Thursday, May 31, 2012

If this is cured, what was the disease?

Earlier this month NDP leader Thomas Mulcair caused a furor in the west and among conservatives for having the audacity to suggest that the  singular focus on a resource based economy with total disregard for the impact on the environment and the economy in the rest of Canada may not be the best approach and that there should be public discussion and consultation about alternatives.  

Mr. Mulcair’s “Dutch disease” reference was the final straw and erupted into a media storm, both print and social, that is ongoing – a good thing as the issue is now receiving a great deal of attention.
Brad Wall, Saskatchewan’s Premier, has emerged as the defender of the West.  In a recent tweet Mr. Wall stated “Resources have been the cure not the problem”.  

Perhaps I’m missing something, but continued high unemployment, record deficits, ravaging of our environment and the widening inequality in wealth distribution, while oil companies make record profits, doesn’t sound very healthy to me, let alone “cured”. 

The economic debate about whether we have “Dutch disease”, or not, is largely irrelevant.  We have a disease that is common in resource based economies:  We are sacrificing our natural resources and environment on the alter of economic expediency.  We allow (even encourage) mining companies to plunder our finite resources with impunity from the destruction they cause to our  environment or other segments of the economy and without any consideration for economic longevity and environmental sustainability.  We provide lucrative tax breaks to corporations that make billions in profit and allow them to export raw materials without even the attempt to establish secondary industry in Canada.  And we don’t make them pay for the damage they cause to our environment.  This was generally the outcome from colonization – what is it called when it is self-inflicted?

The way I see it we are not immune and we are not “cured”, not by a long shot.  Perhaps it’s not “Dutch disease” in the purest sense – maybe it’s mutated into a local strain – say “Canadian malaise”!  But whatever it is we are far from healthy and we can and must do better! 

Mr. Mulcair has struck the debate.  Now Canadians from coast to coast to coast must become active and vocal about this issue of great concern to all, now and for future generations!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Doubling down on dumb!

Once again the conservative government seems incapable or unwilling to make decisions to create a better Canada – this time with regards to immigration.

While the immigration minister acknowledges that Canada needs more skilled immigrants, he is only prepared to welcome more once the statistics for existing migrants improve – statistics that are the result of years of inadequate policies from Liberal and Conservative governments. This is akin to the old adage: "Punishment will continue until performance improves".

Innovative thinking is required to remove constraints to Canadian growth. What is needed is immediate action to increase the immigration for skilled and professional workers coupled with programs to:
·         facilitate an on-ramp to productive employment in their area of expertise
·         provide a fast-track process to attain Canadian accreditation for their qualifications (starting before they reach Canada)
·         provide ESL / FSL training as required

With such programs in place the rest of the world would see Canada as a country that not only welcomes new immigrants but also provides real opportunity for them to be productive and successful in their new home. Over time these programs would also rectify the statistics that the immigration minister is rightly concerned about.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

EI reform. Really?

The Conservative government is giving its clearest signal yet that a hard line is coming on employment insurance.  Once again the focus of the conservative government  is on cost control.   This is the same caged thinking that arrives at mega-prisons as a good idea. 
Canada has suffered under this approach of  treating the symptoms rather than the underlying cause from decades of Liberal and Conservative governments.  It has proven to be a recipe for inertia at best, and has resulted in the slow decline of Canadian society and the quality of life and standard of living for the majority of Canadians.

It is time to stop addressing the symptom of rising  and chronic unemployment with draconian measures to control the cost of EI by redefining “suitable work”. 

Why not show leadership and vision?   Rather than “punish” those who find themselves unemployed, let’s tackle the issues that cause unemployment in the first place.  Why not try a different approach – an approach with a vision to enrich Canadian society for all and develop a work environment filled with hope and opportunity?