Toronto Star -- FIN
ENTERTAINMENT Tuesday, January 10, 1989 C3
The Degrassi kids are graduating
By Greg Quill Toronto Star
"Bye Bye Junior High," the final episode of the Gemini Award-winning Degrassi Junior High drama series, which airs Feb. 27 on CBC, barring unforeseen problems will be pre-screened at a party at the Royal Ontario Museum Jan. 27.
The party, cryptically called "Derniere" by the show's producers Lynda Schuyler and Kit Hood, is billed on invitations as a salute to "the end of an era."
But don't despair, Degrassi fans, the event likely will also be a celebration of the start of a new phase in the lives of Canadian TV's top-rated teenagers.
A sequel series, Degrassi High, is already being developed, a spokesman for the producers said yesterday. Provided negotiations with the CBC and foreign broadcasters, who will carry the show, go well, shooting on the new series will start in the Spring.
There's no word yet on how many Junior High regulars will graduate to high school, or how many years they will spend there.
* Pogey Scam: Canada's social welfare and unemployment insurance programs are among the most generous and comprehensive in the world. But as fifth estate's Eric Malling reveals at 8 tonight on Channel 5, they're also easily abused.
Trouble is, the culprits in tonight's concise segment are governments, not welfare recipients. Newfoundlanders are seen qualifying for 42 weeks of unemployment insurance with a mere 10 weeks of largely worthless, menial work planned and approved by federal and provincial employment and social service agencies.
Six out of 10 Newfoundlanders will live "on pogey" at sometime in the coming year, Malling reports, and more than half the people collecting unemployment benefits in that province work fewer than 20 weeks a year. The Newfoundlanders admit to biding their time until oil brings them unimaginable wealth, work and prosperity. Thay take four times as much out of the federal welfare system than they contribute, creating a bureaucratic burden - double shifts work to clear some 12,000 claims a day.
But the make-work projects that qualify recipients for these payments, and to keep them in communities where there is no real commerce or enterprise, are for the most part unproductive and demeaning: shifting rocks one by one, building a firehall for a community that can't afford a fire truck, a swimming pool for another that can't afford a water pump, knitting, upholstery.
These are BandAid measures, invented by provincial and federal agencies that don't seem interested in longterm growth and economic development, unemployment specialist Robert Hill tells Malling. No one likes them; Newfoundlanders feel insulted, somehow cheated.
How must other Canadians who foot the bill for these projects feel?
* Man's Inhumanity: The point of "Blowpipes And Bulldozers", tomorrow night's special edition of The Nature Of Things at 8 p.m. on Channel 5, has been made elsewhere and frequently: Western man is destroying the natural world.
But this documentary, shot "on the sly" in the Sarawak jungle of Malaysia by Australians Jeni Kendell and Paul Tait, is particularly poignant. Its unique subject is the gentle, creative and peaceful Penan nomads, who have lived there for thousands of years and will be displaced within a single generation by commercial loggers.
The Malaysian government would not approve this project. It doesn't want the story told. Tait and Kendell had to carry their equipment by night for two weeks to evade police and army patrols eager to find Swiss-born shepherd and artist Bruno Manser, who four years ago renounced "civilization" to live with the Penan people and has since organized and inspired their land rights struggle. Theirs is a touching and powerful tale.
Photo Malaysian nomads in scene from "Blowpipes and Bulldozers" episode of The Nature of Things
Copyright © 1989 Toronto Star, All Rights Reserved.
DOC. #: 890110TS02038