There are things in life that make sense, things that make no sense, and things you can only shake your head at and wonder what were they thinking. Here’s a few.
It’s impossible for a union to effectively represent both ordinary workers and administration (management). The PEI Teachers Federation thinks it can, despite the obvious conflict of interest, so it collects dues from both teachers and administrators. PEI is one of the few jurisdictions where this conflict continues.
The issue came to a head when the Public Schools Branch attempted to fix multiple problems by creating another, while the PEITF sat silent.
Here’s the backstory. Earlier this year the PSB was forced to deal with an escalating issue involving an administrator with a history of conflict.
The ‘solution’ was to quietly shuffle the administrator to another school, which as you can imagine, went over like a lead balloon when parents and teachers on the receiving end learned of the plan.
Then the PSB tried to quietly name the administrator principal of yet another school beginning this fall. Parents and teachers there were rightfully outraged at the lack of transparency. The Teachers Federation remained silent, once again not representing its members, while PSB opted for decisions made in darkness.
Last week an online petition quickly garnered hundreds of signatures. Pressure was exerted. A meeting of the Home and School drew both outraged parents and teachers. Suddenly a new position was found for the administrator. No one is really sure where, what, or if this magical position was properly advertised. The only thing for certain is the core issue remains unresolved because of timid PSB leadership and silent support from the PEITF.
PEI’s education bureaucracy is often guilty of hyperbolic political correctness, boasting of respectful, safe work and learning environments and public transparency. In this case the action of both Public Schools Branch and Teachers Federation fail miserably to match the elevated rhetoric. Rather than leadership they tried to pull one over on unsuspecting parents and teachers, who clearly are not as stupid as the bureaucracy thinks.
This is a textbook case of how to destroy public and professional trust.
COVID has ravished the restaurant industry. Many restaurants have closed permanently, dramatically reduced staffing or changed business models to generate some revenue during public lockdowns.
This real world hardship is lost on the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Commissioner who appeared recently before a legislative committee. She told MLAs of receiving some complaints - exact number unknown - pertaining to how restaurants collect personal information from diners. The data is used in the event COVID contact tracing is required.
If there is any doubt the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and the bureaucracy created, is broken you’ll not find a more powerful example of public irrelevance than this. To suggest restaurants should do a better job protecting the privacy of a few upset customers is as tone deaf as it comes. Thankfully the recommendation is non-binding.
Just because someone complains does not make it right. And it certainly does not justify using public resources and broken legislation on an effort lacking all common sense. Restaurants deserve our support, not bureaucratic meddling. There’s an easy solution. If you don’t want your name on a list, support local restaurants by ordering takeout.
Being a politician can be tough. There are lots of chicken dinners and events you don’t really want to attend. Your actions are always under public scrutiny. But it’s also a great job. Pay and perks are very good, especially by Island standards. Power is an aphrodisiac. Often a political career is used to softly transition to a patronage reward.
When and how the provincial legislature sits has recently changed. The excuse given was to make it easier for women to enter politics. None of the changes actually support this effort in a substantive way. But the schedule of house sittings is now unbelievably generous to all MLAs. The spring sitting’s schedule looks more like that of a rotational worker (description offered by sitting MLA) - three weeks on, one week off. Who in the real world gets this type of cozy schedule in a white collar environment?
And you don’t hear a single MLA complain.
Paul MacNeill is Publisher of Island Press Limited. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org