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Muzzling elected officials…

… is a worrisome development and one that has been codified by the Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB).

Trustee Blackburn is outspoken, no doubt. And sometimes, like all of us, she likely says things that she wishes she could take back. But Donna alone is responsible for what she says and how she says it and if her bosses (the voters of her zone in Barrhaven) do not agree, they will turf her out in 2018.

She is a fine representative of her constituents and works harder than any other Trustee I have seen. Some may not like her style or her politics, and that is fair, but it does not warrant what is, in essence, the passing of a motion of censure.

Go get ’em, Donna!


Volunteerism – get involved, damn it!

I have written before about volunteerism and what is means to me. From volunteering at one’s school to participating in our civic processes, volunteering is a way to “give back” (I’m not particularly fond of that term) to the community and to gain a certain measure of self-satisfaction in the process.

I have given up a lot of my free time over my adult life to a number of organisations, and I have learned much about myself and others by doing so. The type of folks who volunteer alongside me are, for the most part, the type of folks with whom I like to spend time, chat and share experiences. They are dedicated, hard-working and truly believe that what they are doing is valuable and necessary. And they are correct.

A lot of Canadians volunteer a LOT of hours in a year. Check it out:


That’s 154 hours, on average, for that 43.6% of the population that engage in volunteer activities. Put another way, that’s equal to just about 4 full 40 hour work weeks… and not paid a dime for any of them! Wow!

But you say that this is misleading because this includes all Canadians, regardless of whether they are holding down jobs outside the home or not. After all, many stay-at-home Moms and Dads perform daytime duties at their kids’ schools… like running milk programs, pizza days, helping in the class, etc. But no – check out this other graphic:

So it turns out that those with jobs actually volunteer more, not less than the population as a whole. Pretty incredible, eh?

Why the rant today about all this?

Well, last night was my last AGM of the childcare services not-for-profit that I have been involved with for about 8 years. It has been a rewarding experience which has allowed me to have a small measure of influence over the childcare experiences of my two youngest kids. Some of my fellow Board members have been able soldiers (being Ottawa, we’ve even had REAL soldiers!) who have guided the organisation through some pretty rough waters at time. The long-time (former as of last year) President (let’s call him “Kevin”) was and is one of the hardest working volunteers that I have ever worked with and is a true credit to his community. I hope he knows that. And I’m certain that the current President will be equally up to the task in the coming months and year.

But I’ll miss this particular unpaid gig. My kids have “graduated” from that organisation now and I’m finding myself pretty stretched for time since taking on a bigger role at my Community Association. Still, I do not regret a moment of the many hours that I devoted to the organisation.

If you haven’t already joined the millions of Canadians who give up part of their free time to give meaningfully to their community, then you might want to think about it. You too won’t regret a moment of it.


Helping out Clifford Bowey PS…

… in the Aviva Fund competition.

Hi all – PSA time: Clifford Bowey PS has moved into the Aviva Fund Semi-Finals! I like to think that our school community last year helped Vincent Massey win this competition – and a new playground!

Please visit the site and register and VOTE – one vote per day is allowed.

Spread the word and let’s help this very special school build a new accessible playground.


Public funding for Catholic schools has no place in 21st-century Ontario.

Brilliant article in the Glob and Mash today.

Key paragraphs for me – and a message that should be read to all Ontario residents.

The arguments from proponents of publicly-funded Catholic schooling amount to a self-interested assertion that they are entitled to their entitlements. Some might contend that the Catholic system is no longer even very Catholic, having evolved in accordance with secular values despite the dictates of the church itself – for instance, allowing gay-straight alliances and access to contraception.

This argument is self-defeating: if the Catholic system really was just another secular schooling option, all the more reason to merge with the regular public system. Of course Ontario’s public Catholic schools remain tied to the Catholic Church. Hiring of teachers into Catholic schools explicitly discriminates on this basis, with school boards requiring a signed affirmation from a priest that the candidate “participates in the sacramental life of the Church” and “comes from a Catholic background.” There is a surplus of willing and qualified teachers for Ontario’s public schools who cannot find work. It should infuriate any thinking person that public funding flows to schools that actively discriminate against passionate teachers simply because they don’t come from the right religion.

Kudos to the Green Party who are the only major party in Ontario to endorse the merging of the two Boards.

As an intermediate point, can’t we at least have an open debate and an unbiased third-party study looking at the financial pros and cons of such a move?

It would be a start.


Hudak vows to cancel full day Kindergarten

As a volunteer on a not-for-profit childcare centre Board, I can say with some authority that the FDK horse has left the barn. There has been some bumps on the road to implementation, but it has overall been a success.

Furthermore, cancelling it now in its final stage of implementation would not only throw Ontario schools into a staffing and infrastructural state of chaos, but would spell the death knell for many not-for-profits in the Province.

If he truly wanted to do something positive for public education, Hudak would vow to seriously explore considering Ontario as a Province without a wasteful and discriminatory publicly-funded separate school system.

Tim Hudak – in over his head.



The Ontario Catholic School Board supporters had an email campaign, I guess…

Update- so here’s some proof of an organised campaign.

So. There is this website that the Ontario Liberals have set up called “Common Ground” that is designed to elicit comments from Ontarians on new policy directions. This is not a bad idea. But good ideas can be hijacked by special interests who would clearly be positively or negatively affected by a certain proposed policy. Such is the case with the idea called Merging the Public and Catholic School Boards.

Anyone who has passed through this blog in the past may have wandered by a post(s) where I have derided Ontario’s two Board system as discriminatory and wasteful.  So, I checked this idea about a week ago after hearing it mentioned on CBC Radio one morning. Happily, and not unexpectedly, the positive response (you get to vote for an idea either positively or negatively) was through the roof. This idea had one of the biggest positive uptakes only a week ago and now look at what’s happened.

I’d LOVE it if someone went public with the email that surely went out to Catholic Boards, the teachers and the unions urging members to go on-line and vote against this idea whose time has come. But no matter, this government has been clear that it has no interest in changing Ontario’s wasteful and discriminatory dual board system.



Citizen article on OCDSB playstructures

Great piece on the state of playstructures in Ottawa Carleton District School Board schools.

I’m hoping the Board steps up in the fall and ups its funding commitment to playstructure renewal projects. I, as a parent and member of school council, would like our school’s volunteer efforts to focus on other things aside from playstructures. Yes, they are an important part of our children’s physical development, but there is SO much more!

BTW, a h/t to not only Trustee Fisher, who is bringing the issue to the forefront, but to Trustee Blackburn who contacted me to clarify and elaborate on some points. This is how Trustees serve their constituency!

I wonder what my Trustee is doing… Oh. Yeah.

Too bad she doesn’t live in the riding. She might have a chance at increasing the Dipper traditional 13-15 percent vote share!


Depressing that the new OLP Education Minister…

… is confirming her support for the Ontario’s wasteful and discriminatory duplicate school board system.

If there is an election over the Budget, my vote for the Ontario Greens – the only party to say that the system needs a second look – is a lock!


A plea to the OCDSB…

… even if the teacher’s action tomorrow is declared illegal, do NOT reverse yesterday’s decision to close all elementary schools. And here is why:

Ya know, folks, in my life I have seldom seen such a sequence of utterly stupid decisions-making.  Both the Ontario government and the teachers unions have shown such awful judgement on each step of this trek into Stupidville! It truly boggles the mind.


OCDSB elementary school closure

The Director of Education has just announced that all OCDSB elementary schools will be closed on Friday.

All Ottawa peeps in the English public system should plan accordingly.