The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on March 24, 1992 · 8
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The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada · 8

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Issue Date:
Tuesday, March 24, 1992
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A8 The Ottawa Citizen, Tuesday, March 24, 1992 Tlie Editorial lkc j THE OTTAWA Citizen Published by the proprietor, Southam Inc. at 1 101 Baxter EDITORIALS DRF TEACHERS STRIKE There really is a There was only one sign of consensus among the players in the futile process that led to the folly of the OBE high school teachers strike. It was wide support for the idea that there must be a better way to negotiate a contract- ... j As the Uth-hour talks bogged down, trustee Cynthia Bled expressed the frustration felt by both sides: "We can't go on year after year having this kind of crisis negotiating. We have to find a new way, a new process, for settling teachers' contracts." Veteran trustee Russ Jackson believes province-wide bargaining would be an improvement. "The provincial union executive," argues Jackson, "doesn't want the Ottawa teachers to give in because it would set a precedent for contract negotiations with other school boards across the province." Experience has shown, however, that province-wide bargaining doesn't necessarily make a union any more responsive to the specific needs and problems of individual communities. Unlike Ontario's school boards and universities, the community colleges don't bargain individually with their teaching staffs. The theory was that community college teachers would be easier to control if forced into a single bargaining unit. The reality: Teachers at community colleges where a majority have BOURASSA SPEAKS But will premier Premier Robert Bourassa's decision to speak in favor of federalism on the weekend comes late, but not, let's hope, too late. For the rest of the country, his intervention arrived not a moment too soon. Even Quebec's defenders notably Ontario Premier Bob Rae were becoming impatient with Bourassa's refusal to participate in the constitutional process. In the country at large, there is annoyance at Quebec's sullen rejection of every new constitutional proposal. Paradoxically, it is Bourassa's nationalist sympathies that make him a credible salesman for federalism. His Parti Quebecois opponents will, predictably, accuse him of fear-mon-gering for even broaching the economic consequences of independence. He has already been charged with "terrorism" for referring publicly to Canada's $260-bil-lion foreign debt. But. as the premier notes: "These are facts which go to the heart of the lives of all our citizens. They must be mentioned." They must be mentioned, but not exaggerated. Bourassa's prediction that foreign lenders will unload Canadian bonds and depress the value of the dollar to 75 cents, for example, is highly speculative. It might FRENCH ELECTIONS The disappearing centre A healthy democracy is almost always an ideological muddle. It isn't a law of nature that makes this so, but a rule of probability: Odds are, at any time, no purist's set of programs can attract half the electorate. To collect a majority a canny political party must slap together whatever ill fitting odds and ends are handy. As a result, most democratic governments look a lot like Mark Twain's camel, "a horse designed by a committee." And in healthy times, the people accept this, because patched together programs are the price of a governable country. Times aren't so healthy in France. In Sunday's regional elections, voters turned out in droves to vote for fringe parties and charismatic demagogues who promised a purer agenda. The exercise has left many French people trembling over the coming era for their country. French politics has until lately-been a long standing war between the Socialists and the mainstream conservatives. In that contest, the conservatives won Sunday's poll hands-down, 33 per cent to 17.9 per cent. But it's hardly a comforting victory when the only two blocs capable of governing France polled to Clark Davey, Publisher James Travers, Editor Sharon Burnside, Managing Editor Peter Calamai, Editor, Editorial Page Gordon Fisher, General Manager Road, Box 5020, Ottawa, Ont. K2C3M4 better way arrpntpH a contract offer often wind up on strike anyway supporting disgruntled colleagues at other campuses. Many college governors oppose province-wide bargaining for the very reason Jackson favors it: It shifts responsibility and power to Toronto from the communities served by the colleges. This isn't the formula for sensitive, responsive local government Many OBE taxpayers were understandably annoyed, for example, by teacher demands for the same wage as higher-paid colleagues elsewhere . in the province. This demand conveniently ignored the pressing need to consider parity with the kinds of pay increases local taxpayers have been getting. Another traditional way to deal with such deadlocks is binding arbitration. The flaw is a tendency to produce unduly expensive contracts: The middle ground between a ridiculously high labor demand and an absurdly low employer offer doesn't necessarily make economic sense. A more attractive prospect is the "final-offer" solution. If both sides have negotiated as far as they can but still fail to reach an agreement, an arbitrator chooses one side's final contract offer as the winner. Obviously the OBE and the teachers need this kind of incentive to bargain reasonably and realistically. also meet? happen, it might not. Anyway, a low dollar has