cutting Special Ed funding/ services isn't a step in the right direction @ NDP

Hamilton board has reached tentative agreements with it's CUPE education workers and OSSTF teachers and OT's. Remember, central agreements have all ready been reached province wide for most teachers and staff but many of the local CB talks have yet to be concluded. Alas! Don't expect much big news! The large ticket items are off the table and exhaustion has set in! More @ Spectator

Latest Star article on union concerns with the new CB "process" can't resist a highlighted PC jab about "enabling" teachers to "duck crucial interviews with parents". As one wag observed on Twitter, we usually only wish more parents did request them. Alas @ Star

Dept. of Double Standards: Canada Taxpayer Association questions the Alberta School Board Association's spending on the public dime, unlike in Ontario, where their focus is only on the big, bad teacher unions @ Alberta



Globe + Mail "expose" shows OSSTF had $65 million in financial reserves when it accepted the OLP CB payment. Dunno how secret that was, am pretty sure it was posted here some time ago and is common practice .... Anyway, no Comment from OSSTF! Makes me wonder why everybody doesn't just give the OLP MOE their stupid money back? 

I'm not arguing it isn't fair, considering the flawed screw up of a CB Act that the affiliates had to waste so much time and grief negotiating under. It's just very unseemly + compromising, especially considering that now the OLP has agreed to audit the union expenses too! What BS! You can see the OSSTF story @ Globe

BTW, is it true that OECTA's latest bargaining memo tells their members that they just did what everybody else was doing, when they accepted the million dollars from the OLP?!? 

ETFO is having a relatively lively and open member debate on ratifying their new tentative agreement, which in the opinion of this teacher free speech blogger, is as it should be. Can you imagine what would happen at some of our other affiliates, if anybody had posted the "Vote No" videos on Youtube like Durham ETFO PAC has @ LINK and @ LINK  

ETFO and CUP reach tentative agreements. These news links have been moved to their own blog @ LINKS!

OSSTF support staff go it alone! Please note: they might well need our support and solidarity! They are threatening escalated strike actions if their pay is deducted for WTR because they can't reach an agreement under the OLP MOE's admittedly flawed CB process, as the Wynne government proceeds full tilt with it's austerity agenda @ CTV

OSSTF President Paul Elliott calls OLP plans to deduct support worker pay disrespectful and unfair @ OSSTF

Disgrace: The majority of OSSTF's 15,000 support staff are female and among the lowest paid in the public service sector, though they fill key roles within our public, Catholic, English and French schools across the province @ Elliott



Deb: Double standard? ... Ummmm, what's a double standard mean ...?!?

More Double Standards: Wynne government agrees to a Tory motion to audit the teacher union's CB expense payments. Still no news mention of similar monies received by the trustees @ Star

MOE Sandals leaks details of the ETFO agreement before the members see it! Now the Toronto Sun is engaged in some more teacher bashing, comparing the details of the 3 different agreements reached by ETFO, OECTA and OECTA for their so called "perpetual sick days" @ Sun and @ Sun

CUPE BC Chapter President Mark Hancock defeats Ontario President Fred Hahn as the incoming National President of Canada's largest union @ CUPE


Meanwhile in Quebec, rotating teacher strikes will be carried out throughout November as CB talks stall. Hmmm. Sound familiar? Kinda sorta .... Anyway, they are getting pretty creative with the picketing, and the "Raging Grannies" are back too @ Quebec

Here's a refreshing take on the importance of music as a teaching subject at school @ KIMT

PARTY POLITICS



Go Liz Go! Right out the door ...

MOE Sandals Has Got To Go: NDP Education Critic Lisa Gretzky grills the OLP on it's flawed teacher and education support worker CB "process" and the ensuing chaos in our schools. She asks whether Education Minister Lz Sandals will be fired for the mess @ Youtube

New Conservative Twist: PC Opposition Leader Pat Brown lambasts the Wynne government for not providing enough funding to reduce the 16,000 student wait list for autism services @ Northumberland

Wynne move to privatize 60% of the huge Hydro One provincial revenue generator is described as "unnecessary" and "boneheaded". Gee, didn't teachers once support the Liberals against a similar misguided Hydro sell off scheme when the Torys where in power?!? Yup @ Star

Common Nonsense: This month is the 20th anniversary of Mike Harris' "Omnibus Bill". It was a one size fits all legislative massive bully boy approach to provincial politics that can allow the government of the day to shove through wads of new legislative changes to the political landscape quickly with minimum debate.

