Category Archives: Family

Endorsing Alnoor Gova for the Burnaby-Douglas Federal NDP

I am supporting Alnoor Gova to be the next federal NDP candidate in Burnaby-Douglas, and that riding’s next MP.

Seven-year NDP MP Bill Siksay announced in December that he will not run in the next election, which could be called as early as this spring.

So the Burnaby-Douglas NDP is having a nomination convention on February 25 to find a replacement.

The party has approved three candidates to compete for the right to maintain the NDP legacy in that riding: Alnoor GovaSam Schechter and Kennedy Stewart.

Here are the reasons why I am endorsing Alnoor Gova and helping his campaign win the nomination and the general election.

  1. Alnoor’s creativity, insight and policy depth are compelling. Though I have known about Alnoor for quite some time in the COOP Radio circle and through progressive politics around town, I only met him in person last Thursday night at the “Canadian Occupation from Here to Haiti and Afghanistan” event he helped produce. I found him to have a keen mind. He also has a creative way of engaging in policy issues linking idealism and philosophy to practical ways of addressing national security, citizenship and immigration and basic human rights like universal public healthcare.
  2. Alnoor’s analysis of the political realm is rich. It’s one thing to support the NDP and be appalled with Stephen Harper and quite put off by Michael Ignatieff, but I heartily agree with Alnoor’s sense of how the federal Conservatives and Liberals are working in a de facto coalition to pursue regressive goals that work against the interests of the poorest 95% of Canadians.
  3. Alnoor is a 21st century politician. Despite it actually being the 21st century, not all candidates seem to understand that the post-9/11 world is profoundly different from the 20th century. The highest profile endorser for each of his opponents is a provincial NDP cabinet minister/leader whose greatest political successes were in the 1990s. Today’s world is global, with permeable, dotted-line borders and multi-faceted citizenship. The Burnaby-Douglas riding is emblematic of Canada. It is ethnically diverse with recent immigrants and children and grandchildren of immigrants, of whom many consider Canada to be but one of their homes. People come from all over. They relate to more than one place. They have global sensibilities. Despite this cosmopolitan reality, Canada is becoming a more closed place through divisive policies. Alnoor understands this. He understands what is dangerous about these policies and he will be a powerful voice for opening up Canada to the 21st century world to recover our global reputation as a progressive nation.
  4. Alnoor personally understands the necessity of universal healthcare. A topic dear to my heart is the corporate attack on universal healthcare, and the gaping policy hole from the absence of a national pharmacare and seniors’ care component of medicare. Canadians are being gouged and bankrupted because they have to pay Big Pharma for medicine and cynical real estate speculators for elder care. With our aging population, we cannot abide this attack. Alnoor’s personal commitment to be a part of his parents’ healthcare reflects how he honours our elders. At a time when we are increasingly reminded of the path our elders have carved for us, more of us need to recognize our multi-generational commitments.
  5. Kennedy Stewart’s campaign is not compelling. Not only is his campaign website free of any federal policy priorities, the most compelling argument he seems to be making about why he should be the NDP’s candidate in Burnaby-Douglas is that he was asked to run by the riding executive. His campaign material also states that he will work hard and that he has big shoes to fill. That’s fine, but I can’t see what he would bring to the federal political arena. He also has a healthy body of academic work on municipal politics, but that makes me wonder why he isn’t running to be a municipal politician since that is his academic specialty.
  6. Sam Schechter’s lacks experience in federal political issues. Also a candidate from a municipal background, he was a city councillor in North Vancouver before he moved to Burnaby, while Alnoor has lived in Burnaby for 25 years. And while Sam Schechter does a reasonable job reviewing some key federal NDP party platform ideas on his website, he does not offer much in terms of his own insight into how he would address these federal policy issues.

I have lived in Burnaby-Douglas twice in the last 20 years, having only left several months ago. I found the community to be warm, richly personal, compassionate and progressive. That is much of the reason the NDP has held that seat federally for so long. Another reason has been the high quality of MPs who have served the community so well.

I also know the riding needs a vibrant, passionate advocate for issues that resonate with the people of the riding and all Canadians.

