Monday, November 21, 2011

School Board and Hospital Humiliate Anglo Community

Quebec subsidies this week{FR}
Each week the Journal de Montreal devotes a page to highlight the millions and millions of taxpayer dollars given away, sometimes rather foolishly in subsidies that can mostly be characterized as pork.

Going down the list is almost as amusing disappointing as reading about the various school boards around the province which blow taxpayer money on 'educational' trips to the Caribbean or waste precious resources on 'training' sessions in luxurious spas and retreats.
As our school population dwindles, the amount of money spent on school board administrations continues to spiral, taking an ever bigger bite out of education resources.

Between 1999 and 2009, the province lost 140,000 students and gained 700 more school board administrators. Link{FR}
The utter disdain shown by public institutions towards the public purse is by no means a Francophone phenomenon, as our English institutions have sadly shown themselves to be the same fatted pigs at the trough.

In Quebec, waste, greed and indifference towards the public purse transcends the language and cultural barrier. Last week, two news items reminded us of this sad reality.

Perhaps the most disdained Anglo Quebec institution of all, is the English Montreal School Board, whose main function it seems, is to decide which English schools get padlocked each year.

Born out of the reorganization of Quebec's school system that eliminated religiously based schools, from the gitgo, the handwriting was on the wall for Anglo education, when the government imposed the backward name of  'English Montreal School Board' over the more natural Montreal English School Board.
Ever since then, the EMSB's chief occupation is to react to the disastrous decline in enrolment, due largely  to Bill 101 and lately Bill 115, which serve to limit those who can go to English school.

And so, the EMSB replaced the old Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal in 1998, which in its heyday, ran at least twice as many schools as th EMSB does today (but still uses the same amount of office space.)
In its short history, the EMSB can best be characterized by its infighting and incompetence.
In 2009 the government had to hire a lawyer to try to mediate between feuding officials at a cost of over $100,000. Read :Infighting still divides EMSB

I've written before on the extravagant waste and maddening sense of entitlement whereby school officials, with the blessing of elected school board politicians, abuse the public purse.

Read my previous posts,  Quebec Anglos Prove We Are Pigs as Well  and Stupidity and Greed Cross Language Divide where I describe reckless spending on foreign trips by the EMSB.

Well it seems they are at it again, sending no less than seven officials to China on a recruiting trip.
"The English Montreal School Board is defending its decision to send a delegation of seven people to China this month to try to recruit new students.
The board says the 18-day trip will cost $25,000 and revenue generated from its international students will be used to pay for the trip - not money from its regular operating budget...."
"The group of seven includes three elected commissioners - an addition to the delegation that commissioner Julien Feldman called "a boondoggle and a waste of taxpayer funds."
"Jetting off to China in the middle of the (EMSB's) crucial school closure consultation period is not only wasteful of precious public resources, but irresponsible and disrespectful to the students that may be affected by their political decisions,"
By the way readers, do school board officials really believe that we lowly observers are so dumb that we cannot do the math? Is it at all possible to send seven people to China for 18 days for $25,000?
Let's see;
A quick visit to shows that the cheapest airline ticket to China costs, with taxes and airport fees, in the neighborhood of $3,000, or $21,000 for the group.
That leaves only $4,000 ($222 per day) to pay for eighteen days of hotels, meals and transportation for seven people!
I wish the EMSB was as careful with the rest of its budget.

Editor's Rule 37- Don't trust anyone with a bow-tie
Next comes the story of the McGill University Health Centre's decision to keep the insufferable Dr. Arthur Porter, its current Director General, in place as the institution's top banana after a rocky closed door session of the board of directors decided that it would be less of a fuss to let Dr. Porter finish out his last months as president of the hospital rather than take the heat over the embarrassment of firing him.

An utterly gutless decision in light of the facts.

That Dr. Porter was hired a number of years ago to the top job at the MUHC was more a triumph of image over substance. Dr. Porter had the right stuff, a talented minority, extremely well spoken with an elusive snooty accent that bestowed upon the hospital an image of inclusiveness, modernity and gravitas. 
Too bad he hardly worked, turning over the day to day operations on his staff while he spent his time galavanting around the world, using his vaunted position to boost his personal position.

While working for the MUHC, Dr. Porter remains deeply involved in other for profit projects in Canada, Africa, the Caribbean and Great Britain.
He has collected corporate directorships like baseball cards and while he was supposed to be working full time for the MUHC, he opened his own cancer clinic in the Bahamas, where incredibly, he is listed as the managing directer.
In Great Britain he is listed as chairman of CancerPartners UK®. LINK
Check out his many, many other business interests HERE

Jetting between his various preoccupations, he became an absentee boss at the MUHC, (a 12,000 people organization) all without any objection from the board of directors, which was paying him hundreds of thousands of dollars at the time.

