Thursday, July 17, 2008

Price of Steel

The article in the Gleaner today (Thurs 17) is the second time that this story has hit the news. Fredericton City Council is concerned that the price of steel will mean they will have to revise the design for the new south side arena. They will either alter the architecture, replacing steel with other materials or reduce the size of the design by removing spectator seating. I have also heard that some think the Olympic size ice sheet will have to go.

I hope they can change materials and keep the seats and the larger ice surface. No point having a rink without it being a venue. Can't attract larger events and completions if there is no place to sit.

But you have to ask... if the price of steel is a concern, why isn't it also affecting the construction of the new Conference center and Government office tower? Why is it only affecting the City's costs for the new arena? How come we don't hear about that?

Given that I will use the arena more than the conference center (if ever?) - You can guess which building I would choose if I had to reduce costs. And I bet the majority of Fredericton residents would agree.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Odour of Canada

Any doubt Beverley McLachlin et al on the Order of Canada nominating committee are pushing an agenda when nominating people for the Order of Canada was put to rest when I read this.

Whether you think Henry Morgentaler is a monster, a hero or something inbetween, one would be hard pressed to find someone who thinks he isn't one of the most controversial living Canadians. Yet "too controversial" is apparently a criteria for not getting named.

Frankly I could care less if Morgentaler gets it or doesn't. The controversy has once again brought the abortion issue to the forefront and forced people to talk about it. That's all good.

However it is time for a little more openess about what the criteria for the Order of Canada is. On the surface it is apparently whatever McLachlin and her elitist friends want it to be.

H/T - Burton Front

Crossposted - CanadaEast

Saturday, July 12, 2008

What Party is This Anyway?

Liberal MP, Ken Boshcoff likes Dion's Green Shift Plan. Not because it will do much to eliminate carbon emissions, but because it will do more to eliminate poverty. He said "the shift will transfer wealth from rich to poor, from the oilpatch to the rest of the country, and from the coffers of big business to the pockets of low-income Canadians"

Now this may be Liberal policy - they've done it before - but it sounds more like this.
And here I thought the Liberals were supposed to be the party of the center?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Live blog of French language instruction discussions

The media might not be able to attend but Rob at The Independent is live blogging the discussions taking place. Interesting stuff.

Meanwhile what I found to be an interesting article on the issue with some neat ideas is getting pilloried by some commentators.

Crossposted - CanadaEast

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Reaching for Mediocrity

There were three articles in the Daily Gleaner today (Tuesday 8 July) on the EFI debacle.

The first was an editorial letter from professor Robertson at Mount A, that says the Government's approach to fixing the literacy woes by killing EFI was and is wrong.

Then the Editorial basically accuses Lamrock of striving for mediocrity rather than excellence in education. (An almost 180 change from their previous praise of this forward thinking, loquacious politician)

And then there was the article where Lamrock hopes his last minute meetings will quell the criticism over his lack of sincere consultations in the first place.

Don't think so Kell.

A hasty ill-thought out plan, based on discredited statistics and reports, foisted on a unwilling public and shoved down their throats, can't be sugar coated by any sort of last minute, half-hearted effort at consultation, and it certainly can't be made any more palatable by saying it is only intended to level the playing field, set a lowest common denominator and strive for mediocrity.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Visiting Blog - Weekend Potpourri

Spinks has obviously been busy this week. Celebrating Canada Day no doubt. Apparently we are a patriotic lot here in Freddy. Good fireworks and I had my fill of curly fries. ( a tradition like a dippy dog at the Frex.)

1. One of things to celebrate is the freedom we have in this country. Like the freedom of speech that allows people like Spinks and I to say what we want on a blog. It even allows others to be offensive. Thats why you should be following this story, here. This is just the latest installment in a battle for our freedom that is being fought below the surface. Fire. Them. All.

2. The Daily Gleaner ran an article on the front page today (Saturday) called "Spelling out Changes to our French Language programs". The whole tone of the article, with the exception of the last paragraph, came across like EFI was totally dead and that this was simply justifying the inevitable... Lamrock has made his decision and thats that. Silly me, I thought we were still in consultation?

