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The Columbia Journal
P.O. Box 2633 MPO,
Vancouver, British Columbia,
Canada V6B 3W8
Phone: 604-266-6552
Fax: 604-267-3342
ISSN 1712-3763
Web: www.columbiajournal.ca

This issue:

Public Affairs
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Letters
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Columbia Journal logoVolume Ten, Number One   January 2005   www.columbiajournal.ca

    Letters:


    POLITICAL ACTION – NOT A CHOICE BUT A NECESSITY


    Pagew 2 cartoonPublic policy towards seniors has changed during the last three years. Public policy towards seniors was once benevolent, neutral and adhered to a retirement social contract practised by all previous administrations. The Gordon Campbell government has a public policy towards seniors which is malevolent and by way of false economies has brought about the destruction of the premise of seniors’ retirement plans. These actions have forced the Council of Senior Citizens’ Organizations of BC to engage in a program of political action. This change from political neutrality to one of partisan political action has not been made lightly or on the spur of the moment. Our Executive and Delegates come from all parts of the political spectrum and our experiences with this provincial government over the past three years have left us with no choice. COSCO has done everything in its power to demonstrate to this government what negative and harmful effects their policies have on the people of this province, and especially to seniors. These policies are detailed on the LIST OF SHAME.

    It is really hard to fathom what philosophy drives this government. It is certainly not liberal, or social credit or social democrat. It would appear that this government knows the price of everything but the value of nothing. Not only are they socially barbaric in the way they handle seniors relocating to care homes, but they are economically incompetent in destroying, privatizing or selling the resources and infrastructure of our province which are things we seniors helped to build under previous administrations. What would W. A. C. Bennett say if he were alive? We, as leaders of seniors, must do everything in our power to bring about the defeat of the  provincial Liberal government next May.  We are committed to the good and welfare of BC residents, and especially to seniors.
    It will also be very important for us to engage in a dialogue with the Leader of the Opposition and to secure from her a strong commitment that if elected to govern, her government would revert to a policy of respect for the social contract they would have with seniors in retirement. In addition her government would be urged to reverse the Gordon Campbell policies which so negatively impact seniors today.

    The defeat of the current provincial government is not a foregone conclusion. Some very powerful interest groups, both inside and outside the province, will do everything in their power to re-elect this wrecking crew. Paid advertising is already praising and white-washing this administration. As seniors you can overcome this propaganda by talking with other seniors, your families and friends, discussing the issues and helping COSCO to run an issue-based campaign.

    The campaign to unseat the Campbell government has to start now. The summer has dulled people’s senses and memories are short. These are extraordinary times for seniors and we have to do everything in our power to regain our right to retire with the knowledge that public policy will not destroy our retirement plans. COSCO cannot do this alone. We need your help.

    COUNCIL OF SENIOR CITIZENS’ ORGANIZATIONS OF BC

    PUBLIC EDUCATION A SUCCESS STORY


    After quipping about why he had to be called “Your Excellency”, John Ralston Saul delivered a persuasive defence of Canadian public education before an audience of 500 which packed the auditorium of Magee Secondary School on September 20.

    Beginning with a brief survey of the objectives of Canadian education in the minds of Louis Lafontaine and Robert Baldwin two decades before Confederation, Saul argued that we have always had a system that is “our own”, reflecting a distinctive Canadian society which to-day has much to offer a world struggling to accommodate diverse cultures in workable political entities.

    Canadian public education is successful, despite “the constant drone” of attack, like  “a bad Greek chorus” trying to convince politicians and the public that it is a failure and too expensive, and that parents who want the best for their children must send them to private schools.  (At one point, Saul noted that almost none of Canada’s political, educational, financial or cultural leaders are graduates of private schools.) Saul finds it extraordinary that in one of the richest countries in the world in one of the most prosperous periods in our history too many of us are being persuaded that we can’t afford such “frills” as school libraries or librarians, art and music programs, ESL, or enough textbooks to go around. Thus parents engage in endless fund raising activities and/or pay special levies to keep programs going, as is currently the case at Queen Elizabeth Elementary School.  Saul believes most parents feel uncomfortable about this development and the resulting inequities that have no place in  a democratic and universal system of education.

