Further to my open letter to #RBE, another open letter to @PremierBradWall

the regina mom attended a public meeting with representatives of the Regina Board of Education regarding Ecole Connaught Community School.  The following open letter to the Premier follows the open letter to the RBE published in the Regina Leader Post earlier this week.

Dear Mr. Premier,

No doubt my constant challenges and snide remarks on Twitter are annoying to you and your staff.  That’s kind of the point, you know.  It was always tit-for-tat in my family of origin.  Yes, I do try to be a better person now, but sometimes I fall back into old patterns.

It seems the Regina Board of Education (RBE) is also falling back into old patterns.  Yet again, they’re trying to dupe the Cathedral community.  Through years of neglect, the RBE has created a crisis at Ecole Connaught Community School.  Two construction firms with which the RBE conducts regular business have declared the school to be in such terrible shape that the cost to fix it is prohibitive.  Yet, neither of those firms are known as experts in the area of heritage buildings.  In fact, both P3 Architects and J.C. Kenyon are known for their involvement in new builds in the province.  Are there no conflict of interest guidelines within the Ministries of Education or Highways & Infrastructure for local school boards to follow?

And so, based on questionable data, the RBE decided that a rebuild is the only option and will proceed to convince you and your government to fund it.  This is in direct opposition to what residents and the school community have requested.  The RBE has furthermore refused to work with the community and allow heritage conservationists, funded by private citizens, into the school to conduct tests and to provide expert opinions on the matter.  I therefore hold to what I stated in a March 2013 letter to you regarding this matter,

As a 25-year resident of the area I draw on my fundamental human right, as guaranteed by the United Nations, to insist you preserve the building. The real value of Connaught has not been properly assessed. The non-market aesthetic, cultural and other values of a refurbished school have not been properly accounted for. Furthermore, the environmental, social, and economic cost-benefit analysis of alternatives requested in public consultation meetings have not been addressed – in essence, the impacts of redevelopment on our community, our property values, our local businesses, our environment and other amenities such as the Connaught library have not been properly assessed nor communicated to local residents.

It is time for the Province of Saskatchewan to insist that the Regina Board of Education take its fiduciary responsibility seriously.  But to do so, the Province must take seriously its role as Steward of a nationally-recognized historic school.

Really, Mr. Premier, there is an easy fix for this.  Send the RBE back to the drawing board.  Otherwise, according to the rumblings I heard tonight, you’d best be prepared for lawsuits.  And, quite possibly, for me to fall back into old habits.

Sincerely,

B. L. Wagner
Regina SK

cc: Minister of Education
Deputy Minister of Education
Minister of Highways & Infrastructure
Deputy Minister of Highways & Infrastructure
Regina Board of Education Trustees
Regina Leader Post
Prairie Dog
Metro News
Save Our Connaught
Real Renewal

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To work, to work!

the regina mom is checking in to say that she’s in Regina Beach for a month, working as Writer-in-Residence for the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre.  She thinks it’s a great gig!  If you want to follow her meanderings there, check out her other blog.

 

Politics over poetry again

the regina mom again steps away from poetry-writing and into political writing because she thinks it’s that damned important!  And who knows?  She might get a poem out of it, too, one day.

trm sees more and more rightwing, American-style politics crossing our border and the unFair Elections Act is certainly one of these instances.  Brent Patterson at the Council of Canadians has more on that, particularly the bit about fraud at the polls being virtually non-existent.  Yet, the HarperCons address it as though it’s a real problem.  Lead Now has a petition addressing that.

Alison@Creekside riffs and expands upon the Andrew Coyne article, What problems are the Conservatives really trying to solve with bizarre Fair Elections Act?, from which trm cited yesterday.  The problems Alison@Creekside thinks the Cons identified are these:

  1. Investigation into election fraud in 2011 Election 33 months ago being rushed along at dangerous breakneck speeds.
  2. Public trust in fair elections in Canada at all time high.
  3. Serially violate election law successfully but then lose court battles to election watchdog.
  4. Too many people vote – 61% in the last federal election – especially aboriginals, young people, old people, and poor people.
  5. Parties not spending enough time and money on elections.

trm loves the analysis and hopes you read Alison’s take on how the Act provides solutions to these so-called problems.  Michael Harris lends credence to Alison’s arguments with a doozer of an article at iPolitics!

How odd that the very people who were called “serial cheaters” this week by Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair are now rewriting the mandate of the office that runs elections and vouches for their integrity. The people who were the problem are providing the solution, which in normal language is called being judge in your own cause. A dubious principle in law and politics.

If you haven’t listened to the interview with Marc Mayrand, Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer, on CBC Radio One’s, The House, you want to.  Also take a look at DAMMIT JANET! for a list of links to excellent pieces by Stephen Maher and Chantal Hebert, for starters, as well as to a commentary by Don Martin. His point that ramming a bill on democratic reform through Parliament is not very democratic is well taken by trm. Also of interest at DJ are tweets which fairly summarize the issue.

Another angle on this Act has to do with its constitutionality which is to say it may violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in that it stand[s] between Canadian citizens and our right to vote. Have a look at that, too.

So take a moment today to Call a Con! Support Maude Barlow and the Council of Canadians’ Hold the phone action to stop Harper’s new Elections Act!

Democracy over Poetry, for today, anyway

the regina mom is currently on retreat at her favourite Catholic monastery in rural Saskatchewan.  Try as she might, she is unable to fully concentrate on the poetry while the current attack to Canadian democracy is underway.

It’s become pretty clear that the Harper regime will stop at no end to promote the greed of the corporations, particularly those into resource extraction.  The environment and environmental groups, science and scientists and scientific libraries — all are game, fair or otherwise, for him.  As are the people of our First Nations, women, veterans, unionized workers and anything else that gets in his way — including the Canada Elections Act.

Last week, his government introduced what they mistakenly called the Fair Elections Act, about which political columnist, Andrew Coyne, says,

It’s a bizarre bill. But the government is plainly proud of it: so proud that it refused to consult with the chief electoral officer on its contents; so proud that it is now being rushed through Parliament with a bare minimum of debate, using the government’s power of time allocation. And what problem was that intended to solve?

trm is not sure she agrees on the pride angle, thinking perhaps it’s more like arrogance, a “nyah-nyah” to the forces of democracy in Canada, the thousands and thousands of activists who have been tireless in their campaigns to raise awareness about the attacks on our freedoms and our long-standing traditions.

Marc Mayrand, Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer, expressed deep concern about the new Bill in this interview on CBC Radio’s, The House, which everyone should listen to.

He is right to be concerned.  After Vic Toews’ nasty letter calling out environmentalists as terrorists, trm took a look at Naomi Wolf’s blueprint for how open societies become closed societies.   trm examined Canada in that light and found it frightening then.  That was two years ago!  Much more has happened since, and only some of it referenced in the links above. The window is closing, and closing quickly.

Hold the window open, Canada!  Sign the Council of Canadians petition which will be presented in the House of Commons tomorrow.  Also consider participating in the Hold the Phone: Call for Democracy campaign tomorrow, Monday, February 10.  There are, apparently, some Conservative backbenchers who aren’t strongly supportive of this recent attack on democracy.  The calls may sway them enough to make a difference to our future as a democratic state.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.  –Jack Layton