Katimaviktimhood - Macleans.ca



It’s rare that someone tries to gain public attention by doing something that is unequivocally wicked. But I think that this must be said of Colleen Cleve, the St. Catharines mom who intends to try to gain class action certification for a lawsuit over the Tories’ closure of the Katimavik program. From HuffPo’s Althia Raj:

[Cleve] believes she may have a breach of contract claim, since the federal government pulled out of a three-year funding agreement with Katimavik one year early. But she knows she’s unlikely to win.

“That’s not my intention; my intention is to basically raise public awareness of what the government has done,” she said. “So many people are not even aware of this program.”

Katimavik’s marketing and communications director Victoria Salvador told HuffPost the court challenge is unlikely to be successful because the contract includes a standard notice clause.

Cleve has given a pretty good outline of the definition of a vexatious lawsuit here, hasn’t she? She knows her lawsuit is an absurdity, since the government’s contract with Katimavik explicitly provided for cancellation on 90 days’ notice; she acknowledges she doesn’t care whether she can win the lawsuit; and her explicit aim is to punish the respondent by consuming time and energy and using the court as a publicity platform. She’s pushing her way onto a finite docket ahead of people with real complaints and grievances—and for what? A great human-rights cause? An injury that cries to heaven for vengeance?

Cleve’s two children were supposed to join Katimavik this July and volunteer in different communities across the country, but their plans for the next six months were thrown into limbo by the government’s decision. Melanie, 20, a finishing student at Niagara College was lucky to get her old summer job back at MarineLand, her mother said. While her 17-year-old son Erik decided to go back to high school for an extra semester after missing application deadlines for college and university.

Yes, Mom’s outraged because her grown children had to find something else to do with a whole summer. I fear that almost every word I can find to characterize her attitude ends in either “-bag” or “-hole”. We shall see if Ms. Cleve’s fellows in the “Nous sommes tous Katimavikeux” movement continue to endorse this behaviour.

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  1. Potentially stupid question from somebody who knows nothing about Katimavik: if her kids were supposed to spend the summer “volunteering in various communities” via Katimavik, well, can’t they still volunteer? What have they lost?

    • The ability to do it in different places across Canada and learn more about the regions by living in them. The ability to do this by staying in common, group-maintained Katimavik houses, rather than individually trying to find places to stay in those other towns and cities (which is highly impractical to do on an individual basis). The opportunity to do this volunteer work alongside people from other parts of Canada, thus meeting new people.

      Katimavik benefits the communities that take part, and the people who join up, and is a legitimate and effective nation-building program. The people who are saying “why can’t they just volunteer at home” are the same ones who would have said, long ago, “why build a railroad across the country? Can’t people just walk?” Technically they’re right, but it’s an awfully small-minded sort of correctness.

      • Such an “effective and legitimate nation building program” that, upon reflection, my parents discovered both my high school guidance counselor and the local quartet of Suzuki-worshipping leftists that every small town has a smattering of had NEVER EVER HEARD EXISTED. Wow, that’s impressive.

        And you mean that a fraternal organization is helping to coalesce the volunteering and fundraising activities of various motivated volunteers? United Way seems to do the exact same thing, and is even already getting government money to do so.

        If you and Colleen want to resurrect Kitimawhatchamacallit from the ashes of its government suckling self, and turn it into an agency that does all of these things on its own, for Pete’s sake feel free to go to do. Though in all honesty, it would probably be a better use of your money if you invested in an actual railroad. The government got out of that business too, if you recall.

    • The summer comment is very misleading, the program is almost 6 months long. Also with the program an organization can count on the volunteer more. Katimavik guarantees the non-profit will have that volunteer for the 35+ hours a week, every week for the duration of the program. This mean they can give them more responsibility, like a temporary staff member. Her kids can still volunteer but not in the same way.

  2. ” …. her 17-year-old son Erik decided to go back to high school for an extra semester after missing application deadlines for college and university.”

    Generous of you to not mention that Ms Cleve is only stuck with her son for another summer because he’s a dunderhead. And as George mentions, her son can still volunteer to help less fortunate and make himself useful.

    • He presumably missed the deadlines because he was supposed to be off participating in Katimavik

  3. Katimavik has been in existence for years benefitting young adults from across Canada and somehow this Mom’s attitude “ends in either “-bag” or “-hole”. That is way over the top comment!

    • Whether Katimavik benefits Canada isn’t the point—it’s a question of tactics. An intelligently-executed protest against the cuts might have done some good. But Harper’s greatest political strength is his ability to, sometimes through his actions, other times just through his manner, reduce otherwise sane people to “-bags” and “-holes”. Like, remember when that idiotic page popped up and incited us all to “stop Harper”, because as we all know, there’s nothing more “undemocratic” than a free, fair election in which the party that wins a majority of the seats is allowed to govern? This is the same principle: the party that a plurality of people voted for is choosing to eliminate a program that almost no Canadians even know about, and rather than an intelligent and articulate spokesperson to explain why the program is useful, the voice of the opposition to that cut is now someone whose vexatious lawsuit seems to be based mostly on, “Oh, no, my kids are going to have to work for a living now!”

