Must-reads: Dan Gardner on French immersion; Doug Saunders and George Jonas on Radovan Karadzic.
Summer in Ottawa
Crime’s down—that’s bad news. More cellphone companies—that’s bad news. Omar Khadr—he’s nothing but bad news. And then there’s the segregationists…
Is it just us, or is there something a bit ironic about Jeffrey Simpson using hundreds of words in The Globe and Mail to complain that the media isn’t looking into the causes of falling crime rates because it’s too “difficult” and not “sexy” enough? Probably it’s just us. In any case, if you’re aware of Statistics Canada’s latest figures showing that crime is falling pretty much across the country, Simpson has little else to offer you except some legitimate, if shopworn, complaints about the way politicians exploit citizens’ fears no matter what the friendly statisticians tell them.
The Financial Post‘s Terence Corcoran continues his campaign against “Wireless Jim” Flaherty’s Prentice’s spectrum auction, which will theoretically usher in a new era of “lower prices and better service” as new companies flood into the market and give Rogers, Bell and Telus a run for their money, even as it bulges government coffers. This is a misunderstanding of competition theory, Corcoran suggests, arguing 10 market entrants isn’t necessarily better than three. But most fundamentally, he objects to the auction’s first premise: that the government owns spectrum in the first place. Just think how much better off those new entrants would be if they didn’t have $4.25 billion in “dead-weight capital costs” to pay off.
Peter Worthington‘s column in the Toronto Sun on Omar Khadr contains all his usual contradictions, and in closer proximity to each other than ever before. In one sentence, for example, Khadr was “pledged to fight in a holy war”; in the very next, “he gave his loyalty and trust” to the Taliban. A glaring factual error—that Khadr was the only one alive in the building where American troops discovered him—spices things up somewhat. And the column takes a bizarre left turn at the end, where Worthington declares, out of the clear blue yonder, that “to make Omar Khadr a poster boy for Canadians presently in foreign jails is misguided, if not obscene.” We’ve been a little out of the loop for the last few days—is anyone out there actually doing that?
The Ottawa Citizen‘s Dan Gardner notes new research out of New Brunswick showing that French immersion programs create “a stunning level” of socioeconomic segregation in elementary school classrooms—i.e., the kids whose parents have higher incomes and more education are overrepresented in French immersion. Socio-economic integration is accepted as crucial for children’s education worldwide, Gardner notes. And he suggests the main reason Canadians—or Ottawans, anyway—enroll their kids in French immersion in the first place is because it represents, in everything but name, “the elite stream.”
Dr. Drabic, we presume?
The Globe‘s Doug Saunders goes digging for details on Radovan Karadzic’s arrest in Belgrade, and concludes that while the former Bosnian Serb leader’s disguise was certainly well-tailored, his capture really comes down to the collective will of Serbia’s pro-western government. “I did think there was something suspicious about him,” says the editor of a healthy living magazine that had printed articles by the mysterious Dr. Dragan Dabic. “He said he couldn’t produce his PhD. He said it had been left at his ex-wife’s house in America.”
George Jonas, writing in the Post, is unimpressed by Serbia’s use of alleged war criminals as “bargaining chips” to attain European Union membership, and by the EU’s willingness to accept them as such. All that will result is a “show trial,” he argues—where “liberal illusions” combine with “fashion to allow power politics to masquerade as justice.” What we’re dealing with is indeed “international politics,” he argues, not international law. “And the proper place for politics is summit meetings, legislative chambers, diplomatic receptions, or battlefields. It certainly isn’t courtrooms.”
PricewaterhouseCoopers’ report into the Insurance Corp. of B.C.’s chop-shop scandal is “like something out of the movies,” says the Vancouver Sun‘s Vaughn Palmer—specifically, a “police procedural where it turns out that the cop is the perp.” In short, it seems employees who had purchased cars ICBC had rebuilt—without properly documenting the repairs they had performed or accurately recording their cost—were put in charge of the internal investigation over these same dodgy practices. “Those responsible ‘are no longer with the company,’ we’re assured,” Palmer concludes, but without knowing their names or why they’re no longer there, he believes “the coverup continues.”
“There’s a fine line between pragmatism and cynicism,” L. Ian MacDonald writes in the Montreal Gazette, and Barack Obama “runs a risk of crossing it” with his pronounced lurch to the centre of the political spectrum—particularly since he has so many gosh-darned earnest supporters on the leftmost flanks of the Democratic Party. But he, and McGill University history professor Gil Troy, suggest the centrist Obama is, in fact, the real Obama. So in other words, he’s not betraying his supporters now—he betrayed them months ago!
The Vancouver Sun‘s Ian Mulgrew looks at the Canadian law profession’s ongoing struggle to keep women within its ranks, noting the Law Society of Upper Canada has recommended a massive project be undertaken by the biggest firms to effect “systemic change.” But it’s no small task “to change the ethos of the legal profession to recognize the biological reality of child-rearing,” he stresses—although the steep cost of the huge turnover among female lawyers would, ideally, grease the wheels.