Absolute Equality

Absolute Equality -

Early Childhood Education

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When my daughter started preschool I managed to accidentally join the executive at the school. It’s a co-op so all the parents are involved in different ways, and we all had duty days when we spend the afternoon at the school helping the teachers.

As it turns out being on the executive and doing duty days at school were a truly awesome experience. I got to know other parents, I got to know the teachers really well, and I got to have conversations with them about the school and their training and curriculums and new things they’re learning about early childhood education.

As far back as high school I remember learning how important early childhood education could be. Taking care of young children can set them up for life. Studies have shown the kids who attend preschool or some other form of early childhood education are more likely to finish high school, less likely to be involved in crime, they have better social skills, they have more ability to focus, the list goes on and on. The fact is that the more funding you put into early childhood programs the less you’ll have to spend on an array of other things as these children age and the better off society will be.

So why don’t we focus on early childhood development?

This is an election year, and day care is part of the conversation. But a national day care isn’t the whole solution. We are failing so many kids.

There is a major problem with school attendance in the north, and I heard it put very simply recently while I was attending Progress Summit – the schools are in disrepair, the supplies are second rate.

If we don’t invest in those things to demonstrate how important education is, then why would any of those kids consider it important?

A good start in school can change everything about a person’s life. Everything. Starting at the beginning can change everything about our country. That’s the kind of long term thinking we need to see this election year.

Further reading: 

This American Life: Three Miles 

Prioritizing

Much has been made of the fact that the federal budget released this week makes no mention of climate change. I was actually surprised people seemed so surprised, though Elizabeth May told the CBC she had expected it included as window dressing, so her hopes weren’t too high.

I wasn’t too shocked that climate change didn’t get any major funding from this Conservative government, but I did find the reasoning for that rather disconcerting. I’ve heard the same explanation given twice, once from Stephen Taylor, a conservative (Conservative?) pundit, and once from a Leger pollster in a CBC story – Environmentalists don’t vote for the Conservatives anyway.

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Polling tells the Conservatives that there are other things the people they can get to vote for them are concerned about, so they’re focused on those things.

I mean, why would you ever focus on an issue that wouldn’t get you any votes?

Oh, right, because it’s really, really important.

When it comes to the things that are slowly but surely changing our entire world, I don’t trust Average Canadian to understand what the priorities need to be. I trust experts in the public service, and I’m supposed to be able to trust the government to listen to those experts.

But now it’s not even just that this government thinks it knows better, they don’t even care because it won’t gain them any votes to, not on this subject anyway.

Greenland is shrinking, extreme weather is becoming more common and something that we called permafrost is now melting. The top of the world is seeing devastating effects and Canada just happens to lie very near the top of the world.

Is this how politics is done these days? We leave things for the next generation and the next government to figure out because we don’t want to make the hard decisions now? Because that’s something our generation needs to do better.

Further reading:

Toronto Star: Canada an international laggard

Tim Harper: Tories see path to victory through budget 

Winnipeg Free Press: Indigenous Canadians and the environment lose out

 

No way Joe Oliver

This post is cross-posted from my personal blog

I watched a bit of the budget yesterday, I followed some of the coverage, I tweeted about some of the issues. It was until this morning that I saw Joe Oliver’s quip about leaving the repercussions of the decisions in this budget to “Stephen Harper’s granddaughter.”

It made me angry at the time. I shared the story, marking it as disgusting.

Tonight I was thinking about it and I actually got emotional.

You see, when I worked the 2011 election I was a new mother, just back from maternity leave. Moving from my regular day-to-day work was very stressful because I knew I wouldn’t see my baby girl very much with the long days at working – leaving the house before she was awake. Moreover she wasn’t old enough to understand what I was doing or why.

Read the rest here. 

First Lady

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April 8 is the Day of Pink and there is controversy because the organization promoting the day has named Laureen Harper an ambassador.

Harper is quoted on the website of The Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity talking about her support for the organization, though her statement mainly addressing the bullying that many kids face.

What she doesn’t address is the gender and sexual diversity part of the equation – the fact that LGBT youth face more bullying and higher risk of suicide. And, of course, the fact that her husband’s government just killed a bill that would allow trans people to use the right bathrooms. (Read more about Bill C-279).

Many people feel that she should answer for that. I disagree. We don’t have a first lady here. The Prime Minister’s wife has nothing to do with politics or policy, and because she has nothing to do with policy there is no requirement for her to answer questions or address issues people take with what the government does.

This issue was raised for me when I saw an interview with Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau (one of many, many interviews she’s been doing). This particular article was headlined “A family affair: Canada’s next First Lady?

In the United States the First Lady has causes that she works on, she has a platform – like Hilary Clinton’s health care reform or Michelle Obama’s healthy eating and physical activity campaign. We don’t have that here. The Prime Minister’s significant other travels with him or her, hosts dignitaries, but he or she is by no means as much of a focus as the First Lady (unless she’s Margaret Trudeau).

Laureen Harper does not represent Canada by herself. She doesn’t travel internationally by herself. Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau will not be the ‘First Lady’ because no official role has ever been given to the spouse of our Prime Minister.

If she chooses her own issues and decides to become outspoken on certain things, more power to her, but nothing says the PM will listen.