Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Time To Put a Stop to Unskilled Guest Workers in Canada

The number of guest workers allowed in has exploded since the Conservatives came to power and whereas the typical guest worker was once an American transferred to a branch office in Canada, the fastest growing category of guest worker is now the unskilled type with poor language skills. The Conservatives have not done this directly. They have turned over a greater percentage of the immigration file to the provinces and Western provinces in particular have used the program to undercut labour. The Canadian tax payer has paid through the noise to have cheap labour sent in from other countries for the sole purpose of cutting wages of the Canadian tax payer.

"According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, there were 57,843 temporary foreign workers in Alberta by the end of 2008, a 55 per cent jump from 2007 and more than four times the number residing here five years ago. By contrast, permanent immigration has been relatively stagnant, with fewer than 25,000 immigrants coming to Alberta last year from outside the country, only a few thousand people higher than in 2004.

Alberta is not the only the province to import workers. In raw numbers, Ontario has the highest number at 91,733. B.C. has about the same number as Alberta. Quebec has many fewer at only 26,085."


Forget Conservative talk about such provincial programs bringing in much needed skilled workers, this was the kind of positions Alberta was hoping to fill through its guest worker programs this summer: Front desk clerk, short order cook, baker, maid, assembly line worker, server, buser, bellhop, valet, and cafeteria worker, laundry attendant, pet groomer, general labourer, and hair dresser. All that is required of such would be immigrants is that they score 4 or 24 on the language assessment. In other words, they can still be functionally illiterate and still get it in.

It takes a great deal of chutzpah to Kenney to talk about wanting to avoid “the kind of ethnic enclaves or parallel communities that exist in some European countries” and then go about encouraging the very thing that led to the creation of these communities in Europe, viz., importing gobs of unskilled guest labour. Canada is lucky in so far as most Canadians see new immigrants as one of us. The Conservative policy will change this though. If the situation is allowed to continue, an increasing number of Canadians will see new immigrants, and most people are not going to make the distinction between guest worker and permanent resident, as someone brought in by employers to undercut wages.

The number of unskilled workers Canada lets in should be 0.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Conservative Ads: Some Thoughts

Yes the Conservatives were able to pass off Dion as a wimp, but given his slouch, his accent and at times his high pitched voice Dion was easy pickings.

The Conservative ads attacking Ignatieff are a conceptual mess. It is hard to nail down just what the Conservatives are after. Ads that leave people confused will not work.

Worse, the most damaging bit is Ignatieff referring to himself as American and the Conservatives can not run far in this direction without these quotes coming up.

1) Stephen Harper: “Any country with Canada’s insecure smugness and resentment can be dangerous.”

2) Stephen Harper "Canada appears content to become a second-tier socialistic country, boasting ever more loudly about its economy and social services to mask its second-rate status"

3) Stephen Harper: “Canada is a Northern Welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it.”

4) Stephen Harper: “I delivered [speeches] everywhere I went … about the spirit of defeatism in the country”

5) Stephen Harper: “west of Winnipeg the ridings the Liberals hold are dominated by people who are either recent Asian immigrants or recent migrants from eastern Canada: people who live in ghettos and who are not integrated into western Canadian society.”

At least the Conservatives had the good sense not to bring up Ignatieff's support for the Iraq war --- because the rejoiner to that is pretty obvious.

If the NDP had half a brain, they will run ads in the next election juxtaposing Ignatieff's pronoun problem with Harper's serial Canada bashing and pronounce themselves the alternative.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Stephen Harper: Long Record of Standing up for Canada

1) Stephen Harper: “Any country with Canada’s insecure smugness and resentment can be dangerous.”

2) "Canada appears content to become a second-tier socialistic country, boasting ever more loudly about its economy and social services to mask its second-rate status"

3) Stephen Harper: “Whether Canada ends up as one national government or two national governments or several national governments, or some other kind of arrangement is, quite frankly, secondary in my opinion."

4) Stephen Harper: “Canada is a Northern Welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it.”

5) Stephen Harper: “I delivered [speeches] everywhere I went … about the spirit of defeatism in the country” National Post, May 31 2002

6) Stephen Harper: “west of Winnipeg the ridings the Liberals hold are dominated by people who are either recent Asian immigrants or recent migrants from eastern Canada: people who live in ghettoes and who are not integrated into western Canadian society.”

