ONTARIO JUST pulled the trigger.
Variants of concern have jumped the queue. The province’s pandemic response, thus far, has been given a failing grade. Ontario’s report card predicts a horrible future if drastic interventions aren’t immediately put into play.
Now officially into a Third Wave of the outbreak (the most deadly according to the experts), all schools in Ontario—primary, secondary, public and private—have been instructed to move to online learning indefinitely.
The behaviour of Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford, unabashedly conservative, is a lesson in the realpolitik of how to lead today in a healthcare crisis. Forget about the past few months. His government’s emergency interventions didn’t work. They didn’t go far enough. The buck now stops with him. He is the face you’ve been instructed to hate (if you’re so inclined), and not his fellow ministers of the Crown, nor the public servants who serve Ontario at the government’s pleasure. And he’s said as much.
Funny thing about Alberta, meantime, is how the province’s leadership (under the guise of untangling red tape) has kicked the can of making any unpopular decision as far as possible from the Legislature. It’s all in the name of less governance and government. Your right to be ungoverned is deeply respected by UCP leaders who tip their hat toward patron saint Preston Manning’s pronouncements in the national media about individual rights trumping the pandemic.
Nonsense about ‘rights’ in a plague doesn’t pass muster anymore in Ontario. However, in Alberta, it’s been ‘standard operating procedure’ of our provincial government to avoid blowback by offloading unpopular decisions.
Should the variants of concern continue to bloom here, as they have done in Ontario, on who’s desk in Alberta does the decision land to do what needs to be done? Namely, who can & will authoritatively instruct all of our teachers to completely move online—indefinitely?
Adriana LaGrange, in her capacity as the UCP’s Education minister, assures us that school boards and parents are making all the important decisions in consultation with health experts.
We’ve lost an entire year.
We frittered away time to up our game in the digital delivery of education in Alberta.
And to this day, Minister LaGrange and her Premier can’t seem to give a straight answer, let alone lead Albertans through a tough set of questions:
Who is going to take charge to build out the necessary infrastructure to enable digital-delivery of first-rate education across Alberta?
Who will take the responsibility to do whatever it takes to ensure online programming is superior to the hodgepodge of arrangements presently foisted on kids in our province?
Who will take the heat if all fall down go boom?
It’s not just the UCP that’s dodging bullets (don’t get us going on the ND…).
Instead of advancing education redesign for a digital future, Alberta’s families have watched as partisans spent the last year arguing along ideological lines—a recent poll suggests the silent majority is not pleased. And to add fuel to a burning fire, Alberta’s Minister of Education threw a controversial new K-6 curriculum into the mix, one that school boards aren’t exactly embracing.
As we pointed out in a blog post last summer, Albertans needs to be clever with what cash we have, and building out digital-delivery of education made sense then and it REALLY makes sense now. A yet-to-be-named publicly-funded charter school could be a proverbial phoenix arising from COVID-19’s ashes if it could figure out how to digitize and deliver par excellence Alberta’s K-12 curriculum (much the same way Athabasca University got ahead of the online curve in the post-secondary space).
Doug Ford made it clear in Ontario that he’s the grand frommage, as has Quebec Premier Francois Legault (another conservative by inclination). Who will call the shots in Alberta and take the flak for making unpopular decisions?
Given all the misery of the last year, the false predictions of when normal should be normal again, who is going to tell you that your cat is dead?
This column is the consensus opinion of the writers Donna Kennedy-Glans & Don Hill. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to BEYOND POLARITY scroll down on your phone or tablet, or look to the right in the panel beside this post. Enter your email to FOLLOW, a wheel spins, hamsters get fed.