economic benefits. However it is not alarmist to predict an increase in taxes within an independent Quebec. The Economic Council of Canada says separation will cost Quebeckers an average of $1,800 per family, but even this is an educated guess. The only certainty is that taxes will increase. If only by a modest margin, Quebec appears to be a net beneficiary of Confederation. If an independent Quebec wants to maintain the same level of serv ices and compensate for the inevitable disruption separation will bring its citizens will pay more tax than they do now. Bourassa should also challenge Jacques Parizeau's serene assumption that an independent Quebec will continue to use the Canadian dollar; that separation will involve merely an administrative reorganization, without bitterness. During the last referendum campaign, the "non" forces made some inflammatory claims. Such tactics are as unhelpful as they are distasteful. Those who want the country to remain united need only ask pointed questions. To his credit, Bourassa is doing that. Now if he will only share his insights with the other premiers at a conference table, face to face. gether barely 50.9 per cent of the vote. The groups that stole their thunder are fringe parties that could never hope to build a majority. Jean-Marie Le Pen's anti-immigrant National Front (13.9 per cent) is so widely reviled, it is single-handedly credited with drawing millions of extra voters to the polls, simply to vote against it. Among the single-issue parties on the left, Ecology Generation (7 per cent) did well, but was outshone by the rival Greens (7.5 per cent), who say they're purer than Ecology because they won't make deals with a Socialist government Polls have shown the French are disgusted with mainstream politics, for many of the same reasons Canadians are. Their reasons would find an echo in any Reform or Bloc Quebecois meeting hall. Unfortunately, they are also an echo of a much darker period in history. In the 1920s, German voters abandoned the centrist "Weimar coalition" in favor of antagonistic fringe parties on the left and right. The country became ungovernable. And we all know who stepped in then to fill the void. r.nfceto a mdbt?irt;al custody tattle tV iial judge amvdd her support and half the atti a5sets... JW tlc leautiM Princess lived hmki "though somewhat - ever alter?.. Quis custodiet? indeed The Citizen's March 11 editorial call for a new government tribunal to "hear complaints against and discipline members of government tribunals" brings to mind Juvenal's famous question about the Praetorian Guard: "But who shall guard the guards themselves?" Whatever the merits such a tribunal could bring to the current controversy about the refugee board, it's hard to imagine how such a body could have resolved the issues surrounding the "intransigent aviation safety board." It was precisely to suppress these embarrassing issues that the government pulled the plug on the former safety board, flushing both good and bad babies down the drain with all the grubby bathwater. Les Filotas Gloucester Editor's note: Former Canadian Aviation Safety Board member Les Filotas is the author of Improbable Cause, about the controversy surrounding the board's investigation of the 1985 Arrow Air crash at Gander, Nfld. Stalling around The government is still stalling over veterans' benefits for Canada's wartime merchant seamen and women. Veterans Affairs Minister Gerald Merrithew has repeated that "this important group of Canadians" is to be given his "highest priority." But the minister was unable to respond in a comprehensive way, even after 150 days had elapsed, to the unanimously endorsed House of Commons committee report recommending equal status and benefits with military veterans. Instead the minister tabled a one-page letter saying research was still in progress and asking for another month to prepare something. A progress report was promised by the minister's appointee Feb. 12 but what came out were "thoughts" consistent with continuing to exclude merchant seamen from the War Veterans Allowances Act and thus equality with war veterans. The minister's promised consultations with merchant seamens' groups have consisted of three hastily called meetings in the six-month period with the Merchant Navy Coalition for Equality. The stalling continues. Foster J. K. Griezic, Associate Professor Canadian History, Carleton University New heart Our family wishes to express heartfelt thanks to the staff at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Ottawa Civic Hospital, for the great work they are doing in replacing and repairing damaged hearts. Our son and brother had been on the waiting list for a heart transplant for six months. One hour before surgery recently the doctor came and said "I think we have a heart for you." We thank, too, the family of the donor for their consideration and gift of life. We had already lost three members of our family to cardiomyopathy. Marion Bastin (sister) and Olive Este (mother), Agincourt Letter of the Day Today's woes A malaise appears to be permeating every nook and cranny of Canadian society. Is it fuelled by the recession, by the constitutional quagmire, by amateurism and a lack of credible leadership at all levels particularly federal? Why are citizens so angry and frustrated? Why are we bashing new Canadians? Why is the country at a near standstill? Where is the dynamism and creativity of the 70s? Why are we losing our backbone? We are becoming a nation of ostriches. Patrick Babin Chelsea loner LETTERS Serious reservations The March 4 editorial "East Timor Canada