Interesting, it was former Harris minsters [Think Flaherty, Laird, Clement ...] who went on to help the Harper PC's also employ "Omnibus Bills" to push through stacks of federal legislation, further trashing the open, accountable democratic process in Ottawa. They are a practice Trudeau now promises to end @ Star

OPSEAU advocates an LCBO monopoly in selling legal marijuana alongside liquor at it's stores for health and safety reasons. However, such a complete monopoly, besides being a huge cash grab for government and big business interests alike on marijuana sales and distribution, could also thwart home and micro growers @ OPSEAU

IN THE NEWS



Paris: major landmarks don't seem on radar.

Be careful: News continues to be made speculatively on the run as attacks on Paris make it look like the Middle East @ CBC

We currently know little or nothing except that the attacks took place. You can watch the war drumming on CNN. [ie. "What will WE do?!?", rages the US announcer as he pulls out his hair over events in France ...] There's also live social media feeds @ Politico.eu @ Zee

Sins of Omission? Or "why do they hate us so?!?" 100's of medical facilities and 670 staff have been killed in Syria and Yeman since coalition forces began airstrikes in 2011, according to the Physicians for Human Rights. There has been little international news coverage nor a public outcry. Damn those evil terrorists trying to destroy freedom and our way of life, eh..... or or or ..... perhaps it's a lot more complicated then all that?!? @ US News

Meanwhile 400,000 Syrian refugee students in Turkey are without classes due to the military madness Human Rights Watch

A question of balance? 147 students were slaughtered in a terrorist attack on a college in Kenya on April 2 of this year. CNN did not provide non stop coverage. Jet fighter planes were not sent in. Matter of fact I bet most folks didn't even know, or don't remember. It was covered in my Teacher Free Speech April News and Views. Like now, questions were being raised online through the social, if not the mainstream media, on whether ..... oh I dunno, questions of race had anything to do with it getting much, if any coverage?!? Paris is not in Africa @ Inquisitor



Noam Chomsky warns that the US is often considered the world's biggest terrorist nation outside the country. The finding is not being reported by the US run polling companies! Read and see the interview @ Chomsky

Backfiring? In an open letter to President Obama,  4 drone pilots claim that air strike civilian casualties and devastation are actually radicalizing the war regions where they are being used @ Verge

Planned Parenthood Terror Attack: When a mid easterner commits terrorism, a religion is at fault. With a person of colour its some racial group. How about when it's a white male domestic terrorist?!? In the US, he's a lone wolf who's just "off the grid". More @ Colorado

Do white males enjoy certain priviledges because of our whiteness, when suspected of violent, terrorist acts, that are not afforded to others? More @ Post


Terrorist Group Exemptions: White? Male? Just "off the grid" ...?

Racist hatred and violence against Muslims in Canada after the Paris attacks was fanned by the Harper Conservatives federal election campaign @ Cole

Unfinished business: Trudeau has promised to discontinue Canadian CF-18 fighter jet attacks in the "War Against ISIS". However, as Nov 12th they were still involved in strike operations in Iraq where operations are continuing under the defeated Conservative government mandate @ Globe

Blood on our hands? Canadian airstrikes are alleged to have killed 10 civilians in Iraq. Check out the numbers game in estimating casualties @ CBC 

The number of murky outside forces involved behind the scenes in the recent Russia Turkey conflict provides more reasons for Trudeau to get our Canuck CF-18 jet fighters out of Syria el pronto @ Star

Something wicked's brewing: Remember the invasion of Iraq to remove the WMD [Weapons of Mass Destruction] that it turned out didn't exist? Well, now here's CNN rattling sabres over the downing of the Russian plane in the Sinai as the "emergence of ISIS as a global threat". Note the whole article is based upon suppositions. Count all the "ifs" "would's" and "believed to be's" in the breaking story. Even the title and entity of ISIS is rather murky to begin with. Throw in the growing Russia and US tensions in Syria and we have the potential groundwork for a new Cold War thriller @ CNN



New Trudeau cabinet: Smile + say "Goodbye Steve!"

