Last week, Portugal asked the European Union to help it pay its debts. They did it because they owe so much money – €80-billion, or more than $109-billion Canadian dollars. (€ is the symbol for euros, the money used in many countries in Europe.)
Portugal is the third country in Europe to ask for this kind of help recently. The first country was Greece and the second was Ireland.
All three country’s leaders have suffered for their decisions about their country’s money. Last month, Portugal’s Prime Minister Jose Socrates quit his job after some people in his government said ‘no’ to his program to save money.
Portugal will hold an election for a new Prime Minister on June 5. When Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis got into trouble over Greece’s debt he had to leave his job and in Ireland a new Prime Minister was voted in last month after people said the bad economy was the previous Prime Minister’s fault.
Some people who study the world’s money have said that Portugal’s situation could affect its neighbour, Spain, and that they could be next in line to ask for help. But on Thursday, the Spanish government said they are already getting stronger and don’t need that kind of help so they won’t be asking for money.
It was a difficult moment for the government and the people of Portugal to admit they need financial help. But many people think it’s a good thing for Europe and the rest of the world.
What happens in Europe affects other countries, including in North America. Once Europe’s economy is stronger, even Canada will feel better, even though our economy is stronger than that of many other countries in the world.
Part of a government’s job is to provide resources, jobs and services for the people in their country. Often the government needs to spend a lot of money on health care, law and order (police, courts, jails), maintenance of the cities and towns, transportation and education. A government needs to decide which services are the most important and how much money they will pay for them.
Make a list of all of the services your government needs to provide for the people in your own country. In your opinion, which are the two most important? Develop an argument to support your answer and explain your thinking to one of your classmates.
The situation in Portugal is very complicated. If you wanted to find out more information, what type of non-fiction resources (eg. magazines, newspaper, blogs) could you use? Make a list of these resources and use one of them to find out more information about what is happening in Portugal.
Read a variety of texts from diverse cultures, including literary texts, graphic texts and informational (OME, Reading: 1.1).
Read a wide variety of increasingly complex or difficult texts from diverse cultures, including literary texts, graphic texts and informational texts (OME: Reading: 1.1).
Grammar Feature: Past Tense
When we write about an event that happened in the past, we need to write in the past tense.
win (present), won (past)
play (present), played (past)
eat (present), ate (past)
Circle all of the words in the article that are in the past tense. Why do you think they were written in the past tense instead of the present tense?