Archive for the ‘Non-BC Provincial Politics’ Category

Could Alberta Report Inspire BC Liberals To Scrap Elected School Boards?

June 8, 2010 Comments off

There has been plenty of speculation lately that the BC Liberals want to make changes to the governance of education in BC, speculation based on vague platitudes from the throne speech and the report of the comptroller general in regards to the Vancouver board’s fiscal situation, which came down hard on the elected officials for not acting like an executive broad of a crown corporation.

The question is: how would the BC Liberals change education governance? One approach can come from the School Centred Leadership/Shared Business Systems document that the Ministry of Education produced in 2006, in which the government would amalgamate most infrastructure and staff to larger bodies than the current Boards of Education, while covering up this amalgamation by giving more ‘autonomy’ to schools (read: giving money to schools on a per-pupil basis, while forming school-based “School Planning Councils”).

But a recent report released by the Alberta Government, Inspiring Education, provides a different approach.

Inspiring Education suggests that Alberta School Boards transfer their governance from elected boards to Governance Teams, which would be composed of representatives from a number of local stakeholder groups: parents, educators, municipalities, cultural groups, First Nations, business, non-profits, and so on. Most of these representatives would be appointed.

The theory behind this Governance Team structure is that it would make school boards more responsive to student and local demands. Two examples the report suggests on how this would happen: 1) a board with a growing number of immigrants could appoint more immigrants to a Governance Team in order to get relevant input; 2) a board with a large student demand for vocational training in tourism could appoint a person who owns a tourism business to work on ways to provide the training.

However, I don’t think that this is what would happen in practice. I believe that appointing people to Boards of Education would result in: 1) mostly those with connections to the government being appointed; and 2) a system in which Boards of Education would only be accountable to those who appointed them, not local citizens. That is, after all, what happened when the BC Liberals scrapped elected health boards for appointed ones. Furthermore, I would suggest that Boards of Education could be made responsive to student and local demands using committees rather than replacing the entire elected board with a Governance Team.

But if the BC Liberals did actually want to get rid of elected Boards of Education and replace them with appointees, the Albertan Inspiring Education report could certainly be an inspiration for both a structure and spin in which to do so.



December 8, 2009 Comments off

There has been some snickering on the blogosphere today in regards to the Liberals calling for pension reform, a month or so after the New Democrats and Conservatives.

But has anybody else noticed that serious discussion of pension reform started in the provinces a year ago as a result of a joint Alberta-British Columbia report that recommended the creation of an Alberta-British Columbia pension system. Or the provinces are to meet in Whitehorse on December 17th to discuss the issue, with the implicit threat that if there is no progress on national pension reform, some provinces will go it alone and create provincial plans.

So really, it looks like the federal parties are not only late to a serious discussion on the issue, but dangerously late.

HST: A Wedge Issue For The Federal New Democrats?

November 13, 2009 1 comment

Ever since the New Democrats’ solid by-election win in New Westminster-Coquitlam on Monday, there have been increased suggestions from both the party and pundits that the HST issue could be used as a national wedge issue, especially since the Conservatives support the HST wholeheartedly and the Liberals generally support the HST but don’t want it implemented at this moment.

However, I question the possible effectiveness of the HST as a New Democrat national wedge issue.

In New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia, the HST has been a fait accompli since 1996, and it doesn’t seem that it is going to go away soon (even in New Democrat-run Nova Scotia, where the government has only made adjustments in regards to which products are charged the provincial portion of the tax.)

Newfoundland, PEI, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan do not have an HST.

Quebec has a provincial Value-Added Tax (as opposed to the other PSTs, which are Cascading Taxes) and has no interest in giving up control to Ottawa. Alberta doesn’t have a PST.

That eliminates the HST as an issue except for Ontario and British Columbia, which admittedly have a large chunk of Canada’s voters.

But even in Ontario, I have doubts that the HST as an issue that can swing votes to the federal New Democrats. Why? Simply have a look at the results of the “first ‘real’ election on the HST,” the St. Paul’s by-election in September. Despite the fact that the provincial Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats used the by-election as referendum against the HST and the HST-supporting provincial Liberals, the Liberals won St. Paul’s quite handily (47.6% to the PC’s 28.3% and the NDP’s 16.9%.) Furthermore, those results were very similar to the 2007 general election, placing further doubt on the HST as a vote mover.

Only in BC does the HST look like it could be an effective wedge issue for the New Democrats, and that’s probably a result as to how the BC Liberals introduced the tax, after an election in which that denied that the HST was under consideration (it was.) Even then, questions arise. After all, the New Westminster-Coquitlam by-election was fought between a strong New Democratic candidate and a lackluster Conservative candidate.

So, is the HST the wedge issue that will give the New Democrats more victories in the next election? I don’t think so. I think that the issue could have a role in getting some voters to have a closer look at us, but I don’t think the HST is the game changer that some are trying to say it is.

Student Seats On School Boards?

May 21, 2009 2 comments

The New Brunswick education minister has proposed that there be one seat reserved for a student, appointed by the high school student council president, on every school board.

What an interesting idea, making sure that those that are the most affected by the school board decisions have some representation and voice of the very same governing board.

The only thing I don’t like about this particular proposal is the selection of that student representative. Instead of being selected by a council of high school student council presidents, why don’t you instead have the representative chosen via an election where the electors are high school students? Doing it that way might just translate into high student students learning the importance of voting, something that sorely needed in this age of low voter turnout.

H/T: Albertosaurus Talks

If This Was A White, Southern Community…

April 12, 2009 1 comment

Attawapiskat would have a proper school and a proper clean-up of an oil spill emitting various unhealthy fumes.

Check out PP 2.0 – Dispatches by Northwestern Lad for more information on this matter.

The Impossible! John Tory Does It

March 5, 2009 1 comment


John Tory lost the Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock by-election.

How is that even possible? How can a party leader lose in a safe seat?

Smell that burning toast smell? That’s no stroke, that’s John Tory’s leadership going bye-bye.


Not only does this say something about John Tory, it says something about the Ontario PC’s as well. If the OPC’s can’t get out the vote in a by-election, when resources can be focused, for the Leader, they will never become government of Ontario.

The Manitoba Flag Should Be Replaced, Or NBCD Tries Vexillology

February 26, 2009 4 comments

It looks like one of the resolutions coming before the Manitoba NDP Convention is a motion to adopt a new provincial flag.

I agree – but not because of the British flag in the canton. I think when used tastefully, it looks good.

It should be replaced for two reasons: 1) it looks almost exactly like the Ontario flag and the Red Ensign (that’s not a coincidence), and 2) the coat of arms is too small and detailed to really see it properly.

So, just for fun, I designed a possible replacement.

manitoba-flagSo I used the colours from the Manitoba Tartan, blue, green and gold.

The two green stripes represent land, and the blue stripe represents water, or more specifically, Manitoba’s lakes (look at Manitoba on a map, there is land on both sides and Lake Winnipeg vertically in the middle).

The buffalo is a provincial symbol of Manitoba (and yes, I ripped off the buffalo shape from the flag of Wyoming. I’m lazy).

Update: My Heraldically-correct flag. The Shield needs editing, but I also think there’s an opportunity to shove  British flag in the shield somewhere.