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For all those parents concerned their children will “fall behind” in school due to COVID-19

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If you’re a parent with children in school, there’s a good chance you’re concerned about their educational prospects for the remainder of this year.  Suddenly the entire province is home schooling and online learning has completely taken over the curriculum.  How will they adapt and finish the year as strong as they started?  How will they finish all the units and cover all the material they were supposed to?  How will they make up for all those hands on learning experiences they would have ‘enjoyed’ in the presence of their teachers and classmates?  How can they possibly avoid falling behind?  

Here are some comforting thoughts from the long time Superintendent of Christ The Redeemer Catholic Schools in Southern Alberta.  They were written specifically for the families of CTR in Southern Alberta, but they really do apply to everyone concerned about education right now.

From Dr. Scott Morrison, Superintendent, Christ The Redeemer Catholic Schools

Falling Behind

I’d like to address what I expect will be a very natural educational concern for Alberta’s parents and students, especially parents of very young children and Grade 12 students thinking about post-secondary.

I think a lot of parents and students are worrying about “falling behind”.

Everything’s changed!  The students have to learn in a new way, and the need for parents to assist their kids in the current circumstances many parents find themselves in, well, it’s a burden no educator would ever place on parents given any other option. Our parents rely on our teachers to teach and they make their incredible contributions to the world in other ways. It’s not fair to ask them of this at all.

This is why I’m so pleased Alberta educators have been given such reasonable guidelines with respect to learning expectations, given our present circumstances. The marching orders regarding the time students need to devote to learning represents a reasonable balance between the need to “cover” the curriculum and the ability of students to actually “learn” that curriculum given our present circumstances. Alberta school divisions need to design a new system that is practical for most students and their parents. We need the Goldilocks approach, not too hot and not too cold…it needs to be just right.

I can tell you for a fact that every teacher in this province will be hardwired to try and accomplish too much, at first. Parents will be hardwired to do the same, at first. Many will be overwhelmed, at first.

It may be a rough start, because traditional school teachers, are trained to expertly teach, but they do that in classrooms with kids in front of them. Teachers can’t word process, hyperlink, podcast, webcast, or Zoom every element of the art and craft of teaching like they would in their classrooms.  Teachers will begin using these technologies almost immediately, but the obvious challenge is students without access to a device and/or a reliable internet connection.

I can also tell you that our teachers are brilliant and will listen, adapt, and improve as they learn from both their students and their parents. The quality of education will improve month after month as our teachers use their expertise, passion, and compassion to adjust distance learning to parallel whatever circumstances they encounter. An increasing use of technology will assist as long as the person on the sending end, the teacher, is actively involved in planning, grading, and making day-to-day decisions about slowing down or speeding up.

Let me get back to my opening point. Everyone knows we can’t expect Alberta students to accomplish as much as they would have in their regular classrooms. The fear will be “falling behind”.

However, “behind” is a relative term. To be behind means someone needs to be in front of you. Who will be in front of the overwhelming majority of the students in the province of Alberta? Will it be other Canadian students? No. “Normal” education is shutting down nationally right now. Will it be American students? No. “Normal” education is shutting down in North America right now. Will it be students in other nations? No. “Normal” education is shutting down internationally right now.

So, for some perspective, I offer this. The entire world will lose four months or more of “normal” education due to this crisis. Teaching approaches, curriculums, and expectations will be naturally adjusted on a local, provincial, national, and international level, and we won’t even know it’s happening. Everyone involved with K-12 and post-secondary education will adjust to the new normal, and normal is not behind.

Peace, Dr. Scott Morrison

Superintendent, Christ The Redeemer Catholic Schools

COVID-19 projections suggest Alberta peak coming in several weeks: Kenney

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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Alberta

Popular roller-coaster at West Edmonton Mall amusement park to be removed

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Canada’s largest shopping centre says a popular roller-coaster at its amusement park is being removed after nearly 40 years in operation.

West Edmonton Mall’s vice-president of parks and attractions says in a statement that while the Mindbender will be missed, the mall is excited to announce it is working on new plans for the site.

The Mindbender was known as the world’s tallest and longest indoor, triple-loop roller-coaster.

In 1986, three people were killed on the roller-coaster, which forced the mall to shut it down for a year for safety modifications.

Galaxyland initially opened in 1983, but was known as Fantasyland until 1995.

The indoor amusement park partnered with Hasbro in 2022 and features attractions licensed from the franchise.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2023.

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Alberta

Qatar, Norway and ‘The Trouble with Canada’

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From the Canadian Energy Centre Ltd 

By David Yager

Resource developers in Canada face unique geographical, jurisdictional, regulatory and political obstacles

That Germany has given up on Canada to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) and instead signed a massive multi-year LNG purchase agreement with Qatar has left many angry and disappointed.  

