Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - February 21, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
4-THE LETHBRIDGE Ftbruary What separatism? The prime minister may have been looking into a crystal ball when he commented that western separatism is a greater danger to the country's survival than Quebec separatism ever was. At present that is an exaggeration but it may be true of the future. Western Canadians, until recently at least, have not seriously entertained the idea of separatism. They have grumbled a lot about the way the cards seem to be stacked for the central region of the country but no serious movement for separation has emerged to parallel that which has existed in Quebec for the past number of years. Serious consideration of separation might be provoked, however, if federal provincial issues now on the front burners are not handled with skill and sensitivity. Unless the oil question is settled to the satisfaction of Alberta and Saskatchewan, in particular, the deterioration of feeling for confederation could worsen to the point of genuine threats of separation. The western contention is that for too long the interests of central Canada have been taken to be the interests of the whole country. With the emergence of the oil price question the west has finally found an issue that can be used to focus attention on the broad question of disparity. It is unfair to suggest that the west is endangering the unity of the country before agreed-upon negotiations in April reveal an intransigent attitude and by whom. Central Canada may turn out to be the real threat to unity. Separatism in the west does not exist as an ideological force; it is only a theoretical possibility. But it could be provoked into existence by heavy-handed or inept negotiations in April. The prime minister can best demonstrate his sincerity in wanting to keep the country together by insisting that those preparing for the next conference do a better job than was done for the one last month. ERIC NICOL More parent involvement I read in the paper that the department of education wants "more parent involvement." As a parent I am alarmed by this. If I become any more involved with the teacher I'll have to marry her. This wouldn't be so bad if she wasn't already married. I wonder if the department of education has considered this, and other ramifications of involving parents in education. When I went to school, during The Age of Bronze, my parents hardly ever heard from the teachers. They had a general idea where the school was located. They could probably have found it, on a clear day. But it was altogether understood that between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. I was entirely the school's charge, and that anything happening to me during those hours was none of my parents' business, especially if it cost money. I wouldn't say that it was a conspiracy of silence, between school and parent. But the parent knew that the school would not attempt to communicate with him unless the child had flunked fire drill, or was ready to graduate, at which times he would receive a notice requesting him to remove the body. Today it is an odd day, a very freaky Friday indeed, when none of my children comes home clutching a mimeographed message smudged by tears or other precipitation from the school to me. These missives may be classified into several categories, having in common they must be returned, signed, with 75 cents to defray expenses. 1. The letter in which the school relieves' itself. This form letter requires my signature to relieve the school of responsibility so that my child may participate in a class field trip to Central Ecuador. If the parent refuses to sign the form, the field trip will be switched to his back yard. Because the school has much improved its awareness of legal liability, it relieves itself with increasing frequency. Besides field trips, it wants to be excused from blame for what happens to the student during free periods (when the student is allowed to do independent research in the nearest and during athletic events or band concerts that involve physical contact. 2. The letter in which the school seeks greater intimacy with the parent. Meet the Teacher is the name of this game. Any excuse is good enough for setting up another assignation between parent and teacher. More often than not the teacher is a charming young woman wearing a mini that adds a new dimension to elementary education. Last year I had to stop meeting the teacher every time I was invited by the school, because I was around the school so much some of the kids thought I was the new janitor. 3. The letter in which the school advises that one's child has been absent from classes since September 1971. This type of letter gives the parent a chance to become involved with the student counsellor, who knows more about my child's activities than I do and also has a pretty complete dossier on Guess Who. There is no compulsion about the letter. If I, the parent, wish to remain ignorant about what is happening to other members of my family including those who live in South America for one reason or another, the school counsellor brings no pressure to bear. My report card will be lousy, that's all. Straight E's in Involvement and Participation. Please, department of education, how does a parent get to drop out? Position to be filled By Dong Walker We had a dandy stew at our house the other night. The onion chunks were big enough so that the boys were able to fish around them and feel reasonably certain that what they took had none of the offensive material. The way in which the food disappeared should have been sufficient indication to the cook that her efforts on our behalf met with approval but she couldn't resist her usual query: "Did anyone enjoy the This time, as if by prearrangement, nobody hastened to pour on the praise. After