endorses the big lie" could create the misleading impression that Canada is now ready to overlook the Nov. 12, 1991 shootings in East Timor. Quite the opposite is true. I conveyed directly to the Indonesian foreign minister the serious Canadian concerns the morning after the incident. On Dec. 8, 1991, Canada registered its concerns about the situation by suspending $30 million in new development assistance projects for Indonesia. I continue to have serious reservations about the human rights situation in Indonesia. Barbara McDougall Minister of External Affairs What dividend? With the disappearance of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union, a large percentage of Canadians want to significantly reduce the military budget. A recent Gallup poll (Feb. 12-15), commissioned by the Canadian Peace Alliance, shows that 52.2 per cent favor cuts of between 25 and 50 per cent in the military budget. The Feb. 25 budget speech announced "a substantial peace dividend for Canadians." Finance Minister Don Mazankowski said that $2.2 billion would be cut from the military budget over the next five years. However, the military budget will actually increase from $12.1 billion this year to $12.7 billion in 1994. The technical, natural and human potential exists for Canada to help build a world which is not dominated by the scourges of war, poverty, disease, hunger and environmental destruction. Unfortunately, the Canadian government has other ideas. Richard Sanders, Co-ordinator Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade Ottawa British propaganda The March 9 editorial "Ulster Peace: Ending the terrible beauty" implies that this is a religious war. This is not true, it is a product of British propaganda. Power sharing between Dublin and Westminster? Never. Ireland is Ireland, it is not Scotland or England. Its decisions must be made by Irish people Protestant, Catholic, believer or non-believer. Look at the situation from a different perspective. There are six million people of Irish descent in England. Let's say they were to organize and move to one corner of England (we'll call it "Northern England.") They would import Irish police and judges to enforce their laws. The Irish people would get the best jobs and education, while the English minority would sign on the dole or emigrate. Those who dared oppose them would be called terrorists. They would be imprisoned, tortured and forced to sign false confessions and any political party that the English minority might have would have "terrorist ties" and the people who supported this party would be called "supporters of terrorism." Sound bizarre? You bet. But it remains a sad fact in Northern Ireland. Bill Terry Alexandria IP GOD HAD CRSATgP TUB EARTH THgx CANAPIANVay... r weVg GOT A PROBLEM ( WHAT ABOUT THS-( WrTH THf? BKAMBLE6.THE5 1 BULLRUSHESTANY S0AT3 ACTllAUY LOVETHEVV FEBPBACK ON TWS BUTTHI5 RABBITS HAVE J jf BULLRUSHg YET? ) GIVEN TRgM A UNAN!M0USW- y REMINDER: The Citizen welcomes letters on any public issue. We routinely condense letters and correct spelling, punctuation and style. We publish only original mail addressed to the Citizen and bearing the writer's signature (with first name or two initials). Please cite page and date for any articles mentioned and mark both letter and envelope: "For publication.", Preference is given to writers not published within the previous 30 days. Letters must include address and tele-, phone number (not for publication). Shopping for a school It's the time of year when parents shop around for a school for their little ones. As parents involved with Ottawa-Carle-ton's French Public School Board we have a very important message for parents considering whether or not to send their child to one of our schools. Because the recent government takeover of the board may have cast a shadow on the reputation of our schools, we would like to shed some light on the situation. Over the years, French public schools have earned an excellent reputation. A viable solution must be found to solve the board's $21-million deficit, but not at the expense of our children's future. Quality French public education is a right guaranteed under the Constitu-r tion. Unfortunately, this right comes with a higher price for francophones. French textbooks or computer programs, for example, are much more ex-, pensive than their English counterparts. Our children must not be made to suffer because of this. As parents and taxpayers we strongly feel it is time to look at the way our school taxes are collected and distributed. Taking all this into consideration, we still feel that anyone who visits one of our primary schools will be greatly impressed with the facilities and staff. Marylise Chauvette, Parents' Association, Ecole Seraphin-Marion, Gloucester Stunning reversal I am stunned by the Ottawa Board of Education's reversal of its decision to allow students of Connaught Public School to use Champlain High School during the renovation of Connaught. On what do trustees predicate their submission of Ottawa Technical High School as a viable alternative? What type of school busing arrangements do they envision for the congested core of downtown Ottawa during rush hours? What sort of Lighthouse programs, which were originally intended for community access, do they feel will be offered in an area of restricted access and parking? Elementary school children would be far better served by an educational facility that is not sandwiched between two streets that are among the busiest bus arteries in the city. Gregory Bannoff Ottawa

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