Government Education Plan Threatens Democracy, say Trustees

by Marco Procaccini

The provincial Liberal government is planning legislation to centralize decision-making over the education system, including possibly replacing elected school board with appointed administrators, and that has school trustees fearing a loss of democracy and local input.
Vancouver's COPE School Board passed a unanimous motion last week calling for an emergency meeting with BC Education Minister Shirley Bond. Trustees are concerned that Bond is planning legislation to "repurpose" school boards across the province and change the role of locally elected boards.

"We want to know what the Minister is planning," said COPE Trustee Noel Herron. "So far there has been no consultation. That is why we want to meet with the Minster before the public go to the polls next week to elect new school boards."

The Vancouver School Board's motion calls for  "an immediate emergency meeting with the Honorable Shirley Bond, Minister of Education to clarify prior to the upcoming municipal elections on November 19, 2005 exactly what role the government intends for School Boards under her Ministry's new mandate."
Concern has also been expressed by school boards across the Lower Mainland.

The motion also expressed the VSB's " strong protest that any legislation on the reorganization and redirection of School Boards is being drafted without prior consultation directly with all School Board Trustees who have a deep and direct knowledge of the education priorities of their community."

Herron filed a Freedom Of Information request last month to find out how Bond's "re-purposing" will impact on locally elected boards.  He says that so far he has not received a reply to his request.... continued

Privatization conference draws protest

by Dan Keeton

Clearly emboldened by the recent Supreme Court decision allowing Quebecers to buy private health insurance, Canada’s key privatizers of health care met in Vancouver November 11-12 to discuss plans for further privatization of Canada’s health care system.

Seniors health rally protestThe forum was entitled “Saving Medicare,” and drew big name participants such as Reform Party founder Preston Manning, Vancouver private clinic owner Dr. Brian Day and Liberal Senator Michael Kirby, a well-known advocate of private health care. Participants included keynote speaker Ida Goodreau, CEO of the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, and BC Supreme Court Justice Janice Dillon.

Rudy Lawrence, president of the Council of Senior Citizens Organizations (COSCO) of BC, called the forum’s moniker “insulting.” He said governments are responsible for health care, not private insurers, many of which were at the conference. Also on hand were representatives of right-wing organizations the Fraser Institute, the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation and the National Citizens Coalition.

COSCO organized a rally of some 200 outside the convention at 9 a.m. on Friday, November 11. The early hour was so that veterans in the demonstration could then attend Remembrance Day ceremonies.

Day, conference chair, claimed the forum was “trying to build a better system.” He cited a recent World Health Organization study that found Canada’s health care 30th in terms of efficiency, but third highest in costs. Manning promoted a mixed public-private system found in 24 countries that reportedly cost less than Canada’s.... continued

Civic Election 2005. Who We Like

by Jim Lipkovits, Marco Procaccini, Glen Erickson

November 19 is the day the British Columbians get to elect municipal, regional, school board and various other local administrative representatives. It cannot be underestimated how important these positions are and how critical it is to choose representatives that will act in the public interest and the well-being of the community, not catering to elite special interests and intimidating corporate lobbies.

Unlike much of the other media, we, at the Columbia Journal, don’t like to tell people how to vote. We, with our very limited resources, would rather present the facts and perspectives that are shut out of the corporate monopoly media, and to present these with as much integrity and accuracy as possible—something else that is sadly lacking in the corporate press. People can then make their own decisions.

None the less, with the usual legions of candidates across the Lower Mainland claiming to be “of the people,” the Columbia Journal wants to say who we think actually is “of the people” and who we’ll be voting for on Saturday.... continued

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