Members of the Burnaby-Douglas NDP will receive candidate information this week and have a chance to see the three candidates at a meeting on February 22 before voting on February 25. I strongly recommend members visit the three candidates’ websites above to learn about what they have to offer and how they plan to be a public servant in the tradition the riding is used to.

Alnoor Gova impresses me most, so I am supporting his campaign and I encourage you to become informed and support him as well.

A Paradigm Shift is Happening!

A Paradigm Shift is Happening!

That was the assessment of Dr. Marti Glenn, one of the keynote speakers at the 2010 International Congress of The Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology & Health, which took place from November 11-14 at Asilomar, California.

Dr. Glenn, who is the Dean of the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute, began by saying that, “Economists, writers, and researchers are beginning to discover…what we have known for decades: that the events and environment surrounding pre-conception, pregnancy, birth, and early infancy set the template out of which we live our lives.”

“The time is right,” she added, for a shift in the paradigm.”

Recent coverage such as on prenatal health in Time magazine, and epigenetics in Newsweek, symbolize this profound change in consciousness.

Some of the specific insights that Dr. Glenn mentioned included:

  • “Early experiences determine brain architecture.”
  • “By the sixth prenatal month, most of the 100 billion neurons found in the adult brain are already there.”

She also highlighted the most important point of all: preventing trauma in the first place.  For instance, she noted that a father’s involvement during pregnancy can reduce infant mortality.

Dr. Glenn also quoted Nobel prize-winning economist James Heckman, who points out that every dollar invested “in the very young” can not only save lives and prevent illness, but it would also save from $4-17 dollars in future costs.

Heckman’s work is vital and demands attention. For instance:

“Recent research demonstrates important differences in the family environments and investments of advantaged and disadvantaged children. Gaps in cognitive stimulation, affection, punishment, and other parental investments for children from families of different socioeconomic status open up early.”

My presentation overlapped with her focus.  The first part discussed the current state of Dr. Arthur Janov’s Primal Therapy, and how the emerging consensus supports his long-held contention that we have underestimated just how fragile we are while in the womb.

I pointed out how Janov believes that too many children have been emotionally damaged from an early age, and that one element of healing is to re-connect with the buried memories.

The second part of my talk discussed how to PREVENT hurting children in the first place, starting from the beginning of life.  In short, research has shown that providing optimal conditions for pregnant women, such as low stress, adequate nutrition, and quality pre-natal care could prevent children from suffering from a host of intellectual, emotional, and physical illnesses.

In addition, around 500,000 women die each year in childbirth.  Adam Jones (UBC Okanagan) has pointed out that most of those mothers could be saved for the cost of – six fighter jets.

The fact is that providing optimal conditions for these mothers and their children would cost only a tiny fraction of what the world spends on advertising, or the Olympics, or the military.

The Paradigm Shift can’t happen too soon.

Closing Neighbourhood Schools Maims Community Soul

What kind of soul destruction happens to a community when the BC Liberal K-12 privatization agenda, tax cuts and defunding force school boards to close schools?

Carlito Pablo wrote an excellent piece last week explaining how vulnerable communities are to the Liberal Party’s slash and burn social service defunding using the closing of the K-5 College Park Elementary School in Port Moody a few years ago as an example.

But he included new data that shows more reasons why merely maximizing demographic efficiency isn’t good policy for society:

A Vancouver school board staff report released in October noted that although enrollment has declined in the city in the past decade, “elementary enrollment is projected to flatten out over the next three years, and then increase by 2013”.

via School closure left a big gap in Port Moodys community | Vancouver, Canada | Straight.com.

If you have any concern for schools closing anymore after almost 200 have been closed already, you need to read the piece above. And if your neighbourhood school isn’t closing, one nearby may be and you should really consider stepping up in solidarity with those under that threat.

I was quite moved by the College Park piece and I have quite a bit to add that complements the views it contains:

Though a strip mall existed for a time in the 1970s, I was always happy that College Park didn’t have a mall, shopping centre or cafe.

College Park had trees, trails, lots of kids, a lacrosse box, fields and an outdoor pool. I started kindergarten the year College Park opened and found my 6 years there to be a profound benchmark of what community was supposed to be about.

I’ve seen less and less of it in the last 30-odd years not only when I taught high school in District 43, but more now living in East Vancouver.

