Conway vs. the LP

So, my old buddy Murray Mandryk (Leader-Post) took a poke at John Conway (Leader-Post). For someone to the political right of Conway, that's as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. It's even easier this time, because Conway is right and wrong at the same time on the issue of mill rate setting.

Conway is right in the way that the two most important things a government -- whether a school board, a town council, or a province -- can do is to set its own tax rate and decide how its going to spend its money. In the end, school boards are going to become little more than glorified parent-teacher associations under the Sask. Party initiative.

And if the New Democratic Party had done the same thing being proposed today when they were in power, the Saskatchewan Party would be handing out pitchforks and torches to the angry mob. And most of that mob would be Sask. Party supporters, either through an astroturf campaign (Urban Dictionary, definitions 1 and 2) or by rural residents genuinely angered that school boards were going the way of health districts -- more accountable to governments than to the people they serve.

About 15 years ago, I was the editor of a newspaper in Castor, Alberta (about halfway between the Saskatchewan border and Red Deer) when the Alberta government announced its plans to do the same thing to its school boards. And the ranchers, farmers, and small businessmen who made up the local school boards were saying the same things about that proposal that John Conway said in today's L-P.

But Conway is wrong -- dead wrong -- about other things on this same topic. Parents of children going into the Saskatchewan education system -- whether they're in Beauval or Swift Current -- expect their kids to be taught the same curriculum with pretty much the same resources available. Most of a school division's major expenses -- light, heat, teachers' salaries, pensions -- are the same. Teachers' contracts, for example, are negotiated on a province-wide basis. The provincial government -- not the school trustees -- does the talking for management when contract talks are under way.

As well, the province sets the standards as to how many children should be in a class, how much money the school board will get in its grant from the provincial government, and how it will spend its capital budget. The school board can recommend -- but in the end, they can't sign cheques without going Mother May I to the Department of Education.

As for the funding part, the NDP ran out of excuses long ago not to return to a 60/40 province/municipal sharing arrangement for school divisions.

Conway is making the mistake of trying to fight the last war. And if the Leader-Post wasn't owned by CanWest, and actually had a reporter on the education beat, the reporter could have told his/her editor that this story is hardly front-page material, even on a slow news day.

Another Cat Video


Full context here.

Okay, I'm not saying George Galloway isn't mental. I'm just saying he shouldn't be banned from speaking in Canada. A pussycat like Galloway clearly is no terrorist.

Okay And Not-Okay

This is allowed into our country:

This is not allowed in our country:

I'm going to need more videos of kittens...

Mandryk Vs. Conway

Murray Mandryk has a column in today's Leader-Post slamming prairie dog columnist (and author, and school board trustee, and U of R dept. head in sociology) John Conway's criticism of the provincial budget's change to school board tax collection--specifically that school boards can no longer set their own mill rates, which determines the amount of taxes they can raise.

Mandryk on Conway:

"But the problem with Conway ... is you never quite know where his personal political agenda ends and his concern for educating children begins."

I like newspaper columnist feuds, they're fun. And actually I often enjoy (and have even been known to agree with) Mandryk. So there.

Nevertheless, allow me to contribute my own offering to the squawking:

If Mandryk is implying my columnist has some kind of sinister "political agenda" for this province and is putting this "agenda" ahead of children, then Mandryk can go [deleted] [deleted] his [deleted]with a honey-buttered egg-beater. [Deleted].

But seriously, I think the difference in the two columnist's opinions comes from differing levels of trust in the provincial government. Murray Mandryk thinks the new system will be fine because his default position is trust in the government's numbers and more sinificantly in their intentions.

Conway thinks the new system sucks because if the province's numbers are off, school funding is [screwed] and the boards will be powerless to do anything. He doesn't trust the government's numbers. Or their intentions.

Who's right? We'll see, won't we? Me, I give more weight to the opinions of a political sociology Ph.D with a deep knowledge of Saskatchewan history and a demonstrated commitment to social justice issues than to a Leader Post political writer who portrays my columnist as a privileged extremist (privileged because he has public platforms, unlike Mandryk who's on CBC radio every Friday and has his LP column, but those don't count I guess, and an extremist because Conway's political views are out of sync with current corporate news propaganda fashion, though that seems to be changing as capitalism continues its meltdown taking corporate news with it).

