Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Once upon a CKLN

I was on the board of CKLN from the summer of 2009 until the station's demise. It was a very intense, and ultimately very disappointing time. We certainly made mistakes as a board but we also faced challenging circumstances - getting the station up and running after it had been off the air and locked out of its offices for several months, doing so with no funds (the RSU refused to release CKLN's student fee money for several months) and facing an onslauight that included a lawsuit that absorbed all our funds once they were released and a determined and unscrupulous band determined to take the station over, or take it down whose activities included a barrage of mostly pseudonymous complaints to the CRTC and online harassment of various individuals. The lockout and several month gap in programming is what got the wheels rolling at the CRTC and resulted in the hearings into our license. Our key mistake was not hiring a station manager and instead trying to manage the station on a volunteer basis. We had planned to hire a station manager but the lawsuit resulted in the the funds that would have been used for that, and many other station functions, to go to legal fees instead (the previous board had allowed the station's insurance policies to lapse and the lawsuit was filed while our new insurance application was being considered - resulting in it being rejected). 
Andy Lehrer




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Michael Laxer turns the page

laxertoo
Michael Laxer
I've known Michael for about 25 years. He's a good friend, activist and writer. Recently he and his partner Natalie shut down their used bookstore in Etobicoke, which had existed in various forms on Lake Shore for 14 years, and will be moving his bookselling business online in a recognition of changing consumer habits. While the loss of yet another used bookstore, as well as what had become a unique community space, is sad the good news is that this will give Michael more time to write. Check out his blog, The Left Chapter, where Michael writes about politics, food, social issues, and various other topics.
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Saturday, 25 April 2015

Fred Checkers is watching you (if you're an NDPer)

Michael Laxer reports on his Left Chapter blog on Fred Checkers and the state of internal democracy in the NDP. 
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Sunday, 5 April 2015

Quote of the day

"I can't give you a brain but I can give you a diploma"
 -- The Wizard of Oz
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Monday, 30 March 2015

Quote of the day


There are two types of people those who divide people into two types, and those who don't.

-- Edward A. Murphy, Jr.

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Wednesday, 8 August 2012

CFRC: A debate on community radio in Kingston



This past February, I wrote an article for the Queen's Journal on a proposal by the the AMS Board of Directors (the student government body at Queen's University) to restructure the radio station and impose on it essentially the same management and employment structure and rules that other services operate under. As a former member of the AMS Board of Directors who had played a role in having CFRC transferred from direct university ownership and control to student ownership and as someone who had also been on the board of CKLN in Toronto which lost its license in 2011, I felt I had some insights to contribute.

My "No" article arguing against the AMS' proposals was paired with a "Yes" article by the (then) current chair of the Board.

CFRC structure in perspective

Among other things, I pointed out that the AMS' attempt to impose a new management structure and staff policy directly without consultation with CFRC was a violation of CRTC regulations requiring the station to be managed by its own board, one that reflects all its stakeholders (including volunteers and the community). The AMS ultimately agreed and on March 1, 2012, the AMS abandoned its restructuring proposal. However, subsequently things headed in the opposite direction:

Radio station's separation finalized

CFRC has become independent of the AMS. On the one hand, the AMS was not interested in having a service that it did not completely manage, on the other CFRC wanted to be independent, particularly in light of the restructuring attempt. Independence, however, is a bit of a risky strategy. For one thing, the station's student fee is $4.93. While that would be sufficient at a large university such as U of T or York, Queen's only had 15,792 full-time undergraduate students in 2011/2012 meaning that the total yielded by the fee was just under $78,000. While half the station's budget has come from fundraising, advertising and other sources there has been a budget shortfall of about $10,000 a year which has been covered out of the AMS' budget in addition to student interest fee revenue. That arrangement will end after a transition period and CFRC is now seeking an increase in its student fee. Queen's students, however, have been very reluctant to approve any fee increases in recent years and CFRC specifically has been unsuccessful in several past referenda attempts to increase the fee. Moreover, as CFRC is no longer an AMS service but an "external service", its fee will be up for triennial review meaning it could be lost in its entirety in the future. The mandatory fee review will, however, keep CFRC accountable since it will have to not only continue to provide volunteer opportunities for hundreds of students but will also have to maintain a good relationship with the student body as a whole if it is to maintain its fee.

CFRC remains dependent on a certain degree of goodwill on the parts of both the university and the student body. The station's studios and officers in Carruthers Hall are provided rent free by Queen's and, of course, the student fee represents 40% of the station's budget - a figure which will rise to 50% if the student interest fee increase is attained. CFRC can't afford to allow independence to go to its head. CFRC needs to maintain and enhance it's relationship with students and faculty so that they have a real stake in the radio station's survival and success.
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Friday, 19 February 2010

Gerry Caplan satirises the Rights & Democracy affair

Gerry Caplan's column in the Globe and Mail has taken on the Harper government's patronizing attempt to pander to the Jewish community for several months now.

Stephen Harper and the Jewish question published in December examined the irony of Jewish neoconservatives cozying up to evangelical anti-Semites, the Tory 10%ers accusing opposition parties of anti-Semitism and the cancellation of Kairos' grant.

His followup, Is the Harper government playing the anti-Semitic card? hammered the point home:

Real enemies of anti-Semitism do not throw the term around recklessly.

In the United States, the leading Jewish neoconservatives made an unholy alliance with evangelical Protestants whose ultimate vision was a Jew-free world–-Hitler's demented goal finally realized. What they had in common was support for the state of Israel–at least for the moment.