      • To Canadians, Harper is the bag and hole, my friend.

        • To you and to me and to Ms. Cleve, yes. To the millions and millions of people who voted for him, no.

      • In this case, Harper didn’t use any ability to so rudely attack someone – a boorish writer did. And I don’t consider that page idiotic at all. She puts me in mind of the fantastically brave young Chinese man who briefly stopped the tanks in Tiananmen Square. Do you forget that Harper is the only Prime Minister in Canadian history to have been found in contempt of parliament? Spend a few hours and read Harperland by Lawrence Martin – a great writer unlike the dismissable Mr. Cosh – and have your eyes opened. While you are at it actually go learn something about how fantastic Katimavik is For Canada. Remember also that a majority of Canadians do not support this regime – nor did they vote for it. Conservative values are decidedly not Canadian values – for a majority of us. I can’t believe you actually called it a “free, fair election”…lol..!

        • Do *you* forget that Canadians cared so much about “contempt of Parliament” that they handed the guy a majority? But of course it wasn’t a “fair election”, because if the guy you didn’t like won, he must have stolen the election. After all, you didn’t vote for him. Foolishness.

          • Which of us is liiving in the parallel universe where the robocall scandal did not happen? I think that Canadians are slow to rouse but watch out when they do. Read up on your WW1 history about Vimy Ridge for confirmation of that notion. Few I suspect understood the implications of where this government would take our country – and the devious ways they would do it (420 page “budget”??) – before the last election. I think many are now waking up to that. If Ms. Cleve’s lawsuit helps a few more take an interest in how our democracy and true Canadian values are being undermined, that is all to the good.

          • Robocalls sure happened. On the other hand, the robocall “scandal” was only a scandal in the minds of people who wanted it to be one. Look at a poll. Canadians don’t care about trumped-up political would-be scandals. Didn’t care about “Shawinigate”, don’t care about this. And most Canadians can tell the difference between “undermining our values”, which this is not, and “making a decision I don’t agree with”, which this is.

            And, sorry, *of course* Harper cut Katimavik. *Of course* he did. Read either of Wells’s books about him. Heck, look at his face sometime. I’m just amazed it took him this long to make this cut. Conservatives cut things. It’s what they do. Anyone who didn’t know that, I’m not sure what they were thinking voting for him.

            As I’ve said a few times, I don’t agree with the cut of Katimavik. I probably think a lot more like you and Colleen than I think like Colby Cosh. But when you hype up a reasonably standard political decision – a Conservative cutting a Liberal program – into “they’re undermining our democratic values, let’s sue them,” you do yourself and your values a disservice.

          • You are right, reading your other posts more carefully I realise that probably we do agree on more than we disagree. But for you to acknowledge that robocalls did happen but argue that it is not somehow a scandal – except to those who choose to perceive it as such – and indeed that it does not detract in any way from the fairness of the election, is at best pedantic in a broad-brush philosophical kind of way and worst an active diminishing of very serious wrongdoing – worthy in fact of those who perpetuated the act. To just let it slip by with an “oh well..” is starting off down a long slippery slope.

            Perhaps all is a matter of perspectives. Let’s just say that I view yours as that from a plane up about 10,000 feet where everything looks neat and tidy and the hills blend into the plains. Simultaneously, from down here on the ground there is all too apparent a smell of rottenness. The more people that become aware of it, the better the chances someone will help do something. So count me among the yelling, screaming “this stinks” brigade. As someone wiser said “All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men (and obviously women) to do nothing”. Well Colleen Cleve is doing something and for that she gains my wholehearted support and thanks.

            Also, I do not think the conservatives are undermining our “democratic values”; I think they are undermining our democracy and I think they are undermining our Canadian values, a big difference. Both should be fought for.

            Concluding then to comment on your final thought, from my perspective she is definitely not doing myself or anyone’s self and values a disservice. As I and my family and friends see it, the loss of Katimavik is a real loss for everyone in Canada – whether they realise it or not, I think that actually, factually, its loss diminishes us as a nation – and I think you agree too!
            It appears from the title of his latest insight that Mr Cosh has moved on to commenting on chuck wagons. Seems about right.

          • Apologies, I didn’t articulate my point very well at all re: the robocalls. I’m not commenting on whether people *should* care or whether this *is* problematic. If the election was somehow stolen, OF COURSE that’s a serious scandal. I’m commenting on my perception that most people *don’t* care. It appears to me that the only people who are invested in the robocalls “scandal” are those who hated Stephen Harper from the moment they saw him, and who are happy to finally have confirmation of the hunch they’ve always had that he’s evil. Not “a person they disagree with”. Not “a politician who makes some bad decisions, like all politicians”. Evil. To me, it’s over the top – just like suing somebody for making a decision you disagree with.