Trudeau government recalls parliament for Dec 3, with the Throne Speech to follow on Dec 4th. A tax cut for middle class Canadians, paid for by a tax increase to those earning over $200,000 is intended to be in place by January 1st. Trudeau will take on the portfolios of Youth and Intergovernmental Affairs @ CTV

Trudeaumania Part 2: The swearing in ceremony is a very public affair for a change. I watched with interest all day; he performed a masterful media job that was very hopeful and refreshing after years of Tory diminishing expectations and divide and conquer rule. Of course, with charisma, there is form, but we'll also want to see if there's content, that is still to come. And it is not easy to dare challenge the status quo, at home or abroad. Still, I think it was a day when we could all once again feel very proud and glad to be Canadians again. Now if only Mulcair could've pulled that off @ Rideau

Important to note! Top Queen's Park staffers from the Wynne Neo Lib government are now off to Ottawa to work for Trudeau. Their involvement was why I wouldn't endorse or vote Liberal, what with the way the Wynne government has turned on teachers. Anyway, told you so @ More

Alt perspective: MLPC warns that the new Trudeau government will deliver a neo lib agenda under the guise of a renewed cabinet system, using a UK Blair syle "deliverology" model helping them to forward their key goals past the traditional government hierarchy and bureaucracy in Ottawa. It worked for McGuinty and the Ontario OLP, up to a point, and now key advisers Katie Telford and Gerard Butts are off to the PMO [Prime Minister's Office] to help Trudeau implement it too! Real interesting What to Expect?

Media Bias or "Enough is Enough": a media analysis reveals 71% of Canadian newspapers endorsed Steven Harper, down from 95% in 2011. How does the saying go, "You can fool some of the people some of the time but ...."?! @ Huffington

CLC President Hassan Yussuff notes union members are pleased to watch Harper's "sorry ass walk off the stage" due in part of course to labour's "Heave Steve" campaign. He also notes that the outcome was still not ideal, and that members will need to hold the Liberals to account. Issues mentioned include C-51, C-377, C-525 and an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women @ CUPE.



Yussuff/ Trudeau: post Harper labour rapport?

Trudeau meets with CLC to recommit that his government will repeal C-377 and C-525. President Yussuff emphasizes that labour is ready, willing and able to help with the Syrian refugee crisis @ CLC

Yussuff expresses relief with Trudeau's open approach after 10 years of outright hostility towards labour by the Harper government @ Huffington

Because it's 2015: Trudeau dispels gender equity "concerns" about his diverse new cabinet and signals more openness and transparency in government @ CBC Videos Etc

New Trudeau 30 member cabinet is very inclusive of Canadian society today and has regional balance from across the country, with what some consider a lot of bold choices from the plethora of possible candidates from whom he could choose @ Cabinet List

Little reported: Cabinet's inner Planning and Priorities sub committee among others is not gender balanced though @ Globe and @ Post

How about Equal Pay? As "Junior Ministers", 5 of the women will be earning less, a situation Trudeau blames on a bureaucratic glitch he says will be fixed @ The Rebel
and @ The Star

There are lots of changes with the new cabinet, potentially both good and bad. Read the fine print @ CBC

Trudeau promises "government by cabinet" @ CTV

A brief overview of the many pressing issues facing the new cabinet members in their different portfolios @ 660

"Because it's 2015" Part 2: Canada is having a hard time exporting it's "dirty oil" out west via the Keystone Pipeline. Now US President Obama has nixed the project, making for some extra interesting ethical challenges. We'll watch with interest how Trudeau stick handles the environment portfolio with Canada's economic interests at the upcoming December United Nations Climate Change Conference @ Star



Alas! The NDP: what next?

