Teacher of the Year - Corporate Taxes - Who Needs Spies?

Teacher of the Year - Nothing grabs the attention of a radio audience faster than anything to do with children, especially the education of children.

Last week on the program, we explored the crisis in cheating in our school system at all levels.

You responded with a torrent of thoughtful, concerned mail.

This week, we want to follow up with a look at the other side of the classroom, the teacher. What makes a good teacher? How hard is it to communicate with students concerns about, for instance, cheating and other issues?

How can a teacher excite, energize and engage young people in their hunger for knowledge?

Nick Mount is one of the best teachers in Canada.

Students love him and crowd his lectures by the hundreds.

Professor Mount, who teaches English at the University of Toronto, sees teaching as an act of ennoblement, an invitation to students to become part of an intellectual conversation.

For Nick Mount and his students, the formula works.

A conversation about quality education in Hour One.

Read more about hour one here

Corporate Taxes - The election campaign is two weeks old and has yet to ignite public interest---if the flat polls are any guide.

This week, we continue our coverage with a look at corporate tax rates, one of the most contentious issues in any campaign.

Should they be raised or lowered? Do they kill or create jobs? Or is the whole issue of corporation taxes the reddest of herrings?

Henry Mintzberg is an internationally renowned expert in how corporation work. His take on corporate tax rates is unusual; major companies don't spend an enormous amount of time thinking about them.

Henry is at his Mintzbergian best in our Middle Hour.

Read more about hour two here

Who Needs Spies? - In our Final Hour, the head of Canada's spy oversight committee says the last thing Canada needs is a foreign intelligence service.

Even with China snooping in on our industries, Arthur Porter says a CIA-type organization would cause more problems then it would solve.

Do we need spies overseas?---in Hour Three.

Read more about hour three here

Elsewhere in the program: your mail on ethnic voting, inside the Inside Job, a sumo-loving granny, the complex and adenoidal world of yodeling and a coalition from hell clarification.



Hour 1

Michael's Essay

In this week's essay, Michael looks at accounting and accountability.

Teacher of the Year & Mail

We had our homework cut out for us after last week's program. There was a mountain of mail responding to our feature on cheating in universities or -- as administrators prefer to call it -- "academic integrity".

There were several letters from teachers who have devised ways to challenge cheaters. But there were also letters that suggested that the cheating was not entirely the fault of the students, like this one from Lynn Anderson in Fort Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan:

"Your story missed the obvious. The reason education is so susceptible to cheating is that institutions, particularly post-secondary ones, continue to practice 19th-century teaching methods in the 21st century. You and your guest both implied that students who cheat will not be capable after leaving school. In the after-school environment no one has to know facts, information sources are ubiquitous, so students are only being sensible when they ignore silly requirements to commit data to memory or write on topics that haven't changed in 50 yearsInstead of focusing on the strawman of cheating, why don't you talk to someone who can discuss the absurdity of the current education model?"

So we took her up on that challenge.

Nick Mount is a professor of English at the University of Toronto, where he lectures every Friday afternoon to hundreds of first year students packed into a large theatre. The Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education named Nick Mount as one of Canada's top ten teachers this year. He joined Michael in our studio.

Essay - 2PM

If we are born into dawn and age into twilight, what happens in the middle of the afternoon? Well actually, a lot happens in the middle of the afternoon - at a very particular hour. And it happens for the very young...... and the old.

Bill Smart explains.


Hour 2

Call of the Yodel

In his book "A Tramp Abroad", Mark Twain tells a story about a visit he made to Switzerland.

There he was, sitting quietly in a café, high in the Alps, when a band of strolling Yodelers -- clad in lederhosen -- stopped by his table ...and did their thing. Just minutes into the performance, Twain was so affected he felt compelled to toss the yodelers a franc a piece . . . to stop yodeling!

Despite Twain's efforts, yodelling endures - and not only in the Alps. In fact, it pops up - with shocking regularity - in the hippest of places.

Gwen Stefani yodelled in her hit single "Wind It Up." The Gorillaz yodel for the sheer joy of it on their newest CD. The Topp Twins, the yodeling lesbian sisters from New Zealand, are a hit with lovers of country and rock alike. And rap artist Mike Jones does it too.

Frank Faulk went in search of the yodel's timeless allure. This is his documentary "The Call of The Yodel."

Corporate Taxes

At the heart of the differences between the election campaigns of the Conservatives and the Liberals is a very peculiar and tricky policy debate.