            An interesting choice of words in your analogy about our differing perspectives. That’s been my point all along: when things look fine to Group A, and Group B is yelling and screaming, then even if Group B is *right*, they’re going to look fanatical and crazy and unreasonable. Not a good way to win converts. Which is the prime minister’s one political talent: he makes his opponents angry, and then says, “Better vote for me, not these angry people!”

            I don’t think you or Colleen *are* fanatical or crazy or unreasonable, but when you’re so impassioned and when you express your passion in such strong terms and ways (like suing) you’re bound to look that way to some who think things aren’t as bad as you make them sound. (Which is where I’m at, for the record: we’ve got a not-very-nice prime minister who makes mostly bad decisions, but I don’t think the sky is falling, whereas some do.) I believe you’re sincere in your views, and I respect them, And anyone willing to subject themselves to the sort of public ridicule Colleen’s received here, all in the name of standing up for her kids (and for those her kids would have been able to help this summer, and now can’t), is doing something that’s admirable in its way. I just don’t think it’s going to be effective in changing a whole lot of minds. I hope I’m wrong, and that Colleen’s activism (and yours too) makes a good, positive difference. Take care and good luck.

          • It didn’t start off that way perhaps but I have enjoyed the exchange. Could I make a request? I referred earlier to Lawrence Martin’s book Harperland. It is an excellent and enjoyable read by a true professional. (I am now working through the second of his books about Chretien.) How about you give it a read then you will understand my concerns? As a reviewer states on the cover (going by memory – my copy is leant out), “Every Canadian should read this book”. If more people are made aware of what is being done to democracy in Canada, perhaps we would not have a government which represents the interests of a minority of the population – and which has lost us so much goodwill and respect around the planet. I will reciprocate – if you care to suggest an enlightening title, I will read it!

            Finally I am passionate about Katimavik because I have seen the good the program does first hand. I truly regret that I was already too old when it came along and I learned about it. It would have been exactly what I needed when younger – and that just about every young Canadian would benefit enormously from taking part. Just read the testimonials. Colleen Cleve sees it that way too I am sure. The fight she has undertaken is for communities all across Canada and Canadian young people everywhere, not merely her own. They have just made it more personal. Unfortunately conventional methods will not work. The average Conservative MP – and they are all (with the possible exception of one or two) sadly very average – simply follows orders from the top and sends back form letters. So what else can be done? Conservative regimes don’t have to just dump Liberal programs on principle. George W. Bush expanded Bill Clinton’s American version of Katimavik. Many of us think that Katimavik is worth fighting – for by whatever legal means.

            Hope you take up my request. All the best to you too!

          • Agreed, I’ve enjoyed this conversation – apologies for some of my more intemperate language earlier therein. It’s unfortunate when a small difference of opinion (“Harper is a bad guy” vs. “Harper is a very bad guy”) leads to people thinking they’re more different than they are.

            I believe I read Harperland when it came out, but I will gladly reread it soon. I certainly don’t recall anything in there, in terms of broad strokes about the PM’s character or agenda, that I haven’t read in other Harper bios. (I’ve read Wells’s two, Johnson’s “Stephen Harper and the Future of Canada”, Lloyd Mackey’s “The Pilgrimage of Stephen Harper”, Ibbitson’s “Open and Shut”, and I’m starting Flanagan’s “Harper’s Team”.) That agenda seems to be…still being prime minister tomorrow. That character seems to be that of a temperamental, inconsistent bully whose favourite tactic is to demonize those he disagrees with and then stand back smirking: “I don’t know why they’re so upset. Must be crazy idiots.” Again: no Harper fan here. But I really think he’s in “below-average PM” territory, not “singlehandedly destroying Canada” territory.

            All I can say is, I hope I’m right, but will gladly concede that if it turns out you’re right, well, we’ll all regret not listening to you when we had the chance.

  4. “I fear that almost every word I can find to characterize her attitude ends in either “-bag” or “-hole”.”

    Careful, Colby – a “professional” pundit who resorts to such lame insults is almost certainly an X-bag or Y-hole himself. Jesus, try to do better than locker room graffiti please.

  5. I’m opposed to the shutdown of Katimavik, but this woman seems to be the wrong person to be opposing the closure.

    • I don’t hear anyone else doing it at the moment, unfortunately.

  6. Funny, the “-bag” and “-hole” comment is quite fitting for the sneering, obese hog who wrote this column. Cnuthole, shïthole, lardbag, pukehole, ConlovingBairdshïtholelickingsycophanticcorpulentslabofexcrement-hole, to name a few.