3. I am disappointed in this. More here. I don't think he deserved it and its more evidence that our "elites" use their positions to further their interests over the greater good.

4. And on a good note. The strawberry recipes in the Gleaner are worth making. I love strawberries.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Time for some ideas on French language instruction in New Brunswick

Education Minister Kelly Lamrock takes to the air of CBC Radio on Wednesday morning (7 to 8am I believe) for a province wide call-in regarding changes to delivering French language instruction to English students. Open houses on the issue start that day around the province and continue on Saturday.

I fully expect the call-in to be an hour of him getting slammed.

Maybe he deserves it but here’s the problem.

He’s been getting slammed for months now. I suspect he gets it that some are unhappy. Initially it served a purpose to let people know that there was opposition. Today, I don’t know what rock you would have to look under to find someone who didn’t know that.

Now’s the time to start presenting some ideas on how to address the problems with the school system. Discuss them here if you want but get those ideas to the government. If the ideas don’t start flowing two things are going to happen without question. One : in the absence of anything else, Lamrock will go ahead with some semblance of Plan A. Two : Those who disagree with that will take the government back to court and we’re going to do this dance for a while. Let’s instead come up with something that may not be what everyone wants but works. I have my own ideas which I’ll throw out in the next little while. In the meantime let’s stop arguing and start thinking up ways to improve the broken system we have now.

Note to CBC’s Terry Seguin. Moderate the call-in so it’s not just a rant for some. Make it useful. We’ll all thank you for it.

Crossposted - CanadaEast

Sympathy for the Devil

I've read some loonie stories but this tear jerker takes the cake.

Crossposted - CanadaEast

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The fur flys over French Language instruction in New Brunswick

It's a hot topic and well it should be but MAN, there's some nasty comments flying all around over at the Telegraph Journal today regarding a story about the Parents for Fairness.

When 100 people protested the changes, not for two seconds did I think it was only 100 people who cared and that their concerns weren't valid. My beef was that there was obviously another side to the story which hadn't been heard and was being ignored. Apparently some think it should have stayed that way.

Crossposted - CanadaEast

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Parents without children in EFI set up blog

The 80% or 70% or whatever the number is of parents who have children not in French immersion (past comments at my blog indicate there's some debate on the number, regardless it’s still the majority and a significant number) have been relatively quiet as the future of their children’s education has been discussed. Most of the focus has been on the EFI side and I don’t want to downplay the significant concern there as well.

But in a balanced discussion all sides need to be heard so it’s refreshing to see a blog set up from parents who don’t have children enrolled in EFI dedicated to those real concerns. Check it out here.

Crossposted - CanadaEast

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Monday, June 9, 2008

CBC TV sinks further into irrelevance

With the theme gone to CTV, can Hockey Night in Canada be far behind? HNIC is one of the few things Canadians actually watch on CBC. What would they have left?

Crossposted - CanadaEast

Saturday, June 7, 2008

You say tomatoes, McDonald’s says no tomatoes.

McDonald’s in Fredericton has stopped serving tomatoes .

Why? Don’t know.

Signs are everywhere but offer no explanation except to say if you have a beef talk to the manager.

Wendy’s did this a few years ago when the price of tomatoes went high. You could still get them but you had to ask specifically for them or you were without the “T” in the BLT.

McDonald’s just removed them with cryptic messages to warn customers. Weird. Prices on their hamburgers are the same though. Hmmm.

Update - Here's why. Canada wide. I guess writing on a sign that our tomatoes may have salmonella is kind of bad for business. Why just McDonald's though?

Crossposted - CanadaEast

Friday, June 6, 2008

Guest Blog - CBC's driving me batty

Guest blog below sent to me by a friend. Interesting take on some recent CBC stances. There's been a few stories lately at CBC where I've been concerned they've been taking a stance as opposed to reporting the news and letting the listener decide. I see I'm not the only one thinking that. Lengthier than my regular posts but read on.


A few months ago when the CBC was bashing the province's new brand on a daily basis, I was particular irked when I was listening to Shift one night and the host (it wasn't Paul Castle, but a fill-in) had a marketing prof on the air from MSVU in Halifax. She said that the brand was great and that the province got a "tremendous bargain" if it was developed for only $229,000. The host was shocked and appalled by this and moaned on and on as she proceeded to make a complete fool of him. The next morning, the CBC again invited its listeners to send Terry Seguin their best attempts at mockery.