It is an embrace of community vibrancy and commitment to neighbourhood relationships that create the bedrock of stability for our children.

The Liberals have spent a decade encouraging privatization in part by defunding the system leading to the closure of over 200 schools by next year. Those were policy choices based on defunding government revenues through tax cuts.

It’s time to fight back and demand just taxation and investment in our social infrastructure.

I took my children through College Park last spring to show them all the landmarks of my childhood and while it was no ghost town, its soul had been horribly maimed.

If we allow these closures to continue we are inviting decay into our communities. Isn’t 200 closed schools throughout the province enough to get us to act?

Public School Fundraising = Bleeding Wallet + Unreal Expectations

Ah, the optimism of a newly-minted, first time kindergarten parent! Isn’t it refreshing? Blissful?

Ignorant.

Seasoned parents (for fear of driving away fresh and enthusiastic blood to work the Dairy-Soy-Gluten-Peanut Free Hot Dog Day and monitor the playground in sub-zero weather) fail to disseminate vital information to the newcomers at the beginning of the school year. If the school were an olde-tyme internet chat room, the mid-September newsletter would read like this:

“N00Bs! U have been pwnd by the PAC Fundraising Committee!!111!! All UR wallets belong to us!”

Last night, I nearly wept as I pulled yet another fundraising catalog out of a dingy backpack, along with a PAC notice, which advised me that I was allowed to opt out of the fundraising for the 2010/11 school year.

For a minimum contribution of $100/child.

It is only the first week of October. *gnaws wrists*

If my math is correct, the school is trying to raise at least $50,000 this year, based on a minimum of $100 child, in a school with 500 children.

FIFTY GRAND.

This means that each child is being asked to either provide money from the parents directly, allowing them to skip the plethora of inane fundraising projects, OR participate in the 5 + fundraisers through the year by selling products/asking for pledges.

God have mercy on your wallet if you have multiple children.

Since September 8, I have had money liberated from my bank account, via/for my children’s schools, as follows:

  • $35 for communal classroom art supplies
  • $65 registration fee
  • $35  for criminal record check so I can volunteer
  • $40 = runners x 2
  • $40 for school photos

“Whew! Glad that’s over!” I said to myself.

Then the fundraising-hell clusterfuck began.

The eldest child came home with a glossy, slick kit, enabling her to go door to door to sell over-priced magazines. The more magazines the kids sell, the more money the PAC gets to put towards their annual projects. That’s fine and dandy if you’re able to get Granny and Gramps to renew their National Geographic subscription from McMaddysonne so she can get credit for the sale. Or perhaps you’re one of those perky-types that brings the kit to work with you and guilts your co-workers into buying so that you leave them alone until the next fundraiser! But..what if you’re not? Now your kid, is left to go door to door (which is a potentially dangerous enterprise for a young child) or not participate. Never mind that really young students can’t really read or write to take the orders.

Now it’s your problem, Mama.

Then the next note came, about the Walk-A-Thon, with a pledge sheet, once again imploring my kid to harass the neighborhood for pledges.

Following that was a set of four Scholastic Book orders, imploring me to order books, so that funding can go towards buying books for the classroom.

By the time the PAC sent a note home to remind me that there were still a Read-A-Thon to pledge, a bake sale, a plant sale, a family dance and silent auction and a community breakfast to pay for, I was about ready to homeschool.

But wait! There’s more!

This morning the younger child arrived home  with an envelope full of wrapping paper swatches, a catalog,  yet another set of Scholastic order forms, and a note advising us that she (at the age of 3.5) needs to get in touch with her inner Iacocca. Yes, my preschooler needs to move ridiculous volumes of wrapping paper and ribbon by the 25th, so her preschool can afford a new kitchen. Her government funded preschool.

Therein lies the problem, folks…

The government.

We’ve let them off the hook. We allow them to continue to slash funding to our schools…to whittle it down to a stump  that barely passes for what was once a decent public education.  Whether it’s through apathy or lack of involvement on behalf of the parents, the province axes more and more programming every year and almost nobody bats an eyelash.

Shhhh. Listen!

*Poof!*

There goes more and more funding.

Enter the fundraising machine.