    How about detailing the Con propensity for threatening lawsuits? Now there would be something more relevant: a discussion of the most incompetent government in Canadian history that threatens lawsuits when people highlight their corruption self-serving actions.

  7. The only reason CC is blogging about this petty lawsuit is because it was a Trudeau program.


  8. Bullyhole? Bullybag?
    You can’t have your chafe and eat it too, scribbler.
    Next round is on you, Colby.

  9. The issue I see here is the government making a choice to withdraw funding from the Katimavik program that the government already promised the program. That money was already spent.

    And as I understand it, that 90 clause is meant for emergencies, like a civil war. The clause isn’t meant for government flip flopping.

    Ms. Cleve is standing up for her children. She is asking our government to be held accountable to their promises.

    • No, the 90 day clause is not meant for emergencies, if it were meant for emergencies, it would not be a 90 day warning, it would be 1 day.

      As the post indicates, the clause is a “standard notice clause”. Period.

  10. I personally know Colleen and support her action.

    When a government will not listen to it’s own populace (and in Colleens situation: supporter) – presenting lies instead of facts and distorting Katimavik as some time of expensive Liberal summer camp – she had to resort to what means that were available to get attention to this issue.

    A lawsuit is one of those actions.

    She has seen the heartbreak that her kids experienced and that of the other “600 forsaken” (as facebook group set up by the wanna-be participants is called). She has received heartbreaking testimonials of young adults who were hoping to find a way to
    SERVE THEIR COUNTRY while finding direction in their own lives. Yes, they can
    volunteer locally but Katimavik offers so much more. Just look at the testimonials on the Katimavik web site.

    The cancellation of Katimavik – AND PARTICULARLY THE WAY THAT WAS DONE – is a betrayal of our youth; a breaking of a promise; an attack on the 545 not-for-profit organizations in 54 communities in every province and territory of the land that benefited from the volunteers; and an insult to the 30,000 participants who have gained life changing experiences from this program.

    The fact of the matter is that the Department of Heritage, while they had did have a 90 day exit clause, also promised three years of SUSTAINED FUNDING until 2013 on the condition that the organization streamline the organization and diversify it’s funding. The
    Katimavik organization went through MAJOR structural and program changes to
    meet the governments demands: reducing the cost per participant (now $13,000
    each), increasing the retention (now 87%) and meeting or exceeding other
    measures. The Departments own Summation Report confirms this. The only point
    the government can hold against Katimavik is that they didn’t diversify their funding
    but the government didn’t give them time to achieve that. Why doesn’t Mr. Cosh look at that with the same level of criticism?

    This nasty article – an unqualified personal attack against Ms. Cleve – fails to take in account that she was trying to do the best she can in difficult circumstances and help her children and the others who were affected by this mean spirited cut. She has also
    participated in other protest events but it seems the only way to get attention
    is to destroy property, threaten by-standers and get arrested. A peaceful and
    good spirited Katimavik protest is not news worthy. However, threatening a law
    suit is.

    Colby Cosh should be ashamed of himself for this cowardly attack on such an honourable woman!

    • Nuisance lawsuits are social pollution, and you’re endorsing one. (Nor is there anything “cowardly” about pointing this out.) What other “attention-getting” behaviours would you regard as justified in defence of Katimavik? Parking in handicapped spots? Farting in church? No, wait, lemme guess, drum circle?

      • Apparently you are the expert on social pollution. I’m sure that you did everything that you just mentioned above except for maybe the being in church part. Perhaps you should have participated in Katimavik and learned some respect for people rather than resorting to shock articles, bullying tactics and name calling. And maybe you should do more research before you post an article such as this – the title is “Katimavik Cuts – Lawsuit MAY be coming” not “Colleen Cleve HAS launched a nuisance lawsuit.” Enough said.

        • Maybe you should drop the expectation that you and your children are entitled to other peoples’ money, including mine. I don’t pay taxes so that your kids can feel good about themselves. There’s nothing stopping them from volunteering on their own.

          • Such narrow, selfish thinking. Ms. Cleve is doing this for hundreds of Canadian children and communities not just her own. She is doing it for the country because Katimavik produces great Canadians. Were you happy with the 1 billion dollars you contributed to, to cover the cost of caviar and orange juice at the Toronto “G(pick a number)” meeting? Just my 50 cents worth because that is the share of our taxes that Katimavik was costing you.

          • Such narrow, selfish thinking. Ms. Cleve is doing this for hundreds of Canadian children and communities not just her own. She is doing it for the country because Katimavik produces great Canadians. Were you happy with the 1 billion dollars you contributed to, to cover the cost of caviar and orange juice at the Toronto “G(pick a number)” meeting? Just my 50 cents worth because that is the share of our taxes that Katimavik was costing you.

