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My annual holiday letter

December 18, 2007

2007_holiday_stamp_edited.jpgHere is a copy of a letter to family and friends out west. Yes, of course, I copied the Liberal MLAs. It should arrive in their mailboxes at about the same time as they head home to get away from the constant questioning of the “members opposite” in the leg.

Merry Christmas — 2007

It’s time once again for our “annual” letter. If you are expecting our usual joyous missive, you will be sadly disappointed. We will be celebrating the season with enthusiasm equal to that found among inmates on death row.

January 2007 began inauspiciously enough: classes to teach, papers to mark, research pending and so on—the usual stuff. By March, however, a number of UNBSJ faculty had gotten wind of the fact that the commission established to “transform” post-secondary education could jeopardize university education in Saint John. Why, it was rumoured that, when implemented, the report would fix the labour shortage in our community as men and women would be streamed into trades and technical programs rather than wasting their time and money on liberal arts and sciences offered at the university. And this blueprint for change only cost $1.2 million!

Incredulous we were, but as events unfolded it became clear that this crazy idea was what the commissioners recommended, what the government wanted, and what was, it was pointed out, in the best interests of the people of our “blue collar” community—even if the people of said community begged to differ.

As the chant of “transformative change” was repeated ad nauseam—along with choruses of “the status quo is not an option”—the people of Saint John rallied to protest the recommendation that UNBSJ be “transformed” into a polytechnic institute. Repeatedly the governing Liberals were asked to dispel such plans. Steadfastly they refused to do so. The very Liberals who assured both STU and Mount Allison University that they would not be “reformed” by the PSE Report, refused to quash similar rumours about UNBSJ.

Their silence was “transformational”: Liberal Cabinet ministers from Saint John are now known as the “five silent ones.”

Thousands of people took to the streets—twice in Saint John and also in Fredericton and Edmundston—to show the Liberals what they thought of their plan to close the UNB campus in Saint John and the Universite de Moncton campuses in Shippagan and Edmundston. Still the Liberals seemed unmoved and, yes, silent. Little has been heard from the rose-bud lips of the “silent ones”—oh, except that there will be a “university presence” in Saint John. Say what?

Where else would such a thing come to pass? What kind of city over 120,000 is without a university? No kind in Canada.

Thus to our three (of four) children who live in Winnipeg and Calgary: Stay there!

Given that our eldest son just last year obtained his BCom at the tender age of 36 (one of those life-long learners), and that our grandchildren will be looking to post-secondary education—for all of the options—in ten years, I suggest staying west where educational opportunities abound. Why would you live in a city where the advantages available elsewhere are absent? Stay put—at least until after next provincial election. I anticipate my holiday greeting will be much cheerier in 2010 when transformational change will again hit the highways and byways as New Brunswickers go to the polls.

  1. Debra Lindsay permalink
    December 18, 2007 3:44 pm

    Yes, ironically enough, the stamps did indeed say “hope.” Do you think that will speak to the politicians?

  2. December 21, 2007 3:04 pm

    Well, yes, as that seems to be the basis of their planning.

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