The Problem with PC – Edmonton Bans Aboriginal Writers for Purest of PC reasons

Interesting story out of Edmonton illustrating the dangers of censorship and the Law of Unintended Consequences.   Apparently, the Edmonton Public School Board prepared a “books to weed out” list relating to books and stories about First Nations.  Well, no surprise there, school boards have been banning books since time immemorial.

Mind you, David Alexander Robinson, an award-winning Aboriginal writer, was somewhat taken aback to find his books – dealing with, amongst other things, residential schools – on the list.   No doubt it would come as a surprise to a number of the other award winning Aboriginal writers on the list  Hmm, isn’t giving exposure to Aboriginal voices the sort of thing that school boards are supposed be in favour of?

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What if Kavanaugh did it? A Canadian Perspective on Youthful Offenders

I start by saying that I have no idea whether Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Christine Ford in the early 1980’s or not – if you’re being honest with yourself, unless you’re Ford or Kavanaugh, neither do you. The truth may come out in the course of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing or other investigations, but for now anyone with a strong view on his guilt or innocence is just telegraphing their own biases.

Instead, I’m interested in the debate coming from some of his defenders – though, pointedly, not him, he apparently denies the allegation entirely – that even if he is guilty, his actions as a teenager 35 years ago shouldn’t be relevant today. This, in turn has sparked allegations of that being a “boys will be boys” defence of sexual assault.

I suggest, at least from a Canadian perspective, that that last allegation is unfair. Canadians generally take a view that crimes you commit as a teenager -even serious, horrible, crimes -shouldn’t be held against you in the future, which viewpoint is reflected in our criminal and young offenders law. If that’s a reasonable position vis-a-vis youthful offenders who have been convicted of crimes, surely it’s a reasonable position against similar youthful offenders who are accused of similar crimes.

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Statistical Illiteracy from the Star

With all the talk of “fake news”, a real concern is what might better be described a “sloppy news” – news which is ostensibly credible, but which falls apart with a modcium of critical thinking.  Consider this piece in the Star “LGBTQ Students Saddled with More Debt, Poll shows”.   The Star reports the results of a recent Forum poll which purports to show that:

 A new poll by Forum Research, believed to be the first Canadian survey on student debt to ask about sexual orientation, shows the LGBTQ+ community is harder hit. Members are more likely to rack up greater student debt, take on a second job to pay it off, and make lifestyle changes because of it.

The conclusion is that LGBTQ students are more heavily burdened by student loans, presumably because of additional barriers that arise as a result of their LGBTQ status.  Interesting, if true.  But is it true? Well, maybe, but the poll doesn’t really support the conclusion.  There are a number of reasons why the data might not support the conclusion that LGBTQ students are more heavily burdened with student loans than their peers as a result of their sexual orientation.

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You can’t make people pay taxes in your Province – You need to persuade them

I’m forever struck by the stupidity and irrationality of politicians.  Consider today’s example, François Legault, leader of Québec’s Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), commenting on the decision of Canadian tennis star Eugénie Bouchard to become a resident of the Bahamas:

 “I think we should live where we were born, where we learned to play tennis and pay taxes in our country.”

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Controversy intensifies over Littman ROGD study

For those who think that the Ontario government’s initiative to compel universities to protect free speech is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, it’s worth considering the travails of Dr. Lisa Littman as a result of her research on rapid-onset gender dysphoria (ROGD) in adolescents and young adults which sparked a vicious backlash from some of the more militant members of the transgender community and resulted in Brown University and the journal which published her work, PLOS-ONE, trying to throw her under the bus of “progressive” public opinion.

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Ford Government’s Campus Speech Proposal: A Good Start, but Misses the Point

While I spend a lot of my time dumping on Liberals and lefties, I’m hardly an uncritical follower of Conservative governments. Case in point, the Ontario government’s initiative to protect free speech on university campus. (Thanks to Chris Selley for flagging this)

Now, at a high level, protecting free speech is a good thing, and there ample evidence that Ontario’s universities at best don’t take the concept seriously, at worst are actively hostile to the concept in practice – examples abound, the persecution of Lindsay Shepard at Wilfred Laurier University (who was vindicated only because she had the foresight to record her persecutors so that the untruth of their positions could be exposed) Queen’s university’s program (since cancelled) to hire “facilitators” to monitor the speech of other students, countless speakers (curiously – if you’re awfully naive – usually of a conservative variety) disrupted or cancelled. So the Ford government’s commitment to protecting free speech is welcome.

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Ontario’s Liberals Failed Our Children

The most shameful aspect of Ontario’s former Liberal government was its abject mismanagement of Ontario’s public education system, reflected in the steady, significant and shocking (though, perhaps, not surprising, in light of the content of their policies) decline in math education in this province.

This decline is evidenced, most recently, by the release of grade 6 math test scores showing that only 49% of grade six students are meeting provincial standards. We have an education system which fails to impart key skills to just over half its students. Shocking on it’s own, but all the more so since, as recently as a decade ago, that number was 63%. Similar declines show up in grade 3 math testing and in international PISA test scores. The Liberals took an education system that was not particularly good at teaching math in the first place (that only 63% of grade 6 students made the grade in 2008-09 was scandalous enough) and made it much, much, worse.

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An Open Letter to the Law Society of Upper Canada

The following is an open letter I sent earlier today to the Benchers of the Law Society of Upper Canada (the “LSUC”) with respect to its Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Initiative. The letter more or less speaks for itself. If you agree, I would encourage you to contact the Benchers to share your concerns.

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“The Case for Colonialism” and the Closing of the Academic Mind

I was struck by a story in this morning’s Star about a recent article published the Third World Quarterly, a scholarly journal devoted to… well… the study of the third world. The offending article, by Bruce Gilley, a Portland State Political Scientist, is titled “The Case for Colonialism” and makes the arguments, among others, that Western Colonialism was “both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in most of the places where it was found”. Furthermore, he criticizes the long-line of anti-colonial scholarship which, in his view, provides a distorted and politically motivated assessment of the merits (or lack thereof) of colonialism.  Now his main point about the merits of colonialism is contestable, and I’m not sure I would subscribe to that thesis on balance, though I can’t contest his claim that colonialism had benefits as well as costs.  His secondary point, that anti-colonial scholarship is distorted and politically motivated… well… read on.

To read the reaction, you’d think he’d fed a puppy into a tree shredder live on the internet.  It’s worth reading Gilley’s piece before considering the response, if only to fully understand how unbalanced it is.

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