It all unravelled when his relationship with murky ex-Israeli lobbyist consultant and purported arms merchant Ari Ben-Menashe, came to light, over a purported 'charitable' project they were working on together. LINK

The explanation offered by Dr. Porter describing his relationship with Mr. Ben-Menashe, was so lame and unbelievable that the president of the banana republic involved, Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, felt it neccessary to distance himself from the whole affair. LINK
Read Ben-Menashe's version of the deal, which is most unflattering to Porter. HERE
That being said I wouldn't put much stock in the story of a con man.

By the way, Dr. Porter holds an unpaid yet powerful diplomatic position from that country, this contrary to his contention that the position is honorary, as underlined by his offer of another Sierra Leonine diplomatic position, to David Angus, Chairman of the Board of the MUHC.
What was that about?

At any rate, Dr. Porter was forced to resign from his job as chief civilian overseer of Canada's spy watchdog committee. Link

Too bad the MUHC didnt' take the hint and dump Porter as well.
Instead the board of directors took the coward's way out and let Dr. Porter finish his mandate, allowing him to collect his lucritive salary while he twiddles his thumbs for the hospital.

Incidently the MUHC is facing a massive deficit this year again.
"The MUHC has an accumulated operating fund deficit of $39.2 million. But it used to be much worse: $216 million that had piled up since 2002, said Stephane Beaudry, director of financial resources at the MUHC.
This year, the government stepped in and gave a grant to the MUHC of $188 million." LINK

The Porter affair has badly blackened the image of Canada's spy agency, CSIS, which is seen in the international spy community as a sad-sack organization, unable to properly vet those given its highest security clearance.
It is painfully embarrassing that Canada's spy agency allowed a civilian with dual loyalties to oversee its most sensitive activities.

Mr. Porter's position as a Sierra Leonine diplomat is anything but honorary, as those in consular and diplomatic community understand.

In the diplomatic world an 'Honorary' title means unpaid, but it is a real functioning diplomatic position, unlike an honorary degree from a university.

Honorary Consuls and Consuls General toil the world over, even for Canada, representing the home country in the place of a permanent consular mission.
They have limited diplomatic immunity and undertake the same work as professional consular personnel, but on a much more limited scale.

Honorary Consuls and Consuls General do this work for the prestige, a diplomatic passport and sometimes dual citizenship. There are other perks as well.
By the way, many of these positions are bought and paid for, by those looking to spruce up their social image. It is not uncommon for high elected officials or bureaucrats in banana republics to accept cash payments, which can run into tens of thousands of dollars, in exchange for an Honorary Consulship.

All this leads me to predict that in Canada, Porter is toast.
In April, he'll likely leave Canada, his reputation in tatters.


  1. Editor: Sorry, but this is not an interesting article. Anyway, contempt breeds contempt, and Quebec goes beyond contempt. Too bad McLean's took a lot of heat unjustly for having pointed it out, but when they're right, they're right. If anything, McLean's simply opened the dam because it's not as if the French media didn't then publish a plenitude of their own scathing articls on the subject.

    Like U.S. President Barack Obama, this Dr. Porter is all form, no substance, and a master at self-promotion. Most self-promoters are form-over-substance. For an eyeful of criticism on Obama, see!!!

  2. What’s sad is that society is so gullible and complacent... in an ideal world the activities of people like this would be legislated and if need be jailed... this guy is the definition of a fraud artist...

    The people who are responsible for hiring and/or maintaining this guy in his positions along with those who work with him on a daily basis would be held accountable too for assisting and abiding a con-artist of public funds...


  3. What I love to see, as part of a younger generation, is how the generations before us (baby boomers mostly) have, and still are, relentlessly taking everything they can get before their time is up.

    I love when the government announces that certain jobs will not be replaced after the current employees are sent to their retirement. Essentially, what they're saying is:

    "These are jobs that are useless, we don't need them. Even with a growing population, these jobs are so useless that we can entirely cut them. But we won't cut them right now though! The people sitting on their asses making 80000$/year wouldn't like that, they have a big house, a nice car, a cottage, and a boat to pay for. We appreciate your tax dollars!
    But as for you lazy younger people, screw you and suffer, we won't have any jobs for you."

    I hope you old people don't expect to be treated with much respect as you get older. We'll be waiting for you in your rest homes...

  4. @ Anonymous- November 21, 2011 11:30 AM


  5. Anon @ 11:30AM: David Foote in his book Boom, Bust and Echo discussed this situation. No doubt there will be intergenerational tension because of all this. I hope, however, you'll show some mercy for us back-end Boomers, namely Gen Xers when that time comes. It's the Boomers born before 1955 who get EVERYTHING, including my own bro who retired on his RREGOP pension by age 57. Him, NOT ME!