          • Such narrow, selfish thinking. Ms. Cleve is doing this for hundreds of Canadian children and communities not just her own. She is doing it for the country because Katimavik produces great Canadians. Were you happy with the 1 billion dollars you contributed to, to cover the cost of caviar and orange juice at the Toronto “G(pick a number)” meeting? Just my 50 cents worth because that is the share of our taxes that Katimavik was costing you.

          • xxxxx

          • That’s a lie. I pay lots more moeny for that program, probably around $10, in addition to the thousands I pay for important things. You don’t divide the cost by the number of Canadians, which includes elderly, babies and children, as well as unemployed and stay-at-home parents. You count the number of taxpayers!

            And no, I don’t want to spend $10 on somebody else’s kids.

            Hey, why don’t you spend $10 on my kids? I’m waiting. Send me the money.

            Lots of people in this country work for $10 per hour. So you want them to spend an hour working exclusively for a small bunch of kids. You want every single one of these people in the entire country working an hour, totaling millions of hours of work, for the benefit of just a few kids, while all the rest get nothing. And you call me selfish?! What a laugh. You are the definition of selfish. It’s crazies like you that twist the meaning of words into their opposites.

            A child can’t even get into the program unless randomly selected. So it’s for lottery winner kids, while the rejects get nothing.

            As far as the G20, what the heck does that have to do with anything? Two wrongs don’t make a right. Wasting money in one place doesn’t justify waste in another.

          • Since we all pay different amounts of tax, going by the population figures is the only way to give an accurate perspective of the minimal cost of the program per Canadian. But you are right I should have phrased my comment that way.

            – The G20 summit would have funded Katimavik for 71.4 years. I think that has relevance.
            – The government budgets 196.7 million a year for cadets. That would pay for 14 years of Katimavik. I know of 5 kids who joined cadets, got their government (ie taxpayer) paid for uniforms and dropped out.
            – The government budgetted $12 plus million dollars to publicise their 420 page “budget”. (Normally a 30 page document. This one has a whole lot of inappropriate stuff in it). That nearly covers the annual Katimavik buget.
            – One F35 will cost us $769 million through its life cycle. (Would fund katimavik for nearly 55 years).

            Katimavik benefits everyone in some way: The communities which actually receive 88% of all the money the program costs – plus getting all that free labour.
            The participants themselves who gain a new perspective on what a magnificent country we are lucky enough to have and who inspire friends, relatives and anyone who asks, with that vision. When so many countries have copied it, that must add to Canada’s prestige in some way.
            Bringing as it does kids from the east and west of Canada together, Anglophone and Francophone, I think you could accurately call the program “National Unity Glue”. The program is a bargain.

            WRT your comment “A child can’t get into the program unless randomly selected. So it’s for lottery winner kids, while the rest get nothing.” I couldn’t agree more so the government should have expanded the program to allow more in – not cancelled it. That is what the French are doing with their program – and I believe the Americans did also.

            I think I’m done here. Thanks!
            (and again apologies for the multiple posts)

      • What a very ignorant response. What a parade of immaturity. Or just the words of a Buffoon perhaps? Employing writers who have to resort to toilet humour to attempt to score points so shallowly is truly unworthy of a publication such as Macleans.

  11. When the government cut the Katimavik program, I was disappointed. When
    I discovered that they had breached their three year funding agreement
    with Katimavik by virtually eliminating the program one year earlier
    than agreed to, I was angry. When the Canadian Heritage
    Minister, Mr. Moore, stated publicly that “cutting the Katimavik program
    was one of the easiest decisions” that he had ever made, I was furious. As
    a result of the government’s breach of contract, 600 youth selected by
    Katimavik to volunteer full time for six months in vulnerable
    communities in Canada and 545 non-profit organizations who had partnered
    with Katimavik and were expecting a stable group of full time
    volunteers for a six month period were left in the lurch.

    I wrote to my MP, the Prime Minister and Mr. Moore and received letters with misinformation in them. Further letters written to them received no response. I
    attended a rally in support of Katimavik on Parliament Hill and was
    asked to speak out on behalf of the 600 youth who had been impacted by
    the government’s decision. I have written to newspapers, all to no avail.

    I felt that my only
    alternative was to research the possibility of bringing a lawsuit
    against the government for their breach of contract. I
    realized that I probably wouldn’t win however I feel that the government
    should be held accountable, as we all should, for contracts and
    agreements that we make. I helped to vote this government
    in and I am certainly regretting that action now. Our government is
    supposed to be working for us. I am standing up for what I believe in and that is to get accountability and answers from the Conservative government regarding this issue.

    I realize and respect
    that everyone is entitled to their own opinion of my actions and by
    putting myself out there, I am prepared to hear both positive and
    negative comments. However, Mr. Cosh appears to believe that a personal attack against my children and I is somehow warrented. Perhaps
    Mr. Cosh should have given more thought to preparation for his article
    so that he wouldn’t have to resort to personal attacks and name calling.