That is somewhat fine, there is a place for satire. But it isn't news or relevant information, which are two things one might expect from a program called "Information Morning" produced by an operation called "CBC Radio News".

So I emailed the CBC to inquire about how much they spent when they rebranded a few years ago. You might remember, with great fanfare, Robert Rabinovich unveilling the new "tone" that would play at the beginning of each TV and radio news broadcast. That was in early February, the CBC has still not responded to my email. How accountable.

This week they were telling Victor Boudreau that, before he goes ahead with a plan to cut taxes by $500 million and raise them by $350 million (i.e. a $150 million tax cut + $350 million of tax shifting from inefficient to efficient means of taxation), he should call a referendum. New Brunswick is allowing people to prospect and explore for uranium; essentailly look around for it, not mine for it. Experts say that you would have a greater risk of radiation exposure hanging around in an old basement for a few hours then laying on top of an exploratory drill hole with uranium at the bottom of it for a few weeks. The CBC however insists that we call off the exploration or, at least, hold a referendum. This is the same CBC that mocked Stockwell Day insessenantly (see petition to rename him Doris Day) for proposing referenda on serious issues. How consistent.

Despite the CBC's constant crying for government accountability and openness, the taxpayer-funded CBC opens its books to no one. Their "financial statement" from there most recent annual report is 16 pages long but that is mostly fluff, pictures, etc. There is no breakdown in terms of how much is spent on specific programming or how much is spent by province.

Here's an interesting factoid for you (that wasn't in the annual report, but I determined by sifting throught the CBC website). Ontario (population 12,861,940) has 4 CBC Radio 1 stations. New Brunswick (population 751,250) has 3. That is one station for every 3.22 million people in Ontario, contrasted to one for every 0.25 million in New Brunswick. Seems fair, equitable and an excellent example of resource managment, no?

Here's a better one for you. The 2006-07 CBC budget was $1,689,000,000. Yes, that is almost $2 billion. How much of it was spent in New Brunswick? No idea. However, this is what I was able to figure out.
CBC TV costs $624,930,000
CBC Radio costs $202,680,000
Radio-Canada TV costs $405,360,000
Radio-Canada Radio costs $152,010,000
That adds up to about $1.3 billion, the rest is spent on overhead, etc.
CBC TV has 18 stations, 1 of which is in New Brunswick. 1/18 of the CBC TV budget is $34,718,333.33.
CBC Radio (both 1 and 2) has 50 stations, 3 of which (all Radio 1) are in New Brunswick. 3/50 of the CBC Radio budget is $50,670,000.
Radio-Canada TV has 8 stations, 1 of which is in New Brunswick. 1/8 of the Radio-Canada TV budget is $12,160,800.
Radio-Canada Radio has 28 stations, 2 of which are in New Brunswick. 2/28 of the Radio-Canada Radio budget is $10,857,857.14.
Therefore, it is not unfair to assume that CBC in New Brunswick costs taxpayers about $108,406,990.47 every year.

I have long been a defender of the CBC, but at some point one has to wonder how much is too much? At one point there used to be individual programming for all of NB's CBC Radio stations. Now there are individual morning programs but everything else is provincial or regional. CBC could save, by my analysis, $8,107,200 per year if we had one CBC Radio 1 station in New Brunswick instead of 3. And I doubt anyone would even notice. Where else could they trim the fat?

Maybe New Brunswickers should have a referendum on whether they would like to see CBC service continue in New Brunswick or have the federal government transfer $108 million extra per year to the province, or, perhaps, in the form of tax cut? CBC seems to think referenda are such a good thing after all.
$108 million - or even $8 million - can go a long way. $108 million is more than the budget of New Brunswick's departments of Agriculture, Business, Energy, Environment, Finance, Fisheries, Intergovernmental Affairs, Justice, Natural Resources, Tourism or Wellness & Culture. $8 million would hire about 32 doctors per year or 160 nurses.

I know how I'd vote in that referendum, bring it on!

Crossposted - CanadaEast