Thursday, May 07, 2009

My Strange Encouter was a Fashion Fascist

On Sunday I rented a tuxedo. I am going to wedding. A woman was doing the fitting for me. She first gave me a 48 jacket. It was snug in the shoulders and so she gave me a 50 to try on. This did fit in shoulders. However, the 48 was much too big in the waist and 50 was just ridiculous. The head cheese was watching all of this and I could tell he was not pleased. He said I really needed to try on a 46 or smaller. I told him the 48 was snug, but he was persistent. So I tried on a 46 to appease him. Remember I am the one renting the tuxedo. Anyway, the thing was as tight as wet suit. The woman that was helping me earlier was trying to see if there was any slake in the arms. There was not any. It fit like a muscle shirt. The guy said "this is better". I decided then that enough was enough. I said no it not better. I can not move. I did not want to be in the same position as the bride, viz, having to have someone assist me just so could get in and out of my jacket. So we compromised on the 48, but only after I acknowledged in, get this, writing that 48 was too big in the waist. He was similarly displeased with the shirt. It was roomy to say the least, but by this time his assistant was tried of being treated like she did not have a clue and said in response to his queries about a smaller size that "nothing else fit him in the neck. The top button would not do up." That shut him up.

All and all it was strangest retail experience I have ever had. Now, note to any Tuxedo makers who might be reading this. In defense of the fashion fascist, not every guy wearing a larger jacket size is big in the waist. Indeed, considering that majority of guys who rent these things are probably no older than their early 30s, I would say they might actually be in the majority. A moo moo is not a good look.

Wayne Easter on the Gun Registry

Wayne Easter:

"a number of factors really. One of the big ones, which was a catalyst to us losing a lot of constituencies in rural Canda, was actually the gun control bill, the long-gun registry.
"It just seemed to be a catalyst that provoked a reaction that the Liberals didn't identify with rural Canadians."


I would like to now just what seats he is talking about and why he talking about a long-gun registry when there is but one gun registry.

The evidence that the gun registry hurt the Liberals is just not there. First of all West of Ontario there were no safe rural Liberal seats to loose.

The Liberals were shut out in Alberta in 1972, 1974, 1979, 1980, 1984, 1988. As for those seats that went Liberal in 1993, 1997, 2000 and 2004, they were not rural seats --- they were in Edmonton -- nor where they safe. “Landslide” Anne McLellan was good case in point.

The situation in Saskatchewan was similar. The Liberals were shut out there in 1979, 1980, 1984, and 1988. As for seats the Liberals won there in 1993, 1997, 2000, 2004, 2006 and 2008, there has proven to be but one safe seat and Ralph Goodale still holds it. Moreover, the Wascana is not a rural seat.

The situation is not nearly as bleak for the Liberals in Manitoba. However, the Liberals took only one rural seat in 1993, and 1997 and Provencher (MP Vic Toews) could never be described as a safe Liberal seat. It was not a Liberal stronghold prior to 1993 and the Liberals owed their success there more to a spilt in the conservative vote than anything else. Combined the PC and Reform was much greater than Liberals in both 1993 and 1997 elections.

The Liberal popular support in Manitoba is concentrated in Winnipeg. Going back all the way to world war two you can on one hand the number of seats the Liberals have won outside of Winnipeg Edmonton, and Ralph Goodale’s seat in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

The Liberals faired just as poorly in rural BC during this time, but again Liberal troubles in rural BC long predated the gun registry. The Liberals won but 1 seat in 1979, 1984 and 1988 and were shut out in 1980.

As for Ontario, the Liberals share of the popular vote and seats was stable between 1993 and 2000 and when the Liberal vote did drop significantly in 2004, it was not to the Conservatives’ benefit when it came to the popular vote. Indeed, the combined PC and Reform vote in each of the three subsequent elections was 37%. In 2004 the Conservatives took only 31% of popular vote. If I am not mistaken, this represents the lowest share of the popular vote by a united Conservative party ever. Even in 2006 the Conservative share of the province’s popular vote was below the combined right wing vote between 1993 and 2000. Moving from the Liberals to the NDP is a strange way to protest your displeasure with the gun registry and that is what happened in Ontario in 2004.

Only in the Martimes is the notion that the gun registry hurt the Liberals consistent with record. However, three things should be noted in this regard. 1) The Liberals have faired very well in Maritimes during this time. 2) The Conservatives have not gained that much. In 2004 the Conservative vote totals were below the combined vote totals for the two right parties in every election since Mulroney and that includes 1993. 3) The unpopularity of EI reforms hurt the Liberals in the 1997.