To sum up: Mandryk seems to think others have agendas while he (and presumably his business) do not. Booo.

It is a good thing the province is directing more cash to schools. How about a compromise: they give school boards more cash but school boards keep their mill rate powers? Huh? Huh? Anyone?


The news story on Conway's budget criticism is here.

Mandryk's column is here.

And also: it's just prairie dog, not the prairie dog. No "the".

Don't Worry Be Happy

Sure we live in a country that welcomes people who start bogus wars that kill hundreds of thousands of people and bars democratically-elected politicians who criticize war.

But don't think about that, think about how cute these animals are.

Awwww! So cute!

So Who The Hell Is George Galloway, Anyway?

Here's a video. See what you think.

Galloway's overheated rhetoric makes me uncomfortable--his speculation about Israel planning an attack on Iran last November seems waaay over the top. But should he be barred from Canada? No. Way. Especially not in the same week Bush gets in.

Also: I wonder if David Frum got beat up a lot when he went to school.

Well hasn't this been a fun morning of angry blogging. And people wonder why we post cartoons and dolphin videos on dog blog.

Sask Government Tells CBC How To Do Its Job

In other slippery-slope news, yesterday the Star Phoenix reported that Saskatchewan Justice Minister Don Morgan asked the CBC to not broadcast interviews with convicted cop killer Curt Dagenais.

Morgan also told the Star Phoenix his government would not censor the interview, they just didn't think it should be broadcast.

How magnanimous of government to not censor the media. Truly we live in a free society.

As can be read in the story, the CBC says they often interview convicted criminals because this can provide insight and present all sides of a story to the public.

Sounds like journalism to me.

(Tip of the hat to "you know who you are" for sending me this link.)

In other freedom of speech news, prairie dog is still banned from distributing in Saskatchewan's government-run liquor stores.

Canada Bans Pacifist, Welcomes War Criminal

Yesterday, an outspoken and somewhat wacky British Member Of Parliament was banned from entering Canada for two university speaking engagements on security grounds in the same week George W. Bush, who ordered the invasion of Iraq on bogus pretenses, was allowed into Calgary for a speaking engagement.

British MP George Galloway was banned by Canada Border Services Agency officials. Pertinent minister Jason Kenney, who has the power to overturn stupid and evil decisions, says he will not do so.

Galloway is accused of supporting designated-terrorist organization Hamas (trying to use neutral language in a loaded topic here) because he helped deliver aid to the Gaza Strip during the widely-viewed-as-excruciatingly-horrific Israeli attack earlier this year that were sparked by the widely-viewed-as-"asking for it" rocket attacks against Israel (that were sparked by yadda yadda yadda that were sparked by historical etc.).

The decision by Canadian officials is stupid and makes the Minister (whom we're sure had nothing whatsoever to do with banning Galloway) look like an asshole who doesn't support free speech unless it's the kind of free speech he likes.

Critics (e.g. me) suspect Galloway is actually being barred because he says inflammatory things about how the war in Afghanistan is wrong. In other words, he's being banned for being anti-war.

Opinion: You can't call British MPs terrorist supporters when they're not and ban them from Canada. That's fascism.

Here are links--read them and you'll know as much as I do and possibly more since my reading
comprehension is suspect when I'm this pissed off.

-The Toronto Star's initial report.
-Today's TorStar article saying Galloway will challenge the decision.
-Toronto Star column on why this decision is nuts.
-The Globe And Mail's story on this fiasco.
-The Guardian's initial report.
-The Guardian's Saturday story.
-The Wikipedia entry on George Galloway for those interested in a litany of his wacky shenanigans (which include public boasting of having sex with Greeks).

UPDATE: The Regina Mom, AKA prairie dog contributor Bernadette Wagner, has alerted me to her post on the recent stupidities of federal Conservatives. You can read it here. It discusses much more thoroughly than I have a litany of shenanigans from Canada's immigration minister. Recommended.