  6. I have one anecdotal example.

    As we all know, the support staff of McGill University is currently on strike. One of their issue is that McGill cut their benefits and pension without consulting them. In this case I side with MUNACA (the union) as McGill did do the cut unilaterally.

    What is not published in the media is one of the reasons that compel McGill to do so. The reason is that McGill must pay the pension of their retirees. As the retirees are already retired, McGill can not back out of its obligation.

    The problem now, is that the retirees live beyond their life expectation. With the improvement in health care and welfare, they live longer than they "suppose to". Therefore, the assumption made decades ago when the employees made their pension contributions is no longer valid and McGill is on the hook to pay them.

  7. Troy: I sympathize with the striking workers, too. My employer in September announced they're cutting back on pension benefits for new hires.

    My employer has a defined benefit plan, and those are much more rewarding than defined cintribution plans, but newcomers won't be entitled to be part of the defined benefit plan. Even when I got a job back in 1985, I would not have been entitled to the same goodies older workers got and this was long before the problems of today manifested, but it was known back then people were living longer.

    No doubt about it, my adolescent son and his cohorts are going to be Generation Screwed.

  8. I believe that the larger damage to the middle class was the push to outsource manufacturing and customer service away from Canada. Manufacturing especially created so many value added benefits for the economy.

    Even Stephen Harpers government went all out to save General motors. Government revenue would have been clearly effected if GM had failed. The income taxes paid by the workers of GM and those of auto parts manufacturers workers were to great to lose. Yet no strategy to encourage and keep manufacturing in Canada.

  9. Well, back to the language issue. Came across an article with regards to the subsidization of students from France enrolled in Quebec post secondary institutions. They receive the same level of subsidization as the students from Quebec. Supposed to be a reciprocal thing with France although the figures indicate it is overwhelmingly one sided in favor of France. The issue that is presented in the article is that they are receiving education at anglo institutions and not French institutions. The issue "should be", why the hell are they subsidizing education of people from a foreign country. Editor, might make for a good story on this blog. The ROC sends 8 billion a year to Quebec so they can subsidize students from France. Ridiculous.

  10. Subsidizing the post secondary education of French nationals by the Quebec government is a veiled form of racism. The original intent was to foster connections between Quebec and France and to encourage French  immigration to Quebec. Apparently French immigrants are more desirable to Quebec's pure lily white bureaucrats than immigrants from Asia or even from other Canadian provinces! 

  11. No matter what your opinions of Arthur Porter are the fact is the Quebec Liberal government has invested Billions in our community by building the McGill super hospital in the West end and he was instrumental in getting this done. He was also instrumental in getting the Shriners to build their new hospital right here in Montreal instead of London Ont. Without his management and lobbying skills, odds are the MUHC hospital would still be stuck in the mud behind the French Superhospital project that only broke ground this year, years behind schedule. Timing is everything. Had the project been stalled and a PQ government voted into power, you could kiss that McGill hospital goodbye. Arthur Porter deserves much praise by English speaking Montrealers for doing the impossible in Quebec.

  12. @Anonymous - November 22, 2011 10:51 AM

    "Without his management and lobbying skills, odds are the MUHC hospital would still be stuck in the mud behind the French Superhospital project that only broke ground this year, years behind schedule. "

    Is this really the case?


  13. Spending money on anything perceived to be beneficial to English speaking Quebec citizens is a political non-starter in Quebec. In the 80's the Liberals built Dawson college. In the 2000's they built the Super Hospital. Neither would have been built had the PQ been in power.  I'm quite sure Arthur Porter had to twist a lot of arms to get this thing built.

  14. "Neither would have been built had the PQ been in power."

    The PQ was in power from 1994 to 2003. During that time, can you name anything major that got built or renovated in this province? Any new schools or hospitals? Any highways? Any bridges?

    How were the roads (provincial) back then?

    Everyone likes to blame the liberals for what we're dealing with now, but it's 9 years of PQ leadership that left us where we are now.
    They also managed to entirely destroy our education (Pauline Marois was Ministère de l'Éducation during the reform) and health care systems.

    They did invest massive amounts in the OQLF and in a useless referendum though.

    Forget english or french, with the PQ in power, nothing gets built or maintained.

    So if you want to blame someone for the current state of our province, talk to Jacques Parizeau, Lucien Bouchard and Bernard Landry. You should also talk to Miss Pauline Marois (if you can reach her in her 8 million $ castle on Ile Bizard) about her time spent destroying our institutions.

  15. bien sur, le francais avant tout. Stupid idiots who buy into the idol of the French language and Quebecois culture.