School fundraising is a stop-gap measure, which allows the PAC to make up for the deficit left behind by the government termites. Every year, things need replacing. Improving. Renewal. That funding must come from somewhere. After all, who doesn’t love a new playground that isn’t a tetanus orgy, a field that isn’t filled with dog-dung land mines, or perhaps, the luxury of *gasp* library books?

While the mindset of the PAC is altruistic (supply needs of the classroom through fundraising) the necessity to do so is a sickening and pathetic statement of how little our elected representatives value public education.

Why do you hate fundraising so much, Tia?

  • Fundraising is a disservice to children in poorer socioeconomic neighbourhoods. Public education should provide all children with equal opportunity to learn, play and be safe at school. Fundraising creates tiers in this system, allowing children in more affluent neighbourhoods to raise more money, thereby having increased access to better equipment, field trips, books and educational tools. Less disposable income in a home means less fundraising dollars and parental buy-in, therefore less ability to improve the school beyond what the school board allocates.
  • Fundraising lets the Province off the hook. The more the PAC fundraises and provides amenities to the school, the less the government feels the need to kick in. Good luck trying to get it back once it’s gone, folks.
  • Fundraising masks the government’s failure to provide. If you are not active in school decision-making (and most are not) you will never know where the funding comes from, where it goes to, and how it is spent. Sitting in on even one PAC meeting each year will allow you to see just how much money went into PAC coffers, where it is being allocated, and just how little the government is actually kicking in for items like Smart-Boards and balls for the gymnasium.
  • Fundraising allows private corporations to profiteer off of young children. That company that has you and your child selling $100 subscriptions to Popular Mechanics? Is not doing it because they care about the community. They’re doing it because it’s an effective and brilliant sales strategy. What company doesn’t want thousands of young Canadians (and their parents) acting as unpaid sales and merchandising reps for them across the country? It’s a brilliant way to take your product to market with little overhead. Think about it. What a marketing strategy! Your kid goes door to door for their company, in the name of the school. The company hauls thousands of dollars per campaign. The school gets a few token bucks tossed their way. Child labor in Canada? Alive and well, thank you very much.
  • Fundraising places a strain on parents and caregivers financially. In an era where we’re already taxed to the hilt, paying through the nose for every aspect of our lives, and watching our standard of living slip into the abyss, the perpetual requests for handouts by the school add insult to injury. The pain of the hit to the wallet increases exponentially with every subsequent child. Woe to ye who dare to put your children in sports or music activities on top of this, for they too require fundraising and fees galore.

I for one would be glad to end the madness, and do away with the fundraising all together. Our time and energy would be much better spent being an active participant in holding the feet of our politicians to the fire, demanding better funding for our children, and protecting our families from additional stress and burden caused by excessive wallet bleeding.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to figure out how to sell 2 cases of Girl Guide Cookies by the end of the month, which is another story all together.

Back to School Activism: Wake Up, Parents!

From BC's Kindergarten English-Language Arts Curriculum Guide

I’ve already begun with A Back-To-School Wishlist for Society and now that school is finally starting this morning it’s time to talk about parental advocacy and activism.

Parents: you are the most fundamental advocate for your students. The BC Minister of Education, for instance, is not.

Do not forget that this year, and not just because tomorrow is World Literacy Day.

Why? Her open letter to you [below] is perfectly reasonable, arguing about why we matter so critically to our children’s success. But when we compare its contents to some basic facts of how the BC Liberal government is undermining our social institutions and other trends in society, we really see what kind of manipulation is going on and why we need to be vigilant against the BC Liberals’ gruesome plans for education.

This is going to be a long 10 months. You need to stay frosty.

While the minister is correct in asserting the value of parents in a child’s education, the BC Liberals have done the following to support an anti-Robin Hood wealth transfer from the poor and middle class to tax cuts for the rich and large and mostly foreign corporations:

  1. closed over 200 schools
  2. laid off thousands of teachers and support staff
  3. refused to fund K-12 pay increases or carbon offsets they legislated themselves, meaning boards of education must make cuts to fund those costs
  4. attacked working people with a decade-long minimum wage stall, privatization, contracting out and legislated wage roll-backs, all of which impoverish workers, forcing them to take on extra work…all of which erodes parents’ and caregivers’ ability to spend precious moments with their students
  5. enhanced the high stakes testing regime and industrial warehousing of students which undermine individualized education
  6. forced budget cuts that erode supports for vulnerable students
  7. threatened the democratic legitimacy of boards of education who question the minister’s “wisdom”

Years ago I described the BC Liberal government’s political philosophy as sado-masochistic. They keep abusing us, we seem to keep electing them. I used to characterize it as forced sado-masochism, but since we have re-elected them twice, I’m not sure how forced it is. This is clearly an unhealthy relationship that feeds on feelings of apathy and powerlessness.

