Friday, May 1, 2009

Swine Flu- round 3

The Swine Flu travel ban continues to bang around inside my head as we approach the debate on May 12.

The National Post has an article today on why travel bans are not recommended by leading epidemiologists and doctors. You can read it here:
http://www.nationalpost.com/news/world/story.html?id=1551451

I also looked at the WHO website to get a clear sense of the levels of alert. We are at Level 5 now and it was interesting to note that Level 5 and 6 are grouped together under the heading "pandemic". Here's the link:
http://www.who.int/csr/disease/avian_influenza/phase/en/index.html

I heard an interview this morning on CBC Radio with a parent from Westminister School. There were a few pieces of misinformation in that interview that I would like to address:

The decision to ban travel is not, in my opinion, primarily driven by a concern for students being stranded in a foreign country. That is one concern to consider and not one that I had immediately thought of, but I believe the primary concern is the safety of students and staff. Some may feel cynical that this is more about litigation than safety, but having had the opportunity to work with the Superintendent closely over the past year, I would say that student safety is his primary concern and was indeed the motivating factor behind his decision.

Secondly, the interviewee stated that an unanimous decision was necessary for the Board to amend the travel ban. This will is incorrect. It will require a majority vote (5/9) to pass. The confusion arose from my explanation (obviously not too clearly!) that an unanimous vote was required to waive notice of motion and decide the outcome of Trustee Gibeault's motion to amend the travel ban on the same night that he proposed it. (i.e. this past Tuesday). The unanimous vote is required to proceed with the debate, without the customary two-week notice time, in order to protect even one dissenting trustee who may feel that they are not adequately prepared to enter into the debate fully and responsibly. It is a common measure in place to protect anyone from being "surprised" with a debate.

I hope that helps to clear up any confusion.

Again, I welcome all points of view in this discussion. So if you feel that your opinion is not the "popular" one and are afraid to voice it... I encourage you to contact me. I am a great proponent of freedom of expression, which is there to protect all views, even unpopular ones.

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