Today's Lesson: Pipelines are evil!

The press release I’ve reproduced below just arrived at the Sun Media bureau in Vancouver from a teacher employed by the Vancouver School Board. She is leading her students in a protest of the Northern Gateway pipeline. The students are adults looking for high school credits and, as the teacher notes, many of them many not speak English as a first language. But, by golly, they’re going to learn that pipelines are bad!

Now surely, even opponents of the Northern Gateway Pipeline must agree that, as a pedagogical exercise, this is a bit over the top for a public school class. By all means, use the pipeline debate as a teaching moment. But taking a bunch of students who may have only a working knowledge of English and ask them to get high school equivalency credits if they produce work that agrees with a teacher’s particular policy or political bent bent seems to me to be a wee bit over the line. 

July 26, 2012

Press Release


My name is Amie Wolf.I teach art at South Hill Education Center, Vancouver School Board, Adult Education. South Hill is located on Fraser Street at 45th Avenue in Vancouver, BC.

The center serves adults returning for high school credits, many of whom are immigrants and international students from all over the world.

On Wednesday, August 1st and Wednesday, August 8th, 2012, from 1-3pm, about twenty of my adult art students will create and then present a large outdoor graffiti moss mural on the North wall of the Sunset Community Center (6810 Main Street, Vancouver).

This imaginative mural will be in protest of the proposed Enbridge Pipeline. Juliana Bedoya, professional artist and founding member of Something Collective, has developed, secured funding for and executed this community building arts initiative.

Thank you for your consideration and we hope to see you!

Sincerely Yours,

Amie Wolf

[Address and phone withheld]

UPDATE: Bedoya, the “professional artist and founding member of Something Collective” was, to put it mildly, surprised to see this press release from Wolf. You can read her e-mail to me below. Wolf subsequently sent a letter to Bedoya “terminating” the project and Bedoya’s participation in the project.

Dear David,
I am Juliana Bedoya, the professional artist member of Something Collective ( that is working with the students from the South Hill Education Centre on this mural proposal using moss graffiti as a medium.
Today I have been dealing all day with the teacher herself, the principal at South Hill and all the parties involved from the city, with fact that the teacher Amie Wolf added the “protest against the Enbridge pipeline” as an item from her own personal agenda to the process I’ve been having with the students. She even sent this press release without consultation and previous authorization from my side. I strongly disagree with her attitude towards this community engagement process acting on behalf of the students and me. 
During this process I’ve been facilitating at South Hill, the students reflected on different environmental issues, but they didn’t even mention the pipeline was an issue of their concern to be added as a theme for their mural proposal. The teacher added this component as an external environmental issue that wasn’t addressed during the facilitated sessions. 
I would like you to take this press release back and make sure the project is tied to the We Are Here, A Community Mapping Project and not to an initiative derived from a collective reaction against the Enbridge pipeline. 
Thank you for all your help.
Juliana Bedoya

Journalism tool tips: Software tools for capturing, transcribing, and processing audio files

As Antoinette Siu writes in her first post for the excellent Online Journalism Blog, “Transcribing audio is one of the most time-consuming tasks in a journalist’s job. Switching between the audio player and the text editor, rewinding every 20 seconds in, typing frantically to catch every syllable—repeating these steps back and forth, and back and forth… in an age of so much automation, something isn’t quite right.”

In her post, Siu looks at a new online tool

Continue reading Journalism tool tips: Software tools for capturing, transcribing, and processing audio files

Communications Policy of the Government of Canada: Some advice

Updated most recently in April, the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada is a very long guide for any and all bureaucrats who must tell us what their departments are doing.

I have some advice.

Continue reading Communications Policy of the Government of Canada: Some advice

A sobering verdict on Russia and China from Prof. Ignatieff

Al Assad poster
A vandalised poster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad lies in a trash container in the northern city of Aleppo on July 24, 2012. A commercial hub and home to 2.5 million people, Syria's second city Aleppo has become a new front in the country's 16-month uprising, after being largely excluded from the violence. (AFP PHOTO / BULENT KILIC)

Michael Ignatieff, writing at the blog for the New York Review of Books, looks at Great Power Diplomacy and Syria and has some rather dire observations: Continue reading A sobering verdict on Russia and China from Prof. Ignatieff

30 years of ATI: And it's getting worse

Canada has had a federal Access to Information law for nearly 30 years, long enough for University of Laval political scientist Anne Marie Gingras to review the act and the ongoing tensions between governments that do not want to release information to citizens and citizens who believe governments have a duty to do so.

Gingras’ reviews the Act in the essay, “Access to information: An asset for democracy or ammunition for political conflict, or both?” published in the latest issue of Canadian Public Administration. Continue reading 30 years of ATI: And it's getting worse

Bush sent them to Gitmo; Obama sent them to their maker

I really like David Cole‘s writing about the failures of the George W. Bush administration when it comes to Guantanamo, torture, and the extra-constitutional activities the White House of the day engaged in in the name of the war on terror. In essays like, “They Did Authorize Torture, But …“, Cole is pretty hard — and rightfully so — on Bush. 

Now there’s a Democrat in the White House and, lo and behold, Obama  — winner of a Nobel Peace Prize — may be even more of an “extra-judicicial” hard-ass than Bush was. But Cole, in his most recent essay, Obama and Terror: Hovering Questions  — seems ready to give the Democrat the qualified pass that he was not prepared to give to the Republican.

Continue reading Bush sent them to Gitmo; Obama sent them to their maker

In the US, SuperPACS find a way to skirt disclosure laws

The Center for Responsive Politics finds a bunch of SuperPACs obeying the letter of the law when it comes to transparency of donors in U.S. politics but doing whatever they can to ignore the spirit of the law. Notably, all but one of the SuperPACs fingered for exploiting a disclosure loophole are pushing Republican candidates. So a question to Republican candidates and donors: Why are so afraid about telling voters where the money is coming from? Continue reading In the US, SuperPACS find a way to skirt disclosure laws

Harper: Expect major cabinet shuffle, agenda change in "mid-term"

Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the tiniest of tweaks to his cabinet yesterday, moving Julian Fantino from his job as Associate Minister of Defence (procurement) to Minister of International Co-Operation, a job that came open with Bev Oda quit. Bernard Valcourt will move into Fantino’s old defence spot while holding on to his previous duties as minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

Plenty of us here in the Ottawa press gallery thought Harper would do something much more radical to his cabinet. Today, in Calgary, Harper spoke to talk radio host Dave Rutherford about his cabinet shuffle and prorogation plans. (Transcript courtesy of the PMO) Continue reading Harper: Expect major cabinet shuffle, agenda change in "mid-term"