When you read the minister’s words below, you will surely see that time is of the essence. We must have free time to engage in all the positive support we can provide our children.

If the minister really wants to acknowledge the important role parents play in education and the solid research that supports that goal, the rest of her government wouldn’t be doing so much to undermine that relationship for the sake of tax cuts to the rich and global corporate shareholders.

The minister’s advice is still useful, though, assuming we can create the time to engage in political activism. In fact, the BC School Act’s fundamental purpose is to “enable all learners to become literate, to develop their individual potential and to acquire the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to contribute to a healthy, democratic and pluralistic society and a prosperous and sustainable economy.”

The BC Liberal party’s goal is the economic focus, since so far this decade we’ve seen a constant erosion in our healthy, democratic and pluralistic society. But let’s look at how we can re-frame the minister’s advice to restore our society:

  • join your schools PAC [parent advisory committee]…to stay informed of parent and community action to protect our students and education system from further government cuts
  • get to know the teachers…to keep up with what kind of decimation is occurring in classrooms this year so you can mobilize to fight the government
  • learning truly is an active social process…that is currently being undermined by the government, so parental involvement in community action to protect public education is an essential civics lesson

And we need to keep up with our neighbours to see signs of things to come.

  1. We must be vigilant to make sure the government doesn’t engage in creative initiatives like attaching RFID chips to students to cut down on the time and expense of tracking attendance, so we can lay off some more support staff and help teachers focus more on weightier tasks. California is experimenting with this. Just because technology lets us do something doesn’t mean it’s right.
  2. Let’s avoid the thrust of academic inflation, cramming more and more knowledge and homework into the system at earlier grades because of some insane notion that the more students memorize before graduation, the smarter they will be. This comes from a lack of understanding of lower and higher order thinking. Learning is about learning how to learn, finding information, and improving analytical skills more than memorizing the dysfunction of Charlemagne, his heirs and the Carolingian dynasty. In fact, wise teachers have realized those addicted to the policy of increased homework are off the mark: “Once it leaves this building, we’re not using it for report card marks,” he said. “Once it leaves here, we don’t know who’s been working on it.”
  3. And in the same category as treating our children like RFID carriers, we need to avoid early streaming and its clones. At one Calgary school, despite their ineffective anti-streaming spin, they are streaming 7-year-olds into visual and performing arts, humanitarian and environmental issues, scientific inquiry and innovation, or sports and athletics streams. Streaming is wrong. It is particularly wrong with 7 year-olds who are far from able to pick or be assessed in one area. And more fundamentally, it perverts notions like Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences theory [which argues for enhancing students experiences in ALL intelligences] by picking a subset and ignoring the rest. But it can be quite cost effective to inject some Brave New World class juice into our culture. We must resist this.

Honestly. Happy first day of school!

It will definitely be a long 10 months. The system is more handicapped than last year. Our resources and time are strained further. But the need for our vigilance, advocacy and activism has never been higher. And it doesn’t hurt to read BC’s curriculum guides to find out what should be going on…and if you don’t see how they translate into real things in the classroom, ask your children’s teachers, who would be thrilled to see parents that engaged in learning.

But we are not along. Even the minister thinks we should get involved with the PAC, for instance.

Let’s make sure that’s the worst advice for her political career she ever issued, and I’ll see you at the other end in June.

Words from the minister:

As your child heads back to school this year, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the important role you, as parents, play in the success of all the children and young people in our education system.

Research has shown that when parents are involved and engaged, it not only helps their own child, it helps other children in the school. The evidence is consistent and convincing: parent engagement is one of the key factors identified by researchers in high-performing schools, and families have a major influence on their child’s achievement in school and through life.

