Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Just the Facts Ma'am, Conservative Attack Ads

I'd like to offer my congratulations to Justin Trudeau on winning the Leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada. I look forward to M. Trudeau showing he was the right choice.

It was a good day for Liberals. It seemed a good day for the Conservative Party of Canada too. They were finally able to roll out their anti Trudeau attack ads. I imagine conservatives anticipated the election of Trudeau with the same glee as children looking forward to Christmas. Just to be clear it is the Conservative Party of Canada that is the author of the website. Scroll to the bottom and you can just make it out in very light print; "Authorized by the Registered Agent of the Conservative Party of Canada. "; yes that small and that colourNot the kind of  "pride of ownership" you might have come to associate with conservatives. 

Ads attacking liberal leaders are basic conservative strategy, they define "you" before you can define "yourself". I don't care for attack ads and there is a difference between ads attacking a candidates record which are reasonable and those attacking through the deliberate misrepresentation of the candidate. This present incarnation of conservative attack ad is of the later quality. 

The first thing a visitor sees is a quote from a by M. Trudeau declaring " Quebecers are better than the rest of Canada". Click the story and you are purported to be given the "full context" of the quote, Quebecers are better than the rest of Canada because, you know, we’re Quebecers or whatever. A lot more of us are bilingual, bicultural, a lot more awareness of the rest.”. Well that seems even worse. 

The simple accusation is that Trudeau is an arrogant anti-English, French elitist. The subtle message is that He will promote the interests of Quebec to the detriment of the Rest of Canada; a historical concern of the West.

Helpfully, the Toronto Star gives an expanded version of the Trudeau quote. "“His philosophy, certainly as he passed it on to us, has always been Quebecers are better than the rest of Canada because we’re Quebecers or whatever. I mean, this idea that a lot more of us are bilingual, bicultural…”. Justin is talking about his father's notions in an interview done 14 years ago. Useful information

The expanded quote, as it appears in the Star completely undermines the attack ad's message. The ad makers parsed a Truth till it said something completely different. This is what I find most objectionable. Anyone inclined to look no further than this website will leave with a false understanding of M. Trudeau's position. It is one thing to post awful photos of Trudeau ( they do that too) and declare them "not a Leader" and another thing to slice and dice a fact till it tells the story you want to tell. How is that different than a lie?

The site also choose to highlight Trudeau's participation in a Charity event to raise money for the Liver Foundation as an indication of his unfitness to lead. Granted it was buried in a clip comparing Harper's acumen and deriding Trudeau's; but the point was showing Trudeau engaged in a charity event, stripping context and presenting as a negative. Helping a Charity as a bad thing.

I'm sure Trudeau will make plenty of mistakes in the next two years. While I expect the conservatives to throw as much trouble as they can on Justin's way to the 24 Sussex Drive, it is not to much ask that they stick to the facts.

Monday, April 8, 2013

On RBC and Temporary Foreign Workers

In the news this weekend was a story about RBC hiring a firm to provide IT workers. It doesn't sound like the kind of breaking news that would have the Bank at the centre of a controversy; till you get the details. The temporary foreign workers are here to be trained by the existing crew; who's jobs they will then assume, till the bulk of the work is finally transitioned over seas.

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program-TFWP was established to provide assistance to businesses facing labour shortages, due to skills or bodies. It seems reasonable to allow businesses to bring in workers if the lack-there-of would result in the shutting of their doors. Some have voiced concern over abuses that may arise dues to this program and older ones dealing with care givers and the agricultural sectors.

RBC has found there way into this morass. What the Bank is doing is outsourcing a piece of their business; nothing unusual about that. The problem is that you aren't allowed to bring in foreign workers to displace Canadian ones. Had RBC just outsourced the department I can't imagine it would have raised an eyebrow. The idea of training the workers imported to take your job is something all together different and subsequently very news worthy.

RBC troubles are the latest incidence of companies testing the boundaries of the TFWP. In BC a mining company applied for and was given the right to bring in Coal miners from China. They argued and had supporting evidence that they couldn't find workers or skills in Canada to construct and operate their mine. This assertion has been opposed by Unions concerned with the importation of Labour. Additional documents suggest that the the Chinese workers maybe be here for up to 14 years. Nothing temporary about that.  There does appear to be labour shortages in BC but from the looks of it there is no plan to remedy that situation. It is appears easier to to hire foreign workers than to recruit and/or train Canadian ones.

One of the advantages is in wages; the Federal government has granted businesses the right to pay 15% less to TFW. Other abuses unintended but real are unsafe working conditions  wages withheld or refused, threats of deportation. The kind of things you might expect where vulnerable people are involved.

 No business wants to pay more than they have too. TFWP is like outsourcing only in reverse. Gone are the days when if you can't find a skilled worker you train one yourself; If you can't find someone to do the job you increase the pay till you do.

And it is all about cost. When a business talks of competitiveness they no longer mean innovation, quality or customer service; they mean cost, and only cost. Where once the desire to reduce costs led to the transfer of manufacturing and other jobs to Low Wage regions; temporary worker programs have led to the importation of low wage workers for that employment that couldn't easily be exported. It is argued that TFWP has an effect of lowering working standards in Canada and I think it is a point that has weight.

 Non Western economies didn't lose their manufacturing to a Developing world that did it better, they lost out to Countries that could do it cheaper. Now for those we have arranged to recreate Low Wage enclaves in Canada.