...today's issue of the Moncton Times and Transcript is a bargain. This one can be read over a small bowl of cereal and a cookie at under five minutes. Really quick readers could do it while brushing their teeth. Exceptions may be those who really, really care about front page stories that a graffiti probe has led to arrests, and that a guitarist whose guitar was stolen got it back. There's even a picture and, sure enough, there's a man holding a guitar. For those panting for more, the story is continued for half of p. A9.
The only front page story that merits attention is that a tender has been awarded for construction of a new high school at Royal Oaks. The winning estimate was 27 million, the lowest in a field that ranged up to 47 million.
Now, an enquiring reporter would ask how such a range is even possible - and perhaps whether the contract is written in terms that could allow for the price to rise under certain circumstances. Or whether dramatic changes were made in the specifications. Or whether there was some sort of game being played here.
But never fear. No questions were asked.
NewsToday? Well, apparently the most important thing that happened in the world is that Harper announced he was opening an Office of Religious Freedom which will make a tremendous difference to religious freedom for billions of people all over the world. And will do it on an operating budget of half a million dollars. (Well, we need to save money for the Senate.) Half a million. That won't even pay for travel costs and chefs for committee meetings.
Four more people killed in a shooting spree in California. The answer is obvious. Arm everybody, including school children.
In other big news, Hugo Chavez is sick and may have to step down as leader of Venezuela. That will come as a shock to anybody who's been vacationing on Mars for the last month. A missile killed some people in Syria. Who would have guessed? No-one will learn anything from this slim patchwork of story bits.
The editorial expresses shock that so many workers are getting lavish raises these days, as high as two to four percent. It suggests that business should show leadership in taking a tough stand against pay raises.
(Well - you know - pay raises of unionized workers, not the pay raises of executives and board members. I mean, they need 50% a year of more to be motivated. It might be worth checking pay raises of university presidents, though.)
A second editorial valiantly defends former premier Shawn Graham against demands he owes an apology for sitting on a committee when it was judging a matter in which he had a personal interest, and which cost us some $75 million.
I agree. Anybody who would be dumb enough to elect Shawn Williams in the first place doesn't deserve an apology. I think, though, that New Brunswick deserves something in this case that has a considerable smell about it, even in the most generous interpretation. Perhaps Mr. Williams could be induced to say, "Oops!"
Norbert contributes the sort of column he can do well. It doesn't call for him to make judgements (and that's a blessed relief). It doesn't give him room to rant. True, it's irrelevant. But it's interesting; and it's decently written. Good one, Norbert.
Alec Bruce is surprisingly light. But he remains easily the best writer in the paper.
Eric Lewis' column is on a worthy subject; but it says almost nothing. Worse, the headline suggests it is about the spread of the 'pink shirt' rallies to schools across Canada. But it says not a word about that beyond Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
Perhaps a more useful topic might be about the character and personality types of bullies. That might help us to understand the problem a whole lot better.
Brian Cormier spoils what could been a very attractive blank space in the paper with another nothing column.
Lorne Amos.sr. contributes a letter in which he says shale gas is perfectly safe. (He speaks as the impartial Chair of a shale gas organization.) He is kind, though. He does not mention his obvious opinion that hundreds of thousands of scientists and medical people all over the world are completely wrong in their criticisms of it. And that's nice. I mean, obviously, they just aren't as impartial and scientifically knowledgeable as Mr. Lorne Amos, Sr.
Then there are a couple of items that didn't make it into the paper today.
The Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development has released a survey showing that of 34 developed nations, the US is last in male life expectancy. It also ranks low in chances of a newborn baby surviving. It also has the lowest proportion of doctors in the population. In short, of all the developed nations, the US has the most expensive and the least effective health system. Cuba, a very poor nation, ranks substantially higher than the US. Three cheers for private medicine, private insurance and private drug companies.
In Spain and Greece, there are serious riots that could amount to revolutions as the rich make the poor pay for the economic chaos the rich have caused. One of the causes of this rioting is the attempt to cut and even end medicare, something which means death for the poor, hardship for the middle class, but just another business perq of free insurance for the rich.
We're seeing hints of the same thinking in Western Europe and in Canada.
By all indicators, medicare is the cheapest and most effective system of health care the world has ever seen. But the very rich see it as just one more thing they can make even more money out of. And if that means suffering and early death for the rest of us, tough luck.
Perhaps, though, we xhould consult with Mr. Lorne Amos, Sr. for his impartial and learned judgement.
Oh, I presume Mr. Lorne Amos, Sr. wrote that letter to the editor all by himself. Not a good idea. He should, like most busy execs, hire a "communications' consultant to write such letters for him. Communications consultants know how to write such letters without sounding arrogant and bullying. (I believe Brian Cormier lists himself as a communications specialist.)