I really encourage parents, when thinking about back to school, to talk to their child’s teacher. Really get to know your child’s teacher. Offer to volunteer. Become part of the parent advisory committee. You need to know what’s happening in the classroom to support your child.

Keep in touch with your school and discuss your child’s education. The close co-operation between home and school contributes significantly to creating a positive learning environment for children.

Learning is an active social process. You are your child’s first and most important teacher. Your role in their education remains as important today as it was when they were saying their first words or learning to walk.

As your child heads back to school, please get engaged to ensure all our children have a successful education experience. We can’t do it without you.

Margaret MacDiarmid
Minister of Education
Government of British Columbia

Terrorism + Child Abuse Joke = National Post

What do obsessive coverage of terrorism and a joke about how to beat children have in common?

As it turns out, it’s today’s National Post.

Firstly, everything in the first 5 pages was devoted to the terror suspect arrests, except for one article stoking the idea of staying in Afghanistan, so that’s related.

5 pages.

Everything.

Obsess much, National Post? Yes, is the answer, in case you didn’t know.

Secondly, this Twitter “cleverness” on page B2:

@NPsteve: Never strike a child! Wait patiently until they’re 18 and then give them the beating of their life.

Once upon a time, an insensitive relative forwarded to me one of those annoying chain emails that longed for the good old days. It was full of cliches and goofy things as well as some bits from the past that lots of people have happily not carried forward.

Some memories in that email were benign:

Remember “when a quarter was a decent allowance?” and “laundry detergent had free glasses, dishes and towels hidden inside the box?”

Some things were to leave in the past:

Remember when “All your male teachers wore neckties and female teachers had their hair done every day and wore high heels?”

Then it continued:

When being sent to the principal’s office was nothing compared to the fate that awaited the student at home?

Then it had an iconic 1950s photo of a dad spanking his son spread over his knees.

Basically we were in fear for our lives, but it wasn’t because of drive-by shootings, drugs, gangs, etc. Our parents and grandparents were a much bigger threat!

Nice.

But we survived because their love was greater than the threat.

Whatever that means.

Didn’t that feel good, just to go back and say, ‘Yeah, I remember that’?

Not really, no.

So then today we got to read Steve Murray’s Twitter post included in the print edition of the National Post about not beating children, I suppose because maybe that’s bad?, but waiting until they’re adults so you can give them the beating of their lives.

I have a really good sense of humour. Honestly. But what kind of person finds that funny?

I see that there is “humour” in that, but it is not acceptable humour. The legions of children who grew up with mild to severe beatings probably don’t find that funny. But maybe their parents do, which is maybe why it’s in the paper.

But really, it’s right down there with “Did you hear the one about the female circumcision patient?”

But one thing I learned is that the people who run the National Post believe their readership will find that joke funny. They might be right or wrong about that. Who knows.

But if they’re right, I’m not happy about it.

And now that the CanWest papers are now Postmedia, I’m looking for examples of corporate branding and marketing posture that make the new owners different from the Aspers’ biases and idiosyncrasies.

So far, the National Post continues to be sad.

And the pattern of 5 front pages on terrorism with a “joke” later on about how to beat kids seems to fit a disturbing pattern.

Banks’ Obscene Profit = Child Poverty

First quarter (3 month) bank profits in Canada were $5.3 billion for the big six banks. The Conference Board of Canada reports that Canada ranks 15 of 17 in the developed world regarding child poverty rates. The child poverty rate increased by 2% between the mid-90s and the mid-00s. Should the world really Follow Canada’s lead on the issue of a bank tax?

This came to me second hand already. Looks like it’s going viral. Common sense SHOULD go viral! Do your viral work, interwebs!

Liveblogging the BC Ombudsperson’s Presentation on Seniors’ Care

This afternoon BC Ombudsperson Kim Carter will be speaking to at the BC Health Coaltion’s Seniors’ Forum in Burnaby. She released her interim report in December 2009 called “The Best of Care: Getting It Right for Seniors in British Columbia (Part 1)”. We expect her final report before summer sets in.

Her talk starts at 1pm today when the liveblogging will begin.

I’ll also be liveblogging the public forum tonight.