Investment manager and perennial oil bull Eric Nuttall recently visited Qatar and Saudi Arabia and wrote an opinion piece for the Financial Post titled, “Canada could be as green and wealthy as Qatar and Saudi Arabia if government wakes up – Instead of vilifying the oil and gas sectors, Canada should champion them.” 

Nuttall described how Saudi Arabia and Qatar are investing their enormous energy wealth to make life better for their citizens. This includes decarbonizing future domestic energy supplies and making large investments in infrastructure.   

Nuttall concludes, “Why is it that Qatar, a country that embraced its LNG industry, has nearly three times the number of doctors per capita than Canada? We can do it all: increase our oil and natural gas production, at the highest environmental standards anywhere in the world, thereby allowing us to help meet the world’s needs while benefiting from its revenue and allowing for critical incremental investments in our national infrastructure…This could have been us.” 

The country most often mentioned that Albertans should emulate is Norway. 

Alberta’s Heritage Savings and Trust Fund has been stuck below $20 billion since it was created by Premier Peter Lougheed in 1976.  

Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, which started 20 years later in 1996, now sits at US$1.2 trillion. 

How many times have you been told that if Alberta’s politicians weren’t so incompetent, our province would have a much larger nest egg after 47 years?  

After all, Canada and Alberta have gobs of natural gas and oil, just like Qatar and Norway. 

Regrettably, that’s all we have in common.  

That Qatar and Norway’s massive hydrocarbon assets are offshore is a massive advantage that producers in the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin will never enjoy. All pipelines are submerged. There are no surface access problems on private property, no municipal property taxes or surface rights payments, and there are no issues with First Nations regarding land claims, treaty rights and constitutional guarantees. 

Being on tidewater is a huge advantage when it comes to market access, greatly reducing operating and transportation costs. 

But it’s more complicated than that, and has been for a long time. In 1990, Olympic athlete and businessman William G. Gairdner wrote a book titled, “The Trouble with Canada – A Citizen Speaks Out.” It takes Gairdner 450 pages to explain how one of the most unique places in the world in terms of resource wealth and personal and economic opportunity was fading fast. 

That was 33 years ago. Nothing has improved. 

As I wrote in my own book about the early days of settlement and development, citizens expected little from their governments and got less. 

Today politics increasingly involves which party will give the most voters the most money.  

The book’s inside front cover reads how Gairdner was concerned that Canada was already “caught between two irreconcilable styles of government, a ‘top down’ collectivism and a ‘bottoms-up individualism;’ he shows how Canadian society has been corrupted by a dangerous love affair with the former.”  

Everything from the constitution to official bilingualism to public health care were identified as the symptoms of a country heading in the wrong direction. 

But Canadian “civil society” often regards these as accomplishments. 

The constitution enshrines a federal structure that ignores representation by population in the Senate thus leaving the underpopulated regions vulnerable to the political desires of central Canada. This prohibited Alberta’s closest access to tidewater for oil through Bill C48. 

Official bilingualism and French cultural protection has morphed into Quebec intentionally blocking Atlantic tidewater access for western Canadian oil and gas.  

In the same country! 

Another election will soon be fought in Alberta over sustaining a mediocre public health care system that continues to slide in international rankings of cost and accessibility. 

What’s remarkable about comparing Canada to Norway or Qatar for missed hydrocarbon export opportunities is how many are convinced that the Canadian way of doing things is equal, if not superior, to that of other countries. 

But neither Norway or Qatar have the geographical, jurisdictional, regulatory and political obstacles that impair resource development in Canada. 

Norway has over 1,000 years of history shared by a relatively homogenous population with similar views on many issues. Norway has a clear sense of its national identity. 

As a country, Canada has only 156 years in its current form and is comprised of Indigenous people and newcomers from all over the world who are still getting to know each other.  

In the endless pursuit of politeness, today’s Canada recognizes multiple nations within its borders.  

Norway and Qatar only have one. 

While relatively new as a country, Qatar is ruled by a “semi-constitutional” monarchy where the major decisions about economic development are made by a handful of people.  

Canada has three layers of elected governments – federal, provincial and municipal – that have turned jurisdictional disputes, excessive regulation, and transferring more of everything to the public sector into an industry.  

Regrettably, saying that Canada should be more like Norway or Qatar without understanding why it can’t be deflects attention away from our challenges and solutions. 

David Yager is an oilfield service executive, oil and gas writer, and energy policy analyst. He is author of  From Miracle to Menace – Alberta, A Carbon Story. 

 

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