Strip away the appeals to immigrants, the promises about family-friendly policies, the arguments about prisons and fighter jets and what you are left with is the issue of how we taxpayers pay for what our politicians promise.

The Conservatives tell us that they are the best stewards of the economy and that their plan for scheduled corporate tax cuts will help insure that the Canadian economy is vibrant and robust. What the Conservatives don't tell us is that their corporate tax rate policy is largely a continuation of an approach first put into play by the Liberal Party, when it was in power.

The Liberals tell us that the planned corporate tax cuts go too far and that the revenue to be gained by cancelling the cuts will help pay for a host of needed social programs. What the Liberals don't tell us is that whereas they didn't vote for the tax cuts, they certainly didn't vote against them either.

In fact, to be fair, the only federal Political party that has been consistent in its stance on corporate tax rates has been the NDP, going back as far as David Lewis and his outrage with "corporate welfare bums."

But where all this to-ing and fro-ing about optimum tax rates for corporations gets really confusing is when you try and get a handle on what impact raising and lowering taxes has on corporate behaviour. Does lowering corporate taxes increase job creation or make the economy more productive? Would leaving the rates where they are so enrich federal cofferes that we can pay for any social program we want?

No one seems to agree on any of this. And one of the reasons we can't seem to agree is that no one seems to have a clear handle on how corporations, or the folks that own and run corporations, take corporate tax rates into account.

Henry Mintzberg is the Cleghorn Professor of Management Studies at the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University and a world renowed expert on corporate decision making. His publications include: The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning and Managers not MBAs. He was in our studios in Montreal.


Hour 3

Mail - Coalition

In Michael's opening remarks on last week's program, with his tongue firmly in his cheek, he talked about the horrors of a possible coalition government and the hell that would befall the country if that was the result of next month's federal election.

Well, we got a lot of response - most of it about the horrors of a possible hidden agenda at the Sunday Edition and the hell that would befall a host trying, perhaps unsuccessfully, to inject a bit of irony into a highly charged election campaign.

Here is a sampling of how some of you responded, names withheld.

Who Needs Spies?

The Americans may have their Jack Ryan and the Brits their James Bond, but if you're looking for a big-league Canadian spy - fictional or not - you're not going to find one. And that's just fine with the man who oversees Canada's intelligence service.

Dr. Arthur Porter is the chairman of the Security Intelligence Review Committee - also known as SIRC. That's the board of civilians that acts as a watchdog on CSIS - Canada's Security Intelligence Service.

Dr. Porter has been on the job less than a year. And in its first annual report on his watch, SIRC warned the government about pressures on CSIS to become a foreign intelligence agency. Right now, CSIS relies mostly on the American and British spy services to provide secret information on global goings-on. Any "offensive spying" on foreigners must be conducted within Canada's borders.

Dr. Porter says that setting up a foreign spy service would not only be a breach of the laws of other countries, but it would also be expensive and unnecessary.

In addition to his duties as SIRC chair, Arthur Porter is also a radiation oncologist and the director-general of the McGill University Health Centre. He was in our Montreal studio.

Mail - "Ethnic Voting"

We had a lot of response to our discussion last week about the courting of the so-called ethnic vote in the election campaign and whether or not there really is such a thing as an ethnic voter. Here's some of it.

Sumo Lady

Doreen Simmons is everything that Japanese sumo wrestlers are not.

She's tiny.They're gargantuan.

She wears sensible shoes. They like bare feet.

She's in her 70's. They're young.

She's Caucasian. They're in every way Japanese.

But Doreen Simmons - former teacher, sometimes translator - is more at home in a sumo stable than just about anywhere else. And she's a sumo wrestling commentator on NHK - Japan's national public broadcaster.

That public broadcaster has had its hands full since the devastating earthquake and tsunami of last month. Thousands are dead, hundreds of thousands are homeless. Aftershocks continue , raditiation leaks and poisoning are a constant fear.

But in Japan.....Life does go on.

Huge scantily clad men still need to practice their deep knee bends. They still drag tires on ropes to strengthen their tree-trunk sized legs. They sweat, they grunt, they toss. And in the old Tokyo neighbourhood of Ryogoku, they often do it under the watchful eye of Doreen Simmons.

When producer David Gutnick was in Tokyo a few weeks ago, he met Doreen Simmons near her home.

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