a few moments of silence Elspeth said, "Okay, I resign as cook." GOOD." said Paul. Letters Politics or government? "I'm glad we don't have to find work for them, too... Chretien's minor satisfactions By W. A. Wilson, Montreal Star commentator OTTAWA The day the Quebec Indians secured their interim injunction halting the James Bay project, Jean Chretien laughed at his critics in the House of Commons and, when there was a protest, told them: "Excuse me, Mr. Speaker, but after five years, four months and 10 days in this job, I thought I could have a few moments of satisfaction." The moment was a sweet one because he had provided the Indians with federal funds to fight their case and then let them proceed on their own, convinced that this was a better course than the paternalistic one of taking over and fighting the case for them. This approach had exposed him to Opposition criticism that he was failing to meet federal responsibilities to the Indians, and his pleasure was understandable. It was one of the rare occasions when the Opposition could not possibly win in a contest with a minister of Indian affairs and would have done better simply to have kept quiet. Normally the parliamentary Opposition can score points off any Indian affairs minister hands down because he is dealing with the most serious social problem that lies exclusively within federal jurisdiction and at best can only move it slowly towards a solution. One of the merits of the Trudeau administration, however, has been to leave one minister in charge of the problem long enough to give him a chance to achieve some results. He is one of a tiny handful of Trudeau ministers still in their original jobs. "One basic thing I've done and I'm quite proud you see, there are Indian organ- izations all over the place that didn't exist when I came. I started all that by giving them money. Of course, in doing that I was creating a situation in which I was going to be criticized-I had to accept that from the beginning. "What I see now, compared to 1968, is a new personality in the Indian, as a man who speaks out, who lets out his frustrations. That is important. Any person has to .accept his differences before he finds his place in accept it first, the you forget about it and it's no longer a problem. The Indians have done cepted their Indian-ness. They're no longer shy about some are almost arrogant about it. This is great." Mr. Chretien concedes that he did not begin by being philosophical about constant was on-the-job learning. He found it "no easy thing" to decide that, if the government of Quebec would not be reasonable, he would finance the Indians in a court battle with the provincial regime. Subsequently he was criti- cized for saying that, if the In- dians were completely unrea- sonable on their side, he might reconsider his support. He concedes that, politically, that may not have been an entirely wise remark but he is not very apologetic. "I had been asked would I go on helping if the Indians were completely unreasonable and I gave a reasonable answer. Perhaps I shouldn't have answered but the Indians know where I stand. I'm not just patting them on the back all of the time." Although it has been a source of criticism, Mr. Chretien is also pleased with the government's presentation of the white paper on Indian problems in 1969 and the situation that de- veloped from the action. The white paper proposed equal legal status for Indians, abolition of the Indian Act and of the Indian affairs depart- ment. Until then, the country 'had often been blamed for keeping Indians in a different legal framework, which provided for discrimination and the reserve system. The Indians rejected the white paper's proposed ap- proach, and Mr. Chretien points out that there may be discrimination now but "it's discrimination the Indians are calling for, it's not imposed." He believes that the Indians themselves realized from the white paper that "the time for slogans had that the government finally was pre- pared to deal with the real is- sues. Now he thinks it is significant that the Metis would like the federal government to treat them as Indians. "The Indians are not yet equal to the majority, socially or economically, but there's been a big real prog- ress. The next step will be to make faster economic progress. It's difficult for two reasons: The Indians have a new confidence but they are torn by the dangers of modernization and by romanticism about the past. Some have resolved it in their minds but some think it. was pure happiness when they were all trappers. "To move your tent every night when it's 40 below in northern Saskatchewan? I'm not so sure it was pure happi- ness and not necessity. When Eskimos were offered the choice of a house or an igloo, they took the house right away. But when they took the house, they had to catch up with the rest of society. This is not easy." Mr. Chretien has established some ground rules which must be followed in northern development, among them the provision of work for native peoples. This has sometimes led to criticism that they should just be treated as equals, allowed the same chance at work as anyone else. know what that is: Equality for one group with some more equal than Mr. Chretien remarked, "a little discrimination in reverse won't hurt." With reference to Nick Taylor's letter of Feb. 8, (Taylor dead what is he serious about? Being a leader in the same old shell game of politics, or government? Yes, there is a difference today. It's time that people of all walks of life in Canada began to do a little figuring on their own. This is their business. Mr. Taylor seemingly was a success in his business and when he operated the government of his business, little did it concern him what lodges, churches or other that his employees belonged to, as long as they did the work. Now, the people of Canada are in the same position