Trying to understand Canadian newspapers

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One of the things that happens when you move into a new context is the realisation of how much you depend on your underpinning knowledge to navigate through the world. So at home in the UK I know that I go to The Guardian (mainstream liberal daily newspaper) for my mainstream news, the BBC to check if stuff is really happening, the TES and Times Higher for sector specific stuff, the Daily Mash for satire and a host of internet sources (largely filtered through Twitter) for my personal news feed. Building up this personal news network has taken me a lifetime, but it is also something that I’ve never given a huge amount of thought to. I don’t go to the newsstand and a make a consumer choice between the Sun and the Guardian. I just buy the Guardian because I’m a Guardian sort of guy.

Now I’m in Canada I don’t know what to read and who to trust. The TV networks seem to an array of adverts and with the exception of BBC news I’m completely lost. Add onto that the fact that I’ve got the kids going through their own version of the same dilemma and wondering where CBeebies has gone and the TV is currently defeating me.

However, I’ve got started on reading Canadian newspapers as the hotel provides The Globe and Mail. I haven’t really worked out what the political perspective of the Globe and Mail is, but it is a fairly serious paper which covers both domestic and international news. So I thought I’d try and pick out a few interesting articles that had some kind of relevance to my current project.

The big story in both today and yesterday’s Globe and Mail is that the leader of the NDP (Canada’s left party) has also been a member of the Bloc Quebecois (the Quebec separatist party). For mainstream Canada any attempt to weaken the federation of Canadian provinces and territories seems to be beyond the pale. So the idea that a mainstream political leader had some sympathy for a separatist party is major news. I don’t know much about this but from reading between the lines it seems to me that Turmel (NDP leader) is mainly interested in social justice and was supportive of the BQ on this basis rather than its separatism, but what do I know.

One interesting thing from my perspective as a Churchill Fellow in today’s coverage of the Turmel BQ/NDP issue was that political commentator Jane Taber decided to quote Winston Churchill in an article on political promiscuity. When questioned about his move from Tory to Liberal and back again he apparently said “anyone can rat, but it takes a certain amount of ingenuity to re-rat”. I’ll try and pick up any other references to Churchill while I’m over here.

Moving down from the cut and thrust of the Canadian parliament there are a few interesting things that merit a quick mention. Tuesday’s Globe and Mail features a full page article called “Europe’s lost generation” which discusses the fact that youth unemployment is running at 20% in Europe. It is interesting that I have to come to Canada to get an perspective on this issue. The articles that European youth unemployment rates are likely to continue to increase as government austerity programmes reduce the level of youth employment support (ringing any bells here?). The article also talks about how Euro membership has made local responses to crisis more difficult and quotes an OECD report by Anne Sonnet on the youth labour market which I must look at when I get the chance. The report apparently recommends looking at practices in the Netherlands and Austria where education and vocational training programmes are closely related to the needs of the local labour market.

Wednesday’s Globe and Mail features a Careers page which is mainly taken up with a review of a new book called “Have A Nice Conflict” which is based around a strengths inventory which explores the interface between personality type, inter-personal relationships and the workforce. It sounds interesting, but the review didn’t really convince me that it would offer much that I haven’t seen before with other similar tools. However, I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has read it.

So there you go, a quick trawl through the Canadian papers turns up a few things of interest. I’ll try and summarise anything else that I find as I travel round.

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