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.

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