BC’s Throne Speech: Already a Huge Disappointment

The BC government is in a self-orchestrated bind. Later today they release their throne speech for this legislative session, 6 days late.

In a fit of transparent and predictable governing, which turned out to be only a veneer, the government committed to fixed election dates, throne speeches and budgets. Circumstances, however, can really cramp such a plan.

Campbell is just like Harper. The federal Conservatives couldn’t even abide by their own October 2009 fixed election date legislation, for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the growing likelihood of an Obama presidential victory in the United States and the reality that Harper wouldn’t even have been able to hold onto a minority government with such a left-ward swing there.

Squishy rationales have forced the same event in BC with the delayed throne speech, which is supposed to establish the tone and priorities for the legislative session.

Past throne speeches and budgets in BC have focussed on improving the state of children or the environment with little or nothing positive in those areas: more veneer and PR.

Last Tuesday’s throne speech, if it were honest, would have had to talk about the lack of a solid excuse to cut short the spring legislative session since a regular length would have presented far too many question periods before the May election, for Campbell to be have to avoid.

His virtually non-existent public profile is still a result of his drunk driving episode in Maui 6 years ago.

An honest throne speech would have had to explain the necessity that on Friday the 13th, the election gag law came into effect, stifling the free political speech of hundreds of groups critical of the government [and maybe 6 groups who support them] all to prevent truth-based ads showing how much Campbell’s mean-spirited, market-worshiping cuts and policies have hurt vulnerable British Columbians.

And if you do some calendar arithmetic, you’ll see that reading a throne speech 3 days before the gag law comes in means 3 days of the worst press and multi-million dollar advertising spending imaginable.

Another reason to delay the throne speech is merely to cut down on the amount time the media can focus on it until the next big event, the budget tomorrow.

But the biggest reason to delay the throne speech is because it will have to introduce a package of economic policies that will make the neoLiberal MLAs vomit in their sugar-coated breakfast cereal on Wednesday morning: a deficit budget.

Like the Harperites, The neoLiberals are so ideologically opposed to deficits, effective social spending, communitarian economic policies or an economy that exists for citizens instead of for pimping workers for global corporate hyper-profit, that they’ve spent weeks now pre-emptively providing excuses for why they will have to go into deficit to mitigate the effects of the global economic meltdown on BC.

But none of this dream throne speech will come forth today. Instead it will be a superficial ramble full of platitudes about strong leadership in an economic crisis, looking out for the economically vulnerable and why the NDP will make you lose your job if they get elected.

The sad truth, though, is that in the government’s attempts to justify breaking its own balanced budget legislation, a few weeks ago the finance minister released a sexy slide show tracking how bad the economy has been in the last 6 months.

But in their zeal to show how awesome their surplus budgets have been recently, they produced a graph that showed the last 2 NDP surplus budgets before they lost government.

This will hurt them in the end because Campbell spent his entire first term in office whining about how they inherited an NDP deficit when we know that massive neoLiberal tax cuts for the rich created the funding crisis that made a mess of BC’s social fabric.

No throne speech today will help them when facts like these are swimming around. They’ll need heaps of luck to keep government on May 12th.

Canada: "Economic Injustice for the Poor!"[tm]

Just to start off, any country that spends the post-Cold War period eroding its progressive tax system so that the richest 1% of families pay a lower tax rate than the poorest 10% of families is just offensive. And I don’t care about the relative dollar value of tax paid by these two groups. The principle itself is regressive and abhorrent.

Welcome to Canada!

Welcome also to the reality of federal Liberal and Conservative governments. It doesn’t matter which is in, the rich get a windfall and the poor subsidize it.

The latest CCPA study is full of shock and further offense:

  • Provincial tax cuts are the key culprit for the increasingly regressive nature of Canada’s tax system but the problem has been exacerbated at the federal level with billions of dollars worth of post-2000 tax cuts.
  • The richest one percent of taxpayers saw their tax rate drop by four percentage points between 1990 and 2005.
  • Most Canadians saw their tax rate fall by two percentage points of income, but not so for the poorest 20 percent of taxpayers, who pay three to five percentage points more in taxes.
  • Middle-income families pay about six percentage points more in total taxes than a family in the top 1 percent.