    According to Saul, educational systems in Canada are increasingly run on inappropriate American models of corporate management, or “meritocracy”, which is about getting to the top as fast as possible.  In the name of “excellence”, this ideology gradually winnows out a growing pool of people whose diverse intelligences are vital to the working of a democratic society.  I was reminded of hearing the great Canadian scholar, the late Northrop Frye (no enemy of excellence!) say that a teacher’s greatest challenge and achievement is the education of the “C” students who make up the bulk of the population and on whom the perpetuation of  civilization depends.
    In Saul’s opinion the accounting systems used in the private sector don’t work well when applied to education because they can’t measure the immeasurable, which is a large part of what happens in education, the Fraser Institute notwithstanding.  In private sector accounting there are three columns: money in, money out, and investment. Educational financing seems to have only the first two columns, obscuring the fact that education is not just a cost but is also an investment.

    Although Saul did not make specific references to policies of the Campbell government nobody in the audience could doubt the applicability of his remarks to the current state of public education in this province.  Let’s get on with saving this essential investment.

    Margaret Prang. Professor Emerita (History)  UBC


    Is It Healthy for Democracy

    This argument that the provincial Liberals trot out about the NDP being run by labour is getting kind of old.

    If you look at the contributions that have gone into the NDP party over the last five years, unions have contributed just under $1.2 million, while during the same period individuals have contributed $11.88 million. Compare that to the Liberals who over that five year period have received $18.5 million from businesses and corporations, and only $8.15 million from individuals,  and you can see why the Liberals are trying to divert the attention back to the NDP's affiliation with labour. Which by the way resolved at their last leadership convention to study the affiliation provisions with labour and report back at the next convention which will be held in the fall of 2005.

    So while the Liberals joined at the hip by our media continue to make a huge issue out of this, they miss the fact that NDP membership has almost doubled in the last year because disenchanted British Columbians, who probably voted for the Liberals last election, are not happy with the arrogant attitude of this government. What we should really be asking during this coming election is this: Is it healthy for a democracy to have that kind of money influencing political parties?                          

    Tony Coccia

    Freedom for Iraq Indeed!


    Yes the US government says the Iraqi People should celebrate this freedom, with their hand-picked clique of porkchoopers to lead the government while the whole place remains under strict martial law.

    The country's assets and infrastructure have been busted up and parceled out to US corporations with insider ties to the Bush Administration and the Republican Party.

    The massive US invasion forces still control the entire country and are subject to their own governance rules, and plan to stay there indefinitely. Now these forces will determine who can run in the upcoming “election,” and what the rules will be.

    It’s clear with all the well-documented fraud, screw-ups and mis-information in the last US election, that government can’t even hold a real free election on its own soil, never mind anyone else’s.

    That’s freedom US-style for ya.

    K. Sails
    Coquitlam


    No Truth In Government Ads

    Page 7 cartoonAs a self-employed small business owner I can tell you that there isn't a middle income person out there who isn't weathering tough times in BC--and that things aren't going to improve, thanks in part to Gordon Campbell and his Liberal Howe Street clowns.

    From reading the papers and watching TV, I used to think BC was a have-not province because of the NDP government. Well, they lied. It wasn't. In fact, I didn't realize how good we had it with the NDP.

    We are now a have-not province, thanks to all the wage cuts, lay-offs, tax INCREASES (my taxes went up thanks to Gordie), and give-aways to his rich buddies, and the hospital and school closures.

    Everyone I know is now way over their head in debt, especially if they bought a house. If interest rate do go up, and they are going to do that sooner or later and it is stupid to pretend they aren't, so many people will be hooped, maybe even including me.
    These Liberals are just a bunch of corrupt lying bastards out to line their own pockets with everyone else' money and I am just so goddamned pissed off I was suckered into voting for them.

    Ray Smith
    Surrey


    Nothing Communist about 20th Century “Communism”

    Frank Sterle’s letter (“Communist” Countries just as Capitalist—Columbia Journal October) quite accurately points out the true nature of the Chinese government and economy, except for the statement that the only thing “communist” about China is its occupation of Tibet.

    The fact is there is nothing communist about that either. Despite all the misuse of terms in the 20th Century, historically, the term communist comes from the word commune, which were democratically self-governing cooperative townships across Europe that were based on equal rights and mutually beneficial development.

    This is mainly why historically communists have been opposed to all wars and aggression, seeing these as inherent problems of capitalism.

    It’s really an historic tragedy that in the 20th century the term communism was re-defined to represent various twisted forms of state capitalism (which Lenin himself admitted was being set up in post-1917 Russia) with stifling corporate bureaucracies enriching themselves via state owned companies and Swiss bank accounts, while exploiting and oppressing people in the same manner as any other elite.

    Ken Miller
    New Westminster






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