EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Harper 'in the loo' when G-20 photo taken, BBC reports

The BBC reported that Stephen Harper, the prime minister of Canada, was 'in the loo' and missed the group photo of G-20 leaders at their conference in London. Chapleau native, now CTV News Ottawa bureau chief Robert Fife reported that the PM's office is furious about reports that he was in the washroom, claiming he was meeting with his staff.

CTV News further reports that Harper 'became famous' at the meeting because he missed the photo-op. Apparently when he showed up US President Barack Obama went over and welcomed him.

A quick check of online news outlets shows that Harper's absence is making headlines everywhere today. CNN headline: "Canadian PM denies toilet break during photo op." One way to get some attention when you are appearing way off on the side in the group photo.

Have to wonder if they would have proceeded with the photo if if had been President Obama who was absent. Don't think so! Reports are they took a second one including Harper after his return from wherever he was.


Comments welcome as always mj.morris@live.ca or here

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

B.C. high school principal loses cellphone jamming war with students

The principal of a Vancouver Island high school has been forced to stop using an electronic cellphone jamming device he bought online from China because its use is illegal in Canada.

CBC News reported that Steve Gray, the principal of Port Hardy Secondary School, had banned the use of cellphones in the school two years ago, but it was ineffective so he bought a device from China, plugged it in and it worked.

But according to the CBC report, irate students protested by refusing to return to class after lunch one day last week, claiming the device was illegal in Canada, and they were right. Gray had to disconnect it.

Notwithstanding the issue of the use of the ubiquitous cellphones in schools, my first thought was that the principal was attempting to use the influence of arbitrary power if the CBC report is correct. It says that Gray went online and bought the device from China, plugged it in, and it jammed cellphones in the school. There is no mention that the school board was involved. Furthermore, the story notes that the jamming device was illegal. To me, this smacks of "big brotherism" and should not be tolerated in Canadian society. It is my understanding that $115 of school funds was used to pay for the device -- meaning taxpayer dollars were spent on buying something that was illegal to use in Canada.

I hope the British Columbia Ministry of Education is taking a look at this one, and will direct all school districts to ensure that they obey the law, and are not accessing illegal devices from offshore locations to solve challenges within their schools.

The real challenge facing schools everywhere today is to come to grips with the changed realities of education in the 21st century. Granted it may be very difficult to make the quantum leap from a school system designed for the 19th century to the needs of today.

How about designing curriculum that embraces the cellphone as a total communications device, which is what it really is,. I will stop here for the moment but will have more to say on this one later. Right now at least at Port Hardy Secondary School, this round goes to the students who stood up to the power that was.

As always I welcome your comments. mj.morris@live.ca

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Earth Hour a success depending where you live?

Although it was my first time to participate in Earth Hour on Saturday night by turning off the lights, etc., and actually going out for a walk in the neighbourhood where I live in Cranbrook, British Columbia, unlike Toronto, out here it seems we may have a long way to go.

As soon as I left the condo complex, I sensed immediately that Earth Hour had not caught on in my small city of about 18,000 in the southeastern East Kootenay region of the province. As an aside I am putting my location because even my best friend wasn't quite sure where Cranbrook actually is in BC.. "I will have to go to Google Earth and look you up," he said only yesterday.

Anyway, while walking about, I counted 100 single family dwellings in a middle class neighbourhood -- 90% had their lights on like any other typical evening. The lights were blazing outside the recreation centre owned by the city as well as at the mall near my place. And I could see that "the Strip" was all lit up.

However, back in Toronto it seems that Nathan Philips Square was packed with supporters, and David Miller, the mayor, is quoted as saying, "Toronto gets it." On the Earth Hour facebook page, reporters were also reporting their pleasure with activities in Edmonton, Montreal and even Ottawa.

News reports today indicate that Earth Hour organizers globally were well pleased with the response. They mentioned its rapid growth to 4000 cities in more than 80 countries in the past three years, and estimated one billion people marked the occasion in the dark.

When I asked some of my friends on facebook for feedback, they were disappointed with the response in their community. And I had no idea if any of my friends knew anything about Earth Hour. I didn't until this past week.

Darlene from Timmins said: "I didn't see too many houses dimmed here in Timmins (at least on my street). It's a sad state really...."

Maggie said: "With my lights out and computer off..no tv or radio..I looked out of my windows and was surprised..not one house on my street was dimmed..the whole friggin' neighbourhood was lit up like it was christmas..NOT impressed!!"

It struck me that perhaps Earth Hour organizers have targeted the very large cities globally, and I suppose that makes sense. However, if I might make a suggestion, it may be time now to start targeting smaller communities, especially in Canada.

I welcome comments as always from folks with much more knowledge than I have about Earth Hour. At the very least it has made me think seriously about the Greening of Michael... and I have not quite finished Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas L Friedman.

Email me too at mj.morris@live.ca

Michael J Morris

Michael J Morris
MJ with Buckwheat (1989-2009) Photo by Leo Ouimet


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Following the American Dream from Chapleau. CLICK ON IMAGE