Friday, October 9, 2015

Why I can't vote Green

I like the Green Party's policies and national leader and local candidate.  The party best represents my values as a citizen and the local candidate is a nice guy.  So I am disappointed that I can’t in good conscience vote for the Green Party under our “First Past the Post” voting system in the Courtenay – Alberni riding. 

The Conservative candidate won here in 2011 with 46% of the vote.  NDP were next with %38, followed by the Liberals at %7.5 and the Greens at %6.8.  A proportional representation voting system that many European countries use would have meant representation for the %54 of our voters who did not want or choose our current MP or our current government.  The Liberals, NDP and Green party platforms all say they will bring legislation forward to create a more democratic system of voting than First Past the Post if elected.  The Conservative party position is that they may put it to a referendum.  With the Conservatives, the soonest we could be rid of First Past the Post would be two elections from now.

Under Stephen Harper, Conservatives have proven to be a destructive crew.  Because of the closure of the Coast Guard base in Kitsilano, the Coast Guard did not have on hand the resources to immediately deal with the bunker fuel spill in English Bay in the spring.  Prior to the closure, a spill response boat with enough boom material to encircle the freighter spilling the fuel was based in Kitsilano.  At the time of the spill, the response boat was moth balled at a dock in Richmond.  Our conservative MP at the time, James Lunney, did not speak out against the degradation of Coast Guard response on our coast. 

Macleans magazine recently ran a report on the loss of up to %60 of scientific data gathered over decades dealing with the environment.  That data was paid for by Canadian tax payers, but because of recent budget cuts and conservative government policy decisions, 12 government libraries have been closed across the country since 2012.  Much of the un-digitized data in the form of books, journals and data sets has actually been thrown into dumpsters, sent to recycling centers and turned into pulp.  The loss of baseline data such as this means our scientific community cannot do basic research.  As a country we are now operating blind in a very real sense.

Two polls conducted on behalf of the Dogwood Initiative in the Courtenay – Alberni riding in May and then in September show support for the Conservative candidate on the rise.  The Conservatives are now at %25, the NDP at %30 and the Green at %11.  With two days to go until the election, the Conservatives could win here again.  That is a frightening prospect.  So until Canadians are rid of the un-democratic First Past the Post system – I can’t vote for the party I want.  I have to vote for the one that has a chance to stop and hopefully reverse destructive Conservative policies.

Brad Wilson
Qualicum Beach

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A great idea just got better thanks to one of my students, Austin Hoehn.  The original great idea came from Paul Bogush's site as one of his 13 assessments that don't suck ...

I used Paul's RSA Animate idea in my Social Studies 9 class last year.  The students were given a section of the text dealing with the effect of the American Revolution on Canada - why Nova Scotia didn't join the revolution, the Loyalists' arrival in what is now Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, the migration of the Black Loyalists and finally the Constitution Act that created Upper and Lower Canada.  Here is an example of that effort.  It was fun and effective.  Effective in that the students read for a purpose and worked together to create a product they were proud of.

Before Christmas this year I tried this project with my BC First Nations 12 class.  I gave them a big topic - the history of First Nations People in BC in 5 minutes or less.  The biggest problem for the students even though they were sharp grade 11 and 12 students was to decide what was important and not important in that history.  They figured it out but it took a long time - much longer than I expected.  Next time I will either break the project into chunks or work on skills that help them summarize.

Another big problem was solved by one of my students.  Austin Hoehn suggested that instead of filming the students as they draw, we should draw a whole section and then erase it backwards (from the final picture drawn to the first) and then reverse the video.   The voice over would then be done over the reversed video.  It was a big time and stress saver because the students could put their ideas with strong pictures on the board without doing a practice drawing on the big board or a large sheet of paper.  It is a cool effect too.  Take a look here and here.