as Mr. Taylor was, only on a larger scale, but the people's employees formed various political groups and went into business for themselves. They now have all the people working for and supporting the politician. I can understand Mr. Taylor's concern over the issue of Alberta's oil, but he would only be contaminating himself by joining the same "old being forced to live by the same old rulebook of politics, with little thought given to government for the people. It is just the same old inter- political hassle and there won't be too many of their cohorts' toes stepped on. Take a good long look at the political side of the fence, then at the people's side of the fence. The political side is very comfortable with its "feather bedding" and power, lucrative side benefits, police forces and antiquated laws, and its rules and regulations of political immunity Whatever the people do get from the politicians, they pay for in cash, and pay well. Operating the vast business The high-tension high wire act empire that the politicians dp, makes an insult of that basic tax exemption similar to giving a child half a jelly bean to shut him up. Natural gas for Alberta? Co-ops? Check those customer contracts closely, it can easily be seen what the people are getting and where, on a lop- sided contract, if these are the peopled resources. By the contract itself the people are not allowed to invest in their own system, but very cleverly allowed to make a contribution. The contract itself gives' absolutely nothing to the member except a vague hint of gasification sometime within the 20-year life of the contract. Aside from bits of inter- political conflict, politicians are all tarred with the same brush, and unless Mr. Taylor submitted to this he would be out-numbered and out. Elections? Only an expensive farce to return or put back another powerful political group, possibly with a different label, while other like factions watch from the sidelines. We need a man or men of true worth and integrity back in government for the people, and who knows, Mr. Taylor might fit the bill. If so he would regain the confidence and support of the people. Books could be written on political infractions which in this day and age are now against the people of Canada, but the politicians are immune to all this while hiding behind the skirts of royalty, as evidenced by courtroom procedure. The whole system is anti- quated and sorely in need of updating and repair, with a lot of weeding out to do, to return it to the people. L. P. STEWART Nemiskam Standard English I am somewhat curious as to what The Herald (Feb. 13) means when it says Canadian children learn Canadian English, "because that is what their parents and schools use Some years ago Webster determined to put over an Umurucum language to be independent of English he didn't care about correctness just difference. So he picked that upside down "e" and called it a schaw which makes practically every vowel "uh" and used it in what he termed the New American Webster A short time ago I walked into a Lethbridge store and saw Webster's New World Dictionary. It bad the same scurvy, sloppy pronunciation. One other was said to be a Canadian dictionary by Gage. It had lifted the sloppy Webster junk with no change whatever. I must say I agree that the expert from the University of Ottawa is correct be able to speak the best and purest form of any language you tackle whether French or English. "There haint no call tu teach no sloppy ignuramus diulect onless'n you hain't got no marbuls left." I can well remember parents who never had the chance of an education, who certainly wished their children to have a better level of speech than they had. What we need to do is have one common standard of English to let all the English speaking world understand each other and bring them together. These local dialects are not likely to die out... And if you are going to teach sloppy, off- beat English, soon we'll all speak local pidgin English and indeed be strangers. Magrath J. A. SPENCER Skiff cartoon obscure I have not yet seen an explanation by D'Arc as to what was actually meant in the cartoon about Skiff (Feb. Was he making fun of Skiff or pointing out what could happen in the near future if nothing is done about so much of the good land being bought by the Hutterites? Either way, why put up a sign about someone having moved to Foremost, what would be the point of that? After all, the Hutterites are moving closer and closer to Foremost too, and if this keeps up the same type of cartoon can be drawn about our town, although we don't plan being squeezed out without a fight ether. If something isn't done by either the government or us, and soon, the whole of Southern Alberta will soon become a Hutterite colony. Soon there isn't going to be any of our good land left to sell to them and I wonder if this is what caused the statement by Premier Lougheed, that he may be able to find room for Femie in Alberta. If the land around there is as good as here, the people of Fernie had better watch out or the government may try to wipe them off the map also, by selling it (their land) to the Hutterites. Although if that is the case. I hope they will join us in our fight to keep our towns alive. Maybe the government could send the Hutterites up north, where there is still lots of land to clear. Or is it that the Hutterites are afraid of hard work and only want and are allowed to buy the choicest land around? A FIGHTING FOREMOSTER Foremost The Lethbridge Herald SM 70i St. S. LetnbrWge. Alberta LETHBR1DGE HERALD CO LTD Proprietors arx! Second Man Regtttratlon No. 0012 CLEO MOWERS. Editor and Publisher DON H. PUUNG Managing Edflor DONALD R. OORAM General Manager SOY F. MILES Advertising Manager DOUGLAS K. WALKED EdttorWI PageEdtor flOBEHT M FENTON Circtflaiion Manager KENNETH E BARNETT Busmess Manager "THE HERALD SERVES THE SOUTH"