“Better primary schooling leads to a more robust democracy”

Fabrice Murtin, an OECD economist in Paris, and Romain Wacziarg, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, compared 74 countries’ democracy scores from 1870 to 2000 with their educational attainment. The study found that primary education had a far greater Impact on participating in democracies than did income. The authors suggest that primary schooling leads to higher literacy amongst populations and that literacy is one of the keys to political participation. Read more in the Globe and Mail.

Several schools opt out of WiFi to protect children’s health

Last spring, the Saanich School Board banned WiFi in all public elementary schools, now a private elementary school south of Prince George is following suite. The move to ban WiFi comes as reported cases of nausea, faintness, headaches and cardiac arrests among children, are on the rise. To find out more about WiFi and children’s health visit Safe Schools. 

Climate Change Vulnerability Index shows cities and countries most at risk

A map generated by the risk-assessment risk analysis and mapping company Maplecroft, looks at 193 countries and highlights those that will be worst off due to climate change. The index takes into account the following factors: population concentration, development, natural resources, agricultural dependency and conflict.  Principal environmental analyst at Maplecroft, Charlie Beldon says the impacts on cities — where infrastructures are already struggling to cope — could have far-reaching consequences for not just local people, but for businesses, national economies and international investors. Read more at CNN.

Find Maplecroft’s new Climate Change and Environmental Risk Atlas here.

Toronto passes bylaw banning shark fin

Toronto City Council just passed a bylaw banning the sale and use of shark fin. Ignoring the bylaw will result in a $5,000 fine for the first offence and up to $100,000 for a third offence. The ban is put in place in recognition of the perilous state the world’s shark population is in due to overfishing. Vancouver is currently considering a shark fin ban as well. Read more at the CBC.

New Brunswick on track to meet climate change goals

The province of New Brunswick set a target to have greenhouse gas emissions at 1990 levels by 2012. The province is on track to meet its climate change reduction goals, a remarkable accomplishment given the economic growth in the province. The province worked with citizens and encouraged partnerships to achieve this goal. Some highlights of the plan include:

  • an investment of $4.5 million was made in energy auditing and implementation of energy efficiency measures in government operations, and the construction of smart metering systems for schools and hospitals;
  • a computer model was initiated to track and report energy consumption and corresponding emissions by government departments, an essential step in managing government’s energy consumption and carbon footprint;
  • the two-year biodiesel trials on 12 vehicles, including a school bus, grader, plow truck and light truck, were successfully completed. The trial found no barriers to using five per cent and 10 per cent biodiesel blended in petroleum diesel in the government fleet of vehicles, when it becomes commercially available. The project resulted in a reduction of 22 tonnes in emissions and a reduction of 8,600 litres of diesel fuel. Read more at the Province’s website.

Educators and elders fight to save Aboriginal languages

A Tyee series on Aboriginal education looks at the critical links between language and culture. With a steady decline in spoken aboriginal languages in BC, advocates and educators are looking for solutions. While elders are working hard to pass on their languages, fluent speakers are racing against time to teach the younger generations. Advocates are asking that the Canadian Constitution Act, which guarantees Francophones outside of Quebec have access to publicly funded French education, needs to be applied to the Aboriginal population as well. Read more in the Tyee. 

Power really does rest in the hands of the few

A study that seeks to go behind ideology to study the connections of the powerful has revealed that the global economy only has a handful of players. Conducted by complex systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich the study “examined the connections between 43,000 transnational corporations [and] has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy.” Of those companies there is a “super-entity” of 147 even more tightly knit companies. Less than 1% controls 40% of the wealth of the entire network. Some of the companies included in this “super entity” include JP Morgan Chase & Co, Goldman Sachs Group Inc, and Sun Life Financial Inc. Read more in New Scientist. 

Vancouver School Board considers implementing year-round school

The Vancouver School Board may follow in the footsteps of Richmond, Maple Ridge, Langley and implement a year-round school calendar. The motive behind such a move is to keep students engaged so that they don’t forget what they learned the year before. The board has not settled on a model but is considering either including three semesters a year with one-month breaks in between, or six semesters with breaks of two-to-three weeks in between. Before implementing a year-round program the board plans to consult with school staff and parents. Read article in the Tyee. 

Hamilton becomes first Ontario municipality to create a climate charter

Hamilton Ontario has created a voluntary climate action charter that can be used by local individuals, businesses and organization to foster communication and commitment on addressing climate change. Signees are expected to keep informed on climate change issues, set targets, show leadership, report annually on climate change measures, and to educate fellow Hamilton residents. A copy of the charter can be found here. 

Purple Letter Campaign lobbies for a province-wide policy to make schools safe and inclusive for everyone

A campaign to create a sexual orientation and gender identity policy for all BC schools is underway. The campaign is asking individuals to submit personal letters explaining why they think such a policy is needed. Those in the LGBT community are encouraged to write as are their friends and allies. Letters can be sent to:

Purple Letter Campaign
#376-3495 Cambie St
Vancouver, BC
V5Z 4R3

Or via email to purplelettercampaign@gmail.com

Go to Purple Letter Campaign to find out more. 

Report finds P3’s substantially more expensive than the public option

Forensic accountant, Ron Parks has co-authored a report that evaluates four P3 projects completed in BC, The Canada Line, Sea-To-Sky Highway improvements, the Diamond Ambulatory Care Centre and the Abbotsford Regional Hospital for their financial costs. His findings show that P3’s are substantially more expensive than the public option due to hidden costs. While publicly funded projects can include safe guards such as penalizing builders that go over budget, P3’s don’t have the same restrictions and “the costs can go spiraling out of control.” Read more in the Abbotsford News.


Find report backgrounder: Evaluation of Public Private Partnerships: Costing and Evaluation Methodology here.

Download full report here.

The impact of CETA on Hamilton Ontario

Stewart Trew of the Council of Canadians has written a report that outlines some specific impacts the proposed CETA (Canadian European Union Trade Agreement) will have on Hamilton’s job sector as well as the social and environmental impacts. From banning buy local policies to privatizing public services, the agreement will limit the power of municipalities to create jobs, protect the environment and develop their own procurement policies. Unfortunately, many municipalities remain in the dark about CETA and its impacts. Read Stewart Trew’s report.

For more details on CETA click here.