Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Canadian Stuff

I do a progressive radio show at CJLO in Montreal, for those who aren't aware, and part of what I do is post the links to all the stories I cover on my show at my radio show blog. It's a constant battle to keep up and blog here at NMPCanada as well but I do enjoy the challenge and if I can provide a one-stop fits all for news links I'm happy to do it. Of late I've gotten away from that and I thought today would be a good day to include that once again as part of the overall format here.

What's being called the Quebec euthanasia hearings began on Tuesday. Needless to say, this is a controversial issue to many -- the Gazette publishes an editorial and comes out against it. For some international perspective, in Australia they are coping with the same issue and here's a link to a story about an aggressive campaign in favour of euthanasia that's being launched and will soon appear on television screens and billboards across Australia.

We've been looking forward to the return of Parliament and apparently the Liberals and Conservatives are planning on fireworks (Baird vs McGuinty). Good!

Two polls have the Tories and the Grits in a virtual tie -- what I found striking was the sexist manner in which Harris-Decima chairman Allan Gregg discussed the male female divide of his polls results.

Men also tend to support those they think will attack deficits and keep the economy moving, Mr. Gregg said. “You have to continue to keep that male advantage,” he said of the Tories. “You have to position your opponent as a wimp and as an effete snob and out of touch with manly concerns.”

Did you get that? Women don't care about deficits (bless their little hearts!) or even if the economy is moving -- that's a male purview. Egads, where do they find these people and why am I supposed to trust their analysis? It kind of sounds like he's characterizing Iggy as well -- is that his job?

Looking inside the numbers as best we can it seems that the Liberals have made gains not because of anything Michael Ignatieff has done but rather dissatisfaction with the Conservatives many missteps of late. That's both good and bad news for Ignatieff. It means that his cross-Canada tour has done no more than put him on equal footing with the PM but hasn't changed people's opinions of him. It also suggests that the opportunity to do that is in his grasp if he seizes the moment, defines who he is and what he stands for.

We know what Stephen Harper stands for: Stephen Harper. And to that end he looks to be ready to get down to some old-fashioned vote buying by assisting with public monies a proposal to build a $400-million hockey arena in Quebec City. Even over at the National Post they're calling it vote buying where Don Martin speculates that this could this be Stephen Harper's CF-18 moment (in 1986 when Brian Mulroney yanked a jet fighter maintenance contract out of Winnipeg and handed it to Canadair in Montreal to the howls of people across the country). As Martin also notes, what's most disagreeable is that ...the probable owner would be Quebec billionaire Pierre Karl Peladeau, owner of the proposed right-wing Sun Media television channel now fighting for distribution rights before the CRTC.

This story about civil servants across Canada being ordered by the Harper government to document every sign promoting the federal economic stimulus plan, illustrates once again how the Harper government is more interested in propaganda than in policies that assist Canadians. Countless hours have been spent tracking every one of more than 8,500 signs posted since last summer as ordered by the Privy Council Office (PCO), the bureaucratic arm of Prime Minister Harper's office.

And because I love you, here's George Carlin and Stuff:

Intolerance Nightly

The planned burning of the Qurans to mark the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attack has sparked outrage around the world -- here in Canada, Peter MacKay has stood up and denounced it rightly noting that this may put Canadian troops in Afghanistan in further danger. Terry Jones of the laughably named Dove World Outreach Center has said he doesn't care who's against it and that includes General David Petreus the Commander of the Nato Afghanistan forces who has said it could endanger the troops. Right-wing blogger and CNN (fox-lite) contributor Erick Erickson has said that General Petreus has "folded like a cheap suit" to violent Islamists in being against this hateful act of extremism. And the cowardly leadership of the GOP has remained silent on the issue not wanting to alienate any of their racist voters one guesses. Here's Keith Olbermann on the fiasco:




This is one of those stories that I've been ignoring on my radio show until today. They're a relatively small group and I always like to explain the craziest of this stuff away by pointing out that these are extremists and out of the mainstream of current American politics... but they're really not that far out there compared to what is regularly broadcast nightly on fox and other MSM news outlets. Have a listen to some of the stuff as chronicled on Rachel Maddow's show:


Educating Canadians and Sexism

Here's my blogging problem in a nutshell. I sit down with two perfectly simple and connecting links to news stories about Canada's education system -- pretty positive stuff actually. We're highly educated but starting to spend at rates that will soon rival our neighbors to the south if we're not careful, but instead of leaving it there I get hold of something contained in both the stories and just can't let it go. In this case it's ages old sexism which shouldn't surprise me but does, and I should be sanguine enough to accept it as a fact of life but I can't.

A study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has found that... Canada spends more and more on higher education, an increasing percentage of the cost is borne by students and their families. In financial terms, the benefits of a postsecondary education to individuals and Canadian society at large far outweigh the costs -- the OECD estimates that the average Canadian man with a college or university education makes more than three times what he put into getting such an education, both in terms of direct costs and lost wages. For the average woman, the gain is more than double the cost.

 A related story about findings contained in Education Indicators in Canada, a wide-ranging collection of data released by the Council of Education Ministers, that looks at education levels found... Canadians are better educated than they were a decade ago and have some of the highest rates of post-secondary attendance in the developed world.

Sadly and incomprehensibly that report also details male/female inequality and finds that women are graduating from both high school and post-secondary in much higher numbers than men, but continued to earn far less in the workforce. When I read similar statistics like these in two separate studies I despair for the 21st century. I never really expected a flying car just because the calendar changed. I did however expect more common sense, an end to sexism and racism and then if it wasn't too much to ask... well maybe a jet-pack would be pretty cool.

But then I find this hopeful 2008 article from Harvard Magazine on Dan Klindon, a clinical psychologist and adjunct lecturer at the Harvard School of Public Health, about what he calls "alpha girls," and it gives me hope that it's just a matter of time before this stuff dies with the generations that brought it to us. It was inspired by some rather remarkable numbers: the historic reversal in U.S. college enrollments, 58 percent today are women, the 1970 percentage for men. He talks about how much today’s girls and young women, born after the early 1980s, "...are profoundly different from their mothers."
 
These “alpha girls” did not appear overnight as we well know. It took ...a century of social and economic change first tipped and then leveled the playing field, creating the circumstances for unprecedented gains for women in education and the labor force. When all is said and done however, these young women will face similar trade offs regards marriage and careers to their mothers once they enter the workforce. But Klindon suggests that in the same ways these women have changed current dynamics of wage and marriage patterns in unexpected ways they may change society: With parenting no longer “women’s work” alone, perhaps a true work/life balance is possible for men and women.
 
So, maybe sometime late in her career my girl can hope for/expect to get equal pay for equal work -- just not anytime soon.