    @ TonyAdams – You, sir, do not know my son and there is nothing in this article to suggest that he is a “dunderhead” as you stated. Perhaps you need to gain a clearer understanding of the situation before you resort to attacking a 17 year old boy. I have taught my children to respect others and not to bully them. I’m sorry that your parents and Mr. Cosh’s parents did not do the same.

    I am extremely surprised and disappointed at the level that Macleans has apparently stooped to with its writers.”

    • Hi, Ms. Cleve,

      I do feel that this article is far harder on you than it needs to be – and that Tony Adams’s comment about your son was unsupported, extraordinarily unkind, and surely inaccurate – but the fact that sometimes things won’t go the way you want them to is the price of living in a democracy. We can’t sue every time we don’t get our way. You perceive Katimavik to be a valuable use of tax dollars; others disagree. Those who agree with you won for however long Katimavik existed; now the others are winning. Eventually a government will get in that values things like Katimavik again; then you’ll be winning again. Them’s the breaks. Those who see millions of Canadians living and dying in poverty and think there are better uses for money than to subsidize some kids volunteering – when, as I’ve said, kids can and do volunteer for free all the time – were probably as furious at Katimavik’s existence as you are at its cancellation, and if they’d sued, you’d probably have thought they were expressing their fury in a rather silly manner, no? (Yes, I understand that the money the government has taken out of Katimavik will not be put to better use, but that’s not my point.)

      At the same time, I think you’re doing what you feel is right to support something you feel is important, and surely we can all get behind that. It’s more than most people do. Colby’s claim that your behaviour is “unequivocally wicked” is way over-the-top. I consider what you’re doing to be bad tactics, but fundamentally well-intentioned. The fact that you’ve raised two children who would volunteer with Katimavik – unlike, say, a “dunderhead” like me who’s barely heard of it – does reflect very well on your values and on your children’s. You should be proud. But at the same time, I’m 1% trepidatious about even posting this comment because I’m afraid you’ll sue me for it, and is that really the reputation you want?

      • Hi George,

        Thank you for your post. I totally understand and respect your position and appreciate that you understand and respect mine even if we have different opinions. Mature adults can usually express themselves without resorting to name calling. I don’t consider you a “dunderhead” at all.


  12. this article is yet another example of someone making comments and passing judgement against a program they clearly don’t understand. I am the Mum of one of the 600 youth who had planned to leave in July. I am in support of Colleen’s initiative to hold our government accountable to the commitment made to these kids and to the not for profit organizations who benefit from their countless hours of volunteer support. I am disgusted by Mr. Cosh’s insults directed at both Ms. Cleve and her son. You sir, should learn how to play nice. Perhaps a stint in Katimavik would have done you some good.

    • On what basis do you think that “understanding” this program changes the validity of the argument? The program is understood perfectly well: it’s why so many people are silently nodding in agreement when they learn that a) this program exists and that b) it’s going to cease existing relatively quickly.

  13. Mr. Cosh, I suggest you look at the merits of the case itself. First of all, from a legal standpoint, it could be argued that the 90-day clause is unconscionable in its operation, and that given the governments bargaining position (take-it-or-leave-it) Katimavik OPCAN entered the agreement under duress/undue influence. Additionally, Ms. Cleeve faces the hurdle of not being a party to the contract, although that argument could undoubtedly be defeated because her children would have been in the reasonable contemplation of the government. Even if there is nothing here under breach of contract, there may well be a case under negligence. Finally, despite what Ms. Cleeve has said, I am confident that no one would expend capital on a court case – there are easier means of publicity available.

    And for you Mr. Cosh, I suggest that you’re reporting skills are mediocre at best – for choosing to attack a defenceless Canadian as opposed to questioning the governments true motives!

  14. What is never mentioned by the government or by you is that Katimavik is not only a youth service program, but it is a program that provides vital full time volunteer service to over 500 non-profit organizations. The young volunteers work for six months in two communities in full time jobs helping the poor, the disabled, the very young, the elderly and many more. These organizations were given no warning that they would be losing their volunteers. These non-profit community organizations will have to cancel projects, reduce their programs, and serve fewer people. Some organizations will be forced to close their doors. Colleen Cleve’s goal is to save the Katimavik program not just for her children, but for all Canadian youth who have the desire to give back to Canada and serve our nation by providing community service across the country. She has tried every other avenue open to her: writing the government, protesting, and petitioning. The law suit is a last ditch effort to save Katimavik, a program that instills community service in youth while providing an amazing gift of enthusiastic volunteer service to needy communities throughout Canada! Shame on you for belittling the value of such a goal!

