From the Editor: July-August 2005
Bread & Water
By Cam Wood
The events that recently transpired in St. Albert, Alta., in April have
led me to believe no matter how far we advance as a society, we will
always have one foot firmly planted in some good ol’ prairie fertilizer.
The events that recently transpired in St. Albert, Alta., in April have led me to believe no matter how far we advance as a society, we will always have one foot firmly planted in some good ol’ prairie fertilizer.
The administration at École Marie Poburan gave serious debate – in fact, even recommended – that the school milk program be shelved due to two students’ milk allergies. The matter gained national media attention, and ultimately the program was saved from certain demise.
But the residue – the political milk moustache – remains as a testament to how quickly the tide can turn. The school has 400 students, of which only two were in a position of perceived threat by the potentially lethal moo juice. In journalists’ math, that would be 0.5 per cent of the student population, one-half of one per cent.
As a parent, I can sympathize with the parents of the two allergen-suffering pupils. The potential threat to their health in an environment that is supposed to be safe is nothing short of concerning. However, at the same time, as a parent with children that would fall into the remaining 99.5 per cent of the population – were they students at École Marie Poburan – I suggest to implement a wide-reaching ban to appease such a miniscule percentage is about as ripe as a cow patty on a mid-July afternoon in Ontario.
The issue, which I believe is not truly aimed at protecting the two students, is more representative of a modern fear. Institutions today are so timid in the face of anything that may be construed to have a liability clause attached; they are willing to concede in favour of the 0.5 per cent instead of accommodating the overwhelming majority.
To draw comparison to other school-based social, cultural and safety issues, consider this: 15 per cent of students are involved in some form of bullying – of which nine per cent are the victims. A survey of 12- to 19-year-olds conducted in 2003 found that 34 per cent said they had tried marijuana on more than one occasion and almost 85,000 Canadian teens smoke marijuana daily, or three per cent of all Canadian teens (there are about three million teens aged 12-19 in Canada). Drug use among Canadians between the ages of 15 and 24 has doubled in the last 10 years.
More? Thirty-five per cent of students under the legal age for alcohol consumption are classified as heavy drinkers, consuming four or more drinks in succession.
There are bigger causes for concern than a milk program that may threaten a very small percentage of the school population. This is not to belittle the cause for concern over lactose-related allergies, but rather a call for some common sense.
Milk vending in Canada is gaining steam at a phenomenal rate, and the last thing this industry needs is another panic attack to protect a very small group of citizens.
Canada is a modern nation rich with examples of over-reaction and micro-management. We couldn’t even manage a majority government this time around.
Vending operators should be wary of the attention École Marie Poburan drew … or find a convenient way to vend bread and water. And dare not breathe a word about glutin.