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May 16, 2002

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vol. 24, no. 2

Huge labour shift ahead
Victoria Times Colonist, May 13

B.C.'s labour minister, Graham Bruce, pored over a raft of controversial labour law changes as he prepares to introduce sweeping legislation. The anticipated changes are aimed at improving the province's investment climate. Discussion papers on some of the proposed changes have fuelled intense reaction from business and labour groups. According to Mark Leier, a labour historian at SFU, the proposed changes represent a significant attack on unions. He says they have less to do with attracting investment than with rewarding Liberal supporters. He anticipates the changes to have the most dramatic effect on British Columbians are those being made to the Employment Standards Act, while changes to the Labour Code include making it easier to decertify unions and harder to organize them.

Girls learn cruelty early
Vancouver Sun, May 12

Girls learn at a young age to use emotional cruelty to hurt their playmates, delegates at a Vancouver conference on aggressive and violent girls were told. SFU psychologist Marlene Moretti is leading one of two new Canadian research programs aimed at understanding and resolving aggression among girls. She co-organized the two-day North American conference at SFU on the causes of girls' increasing involvement in aggressive and violent behaviour. “We don't know a lot about aggression in girls. We've always assumed it's a boys' problem,” says Moretti. Delegates heard how girls as young as four years old are socialized to understand that physical violence is inappropriate and incongruous with ladylike behaviour. Instead, they learn to use emotional cruelty to get what they want and to hurt friends, especially other girls.

Patients are pawns in doctors' dispute
Canadian Press, May 8

While B.C. doctors maintain the public is on their side in their latest contract dispute, SFU political science professor Daniel Cohn, who specializes in health policy, notes that doctors were the ones to walk away from the negotiating table and are apt to be blamed for the dispute. However, he adds, the Liberals have reneged on a promise to make health care a priority by not putting the needed money into the ministry. Cohn also says doctors showed their loyalty to the government by saying little during a protracted nurses' and health technicians' dispute last year, and remained silent when they broke contracts with hospital workers. “This is the special interest group that has been most loyal in many ways to the government, and the government has messed up its finances so badly that they can't reward them.”

Tremendous amount of anger out there
The Vancouver Province, May 8

Amid growing frustration and public anger at unprecedented government cuts, Gordon Campbell's Liberal government must start listening to opposing views, say political experts. “There's a tremendous amount of anger out there,” Simon Fraser University history professor Allen Seager said. “The Liberals should drop their campaign against the official opposition and try to get the legislature to function as a forum for debate.” Seager thinks that the government is “totally obsessed with marginalizing the already weak and, so far as we can tell, still politically discredited NDP.” Seager agrees that outbreaks of violent behaviour may be the next step. “There is always an element out there on the extreme right or the extreme left that is looking for an excuse to either break some heads or break some windows,” he said.

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