Are Canadian Jews now going to be seduced by a government that uses anti-Semitism for political reasons? That maliciously accuses decent men and women of being anti-Semitic? That identifies legitimate, democratic criticism of Israeli governments with anti-Semitism?
Caplan's latest piece, What every office needs to succeed in Harper's Canada is a biting satirical look at the attack on Rights & Democracy "because it thought Palestinians should have the same rights as all other people" and the bizarre inquisition by Haperite appointee Jacques Gauthier into the religious proclivities of R&D staff.

In a confidential evaluation of the organization's late executive director, Mr. Gauthier pointedly noted the perhaps telltale absence of Jews on staff, apparently a serious dereliction of duty.


How Mr. Gauthier learned that no Jew was employed by R & D is not yet clear. Suspiciously enough, R & D does not ask the religion of its employees. Often in the past Jewishness has been established by what's discreetly called the urinal test, although this technique doesn't really apply to women while also failing to distinguish telltale characteristics among Muslims, Jews and certain African ethnic groups. Mr. Gauthier brought a private investigator into the R & D office last year, although he was introduced as "a business associate" and his function wasn't explained. Bitter R & D staff, believe the stranger was expected to lead the urinal patrol in order to determine Jewishness. Isn't that what a private eye is for?

Businesses, NGOs and other institutions that are now frantically beating the bushes for unemployed Jews have a major challenge ahead of them. The first problem is that the Jewish employment rate is notoriously high. Many complain that you can never find a Jew when you need one. Then there's the vexing question of whether one is enough, a question that has befuddled Canadians for many decades.

It is understood that the Harper government is about to set up a special Number of Jews Bureau, to be known as the NUJ. It will report to Jason Kenney, the minister responsible for smearing anyone who disagrees with his cheerleading support of the Israeli government. The new bureau will be tasked with devising a formula to determine the necessary number of Jews each group needs on staff to meet the new criteria, and will house the inspectors who will be going from organization to organization across the land counting the number of Jewish employees. It is anticipated that synagogues will be exempt from inspection.

Among the trickier issue the NUJ must quickly deal with is whether the Jewish quota applies to the government. Believe it or not, it seems that no one knows for certain how many Jews sit in the government caucus or the cabinet, and there are too few urinals to do a test.

Mr. Kenney is not only responsible for the electoral seduction of Canada's credulous Jews. He is also Mr. Harper's main weapon in the wooing of Hindus, Sikhs, Persians, Koreans, Eastern Orthodox Christians, carefully selected Muslims, and countless other minorities. Here is where the new system faces certain tricky issues. How many Jews must your average mosque or Hindu temple or church employ to meet the government's new Jewish criteria?

And what will Punjabis, Armenians, Buddhists, Chinese and certain carefully selected Muslims think if they must hire Jews but other organizations need not hire, say, Punjabis, Armenians, Buddhists, Chinese and certain carefully selected Muslims? After all, they might reasonably ask, how many Punjabis etc. etc. etc. does the B’nai Brith, for example, employ? Mr. Harper's entire ethnic strategy might be jeopardized if this sensitive issue is not handled delicately.

The obvious answer, of course, is perfectly consonant with one of Canada's great conceits – our multicultural character. Yet in truth, outside public transportation and some malls, our many communities remain substantially segregated. Here is the means to make mythology reality. Every Canadian organization would have to have at least a certain number of employees from each of our ethnic/racial/religious/cultural groups. It's a magical solution for Canada's serious unemployment problem, since a good number of the unemployed happen to be members of these groups.

One downside of this solution is that Jewish organizations are expected to complain bitterly that the government has begun listening to other interests. Mr. Harper and Mr. Kenney are expected to discuss this conundrum later this week.
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Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Adam's fall

So this is what I can piece together.

NOW magazine writes a glowing article on Giambrone and erroneously claims he's gay.

Giambrone "laughs over" the story, light-heartedly corrects the record but then goes a step further and makes public the fact that he's in a relationship with a woman named Sarah. Until this point no one had known, or particularly cared, who if anyone Giambrone was seeing.

Days later, Giambrone stages romantic dinner with Sarah at a restaurant and arranges for a Toronto Sun photographer to take their picture for the next day's paper. In doing so, he misses his date with his other girlfriend and messages her to check out the Sun the next day.

At his campaign launch Giambrone stereotypically announces his candidacy with his "life partner" Sarah at his side. Hurt and humiliated his other girlfriend eventually goes to the Star.

This is Giambrone's own fault for cynically trying to use his relationship with Sarah McQuarrie (contrived or not) for image purposes... or as he told Lucas in a *text message* on Dec 27, "You know I will be announcing I have a partner... It is someone named Sarah, who I've been involved with in the past. It is important for the campaign."

Really? Why exactly was it "important for the campaign"? Either Giambrone felt so insecure about being called gay that he needed to put the spotlight on the fact that he has a girlfriend (or pretend McQuarrie was his girlfriend, whether he was lying when he told Lucas that her relationship with McQuarrie was pretend or lying when he says it's real, I don't know and don't particularly care) or he saw some sort of political advantage in contrasting his relationship with a woman against Smitherman's relationship with a man. Either way, fairly sorry stuff. (And really, what classier way is there to announce to one girlfriend that you're going to be telling the world that you're seeing someone else than through a text message?)

And of course had Giambrone not been driven either by insecurity or cynicism to create a public image of himself as a guy in a committed relationship with a female "life partner" then his second girlfriend wouldn't have found out about his first and Giambrone's sleaziness towards women would have remained a private matter.

While I still don't really see why this is a news story I can't muster any sympathy for Giambrone. He's brought this onto himself.

ADDITION: A friend of mine thinks Giambrone decided it was important for his campaign to be seen in coupledom with Sarah McQuarrie so that people would view him as a grown-up. If that's the case his high school style relationship and breakup with a 19 year old has put to rest any lingering doubts about Giambrone's maturity level. 
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