Meanwhile, the NDP's Tom Mulcair meets with his decimated party ranks downstairs in the basement of parliament hill. No longer leader of the Official Opposition, that went to the PC's, he will still stick around promising to provide a "progressive opposition" to the Trudeau Liberals. A reorganization is coming. I certainly hope they drop the conservative pandering. His parties "balanced budget" promise clearly didn't win over the many new expected voters, while alienating a lot of his parties traditional left wing support. I still stand by my Mulcair endorsement, for the reasons given, but have to wince! Now, in true grit style, Trudeau is all but promising to make the rich pay as he steals his the NDP's thunder, leaving them in the dust. Well, it's good to know he can still laugh at himself, not many could under the circumstances! More, plus see Tom's new dance NDP


PET + Fidel Habana 1976

Viva Cuba: Justin Trudeau arrives at an interesting time as the US reestablishes relations with Cuba. Pierre supported the socialist revolution despite the US economic embargo. The Trudeau's are even family friends with Fidel Castro, who was quietly present at Pierre's funeral when Justin delivered his famous eulogy. This CBC mini documentary makes for a good backgrounder as we watch the Canada-Cuba story develop now that he is PM tooPET 1 and @ PET 2

UNESCO praises Cuba's educational achievements. Cuba has one of the highest literacy rates in the Americas and provides free universal access to an education for all it's citizens. That's despite a crippling 54 year US economic embargo against the beleaguered Caribbean socialist state. BTW; Schools aren't closed to balance the budget in Cuba @ Granma

KULTURE KULT INK



For something a little different this year, you might want to peruse the Exclaim! "Holiday Gift Guide 2015: Gifts for the Hip Hop Fan!" Yes, hip hop, often gets a bad rap [heh, heh, heh .... er] for racist and misogynist lyrics, but it's also created a lot of great, contemporary, street poetry too, that would even make Rimbaud blush. Check out the "Rap Yearbook", which discusses, debates and deconstructs the most important rap song from every year since 1979 @ Hip Hop!

Hip Hop? Rap? I show my age. A lot of the early greats, when I was still in university and haunting the late night dance clubs, like Toronto's "Twilight Zone", in the late 70's/ early 80's also had a strong social justice message to it. Here's 2 of my favourites: Afrika Bambaataa @ Renegades of Funk and Grandmaster Flash @ The Message  



Mind you this is a fun read, more of a teaser and a good introduction. Maybe not as festive but more insightful further reading could include; Jeff Chang's Can't Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation, Nelson George's Hip Hop America, and Elijah Wood's Talking 'Bout Your Mama among others ......

Eh?! Yup. And here's how I use to dance, before I hurt my lumbar @ Planet Rock

Believe that last bit?! Then maybe can I interest you in buying some private property in Cuba ............? ;-)

COMMENTS

Communist Girls ARE More Fun!

Communist Girls ARE More Fun!
See below ...

Youtube Bar: Afrika Bambaataa!

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Communist Girls Are More Fun #1

Communist Girls Are More Fun #1

Communist Grrrls are More Fun #2

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Communist Grrrls Are More Fun #3

Communist Girls Are More Fun #4

Communist Girls Are More Fun #4

Art at the Paris Louvre: What does it mean?!?

Art at the Paris Louvre: What does it mean?!?
A careful analytical study!

Help! I Have No Arms!

Help! I Have No Arms!
Please scratch my back.

I can't find my underwear!.

I can't find my underwear!.
Have you seen them!

Weee! I can fly!

Weee! I can fly!
Look! I can crawl thru walls!

I have a headache!

I have a headache!
And a broken nose.

I have a square hole in my bum!

I have a square hole in my bum!

Here try this, it's very good!

Here try this, it's very good!
No. You have a bird face.

I have an ugly baby!

I have an ugly baby!
No I'm not!

Let's save all our money + buy pants!

Let's save all our money + buy pants!
OK but I need a new hand too!

Oh no! I got something in my eye!

Oh no! I got something in my eye!

You don't look well.

You don't look well.
No. My head hurts +I have a sore chest.

Would you like a bun?

Would you like a bun?

Chichen-Itza: Lost Maya City of Ruins!

Chichen-Itza: Lost Maya City of Ruins!
The Temple of Kukulkan!

Gotta love it!

Gotta love it!
Truly amazing!

Under Reconstruction!

Under Reconstruction!

Temples + Snakes!

Temples + Snakes!

The Snake!

The Snake!
It runs the length of the ball field!