  15. Hi. Ex-Katimavik volunteer here. Just wanted to point out that cutting funds to Katimavik not only damages the program itself but also effects all the not-for-profit organizations through out Canada that have been relying on Katimavik volunteers for years. I volunteered for a charitable bicycle repair shop in Montreal called Cyclo Nord Sud and worked five days a week, seven hours a day. The work involved taking apart or rebuilding donated bikes and preparing bicycle parts for transport. The work was simple enough and I enjoyed my time there but where are they going to find someone to do that job for free, five days a week, seven hours a day, when Katimavik can no longer supply the volunteers?

    As for the article itself; pretty harsh Colby. A mother speaking out for her kids? Sounds reasonable to me.

    • It’s not volunteering if they need to use tax money to do it, money that is taken from people like myself. If bicycle shops want to do charity work there’s nothing stopping them.

      • Everyone will never agree on where tax dollars are spent, but a 2008 EKOS study found that a majority of Canadians do support funding a program like this.
        “seven in ten Canadians (69 per cent) support the idea of young Canadians taking a year between high school and post-secondary education to travel and take part in a structured full time national volunteer program, as a means of gaining life and work skills while learning about themselves and the country, while fewer than one in three (30 per cent) do not agree with the idea of young Canadians taking a year between high school and post-secondary education for national volunteer service”
        “a large majority of Canadians (74 per cent) feel it important that young Canadians have the opportunity to participate in this type of program, and only nine per cent feel it unimportant that young Canadians be given this opportunity. ”


        • Nowhere in the question does it mention that the national volunteer program is funded by the government, nor how much funding is required to subsidize what is called “volunteer work”. Normally “volunteer” implies no funding is required, that’s the whole point.

          There is nothing that says students will be flown to different regions of the country with taxpayer money. All it says is “structured volunteer program”. There is nothing stopping students from taking a year off to volunteer, and 70% of Canadians see no problem with that. Neither do I. I also see no problem with cutting the Katimavik funding.

        • If they support funding it, why not just get direct donations of that $14M/yr?

          I think the problem is, as scf says, that they “support the idea…” but not paying for it.

          If the “opportunity” really is that important to the Average Canuck, then private donations should trivially be able to cover that minor shortfall, yes?

          So, why isn’t an organization stepping up to do that, rather than this evidently unwinnable (if Mr. Cosh’s assertion about the contents of the contract and the severance mechanism are correct, as nobody has specifically disputed)?

          (It sure is easy to demand other people’s money be spent on things that sound nice, isn’t it?)

    • Speaking out is reasonable. Suing is not.

  16. This woman is taking the only stand she can to stop Harper’s government from walking all over it’s citizens. Good on her, she’s fighting the good fight and not sitting around and complaining while doing nothing.

  17. Mr. Cosh – you may be unhappy about the lawsuit, but Katimavik is a wonderful program & doesn’t deserve what is implied when you say that Ms. Cleve’s ‘grown children had to find something else to do with a whole summer’.

    Katimavik is a huge part of a gap year between high
    school and university. Sure – the kids can volunteer by themselves, work or go back to high school instead of doing Katimavik,
    but none of those options will teach them about learning to live with a group of
    people their own age (on an extremely tight budget) or give the organized, supervised
    & consistent volunteer help that many programs need to run successfully. The 6 (and previous 9) month programs are much more than a summer camp.

    Here’s a typical katimaresponse to the funding cuts – a day of action – http://katimavikdayofaction.wordpress.com/katimavik-day-of-action/

  18. Colleen, I really appreciate your efforts for standing up for something you believe in and for being so selfless and reaching out to help the entire Katimavik community to the best of your abilities, successful or not. What this man wrote was completely out of line and I’m shocked it appeared in any magazine at all. Scathingly cruel and uncalled for. I am so sorry you are the butt of the attack of a man who clearly has done little research into the benefits of such a program and the people who stand behind it and actively helped communities around Canada.

    Shame on you, Colby. ..Publicly belittling others for their efforts and
    going so low as to name-calling when you have nothing left to say but a
    word quota to fulfill it seems. What has SHE ever done to
    you? Mark my words; it’s easy to make fun of others for their efforts and belittle them by being immature and calling them names, but everyone’s entitled to their own opinions and they should all be respected whether you agree with it or not. For taking action on her beliefs and defending it in a respectful manner, she has gained more respect than you will ever have from writing this disrespectful piece of commentary.

    Maclean’s; I’m shocked you would publish such a defamatory personal attack. Out of character, out of line, and research was obviously not done beforehand. I’m beyond disappointed.

  19. Good for Colleen Cleve, I wholeheartedly support here actions to try and save a great program providing benefits far beyond its costs. The governments actions have been entirely duplicitous. While indicating their wholehearted endorsement of Katimavik in its annual reports while they had a minority government, Harper and Moore deceived the voting public about their true intentions towards it. No doubt its demise had already been planned for if and when they gained a majority. The Harper regime only recognises forceful responses which may impact vote generation and I for one wish the motion every success in the courts.