Results in seat rich Quebec are consistent with gun registry helping in Quebec.

Now, what is implicit in what Easter is saying is that somehow there is gains to be made in rural Canada and that somehow the Liberals have maxed out in major cities. This is simply not true. Looking strictly at the numbers, it is easy to see that all the low hanging fruit for the Liberals is suburban Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. The gun registry is winner in these seats.

Monday, May 04, 2009

The Idiocy of weighting OMOV: Part 2

Giving 5 % of the Liberal party supporters the same if not more power than the other 95% is not going to make the Liberals popular in regions where they have never been popular. Saying that by having to appeal to the small group of Crowfoot Liberals, for example, the Liberals will become more acceptable to people of Crowfoot is strange reasoning indeed. I think it is safe to say that Crowfoot Liberals are not represenative. Furthermore, it is going to alienate its base of supporters and that is far bigger issue than branching out into Liberal no man's land. If the Liberals are ever going to match the Conservatives in terms of fund rising, telling, say, the legions of Liberals in Toronto proper ridings that they matter less in a leadership race than Liberals in a province, Alberta, that has never voted Liberal is not going to help. Weighting the vote will also lead to strange calcus when it comes to leadership campaigns. Indeed, why do all the leg work of signing up hundreds of new members in various Toronto ridings to help swing the vote their when signing up a few more members in Crowfoot will accomplish the same?

The Idiocy of weighting OMOV

Save for the passing of WOMOV, the Seinfeld convention lived up to its name. Not much of substance was said or accomplished. Still it was a lot of fun.

As for WOMOV, I am a strong backer of OMOV. However I hate the weighted portion. The hinterlands are already grossly over represented in the House of Commons and Canada's major cities in particular get screwed. The Liberals apparently decided that a mountain of salt needed to be poured on this wound. It is grossly undemocratic to give, for example, Crow Foot Liberals the same voting clout as Vaughn Liberals, but alas when it comes to the party base reward your detractors and punish your supporters is the Liberal way. In the upside down world of Liberal insider politics, Alberta Liberals have more clout than Liberals in Toronto proper. Ignatieff must be starting to believe his own rhetoric about rural Canada.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Some Convention Notes

My desire to say something controversial rises in direct portion to level of mushy feel good group think there is a room. By the end of Social Justice: Social Policy and Multiculturalism Policy forum I was doing all I could to contain myself. With the exception of Ruby Dhalla, the problem was not the panelists per say, but the unwillingness of those asking the questions to move beyond boiler plate and the mundane. One delegate especially irked me. He said that he was tried of the Liberals taking women and people of colour for granted. This a common refrain, but it is unfair.

Nowhere is there more foreign born Canadians than Toronto and nowhere have the Liberals been more successful than in Toronto. One of the reasons that the Liberals GTA MPs are not as diverse as the Toronto population is that the population there has changed faster than its MPs have. A better measure of how responsive the Liberals have been is how representative the new blood is and it is representive. Furthermore, judging by the composition of today's young Liberals, future Liberal mps will be a diverse lot. Yes I know a huge percentage of young Liberals are policy sci majors who have plans to go to law school, but ethnically and racially they are a diverse lot.

As for women, fear not. A sea change is coming. If you look at income distribution men still earn more than women. However, if one breaks it down by age group, there is no difference between young women and young men. Moreover, women are surging ahead of males in every level of education. Pick a high status profession (e.g., lawyers, doctors) and there are more women coming into the field than men. For that reason a alone there should be higher percentage of women mps. After all, these are the types of careers that help solidify nominations. Just an aside high levels of education are positively correlated with higher levels of income. What has until recently kept young males at an even keel was commodity and construction related industries. With the downturn in those kinds of industries, young males have been hit disportionately hard and I would not be surprised to see that young males have fallen behind young females.

As for affirmative action generally, it is pure poison, but I will save that subject for another day. What I want to add is that as a means of leveling the economic playing field it is not very effective when it comes to minorities and often represents just a token effort and a distraction. Affirmative action is no substitute for universal health care, better funded schools, affordable post secondary education,and that is what African Americans were given in the wake of gaining their civil rights. Slavery and Jim Crow had condemned them to poverty and the lack of social safety net and the war on drugs help keep them there. There is no better way of impeding social mobility than a criminal record.