    C. Cosh, your comments are offensive in the extreme, worthy of the highest standards to which the gutter press aspires. I know who I see a word ending in “-hole” applying to. Shame on you Macleans for publishing such under your banner.

  20. So you appear to have cancelled my comment Macleans. Why would that have been? Because I stated how offensive I found C. Cosh’s comment to be or because I expressed support for Colleen Cleve’s actions?

    • First my apologies to Macleans, you didn’t delete my posts after all – in fact you have generously reposted a couple after I foolishly double-clicked the post button a few times because nothing seemed to be happening! I extend my apologies to all reading. May I just repeat that I fully endorse Colleen Cleve’s action because they will help inform and awaken the Canadian people to what this government is taking away from us. The Katimavik program has since its inception been copied by countries around the world. A national treasure (as I see it) should not be relinquished without a fight – however “wicked” some might view such actions to be.

      • My last comment on this, since obviously we disagree and aren’t going to change one another’s minds: the fight was last May. You lost. Sometimes that happens. When Mike Harris gutted our education and health systems in the late ’90s, it cost a lot more than a few hundred kids a lot more than something to do with their summer. We voted him out. We didn’t sue him. I give you credit for understanding that Katimavik is national treasure not in some objective reality, but only “as (you) see it”. Please also try to understand that a lot of people don’t see it that way. If every government funded every thing that every person thought was important, they’d run out of money pretty quickly. Is Katimavik a better use of money than the G20 summit? Of course it is. In my opinion, and in yours. Others disagree. Welcome to life as an adult in a democracy. (Refuting the latter half of that sentence really only disproves the former.)

  21. I can’t believe this article is in Macleans! How embarrassing.

    • What’s embarrassing about it?

      Is it just that you don’t like the position taken, without being able (or willing?) to state any particular reason?

      Go on.

      Share with the rest of the class.

  22. That last paragraph wasn’t needed. I wish you took a bit more time reading more about what Katimavik is (and maybe a couple pages of testimonials that the program has been collecting like mad since the cut). I’m glad people are speaking out though. It’s something the government funds that touches the hearts of so many. A program that has been running for over 30 years and is U.N praised is obviously something that won’t be forgotten easily. I applaud Colleen for trying to make a big splash. Hopefully it causes some trouble.

    If anyone is confused with what Katimavik actually is, I urge you all to check out the website- http://www.katimavik.org/

  23. Dear Editor,
    I am outraged at the language, tone and content of the article entitled “Katimaviktimhood” by your writer Colby Cosh.
    Colleen Cleve, a mother of two, is desperately trying to take on big government in a David-vs.-Goliath batt…le. It is usual for Canadians to root for David in such a battle, not Goliath, particularly when “David” is a mother fighting for her children. Instead, Mr. Cosh says that she is “doing something that is unequivocally wicked.” Does Maclean’s really believe that a mother unselfishly looking after the interests of her two children to be on the same level as the horrors of the world that Maclean’s usually reports on? I am astonished.
    And what is the basis for this “wicked” behaviour by Ms. Cleve? The young-adult children of Ms. Cleve were to have volunteered for six months to look after the disabled, the elderly, the poor and the disadvantaged. (I am a mother of a son who has had the wonderful life-changing experience of volunteering with the Katimavik program, so I can understand Ms. Cleve’s determination to give her children that unique opportunity to enrich their lives.) Her two young-adult children—along with hundreds of other young Canadians—have now lost this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and will have to make last-minute plans with little hope of them being enriching ones. Tens of thousands of disadvantaged Canadians will now have to do without the help of these hundreds of enthusiastic youth. Perhaps Mr. Cosh could graciously volunteer six months of his life to partially make up the deficiency.
    Ms. Cleve clearly disagrees with the government’s decision to cancel the Katimavik program, so she is trying to raise awareness by whatever limited means she has at her disposal. Mr. Cosh equally clearly agrees with the government’s shortsighted decision. To belittle Ms. Cleve’s message, Mr. Cosh crucifies the messenger—a sadly typical approach by persons who cannot abide dissenting voices. Whether or not he agrees with Ms. Cleve’s views or methods, Mr. Cosh should at least praise her efforts, even if he believes them to be misguided. Instead Mr. Cosh concludes that “almost every word I can find to characterize her attitude ends in either ‘-bag’ or ‘-hole’.”
    Whether or not the government is right in canceling with unjustifiable haste a program that empowers Canadian youth while at the same time providing help for the disabled, the elderly, the poor and the disadvantaged is not the point here; the unprofessional, viscous and “wicked” attack on a mother fighting for her children is. Maclean’s should retract the article immediately with a heartfelt public apology from Mr. Cosh to Ms. Cleve. If not, the suffixes which Mr. Cosh so liberally uses should be applied to Maclean’s. They already apply to Mr. Cosh.

  24. With all due respect, as one of the youth who will no longer be able to do this program, I beleive you (the writer) totally missed the point.